Day Thirteen: Sum of the Parts

Day Thirteen of “30 Days of D&D” is Favorite Trap / Puzzle.

I’ve clearly fallen victim to the traps of life and distractions since I’m a few days behind. Time to fix this! Sleep? Who needs sleep?

Favorite trap… you mean, other than the mimic chest to catch the greedy PC who loots the bodies and the treasure in the middle of a battle?

I’m going to extend “trap” to “potentially harmful terrain features” rather than the by-the-book definition. One of my favorite moments involved a dungeon with conduits of power pumping magical energies into something deep below.

I used some of a Dungeon Tiles set, and found a long straight one, with a hall maybe six squares wide. Two rows of four pillars filled the space, each with enough room to maneuver between them.

I figured this would make for a narrow chokepoint that might force the players to be in a little danger… especially when one or two of the columns randomly flared with damaging magical energy, zapping anyone around it. A d8 roll would tell me which pillars to flare, keeping it random and chaotic.

It didn’t all go the way I planned. The players used smart tactics to minimize their exposure to the area effect, and they tore down the monsters in the encounter quite easily.

The best moment came when the Tiefling cleric studied those pillars.

“Ok… I know I don’t have a prehensile tail, but… can I maybe wrap my tail around a pillar and use Arcana and my skill with magic to maybe channel the energy into something harmful? I know it’ll hurt me some…”

Uhh, YES. Gimme a roll…

I’m not saying it was an effective trap, just a fun one.

Puzzles on the other hand… I’ve included a few along the way. I gave one of my players the equivalent of a cryptoquiz, where a message was scrambled by using a simple cipher using a special font full of strange runes.

In the course of running a few campaigns over the years, I’ve always wanted to include a puzzle item related to a major quest, where the players start finding pieces with little to no explanation other than whatever they get from Arcana or History checks and such…

Some of these would do nicely.

And then more of the bad guys end up having these things which are clearly connected, and some bad guys are searching for the pieces lost deep in ancient ruins and flooded dungeons, or taken by tribes of feral, cannibal gnomes…

Of course, the idea is that piecing the puzzle together is the key to stopping the Big Bad and the evil plan that threatens the realm. Players being players, I suppose it could also be the key to becoming the Big Bad and threatening the realm.

By the way, if you haven’t seen this or don’t really know what D&D is about, this video explains it really well. Also, if you’re looking for a way to explain D&D to a newbie, or to try to convince your religious friend that you’re not summoning demons in the basement, this might help:

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