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So I am soon starting a Dragon Age Campaign and I need some help designing a dwarven puzzle. The players are to be trapped in the deep roads and they'll find a large door with some kind of dwarven puzzle mechanism to open the door. I am kinda drawing a blank on this one.

Any help, coming up with this puzzle would be appreciated.

You could use the age old methods of pressure plates, if stood on with a certain weight a part of the floor descends and a part of the locking mechanism opens on the door.

Pillars with movable runes if put in a certain order unlock the door or reveal a lever.

The door is actually a false door and the real door is hidden behind a panel/curtain.

The older the dwarf ruin the more magical it looks. The newer, the more mechanical it is. From reading the dragon age dwarf history.

It's a door without a lock, that only a stampeding Bronto could smash through. There just so happens to be a lost Dwarven Bronto handler (Communication[Animal Handing] 4) and a Bronto wandering in the area.

Well, I would say there are some considerations to take here when you approach puzzles at the table (I do think it is a good idea, but one that must be carefully done).

Lean towards the idea of easy. Your objective should be to provide an engaging and entertaining extra activity for the players, not to stump them. It’s an RPG after all, not a puzzle game, so stick to simple so you can get back to the story at hand in shorter order.

Avoid the trial-and-error style puzzles as much as possible, otherwise it’s not a puzzle but rather an exercise in frustration.

Go for making them essentially optional. Basically, allow for an alternate solution that doesn’t involve the players actually solving the puzzle. It can be a big game breaker if the players just don't manage to figure it out.

With that all in mind, here is one that is used fairly often that should be solved pretty quickly at the table:

Before you you find a large door that has a 12 liter jug, an 8 liter jug, and a 5 liter jug sitting before it on small plates. None of the jugs have any markings on them, but inspection of the door shows an image depicting the jugs, the largest two holding an even amount of liquid while the third appears empty. The 12 liter jug is presently full, and the other two are empty.

The solution: Fill the 8 liter jug with the 12 liter jug, leaving 4 liters remaining. Fill the 5 liter jug with the 8 liter jug, leaving 3 liters remaining. Empty the 5 liter jug into the 12 liter jug. Now there are 9 liters in the 12 liter jug and 3 liters in the 8 liter jug. Pour the 3 liters from the 8 liter jug into the 5 liter jug. Now fill the 8 liter jug with water from the 12 liter jug, leaving 1 liter in the 12 liter jug. Fill the 5 liter jug (which already has 3 liters in it) from the 8 liter jug, leaving 6 liters in the 8 liter jug. Empty the 5 liter jug into the 12 liter jug. Now there are 6 liters in the 12 liter jug, 6 liters in the 8 liter jug, and the 5 liter jug is empty.

You just need to keep track of how much water is in each container at any given time. Worst case scenario if they can't get to the answer, you could have the players make a Cunning (Evaluation) test at an appropriate TN to establish replacement items that could be used as it is technically a weight puzzle.

I agree with Red Eye, it should be optional to go through the door (maybe to the treasure room) Or maybe it is a time sensitive task? then going through the door could safe them 30 min?
I don't know if any of you have played "Fable" but They have demon doors that only open when you do something for them. My favorite one is the lonely door that wants you to "hit on it" and then let the players act it out. It was so much fun when our Templar apprentice player walked towards my door, caressed it and recited a love poem to it.

Or it is an "evil" door that wants to see someone or something in pain. If they killed all the darkspawn/ deepstalkers and brontos before then they'll have to torture one of their own for the treasure *WUHAHAHAHA*

Maybe it is a greedy door that wants all of their gold? (no silver or copper)

There are almost endless possibilities and I included these doors in my campaign. A (kinda crazy) mage created these doors and sold his services to others. I'm thinking about it that maybe the mage infused the door in his own home with his soul and now he sits around and waits for some "heroes" to free him.

I don't know if any of you have played "Fable" but They have demon doors that only open when you do something for them. My favorite one is the lonely door that wants you to "hit on it" and then let the players act it out. It was so much fun when our Templar apprentice player walked towards my door, caressed it and recited a love poem to it.

Or it is an "evil" door that wants to see someone or something in pain. If they killed all the darkspawn/ deepstalkers and brontos before then they'll have to torture one of their own for the treasure *WUHAHAHAHA*

Maybe it is a greedy door that wants all of their gold? (no silver or copper)

There are almost endless possibilities and I included these doors in my campaign. A (kinda crazy) mage created these doors and sold his services to others. I'm thinking about it that maybe the mage infused the door in his own home with his soul and now he sits around and waits for some "heroes" to free him.

This is a really fun idea. Maybe even a desire demon, somehow trapped in the door.

Well, I would say there are some considerations to take here when you approach puzzles at the table (I do think it is a good idea, but one that must be carefully done).

Lean towards the idea of easy. Your objective should be to provide an engaging and entertaining extra activity for the players, not to stump them. It’s an RPG after all, not a puzzle game, so stick to simple so you can get back to the story at hand in shorter order.

Avoid the trial-and-error style puzzles as much as possible, otherwise it’s not a puzzle but rather an exercise in frustration.

Go for making them essentially optional. Basically, allow for an alternate solution that doesn’t involve the players actually solving the puzzle. It can be a big game breaker if the players just don't manage to figure it out.

These are good rules, and what I typically use with puzzles. I'd add a couple more, though:

4. Multiple ways to solve. You could design a pressure plate puzzle, but allow for knocking down the door with a Bronto, or using Shape Earth to weaken the frame, or allow an engineer to take the door off of its hinges. That allows for different consequences, as well - opening and re locking the door may keep Darkspawn out, but destroying the door removes the barrier.

5. Tests at various points for hints/clues. Like Red Eye said, this is an RPG, not a puzzle game, so a dwarf engineer might have an idea where to start that Bob the player doesn't have.

With that all in mind, here is one that is used fairly often that should be solved pretty quickly at the table:

Before you you find a large door that has a 12 liter jug, an 8 liter jug, and a 5 liter jug sitting before it on small plates. None of the jugs have any markings on them, but inspection of the door shows an image depicting the jugs, the largest two holding an even amount of liquid while the third appears empty. The 12 liter jug is presently full, and the other two are empty.

The solution: Fill the 8 liter jug with the 12 liter jug, leaving 4 liters remaining. Fill the 5 liter jug with the 8 liter jug, leaving 3 liters remaining. Empty the 5 liter jug into the 12 liter jug. Now there are 9 liters in the 12 liter jug and 3 liters in the 8 liter jug. Pour the 3 liters from the 8 liter jug into the 5 liter jug. Now fill the 8 liter jug with water from the 12 liter jug, leaving 1 liter in the 12 liter jug. Fill the 5 liter jug (which already has 3 liters in it) from the 8 liter jug, leaving 6 liters in the 8 liter jug. Empty the 5 liter jug into the 12 liter jug. Now there are 6 liters in the 12 liter jug, 6 liters in the 8 liter jug, and the 5 liter jug is empty.

You just need to keep track of how much water is in each container at any given time. Worst case scenario if they can't get to the answer, you could have the players make a Cunning (Evaluation) test at an appropriate TN to establish replacement items that could be used as it is technically a weight puzzle.

It is a classic puzzle to be sure, and it isn't terrible to work out fairly quickly. Though, if you do have a group that really struggles with basic math/logic problems (nothing wrong with that, odds just decrease each player you add to the mix), there are a lot of ways to let them out of the situation and get rolling again.

Oh, and adding to out puzzle rules (this ties in to what we were talking about with multiple options for it), be ready to think on the fly and accept good ideas you had not considered when making the puzzle. Players are great at coming with a curve ball solution that may have missed your notice.

I've learned over the years (25 years game-mastering) to "adjust" puzzle solutions on-the-fly. The thing with tricky puzzles is that they're only ever "cool" if your players solve them on their own, without obvious hints on your part or -much worse- interference from an NPC.

If I've designed a puzzle (or a charade, etc), and a player comes up with a really weird, creative solution that isn't the answer I had in mind, but it could still make sense, then I act as if the player had figured it out. The player is really proud of himself, the others are all amazed "what were the chances that THAT would be the password?!?" The game's energy level goes up by a huge notch, and everyone's hyped for the adventure's climax.

It makes for scenarios that players will remember and will tell again and again for years to come.

Sometimes I even design puzzles without any specific solution, and si ply leave it up to the players to be creative. And it works every time!

As a game master, always remember that the best games will be the ones when the heroes' plans work. Even when those plans border on ridiculous, if you can make it work: do so! For example: roleplay the prison guard as a really dumb individual that will buy into that completely unbelievable story that your players spent a whole hour putting together... Because if they spend a long time working on a strategy, and they then fail because it wasn't what you had in mind, or you didn't judge it "realistic" enough, you might have preserved some realism, but you've sacrificed everyone's fun! And fun is not just the main point of playing a game: it's the ONLY point.

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