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Rating: 3.3333
Condition: Normal
ID: 9017


May 3, 2018, 11:00 am

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A Puzzling Portal


Sometimes a door is the best security system.

The adventurers walk to the end of a hallway to stand in front of a large, locked stone door. There is a sizeable copper handle to one side, but more importantly the door appears to feature strange square panels with some sort of pattern in relief on each. There is no visible keyhole to pick.

This particular dungeon feature works best with visual aids, either with real-life props or images placed so your players can move or interact with them.

At first glance, the way to open the door is simple. Players must move the tiles and reveal an image to unlock the mechanism. Tiles can be lifted from the door, rotated, etc in order to solve the puzzle. If a player attempts to open the door and the image is incorrect or incomplete in any way, the handle emits a surge of electricity, dealing 1d8 lightning damage per 6 seconds of contact.

What players are unaware of is that the puzzle itself is enchanted with an alarm spell. Touching the panels alerts the owner of the dungeon with a mental ping as long as they are on the same plane of existence. This allows them to reach a convenient point of the dungeon to greet the intruders with a nasty surprise or to escape to a safer location if they feel they cannot fight them. A detect magic spell will reveal the school of magic (abjuration) but not the spell itself, per the spell description. For those using mage hand to interact with the tiles, this will still set off the alarm as it is set to alert when any of the tiles is shifted in any way.

Players inspecting the door will find the handle is trapped to electrocute wrong answers with a DC 15 investigation check. On a roll of 25 or higher, however, the door's biggest secret is revealed. There is a hidden latch on the opposite side of the door from the copper handle that is flush with the stone. This allows the one who knows its location to safely open the door without having to solve the time-eating puzzle or disturb any of the puzzle tiles.

For players that want to just break the door down, the door has an AC of 20 and an HP of 50.

Additional Ideas (2)

For added difficulty, the door's puzzle image can be an ambigram-- a picture that appears different depending on how the image is flipped. If the image is facing the incorrect direct, it dishes out the appropriate punishment when the players try to open the door.

2018-05-03 10:57 AM » Link: [9017#98429|text]
For those who prefer theatre of the mind or who cannot use props, any puzzle or device can be used to replace the panels but it should need to be touched in order to be interacted with to allow the alarm spell to function as intended.

2018-05-03 10:58 AM » Link: [9017#98430|text]
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Comments ( 3 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Cheka Man
May 3, 2018, 22:14
Nice and useful.
Voted Strolen
June 10, 2018, 21:38
This is just a great, classic dungeon puzzle. I like the added bits about the alarm and it is good that it has a bypass too. Has all the great features of a fantastic obstacle on a dungeon dive. Great!
Voted axlerowes
June 14, 2018, 12:08
this post could use a visual aid, but as said a nice puzzle.

Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

Two Minerals

       By: Murometz


Also called "pale-yellow witch" by alchemists, this mineral is known to possess a peculiar attribute. When found, a Yupiorite will appear the palest yellow. Rather than crystalline in structure, Yupiorite occurs in weird, smooth, ovaline shapes, as if already carved by skilled hands to serve as ring or necklace ornaments. Yupiorite somehow detects and reacts to mood. When the wearer of the gem is content, calm, and happy, the stone will remain the palest yellow. As the person gets more excited, angry, or otherwise stimulated, the mineral will darken progressively to a dark corn-yellow in color. Why the gem reacts this way to sentient mood swings, is still debated by gemologists and alchemists alike.

It is said that the Elven Halls of Vala-Aluduwy are resplendent with wall-sized mirrors of pure Yupiorite, showing plainly and ironically, the emotions of everyone present, despite the Elven love of restraint and stoicism.


"Cave-grass" or "cave-pine" is a deep forest green in color, rare and often mistaken for other minerals, though otherwise mundane. Crystals form into tiny, ultra-thin, needle-like clusters by the hundreds of thousands, creating vast dark green bursts and structures, resembling evergreen conifers, if viewed by any sort of light. Despite its ephemeral shape, Aragdulose is only second to a diamond in hardness.

Dwarves are said to keep these mineral "trees" in their homes, putting them up during festive family holidays, leaving presents beneath them, for kin to open.

Ideas  ( Items ) | December 2, 2015 | View | UpVote 6xp

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