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D&D 3E
The D&D DM Tip Thread 
20th-Apr-2005 07:04 pm
vulpez's thread.

The party makes it's way down a corridor. The corridor is well masoned and about ten feet wide. The corridor comes to a four way intersection. To the left and right, the hallway continues for 60 feet and comes to a dead end. A dwarf can detect there is a slight slope in the hall from right to left.

The main corridor continues straight. As the party proceeds straight a trigger is hit and heavy machinery can be heard. Whoever is in the intersection can run across safely just as a ramp lowers from the ceiling in the right corridor and a massive stone column rolls down the hall. It lumbers along, through the intersection and down the left hall where it is lifted up by elevator into the ceiling. The characters can hear it roll back to the right where it re-appears rolling down the ramp. It takes three minutes to roll across and reset itself. The log will continue cycling for an hour.

It is ten feet across the hall. Not a tough problem.

Anyone who walks across the hall must make a reflex save or fall into a foot trap. 12 inch square hole with hinged spikes. The player will take no damage when their foot falls in, but will take damage if they try to yank it out.

I have a three minute egg timer and I put it on the table. The player who's trapped can hear the machine re-set and the log rolling over head. If the log hits him, he's goo.

Easy way out for the player is to push his hands down into the trap and push the spikes down then slowly wiggle his foot out, then carefully slip his hands out.

Once you put the timer on the table and pucker factor kicks in, easy is not so easy.
21st-Apr-2005 12:21 am (UTC)
I did something similar one time to my players. They were in one of those rooms that seals itself off and then slowly crushes down (a la trash compactor in Star Wars), with a puzzle that needed to be solved before they could go forward. I went into the kitchen and set the microwave timer for 5 minutes. That sure got them trying things fast.
21st-Apr-2005 01:19 pm (UTC)
The problem I have with this is you're making a puzzle for the _Players_, not the _Characters_. its breaking the fourth wall.

If I've got an high-Int Rogue with max ranks in Disable Device and Search, this should be a no-brainer. I, playing this character, might never come up with the solution, but my rogue should get it in a couple seconds. A high Int wizard with some puzzle solving should also be able to get this easily, for instance.

Howeve, if I'm playing a bargin-basement Int fighter type, without much puzzle solving exposure, I should never be able to solve this, even if I, as a player, could.

This sort of puzzle is fine for one-shots, or games where character personality and development are low, but in a long, highly social campaign, this is absolutely the wrong thing.

21st-Apr-2005 08:24 pm (UTC) - No so.
Albert Einstine, the smartest guy on the planet once paid a man 5 bucks not to tell anyone he had just walked into an open manhole. The smartest guy on the planet had just fallen into the sewer.
The smartest theif can be undone by the simplest trap. In fact, it might kill him faster than the barbarian who's used to simple things.
Dice rolls verses players actually having to think. Hey, whatever works for you.
I've run this trap four times with different groups. Because the party is there to give ideas, no one has ever been crushed. It does make for a little pucker and a lot of fun.
21st-Apr-2005 08:33 pm (UTC) - Re: No so.
Albert Einstein was (1) a notorious practical joker, so I wouldn't necessarily believe this is true and (2) not the world's formost observer of physical phenomenon.

That argument barely merits a response.

And the base problem is still there; this is a test of your PLAYERS. Not for the CHARACTERS.

I don't think the player's shouldn't be challenged, but if the only solution is for the players to think out of the box, you've presented an untenable problem. The characters have abilities and knowledge well outside the player's (and vice versa).

Further, there is a slippery slop. If you let (require) player knowledge influence their problem solving, why shouldn't the player's knowledge of monster abilities be allowed? or abusing game mechanics, or other out of character knowledge leap into the game.
21st-Apr-2005 08:44 pm (UTC) - Re: No so.
1) Albert did walk into a open manhole
2) The point is just cause you're a genious don't mean you're smart.
So what you're saying is at the start of the game, all the players can hand in the character sheets and we can roll dice to see what they do and what they play, meanwhile the players can spend their time watching t.v. and then come back, collect their xp or death notice and go home?
It's roll play. It's not a theif solving a problem, its a player playing a theif solving a problem.
21st-Apr-2005 09:10 pm (UTC) - Reducto ad absurdum
You're really taking this way too far.

The point is, regarding a D&D sense, that just because you're a genious doesn't make you wise. Albert may have his Int in the mid 20s, but could easily fail a spot check for the manhole.

I would think that solving a problem in character would lie greater on a role-playing scale than solving a problem out of character.
21st-Apr-2005 09:36 pm (UTC) - Re: Reducto ad absurdum
I agree with you. I don't understand why Marphrod is getting bent out of shape over it. Its a puzzle. I can make it DC25 and let everyone roll or let them think their way out. Thinking with my group is more fun.
21st-Apr-2005 09:50 pm (UTC) - Re: No so.
Sounds like your players and you had fun and that is the bottom line. One of the things that RPG's just haven't figured out yet is how to role play intelligence or wisdom in the game for a character whose intelligence or wisdom is different from the player. Besides I always thought puzzles took more wisdom than intelligence.
21st-Apr-2005 10:38 pm (UTC) - Re: No so.
Thank you. Bottom line is always: "If everyone one is having fun, you're doing it right."
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