Laser puzzle dungeon

I would like some help with a puzzle I have planned for my group.  I heard the idea from the Penny Arcade website.  I wanted to have a cave where my group has to use a laser that is set up to shoot mirrors & reflect into walls/receivers that open other doors/secret passageways.  I'm looking for some help on the setup & on puzzles they could do.  My big weakness as a GM is my dungeon designs, so I'd love to get some help.

I have some lasers and plan on using Khet lasers, which are turnable in a 90 degree pattern. 
The BIG weakness in using puzzles with adventures, especially if they are essential for the adventure, is that they are solved by PLAYERS and not by CHARACTERS.  What's the difference you ask?  Please excuse my use of DnD characters here (the problem is the same there) but my 12th-level Wizard with INT 20 and the appropriate skill(s) maxed out SHOULD be a hole lot better equiped to figure out some puzzle than I am.  To look at things the other way a physics PhD student playing a bone head (INT 6) Gammorean may have no trouble figuring out the hardest puzzles you can come up with but his character would have little idea where to start.

That may not be any help but I'm trying to say is keep your puzzles so that they require a character's input and can't be solved just using player knowledge.  A big difference between a PnP RPG and many video games is that in a video game you ARE the character so your abilities determine the character's success but ina PnP game you can often play characters whos abilities are dramatically different from your own.

Making puzzles part of an adventure is a little like allowing the players to "roleplay" through an encounter where they are using their own ability to persuade/deceive/perceive rather than the character's ability to do those things.
 
Thanks for the advice, but I'm interested in help with planning the puzzle.  My group is very light on the Roleplaying aspect of an RPG.  Also, I have no qualms with having my players solve puzzles for their characters, I find it fun & challenging, regardless of whether it breaks my players out of their roles.  No offense, but I'd like to keep this topic on help that I'd like to get in making a puzzle, not whether or not the puzzle should be in the game in the first place.
I don't use puzzles in my games often, but do considered it. StevenO makes some good points, here's my own view. Use puzzles that don't require solving to advance the story or allow for more than one solution. This avoids the problem of hours passing while players try to nut-out a problem. I've seen PHD students, Vets, computer tec's and other very bright people spend hours trying to figure out what to do to move the story on. It can cause alot of frustration.

Example, A character intercepts a suitcase dropped at a star-port by a bagman trading secret information. The suitcase is locked and has a code that needs breaking to open. The player can either shot the suitcase open and maybe damage the information inside so they only get the bare bones of the information they need or they can break the code and get a detailed account of top secret information.
Maybe require some low-end Intelligence checks if they get stumped. Their level of success depends how big a hint you give. Maybe a Knowledge (technology)? check to get some info on the lasers they have to use. I would just use simple checks and GM advice to help guide them through instead of letting them have to puzzle it out all on their own.

I'm not sure about this since I don't have Galaxy of Intrigue but maybe make it a skill challenge? Not how those rules work and how it would be constructed though since I don't have the book.
Winner of You Build the Character #8 - Yoda

I have a suggestion: Let the players solve the puzzle, but leave it up to their stats to see if they aimed the lasers accurately or something else.

I could see working in sequences of numbers, requiring different panels or mirrors to be hit with the laser in a particular order. For example:

A. 2 - 4 - 1 in honor of the notorious crime boss, Ploovo Two-For-One

B. 0 -  2 - 3 to represent the Idiot's array hand in sabacc

To add a dimension of difficulty, the panels/mirrors could each flash a sequence of letters or numbers, so the heroes need to time the shooting of the laser appropriately. If they watch closely, the heroes could see which numbers (or letters, too) are involved, and that could give them a clue to the correct answer.

-Nate 
Sign In to post comments