I finished up my re-imagining of the "Hunt For Valathune" yesterday, complete with old school D&D module type cover. After posting it on the Blueholme google + page, they seemed very interested in any future work I may do. So that's a nice little positive. I have a decent nugget going right now about some dwarfen ruins. In the Hunt For Valathune I placed some crystal keys thru-out the adventure that will open the door to the dwarfen ruins, so that maybe the next adventure. However there is also the case of why Valathune was hired in the first place to steal items, and the possible assassination that he was planning, so there are a few paths that I can take.
I recently posted the following on the "Game Master Tips" google + page
Hey all! I'm currently working on an adventure, that is set in a underground world, ala Underdark, sorta. There's large caverns of stalagtities and mites, underground river, some Dwarfen ruins, etc. Even a large winding staircase (LOTR) I'm looking for some ideas for puzzles??? Any thoughts.
AND WOW DID I GET SOME!
This one stood out for me, and I think I will run with it.
Creatures could have been held in stasis by the same spell that sealed the dungeon. In fact I think I might use that idea. A stasis trap, sealed the dungeon, a nobleman adventurer was locked inside, the one who set off the trap. That same nobleman doesn't realize the trap was sprung, and continues on after the spell is broken...have the adventurers rescue him, he promises riches galore when they return him to his father's kingdom...which has been gone for hundreds of years, his disappearance caused a rift in the kingdom.
Ford the river that's filled with tities and mites. You could have all sorts of fun with Dwarven ruins; parts of the staircase is flat like a slide and you have to activate specific runes/triggers in the rubble in the correct order so it's all back to stairs, a giant room where you have to step on the correct tiles to get across. Random stalactites fall from the ceiling, or the stalagmites shoot up from the ground. I'm thinking a lot of Indiana Jones stuff could be done.
One thing I did in my Underdark campaign was make the staircase a trap, and it worked out well. Have about 3 flights of stairs, 10-12 steps per flight, 25-30 feet (5-6 squares) per step. When the first party member steps onto the flight, have the steps start withdrawing into the wall, one square per round, so anyone still on the flight when it withdraws completely falls to the bottom (a la the receding staircase in the last Raiders movie). Have flying minions come out and attack each member, doing negligible damage but immobilizing the character (save ends). Start with 3 minions on the first flight, 4 on the second, and 5 on the third. My party loved the challenge.
and that's actually perfect for the GIGANTIC door to the dwarfern ruins. Its totally a side quest. The main quest line is a hunt for an assassin's organization. There is one note left for the players that states "beware the Orcs have been banging on the other side of that door, they may well get out"... ie... a band of Orcs has laid claim to the old ruin. bit of foreshadowing. I had considered doing the old "door riddle" thing, But I like this idea quite a lot better.
If the players dont like puzzles you could have them gather from various sources (requiring various methods to get them) items that fit into a wall or door to make it open up. A puzzle but without the puzzle.
This all comes about from having done the first adventure and it was soooooo boring, just a hack in slash dungeon crawl, "there's a door to the north". Anyways, I re-wrote or am re-writing the entire second half of the adventure at this point.
What is the goal of having puzzles? That helps me to determine what kind of puzzles I want in a game. For example :
- The puzzle blocks an old passageway made by the dwarves. Since it was impratical for all dwarves to have a key to it, they made a puzzle and shared the solution. It could be a simple "press on words" to unlock, or a few rotating wheels where multiple symbols must align correctly.
- The puzzle was built by illithids to test the intelligence of their newly captured slaves. It determined if they were meant for food, manual labor or more intellectual jobs (such as scribes, assistant, etc)
I like that Idea, the game mechanic I'm using has modifiers for fighting on stairs, giving either the monsters or players the upper hand when rolling, throwing moving stairs into the mix will change it up.
I also like that idea this whole thread is leading me down a huge dwarfen ruin path :) which is awesome. I think I'll be incorportating a few Skyrim elements as well. I just started creating crystal keys for the door to the ruins, however incorporating a word puzzle for more important rooms, etc like your suggesting may just be the ticket. now to determine what the prize is at the end of the adventure!
As far as some of the people that dislike puzzles, its all good, I just found that in the first adventure it was soooo very hack n slash, and not a lot of room for Role play, that it got quite boring. "there is a door"... players: check from traps, roll, check to see if its locked, roll." and rinse and repeat, basically. it made for no fun. atleast for me, as it was so very predictable.
I think for starters in this adventure, the side tangent dwarfern ruins are going to be perfect as it'll be about 3 levels down from the original dungeon. Also I think I will probably hold off on giving them the last key for the time being, until I get the rest of it planned. however If I get it done, then they will acquire the last key to get into the ruins. Hmm.. the question becomes do i make the Dwarfs at all, or some other ancient died out race???? that might be the ticket.
The problem with a sealed dungeon is that it's denizens are usually either undead or constructs. It's somewhat predictable.
If I may suggest : the main dungeon (i.e. dwarven ruin) is sealed, but some creatures recently succeeded in entering it (illithid, drows, duergar, they would all fit). They are gradually taking over the city.
In the last few decades of the city (i.e. dwarven ruin) before it's fall, a strange cult started gaining a footing. It predicted the fall of the city and how they could survive it. A lot of the dwarves thought it was ridiculous. But those who believed it went through a magical mass slumber, keeping only a few watchers around. The unbelievers were either massacred by whatever calimity caused the city downfall or fled.
You can have the watchers trying to approach the PC, trying to convey a message they can't deliver since they were not meant for speech. Wouldn't that be somekind of puzzle? ;)
Obviously the main reason I just copied and pasted this whole thing is so I can go back and re-read it to keep the nugget going. I think what I will do is create an ancient race rather than use the Dwarf idea at this point.
We'll see what comes up.