Puzzles, Traps and tricks

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Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Mikalyaran » Thu May 28, 2009 12:44 am

I'm about to start running a 4th ed game and I thought id throw up a request for stories of your favorite Puzzles, traps, and other tricks. Anyone want to weigh in?
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Prometheus » Thu May 28, 2009 10:25 am

I'm a fan of the "reverse lock" from 3rd edition. It's a padlock that looks unlocked when it's locked, and is magically locked when it's unlocked. You find it unlocked, the rogue picks it, and the party spends a LONG time trying to figure it out.

As for traps... my DM did repeated party wipes with crushing wall traps in 3.5. The ranger was always getting eaten by Purple Worms, too, although they may have been nerfed for 4e, I've barely played.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby jioan » Thu May 28, 2009 2:58 pm

One of my favorite (and most simple) puzzles is putting an invincible pull-open door as the only exit in the room. You'd be surprised how long it takes the party to figure out they have to pull it. I've had people try to break down or transmutate the walls, waste spells attempting to find an elemental weakness in the door, and even had people scream for guards to open it and attack them. Finally somebody gets the bright idea to pull it and swings wide open. :)
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Bobby Archer » Thu May 28, 2009 3:57 pm

I've always been a fan of puzzles and traps that punish the players for thinking like "gamers going through a puzzle-filled dungeon crawl" as opposed to "adventurers traveling through a hostile environment built by someone who doesn't want them to get to the end."

One of my personal favorites (and it's one I pulled from a setting, so I can't claim credit for that) is a variant on the old "Liar/Truth Teller" puzzle. The set-up's the same: the PCs are presented with two doors, each with a statue (or doorknocker, or something). A plaque states that one statue always lies, one always tells the truth and one door leads further on, one to almost certain death (trap trigger). The PCs are allowed to ask one head one question. Most gamers (or at least one person out of any group), are familiar with this puzzle and the solution: You ask one statue, "If I asked the other statue which door led to safety, which would he say?" and then proceed through the other door.

Unfortunately, if they stopped to think about the fact that whoever designed this trap obviously already knows the proper door and doesn't need the clue, they would realize that the whole puzzle is, in this case, a clever ruse. The statues always indicate the wrong door, intending on sending the players right into a trap. Or, if you really feel like being mean, both doors are trap triggers and the actual exit is a hidden door on the other side of the room.

I should probably have mentioned that I have a habit of being unnecessarily sadistic to my PCs.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Prometheus » Sat May 30, 2009 9:48 am

jioan wrote:One of my favorite (and most simple) puzzles is putting an invincible pull-open door as the only exit in the room. You'd be surprised how long it takes the party to figure out they have to pull it. I've had people try to break down or transmutate the walls, waste spells attempting to find an elemental weakness in the door, and even had people scream for guards to open it and attack them. Finally somebody gets the bright idea to pull it and swings wide open. :)

That's pure genius. Something vaguely similar happened in a campaign I played in once. I got there late, and the rest of the group had been trying to solve a puzzle on a door for fifteen minutes. My character walked up and opened it, revealing that it wasn't locked.

The rest of the group wasn't so happy about that, but the DM laughed so hard we had to Heimlich him.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Blacktail » Sat May 30, 2009 10:18 am

In our most recent dungeon, our DM decided to go old school and give us lots of Ocarina of Time-style traps. Soloing, one of our players had a hard time with some torches.

These things may not always seem hard, but they just feel good to players. When there's water with a button to push at the bottom, torches to play with, blocks to slide (especially if you use d6s to do this), familiar things, it brings up a surge of nostalgia. At least for my group, who understood when I pantomimed catching a fish in a small glass jar. You can make them harder, but familiar or even homage isn't always bad.

That said, illusions are fun, such as the aforementioned unlocked locked lock.

Diversionary tactics are nice. Our DM put us in a small room that closed on both sides. Two demons dropped from ropes and a small metal chicken on a mechanic device started coming slowly across the room at us. We beat the demons, but we were terrified of that chicken. At numerous times a couple of us were screaming "THE CHICKEN! DON'T LET IT GET TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM!" We destroyed everything about that chicken out of raw FEAR. We dumped acid inside of its track, jammed it, blew it up, all just to make sure it didn't reach the other side of the room. We would have panicked less if a small dragon had been thrown in with us, and all over one little thing we weren't even sure would do anything. It was just creepy, and seemed like it would do things.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Prometheus » Sat May 30, 2009 11:16 pm

Blacktail wrote:Diversionary tactics are nice. Our DM put us in a small room that closed on both sides. Two demons dropped from ropes and a small metal chicken on a mechanic device started coming slowly across the room at us. We beat the demons, but we were terrified of that chicken. At numerous times a couple of us were screaming "THE CHICKEN! DON'T LET IT GET TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM!" We destroyed everything about that chicken out of raw FEAR. We dumped acid inside of its track, jammed it, blew it up, all just to make sure it didn't reach the other side of the room. We would have panicked less if a small dragon had been thrown in with us, and all over one little thing we weren't even sure would do anything. It was just creepy, and seemed like it would do things.

Did your DM ever tell you what the chicken would have done?
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Allandaros » Sun May 31, 2009 3:23 am

Blacktail wrote:In our most recent dungeon, our DM decided to go old school and give us lots of Ocarina of Time-style traps. Soloing, one of our players had a hard time with some torches.


Buh. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around Ocarina of Time being "old school." OoT was made after I was born! It can't be "old school"! ;)

Diversionary tactics are nice. Our DM put us in a small room that closed on both sides. Two demons dropped from ropes and a small metal chicken on a mechanic device started coming slowly across the room at us. We beat the demons, but we were terrified of that chicken. At numerous times a couple of us were screaming "THE CHICKEN! DON'T LET IT GET TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM!" We destroyed everything about that chicken out of raw FEAR. We dumped acid inside of its track, jammed it, blew it up, all just to make sure it didn't reach the other side of the room. We would have panicked less if a small dragon had been thrown in with us, and all over one little thing we weren't even sure would do anything. It was just creepy, and seemed like it would do things.


Heee. Kudos to your DM! Fear of the mundane is always a great tool in the DM's arsenal of dirty tricks.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Mikalyaran » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:24 am

Thank so much for all the great ideas guys and gals. Keep em coming.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Prometheus » Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:45 am

I highly recommend placing panels with letters on them that depress slightly when stepped on in each room of a dungeon. Make it so that they don't do anything. Your players will be VERY cautious, and you'll get a great laugh out of it. Fake traps area always amusing.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby kin » Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:11 pm

A great fun like trick is to set up a lot of foreshadowing in runes and descriptions of the scenery (Paintings, Statues) of something ridiculously evil, difficult, and well-known (e.g. a Beholder) all around a trap, so as to make the party think that if they screw it up, they have to meet said monster. Freaks the crap right out of them.

Also, making good use of the skill challenges of 4th Ed. can really add to fun. I had my party shepherd a group of villagers to a stronghold while running from an army of kobolds and having hyenas running around them, waiting for one of the villagers to break from the group to be killed, AND if one the villagers was killed by a hyena, the entire group had the possibility of dispersing. The skills used were certainly original. (Bluff - No no, that guy isn't being torn apart by those hyenas, he's only...uh...sleeping!)

And don't be afraid to hide things in water.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Prometheus » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:40 pm

kin wrote:A great fun like trick is to set up a lot of foreshadowing in runes and descriptions of the scenery (Paintings, Statues) of something ridiculously evil, difficult, and well-known (e.g. a Beholder) all around a trap, so as to make the party think that if they screw it up, they have to meet said monster. Freaks the crap right out of them.

Better yet, make it so that they WILL have fight if they fail... it'll just be a different one than indicated. If the runes say "Dragon", send out a mind flayer.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Doctari » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:58 pm

Don't get so enamored with the big and complex that you let the common and normal pass you by.

A kobold lair is a perfect example. Most low level parties have at one time or another went to put boot to behind to a group of local kobolds who have been terrorizing the populace. They track them back to their lair, walk through their cave complex, kill the scouts, the leader and maybe a boring sorcerer.. yawn.

However. If the caves are only 3 feet high and the adventurers have to crawl through it... now thats suspensful. Why would the kobolds go to the trouble of making human height caves?

Another common type of trap. 3 feet of water. Inconvenient for humans, elves, deadly for gnomes/halflings. Plus no one checks through water as they push through. A line strung across a fast moving stream can lead to a wild ride. Or simply have it trigger some type of falling trap.

five words: Gelatinous Cube filled pit trap.

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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Winged » Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:23 am

I blatently stole this from a D&D novel, and used it in a 3.5 game.

Cover a floor with tiles that all may or may not be traps, and mark each tile with the symbol of an evil or good god. The players will assume that the evil tiles are safe in an evil temple, however the exact opposite is true, as the temple's followers relish the oppertunity to step on the faces of goodly gods. once the party ios comfertable with the pattern, make the occational evil tile trapped anyway.

also for somthing a bit more original and spiteful feel free to let the bad guys keep poisons and such in bottels marked otherwise, just make sure the villains would not mix them up.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Cmdr I. Heartly Noah » Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:55 am

The Tomb of Horrors does something similar (spoilers) The floor is trapped randomly, but there is a red line on the floor that weaves back and forth, crossing some traps and bypassing others. Some heroes will follow the path; others will avoid it, but either way they land on traps.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Sonic Screwdriver » Mon Jun 22, 2009 12:03 pm

My party got lucky and never even realized the trick they overcame. They found themselves looking at the entrance to a labyrinth without any doors or obvious traps stopping them from just plain entering, which got them paranoid so instead they searched off to the sides for a secret door, which they found. After climbing out of the pit that opening the secret door set off, they went inside until they found themselves in the main entrance hallway, able to see the front entrance out and felt mighty foolish.

What they never discovered was the fact that the front entranced is completely sealed off with a permanently invisible wall, which requires entrants to seek out the secret door. It'd be fun if they encountered a scary monster and started running for the entrance to get out :P

In that same labyrinth, there were minotaurs who would eventually get wind of the party's movements and they'd start pulling out semi-false walls to block off hallways. Granted, it's not entirely silent, so there's a chance the party would hear the grinding sound; which made my party immediately start trying to destroy the wall with fresh stone dust on the edge when they found it.
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby kin » Mon Jun 22, 2009 12:26 pm

How about a trap-door trap into a closing spike-wall room where the only way out is a button/lever INSIDE A VAT OF ACID.

Too much?
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Re: Puzzles, Traps and tricks

Postby Doctari » Mon Jun 22, 2009 12:41 pm

Sounds a bit like a Jigsaw trap from the Saw franchise, more of a "punish the players for failing to find it".

Light traps are always nice: Beams of light crisscross the room and in order to unlock doors, safely cross the floor and otherwise navigate the precarious situation they have to be reflected on certain mirrors. This one is particularly punishing on the fighter knocking, slash and burn type of parties. Smart thinking parties will figure it out.

Note: If you are usually light on the story telling when it comes to descriptions you should stay away from specificially mentioning the lights till they take a moment for a closer look.
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