View Full Version : Campaigns / Adventures Soliciting puzzle/trap ideas - water or nautical based or themed

05-13-2011, 12:15 PM
Hello all. While I have a few nuggets for good ideas, I figure why not poll my collective fellow vgamers at large for additional ideas.

I am going to be running my group through a series of challenges involving nautically themed, water based challenges and/or traps. Does anyone know af any good ones, have good ideas, or know a good resource?

My group is presently 3rd level (D&D 3.5). The context is in the temple/barracks-like training area of a priesthood that is devoted to the worship of the goddess of the sea. Naturally, this priesthood tends to be also nautically themed in nature and often serve as seasoned officers aboard sailing vessels as well as employing powers of the water element. I'm thinking a series of rooms (locks?) that each have a particular challenge or trial tied to them. Perhaps each room has a symbol upon the wall, door, etc. that is perhaps keyed ideologically or literally to the the particular challenge of that area. I.e. An anchor, a capstan, a sail, a rudder, a captain's wheel, a wave, a rope (chain), etc.

Ideally, I'd like to emphasize teamwork over direct conflict and puzzle/problem-solving, with more of an emhasis on low or no-magic solutions.

Any thoughts?


05-13-2011, 01:48 PM
If I remember right, the game Myst had one area where you had to adjust valves to get water down the correct pipes to power doorways and elevators and stuff. You might be able to adapt that into a puzzle of sorts.

There was on trap a DM used on my group once, where the parties scout was caught in a magical wall of force that surrounded him and a number of statues like a bubble. Then the bubble starts filling with water, as the scout tries to move around and disarm the trap the water would begin to swirl slamming him against the statues. Which means the rest of the party needs to remove the effect. I don't recall what we needed to do to disarm it though.

05-13-2011, 09:02 PM
there is a whole series of team oriented puzzles called the challenge of champions. came from dragon mags originally, designed so that anyone of any level can attempt them. should be easy enough to adapt them to a more watery environ, or nautical theme. i believe you can find the compiled pdf of all four challenges (10 puzzles each) online separate from any given dragon mag.

05-16-2011, 08:50 AM
I remember starting a thread with a title like puzzles with no home. May check that out. Don't know if anybody contributed though.

05-16-2011, 04:46 PM
Thanks Q-man, your post gives me some more ideas.

Nijineko, yeah, I actually own a complete collection of Dungeon(s) (yeah, uber-geek I know), and I scoured the Challenge of Champions therein, but didn't find anything I really liked. Too contrived and 'high' magic as it were. A good thought though, thanks. I'd had the same one.... :)

Thanks yukon, I'll see if I can't find it.

As it turns out, I posted a query (somewhere) here a while back searching out a Crabman stat block, this ties into that in a way..... fun, fun, fun.

05-16-2011, 11:13 PM
Is there any sort of time constraint? If so, then a time-waster is great. Just use an episode of Sponge-Bob and have a large under-water henge that makes a singing/whistling sound that attracts jellyfish... players can lose LOTS of valuable time trying to figure it out!!

By the way - it doesn't DO anything but make noise. It's GENIUS!

05-17-2011, 02:13 PM
Hydraulics and water pressure.

A door that cannot be opened because it opens into a room filled with water. There is a valve on the door, the party must equalize the pressure, that is allow their room to half fill, but they don't know the volume of water on the other side. This could also be set up as a one way situation. Once the room they are in starts to fill they cannot open the door they entered by.

Tunnels that must be used filled with water of course.

Hydraulic elevator. A plug in the floor that can be raised or lowered by which valves you open. Lock several of these together in ouch a way as to get from A to B you have to use them in the right order. Make it repeatable. That way if they get it wrong the first time they are not suck.

Room with four plugs and twelve door on three levels. four valves that let you adjust the floor in front of the door low, floor level or high. They must be set in the right order to get where you need to get. Every valve alteration changes three things. No, i'm not going to work it out here. I do think I'm going to work it out however. It sounds too cool to not use.

05-17-2011, 02:37 PM
i am suddenly reminded of a trap i had where there was a well and a trough that had a bit of water in it. as in the well was full enough that there was some in the connected trough. this was in a desert clime, so water was a concern. this particular trap had specialized walls of force that only prevented air from moving in or out of the room, but activated only when someone was in the room. the well would drain whenever someone attempted to approach, and drain faster if anyone tried to drink of the water. this would thin the air to dangerous levels if the well was played with too much.

i've frequently found that using magic to introduce physics into d&d makes for good traps. plus, not much protects against playing with barometric pressure.

i recall another trap where one room contained pure oxygen, the give away was the periodic puff of air from the entrance as the separating field turned on and off, causing the torches to flare. navigating the chamber beyond required saves versus drunkenness and unconsciousness, plus the usual side effects of oxygen toxicity.

05-18-2011, 12:13 PM
No, there is no time constraint, though on some I will use the 'the room is filling with water' added pressure. I do like the idea of including random objects/items that may not have any purpose - 'Yeah, but this ship's bell has to be for something.....'

Tesral, you have reiterated what were already many of my existing ideas. That of course reinforces a lot of them for me, the first of which (equalized pressure) I'm drawing an idea from the Book of Challenges for (the capstan room). And the tunnels as well. I like the hydraulic elevator as well as the room with levels and plugs. I'll need to work on the 'puzzle' aspect more.

Nijineko, I do like the idea of the barometric pressure and the oxygen. I'll see if I can't tumble those around awhile too.

I'm also liking the idea that introducing water into an area (or remiving it) will necessitate the solution for progression. For example; it may be easier to move a heavy object underwater, or they may need to flood a room to elevate a boat in order to transport something across to the other side, etc.

Thanks for the great responses, keep 'em coming. The collective brainstorming gets my creativity goin'.... and hopefully yours.

05-22-2011, 10:22 AM
would be interesting to have objects of various levels of neutral buoyancy such that they will float at different depths, and a room with locks/fitted openings at different levels, and trying to get those different objects on top of each other so that you can get a given object that floats below its' fitted opening into the opening by putting it on top of another object that floats at a different level, due to the combined buoyancy or some such....

06-28-2011, 04:36 AM
Is there any sort of time constraint? If so, then a time-waster is great. Just use an episode of Sponge-Bob and have a large under-water henge that makes a singing/whistling sound that attracts jellyfish... players can lose LOTS of valuable time trying to figure it out!!

By the way - it doesn't DO anything but make noise. It's GENIUS!

Quality post!! Spongebob is an absolute goldmine for DMs looking to avoid tired old tropes! I know my group of gamers just loves wasting time on stuff like this! Jellyfish and noise- pure genius! Id have thought applying a trap designed to waste time and frusterate players that was coincidentally inspired by a cartoon made for three year olds was just plain stupid- but wow- this is a great idea!!