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Author Topic: Puzzle ideas for a Dungeon  (Read 28256 times)
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Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
Posts: 175

« on: March 17, 2011, 01:31:24 PM »

I have a problem with the group I'm DMing. Two players love the hack and slash aspect and general tactics of combat. The other two like puzzles and intellectual situations, including heavy role playing. I'm trying to come up with a Dungeon that has aspects of both, and I need ideas for puzzles and teasers that will stimulate both types of people. Ideally, I don't want the puzzles to be purely based on brain power. Rather, I would still want to use the character's skills and saves within a puzzle to solve it (ie. Using a series of jump, swim, and a few knowledge checks to get past one).

Puzzle 1: Moving floors
"You enter into a 25ft by 25ft room. You immediately notice that the tiles (each is 5ft by 5ft, for simplicity, total of 25 tiles) on the floor are uneven. Some are slightly higher than others. The room's ceiling extends 60ft up into the air and a hatch is visible on the ceiling itself, in the center of the room. Upon stepping on a tile, it gives way and sinks 5ft down (Reflex, DC10). Another tile rises 5ft into the air."

The point of the puzzle is to use these moving columns (tiles) to get up to the hatch. Tiles move freely without resistance at a rate of 5ft vertical movement per turn. If two players stand on tiles that are connected to each other, the heavier player (gear included) wins. Players must not have items that allow them to fly or climb the walls for this to be a difficult task. It involves the Player's ability to reason and problem solve as well as reflex saves, climb checks and tumble. Spells that create heavy objects like boulders could be used to make this puzzle easier. Keeping track of the movements of the tiles might be tricky with a regular pen and paper map (I use Photoshop to change values, but a map made from Lego or wooden blocks can make things easier). Adding hazards if tiles get too low or too high can make this more involving. Add a few flying enemies into the mix (Ones that cast spells to push and knock players of the tiles, or move the tiles counter to what the players do) and you have yourself a puzzle.

Puzzle 2: Gravity Room
"You walk into a room that is 80ft by 80ft and filled with crates, anvils, steel chests and large sacks. Upon closer inspection, the chests are locked and the sacks and crates contain metal ingots and blacksmithing tools. You also notice that the walls are covered in spikes. At the very center of the room is a dial with a single hand pointing at 12:00. The dial contains a single key hole and four keys tethered to the dial by chains. Markings on the dial are similar to a 12hr clock. At the far end of the room is a iron reinforced door."

This puzzle is a logistics puzzle - how do you open the door. The dial in the very center is hooked up to an elaborate mechanism that controls gravity within the room. There are four keys. Each key will turn the dial in a different direction at a different rate. The first key might turn the dial clock wise 15 minutes, the second will turn it counter-clockwise by 25 minutes, etc. At each turn, the room's gravity shifts to the direction the arrow is pointing. The first few turns the gravity is weak and requires a minor balance check or reflex save. The smaller items and boxes in the room slowly move but stop eventually due to friction. A few more attempts later, the gravity increases, raising the DC of balance and reflex saves. Larger items start to move. A few more attempts later, gravity is in full force and the DC is hard. All objects, including anvils and iron chests fly across the room hitting players in their path, knocking them towards the wall. If the players fail their saves, they move as if an object, slamming into the spiky wall. One way to open the door is to grab the heaviest of the objects, such as an anvil, and align the dial in a direction so that the anvil flies into the door, breaking it open. It would need at least 50ft of travel to build up enough inertia to break the door. The gravity does not stop after it was shifted, which might require a series of balance and climb checks to move against it.

Puzzle 3: None May Pass
"In this 50ft by 50ft room stands a Minotaur holding a large axe. He guards a door on the other end. When approached, he says in a booming voice 'None may pass!'. He sighs and seems overly bored with his duty of guarding a simple door. When approached again, he seems favourable to negotiation and offers a challenge to the players. 'Challenge me brave adventurers, to a game of arms and wits. Fight me, amuse me. You (pointing to one player) shall fight me standing on one leg. You (pointing to another) shall fight me with your eyes closed. You (another player) will fight me with one arm tied behind your back. And you (last player) shall fight me facing east.' With a flick of his wrist, the tiles on the floor glow red and blue."

You might want to scale the Minotaur's HD to make it challenging for the party. The player with only one leg needs balance checks, the one with only one arm might need a different weapon, the one with eye closed will blind fight, and the one facing east must make some difficult checks when swinging. The tiles are what make this puzzle a bit more difficult. The blue tiles teleport whatever weapon they are using to a random location. The red ones teleport the armor or shield their wearing off their backs and to a random location. Not all tiles are colored, but they do change every 2-3 rounds. To jump off one before it changes requires a reflex save. When the Minotaur is near death or the battle takes too long, he calls stop and the encounter is over. He opens the door for them and lets them through. The point is to soften up the players and not kill them.

More to come. Ideas and new puzzles are welcome.

King Kong
Posts: 902

« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2011, 10:34:59 PM »

There is a puzzle from Zork: Grand Inquisitor that may appeise your players. The mcguffin is in a cage surrounded by three chessboards with pieces in random positions with no instructions. The solution? Breaking open the cage

I make little kids cry
Steady As A Goat
Warning: You may have already been set on fire

Bread does not need a reason
Man in Gorilla Suit
Posts: 2328

Thread Necromancy a Specialty

« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2011, 11:19:42 PM »

So you want fighty/thinky puzzles, am I right?

Here's one I'm currently using a variation on with my players. It doesn't seem like a puzzle at first, but when you get down to it, it is. My players have not figured out how to stop this guy yet, and call him the "Annoying Respawning Ranger"

Stop Following Us

"You meet up with a ranger of some description. He seems friendly enough. He strikes up a conversation, of which you don't remember the details, strangely enough (replace with whatever you feel the conversation was about, or whatever.) However, you do notice that this ranger's attitude soon changes for the worse, and he attacks you."

After they kill him and move on, he appears again a couple rooms later, pissed off, completely fine, and with any equipment he expended in the fight earlier (I use a poisoned spear, which returns to his hand after throwing it. You might want to use wands, a bow, etcetra). No matter how they kill this guy, he comes back. They cannot take any equipment from his dead body (my version of the ranger is undead, and self-cremates each time he dies; think of your own variation on the theme), so they can't weaken him for the next time, except for if they use a certain method (they haven't learned how to stop his spear coming back in my game, but leave hints to the method in the chat he has with them the first time.)

The goal? Stop this guy from attacking you. The trick is to somehow incapacitate him, AND leave him in a safe, secure, nonlethal area. Because if they tie him up and leave him on the floor, something might kill him, and he'll be right back...
Here's a little trap my DM used on us back in a 1e campaign

"You walk through a door, and suddenly feel a wrenching feeling; your vision becomes blurry, and you lose consciousness."
<Separate the players. This is important>
Now, make a description of a different scene for each player. My DM used a pub for myself, but he used other, more nightmarish settings for my fellow players. Basically, the challenge is figuring out that the place you were sent to is actually illusionary; in the game I was playing, each player essentially became an NPC for the other players (more accurately, they would be portrayed with a different body and voice), and several of the players who were in more threatening situations than I began attacking each-other; don't allow a save until they notice.

Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make me a Map
"You each enter a 40 ft by 40 room. <Hand each player a map. Each map shows the same maze, but with traps, monsters, and two other things of your choice in it, respectively> You each see a different view of the room. Now, cross it."

Basically, each player gets a map. The maps don't need perfect separation of information; just don't repeat more than one section between two players. None of the players can say or explain in any way (the walls simply absorb chalk or any other form of writing, and if the players try to explain, drown out their words) what they have on their maps. Intentionally make the traps and monsters rather painful; secretly record any damage players who don't know about the monsters/traps take from said monsters/traps. Now, basically, players have to defend their team-mates from threats their team-mates don't know about, or somehow get their allies to deal with it (if, let's say, the party illusionist is able to see some of the monsters but the party warblade isn't, creating illusionary monsters on top of the real ones is a perfectly legitimate way of getting the warblade to fight them. Just as long as the illusionist doesn't let the warblade know that wasn't a real monster. Because then, that method won't work...) A lot of notepads will be passed from player to DM.

I've got a couple others, but I'll have to sum them up.

Fighter: "I can kill a guy in one turn."
Cleric: "I can kill a guy in half a turn."
Wizard: "I can kill a guy before my turn."
Bard: "I can get three idiots to kill guys for me."

On a strange note, would anyone be put out if we had a post about people or events we can spare a thought for, or if its within their creed, a prayer for? Just a random thought, but ... hells I wouldn't have known about either Archangels daughter or Saeomons niece if I didn't happen to be on these threads.
Sounds fine to me.
probably over on "Off-topic".
might want to put a little disclaimer in the first post.

This is the Min/Max board. We should be able to figure out a way to optimize the POWER OF PRAYER(TM) that doesn't involve "Pazuzu, Pazuzu, Pazuzu".

My final project for my film independent study course. It could do with a watching and critiquing
Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
Posts: 175

« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2011, 02:30:08 PM »

I like the Ranger idea. I had another idea after watching my wife play Mario Galaxy. She played this level, where the ground disappeared after stepping on it. I'm debating if the floor would regenerate or possibly disappear permanently. I'm thinking that I can make an encounter with some sort of creature(s) that fly or float, which you have to kill or use to open a door or something.

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