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Godric
2008-10-05, 10:57 AM
What are the best puzzles you fellow DMs out there have come up with? I'm short on ideas and would love suggestions!

sonofzeal
2008-10-05, 11:32 AM
Written on a door.....

8---5---4---9---1---7---6---3---2

Underneath, are four holes arranged thusly....

---O-------O---------O-------O---

On the ground are four pegs, each of a different colour - red, green, blue, yellow.

If the party puts the pegs in the wrong holes, they get zapped with elemental damage equal to the number of pegs wrong in d6's (so three wrong = 3d6).It's alphabetical, so blue-green-red-yellow

ColonelFuster
2008-10-05, 12:19 PM
Got it, got it. The numbers are in alphebatical order.

only1doug
2008-10-05, 12:25 PM
Written on a door.....

8---5---4---9---1---7---6---3---2

Underneath, are four holes arranged thusly....

---O-------O---------O-------O---

On the ground are four pegs, each of a different colour - red, green, blue, yellow.

If the party puts the pegs in the wrong holes, they get zapped with elemental damage equal to the number of pegs wrong in d6's (so three wrong = 3d6).It's alphabetical, so blue-green-red-yellow

It's Language Dependent - so the party probably won't see the connection as they may well assume that numbering systems in other languages won't be spelled in the same way. for this to work there should be a clue elsewhere with all the numbers written out in order as words.

drengnikrafe
2008-10-05, 01:06 PM
I was always rather fond of when you put the PCs in a rather large room. The door behind them slams shut, and it's perfectly dark. There are 7 switches, of 7 different colors (namely, the colors of the rainbow) scattered around the room in random order. Anybody have darkvision? No good. They need some other sort of light, and they need to figure out that, in order to open the door, or whatever else, they have to pull the levers in decending order of colors of the rainbow.

If they get it wrong... whatever punishment you find befitting.

Hal
2008-10-05, 01:09 PM
Mazes are always fun. (http://www.logicmazes.com/twisty.html)

Zocelot
2008-10-05, 02:16 PM
Mazes are always fun. (http://www.logicmazes.com/twisty.html)

That one was pretty easy, as long as you work backwards.

How do you get "alphabetical order" from the numbers?

Hesquidor
2008-10-05, 02:40 PM
That one was pretty easy, as long as you work backwards.

How do you get "alphabetical order" from the numbers?

As they would be in written form. Eight, Five, Four, etc

sonofzeal
2008-10-05, 03:20 PM
It's Language Dependent - so the party probably won't see the connection as they may well assume that numbering systems in other languages won't be spelled in the same way. for this to work there should be a clue elsewhere with all the numbers written out in order as words.
Well yes, but can be easily adjusted to fit any given language. Unless your session is multilingual, every player should have a fair shot at figuring it out, and the solution (once presented) should be self-evident to anyone with the literacy skills to be playing this game in the first place.

....unless your game doesn't make the implicit Common=English assumption, but that's getting pretty nitpicky.

Chronos
2008-10-05, 04:10 PM
....unless your game doesn't make the implicit Common=English assumption, but that's getting pretty nitpicky.In that case, the assumption is that the puzzle was translated, too. So if the Common word for "seven" is "aach", then in the original Common, the list of numbers would have started with 7.

Of course, there's a couple of problems with any puzzle like this. The first is the question of why it's there. A lock that requires you to put pegs in the right order and zaps you if you get it wrong, sure, that could be useful to restrict access to an area. But anyone who would legitimately get through would surely be able to remember the right order for the pegs, so what's the list of numbers for? And if nobody's supposed to legitimately get through, then why make the "correct" placement work, either? Just zap everyone who tries it.

The second problem is if your players don't want to bother with the puzzle. "There's a large, mysterious door here, marked with four sockets and an inscription that reads--" "OK, I cast Disintegrate on it.".

Douglas
2008-10-05, 04:23 PM
Of course, there's a couple of problems with any puzzle like this. The first is the question of why it's there.
In my DM's homebrew world, A Wizard Did It. Literally.

There is a particular legendary ancient wizard who liked to build dungeons filled with treasure, monsters, and puzzles for fun in his copious free time. Many of these dungeons have since been looted, but he lived a very long time and was one of the most powerful wizards ever born. He made a lot of dungeons.

Oh, and he designed his puzzles to be hard to bypass. Disintegrating a mysterious door in one of his dungeons is unlikely to work.

Irreverent Fool
2008-10-05, 05:06 PM
In my DM's homebrew world, A Wizard Did It. Literally.

There is a particular legendary ancient wizard who liked to build dungeons filled with treasure, monsters, and puzzles for fun in his copious free time. Many of these dungeons have since been looted, but he lived a very long time and was one of the most powerful wizards ever born. He made a lot of dungeons.

Oh, and he designed his puzzles to be hard to bypass. Disintegrating a mysterious door in one of his dungeons is unlikely to work.

So he likes puzzles but despises innovation! Which means if this guy devised the Gordion Knot, you wouldn't have any choice but to untie it the old-fashioned way. I hope that the party gets to give this guy his just desserts. Not that I don't enjoy puzzles but I think after a few of these dungeons my character's new quest would be to trap the wizard in an antimagic dungeon full of unsolvable or arbitrary puzzles.

Zocelot
2008-10-05, 05:09 PM
So he likes puzzles but despises innovation! I hope that the party gets to give this guy his just desserts.

Puzzles=logic, so liking puzzles, but hating innovation is a textbook case of Lawful.

fractic
2008-10-05, 05:11 PM
Puzzles=logic, so liking puzzles, but hating innovation is a textbook case of Lawful.

So all mathematicians are a nightmare on the law-chaos scale? I think you might want to think that over again.

sonofzeal
2008-10-05, 05:50 PM
Of course, there's a couple of problems with any puzzle like this. The first is the question of why it's there.
Any of...

{a} Perverse puppetmaster toying with you for his amusement (but playing by the rules to make things more "fun")

{b} Important test of your worthiness to possess whatever's behind that door.

{c} Random dungeoncrawlness.

Dr Bwaa
2008-10-05, 07:34 PM
a friend and I made a fun, pretty big dungeon together once, with a lot of strange things. A couple highlights:

My players: Do not read this.
A fatespinner, to reach whom you must cross a huge chasm. Two bridges span the chasm; one stone and one rickety and wooden. On the wall is written "let fate decide." A search check (relatively low) reveals a small coin, which cannot leave the room. If the PCs use the coin (presumably by flipping it) to determine which bridge to cross, they will be fine. If they do not use the coin, whichever bridge they choose collapses. If they fly or otherwise avoid the bridges, they can cross, but the fatespinner's attitude shifts one spot towards hostile.
A room with nothing in it but a six-colored cube (one color/side) on a pedestal. The cube cannot be rotated in any way, but it can be "slid" through the air. When the cube is brought into the next room, it is activated.
The room is about 40x40, with barrels ringing the room 5' away from all the walls. The barrels cannot be moved; they are steel and part of the floor. On the walls and ceiling, there are more barrels. All have open tops, and two of the ones of the ground are filled top the brim with blood, which is immune to magical manipulation and boiling at all times. A few barrels are out in the middle of the room, and two "barrels" are actually made out of flesh.
Gravity in this room is about twice what it normally is. Touching a side of the cube orients gravity to that side of the room, which naturally causes blood to pour from one barrel to another. To confuse things even more, a spot/search check reveals walls recessed into the walls, which shoot out anytime blood could cross their path, and redirect the blood somewhere else.
Solving this puzzle is required to access the boss room. Solving it easily involves getting the piece of paper with the correct sequence on it from another room, and then realizing what that paper is. (also, there is a "reset" function by touching a certain sequence). Putting the control cube into a non-or-extradimensional space results in zero-gravity within the room, for extra fun :)

These traps are kind of like the "A Wizard Did It" ones: the whole "dungeon" is a hideout-type-place for "misfit wizards" and so on, each with his own wing. They are all constantly immersed in research and-naturally-competition. What kind of competition? To see who can make the best "dungeon" wing, good enough to prevent all the others from ever actually coming to see them. :smallbiggrin:
Also, this was not only a very fun dungeon project, but also an excuse for the two of us to look through Complete Mage and Complete Arcane and wherever else and make one NPC for every fun/ridiculous/creepy prestige class we could find (blood magus, fatespinner, alienist, effigy master, and so on) :smallsmile:

Zocelot
2008-10-05, 07:42 PM
So all mathematicians are a nightmare on the law-chaos scale? I think you might want to think that over again.

Mathematicians are lawful, yes. I don't see why I'd have to think that over.

Reinboom
2008-10-05, 07:45 PM
Some of these puzzle traps remind me of the NES shadowgate...

Acrux
2008-10-05, 07:49 PM
I heard about a puzzle where the party walked into a room and a cage suddenly dropped on them from the ceiling. Inside the cage were a number of levers, switches, etc. No matter what the party tried, nothing seemed to work (i.e. pull a lever - a random monster teleported (?) into the cage; flip a switch - everyone takes Xd6 damage.)

The solution: Simply take no action for a time, and the cage will recede back into the ceiling. Every time the party pulled a lever or switch, the cage's timer reset. They just needed to wait it out. Deviously simple, and very effective.

sonofzeal
2008-10-05, 07:53 PM
Mathematicians are lawful, yes. I don't see why I'd have to think that over.
Speaking as a recent math grad.... Arithmeticians are lawful. Mathematicians are a bit more nuanced, and usually have a good amount of the creative artist in them, albeit with a particularly abstruse sense of aesthetic. They still might have lawful tendencies on the whole, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Prometheus
2008-10-05, 09:24 PM
I love my set of links:
Thieves's Guild: (http://www.thievesguild.cc/) Puzzles, Riddles, and Traps with an old school feel to them.
Exter Riddles: (http://www.technozen.com/exeter/) Riddles from an authentic anglo-saxon source.
Riddle/Logic-Puzzel Archive (http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~wwu/riddles/intro.shtml) An unending list, sorted by difficulty, with all the best riddles included. Unfortunately, you have to got to the forums or google if you can't figure out the solution to the riddle yourself.

Puzzle's I've used in the past:
-A room full of statues, facing different directions. There is also three doors and a warning saying that the wrong one will unleash a monster. One of the statues is different from the others (a maiden, with an arm outstretched in my case). If you follow her line of sight, she is looking at another statue. If you follow it's line of sight, and the next's, on and on, you reach on of the doors. Also, each of the doors has one of the statues looking at it and there are some statues that are looked at by more than on statue (one of which is never looked at).
-A room full of scatted books, and an empty bookshelf with periodic bookends affixed to it. Arranging the books in a certain order that tells a story with the titles (like this, except clearer) (http://www.ninakatchadourian.com/languagetranslation/sortedbooks-sharkjournal.php) with each sentence ending at one of the bookends (really its an aid to the players), solves the puzzle. I also put a wise-cracking talking frog to insult them while they were trying to figure it out. If they were really stumped, it would let slip a hint about what they were supposed to be doing.
-A room that is a portal to an angry mob, who is angry about nearly anything, but knows where the door to continue (or the key to pick up) is.
-A room full of keys of different sizes, shapes, & materials and also a door with a large lock that has space for a single key. The door is actually under an illusion that makes it appear to be locked, but it isn't, unless you try to open it with any of the keys. Similarly, knock and lock pick checks fail.
-A room full of mud (quicksand) and a stone statue of an empty clam shell at the other end of the room. Somewhere in the mud is a pristine white marble globe, resembling a pearl, that needs to be put in the clam shell.
-a peg solitaire board (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peg_solitaire), with specially marked spaces and an explanatory board. Each space corresponds to a different monster, or group of monsters (from easy to hard, and some of which are empty) that would be summoned to attack the PCs if there is a peg on the space when the PCs have no moves less. But, however they solve the puzzle, the result (plus killing the monsters) opens the next door. It is possible to solve the puzzle without fighting monsters, but usually the result is to have 2-4 pegs that includes some of the medium-to-easy monsters. A similar thing can be done with other basic strategy games: checkers, chess, Chinese checkers, go, etc...
-a three dimensional or four dimensional maze. The former is created by having 2D mazes equal to the number of floors and steps between them. The latter is a 2D matrix of 2D mazes, similar to a teleporter maze. Of course, there is treasure and monsters abound.

2008-10-05, 10:50 PM
My favorite puzzle so far was pretty mathy. I gave the players tiles each with a digit 1-9. They had to arrange the digits to form a number divisible by 9. Lopping off the right most digit left a number divisible by 8. Removing the next would leave a number divisible by 7. Etc. Divisibility rules were handed out at the beginning too, just so it wouldn't take too long.

What I liked about the puzzle was that it wasn't one of those puzzles that there stare at, then the lightbulb goes off, then the puzzle is solved. They made progress and chipped away at individual pieces. Solving a digit helped the digits around it, without giving too much away. The only problem was that my group were all programmers and wanted to write code to solve it for them.

I'm eventually planning on running a Mage game inspired by The Cryptonomicon. I want to give them a cipher that uses Never Gonna Give You Up as its one time pad and have them accidentally solve the pad first. Whether or not they assume that's the cipher text is up to them. But I really want to make them decode this thing for a couple hours only to get rick rolled. Since the message would likely come from nerdy hackers, it's entirely story appropriate too!

averagejoe
2008-10-05, 11:17 PM
Mathematicians are lawful, yes. I don't see why I'd have to think that over.

You obviously don't know many mathematicians. Math is, by and large, more of an art than a science. Then again, science is more of an art than a science.

chronoplasm
2008-10-06, 12:14 AM
Heres a couple of ideas:

1) The players are wandering around an abandoned alchemist's lab in an old mine.
There are doors all over the place marked with chemical symbols. In order to open the doors, players must use the keys made out of the appropriate metal. Using the wrong key sets off a trap, and using the brass key sets off an uber-trap.

2) In the topsy-turvy dungeon, players must do the opposite of what the clues obviously indicate that they should do.
The blue key obviously goes to the blue door and the orange key obviously opens the orange door, right? Yes, but those doors will only lead you around in circles. To progress, you must put the keys in the wrong doors. When you do so, you set off a trap. A trap door opens beneath you taking you to the floor below where you actually need to go.

2008-10-06, 02:47 AM
I had an interesting ward on a necropolis - a city twisted and warped by the magic of a mad lich - that completely stumped the players one time, although more through mental laziness on their part than anything else.

The city is arranged in a grid pattern, and the players need to get through it to reach the middle. Attempting to fly above the city gets you spotted by the guardian shadow dragons. Attempting to go around the city works, but doesn't let you reach your goal. Attempting to go under the city likewise fails. Entering the city, you pass through the a sequence of alleys between the buildings at the edge of town, which takes you to an intersection. It is at this point that the maze begins. The players can move forwards, backwards, left, or right, and each time they progress through a series of twisting alleyways with blind turns, to emerge in another street intersection.

Ultimately, the key is pretty simple. Moving right (counterclockwise) takes you backwards in time, and you continue to progress backwards all the way through the original sacking of the town and beyond, if need be. Moving left (clockwise) takes you forwards in time, to the continued expansions and renovations of the lich after he conquers the world and whatnot. Forwards takes you backwards geographically, to the point where the players will hit the edge of town that they entered on if they continue to push forwards. Backwards (reversing direction each time) takes you in to the city.

Still, not letting them in on the key and watching them fumble around was highly amusing, as they scanned for illusions, enchantments, and everything else. They actually sparred with the lich in the past, temporarily defeating him, but were unable to locate his phylactery. They eventually got it, not by reversing direction each time, but by moving backwards in time until the shadow dragons didn't exist, flying over the city to the place they wanted to be, and then moving forward in time to the present. If you want to toughen up the puzzle, you could let that be the *only* solution. :smallamused:

Jack_Simth
2008-10-06, 07:06 AM
What are the best puzzles you fellow DMs out there have come up with? I'm short on ideas and would love suggestions!

Suggestion:
Be very, very careful with your use of puzzles.

See, there's a very strong tendency with puzzles to make a single "correct" answer, and have all the "wrong" answers be punished somehow. Additionally, something that seems "simple enough" or "obvious enough" to one person could stump another completely. If it turns out nobody in your party sees the "correct" answer, and you've got things set up to punish anything that's not the single, defined, "correct" answer, be prepared to either drop hints or deal with a group of exceedingly frustrated people.

Reinboom
2008-10-06, 07:27 AM
Functional puzzles tend to work better than word-play, information based, or password puzzles. Especially if the functional puzzle can include (and not just use) all the party members.

An old gate door that has been jammed shut for simple mechanical reasons. However, whoever built it was a bit... convoluted in their construction plans. The genius who went on a tangent, but unfortunately for whoever needed to use the keep, the only person that could build such contraptions.
The idea is simple on the user end. Pull the lever down, and the long set of pulleys and weights switch in such a way as to cause the door to lift. Push the lever up, the door drops. The issue? The level seems to be broken, and given the thick plating - it won't be easy to get in behind to fix it - even if you can figure out how (high DC ... disable device, maybe... if they can get figure out their way behind the lever).
However, it does appear fortunately that this wall has been damaged a bit. For, part of the pulley/weight system is revealed on the other side. This keep, being used again, however, seems to have led someone to roll a freaking huge rock in the way of it. Further, the only simple device in their that directly leads to the door being pulled up, sort of a reverse elevator pulley system, is completely blocked off, and shown for only a split moment behind more back up plating right after the lever is pulled down - then jams on something.
Cutting the rope right when it's pulled would be the solution, but with a door detailed enough, more solutions will appear. The more mechanical, the better.

A sliding wall that decent mapping skills will lead to solutions for. A door that is very clearly on the otherside of a chasm with levers that each one lifts certain bridge points, but lets down others, in a very observable fashion would be another decent one. Anything that the party can observe the workings of the puzzle with, instead of trying to figure out the entire puzzle at once on a hit or miss basis.

jcsw
2008-10-06, 07:31 AM
There's a good reason for Puzzles: The same reason why dungeonkeepers put in monsters. Some challenges require someone of worthy strength, some, worthy dexterity. So a challenge that requires someone of worthy intelligence is not out of the question.

only1doug
2008-10-06, 07:57 AM
Well yes, but can be easily adjusted to fit any given language. Unless your session is multilingual, every player should have a fair shot at figuring it out, and the solution (once presented) should be self-evident to anyone with the literacy skills to be playing this game in the first place.

....unless your game doesn't make the implicit Common=English assumption, but that's getting pretty nitpicky.

My GMs don't make the Puzzle = written in common assumption.

The Puzzle might be written in the language of the creator of the puzzle (for his underlings to use) or in the most obscure language he knew (as the puzzle was just an memory aid for him) but why should it be written in common?