It lies nestled deep in the wooded hills surrounding Craeger's Crossing, carved from the living rock of the outcroppings which dot the landscape. Evil may not enter. The living may not enter. None who have sought the remains of Sir Valyrian and the Mirror of the Zealot have ever returned. Now it is your chance to perish.

Necropolis is a self-contained role-playing puzzle adventure for three players. Heavily influenced by Dungeon & Dragons and the Tomb of Horrors, this adventure is specifically designed to strip away all of the extra fluff and focus on puzzle solving and sweet, sweet, horror.


Temporary Edit: A new version of Necropolis (20MB) is in the works and is almost done! I am posting the work-in-progress for anyone to use as-is. This version is an overhaul of the original designed to play better. Less boring stuff, more fun stuff. I've been held back on images but finally found some time to get placeholders/concepts in. The dungeon text is more or less complete. Please leave feedback in the comments section if you find that anything can be improved. - Mageek

I am now officially releasing Necropolis, a d20 puzzle-adventure I have been working on for quite some time. It is a completely self-contained role-playing puzzle adventure inspired by the infamous Tomb of Horrors. It takes puzzle-dungeoneering to the logical extreme, resulting in a unique experience which does not rely on complicated character builds and abilities.

This adventure is d20 system agnostic and does all of the preparation for you.

The dungeon is a self-contained experience with interconnecting puzzles and lateral thinking. If you wish you can extract puzzles and use them in your own dungeon as well.

All you need to run Necropolis is to download the zip file (500 KB) and extract its contents. The dungeon description is located in one pdf file. A second pdf file contains individual rooms plotted in 1' to 5' scale, perfect for D&D miniatures. Raw images are available in a separate download in the same folder.

Details, of course, are in the Necropolis pdf.

Some teasers:

  • A devious demon who eats anyone who isn't good or is still alive, forcing the evil Marghest Blaire to send in undead commoners
  • A dungeon-wide 7 deadly sins (+Death) theme, involving tricks and traps for every vice (aaaand a unifying puzzle that you slowly piece together as you work your way through the dungeon)
  • A complete 1' to 5' scale room-by-room map perfect for DnD miniatures
  • A chamber that needs to be hit with a big hammer in order to push the wall back and get the doors to line up to make progress
  • Clues hidden within images: a gigantic beast which can only be brought down by bringing down the roof, what you thought was merely an unfortunately located pool of lava turns out to be quite useful
  • A big ending with lots of choices, Indiana Jones style. Which one is actually the Mirror of the Zealot? Will your players figure out out? Will they get crushed by the true tomb?
  • A sudden realization that maybe this zealot guy isn't as good as everyone thinks he is

Some sample puzzles are below:

Potion Puzzle

Directly opposite the door is a long counter on which are placed, evenly spaced, six glass vessels of varying size and shape.

Those who investigate the potion table find that words have been etched out before the line of potions.

Brave traveler who hasn't yet died

Stay on your toes if you value your hide

Six bottles before you in a row aligned

Which contain promise and which death malign?

Of safe drinks it is good to know there are two

One against Acid and one to change your Size too

Yet a third grants resilience to Fire's touch,

Without its Antidote though it does not help much

Alas the Antidote is not all too pure

It kills if taken separately to what it does cure

Two Poisons remain to make the sampler pout

Death may be quick or altogether drawn out

Know that the Antidote is left of the Acid

—————–This line is missing——————–

The large ones can kill you, though one may be the cure

And Acid, it is known, is bigger than both Poisons pure

Make up your mind and try to choose well

An incorrect choice leads straight to hell

Solution: There are two configurations which fit the description. This was intentional.

Note that only the innermost two are potentially swapped, so one does know where the deadly potions are and can simply sample to determine the correct ordering.

Variant of the 8 Queens Puzzle (Puzzle of Envy)

Directly opposite the door stands a table. Script is engraved in the wall beyond.

The raised table is tiled in black and white, forming a 6 x 6 grid. A quick inspection finds that the central column which supports the table holds eight statuettes of elegant women. There is an additional inscription in the rear wall:

The Duke of Lain had to his name

Eight beautiful daughters chaste

Who would have known that soon was sown

The seedling of grave distaste

They'd start to fight if they caught sight

Of another's envious stare

So have heart, spread them apart

And put an end to this horrid affair

Placing the eight statuettes on the grid such that no two queens threaten one another is the solution to the puzzle (unlocking a door, releasing treasure, etc.). Note that queens can see along rows, columns, and diagonals.

Problem Setup

Solution (Potentially non-unique)

Block Pushing with an Unexpected Ending

A large section of the room's floor is sunk down roughly five feet. Large blocks of varying materials rest within, fitting together like puzzle-blocks. A square section of the space is unoccupied, leaving a ten-foot by ten-foot hole. In the ceiling is a circular stone seal. Four clamps appear to hold it in place.

This chamber contains a block pushing puzzle. The chamber walls are made of the standard dungeon sandstone whereas the blocks are purple, green, red, and blue marble. The blocks have cherubs and angels carved into their surfaces, giving some ability to grip them.

Blocks can be moved as long as they stay in alignment with the grid. Some sort of magic prevents any 'weird' movement. They cannot be lifted.

Every time a full corner is created in the correct location, one of the four clamps pulls back on the overhead seal.

The initial and target configurations:

Unfortunate Ending: The stone seal is a circle ten-feet in diameter centered in the ceiling. It opens when all four clamps are pulled back (when the blocks are all in the correct arrangement). Hopefully a player or two are standing in the empty area in the middle, underneath the seal when this happens. The seal opens, releasing a torrent of gold and jewels, crushing anyone in the square between the blocks.

That's all folks! For the complete details download the pdf from the link at the top. Please post comments / concerns.

? Responses (16)

Goto Author

Update: Fixed copy-paste err

Goto Author

I actually don't mind this type of sub when it comes down to it. A warning that it is a 52MB zip file might help though. That is huge!!

I would have liked a few examples from the attachment though. The purpose of the site is to share ideas so not having some examples and such in the submission is a little annoying to me.

If I had my way, I would ask that you pick a riddle or a portion that represents the attached. Then at the end invite the reader to download the file after giving some content.

Goto Author

I agree, some flavor samples (is that a double positive? (is there such a thing?)), would make a nice addition to this.

Goto Author

Update: Adding some examples. Updating along the way to save progress.

Goto Author

Update: Added the queen puzzle

Goto Author

Update: Added third sample

Goto Author

Update: Completed the post. Hope you like it!

Goto Author

Wow, excellent use of graphics and interesting puzzles. It is very old school style - the dungeon existing mainly as a test, with insta-death being common. Since you cite Tomb of Horrors as an inspiration, that part is not too surprising, and I would hope PCs going in would know this.

Welcome to Strolens!

Goto Author

Great puzzles. Those are always the hardest bits for me to come up with - I'm a lot more story-focused.

Goto Author

Update: Updated Necropolis link to v1.1

- compressed all images; the download size is now a mere 500 KB

- you can still get the original images from the same folder

- misc small edits to improve game flow

Goto Author

Old fashioned death-puzzle dungeon romp. I of course, love it!! Lots of thought went into this. Kudos be upon you!

I particularly like the fact that Marghest Blair is forced to send in undead commoners.

Goto Author

This is excellent. Some things of note, though:


I'm not sure I understand this passage: 'The statue can only hammer if it is two spaces away from the hammer symbol, and horizontal from it (ie, there is only one target space).' Specifically the part about being horizontal. Somehow I don't think it refers to the statue crouching or jumping, and I'm not sure how else it can not be horizontal to it.


'the green flames of chamber 2' should be 'the green flames of chamber 1', I think.


'octoganal' should be 'octagonal' (or 'octogonal', although that one's usually considered obsolete).

The room is octagonal, and one wall is taken up by the door, leaving seven free walls. The text says 'The remaining walls contain eight white crystalline quartz slabs'. So, is there one wall with two slabs, or how else are they laid out?

Also, it says that leaving requires the use of the mirror, I assume the green flames in the well are not subject to the potion of Fire Protection? It's not explicitly stated.


Anyway, great work.

Goto Author

Thank you for the comments sirgarberto.

p16: Horizontal as in east-west. Thus one must be two spaces east of the seal to strike it.

p17. right

p27. nice catch with the slabs. With respect to the well, I didn't specify that, but I believe the 'no disposal' rules would apply. That is, anything tossed into the well gets rebuffed by the well's tempestuous energies. So you would probably live due to protection but wouldn't really be able to enter the chamber.


Some friends of mine ran the dungeon a few weeks ago and I have been working with them since then on an update! I am almost done, but have to nail down some final things.

I am somewhat stuck on how to redo the non-even, non-prime numbers puzzle with the Death statue, as a major point of feedback I have been getting is that it is too much work for an uninteresting result. If anyone has any neat ideas, let me know!

I will incorporate edits to fix the things you pointed out and post the completed version in the next week or two. I will also go through the puzzle overview here and clean it up a bit.

Goto Author

Well... if it helps, the first thing I thought after reading 'Note that the fake statuettes do not follow the statuette rules' was 'well, then I'll chuck them all in the acid bath and take the only one that survives it' (yes, I know, I got that from Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, but if it works... :P)

Goto Author

That is exactly what their party ended up doing too!

Goto Author

Update: New Beta version is available for download!

There are a whole lot of changes:

- Now called 'Mirror of the Zealot' because Necropolis is neither technically accurate nor thematically accurate

- removed boring puzzles and replaced them with (hopefully) more interactive / clear ones

- dungeon rearranged a bit, new chambers added

- include vaechter hints throughout guide

- replaced Death area with Phantom Paths and a neat Titan puzzle

- Pride is taking over Envy's role; both still exist

- Statuette puzzle revamped; no random/boring number sequence puzzles!

- More alternate solutions

- Suggested roleplaying tips for NPCs

- Increased gender diversity

- End of game suggestions