Need some help on an encounter.

12 posts / 0 new
Last post

I'm helping a friend with an adventure by being her dungeon designer.  Anyway, I want to build something of a "trap/puzzle room" encounter to sandwich in between two monster encounters.   All the notes I have to go on from our discussions right now is "Encounter #2, Explosive runes trap, ?" and I'm not sure how to flush this out into a full-fledged encounter.

My current plan is to have the party enter the room via a secret passageway.  The room itself is covered on all sides by runes carved in the walls (explosive runes traps).  After a trigger or two, the party quickly learns that they must navigate the room with their eyes closed so as to not inadvertently trigger the runes.  At this point the floor begins shifting and parts of it fall away (triggered at the DM's discretion once the party begins to blindly walk the room via some pressure plate on the floor or something) leaving behind something of a floor maze with deadfalls.

That's really all I've got right now.  I'd like to turn this into some kind of skill challenge, but I'm not the greatest at designing those.  The main goal is to make the party solve the puzzle without looking at it because opening their eyes triggers explosive rune traps.

Any help would be appreciated.

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

Check out CALI 4-3 Desert Below Dragon Above for the Sphinx room puzzle. (Livingforgottenrealms.com)

Basically there was a room covered in symbols and a few brokens mirrors and a lightsource hidden in the wall.  The characters had to fix the mirror and figure out which symbol(s) on the wall weren't repeated.  Once they had the mirrors fixed they shined a light into one mirror and reflected it around until they shined it on the right symbol.

You could easily add in explosive runes to the mix of that skill challenge in order to spice it up, but just take a look at what the mod has for some ideas. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
I looked it up, and that looks pretty solid.  Thanks.

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

Trap rooms never really work.



Don't know where you're getting this from.

I personally have not had an issue with trap rooms consisting of one major threat ( ex: a pillar or contraption spouting fire if the trap is sprung) and a myraid of things in the room that can either turn it off, or make things worse, etc. and then a dozen other possibilities that the players them selves miraculously come up with in the moment.
Trap rooms never really work. Though, hey, if your people like sudoku puzzles so much, you can always have them do sudoku puzzles.




I've seen numerous issues with traps, but would never go so far as to say they flat out don't work. I think the key is in making it challenging, enticing, and flexible all at the same time.

Challenge - If one Thievery check ends it, what was the point? It also leaves much of the group feeling obsolete. Mix in a variety of skill uses from Arcana to Endurance depending on what players try.

Enticing - A "you can't move through the room till this is solved" trap can be kind of a drag. Your players may legitimately not want to engage it, and pushing to do so can be a negative for the table. Instead offer great reward should they successfully negotiate it to incentivize their decision making.

Flexibility - Few things are worse than coming up with a potential solution only to have the DM give a flat 'no.' In a recent one-shot I had a locking mechanism that required inserting a mug into a deep hole in the wall. The wrong hole caused problems. One player took the mug, some rope, and a staff and created a work around. It was boring for me, but brilliant for them, so I asked for a few checks and they made it work!
Challenge - If one Thievery check ends it, what was the point? It also leaves much of the group feeling obsolete. Mix in a variety of skill uses from Arcana to Endurance depending on what players try.

Enticing - A "you can't move through the room till this is solved" trap can be kind of a drag. Your players may legitimately not want to engage it, and pushing to do so can be a negative for the table. Instead offer great reward should they successfully negotiate it to incentivize their decision making.

Flexibility - Few things are worse than coming up with a potential solution only to have the DM give a flat 'no.' In a recent one-shot I had a locking mechanism that required inserting a mug into a deep hole in the wall. The wrong hole caused problems. One player took the mug, some rope, and a staff and created a work around. It was boring for me, but brilliant for them, so I asked for a few checks and they made it work!

That's a pretty good breakdown of what any encounter needs. Single check traps (or other challenges) are fine if they're quickly handled and are part of a larger challenge, to provide some atmosphere.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

The skill challenge Martyr directed me to turned out to be really helpful.  It has five puzzles that her players will enjoy working out while the failures all cause healing surge loss and many of them can be reflavored as exploding runes triggers to meet that requirement of hers.  All in all it fit into the story really nicely and the parts that needed some reflavoring were a breeze to change.

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

The skill challenge Martyr directed me to turned out to be really helpful.  It has five puzzles that her players will enjoy working out while the failures all cause healing surge loss and many of them can be reflavored as exploding runes triggers to meet that requirement of hers.  All in all it fit into the story really nicely and the parts that needed some reflavoring were a breeze to change.



Glad you liked it.  I really enjoyed all parts of that mod.  Especially roleplaying as WeavePasha.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here

I've been thinking that maybe the runes are too small to read from afar, so that the PCs can still keep their eyes open, but they have to be cautious. Being effectively blind and slowly making your way through a room doesn't make for a very interesting challenge, IMO, nor does it allow for many layers to be added.


I'll be assuming 4e rules, but I'm sure one could easily convert this to any edition.


The Room: Runes are inscribed on all of the floor tiles. Most are explosive, some aren't, the latter being the key to the puzzle. In order to read the runes, one must be kneeling or prone, as the text is too small to read them while standing. A kneeling or prone PC can read the runes inscribed in its own square, as well as those surrounding it. To find the correct runes, PCs can use Arcana, Thievery or any other justifiable skill check. Explosive runes attack in a burst 1, dealing appropriate damage.


The Complication: I'm thinking minions. Minions which can magnify the runes so they can be read even while standing. Magnifying glass constructs, clear oozes, whatever. If a PC attacks the minion while adjacent to it, the explosive runes in the minion's square are triggered, dealing damage. Maybe the minion is destroyed in the process, maybe it is immune to the trap. I could see case for allowing a saving throw to see if the runes are triggered, sort of representing the PC making an effort not to "read" the runes. A PC could instead attack the minion without directly looking at it, but does so with a -2 penalty to the attack and/or granting combat advantage. The minions are lower-level than the PCs, with low damage and defenses; they're here to complicate the puzzle, not to threaten and severly damage the PCs. For added challenge, give the minions an ability to knock PCs prone, forcing a saving throw to not read and detonate the runes. Minions could come into the room in waves or one at a time, up to a certain maximum number. Make sure the minions avoid the squares with the non-explosive runes in them; observant players may pick up on that hint.


Added Fun: Get some higher ground in the room. Maybe some scaffolding, rafters or ledges. High enough to be outside the blast radius of the explosive runes. Athletic and Acrobatic PCs can get on this higher ground and use the minions' magnifying properties to wilfully read and detonate the runes from a safe distance, with a Perception check. Bonus Awesome Points if they find a clever way to use the minions to their advantage.


These are all suggestions, of course, so make of them what you will. I think this scenario would give incentive to players to be careful, as it has a fair level of risk to it, without taking away their sight. It would also give PCs without the appropriate skills something to do. However, this may or may not work, depending on the party composition, so some adjustments may be required.

Sign In to post comments