Hey, first time posting. Hi everyone!

Hey, first time posting. Hi everyone!

Hey, first time posting. Hi everyone!

I had a question: Has anyone ever tried to incorporate pre-created puzzles or traps into a game? I have an idea for a “Tomb of Horrors” inspired lich’s lair.

A Couple of Examples:

Deck of Cards Puzzle

The characters come upon a magically sealed portal. There’s a card deck on the table. The wall has this inscription:

Like a book of many pages or a tree of many leaves

This loom of fate with many strings; what fabric that it weaves!

To draw upon your destiny’s a game of random chance,

But what you draw will be a key if you wish to advance.

The characters can either draw from the deck (basically a Deck of Many Things) risking all sorts of horrors until they draw the “Key” card, or they can just pull out a piece of chalk and draw a key somewhere on the door…or wall…or anywhere, I’m not picky.

Coffin Puzzle

The characters kill the lich in his tomb. But there’s still the phylactery! Fortunately, when the defeated lich crumbles to dust, it leaves behind a scroll with this:

You think you’ve defeated me! You think you’ve saved the day!

You fools! I’ll just return and start again to your dismay!

That is, unless, you mimic me and lie down with dead friends,

Discover my true weakness, or you’ll meet your tragic end!

The idea is the characters need to lie down in the lich’s coffin and close the lid. Then they get teleported to the room where the phylactery is located. Probably a mimic too, since that word was in the rhyme.

I feel like these might buck against the improvisational spirit of the game, and might slow down play if the players don’t come up with a solution. But sometimes it feels like the crazy lich would leave a bunch of rhyming clues to tempt foolish mortals to their doom. Is this just a bad fit for Dungeon World, or has anyone had success doing something this?

Any advice or opinions? Or should I just save this sort of thing for a D&D game?

5 thoughts on “Hey, first time posting. Hi everyone!”

  1. I don’t think having a pre-set puzzle, or a set-piece fight, necessarily is against the spirit of the game. Just be willing to be flexible with the puzzle – if they are stuck, nudge them to remember Discern Realities and Spout Lore. Be pretty liberal with the clues and hints even on partial success. If they stall out completely, be ready to present another threat or opportunity so that they aren’t stuck on this one puzzle

  2. Indeed… “exploit your prep” is one of the things listed for a GM to do in Dungeon World, so there’s nothing wrong with prepping for your game.

    I feel that the various rules and advice about how to GM in Dungeon World all come down to guiding GMs away from dysfunctional play styles from the past, especially railroady-style play, where the GM designs some grand plot which relies on the players doing the anticipated things at each point for it to work (and they will be forced to do those things whether they want to or not to keep the story on the rails).

    Improv style play is a good way to avoid railroading, because if the GM doesn’t know what’s going on, they don’t have a pre-conceived outcome for a given scene. However, it’s not the only way to avoid railroads… prepping detailed and interesting situations and then letting the players loose in them (“playing to find out what happens”) works just as well, as long as you’re prepared to accommodate whatever outcome actually happens.

    It becomes more problematic if the outcomes come down to simple “success” and “failure” states, such as a locked door puzzle… the players will know they’re failing to get somewhere (presumably) interesting, and that can lead to frustration. It can also lead to blocking the forward momentum of the adventure, because failing to solve the puzzle means you’re in the same position as before, still standing around staring at the puzzle.

    As Dylan Knight says, Discern Realities and Spout Lore are great tools in this situation, because on a success they jump your characters to conclusions, and if they fail, the GM makes a move, so the situation doesn’t remain the same – something changes. Maybe on a fail, a monster emerges through the door from the other side… now you have a monster who’s done a double-take and about to sound the alarm, and the door is swinging shut behind it, what do you do?

  3. I think works- you enhance it by taking it into a move as well. Discern realities could help – I think in this situation what isn’t what is seems could be the riddle itself. Same with the Koch’s coffin. I think the guide, for me at least, that old school playing and thinking can be cool and appropriate, however, old school you got to figure out puzzle to move ahead with story is not. If the players don’t get it or it falls flat then turn it in a different direction. Remember your agendas – pg 159 – dungeon world never presumed the players action. So exploit prep, but don’t stonewall. It’s about the characters engaging the world not the players solving puzzles. If a puzzle engages the characters through the players actions awesome, if it is a puzzle game then maybe not.

    In your situations what happens to the story if players “don’t take a choice” in the first one if they don’t draw a key with chalk or draw a card what next? I don’t know? If you have a third option or an open path that can react to what players do cool.

    In the second one if they don’t lie down, well maybe the lich comes back, but offscreen (one of the principles) and causes havoc another way, or someone else in the world finds the mcguffinwhich causes trouble.

    Don’t know if that helps or not, but that’s my perspective

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