Did you know? D&D has never published a book about puzzles? Sure, there were some adventures that contained puzzles but never a book. And the last time WotC published a book that contained some advice about puzzles was back in 2002.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like WotC will publish a D&D puzzle book any time soon. So what’s a puzzle lover to do?
Fear not. In this article I’ll explain how you can bring richly illustrated, jaw-dropping puzzles to your gaming table that will give ordinary puzzles a run for their money. But first, let’s examine why WotC has never published a book of D&D puzzles.
Creating a Book of D&D Puzzles
The first reason I suspect WotC has never released a book of D&D puzzles is that it’s a lot more work than creating other content. It takes only a fraction of the time to come up with just about any other type of content for Dungeons & Dragons. Crafting a book of adventures, monsters, or even campaign settings is easier than creating a book of D&D puzzles.
Consider it. With puzzles, not only do designers have to come up with a puzzle idea. They then have to make that puzzle work within any fantasy setting both mechanically and story-wise. And then they have to make it visually appealing. You can’t just stick a sudoku on a treasure chest and call it a D&D puzzle. Now consider having to create an entire book full of puzzles, each concept different from the last. Much easier to just create a second monster manual or series of adventures.
The second reason for WotC not to publish a D&D puzzle book is probably because other products have a much wider appeal. Even if they create a fourth monster manual or yet another campaign setting, it’s still going to sell much better than a book of puzzles.
Long story short, there likely won’t be a D&D puzzle book any time soon if ever. But that might not be a bad thing. Now you can support some indie artist who happens to be nuts about puzzles and D&D, and who spends an inordinate amount of time crafting them for you.
Luckily, I happen to be that nut.
Over the years I’ve probably created more puzzles for my Dungeons & Dragons games than anyone in the known multiverse. In theory, my collection of illustrated puzzles could more than fill the pages of a D&D puzzle book. But instead of creating a book of puzzles I chose a different route. Here’s why.
The D&D Puzzle Book That is Not a Book
Imagine it. The doorbell rings and your D&D puzzle book finally arrives. You carefully unwrap the contents and inspect the cover for damage. It’s in pristine condition. Inside you find beautiful artwork and the book contains many puzzle pieces. Which you now HAVE TO CUT OUT. Wait wut?
That’s right. With every puzzle you use you have to mutilate your prized possession until your D&D puzzle book looks like something pulled through a paper dispenser. And then one of the puzzle pieces goes missing and you can’t print it again. Oh that’s just brilliant!
Suffice to say, a printed book isn’t the best format for a collection of D&D puzzles. It would make a lot more sense to have a printable pdf with puzzle pieces and extra images for virtual tabletop play. That way, you print what you need and can reprint whatever pieces you lose or get damaged. Enter the vault bundle.
The VAULT Bundle
The vault bundle is my digital alternative to a D&D puzzle book. It contains my complete collection of timeless, illustrated puzzles that I’ve spent years building and playtesting. And it has more content than any book could ever give you.
With this bundle, you get over a 150 premade puzzles, 7 card decks, and unlimited means for creating new puzzles.
Here’s an overview of everything you get with the vault bundle:
- Rune puzzles
- Dungeon puzzles
- Lock puzzles
- Floor puzzles
- Runestone puzzles
- Potion puzzles
- Laser puzzles: fantasy edition
- Laser puzzles: scifi edition
- Game of Shields
But that’s not all. You also get the:
- Deck of 101 Riddles
- Deck of 101 Prophecies
- Fortuneteller Tarot
- The prepless Gamemaster
Here’s a more detailed overview of everything you get with the Vault Bundle:
You can easily drop a rune puzzle onto a door, treasure chest, magic sword, or whatever item you wish to magically lock. Players must solve the puzzle to unlock the puzzle.
You get 30 puzzles in this pack, 38 rune letters to create your own puzzles and messages, and an instruction manual.
What if you could change your entire dungeon into on big puzzle? With dungeon puzzles you can. You simply give your players a fragmented map and dungeon tiles. The players must cooperate to build the dungeon. And once they are done, you can immediately start playing on the layout they’ve created.
This puzzle pack also has a lot of extras. There are 25 dungeons, cave tiles, and dungeon tiles. It also includes vine and magic pieces if you prefer to work on a smaller scale. And an instruction manual to explain everything.
With lock puzzles you have over 500 puzzles at your disposal. You can place lock puzzles onto any surface. Doors, gates, portals, and even golems. Very easy to set up, and adjusting the difficulty level is super easy.
It comes with an instruction manual and, like all the puzzles, you can either print for tabletop or upload images to your virtual tabletop.
Floor puzzles can be placed onto the floor of any dungeon. Players must walk the correct pattern over the floor tiles in order to open a door, activate a portal, and so on.
The pack comes with 20 puzzles. The easiest puzzles should take about five minutes to solve, but the most difficult ones will probably take an average party about 40 minutes. It also comes with 5 quick, optional card games.
Now here’s a puzzle pack that offers you an infinite amount of puzzles, you can create on the fly. Setting up a puzzle is quick and easy. Players must find the runestones and solve the puzzle to open a door, active a portal or unleash powerful magic. You can place these puzzles on pedestals, doors, and items.
With Runestone Puzzles I really went all out to make things as easy as possible for DMs. It is my go to puzzle if I need to improvise a D&D puzzle on the spot. Like all my puzzles, it comes with an instruction manual, printable and VTT pieces, and extra lore that will make it easier to integrate your puzzle into your campaign seamlessly.
Potion puzzles is more than a puzzle really. It is also a complete system for creating magic items. From potions to weapons to scrolls or wands; potion puzzles has a recipe for each. But finding the proper ingredients and uncovering the recipe is not easy.
I like this puzzle because DMs can scatter clues, pieces of recipes, and ingredients as part of the treasure. Why just give PCs a magic weapon when they can craft one themselves? I promise you players will never forget the magic sword they had to create as a team.
This pack comes with 45 recipes, 12 ingredients, and the usual manual. Both for TT and VTT.
Laser puzzles comes in a fantasy edition and a scifi edition. PCs must connect either statues or microchips in order to complete a pattern. This solves the puzzle and unlocks a door, cargo bay, etc. For tabletop play I advice combining the puzzle pieces with a battle mat. For virtual tabletops you can simply use the pieces in the pack.
You can create an unlimited amount of puzzles yourself, but the pack does come with 30 premade puzzles, a manual, and of course some ideas for integrating the puzzle into your campaign.
Game of Shields
This is a very special puzzle pack. It contains 20 premade political puzzles, but you can create an unlimited amount of puzzles on the fly. But the Game of Shields is much more than a set of puzzles.
The Game of Shields is a complete system for introducing politics into your campaign. You can political arenas, and have PCs bribe, blackmail, manipulate or align with factions.
It comes with an extensive manual for running a political D&D campaign. It will make doing political campaigns in D&D a breeze.
But What About All The Extras?
The vault bundle doesn’t only contain D&D puzzles. You also get:
The Deck of 101 Riddles
I love riddles. But it really annoys me when a riddle is so vague that any answer will do. Picture it, you create a cryptic riddle that should describe the moon and call it ‘nightshiner’. Then players start guessing: Candle, star, firefly, oil lamp, bonfire. When someone finally says ‘moon’ you declare the riddle solved, but the players cry foul, because all of their answers would have been correct as well.
This is a problem most riddles suffer from. So I set out to create a better class of riddles and created a 101. With the deck of riddles you can just pull out a riddle from the pile which only has one destinct answer. Super easy, and works every time.
The Deck of 101 Prophecies
Just like with the previous deck I set out to create a better class of prophecy. With the deck of 101 prophecies players get to draw a prophecy and it is their job to give it meaning to their character and see it come true. You – the DM – can just sit back and let the players develop their characters. It adds an extra bit of fun and is also a tool for character development.
The Fortuneteller RPG Tarot is a beautiful deck of cards, illustrated by Della Rocca in 1835. It is one of the most famous examples of Italian tarot cards design.
This pack teaches you how to read tarot cards so you can use them to play a fortuneteller in a D&D game. Of course, players can also learn the ancient art of giving a tarot reading. The deck also serves as a creative way to quickly generate story ideas on the fly. This one is for VTT only.
The Prepless Gamemaster
Saving the best for last. The Prepless Gamemaster is a 80+ page PDF on how to run a game (D&D or other) without any preparation whatsoever. If you want to prepare your games, the prepless GM teaches you how to cut down on prep time and improvise when your players take a different route.
Of course, the only thing you really can’t do prepless is run a great puzzle. That is why the prepless GM fits seamlessly with all of the other products in the Vault Bundle.
Get the Vault Bundle!
The vault bundle likely offers you all the puzzles you’ll need for a lifetime of DMing. Granted, it’s not a book of D&D puzzles, but a resource that you can use instantly. You could have a fully illustrated original puzzle on your table 5 minutes from now. GET THE VAULT BUNDLE.