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ID: 1228


April 28, 2008, 3:21 pm

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The Shocking Pattern


Checkerboards on floors of dungeons… is there any greater bane to adventurers?

This is to be placed in an area the PC’s cannot escape from, such as a small room. This is written as if the PC’s have entered a 40x40 room, with one door leading in.

The door to this room is heavy and reinforced. The door is not locked. The room is more or less bare. The floor appears to be covered in murky water. The water is less than 6 inches deep, is lower than the threshold of the door, but the floor is totally opaque with muddy water.

As soon as all PC’s have entered, the door will slam shut, magically lock, and then the room will start to shift. The floor under the murky water will start to rise, revealing a checkerboard pattern of 10x10 squares on the floor(what PC doesn’t dread the checkerboard floor? *grin*). 6 large shields will roll out from newly appeared mechanical slots in the wall and roll out onto the floor in a random pattern, a sand-timer(eg hourglass) will appear as well, from a mechanically appearing hole in the wall. A sign is revealed near the hourglass. It reads:

Place six shields on the squares in a pattern that leaves an even number of open squares in EVERY vertical AND horizontal direction.

At this point, the characters see a large sand-timer tip over. Once they read the sign, they have about 30 seconds of time to go on the sand-timer.

If the pattern doesn’t match the described end condition after 30 seconds, each character gets a large shock of electricity, which stuns them into immobility, and takes about 30 seconds to wear off. The sand-timer tips over as soon as the electricity shocks the characters, they are immobile for 30 seconds, and then they have 30 seconds to place the shields before the timer runs out again, and the next shock comes. The shock damages any character in the room when it passes through.

Once the pattern is made, the hourglass tips to a neutral position and the door unlocks, the floor recedes. The PCs can take the shields if they like. If you want to include treasure, make the shields more impressive than normal, and fill the hourglass with gold dust or something.

How I ran this in actual game play:
The six shields were represented by poker chips(dice, coins, whatever is handy and small, poker chips for us). I made a 4x4 grid pattern on a white board(piece of paper will do) and placed it in the middle of the table. When the poker chips hit the white board(I tossed them liberally from behind my DM screen), the players could start working on the puzzle, and I started a countdown timer. When the timer ran out, I instructed them to look away from the puzzle, grab their character sheets and write down the damage they took from the electrical shock, and not look back at the puzzle until I had reset the timer. Then I started over, until they had solved the puzzle. They took some SERIOUS damage from this puzzle, and they are pretty smart, but it took them about 4 minutes of real puzzle solving time to come up with the solution in between all the damage rolls and such. Make sure the characters can handle the damage you’re going to dish out every 30 seconds of real time.

The Answer
It’s fairly obvious when the answer is right. There are actually 4 unique patterns that will solve the criteria listed. I won’t actually include the answers because they are graphical in nature, and the answers become very obvious when you see them(in the "oh yeah, that’s right" kind of way). What I did was I stopped the timer whenever they said they thought they had it, and told them to look away. I examined the pattern against the criteria, and if it was right, I told them, but if it was wrong, I said, nope, sorry, everyone get ready, the timer’s going to start again, and then I started the timer again.

Where to use this
I personally used this in a combination puzzle. They were trying to obtain another magical item that would solve their current crisis. You could use this in the same manner, if they seek a given item, when the pattern is right, have the item mechanically appear from a hole in the wall.

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Comments ( 14 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted MoonHunter
November 8, 2005, 19:20
Only voted
Voted Cheka Man
November 11, 2005, 18:54
Positivly shocking.
Voted Zylithan
November 24, 2005, 11:35
Nice puzzle. Not something i have seen before :) I like your comments on how things can be made magical to make the experience "worth their trouble".
Voted Drackler
April 30, 2006, 18:33
You know how, usually, the game that you are playing will say that the DM is not really against the players, well, I still think it is really fun to give them a puzzle/monster/weird magic item that completly baffles, annoys, or just plain angers them.

-Drackler Wyrmdragon, Cronddelshno the Snakedragon.
September 28, 2006, 21:34
Well, at least it's not a game of chess.
Voted Murometz
June 20, 2007, 21:49
what Cheka said!
Voted valadaar
April 23, 2008, 21:17
This is interesting, though I'd like to know more about Why.
Voted Strolen
April 27, 2008, 21:44
The evil Mathematician's castle! Beware the next room of Soduku.

Classic dungeon crawl puzzle and I love it just for that!
Barbarian Horde
March 30, 2009, 12:10
It could be looked at as a burglar alarm in a modern home, the owner knows the combination. the reason its given as a puzzle is cause his old buddies from wizard college still need a place to crash every now and then.
Voted freebooter
May 30, 2009, 1:12
Nice puzzle... Some good thought went into it's construction.
Can't see it actually being used in any but the most mature and experienced of gaming groups though. I know most of the young guys I game with would lose it after about their 3rd try and go find something better to do.
Have you managed to use it in a game?
Voted PsykieKILLA
June 16, 2009, 1:51
Hey, would it be possible to post some of the solutions as I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get 6 counters to fit on a 4x4 board that are equal on all vertical and horizontal lines... It simply does not make sense to me, and I usually pick up on things like this easily...
Voted eagleschrisr
January 26, 2013, 15:20
I like the idea and want to use it but I can't come up with a solution on my own. Can you put 2 or more shields in the same square? Please at list give me a hint as to the solution. Thanks
February 2, 2013, 12:45
Well, I can't really give you a hint as to the solution without giving you the solution. However, since it's been quite a while since I posted this, I don't mind posting the solution.

The solution, there are 4 patterns which are all rotations of the same pattern I'm going to lay out below. A "." represents an empty square, an "X" represents a square that a shield is placed upon.


(This looks better under a font that is even sized, such as courier).

You'll note that on the horizontal, from the top, row 1 has 2 empty squares, row 2 has 2 empty squares, row 3 has 4 empty squares, and row 4 has 2 empty squares. In the vertical, starting from the left, row 1 has 2 empty squares, row 2 has 2 empty squares, row 3 has 4 empty squares, and row 4 has 2 empty squares. So that's all even numbers left over.

Hope this helps!
Voted Mageek
October 24, 2015, 18:50

Neat puzzle! I can't say I have ever used a timer and recurring damage like this before. That adds a real hectic air to the puzzle solving. I also really like that the floor starts off wet and covered.

Can players place shields such that they overlap multiple squares? It might make more neat variations.

It is neat that clever players can gain an advantage by casting levitate, using well-timed jumps, or drying themselves off to avoid the shocking damage.

Some things:

- the top of the post says 10x10, the bottom part says 4x4.

- It might be less gimicky if the timer and shields start off on the walls rather than appearing from opening holes.

On an n x n grid, where n is even, you can solve it if n > 3 by using the 3x3 solution:

X X .

X . X

. X X

Granted, that is the 4x4 solution rearranged.

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       By: Strolen

People that live in cities no longer have any contact with the gods. There was a pact between the gods, humans, and animals. We could talk to the gods and the trees were the witness' to the pact. When the trees started getting cut down to make cities the pact was broken by the destruction of the witness'. So now only those that live with nature can speak to the gods and/or animals. Some trees grow tall creating darkness that scares men and they are not able to go near them. If they could they could again speak to the gods.

Ideas  ( System ) | December 31, 2001 | View | UpVote 1xp

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