Author Topic: D&D Puzzle Help  (Read 5618 times)

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Online arthwollipot

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D&D Puzzle Help
« on: October 20, 2015, 07:47:15 AM »
So I'm running an online D&D game, and I'd like to come up with a challenging puzzle for my players. I've got a couple of weeks before they get to the relevant encounter, so I thought I'd get some help with it, since I'm personally not that great with puzzles.

Here's the setup:

Wizard's tower. Players need to get to the top level to find the McGuffin. Lower three levels are connected in a loop - you go up from the Entrance Hall to the Ballroom, you go up from there and get to the Basement, you go up from there and you get to the Entrance Hall. I want a puzzle to escape the loop and open up the way to the upper levels of the tower.

There are two Bad Guys and a bunch of Mooks in the Ballroom, and I want them to be musing over the puzzle when the players arrive. Perhaps both have been given a different part of the solution, and both need to be read together, or put together with something that's already in the Ballroom, to open the way.

Any thoughts/ideas?
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Offline Anders

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2015, 07:51:48 AM »
Finding the amicable number partner to 220.

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Online arthwollipot

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2015, 07:59:05 AM »
Nice idea, but I don't want to preassume any level of mathematical knowledge on the part of the players. We're here to play a game, not to do maths. :)

I was thinking more of a logic puzzle, or something like trying to work out which three of the seven levers to pull.
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Offline PANTS!

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2015, 11:00:16 AM »
So I'm running an online D&D game, and I'd like to come up with a challenging puzzle for my players. I've got a couple of weeks before they get to the relevant encounter, so I thought I'd get some help with it, since I'm personally not that great with puzzles.

Here's the setup:

Wizard's tower. Players need to get to the top level to find the McGuffin. Lower three levels are connected in a loop - you go up from the Entrance Hall to the Ballroom, you go up from there and get to the Basement, you go up from there and you get to the Entrance Hall. I want a puzzle to escape the loop and open up the way to the upper levels of the tower.

There are two Bad Guys and a bunch of Mooks in the Ballroom, and I want them to be musing over the puzzle when the players arrive. Perhaps both have been given a different part of the solution, and both need to be read together, or put together with something that's already in the Ballroom, to open the way.

Any thoughts/ideas?

My mind went immediately to a towers of Hanoi problem.  So there is a once way door on the third from the top level.  Once you enter that level from the "ascending base" you can not go back down.  The goal would be to reassemble the top three levels on the descending base.  Maybe that base is just a logical construct that switched the direction of the door, or maybe the base is an actual physical location on the other side of the planet - or another dimension. 

So there would be a rune on the top level that allows you to move each level to a new base.  When they do so, the should get a definite indicator that they did something.  (ie they get dizzy, and the scenery outside the windows changes to that of the ethereal plane.)

You could even have a secret treasure room tied into the middle base!

Then - once they figured out the premise, it should be a gimme for the most intelligent party member to figure it out, or you can pull out the puzzle itself, and let the players have a go.

Clues to help figure this out (use skill checks or not, as you like):

Upon entering the third level someone should immediately notice that the door behind them is gone - This is to immediately signal that there is a puzzle to be solved.
The thief could notice the drag marks between the runes, where people have run their hands between the tower bases.
High wisdom might give clues that the wizard likes physical puzzles.  (Maybe there are a few in his lab?)
The wizard should sense the magical nature of each of the top three floors, and that it has to do with extra dimensional in nature.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2015, 11:08:00 AM by PANTS! »
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Offline Harry Black

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2015, 11:04:42 AM »
Have you played the PT demo? Or watched the youtube playthrough?
The set up sounds very similar to what you describe, basically the player is stuck in a loop, exiting one door brings them back to the entrance with time having reset to when you entered in the first place. Everytime the player comes back into the loop, something small (or large) has changed and the player needs to figure out what has changed to move on to the next step in the loop.
If it sounds complicated its only because its hard to explain, I suggest checking out a video of the playthrough.
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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2015, 04:36:16 PM »
Is it a puzzle which only the worthy can pass, or is it meant to be a door lock?

If the latter, you could just have a floating stone sphere which the wizard performs a spell on as a kind of key.

If this were me, I'd have a stone sphere floating in an alcove next to the door.  It would be the only unusual thing in the area.  If tapped, the sphere sounds hollow.  It also looks like to be made a cheaper stone than everything else and has a lot of tool marks on it.  If smashed, it will reveal a smaller sphere inside which is perfectly smooth and devoid of chips or scratches or anything, it looks to be made of ceramic, if tapped it sounds solid and it can't seem to be moved at all.  If heavy weight is applied, the alcove itself starts to groan and creak.  The wizard, to unlock the gate, would perform a small temperature-increasing cantrip on the inner sphere with the outer sphere as merely a privacy shroud.  The adventurers could deduce from it being like a ceramic tile that it's meant to tolerate heat and put a torch under it (a rush of wind from the way forward their sign of success) or from other clues. 

Or they could smash it.  You can always break a door lock.  However, I'd make it really hard to break.  Someone goes to hit it, I do some rolls so they know it's possible, and I tell them, "No visible damage."  Maybe they'll come upon fire by accident, maybe they'll MacGyver a giant sphere-hitting contraption, who knows! 
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Online arthwollipot

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2015, 10:14:26 PM »
Have you played the PT demo? Or watched the youtube playthrough?

Sorry, the what?
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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2015, 10:28:53 PM »
Put a situation where the party has to choose to either kill one fat guy or several skinny people.... and then watch in horror as they managed to kill both the fat dude and the skinnies.
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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2015, 10:41:37 PM »
Do any of your party have non-combat skills that could be used to solve parts of a puzzle?
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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2015, 03:30:24 AM »
Do any of your party have non-combat skills that could be used to solve parts of a puzzle?

Well, it's D&D, so there are non-combat skills. Trouble is, I don't want the entire campaign to be halted because of a bad die roll...
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Online arthwollipot

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2015, 03:31:41 AM »
Put a situation where the party has to choose to either kill one fat guy or several skinny people.... and then watch in horror as they managed to kill both the fat dude and the skinnies.

Actual genuine quote from one of my other games:

"Every time we go someplace and try not to just murder everybody, it turns out to be easier to just murder everybody!"
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Offline Anders

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2015, 03:58:25 AM »
Do any of your party have non-combat skills that could be used to solve parts of a puzzle?

Well, it's D&D, so there are non-combat skills. Trouble is, I don't want the entire campaign to be halted because of a bad die roll...

That's why there should be a secondary way, although it should be costly or time-consuming. In a campaign I had, the characters had to find the match to an amulet they had in a heap of similar-looking amulets. The amulet they had was labeled 220 and read "find my friend". But if they couldn't do the math, they could search through the entire heap. It would cost them, but there was a way forward.
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Offline PANTS!

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2015, 07:03:43 AM »
Do any of your party have non-combat skills that could be used to solve parts of a puzzle?

Well, it's D&D, so there are non-combat skills. Trouble is, I don't want the entire campaign to be halted because of a bad die roll...

I take it this is not 5th ed?  Anyway, I just tell the character with the most relevant skill that they know this much of a hint.  But if they roll well tell them the same thing with more detail.  That way there is no failure, only super successes.....   >:D
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Offline Zytheran

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2015, 08:59:01 AM »
As teleports are a thing try this. Have three *identical* looking floors of each level with three ways up each time. 1A,1B,1C,2A,2B,2C,3A,3B,3C.
Red, green and blue spiral staircase between each floor. Each staircase leads to a different identical room of that level. If the party stays together they won't notice that each level 2 for example is the same. They go from level 1 to 2 using either staircase and it appears they get to the same place. But they don't.
The only way through is to go in a certain sequence, Start at floor 1, RGBBRGGBR. This will take them through each of the 9 rooms once and only once. Going up from the last room of the sequence takes you to the forth floor but only if you have done the sequence correctly. Now at some stage the party will work out that each 2nd floor isn't exactly the same by leaving a person or something behind, or leaving a marking. This is stage 1. The next stage is to work out the correct sequence out of the 186 ways (or something) of doing it. Trial and error could be used but will take a long time and there needs to be some penalty for doing it the hard way. The cleverer way is to find the correct pattern which is hidden in a tapestry on a wall. However there are 9 nearly identical tapestries, only 1 is correct and is the odd one out. The players need to take down the tapestries to get them together to compare. One will be fixed and this will be in Room 1A. Don't make *this* tapestry the correct solution. This is to allow them to work out (guess) that 1A is the starting room for the staircase sequence. Have the tapestries printed out so the players can look at them. They will find 4 pairs of exactly identical tapestries. The useful sequence is found on the odd one out. An example would be to have a pattern around the border in the RGB sequence required with the pair matched errors in a gigantic red herring picture in the main part of the tapestry. (so 4 pairs of tapestry, with wrong borders, one with correct border) Have the red herring part of the tapestry show pictures of the tower with secret doors that don't exist, invisible windows, hidden levers, ropes lowered from ceilings, people tunneling down from the bottom, people shriking. All sorts of crap that isn't there or just bad ideas that don't help. The actual solution is in the sequence of colours around the edge on the unique tapestry.
A benefit here is that you can give the players a tapestry as they enter each room. You take it off them as they leave if they leave it there. This way the red herrings can start causing mayhem straight away because the players will think the tower solution is what they have been primed for in the dodgy tapestries. They may well miss the importance of the tapestry edge colour for quite a while.
If you wanted to add another level of complexity you can add a lever panel on each floor that adjusts the colour of the staircases, only one combination leads to RGB, all others have a yellow or black option, which is wrong.
The players come across the creatures playing with the levers. They have no idea about the tapestries importance at that point until they even realise there are different identical rooms.
Enjoy. (Haven't played D&D for 20 years but I was a DM for 15 years)

Offline Anders

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Re: D&D Puzzle Help
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2015, 09:10:08 AM »
"You must taste the blood of the sea to pass."

There are four levers and this cryptic cue. Each lever has a stone attached to it. If the players examine the stones or know anything about such things, they realize that each stone has a different flavor - salt, sour, bitter, sweet. If they pull the lever with the salty stone (the blood of the sea), the door opens. Otherwise, something appropriately gruesome happens.
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