View Full Version : A dungeon with cliche false riddles and traps

2011-09-13, 11:08 AM
Hi there.

I am currently designing a dungeon. It is similar to a vault in fallout; people bunkered in there for generation, waiting for a danger to pass.
Since they bunkered in at the pinnacle of their civilization, humans put computers, AI, and even a time machine in there.

One part of the dungeons consists of "training" future generations to the dangers of the world; they wanted to train adventurers to protect the civilians once they left the dungeon, possibly hundreds years in the future.

So they designed a series of challenges made to "train" adventurers. Like, summoned monsters that only use subdual damage, riddles, traps (always nonlethal), etc. Something a 15-year old could try, and maybe learn something from, but without actually being in danger.
However, <something> (rogue AI, demons, aberrations) corrupted the challenges. This entity wants to challenge adventurers, but not in the easy fashion originally intended. So it warped and changed the rooms and riddles, to make them lethal and absurd.

I have thought of one challenge until now, and it has generated from OOTS.

As in the normal cliche, there will be two statues; it is explained that one always speak the truth, the other always speaks false, and there will be the usual two doors.
As soon as i tell the players that, they will scoff at me for presenting such an overused riddle.
However, whatever door they choose, the statues will both animate and try to kill them (or instead, the "correct" door is actually a trap)
The entity will make a joke of them, asking why the hell they thought the disclaimer was real and why would they believe anything they found written in a dungeon.

I'd like some suggestions on more traps of this type: cliches are good (but only one or two, or it becomes repetitive). Riddles or traps that seem easy but are just a decoy for something else are best.
My players know i always follow logic and mathematics in everything. This time i am to defy logic and make things intentionally absurd.

If you have suggestion on what the "entity" should be, it'd be much appreciated :)
They have dealt with rogue AIs before (involved in two AIs using the PCs as pawns while battling each other), and the campaign is full of demons.
A demon that enjoy torturing them with false riddles can be fun, if only that demons/devils are like 70% of enemies in the campaign.

Oh and of course, the entity HAS managed to train SOMEONE as intended, and it will be Tucker's cobolds.

2011-09-13, 11:36 AM
Just think of any fairly common riddle that most people either know or can easily guess the (usual) answer to....however change it up so that the answer the Entity is really looking for is something else not so obvious for example when asked "What walks on 4 legs in the morning, 2 legs during the day, and three legs at night?" most people know the answer is "a man" (for those of you who don't get it, crawling baby/man/old man with cane); however, the AI/whatever is really talking about some sort of monster/demon/whatever that is about to be unleashed on the trainee if they give the "wrong" answer.

2011-09-13, 12:12 PM
you could always go with Friend Computer type stuff from paranoia.

If you could be any tree, what kind of tree would you be?

Wha? We're underground, there are no trees here!


Umm, hmm. the weighted pedestal, a pedestal that appears to set a trap off if the weight changes. They try to switch it out with an equivalent weight, and a magnet in the bottom losing contact sets off the trap.

pit trap. Have a trap door swing open in front of them so it looks like they just missed falling into a pit (roll the dice, say, aww crap, then tell them about it opening in front of them). Have the pit 2 foot wide, with spikes on the bottom. They try to jump it. They miss their spot check, so they don't see the fact that they are jumping into a ledge of rock painted to look like the path continues, slam into it, fall into the pit.

flashing lights, touching gems that are arranged in a grid lights or unlights them. a drawing of a grid next to the gems has the corners and center spot filled in. If they make the grid match the drawing, darts fly at them. If they make it the OPPOSITE of the drawing, a laser beam shoots at them. If they completely fill the grid, or empty it, a machine gun fires at them. (the answer, of course, is to pry the gems out of the wall. once they are all removed, the trap short circuits and the door opens. )

2011-09-13, 12:36 PM
Start here (http://drmcninja.com/archives/comic/14p25/). Read the two pages after that. Annoy your players.

2011-09-13, 01:10 PM
They try to jump it.What if they don't? :smallconfused:

They miss their spot checkMust they? :smallconfused: If it goes unrolled, I'd say that's pretty unfair.

...so they don't see the fact that they are jumping into a ledge of rock painted to look like the path continues, slam into it, fall into the pit....a trap that is defeated by the presence of depth perception seems a little ill-planned, if you ask me. :smallconfused:

Besides, the psych pit trap has itself been done in RPGs. With the presence of spells like simple illusions, and wall of force, a player not throwing a rock to test first is the one being silly.

2011-09-13, 03:38 PM
Start here (http://drmcninja.com/archives/comic/14p25/). Read the two pages after that. Annoy your players.

Don't forget this puzzle (http://drmcninja.com/archives/comic/14p28/) from the same storyline. You just have to invert it or something. Perhaps the sealed door they find is merely an illusion through which they can easily walk, but when they ignite the torches, a real door slides down that has an illusion on it to make it look like an open archway into the rest of the hallway. So when they do the usual Zelda shtick, they run into a closed door, but when they do the opposite, they can pass through. :smalltongue:

Jair Barik
2011-09-13, 03:39 PM
This sounds like the modron cube dungeon from Planescape torment in some aspects. The modrons being beings of pure logical thought cannot comprehend why people would venture into dangerous monster and trap filled areas. There response is to build a dungeon full of monsters, traps, pieces of paper entitled 'a clue' and bags full of replica coinage. Said monsters use incredibly cliche lines and follow the commands of 'the evil wizard'.

2011-09-13, 08:06 PM
I think you shouldnt so much (with EVERY trap)go the "take a riddle and the right answer hurts the NPCs" cus then they will just start doing random stuff cus the only thing they know is what not to do. What i'd try to do is to think of tricky stuff.such as omitted language, or double entendre. for instance in your example, they will say that One door leads to the next room, the Other door (not the wrong door) will cause us to attack you. Thing is they didnt say anything about if you picked the correct door you would be safe, just that it lead to the next room.

The idea being that the traps are trying to Con the PCs (think of Haley's speech at the battle for azure city) into thinking the only options they have are what are presented. by the end they will just smash the intercom and try to figure out the puzzle themselves.

Also i think the entityshould be an insane computer/golem that has had its mind corrupted by a library (to much magical/computer data overload) so he wraps some cords around his rear and welds some skafolding to his back to make himself look (Vaguely) like a sphinx. In his corrupted mind seeing it as a bringer of knowledge and punisher of ignorance. Heck, perhaps its one of those Logic Entities (looked, but couldnt see who mentioned those) who got sucked into the artifact/computer. Not being a physical being its impossible for its conciousness to be fully integrated, hence the insanity.

But i think this should be a Mad beings Insane hallucination of what a test of wit would be, rewarding players for thinking outside the box and knowledge of riddles and tests.

(Other challenges include Giant chess games, and floors with tiles that fall if you dont jump on the right sequence, be it colors, or prime numbers)

Kris Strife
2011-09-14, 02:23 AM
Why would you build a bunker if you had time machines? :smallconfused:

2011-09-14, 02:42 AM
Who says time machines lets you travel though time? :smallconfused: Maybe it can only accelerate or slow down time.

2011-09-14, 02:51 AM
Look up some of the stuff the Ridler has done in Batman.

One you could do is have areas the robot makes that are themed. A graveyard isn't scary in D&D because you can just cut through it, so don't make it combat based. The "zombies" are all clay still lifes with things like "Rar" painted on them, and the tombstones talk about which part of the dungeon the "interred" supposedly died in.

2011-09-14, 05:48 AM
It's like GLaDOS got a hold of a time machine and ended up in D&D world.

Anyway, I vote for a big room full of summoned enemies and traps. The original intent was to keep trainees alert of their surroundings as they fought, but now the traps and monsters are actually lethal. Pick out a group of monsters that are roughly CR-appropriate, then fill the room with concealed pit traps, swinging blades, jets of steam, holes that spew arrows or darts, crushing blocks that fall from above, poison gas and blades that emerge from the floor.

For added hilarity, make the evil AI "train" its summoned minions to use the traps against the characters (bullrushing, tripping, grappling, telekinesis, misdirection, etc.).

2011-09-14, 05:53 AM
You just have to add some silly variety of the "Two door guards, one always lies, one always tells the truth" variety.

2011-09-14, 06:06 AM

Silly version. :smallamused:

2011-09-14, 06:13 AM

Silly version. :smallamused:

Alternatively... (http://rustyandco.com/comic/level-5-20/)

2011-09-14, 06:15 AM

Build on what your players will automatically suspect. Two door guards. One in red clothing, one in blue clothing. One smiling, one scowling.

None of them either lies or tells the truth all the time. They just talk.

2011-09-14, 06:28 AM
There's a big red X in the middle of the room, with a pile of bird seed on it. Accompanying it is a sign reading "FREE BIRD SEED." If they ignore the bird seed, an anvil falls on one of the characters, regardless of them not standing on the X. If they interact with the bird seed, a cockatrice runs in, slaps the PCs once or twice, eats the bird seed, then runs away.

Unforgotten Realms had a bit where there was a room with a ceiling falling down on the party, and there was a button in the middle of the room. Pressing the button caused the ceiling to return to its original position, but it did not cause the ceiling to stop falling. The solution was to let the ceiling fall as far as it could, at which point it started going back up and a door opened.

Spoken slowly: "There are three words in the common language that end in "GRY:" hungry, angry, and the other one. The other one is a word that is used frequently in your own day-to-day life, and if you have listened closely, I have already told you what it is. What is that-" (Activate dart trap here, door opens.)

There's a large keyboard at the far end of the room, with eight tablets of written music depicting "Greensleeves" in a scrambled order. The PCs must play "Chopsticks" to unlock the door.

Empty shrine in the middle of the room. In the corners of the room, there is a silver monkey's head, a silver monkey's torso, and a silver monkey's legs. Assembling the silver monkey causes it to come alive and attack the party.

2011-09-14, 09:09 AM
I think the key here is not in outright lying to the players, but deceiving them through their expectations.

The silver monkey example is a great one. Because of video games and DMs' puzzles, we're led to believe that assembling anything will lead to the door opening or some such thing. Thus, you can expect them to assemble anything and everything that is obviously made to be assembled.

So, when it comes alive, you never outright lied to the party, and neither did the dungeon. They just made assumptions.

Do realize that this will get them to completely change how they run the dungeon, so you need to include some times when the puzzles play straight, too. Preferably include them before the subversions, so that any time they come across a puzzle, they have no idea what to do with it.

This is also reminding me of the Tomb of Horrors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Horrors).

2011-09-14, 09:16 AM
Perhaps mix up a few Zelda puzzles.

A huge, square stone block next to a square hole the same size. Pushing the stone into the hole sets off a pressure alarm.

2011-09-14, 10:56 AM
my favorite variant of the labyrinth guard puzzle: enter a room with two other sealed doors, two statues, and a plaque or marker which reads "Here stand the guardians, one never speaks lies, one never speaks the truth". When the players try the obvious solution nothing happens. They are completely mundane statues, one doesn't lie and one doesn't tell the truth because neither can actually talk

2011-09-14, 11:28 AM
To the side of a door is a complex mathematical problem, possibly along the lines of taking the lowest common denominator of the amount of candles in the room and the amount of bricks vertically measuring the room multiplied by the number of chairs, subtracting the depth of the room measured in feet, etc. The door has a chalkboard on it, complete with some magicky chalky stuff. Applying the chalk to the door causes the door to lock. (Or, if you've already done the "not all doors are locked!" schtick, writing only incorrect answers unlocks the door.)

Also, it should go without saying, but: mimics. You can use them sparingly, you can use them haphazardly, you can change objects and mimics around as the days pass, but yeah, you know where I'm going with this. Room full of mimics and one treasure chest, room full of treasure chests and one mimic, whatever floats your boat. Oh, and that solitary treasure chest is home to a swarm of bees.

2011-09-14, 12:13 PM
my favorite variant of the labyrinth guard puzzle: enter a room with two other sealed doors, two statues, and a plaque or marker which reads "Here stand the guardians, one never speaks lies, one never speaks the truth". When the players try the obvious solution nothing happens. They are completely mundane statues, one doesn't lie and one doesn't tell the truth because neither can actually talk
HA! That's awesome.

2011-09-15, 08:28 PM
You know those dinky preschool toys where there's three holes, one shaped like a circle, one shaped like a square, one shaped like a triangle, then there's a cylinder, a rectangular prism, and a triangular prism; and then there's a dinky soft plastic hammer and you gotta pound the shapes into the right hole because

You gotta have something based off of one of those. Maybe, like, there's a square, and a circle, but instead of a triangle there's a hexagon. Whichever hole they try to pound the hexagon into causes something different to happen.