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Puzzle Room / Escape Rooms / Puzzle Manipulatives in game


Has any one used an escape room or puzzle manipulative in their RPG game for their players to solve instead of simply making a die roll?

A few years ago, I ran an adventure where a particular important room could only be accessed by the setting of a series of levers, cogs, and crystals. The complexity of the puzzle made it so that keeping track in one's head was nearly impossible, and handling the situation only verbally would have probably not been very fun. I suppose a skill check or die roll could have been used, but it was a pivotal challenge that the players should overcome and feel rewarded for solving. So I built a paper mock-up of the levers, cogs and crystals that the players could manipulate to solve the puzzle. While the paper cut out were nothing special, the players really enjoyed putting their hands on the "controls" and actually solving the puzzle.

I'd like to repeat this hands-on approach to problem solving again, hopefully with something more durable than the paper cut-out I made. I want to avoid the Cracker Barrel puzzles and Rubik's Cubes. Has anyone seen a product out there that functions as a customizable puzzle box to share with friends? A one use product seems too limiting.

Given the rise in popularity of escape rooms, I wonder if any of those devices have made it into a gaming session. (Get those players out of their chairs and solve this life size puzzle!)

I suppose something like Two Rooms and a Boom could be adapted. These challenges have somewhat of a mini-game within the game feel to them, but as long as it short and thematic I think it is o.k.

Nevertheless, I am looking for ideas that can easily be adapted and look and play better than my paper cut-outs.

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Sadly I don't know of any Hands-On Approach to your problem except for a few snippets of my experiences.

One campaign a fellow player tried their hand at being a DM and implemented several similar themes in a few of her rooms when we traversed the lost ancient dungeon hidden beneath a city. Many were similar to the ones seen in the old PS One Resident Evil games where we sometimes had to backtrack for a specific cog wheel, crystal, or level key to go forward. A few Cog wheels were found in Junk art throughout the city. The order of paintings showing a hero of old which when in order released his corpse to attack us was surprising .

In a recent Post-apocalypse game I used a simple circle cutout from poster boards with a generic key overlaid and a four point cross to denote center/left/right for the angles for when the players needed to open a lock with lock-pick skills to advance. For Computer Hacks I used a Hangman game style for the password to gain access to the system from several letters for the password


First Post
I've also been using paper cuts for some of my more elaborate puzzles. For something fancier, maybe have a look at the 'Mansions of Madness' board game. IIRC, it mostly uses variations of sliding puzzles.


I have never solved a Rubik's Cube. So that would be a session-ending experience.
But I can mess one up, so I can easily simulate a randomizer to get IN to the dungeon. ("Dangerous Daphne did it again!" - Scooby-Doo)

Use the Cracker Barrel puzzle instead of a d20 INT roll; make sure the challenge is repeatable (Master Control Room in a maze of side-quests?) so as the PCs do better-with-practice there are different things to go face. It can also be fun to let everybody do best-of-three, and compare best scores to the DM's chart. If the door (or whatever) is trapped, also compare worst scores.
Write off each person's very first try, because the score will be HORRIBLE as they learn the rules ... unless you employ Grimtooth's Traps; they can trigger on the lowest score of all.

While I was in college - lo those many years ago - I got to where I could complete the CB 'jump over sticks' puzzle down to the one piece of a unique color ending in the center of the board. I can't do it any more because I don't remember the sequence of moves or how to set up the board at beginning. Maybe if I had an hour or two per night with nothing else to do...

One of the 4e LFR modules set in Raven's Bluff involved a handout that showed a puzzle to solve. Our INT 20 Wizard's player had no clue how to do it - but the guy playing an INT 8 Barbarian got it in less than 5 minutes. (My guess was wrong.) This kind of result can add to fun at the table (be careful to razz the Wizard not insult him) because it's so out-of-expectations.


I just remember an old school trap 3.5e that a GM which unfortunately killed two-thirds of our...

So our group while exploring the secret catacombs of the BBEG we took our time for awhile and began examining all of the adjacent room for hidden doors. One player pressed what he thought was a hidden switch to reveal a secret door while our rogue screamed for the other players to stop him activating a clear two inch sheet of clear crystal sealing them all in. Long story short the switch then released a brackish fluid which quickly turned to a flammable gas and the resident pyro of the group launched a powerful magic missile at the crystal door... magic missile hits door and ignites the unseen gas incinerating the trapped members within.


First Post
I visited the Room Escape Berline and had great fun splitting into two groups and switching rooms after our first game. As an escape room fanatic I considered this entertaiment to be pushing boundaries and to offer a new kind of experience that I haven’t really encountered anywhere .Great fun for tourists and friends andfamilies .Highly recommend it as the entire experience from the moment we walked in the door of Escape Room Berlin.


Guide of Modos
Has any one used an escape room or puzzle manipulative in their RPG game for their players to solve instead of simply making a die roll? . . . Nevertheless, I am looking for ideas that can easily be adapted and look and play better than my paper cut-outs.
Legos? No, wait! Get a red dragon puzzle. Throw the pieces on the table, and tell the PCs they're weaving together a portable hole to the next room.

I'm planning a series of escaperoom style challenges for my players, for which I plan to create cardboard cutouts to illustrate the puzzle. Probably something with steampressure, and turning valves to lower and raise the pressure. The central theme is that the players will be tested at their knowledge of the tenets of a group of monks, before being allowed access to the inner sanctum of the monestary. I have not figured out yet what sort of puzzle to put with every tenet, and I have yet to decide if the puzzles interact with one another. Here is what I got so far:

-Engineering: Steampressure puzzle, illustrated with cardboard cutouts of valves and a diagram. Solving it reveals a glyph.
-Faith: Probably something that tests their knowledge of various deities in the campaign.Solving it reveals a glyph.
-Magic: Perhaps a puzzle that requires them to use a variety of simple spells. Solving it reveals a glyph.
-Nature: I don't have an idea for this one yet. I'm considering the option of having this puzzle room be destroyed, so the players have to deduce the missing glyph from hints throughout the building.

-Glyphdoor: This one will require symbols from the other puzzles, which are only revealed after solving each puzzle. The players may have to deduce the final symbol by using their knowledge of the other symbols. Solving this puzzle opens the door to the inner sanctum of the monastery.
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