D&D Logic Puzzles: An Easy Step-by-Step Guide

If you are looking to use Logic Puzzles in your D&D game, than look no further. I’ve created thousands of puzzles for Dungeons & Dragons. And logic puzzles are my favourite for versatility and engaging all of the players in your D&D game.

So how do you create a logic puzzle for D&D? There are two ways to create a logic puzzle for your Dungeons & Dragons game. The first, is for DMs who want to create a logic puzzle on the fly, without any prep work at all. The second, is for DMS who prefer to create a more elaborate logic puzzle that becomes an integral part of your campaign world.

For each way, I’ve created a step-by-step guide. So let’s dive right in!

D&D Logic Puzzles on the Fly

There are many different types of logic puzzles you can use for your D&D game, ranging from simple to extremely complex.

For Dungeons & Dragons I recommend using logic puzzles that aren’t too difficult. This way, a puzzle becomes a short fun challenge instead of something that takes the party hours to solve, or worse, get stuck on.

It’s better to introduce a couple of short puzzles throughout the story, than focus on one big logic puzzle. Using easier puzzles also makes them a lot easier to create on the fly. Here are the steps to creating a logic puzzle during your gaming session.

Step 1. Create a D&D Logic Puzzle Grid

Start out by creating a seven by seven logic grid. Write the numbers 1 to 7 on one axis and the characters A to G alphabetically on the other axis. Do this behind your DM screen so your players can’t see. 

Step 2. Make the Logic Puzzle Relevant to the D&D Story

Great D&D puzzles are immersive and make sense in the world of our heroes. And logic puzzles are especially easy to integrate. Here’s how you do that:

Say: 7 variables…. in the correct order to….

For instance:

  • Seven symbols must be touched in the correct order to open the portal.
  • Seven herbs must be added to the cauldron in the correct order to mix the potion.
  • Seven instructions are to be followed in the correct order to forge an Ironheart weapon.
  • Seven nobles are to be seated in the correct order to avoid a house-war.

You can change the number of variables (and adjust your logic grid accordingly) but I’ve found that 7 makes for a fun challenge.

Look at the situation your PCs find themselves in. Ask yourself: Where are the PCs trying to go? Or: What information are they trying to obtain?

Use the logic puzzle as an obstacle PCs must solve in order to achieve their goals. This can be a literal obstacle such as a puzzle on a portal or locked book that must be opened. But it can also be information, such as finding out the correct order to seat nobles.

Let’s use the example of the nobles that must be seated in the correct order. There is a great banquet and the PCs are in charge of seating. It is imperative that noble couples are seated in the correct order from the king who sits at the head of the table. Political tensions are running high and one mistake could set of a conflict that might descend into an all out war.

Give each variable (noble couple) a name that starts with a letter of the alphabet on your logic grid. For instance:

A = Lady and Sir Avernus
B = Lady and Sir Bornheart
C = Lady and Sir Cerillo
D = Lady and Sir Dawncatcher
E = Lady and Sir Estoria
F = Lady and Sir Frauwlich
G = Lady and Sir Gregoria

Just use the first name that comes to mind or ask players to come up with names. If you already have names of NPCs that don’t fit the alphabetical model use those in the logic grid instead.

Step 3. Create Clues For Your D&D Logic Puzzle

Normally, when preparing a D&D logic grid the DM creates a puzzle ahead of time. But with the on the fly method, you create the puzzle clues while players are trying to solve it.

Clues are logical statements such as: “House Estoria sits in fifth place.”

Player can find clues through:

  • Investigation: According to custom house Estoria always sits in fifth place from the King.
  • Divination: In a flash you see house Bornheart sitting next to House Avernus.
  • NPCs: I’ve served House Gregoria for many years and they always sit either first or last in line.

When players go hunting for clues, just start out with one statement such as: “House Estoria sits in fifth place.”

Write your statement down in using the variables. This statement is simply: E = 5th.

Next, fill out your own logic grid. If Estoria is in 5th place, than none of the other houses can be in fifth place. Cross those out. And Estoria can’t be in another place. Cross those out as well.

This way, you’ll already have a partly filled out logic grid. From there, it’s easy to think of a second statement: House Cerillo never sits besides house Estoria. That means C is not 4th or 6th. Simply cross those out and create the next statement.

While PCs are busy finding each of the clues using their abilities and rolling to see if they are successful, you can come up with the next statement. It really only takes a second. Just make sure you write down your statements and be sure to cross out your logic grid.

To the players it will seem like you had thought out the logic puzzle in advance, while you’re actually using the grid to see which option are left.

A completed grid with all the clues would look like this:

  • House Estoria sits in fifth place.
  • House Cerillo never sits besides house Estoria.
  • House Avernus is either the first or the last in line.
  • House Cerillo sits closer to the king than house Avernus.
  • House Bornheart sits next to house Avernus.
  • House Gregoria is either the first or the last in line.
  • There must be at least two seats between house gregoria and house Dawnwatcher.
  • House Dawnwatcher never sits besides house Cerillo.

That’s it for the on-the-fly D&D logic puzzle. I recommend you try to create at least one of these puzzles without players present before using them in a game. But once you’ve practiced them, they are really easy to integrate and will look differently to the players every time.

Elaborate D&D Logic Puzzles

We’ve looked at creating D&D Logic Puzzles on the fly. Now let’s look at how to create an elaborate logic puzzle that becomes fundamental part of your campaign world.

Elaborate logic puzzles differ from on the fly puzzles because:

  1. They grab the players’ attention through immersive artwork.
  2. They give players objects to play around with, again, creating a more immersive experience.
  3. They facilitate teamwork; especially if you give each player a part of the logic puzzle and key pieces.
  4. They are so integrated into your game system that they become part of the D&D campaign world and its mechanics.

Let’s look at an example first. For this example, I’m using Potion Puzzles which I’ve created for my webstore. It’s a set of 45 logic puzzles for tabletops and virtual tabletops that can be added to any campaign that uses magic.

Next, we’ll go into the steps you can take to create your own elaborate logic puzzle.

D&D Potion Logic Puzzles

Potion brewing is an ancient art practiced by witches, druids, priests and wizards alike. It is one of the most powerful branches of magic for within it lie not only the secrets to creating potions, but the creation of all magic items.

Anyone who owns a cauldron, uncovers the secret recipes, and obtains the right ingredients can brew a magic potion. But the secrets to recipes are closely guarded and learning the clues to uncovering them is no small feat.

When PCs manage to find the clues to a recipe, they must solve a puzzle to create the correct formula. Only then is the recipe complete. Next, players must find the ingredients to brew the potion. Potions are always created from a combination of four different plants and each plant must be prepared in a different way. Twelve plants with magic properties can be used in this way.

The steps to brewing a potion are:

  1. The DM chooses a type of potion and magical effect.
  2. Find the ingredients.
  3. Find the clues.
  4. Discover the recipe.
  5. Brew the potion.

1. Types of Potions and Magic Effects

Although the craft of brewing is usually associated with potion making, players can also create inks, oils, perfumes, dyes and polishes. Each substance has its own unique effects.

PotionsThe most common use of brewing is the creation of magical potions. Potions can be used by anyone, but only allow a single use.
InksMagical inks are used to scribe scrolls and create tattoos which fade after one use.
OilsMagical oils are used to treat wood and leather which imbues them with magic. Magic items created this way can be used fifty times before the magic runs out. Oils must contain at least one uncommon or rare ingredient.
PerfumesMagical perfumes imbue the recipient with their magic. A bottle of perfume can be used fifty times before it runs out. Perfumes must contain at least one uncommon or rare ingredient.
DyesMagical dyes colour cloth and threads which imbues them with permanent magic. Dyes must at least contain one rare ingredient.
PolishesPolishes are used to treat metal which imbues them with permanent magic. Polishes must contain at least one rare ingredient.

The DM decides which magical effect a potion bestows. You could decide a recipe yields a love potion, that a dye makes fabric invisible or that an oil creates a magic wand. It is completely up to you. Of course, you can also pick existing magic items from other source material. Recipes are organised in nine levels. If you’re playing Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder, you can tie the level of the recipe to the level of the spell it yields.

2. Find the ingredients

Potions are always created using four plants. Each of the four plants to go into the cauldron must be prepared in a unique way. No preparation method or plant may be used more than once in any potion. Plants can be chopped, ground, soaked or bruised.

There are three categories of plants which make up the ingredients for any potion:

  • Kingsfolly, boterbloem, murkweed and pheasant’s eye are common plants, easily obtained.
  • Maidensbliss, hazian, dueorgeduostle and widdowleaf are uncommon plants which are harder to obtain.
  • Darkroot, orillia, skyblossom and white haleron are rare plants most difficult to come by.

Boterbloem
This plant is often used as a herb and tastes slightly like butter. It grows by the side of the road.

Kingsfolly
The story goes that an ancient king believed in a prophecy that his warriors would become invincible if they wore little but wreaths of this plant when going into battle. Of course, his army was butchered and the plant was renamed kingsfolly by the enemy who had thought up the false prophecy in the first place. It grows in forests and fields.

Pheasant’s eye
This bulbous plant resembles the eye of a pheasant. Its considered a pest by farmers because its roots tend to kill other plant life. It is very nutritious but has a rancid taste.

Murkweed
Murkweed grows in bogs, marches and other places generally populated by mosquitoes. If is very resistant to rotting. Layers of murkweed are often woven into mats and used to construct canoes and huts.

Maidensbliss
Maidensbliss is found on the slopes of mountains cliffs. Suitors often risk their lives trying to obtain it. Being presented with a bouquet of maidensbliss is considered a sign of true love and devotion. The plant is also the main ingredient of an intoxicating perfume that goes by the same name and is highly coveted by the upper class.

Hazian
Forbidden in most lands, hazian is a highly addictive desert plant that has destroyed communities and even countries. It is sought after by diviners for its transcendent properties. At first it enhances the senses and creativity but eventually it robs subjects of their desires, leaving them in a lethargic state.

Dueorgeduostle
Also called ‘the dwarven plant’ Dueorgeduostle avoids sunlight and only grows below the surface or in places of shade. It is an important ingredient in forging dwarven weaponry adding strength and resilience to steel. It also makes for a decent chewing tobacco. Dwarfs won’t trade this plant for anything.

Widdowleaf
A low dose of widdowleaf leaves its victim temporarily paralyzed, while a highly concentrated dose is often lethal. The poison is tasteless and colourless, but does turn the victims blood purple. Orillia can counteract the effects of widdowleaf. It grows in graveyards.

Orillia
Orillia is a magical plant which grows in holy natural sites and druid’s groves. Its existence is tied to the nature around it. Picking an Orillia plant often leads to the demise of its surrounding nature. It is therefore fiercely protected by druids. Orillia is highly coveted because it is said to cure all ailments.

Skyblossom
Skyblossom is an extremely light magical plant which grows on clouds. Its seeds float on the wind and never touch earth. It is the patron plant of all that is good and holy in this world. It grows on joy, love and selflessness.

DriveThruRPG.com

White Haleron
White Haleron only appears for one minute when the suns reaches its highest point in the sky. Predicting where it will appear is notoriously difficult, but it is said to appear where justice is done. Once plucked it does not disappear.

Darkroot
This magical plant grows on darkness, pain and death. It is often protected by the undead who seem drawn to it. It exists between this world and the next, and only appears in our realm shortly where great suffering or death have recently taken place. Once plucked it does not disappear. Highly coveted by necromancers, hundreds of souls have been slain in attempts to obtain this plant.

3. Find the Clues

Players must uncover clues to the recipes. Clues are discovered through:

  • Divination.
  • Experimentation (uses up ingredients).
  • Stealing, bribing or buying clues from other brewers.
  • Investigation and research in libraries.
  • Treasure.
  • Speaking with the dead.
  • Or any other means players can think of.

Finding clues can be an adventure in itself. You can grant clues and ingredients as part of treasure. Also consider if you want to grant one clue at a time or speed up the game by offering all the clues to a recipe at once. There are usually four to six clues to each recipe. Players must discover the order in which plants go into the cauldron and preparation method for each plant.

An example of clues to a level one recipe:

The solution to this recipe is: 1 soaked kingsfolly, 2 chopped boterbloem, 3 ground murkweed, 4 bruised pheasant’s eye. This means kingfolly goes into the cauldron first and must be soaked, and so on.

4. Discover the Recipe

Using the clues players can create a logic grid that will help them solve the puzzle. For instance, the first clue states that kingsfolly must be soaked, which means you can put a circle (true statement) where ‘kingsfolly’ and ‘soaked’ meet on the grid. It also means that all the other plant are not soaked, and that kingsfolly has no other preparation method. Cross out those options.

Using the clues players can completely fill out the grid.

If players don’t know how to create a logic grid you may show them. Don’t let solving a puzzle take up an entire gaming session. Adventuring should revolve around finding clues and ingredients in challenging places.

As PCs learn more recipes over the course of the game, they can create their own book of recipes. You control the amount of potions players can make by controlling how many ingredients they find.

5. Brew the Potion

If players prepare the potion correctly, it works. Otherwise… let’s say potion brewing is a dangerous business. Whatever the results, the ingredients are always consumed.

Creating Your Own D&D Logic Puzzles

The logic grid used with Potion Puzzles is a little more complex than the one used with the on the fly logic puzzles. It uses three categories instead of two, resulting in a more complex logic grid. There are logic grids that have even more categories. But I would advise against using those. In my experience, one overeager player often makes a mistake with more complex puzzles and the entire party gets stuck. Logic puzzles are very unforgiving if you make a mistake.

Much of the fun players have is about collecting ingredients and uncovering clues. It’s as much about the anticipation of being able to solve the puzzle and get a reward, as it’s about time spend actually solving the puzzle. (I don’t know why, but many D&D players love collecting stuff.) And if you use a series of puzzles, instead of just one big puzzle, it doesn’t dominate the game, while still offering a fun challenge.

Step 1. Make Logic Puzzles a Part of Your D&D World

Consider how you are going to integrate your logic puzzle into the mechanics of the game. Potion Puzzles aren’t just a set of loose puzzles; they add an entire system for creating magic items. Ask yourself: What system in your world use an upgrade? Here are some ideas:

  • Politics: Use logic puzzles to determine who can create an alliance with whom.
  • Gateways: Portal that allow PCs to instantly travel across the realm are locked by logic puzzles.
  • Golems: Ancient giant golems from a lost civilisation can be activated through solving the logic puzzles on their chest. Together they rebuild a flying ship that will allow PCs to escape this dying world.

However you choose to integrate the puzzles into the game mechanics, make sure it matters to the players. Something awesome must be attained by doing all that work. Creating puzzles is A LOT of work. So make sure they are relevant to your world and to your players’ needs.

Step 2. Create the Logic Puzzle

Creating a logic puzzle follows the same steps as creating a puzzle on the fly. You start out with one statement, fill out the grid, and then add more statements until the entire grid is filled out. Next, mix up the order of statements.

Creating multiple logic puzzles for your game is very time consuming, but it will make for a much better player experience. But you don’t have to start out with 45 finished puzzles. You can create five or six to begin with and create new ones as the campaign progresses.

Step 3. Playtest Your Logic Puzzles

This – admittedly – is a pain. You can’t playtest puzzles with your D&D group, so you’ll have to test them by solving every puzzle by yourself. It’s really frustrating for players when they go through all the trouble of searching for clues and ingredients, only to find that the puzzle is flawed. So yes… A LOT of work, but worth it.

Step 4. Create the Artwork

If you know how to use Photoshop or use other tools for creating artwork, that’s great. But you can create some really nice artwork, just by drawing stuff out with a marker and cutting out the pieces. The most important thing for players is that they have physical objects to play around with. So much of D&D uses theatre of the mind. Having a puzzle is a great chance to introduce something concrete.

Step 5. Introduce the Logic Puzzle to the D&D Players

After all that work, you can finally present your puzzles to your party. The nice thing about these types of puzzles is that you can use them in sandbox settings and weave them into premade storylines. Also, you will be giving your players an absolutely unique experience and a much richer campaign world to explore.

Of course, if all of this sounds like too much work, but you would still like to introduce logic puzzles into your campaign, Potion Puzzles are available in my webstore. There, you can find lots of other puzzles as well. Each is based on the idea of adding more depth to your overal campaign in some way.

I hope you enjoyed this guide to Logic Puzzles in D&D. If so, please like this article. And as always:

Have fun!
Paul Camp

Sources:

*Baron’s logic puzzles

*Potion puzzles roll20

*Reddit