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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Are these approapiate puzzles

    Okay my players often complain my puzzles are too hard. For instance I had a resource trading puzzle once, there were five maps of cities, a paragragh describing what the city produced, demanded and some irrelevant details about culture. Three podiums behind each map, two podiums loaded down with a sample of the trading goods the city produced and a third was empty. The idea was for the party to take one resource produced by one city and put it on the empty podium of a city that demanded this. Do this until every city had all its demands satisfied.

    I felt it was simple and obvious but the players... they decided the solution was to order each resource produced by order of importance. And the declared I had made an unusually and unfairly complex puzzle.

    Well now Im preparing another puzzle. The party is going to be sent after a cache of angelic weapons designed for battling abberant threats hidden in a dungeon created by the ex treasurer of hell Astaroth.

    At the end of the dungeon is going to be an empty treasure chest. By that chest will be another chest full of gold and platinum and gems. There will be a placard that reads "Take everything then leave and never return" The goal of the puzzle will be to take everything from the full chest, put it in the empty chest, walk out, then walk back in. Then the room will descend to a lower level where the weapons they are actually after will be kept.

    Is this puzzle too complicated you think?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    I don't think this puzzle is too complicated. It's actually fairly simple. However, it is also essentially unsolvable; that is, I don't see how the players can figure out what they're supposed to do. To get to the armory, the players have to do the exact opposite of what the placard instructs them to do: Take nothing instead of everything, and return at once instead of never.
    Last edited by InvisibleBison; 2016-10-26 at 11:07 PM.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    ...Yes, I do think it's too complicated. I wouldn't solve it, nor would any of the parties I've run a game for. PCs often don't really look that far into things. I don't think it's their fault- it's hard to ask the right questions when you don't even know that you should be asking questions at all. Plus, it sounds like your puzzles are really intricate and cryptic. While they might have internally consistent logic, determining how that logic works when you're on the outside can be almost impossible (even to smart individuals) because of the lack of clues. What's obvious the author often isn't to the reader.

    In my experience, linear puzzles (one solution) in tabletop RPGs are usually a bad idea - especially if solving them is necessary to carry on. Even a moderately complex puzzle can be extremely frustrating for players. Generally, people play RPGs to fight things, explore their surroundings, and roleplay a character. Using one's own intellect exclusively (rather than your character's abilities or some combination of the two) to solve a linear, artificial problem, while often fun in its own right, is a completely different experience... an experience completely divorced from the idea of playing a character, which is core to the idea of an RPG.

    To use video games as an example, Portal and Skyrim are both great. Portal is a puzzle game, fun because its puzzles are challenging and require thought, but can be solved with some time and effort. (One thing that helped me enjoy Portal is that you can almost always see what the objective is- it sounds like in your puzzles, that's not always the case, making them a lot more difficult to solve. I suppose that's just different styles, though.) Skyrim, on the other hand, is an RPG, fun because of its exploration, combat, story, and crafting. (But mostly the exploration.) It also has puzzles, though, and I've always thought that they feel really out of place. They don't add anything. Every minute I spend spinning obelisks is a minute I'm not exploring some interesting locale or story- a minute not really playing Skyrim.

    The other problem is that (from the scene you've presented, at least) you're designing your puzzles with the expectation that they be solved. If your players don't figure out your puzzle, they've failed. They can't get the cache of weapons. That's extremely unsatisfying ending- as a player, this would frustrate me to no end. A better idea is to have optional puzzles- have it be the path of least resistance (but one of several choices), or hide a second treasure room behind a puzzle. This can be a really good idea, I think- reward your players for attentiveness and clever thinking without making it mandatory.

    The other option (for contrived puzzles, at least) is to make your puzzles extremely easy. At that point, though, why even have puzzles? IMO, it's really hard to have a manufactured puzzle add to your game- too hard, nobody gets it, too easy, it might as well not be there.

    Freeform puzzles, though, work really well in RPGs. Less of the "pour the right amount of liquid into each jug to open the door," more of the "get the duke's magic ring (from inside the keep) and replace it with this cursed fake." In my experience, encouraging PCs to come up with out-of-the-box solutions is much more fun than forcing them to think a certain way to accomplish anything.

    Of course, this is just my two coppers. I'm sure there's some people who love linear puzzles in RPGs, and that's totally fine- it just doesn't sound (from your brief description) like that's a group your players fall into.

    Hope I've been helpful! Good luck!

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    I don't think this puzzle is too complicated. It's actually fairly simple. However, it is also essentially unsolvable; that is, I don't see how the players can figure out what they're supposed to do. To get to the armory, the players have to do the exact opposite of what the placard instructs them to do: Take nothing instead of everything, and return at once instead of never.
    Well I need help designing a better puzzle as I unfortunetely play point and click puzzle games a lot. And those have puzzles like, use these various lens to adjust the beam of light to a specific point on the color spectrum which is represented by a mathematical corralary. You can find where on the spectrum by solving a riddle which leads you to find a specific radio station. That stations radio frequency is also the number corralating to the point on the light spectrum you want.

    So here is what I would think when I see this puzzle.

    1. Following the directions of the placard is obviously wrong as if we leave with the treasure we wont get the weapons.

    2. List out possible actions I could take.

    3. The first and most obvious actions on my list would be to do something with the empty treasure chest.

    4. First thing to do with that empty chest would be to fill it.

    5. When nothing happens there, thats when I would try to think of the only clue in the room. The placard. First since Im not going to do what it says. The most obvious thing would be to do the opposite. But if that didnt occur to me I would try to find more clues with skills.

    6. Roll perception for clues. Note the empty chest is on a pressure plate and that there is a second just outside the door.

    7. And after that I cannot fathom how I would not figure out the solution.

    So how would a regular player think in a situation like this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rusvul View Post
    ...Yes, I do think it's too complicated. I wouldn't solve it, nor would any of the parties I've run a game for. PCs often don't really look that far into things. I don't think it's their fault- it's hard to ask the right questions when you don't even know that you should be asking questions at all. Plus, it sounds like your puzzles are really intricate and cryptic. While they might have internally consistent logic, determining how that logic works when you're on the outside can be almost impossible (even to smart individuals) because of the lack of clues. What's obvious the author often isn't to the reader.

    In my experience, linear puzzles (one solution) in tabletop RPGs are usually a bad idea - especially if solving them is necessary to carry on. Even a moderately complex puzzle can be extremely frustrating for players. Generally, people play RPGs to fight things, explore their surroundings, and roleplay a character. Using one's own intellect exclusively (rather than your character's abilities or some combination of the two) to solve a linear, artificial problem, while often fun in its own right, is a completely different experience... an experience completely divorced from the idea of playing a character, which is core to the idea of an RPG.

    To use video games as an example, Portal and Skyrim are both great. Portal is a puzzle game, fun because its puzzles are challenging and require thought, but can be solved with some time and effort. (One thing that helped me enjoy Portal is that you can almost always see what the objective is- it sounds like in your puzzles, that's not always the case, making them a lot more difficult to solve. I suppose that's just different styles, though.) Skyrim, on the other hand, is an RPG, fun because of its exploration, combat, story, and crafting. (But mostly the exploration.) It also has puzzles, though, and I've always thought that they feel really out of place. They don't add anything. Every minute I spend spinning obelisks is a minute I'm not exploring some interesting locale or story- a minute not really playing Skyrim.

    The other problem is that (from the scene you've presented, at least) you're designing your puzzles with the expectation that they be solved. If your players don't figure out your puzzle, they've failed. They can't get the cache of weapons. That's extremely unsatisfying ending- as a player, this would frustrate me to no end. A better idea is to have optional puzzles- have it be the path of least resistance (but one of several choices), or hide a second treasure room behind a puzzle. This can be a really good idea, I think- reward your players for attentiveness and clever thinking without making it mandatory.

    The other option (for contrived puzzles, at least) is to make your puzzles extremely easy. At that point, though, why even have puzzles? IMO, it's really hard to have a manufactured puzzle add to your game- too hard, nobody gets it, too easy, it might as well not be there.

    Freeform puzzles, though, work really well in RPGs. Less of the "pour the right amount of liquid into each jug to open the door," more of the "get the duke's magic ring (from inside the keep) and replace it with this cursed fake." In my experience, encouraging PCs to come up with out-of-the-box solutions is much more fun than forcing them to think a certain way to accomplish anything.

    Of course, this is just my two coppers. I'm sure there's some people who love linear puzzles in RPGs, and that's totally fine- it just doesn't sound (from your brief description) like that's a group your players fall into.

    Hope I've been helpful! Good luck!
    Well as what you said basically boils down to "dont do puzzles" Im going to have to not take your advice. Puzzles are a staple of any adventure story.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    @Rusvel. And I do have an alternate solution for them that just uses skills. I assume if they get stuck on the puzzle, theyll take 20 on perception. And discover that the floor beneath them is hollow and the pressure plate. Then they have the option of dismantling the pressure plate, discovering a shaft beneath it used to maintain the elevator. Then they can climb down that way. One big skill challenge. And if they fail that, theyll get into the shaft but trigger the elevator accidetally somehow while climbing down and fall, taking a bunch of falling damage and drawing from the injury deck. But the game will go on.

    But I do want the puzzle to be something potentially solvable, like legend of Zelda quality puzzle.
    Last edited by Verbannon; 2016-10-27 at 12:38 AM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Unlike in video games, in tabletop games if they get stuck they can't look up a walkthrough or hint book.

    When you're making a plot, you probably shouldn't put in the assumption that they will solve any given puzzle. If it's important to your plot that they go somewhere, don't put a puzzle in the way, especially if your players don't enjoy puzzles.

    Actually, if nobody in your group except you enjoys puzzles, just don't use them. Save them for a group who likes them. I think this might be the case b/c they ignored your trade puzzle.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by Beneath View Post
    Unlike in video games, in tabletop games if they get stuck they can't look up a walkthrough or hint book.

    When you're making a plot, you probably shouldn't put in the assumption that they will solve any given puzzle. If it's important to your plot that they go somewhere, don't put a puzzle in the way, especially if your players don't enjoy puzzles.

    Actually, if nobody in your group except you enjoys puzzles, just don't use them. Save them for a group who likes them. I think this might be the case b/c they ignored your trade puzzle.
    Well Im playing online so Im free to kick them for not liking puzzles. So stop giving me opinions on the concept of puzzles and start giving me opinions on how to make it a puzzle of a game like legend of zelda where only morons need a hint book.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    My train of tought when seeing this trap is something like this:

    Oh look, an empty and a full chest, and some random instructions, nothing else in the room (if i failed spot). I would just assume someone already took the weapons and simply left, or didnt care for the gold.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    Well Im playing online so Im free to kick them for not liking puzzles. So stop giving me opinions on the concept of puzzles and start giving me opinions on how to make it a puzzle of a game like legend of zelda where only morons need a hint book.
    Puzzles aren't everyone's favourite thing about adventure games.
    Kicking out players who don't enjoy your deliberately hard puzzles is not necessarily going to find you players who do enjoy them, but it will get you a rep for kicking out players. If that's okay with you, then that's okay - fill your boots!

    Players are often dumber than their super-smart characters.
    I recommend, no matter how easy YOU think a puzzle is, you should have a series of prepared hints for different levels of success in an appropriate intelligence (or equivalent) skill check. This lets you use the player characters' intelligence when it looks like the players themselves are stuck.

    Think about how your PC party will work around your puzzles, as well as the solution.
    I ran a game where a door in a temple was barred, and could be opened by solving a set of scriptural riddles. These could easily be solved by initiates of the religion of the temple - which was ancient and forgotten, and in a dead language. So I made a bunch of bad translations of the riddles, set a load of difficulty targets for the religious interpretations, and presented it to the players.
    They cast "read languages" - getting a perfect translation - solved most of the riddles by deduction, and used "divination" to determine the last options they hadn't solved, and opened the door.

    Similarly, with regards to your specific puzzle - angelic weapons stashed away by a hellish treasurer - I'm assuming you're talking D&D here? If so, I know how I would bypass the puzzle - I'd nick the pile of treasure and use the funds to make my own holy weapons. Sorted.
    Sure, the hidden stashed weapons might be better than the ones I'm able to get made, but I can make mine NOW, at low risk, with a load of free money that's come my way. Descending into a tricksy dungeon where there MIGHT be some promised better weapons isn't worth it.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    Well Im playing online so Im free to kick them for not liking puzzles. So stop giving me opinions on the concept of puzzles and start giving me opinions on how to make it a puzzle of a game like legend of zelda where only morons need a hint book.
    Sure, you can kick them, or they can kick you for being a boring DM, and creating unfun, frustrating content they dont want to play. Just because you dm for them, they dont need to put up with your.

    Video game puzzles like the kind you use are great in games that limit your actions. When your actions are limited to "interact with full chest" "interact with empty chest" "leave room" "enter room", and you are certain you need to solve the puzzle to continue, even if you dont understand the puzzle, you only need time and random clicking. When you play a TTRPG, and you have a broad spectrum of actions AND the is always a chance that something isnt even a puzzle, it gets much harder

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by EvilCookie View Post
    Sure, you can kick them, or they can kick you for being a boring DM, and creating unfun, frustrating content they dont want to play. Just because you dm for them, they dont need to put up with your.

    Video game puzzles like the kind you use are great in games that limit your actions. When your actions are limited to "interact with full chest" "interact with empty chest" "leave room" "enter room", and you are certain you need to solve the puzzle to continue, even if you dont understand the puzzle, you only need time and random clicking. When you play a TTRPG, and you have a broad spectrum of actions AND the is always a chance that something isnt even a puzzle, it gets much harder
    They cant kick me. All they can do is leave. Which is fine by me. I got throughly sick of trying to satisfy my players months ago.

    Honestly I dont even want players that are too stupid to think. But as I know my ability to balance puzzles is hindered by my skill with them, I do want to make sure my puzzles are something a reasonably intelligent person could figure out at least a third of the time.

    Of course thus far, Ive got nothing but anti puzzle responses, so I can safely assume they are from people who got caught in a chinese finger puzzle and resorted to surgically removing a finger to escape.

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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    You sound like a DM I would be positively enthusiastic to get kicked by.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    Puzzles aren't everyone's favourite thing about adventure games.
    Kicking out players who don't enjoy your deliberately hard puzzles is not necessarily going to find you players who do enjoy them, but it will get you a rep for kicking out players. If that's okay with you, then that's okay - fill your boots!

    Players are often dumber than their super-smart characters.
    I recommend, no matter how easy YOU think a puzzle is, you should have a series of prepared hints for different levels of success in an appropriate intelligence (or equivalent) skill check. This lets you use the player characters' intelligence when it looks like the players themselves are stuck.

    Think about how your PC party will work around your puzzles, as well as the solution.
    I ran a game where a door in a temple was barred, and could be opened by solving a set of scriptural riddles. These could easily be solved by initiates of the religion of the temple - which was ancient and forgotten, and in a dead language. So I made a bunch of bad translations of the riddles, set a load of difficulty targets for the religious interpretations, and presented it to the players.
    They cast "read languages" - getting a perfect translation - solved most of the riddles by deduction, and used "divination" to determine the last options they hadn't solved, and opened the door.

    Similarly, with regards to your specific puzzle - angelic weapons stashed away by a hellish treasurer - I'm assuming you're talking D&D here? If so, I know how I would bypass the puzzle - I'd nick the pile of treasure and use the funds to make my own holy weapons. Sorted.
    Sure, the hidden stashed weapons might be better than the ones I'm able to get made, but I can make mine NOW, at low risk, with a load of free money that's come my way. Descending into a tricksy dungeon where there MIGHT be some promised better weapons isn't worth it.
    Its deliberetly easy actually. Thats why I made this thread, either my players are just really stupid or there is some element Im overlooking that causes them to head off on weird completely nonsensical logical tangents while just disregarding all the clues. Rearranging the products in order of importance? How... there isnt a single part of that plan that makes any sense.

    And I already have the alternate methods with skill checks and intelligent checks and whatnot. Im getting really frustrated here with people not actually answering my query.

    And stop trying to interpose an imagined context to my puzzle. As far as you know there is no exit. That just outside the puzzle room is an army of abberants. You dont need to know the context or guess it, its irrelevant to answering the query.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by EvilCookie View Post
    My train of tought when seeing this trap is something like this:

    Oh look, an empty and a full chest, and some random instructions, nothing else in the room (if i failed spot). I would just assume someone already took the weapons and simply left, or didnt care for the gold.
    Well you guessed the context wrong since the players would know absolutely that the weapons are still there somewhere in the dungeon. Since they were sent here to retrieve them by Astaroth the guy who put them here. And since he happens to be a vestige of knowledge and prophesy he would know if someone ribbed them ahead of time. But you font need to know this because the co text is irrelevant since my question clearly is meant to be taken in a vacuum so the focus can be on the challenge level of the puzzle.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by EvilCookie View Post
    Sure, you can kick them, or they can kick you for being a boring DM, and creating unfun, frustrating content they dont want to play. Just because you dm for them, they dont need to put up with your.

    Video game puzzles like the kind you use are great in games that limit your actions. When your actions are limited to "interact with full chest" "interact with empty chest" "leave room" "enter room", and you are certain you need to solve the puzzle to continue, even if you dont understand the puzzle, you only need time and random clicking. When you play a TTRPG, and you have a broad spectrum of actions AND the is always a chance that something isnt even a puzzle, it gets much harder
    So you are saying in a very condescending way for the puzzles to work I need to limit their options?

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by LeSwordfish View Post
    You sound like a DM I would be positively enthusiastic to get kicked by.
    Well Im pissed off now. I ask a simple query about if a puzzle of mine is an approapiate puzzle, instead I get people telling me not to use puzzles. You know maybe I actually got a request from my players for there to be some actual puzzles in my dungeons. Which I did. Maybe you A-holes should stop making assumptions about my campaign and actually answer my question. I have no patience for people who make assumptions about my campaigns then make posts that arent an answer to my query.


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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    These puzzles seem very artificial. Who created them, why make such weird set-ups? It seems like the answers are "the GM did" and "because the GM likes puzzles". I agree that problem solving can be excellent in games, but I prefer to make that part of the plot, not separate self-contained things.

    One puzzle in my last game. The enemy is in a huge flying fortress, it's protected by elevation, being able to move, "radar" that will see through stealth at close range, and by being full of heavily armed enemies. I did not create this with a known solution. The players worked that out.

    I had previously given them access to the "Corpse Gate" ritual, which would let them open a teleport portal to the location of a corpse that they had part of. The fluff of finding this ritual made it clear nobody else knew about it. So they party headed down to an enemy ground station, and killed everyone there, after making sure they got a distress signal out, taking "trophies" from their kills like the typical barbarians the enemy thought they were. The enemy relief forces arrived, and finding nobody left alive, collected the bodies and left. Then, rather than just porting their party of four into the fortress morgue, they traded that gateway to a militaristic religious group. What would have been a tough "dungeon" for four PCs was assaulted by twenty or more heavily armed veteran paladins. The best bit: the party got paid three times. Once for taking out the ground station, once by the paladins, and again by the people they saved from the flying fortress.

    That's the type of thing I do for a puzzle. It's part of the world, an important part of the plot, and didn't have a known solution at the start. It's also solved by the PCs being PCs: combat, subterfuge, travel, and working out how to get paid for it.
    Last edited by Excession; 2016-10-27 at 04:31 AM.

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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Also, if you're just looking for simple on-topic answer I think it's obvious that people think no, it's not appropriate.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    The problem with puzzles is that there are generally two places where a GM can draw the concept from: written (or oral) stories and video games. And both of them follow entirely different rules than tabletop RPGs, and need to have the expectations and their inner workings entirely changed for them to feel "right". Simply making a puzzle will not work because the very nature of puzzles changes.

    In written stories, novels and such, there is no real "puzzle" to solve, because the reader does not need to solve the puzzle in order to continue with the story. The reader merely observes the characters in the book solving the puzzle. While a good novel will engage the reader in the puzzle as well, the reader's inability to solve it does not matter, because the story is already written. What more, puzzles in novels often have a very specific purpose other than "being a puzzle". They tell something about the story, the characters or the overall setting. That is their primary narrative purpose, not being a puzzle to be solved. Since novels are (barring a few exceptions) completely linear and do not have any audience input in them, I think we can safely ignore novels as a method of delivering puzzles.

    In video games, the player is part of solving the puzzle. This already makes the design of the puzzle an integral part of it: the puzzle needs to be both engaging on a mental level, interesting on a narrative level and neither too easy nor too hard. If a puzzle isn't any of those, it starts to fall apart. If it's not mentally engaging, the player will feel bored when doing it. If it's not interesting on the narrative level the player will begin to wonder why it's even there in the first place. And for difficulty, if it's too easy it'll just feel like an unnecessary speedbump, and if it's too hard it'll feel unfair, like there's no way to solve it properly. Thankfully, one can always look up guides to solve puzzles that are too hard, so a player doesn't have to be an expert in puzzles and can still progress to the rest of the story without being stumped by some insanely obscure puzzle. Of course, looking up guides isn't exactly satisfying, and in a video game that is focused around puzzles (like, say, Myst) looking up guides often will leave the player without much satisfaction out of the game. However, in games where puzzles aren't the main component guides aren't as big of a problem.

    A puzzle's difficulty, since it seems to be the biggest topic here, is created by many different facets. One of the biggest variables in a puzzle is the amount of options you have. If you are in an empty featureless room and have only three items to work with, it is a much simpler puzzle than having an entire and fully furnished dungeon as your source material. Due to this, the tools that you have in a puzzle are always limited, even in video games that don't explicitly say what items in your inventory you can use, because the amount of interactions you can have in a video game are always limited. Video games are also very explicit in what works and what doesn't. Try to combine a wrench with a bucket? The game will prevent you from doing so, thus eliminating one combination and allowing the player to move onto the next.

    Roleplaying games, on the other hand, have none of these limitations. You can, if you want, combine a wrench with a bucket as long as the GM allows you to. Roleplaying games allow for infinitely more interaction with everything and will never explicitly tell you that you're not allowed to do it, perhaps ironically eliminating the process of elimination. Roleplaying games don't have guides you can look up if you are unable to figure something out. The similarities between roleplaying games and other media when it comes to puzzles is superficial at best, because the reason for the puzzles is entirely different (versus linear stories) or the process of solving them is infinitely more complicated (versus video games). This alone makes the idea of taking the concept of puzzles out of either medium extremely difficult without some significant modifications. The best comparison to make would be...

    Real life. Due to the availability and complexity of actions one can take in roleplaying games, the best comparison would be to the real world. And ignoring the part where we very rarely face actual puzzles in our daily lives, even real world puzzles are very often 1) with clearly defined parameters of what you can or cannot do, 2) hinging on our own gathered knowledge of the topic, 3) entirely open-ended with no "right" solution, only different ways to do it, or 4) a combination of the above. What more, the very definition of a "puzzle" in the real world is entirely ambiguous. In a way, the best way to create a puzzle is in itself a puzzle: it has a problem that needs to be solved, but are there any right or wrong answers? Perhaps not, but I at the very least see a few better ways of doing something. Puzzles are not really anything except problems with solutions. And very few problems only have a single solution. And those that do have a single solution are either way too complicated or extremely simple. And neither of those are good.

    Of course, everything hinges simply on how well you portray the puzzle. The players need to know every relevant detail, know which details are irrelevant, and be able to form a logical string created by their own gathered information that leads to the solution. The puzzles you make should be for the benefit of the players, to engage them mentally and interest them narratively. Ask yourself out-of-character, why are the puzzles there? Are they there because they have an in-game reason for being there, or are they there because you like to engage your players? If the puzzle does not have any reason to be there beyond "it's a puzzle" either you need to come up with a reason or find players who enjoy that kind of thing. And if the puzzles are not engaging for the players, what are they there for?


    Finally, every single puzzle you yourself create will feel easy. Why? Because you created them. You know precisely what to look for, what's important and what isn't. You know how the in-game creator of the puzzle thinks, you know what is a bluff and what isn't. Most importantly, you know what is part of the puzzle and what isn't. The players know none of this, and unless you make it clear to them through one way or another, they have no way of even beginning to form any idea about how the puzzle might be solved, let alone solve it in a timely fashion.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    1. Following the directions of the placard is obviously wrong as if we leave with the treasure we wont get the weapons.

    [...]5. When nothing happens there, thats when I would try to think of the only clue in the room. The placard. First since Im not going to do what it says. The most obvious thing would be to do the opposite. But if that didnt occur to me I would try to find more clues with skills.
    Perhaps this makes sense, if you think about it from the perspective of whoever created the puzzle (who probably wanted to keep people out). I suspect many players would be prone to trust the instructions, since we are taught from a young age to follow instructions (both in school and in most games you're generally better off following the instructions than ignoring them). I highly doubt the players' first instinct will be to ignore the only instructions given.

    Maybe you should find some puzzles that are explained only in writing and try to solve them yourself, and then pick one of the easiest ones?

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    Its deliberetly easy actually.
    No, it isn't. Puzzles are hard by their nature. If it were easy, it wouldn't be a puzzle, it'd just be a mechanism.

    You might think it's easy, but that's because you designed it and know the logic behind it. You've stated in both the examples that you've given that you've included misleading or irrelevant information in the "clues". I think this is the first thing you should try to avoid - misleading information will lead the players away from the solution.

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    Thats why I made this thread, either my players are just really stupid or there is some element Im overlooking that causes them to head off on weird completely nonsensical logical tangents while just disregarding all the clues. Rearranging the products in order of importance? How... there isnt a single part of that plan that makes any sense.
    Your misleading information included in the clues are part of the problem, but in this example, the layout is also an issue.
    You've got three podiums for each city, two of which are loaded with that city's trade goods, and one empty. Two of your podiums are serving the same function as each other.
    You would have been better off having one large podium for the trade goods the city produces, and one for what they demand. That would have been much clearer.
    Three podiums suggests a ranking - gold, silver, bronze; 1st, 2nd, 3rd.

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    And I already have the alternate methods with skill checks and intelligent checks and whatnot. Im getting really frustrated here with people not actually answering my query.
    I'm sorry my suggestion wasn't what you were looking for, but it's good to see you're not relying on player smarts over character smarts.
    Except that when your players started going completely wrong, surely this method would have meant you would have given them skill rolls to put them back on track? I mean, a sufficiently high successful skill roll means that the characters have some serious insight. Are you giving the players appropriate information to solve the puzzle in return for these successes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    And stop trying to interpose an imagined context to my puzzle. As far as you know there is no exit. That just outside the puzzle room is an army of abberants. You dont need to know the context or guess it, its irrelevant to answering the query.
    Again, you're hiding information and attacking people when they don't act on that information.
    I used your puzzle as an example and added imagined details of my own because you haven't given us enough information to understand the situation. Your query doesn't exist in a vacuum - the appropriateness of these puzzles is influenced by the situation that the puzzle is presented in. So the number of exits, presence of deadly monstrous threats, etc, are all relevant.

    From your initial query, and your responses to our discussion of it, it seems to me like you need to work on imagining how other people think, and considering what information they will need to come to the same conclusions as you.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Personally, if I was in that scenario, I'd see the chest full of gold as something like a trap or maybe a mimic and go nowhere near it without some very large weapons.

    Someone further up thread mentioned Portal, which has a very good example something I think you should consider more deeply - how the player is led to the solution of their current puzzle by how they solved previous puzzles, and that solution incrementally leads to what they'll eventually have to do at the end.

    For your puzzle, you need to have the idea that there's weight triggered switches before the PCs even start the adventure - be that rumours, letting them research where they're going or someone outright telling them. Then you need to introduce them and make them slightly more complicated each time, so by the time they get to this last one, they might need to set different weights in multiple chests at the same time rather than simply move things around from one place to another, with each type of coin and gemstone being different weights and with penalties for failure.

    But I would just ask this question, are you trying to create good puzzles for your players that will stretch them mentally, or are you trying to prove how clever you are at creating puzzles by giving them things they can't solve without you telling them how to do it?

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Looking at this from different angles:
    From the parties point of view:
    There's a chest full of gold, obvious trap and an empty chest. Conclusion: Either someone looking specifically for those weapons was faster and left the gold, because why bother. Or it's a deliberate misdirection by the original Architect of the vault. For case Nr.2: look for traps, hidden doors etc. Find the 2 pressure plates, think - oh crap - I presumably already triggered whatever the plate outside does. Back away slowly and proceed to fill the second chest with create water or similar spell to trigger the plate and see what it does...

    I do not think your puzzle is too hard, in fact I do not think it is a puzzle. Presumably the vaults creator intended this to be either a "just the worthy" selection mechanism or simply an elaborate secret door type of deal. In my opinion it does neither of these jobs well, for selecting the worthy it is lacking a clear theme and for a hidden door misdirection it's too obvious that something can be done here.

    My suggestion would be to take a step back, ignore whatever preconceived solution you had in mind and try to think of what the original creators intentions were. I'd just trap the gold chest and leave out the pressure plate on the outside. The empty chest is misdirection and you need to fill it with something heavy to start the secret elevator. (Maybe the dungeons creator had a convenient spell for that). If the party doesn't have suitable material or isn't willing to hop into the chest themselves, the gold is conviniently located nearby (if they avoid whatever trap you created). Be aware though: Whatever treasure you place in that chest, your players will take it all with them, in addition to the weapons...

  24. - Top - End - #24
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    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    I think your players might solve the problem, but not in the way you want them to.

    Players are more likely to dismantle everything in the room in search for clues rather than actually do what they are supposed to. I see two fundamental reasons:
    1. As already been said, in a TTRPG it is impossible to eliminate actions, unlike video games. Rules are also unclear, unlike some classic puzzles, think sheep and wolves. Remember your way of reasoning: 2. List out possible actions I could take.
    2. Your solution doesn't strike as obvious and correct after I've read it. It is more like "meh, yes, it's some sort of a combination of known objects". But when you discover the answer to a good puzzle, it must be obvious that it is correct and nothing else can possibly be more appropriate. Not the case with your chest puzzle, but your town puzzle satisfies this one in my opinion.


    For 1, I suggest that your puzzles don't take place inside the "real" world. Find some way to impose strict rules on the puzzle, maybe it is some sort of mechanism that can only be operated in certain ways.
    For 2, don't try to trick your players with placard or any other false clues. That's dirty play and has nothing to do with good enjoyable puzzles. Make everything consistent and coherent.

    I don't know why your town puzzle didn't work out - it seems fine to me. Maybe you described the clues not clear enough, or maybe your players just weren't interested in the puzzle. Maybe players didn't know that the maps and descriptions are important clues at the time - if this is the case, maybe introducing the clues after the puzzle might help.
    Last edited by Yllin; 2016-10-27 at 08:04 AM.

  25. - Top - End - #25
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    I suppose you could drop a hint before they enter the dungeon along the lines of the quest giver telling them something like "Don"t believe anything you're told in there. They're lies." Or if that is too on the nose and your players are in the habit of gathering info on the places they go to, you could have them come across a similar tidbit during their research.

    That should lead them to suspect that the sign's instructions are most probably not true, without directly hinting at what they actually need to do.

  26. - Top - End - #26
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    GnomePirate

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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    Okay my players often complain my puzzles are too hard. For instance I had a resource trading puzzle once, there were five maps of cities, a paragragh describing what the city produced, demanded and some irrelevant details about culture. Three podiums behind each map, two podiums loaded down with a sample of the trading goods the city produced and a third was empty. The idea was for the party to take one resource produced by one city and put it on the empty podium of a city that demanded this. Do this until every city had all its demands satisfied.

    I felt it was simple and obvious but the players... they decided the solution was to order each resource produced by order of importance. And the declared I had made an unusually and unfairly complex puzzle.

    Well now Im preparing another puzzle. The party is going to be sent after a cache of angelic weapons designed for battling abberant threats hidden in a dungeon created by the ex treasurer of hell Astaroth.

    At the end of the dungeon is going to be an empty treasure chest. By that chest will be another chest full of gold and platinum and gems. There will be a placard that reads "Take everything then leave and never return" The goal of the puzzle will be to take everything from the full chest, put it in the empty chest, walk out, then walk back in. Then the room will descend to a lower level where the weapons they are actually after will be kept.

    Is this puzzle too complicated you think?
    Could you post the description you gave of the first puzzle? It would be interesting to see where the original group went wrong.
    I agree with another poster that having three podiums there is kind of confusing (particularly since you were expecting the party to move one item from each city to another city, which means that the solution to the puzzle still would have had an empty podium for each city).

    The clue for this puzzle itself is... awkward. "Take everything then leave and never return" can't be taken at face value as the solution to the puzzle, because that wouldn't do anything to stop the 'unworthy' from taking everything. If you invert the whole thing, you get "Take nothing and stay forever" which would have your group deciding to take a long nap.
    Nothing in that clue implies that you need to move things from one chest to the other and then leave the room and come back.
    In video games, puzzles that require you to leave the room and return are some of the most frustrating ones, except in the specific case where there are several connected rooms that each have a similar-looking puzzle and, after trying to figure out the puzzle in one room you move to the next out of frustration, and slowly start to realize that there's some weird logic involving room transitions.
    If there is a single puzzle in one room, what is the in-world logic for why leaving and entering again would make any difference? And what would happen if one character left and re-entered while a second character stayed in the room, and a third waited outside the room?



    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    Well you guessed the context wrong since the players would know absolutely that the weapons are still there somewhere in the dungeon. Since they were sent here to retrieve them by Astaroth the guy who put them here. And since he happens to be a vestige of knowledge and prophesy he would know if someone ribbed them ahead of time. But you font need to know this because the co text is irrelevant since my question clearly is meant to be taken in a vacuum so the focus can be on the challenge level of the puzzle.
    So the guy who hired them to go get the weapons is the guy who created the puzzle? (Rest of this chunk is built on that interpretation)
    Astaroth built the puzzle to keep people from getting the weapons without his permission, but then why wouldn't Astaroth have told them the solution to the puzzle? It would be like a king saying "Go down to my vault and get the magical artifact," but relying on the party rogue to pick the lock to the vault even though the king had the key in his pocket - even if the king didn't know if the party had a rogue in the first place.

    If you want a puzzle, what you could consider doing is creating an abstract puzzle that Astaroth invented to keep people out, then have Astaroth tell the party the solution to the puzzle (written down, so they don't have to rely on memory for the solution). Then, when the party gets to the room, they find that for some reason the puzzle is partially broken and they have to jury rig a round-about solution from the logic they can figure out of the original solution to the puzzle.

    An example would be a lever puzzle. 4 or so levers, each one moves one or more blocks in a specific pattern (lever 1 moves block A 2 spaces right, lever 2 moves black A 3 spaces left and block B 1 space right, etc). They know the configuration they're trying to get at the end - but when they find the room, one of the levers is broken for some reason and they have to improvise (but they already know the solution configuration and the controls, so then it is just the players trying to come to a solution).



    Quote Originally Posted by Yllin View Post
    I think your players might solve the problem, but not in the way you want them to.

    Players are more likely to dismantle everything in the room in search for clues rather than actually do what they are supposed to. I see two fundamental reasons:
    1. As already been said, in a TTRPG it is impossible to eliminate actions, unlike video games. Rules are also unclear, unlike some classic puzzles, think sheep and wolves. Remember your way of reasoning: 2. List out possible actions I could take.
    2. Your solution doesn't strike as obvious and correct after I've read it. It is more like "meh, yes, it's some sort of a combination of known objects". But when you discover the answer to a good puzzle, it must be obvious that it is correct and nothing else can possibly be more appropriate. Not the case with your chest puzzle, but your town puzzle satisfies this one in my opinion.


    For 1, I suggest that your puzzles don't take place inside the "real" world. Find some way to impose strict rules on the puzzle, maybe it is some sort of mechanism that can only be operated in certain ways.
    For 2, don't try to trick your players with placard or any other false clues. That's dirty play and has nothing to do with good enjoyable puzzles. Make everything consistent and coherent.

    I don't know why your town puzzle didn't work out - it seems fine to me. Maybe you described the clues not clear enough, or maybe your players just weren't interested in the puzzle. Maybe players didn't know that the maps and descriptions are important clues at the time - if this is the case, maybe introducing the clues after the puzzle might help.
    I agree with this a lot.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    The main issue I see with the riddles, based on the information you have given in the posts above, is that they don't point to one true answer - them seem pretty open-ended, so there could be multiple things that could be right. (Difficult to say much about the trade puzzle without the full info. given to the players though).

    Looking at treasure chests room - I would ask a few questions:

    First, how do the players know that this room is a puzzle they have to solve to get to the weapons, rather than just a strange warning or something? There is not much in the description that would make me jump to this conclusion. I'd advise telegraphing this or your group could simply ignore the room & go hunting for secret doors or something.

    Second, if the guy who created the puzzle sent them here to get the weapons, why didn't he tell them how to solve it? Have an answer for that, and prepare your group with it. He could warn them that he has forgotten some of the defences, or could say they will need to prove themselves worthy by solving it.

    This at least sets them up to expect a puzzle, and hopefully recognise it when they see it.

    About the puzzle itself - none of the information you've provided in the puzzle leads to the solution, so it comes down trying pretty random things - and there are a lot of options. The first thing I would probably think is that when I do the right thing, something will appear in the empty chest - perhaps the weapons, or a key to the next room, or a map or something. Putting something in the chest is another option, but I would probably think that we needed to put something specific in it, with a clue in the writing. At some point I might think 'Is Leave supposed to mean leaf?' and search through the treasure for something leaf-shaped or tree-like to put in the other chest.

    Then, there is leaving the room & coming back in. I don't see moving the treasure from one chest to another as the opposite of taking it all - that would be leaving the treasure where it is to me. So I,m not sure I'd pick up on doing the opposite of the rest of the fake instructions.

    Basically, while I think your solutions make reasonable sense on the whole, there are a lot of other options that make equal sense to me, and on occasion your logic seems to break down a bit, leading to 'try lots of things and hope something works'. This can take a long time and lots of trial and error that can get frustrating.

    If your group really doesn't like puzzles, and you are happy to look for a new group, then why not? Make it clear that you intend to make this sort of puzzle a big part of the game before you, and you can get a group that enjoys this sort of thing as much as you do, and you'll all be happier for it. Not everyone likes puzzles, so weed them as doesn't before you start...

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Knaight's Avatar

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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Putting aside the whole matter of the suitability of RPGs for this in the first place, the puzzle is opaque and an exercise in mind reading more than figuring things out. The actual goal of the puzzle is left implicit and not particularly well implied, the rules of interaction are completely unstated, and neither of these rules can be easily broken without a verisimilitude breach. On top of that the players are working with description and maybe a diagram instead of actually being able to see the puzzle, so you also run into issues where small variation in what people are imagining can throw people off.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

    I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that.
    -- ChubbyRain

    Current Design Project: Legacy, a game of masters and apprentices for two players and a GM.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    I love puzzles. But this is not a puzzle I would enjoy solving.

    Because, first off, I would have already disabled the pressure plate outside the door before I ever saw the placard.

    Then, unless I knew that the holy weapons were only intended to be claimed by an anti-paladin, I would try to follow the instructions, to no avail.

    If I did know about the anti-paladin, I'd leave one of my "don't commit suicide" signs in place of the placard. But I still wouldn't be able to solve the puzzle, because leaving the treasure, and leaving the room - even if I enabled the pressure plate I had disabled - would do nothing.

    No, the only way I'd "solve" this puzzle is by searching the room, and triggering the mechanism, or by destroying the floor, and climbing / flying down the elevator shaft. Neither solution involves engaging the "puzzle" nature of the setup.

    So, to make a good puzzle, you want something that encourages the players to engage the puzzle portion of the setup, and makes the solution of engaging the puzzle easier than the solution of engaging the mechanism.

    For this example, if you really want to teach them to ignore your instructions (which sounds dumb to me, but whatever), then make it as obvious as possible that they should do so. Have them make knowledge checks long before they even see this puzzle to know that the ex treasurer of hell Astaroth intended his friend / ally / cousin / whatever, the anti paladin Snafu, to come collect the treasure. If they ask, or with a high enough check, they learn that, unfortunately, before poor Snafu could transport the weapons to their final destination, he ran afoul of a "do not commit suicide" sign, and was forced by his vows to disobey it.

    But don't make that the only hint, oh no. Follow the rule of three. So, have the placard written backwards, or only readable by a mirror, or in some way hint that it is, well, backwards. And, before they reach the placard, have some other related reversal: a sign that points up, labeled "to the cellar", or a "wait here" sign, accompanied by a pressure plate and slow ticking that triggers a trap if anyone stands on it for more than, say, 15 seconds.

    Even so, there's still nothing to convince them to move the treasure, only to leave it in place. Hmmm... Perhaps if the sign read "reduce my funds, and never come back", or "empty my chest and never come back", it could work. But, even so, the desired course of action, filling the empty chest, is harder to deduce than I'd feel comfortable giving a party that already dislikes your puzzles.

    But, as it stands, this isn't a puzzle, complicated or otherwise. This is Bilbo Baggins asking "what's in my pocket?"

    Also, other people have asked how this puzzle makes sense to exist in world, which is a good question, but let me ask a better one: mechanically, how does this trap work? You have to trigger one trap with weight, that's fine (although nothing keeps the party from taking the treasure, and filling the empty chest with rocks / water / corpses / whatever). But how does the leave and come back trigger work? Because with some random number of party members, X, the pressure plate will be tripped 3X times, X times while the chest is empty as they first enter the room, and 2X times after the chest is full if they disobey the instructions. So... given that a pressure plate has no concept of whether someone is "entering" or "leaving", but only that it is being triggered, how exactly does this puzzle work, mechanically?

    EDIT: and, yeah, why is the creator of the puzzle sending them, without telling them the answer to the puzzle? "he doesn't want anyone to know he's involved", "he is testing the party, to face off against his arch nemesis, who invented the 'don't commit suicide' signs", "he has mind rape amnesia, and didn't trust his memory", whatever - just have an answer to this question.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2016-10-27 at 03:21 PM.

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Are these approapiate puzzles

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    At the end of the dungeon is going to be an empty treasure chest. By that chest will be another chest full of gold and platinum and gems. There will be a placard that reads "Take everything then leave and never return" The goal of the puzzle will be to take everything from the full chest, put it in the empty chest, walk out, then walk back in. Then the room will descend to a lower level where the weapons they are actually after will be kept.
    Please explain why the bolded part makes any sense. Yes, that's the kind of thing you might do in point-n-click adventure game. But those type of games don't necessarily make any sense. Just because the players say they like "puzzles", it doesn't mean they like "overly elaborate puzzles that make very little in-world sense", which is what you often find in that genre.

    Also, even for people who like it, consider that not everything works in every medium. Consider a boss fight in a video game. We're talking about dozens of hits to kill it, and often waiting many virtual "rounds" for the right opportunity to do so. That works because:
    * Actions are resolved in seconds.
    * Reflex-linked actions means that execution is itself a challenge, even when you know the plan already.
    * There are exciting visuals and audio happening.

    Now resolve that in a TTRPG - it would be terrible. An hours long fight where you might spend many rounds in a row just avoiding attacks, then many rounds more just hitting it again and again. A grueling slog.

    To an extent, it's the same thing with point-n-click - in a computer game, you can test a few dozen actions in less than a minute. Live TTRPG? Not that fast. PbP? Oh god no. So even for players who like that style of puzzle, a TTRPG is not the ideal medium for it.

    Personally speaking, I like puzzles that make some sense. Which means considering:
    * Who put the puzzle there?
    * Who did they intend to allow/exclude by using it?
    * What happens when the players think outside the box?
    Last edited by icefractal; 2016-10-27 at 03:50 PM.

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