Everyone knows Castles and Mansions are rife with D&D puzzles. That’s a fact. And why wouldn’t they be? The eccentric owners have nothing better to do than come up with complex puzzles to guard their castle or mansion against marauders and servants alike. What better way than a D&D puzzle to secure your castle doors? Locks are for commoners but guarding your valuables with a puzzle says you have style! And what about all the political puzzles that go on in a castle or mansion? In short: You can stuff any castle or mansion with D&D puzzles to your heart’s content, and it’s not weird at all. Trust me, it isn’t.
In this article, we’ll explore 5 different puzzles that are perfect for D&D castles or mansions. These are all illustrated puzzles I designed myself. It will give you enough visual material to not only run the puzzles but also to create your castle or mansion.
1. The D&D Castle or Mansion Cellar: Dungeon Puzzles
The first puzzle that’s perfect for Castles or mansions is Dungeon Puzzles. It’s perfect because it comes with dungeon tiles that you can layout to create the castle, mansion, and cellars or crypt below. So the means for creating your structures come with the puzzle (in tabletop and vtt format).
With dungeon puzzles, your entire structure IS the puzzle. Players need to figure out the layout of the castle before they can enter the wing or cellar. Now it may seem odd that castles or mansions would have hallways that have a complex layout. But it’s actually closer to how castles are built than you might think. Architects often create complex layouts to confuse enemies when the castle is overrun, so the occupants have time to escape through secret hallways.
Having a puzzle that does the same works very well with that theme. And you can declare some hallways are secret and were discovered by players who solve this puzzle.
2. The D&D Castle or Mansion Vault: Lock Puzzles
Of course, every castle or mansion in D&D has areas that need to be locked. Lock Puzzles is a mix between an ordinary lock with keys and a puzzle. Each lock has multiple puzzle pieces that function as keys. But having the keys isn’t enough to open the door. Players also need to puzzle out how to place the keys to open the door.
For a castle or mansion owner, it actually makes sense to have keys that confuse a new user. It gives the guards a bit of extra time to respond in case of a break-in. Having multiple puzzles also means you can distribute them among NPC. Maybe each member of the royal household owns one key to the vault, and it can only be opened if all are in agreement.
With lock puzzles, there are over 500 puzzle combinations and various amounts of keys that must be used. So you can lock doors to your heart’s content. If you wish to learn more baout layering door puzzles, check out this article.
3. The D&D Castle or Mansion Great Hall: Game of shields Puzzles
Politics present a very different type of D&D puzzle that makes sense in a castle or mansion. Many DMs have a difficult time with introducing politics into their game because there are just so many factions and motives to keep track of. That’s why I created the ‘Game of Shields‘. It’s a complete system for running politics in D&D. And it is all based on a single puzzle system.
Now you can create political situations in your castle or mansion through a puzzle players need to solve. Through solving the puzzle they can make or break alliances, discover who is really in power, and even shift power in their direction. Here’s a more indept article on political D&D campaigns.
4. The D&D Castle or Mansion Library: Rune Puzzles
Gold pieces and the princess’s chastity aren’t the only things that are guarded in a castle. What sets the nobility apart from commoners is knowledge. And it is guarded fiercely by placing rune puzzles onto books, scrolls, and that room in the back with the diabolical summoning circle.
Rune puzzles are written in a magical language only known to the very elite. And it is up to the players to uncover the meaning of each rune so they can unlock the secrets the stiff necks are hiding.
Rune Puzzles are very convenient because you can place them on anything. From books to weapons, to doors. You can drop in these puzzles in an instant.
5. The Castle or Mansion Grounds: Potion Puzzles
Finally, we come to the grounds. No castle or mansion is complete without one. It’s where the master of the mansion or evil queen grow their poisonous or mind-altering plants. Because what is nobility without a good poisoning? It’s practically mandatory. And it is how the powerful stay in power.
Potion Puzzles uses twelve plants that need to be prepared in a very specific manner to create all sorts of potions, oils, and perfumes. Careful players can uncover both the locations of these rare plants and clues to the recipes.
The Vault Bundle
That concludes my 5 puzzles for your D&D castle or mansion that make sense. What I like most about this setup is that there is always something new to discover. With so many secrets to hide, players can stumble upon a wide array of discoveries and there are always more secrets the castle has yet to yield.
If you are interested in one or more of these puzzles, please check out the web store. And if you just want to get everything, check out the Vault Bundle. You get every product currently in the web store at a drastically reduced price.
By Paul Camp
Banner image credit: WotC