Dungeons & Dragons Online

A collaborative artistic puzzle to spark joy and amusement

I tested this one out tonight and it worked to great success.

As a small precursor – I always struggle with puzzle design. I love the idea of including non-combat challenges and encounters, but fail to make engaging ones with the usual plot of "here is a mysterious set of runes, go solve it"

So to think outside the box, I asked myself what aspects of puzzles do I enjoy? And its always the role playing and discussion I get to watch the PCs muse over.

To that end, I decided to work on a puzzle that specializes in that and eliminates completely failure states and success conditions (sort of)

*Note – this is probably best run in person, but I successfully did it virtually using this wonderful site: https://aggie.io/

I call this, "The dying artist puzzle"

Setup

The players stumble upon the corpse of what appears to be a dead artist. On their table is a large blank canvas, several pots of ink, and a large quill and some brushes. A note on the table describes how they got involved in an evil mage or wizards bargain to work together with other artists and create a masterpiece.

Each artist would be given a random drawing task, and once everyone was assigned one, they would then pick turns to draw.

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The wizard offered them a trove of treasure for their work should they succeed, and the prize would increase further the more cohesive the piece was.

Failure would result in them being cursed. It would seem the dead artist quarreled with the others over petty details and they were all killed, leaving behind an unfinished piece for the next group willing to take up the quill…

Details

  • The players are given knowledge of the three "buckets" of drawing tasks to choose from
  • Then they must choose a bucket of tasks to draw from, and roll a d6 to determine what task in that bucket they get
  • At least one item from each bucket must be picked, but after that, its free game to choose
  • Once every player has a task, they may discuss amongst themselves how to proceed
  • Each player must draw if able to. If they are unable to, they may pick another player to draw their task for them
  • While drawing, any player may add to the overall “scene” (outside of their task) at will
  • The prize will be determined by the DM, depending on the effort and cohesiveness of the piece.

Drawing Tasks (People)

  • A pirate or bandit
  • An armored person
  • A cloaked or stealthy person
  • A holy or religious person
  • A wizard or warlock
  • A noble, chef, or other civilian working class
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Drawing Tasks (Places and things)

  • A pirate ship
  • Ship cannons, siege artillery, bombs, or other destructive weaponry
  • A large manor or mansion (inside or outside)
  • A hoard of treasure and extravagant wealth
  • A dilapidated church, castle, or cultist encampment
  • Runic symbols, religious offerings, or other magical effects

Drawing Tasks (Events)

  • One or more animals, distinctly out of place, causing a ruckus
  • A treacherous weather event or force of nature
  • A large explosion or magical destructive force
  • A dragon breathing fire
  • One or more skeletons picking a fight with someone or something
  • A tear in reality where horrors from beyond leak through

My group ran this tonight, and got these tasks:

  • A pirate ship
  • A cloaked or stealthy person
  • A large explosion or magical destructive force
  • Runic symbols, religious offerings, or other magical effects
  • A tear in reality where horrors from beyond leak through
  • An armored person

Using the virtual tool noted above, my group put together this masterpiece

It was a lot of fun, and they all enjoyed it, even the ones who weren't super artistically inclined. For a group of 6 players, it took about 45-60 minutes from start of puzzle to finished piece.

Source

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