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    Default D&D Puzzles

    So - I need a puzzle for my campaign I'm running. It needs to go in a door, it needs to be solvable by anyone who is "sane" according to a very alien mentality, and it needs to be insolvable by anyone who is "insane". If it matters, the "insanity" in this case would be roughly described as the mentality of PCs in a game of Paranoia. Oh, and it needs to lock/unlock a door. Any suggestions?



    Even if it doesn't work for that, feel free to post other nifty puzzles that you've used or wanted to use in D&D?
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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    Word of advice:don't make puzzles with a correct solution. Create an encounter, where the various elements of the dungeon function as the opponents, and let the PCs figure it out. Give them enough, and they'll surprise you. Going into a puzzle with a 'correct' solution will blind you to the possibility of something else working.
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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by Sstoopidtallkid View Post
    Word of advice:don't make puzzles with a correct solution. Create an encounter, where the various elements of the dungeon function as the opponents, and let the PCs figure it out. Give them enough, and they'll surprise you. Going into a puzzle with a 'correct' solution will blind you to the possibility of something else working.
    I'm fully aware of that, and try to keep it in mind in general. Actually, what I like to do is to set up conundrums, with various things going on, and have at least three ways I can think of to resolve it (and be open to a fourth or fifth if they're more creative than me).

    For this, I think I actually have an idea: a door, with a deep hole in it, and the words "Sticking your finger in this hole will put your finger in ABSOLUTELY NO DANGER and will also cause the door to open". In the hole, along the side (not at the back to avoid stickpoking), is a button that unlocks the door. Think it'll work?
    Last edited by sonofzeal; 2009-05-12 at 11:41 PM.
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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    A series of clamps holds the door shut. The clamps are controlled by ropes, which are accessible at widely opposite points of the room. Above each point is a weight, just barely suspended from a set of ropes anchored at the other points. If any support is jostled, the weight falls (and no one will be able to tell which one was jostled). Only if all the ropes are pulled simultaneously will the door open.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dspeyer View Post
    A series of clamps holds the door shut. The clamps are controlled by ropes, which are accessible at widely opposite points of the room. Above each point is a weight, just barely suspended from a set of ropes anchored at the other points. If any support is jostled, the weight falls (and no one will be able to tell which one was jostled). Only if all the ropes are pulled simultaneously will the door open.
    I'm not sure I understand your explaination - but something requiring four people to collaborate, when individual "failure" can't be detected, would also satisfy the situation. Bravo!
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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    One puzzle I used was the old 8 queens on a chess board puzzle. The party come into a room with a chess board on a stone plinth, one queen already set on the board. There is a legend above the door they need to get through: Eight Queens rule the land of _______, they bicker and fight over their borders. Only when they are kept apart can the kingdom live in peace.
    Essentially, all eight queens need to go on the board in such a way that none can take any of the other pieces. If you want to be particularly cruel, throw a pawn into the mix with the same stipulation.
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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    Dunno if this is what you're looking for, but I once made a door that would cast suggestion on someone when ever they tried to lock pick it. Then it would suggest that they simply see if they could maybe make the lock more difficult to pick (thus giving it a +2 to it's DC every attempt). They ended up having a DC 57 lock, they started out with a DC 15 lock...

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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    One that just sprung to mind was for the lair of an evil cleric. Outside the door is a zombie in a long cage who rushes towards the PCs and claws at them through the bars. At the far end of the cage is a pressure plate which opens the door which is not easily accessible from outside the cage. So the players are forced to find a way to lure the zombie onto the pressure plate. Methods include using food, turning undead to force it to flee onto the plate and if they're acrobatic enough, sticking a limb into the cage at the far end.

    In the case of the Paranoia puzzle, show the players are series of inkblots and record their responses. Allow them to pass but when the people inside ask them to recite what they said to get in, make the answers they gave indicative of "insanity" and sound an alarm :p

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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by sonofzeal View Post
    For this, I think I actually have an idea: a door, with a deep hole in it, and the words "Sticking your finger in this hole will put your finger in ABSOLUTELY NO DANGER and will also cause the door to open". In the hole, along the side (not at the back to avoid stickpoking), is a button that unlocks the door. Think it'll work?
    This sounds like it would be highly amusing just to see how the PCs react. A cruel DM would trigger some kind of trap with the button. A truly evil and sadistic GM would make the button completely harmless, and just watch the PCs try to think of all the possible ways to avoid pressing the button.

    A similar trick is to set up what looks like an elaborate puzzle in the room, but leave the door unlocked and untrapped. There are certain dungeon features that PCs just automatically react to as some sort of puzzle: a chessboard inscribed on the floor, a room full of pools of various types of liquid, a collection of levers, a panel full of buttons, an arrangement of mirrors, a riddle inscribed on a wall. But if none of them actually says, "I try the doorknob to see if it's locked", then they can spend hours, sometimes days, bashing their brains against a door that's already open.

    The most important thing to remember about puzzles, however, is to avoid bottlenecks and always have multiple methods to bypass an obstacle. There are three basic methods to get around an obstacle:

    1) Violence, brute force, direct damage.
    2) Social engineering, negotiation, gather info, diplomacy rolls.
    3) Specialist skill/ability: pick locks, knock spell, wildshape.

    The Book of Challenges has a few puzzles that work well for doors. Legends & Lairs: Traps & Treachery I and II (published by Fantasy Flight Games) also has some good puzzles.

    As far as a Paranoia-type door... I see two possibilities. The first would be some type of Catch-22 conundrum, where the logic required to open is completely contradictory: "Greetings, Citizen! I understand you are attempting to open this door. If you will please apply your tongue-print to the scanner on the other side of this door, I will be happy to open for you!" most likely followed by, "I understand that, Citizen! But I am not responsible for the manner in which this door was installed! My records show that you are the only Citizen that has attempted to tamper with the operation of this door. Would you like to file a report citing evidence of Communist sabotage to the Computer?"

    The other possibility would be whatever agent or entity responsible for opening the door already thinks it is open, and thus will reject or deny any requests to open it again or ignore any attempt to convince it that the current state of the door is anything other than what they can obviously detect as already open. The PCs can circumvent this by requesting the door to be closed.

    Now if I could only figure out how to design a door that will only open if you can show it "TEA" and "NO TEA" at the same time...

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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    One trap I remember reading about on here:
    Large room. In some manner, you insure the entire party is dumped into the room at the same time. The door auto-locks behind them. They hear a voice counting down from 12(actually count, it's scarier). The only visible exit is locked, and there is a lever in the middle of the room. They pull the lever, the count resets. It can take hours for the party to decide not to pull the lever, at which point the door opens.
    [/sarcasm]
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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by sonofzeal View Post
    I'm not sure I understand your explaination - but something requiring four people to collaborate, when individual "failure" can't be detected, would also satisfy the situation. Bravo!
    The key points are that "failure" can be either intentional or accidental, results in the death of a teammate (of the failer's choice), and no one can work out what happened afterward.

    Mechanically, the DM should require each player to write which ropes (if any) on an index card along with their dex score, then make the dex rolls in secret and announce who (if anyone) gets a weight dropped on them.

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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    Have the PCs find a room with a decent sized bowl and a bloodstained knife and a unopenable door. A sign on the bowl reads "Fill bowl to proceed". The catch is, filling the bowl with any liquid will open the door - it doesn't have to be blood, that's just implied. If they do cut themselves to fill the bowl, hit them with CON damage or something.

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    You could use riddles. One of my old DM's used this on me and my party awhile back:

    What does a god never see, a king rarely sees, and we see all the time?

    answer:
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    an equal

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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by banjo1985 View Post
    Essentially, all eight queens need to go on the board in such a way that none can take any of the other pieces. If you want to be particularly cruel, throw a pawn into the mix with the same stipulation.
    The 8 queen chess puzzle is actually pretty easy to solve assuming (1) trial and error is allowed (ie. you can take queens off the board if you realise you're wrong) and (2) you actually know how queens move on a chessboard.

    As for adding a pawn to the board, I suspect that there's no such way to put 8 queens and a pawn on a chessboard without any piece being able to take another. Each queen requires a separate row/column to the others. Since there are only 8 rows/columns on the board, there's nowhere to put the pawn so that a queen can't take it.

    Did I misunderstand your puzzle?

    Quote Originally Posted by Berserk Monk View Post
    What does a god never see, a king rarely sees, and we see all the time?
    I'm not sure that riddle works with a polytheistic cosmology. In that situation, you need to replace "a god" with the cosmology's "god of gods" (like Zeus in greek mythology).
    Last edited by Colmarr; 2009-05-14 at 11:36 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berserk Monk View Post
    You could use riddles. One of my old DM's used this on me and my party awhile back:

    What does a god never see, a king rarely sees, and we see all the time?

    answer:
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    an equal
    Doesn't work in a polytheistic campaign, especially since the party can probably buy the kingdom with their spare change.
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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by Sstoopidtallkid View Post
    One trap I remember reading about on here:
    Large room. In some manner, you insure the entire party is dumped into the room at the same time. The door auto-locks behind them. They hear a voice counting down from 12(actually count, it's scarier). The only visible exit is locked, and there is a lever in the middle of the room. They pull the lever, the count resets. It can take hours for the party to decide not to pull the lever, at which point the door opens.
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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/10484889/D...zles-And-Traps

    This book is really helpful for getting away from the whole hidden switch, riddle, or basic encounter type of puzzle.

    plus it's PDF downloadable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sstoopidtallkid View Post
    One trap I remember reading about on here:
    Large room. In some manner, you insure the entire party is dumped into the room at the same time. The door auto-locks behind them. They hear a voice counting down from 12(actually count, it's scarier). The only visible exit is locked, and there is a lever in the middle of the room. They pull the lever, the count resets. It can take hours for the party to decide not to pull the lever, at which point the door opens.
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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    A puzzle to unlock a door already has a problem: If I see a door and I'm not in any rush, I'd like to bash it down. Seriously. The main problem puzzles tend to run into is not allowing a variety of solutions. Then the game grinds to a halt if the PCs are stuck, or PCs wonder why they came to D&D game and find themselves playing riddle-day instead.

    The best puzzles integrate seamlessy in with the dungeon. They don't seem like puzzles at all, but instead are interesting challenges that a clever PC could overcome with something you might never have predicted. Look through the example traps in the DMG, for one. Or have the monsters build the dungeon to their advantage with arrow slits, high ledges, etc., but with a locked door the monster used to get behind the arrow slit, etc. Then let the PCs figure ways to overcome the obstacles or brute force them by firing right through the arrow slit. That's +8 AC and +4 to reflex saves, btw. Make sure you look up the rules for anything you want to use.

    Or at the very least if you must use a "puzzle puzzle", then make the puzzle part of the dungeon somehow. Maybe there are 2.5' floor tiles (4 per square) with symbols on them and PCs must step on them to avoid a trap. Or they run right through and arrows go flying anyway while they try to dodge or eat the pain. Or the rogue manages to jam wedges in the tiles so they can't be pressed (disable device; no search needed after the PCs figure out what the tiles are). Or he makes search rolls to figure out which ones will move if pressed and avoids those. Or the monk with deflect arrows or wizard with protection from arrows triggers them one by one and deflects each arrow. Set up concrete but limited consequences even when using real puzzles so that PCs aren't totally stuck if they don't solve it the "right way".
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    Edit: Misread that as the sane mentality being as in Paranoia. I need to slow down.

    Still, I think it's interesting

    _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/

    An enormous iron door is set into the wall behind a carved stone dais, which is coated in a thin layer of grime. A large pull-handle is inset into the door near the edge, and beside it there is an ornamental keyhole. Finally, a large lever has been set in the ground before the dais.

    A cursory examination of the ceiling reveals that it is cloaked in dense sheets of faded red fabric. Angular figures can be seen weighing against it in places, and a careful look through some of the dark gaps in the curtains of fabric reveal the shine of metal barbs at their moorings above.

    At first footfall upon the dais, their is an almost imperceptible grinding as it sinks ever so slightly into the floor. Yet nothing happens, and the door may be examined in peace.

    The lock at first seems merely difficult. The first few tumblers fall back into place given the slightest chance. Even when unlocked, however, the door does not budge. The lock has no actual effect on the door.

    Any sane person seeing this door will have their friend try to open it. The darkness above certainly looks threatening. Without provocation, however, it will do nothing. But once the dais feels weight, a simple, gentile shove against the silky-smooth mechanism of the lever causes cruel, barbed hooks to descend rapidly around anyone too close to the door. With a jerk, they pierce their victim and haul them up through the ceiling, where the judge waits.

    The judge is a monstrous spider of respectable proportions. Having lived long past her normal lifespan, she is scarred and caked in the detritus of failed molts. She has long since lost her sight and her freedom. Ropes ensnare her limbs. She sits waiting in her cell above the door. Few things bother her. But when prey appears struggling from below, she has the wits to seize it, and this motion unlocks the door for a few brief moments until she returns with her prey to dine.

    She will not be lured out easily. Should the barbs return empty, or should their catch remain motionless, she will do nothing. The door will remain locked, and after some minutes, the hooks will rip themselves from the catch. It will drop to the floor, and she will wait--years if necessary--to eat. A victim who has the wits to remain utterly silent and still, however, may escape her notice.

    Truly determined individuals may assault her directly, but this is inadvisable. Her lair is littered with spikes to discourage this, and she has killed many who have tried. Should they succeed, however, the door will become manually unlockable with sufficient force on the ropes tied to her.

    Remarks: The judge should be a very challenging fight should the players assault her directly. Perhaps a Paragon Large Monstrous Spider, or an advanced Huge Spider, depending on their level.
    The designers of this lock mean it to be unlocked by sacrifice. A simple goat or sheep will be risky, for she will capture it with ease, and there will be hardly any time to open the door. If a more powerful victim can be tricked into standing before the door as the lever is pulled, they will occupy her for a longer time and thus increase the amount of time with which to open the door.
    Last edited by RS14; 2009-05-15 at 12:57 AM. Reason: Foolishness

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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by Colmarr View Post
    As for adding a pawn to the board, I suspect that there's no such way to put 8 queens and a pawn on a chessboard without any piece being able to take another. Each queen requires a separate row/column to the others. Since there are only 8 rows/columns on the board, there's nowhere to put the pawn so that a queen can't take it.

    Did I misunderstand your puzzle?
    A little. The pawn just adds wordplay to the mix. The inscription above the door says the queens must stay out of each others way...the pawn is an absoulte non entity and can be put anywhere, making the puzzle easier...if your players understand that immediately. Fcat is, they're likely to be so sure you're trying to screw them over that they'll agonise over pawn placement for quite some time.
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    Default Re: D&D Puzzles

    We found this riddle in a one-shot, enscribed on a magical door while going through some sewers to get into the city palace's dungeon.

    I am what you seek,
    To the door I hold the key,
    I may be hidden from view,
    Or may be plain to see.

    What am I?

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    the answer is, of course, "The Answer"
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    Quote Originally Posted by RS14 View Post
    Edit: Misread that as the sane mentality being as in Paranoia. I need to slow down.

    Still, I think it's interesting
    Beautiful scenario, but easily defeated with summon monster spells. Or illusions. Or compulsions on the spider.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dspeyer View Post
    Beautiful scenario, but easily defeated with summon monster spells. Or illusions. Or compulsions on the spider.
    The spider is mindless, and illusions will fail to trigger tremorsense. Summoned monsters will need to be sufficiently powerful to not be devoured instantly.

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