A Hell Spiral is a creation of author David A. Hargrave. It is a fictional construction of extreme power and whimsy, and was considered to be one of the more potent and legendary elements of Hargrave's late 1970's Arduin fantasy RPG system.
A typical Hell Spiral is simply a runed path that acts as a gate to other planes, times and places. Hell Spirals will be carved or sometimes painted. They can range from very small to very large, and they hurt the eyes if stared at for too long a time.
A typical Hell Spiral will serve some purpose and is almost never random unless intended as a trap.
Those wishing to utilize this means of travel must first step onto the outside point of the spiral, looking only down and never forward. The person must then proceed along the runed spiral path, never wavering and never trying to stop or go backward. If any attempt is made to do move any direction other than forward, disaster will strike in the form of an unpleasant random event.
Hell Spirals are never meant to be attempted by weaker individuals or those of limited experience as they will almost always fail and therefore fall victim to one of the many dangerous and deadly consequences. Even those of higher abilities will do well to avoid a Hell Spiral.
All who walk the Hell Spiral risk a very slight chance of encountering some "Denizen of Limbo" or other such nasty thing (ghosts, demons, etc.) along the way to completion.
Upon failing to complete the Hell Spiral, a person will face one of the following permanent consequences:
- A whimsical physical change
- Age 50% of their current lifespan
- Teleport to a random "hell"
- Lose 50% of their strength
If the person survives their given penalty, they will be physically and randomly ejected from the Hell Spiral.
If a person completes the Hell Spiral successfully, they will instantly move to whatever, whenever or wherever the Hell Spiral is "keyed" to go. It may be distances as far as millions of lightyears, it may be to another time in history, it may lead to another plane of existence.
In the fantasy RPG campaigns run by David A. Hargrave, the Hell Spiral was one of the most feared and yet most tempting of all his many creations. Most players refused to engage a Hell Spiral for any reason whatsoever, while some were too tempted by the prospect of so easily moving between extremes of time and dimension.
In 1978, when the Hell Spiral was finally published in The Arduin Grimoire Vol. III, a mass audience was then able to experience and use these items, and the Hell Spiral quickly became a much feared and legendary construction.
- The Arduin Grimoire, Vol. III ("The Runes of Doom") - Page 48