My Secret Ingredient For Making Nice Puzzles

A Temporary Phrase From Johnn

Suppose too small and assume too large. We’ve acquired a critter making a nest below our deck. We will’t see it as a result of it’s discovered a superb crack to inhabit. However we will hear it. It’s chewing one thing. Leaves perhaps. Paper maybe. The bones of some poor sufferer, most certainly. Or it may merely be a cat that confiscates cube.

The tiny dire creature’s lair

However as we bear each final inch of recent moon-technology to summon this dire beast from its lair to teleport it to a special land the place its people celebration down all day, it’s reminding me of how the small stuff may smash a personality’s day.

Too usually we get tunnel imaginative and prescient and make our weakest foes regardless of the monster information says. However a well-placed hearth ant hill, a household of curious but crafty rats, or a persistent swarm of mosquitoes may drive a celebration of heroes again to the tavern for stiff drinks.

Likewise, when considering our worlds, we fall into the GM lure of realism, which inevitably shrinks our considering and leads to logical however uninspired concepts.

As a substitute, for villain plans, marketing campaign concepts, and even the scope and influence of your setting’s historical past, we must always assume infinitely. We should always assume as large as doable and silence the interior critic screaming “that’s not doable!” at us. Higher to have an concept too large and hammer it into form than to restrict creativeness and solely ever have small concepts.

Thanks little demon below the deck for reminding me to have extra enjoyable by considering larger and smaller.

Talking of world-building, right this moment I’ve a tip for you that’s been in my mind for ages. I’ve hinted at this previously, however by no means actually defined my considering on easy methods to use our marketing campaign setting to craft superior puzzles. So right this moment, ultimately, I share how we will use our worlds for gameplay in a means you may not have thought of earlier than. Let’s start!

My Secret Ingredient For Making Nice Puzzles

Why Have a World For Your Sport?

In a monster constructing course I’ve simply began filming for Platinum Wizards of Journey, I put this in a single lesson and promised to unpack it later:

Your Setting serves as a number of dimensions in your puzzles.

Right here’s the screenshot for a bit extra context:


So you already know these dungeon puzzles we love?

And Room II: Roleplay or Puzzle?

And our quest for nice dilemmas to problem gamers?

I’m principally saying that puzzles are the principle cause I like world constructing as a result of our settings can serve up materials solutions to all these questions.

So right this moment let’s dive into this additional and please permit me to clarify what I imply by:

Setting = Puzzles

What’s a Sport World Good For?

A world constructed to enough element in your GMing fashion grants you many boons:

Boon I: A Stage

“All of the world’s a stage, and all of the women and men merely gamers: they’ve their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time performs many components, his acts being seven ages.”

– Invoice Somebody

Our setting provides us a platform for our campaigns. A firmament. Good tales have a location. And our world provides us hundreds.

Boon II: Element

Is it purple or blue? Larger than a d30? How shut are the PCs with it to Mount Doom?

Our world provides us these floor stage particulars with which to color our adventures. Additional, our world provides us an immediate bundle of particulars through its style, themes, and tone indicators.

For instance, Duskfall is my sword & sorcery homebrew world the place Conan meets Greyhawk. It’s acquired spikes of excessive fantasy. Each nook, alley, and shadow threaten. And it cradles wealth past an emperor’s wildest desires deep inside its warrens.

From that we will surmise all types of element like what sort of sport methods it could be appropriate for, what could be on gear lists, and what sorts of tales gameplay would possibly inform on this place.

Boon III: Puzzles

Topping my checklist of world constructing boons, we use our setting’s particulars to manufacture nice logistic, plot, and encounter puzzles.

GM: “By your fluttering candle, you gently unravel the fragile scroll. Scrawled in collassai are runes that learn:

“The vile eyebeast guards its hearth. An enormous of storms clutches the air. Into Malgordia’s goblet he does conspire. In order that Gorgamol might ascend his everlasting stair.’

“So primarily based on these clues and utilizing logic and deduction guys, how tall is that gnome on the Shady Inn?”

These clues don’t should land out of skinny air. Malgordia is a identified villain. The large’s despatched two storms throughout the celebration’s path already. And whereas the PCs don’t know a lot about eyebeasts, three sages in Duskfall know the place the creatures want to lair and what legends say about them.

Plot Puzzles

The above is an efficient instance. Prophecies, clues to assemble up seven components of a rod, and any drawback that imposes story construction. If we take a step again and give it some thought for a second, each monster , tradition, little bit of lore, and Lego piece in your setting is grist for the subject material of your puzzles.

This is the reason I feel puzzles are the perfect cause to have a world and construct one ourselves. Puzzles are inherently enjoyable for a lot of gamers. And skinning the puzzle to our setting makes our adventures really feel wondrous certainly!

Encounter Puzzles

It’s time to rub our arms collectively and cackle with glee, as we herald traps and heavy artillery.

Worlds give us a method to clarify the existence of traps and hazards we place into encounters as cool challenges. Consider it like “lore for risks” or backstories for traps, heh. We’re tying our setting, sport mechanics, and story collectively. A grand unification.

Usually, funhouse puzzles current a troublesome nook case. Boards the place the characters should change into the chess items, keep away from the reverse-gravity perpetual falling teleportation above spikes traps, or step into the toothy statue’s gaping mouth.

However once we use our world to tie the room collectively, we get magic. We reply questions like:

  • What’s its Origin Story?
  • How can we sign this upfront to construct thrilling anticipation?
  • How can we use it for greatest impact in our journey and encounter designs?

Logistic Puzzles

We’ve arrived at my favourite a part of my favourite world boon! Logistic puzzles. This kind makes use of constraints imposed by our setting to current fascinating challenges.

For instance, if you happen to give the grimlings blood after midnight they change into cursed and rampage. The dungeon has no sense of time. And so a poorly-timed profitable chunk on a tasty participant character turns a romp right into a close to TPK.

This constraint that our world has positioned in superior vogue into the PCs’ path now presents our gamers fascinating selections. And I feel that may be a excessive praise to any GM method.

Roll Your Personal

I cherish the Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Planescape, and different setting books on my shelf.

However I’ve to say, the satisfaction I get from cooking scrumptious puzzles utilizing juicy substances from a world I rigorously gardened provides me super satisfaction. That’s my reply to, “Why have a world?” World-based puzzles make GMing extra enjoyable at each sport!

That’s it for this week’s publication.

If you wish to chat with fellow RPT GMs about right this moment’s ideas or ask me questions, be a part of the dialog right here at my discussion board.

Johnn 4

Have extra enjoyable at each sport!


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