December 29, 2019

Puzzles in Tabletop RPGs

Today’s #GMAdvice post is all about best practices for implementing puzzles in your stories.

Puzzles are a classic gaming mechanism. They force your player(s) to come together to solve something challenging, worthwhile, and rewarding. From Tomb Raider, to Final Fantasy, to Dungeons & Dragons, puzzles are ubiquitous part of the gaming experience.

That said, in tabletop RPG settings, puzzles are often fraught with implementation challenges. Like difficult-to-bake pastries, the nuances in getting puzzles exactly right come with time and experience. Too difficult, and you turn your players off to the experience and waste valuable playing & story time. Too easy and the players wonder why you even put a puzzle in their way to begin with.

Finding that happy medium is important. To help guide you there, use the following checklist to help guide you as you develop your puzzle(s):

  1. What is the collective gaming experience of the players?
  2. What is the collective level of patience among the players?
  3. What is their appetite for an intellectual challenge? A logical one? A personal one?

With those answers in hand, you’ll have a much better chance at aligning any puzzle you develop with what your players are looking for. Good luck! And let us know how we can help.