In the RPG system maelstrom storytelling from Hubris Games, a whorl, or hellhole is not a place that a character wants to get trapped. It's one of the scariest places you can imagine, set in a world already frightening and confusing.

As described in the manual [1]: There are times when a traveler travels alone, or sometimes even in a group, and they wander off the beaten path. Sometimes, far from the houses and the roads, what is real and true fades away. People get caught in places that are not places, times that are not times, where all that is real folds back on itself. In Picarni, they called them Hellholes, other people have different names for them. Scholars usually call them whorls, or eddies.

Whorls defy any attempt to give a truthful opinion about them. They are too different to be classified in any way. But there are a few common factors: First, they always seem to happen to small groups or lone travelers. This is one of the reasons why it's good not to travel alone. Second, you get a feeling of vertigo, or something like that, just before it happens - even though there may be no physical change in the environment. Third (this one has tons of exceptions), people in whorls start to believe that everything happening is real - no matter how unusual they seem later, after some reflection. Last, they are usually accompanied by changes in the outside world, such as a new realm appearing down the road.

Whorls are rare, but they're strange enough that when they do happen, it's certainly memorable. Tales exist of travelers getting trapped and never getting out, or of being trapped for days or months, and exiting in a foreign land.

This is one traveler's account of his experience, as noted in the maelstrom manual:

"Once I found myself in one of these things. I had gotten lost from my companions, and couldn't find them. I was in some mountains, and the terrain had shifted without me realizing it: The trees at our campsite which had been like wiry, tall shrubs with small leaves, were different: They had mosses hanging from them, and they were more tnagled, harder to hack. I barely realized that I might have been seperated from my companions - and from the road I was traveling on - when I started feeling terribly dizzy.

I looked around, but I couldn't even think straight. It was like where I thought was 'down' had been pulled sideways, then, like a pendulum, it shifted the other way. I fell to my knees, and shut my eyes tightly.

Then there was singing. Strange singing like from a bird, but it felt real human. I opened my eyes and I was in this gilded golden cage, high in a room, swinging ever just so slightly, the sun from a bright day outside pouring in. And no one was there. Just this singing and this cage, and I tried to get out but when I moved the cage swung more, and I was terrified, and this singing just wouldn't stop. Finally I shouted for help. And then it all went away. Everthing just went black. And I was back in the mountains, right next to the road.

Except it was a month later."


A class of fingerprint pattern, found in 30 to 35 percent of the population, that describes the general flow of the finger's ridges: whorls are circular, often with ellipses or spirals at their center. Look at the pads of your fingers-- if any of the curving lines close upon themselves (describing a mishapen circle or ellipse), you've got a whorl.

Whorl (?), n. [OE. whorvil the whirl of a spindle; akin to AS. hweorfa the whirl of a spindle, hweorfan to turn; cf. OD. worvel the whirl of a spindle. See Whirl, n. & v.]

1. Bot.

A circle of two or more leaves, flowers, or other organs, about the same part or joint of a stem.

2. Zool.

A volution, or turn, of the spire of a univalve shell.

3. Spinning

The fly of a spindle.


© Webster 1913.

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