It’s game night. Your players gather around the table while you set the scene. Scented candles, background music. You’ve pulled out all the stops to create an immersive experience for your players. And just when they least expect it, you present them with the perfect D&D puzzle prop.
Their jaws hit the floor as they carefully inspect this new thing you’ve set before them. It doesn’t take long before they start discussing what the puzzle prop does and, of course, how it should be solved. You sit back and realise that they have totally forgotten about you. The mark of a great DM.
If you haven’t guessed already. I’m a nut for D&D puzzle props. They can really give players a sense of immersion. Sure, you can add beautiful terrain and fantastic miniatures but most players, espcially veterans, have seen it all before. They will certainly appreciate a table filled with beautiful miniatures. But it’s not a new experience. A puzzle prop however adds something new and exciting to your game that will even make the most seasoned veteran sit up and take notice.
It’s a welcome break from the props they are used to seeing. In short: if you want to create a unique experience for your players, puzzle props are the way to go. Each one is unique.
Unfortunatly, there are some drawbacks to using puzzle props in your D&D game.
- The first one is cost. Props can be kind of expensive.
- The second one is replay value. Most puzzle props can only be played once which doesn’t give you great value for money.
- The third drawback is that most puzzle props haven’t been designed for cooperative D&D games. You want players to figure out the puzzle together instead of one player having a great time, while the others become spectators.
At the end of this article, I’ll present a collection of puzzles I’ve designed with all of these things in mind. But let’s look at common puzzle props you might wish to add to your game first.
The D&D Puzzle Props Buyer’s Guide
Puzzle props come in all price categories. If you have money burning in your pocket, there are some great choices. But you can create an equally impressive setup on a budget as well. Let’s look at the expensive stuff first.
The Handcrafted Wooden Puzzle Props For D&D
If you have to money to spend, these guys from creative crafthouse (not affiliated) have some beautiful handcrafted puzzles. But that kind of quality comes with a price tag.
I would buy these puzzles if I had money to spare. They could also be a great buy if you are planning on keeping them in the family and maybe hand them down to your kids some day. They will last you a lifetime and I suspect handcrafted stuff will only become more expensive in the future.
Retail price: 296.10 dollars (last time I checked)
Cryptex Puzzle Prop for D&D
The cryptex is a classic D&D puzzle prop which looks great on your table. You can change the code so it has replay value. And it will work in both fantasy and steampunk settings.
What I don’t like about it is that it’s not really a puzzle. You can insert the code that is the answer to a puzzle but you still have to come up with the puzzle itself. Still, there’s no denying it adds tons of flavour. On the plus side, this product is widely available.
Retail price: about 30 dollars.
Glass Code Puzzle Props for D&D
These plastic sheets can be laid on top of each other to form a number. Like the cryptex, it’s not really a puzzle and easily ‘solved’ once you obtain all the pieces. Don’t think it’s worth the money, but you can buy a few transparent sheets to create your own version of this puzzle. (I found these sheets on aliexpress.)
Retail price: about 20 dollars
The Harry Potter Hogsmeade 3d Puzzle Prop for D&D
I bet you didn’t expect to find a 3d Harry Potter puzzle in this D&D puzzle props buyer’s guide. But picture this. The PCs are stranded in a strange realm and must find the puzzle pieces of a magical doll house tavern (Hogsmeade). If they complete the doll house the life size tavern will appear, taking them back from whence they came.
Once they finish the puzzle it can double as terrain and maybe become the portal to many realms.
Retail price: about 35 dollars
Metal Wire Puzzle Props for D&D
Another classic. You twist and turn the metal pieces to unlock them. They are a fairly cheap option as far as physical puzzle props go and you can buy them in bulk. So really, the first set of puzzle that are good value for money in my book.
What I dislike about them is that players can’t work on them cooperatively. Also, most players will have seen these before and they certainly don’t scream Dungeons and Dragons. Still, if you get a set of these they’ll have more replay value than the options we’ve discussed.
Retail price: You can get a bag of these for 20 dollars.
The Vault Bundle Puzzle Props for D&D
If you find all of these options just a little expensive for the play value they provide, you would be right. That’s why I’ve created my own collection of illustrated printable puzzles for my D&D games.
The Vault Bundle contains over 180 different puzzles and retails at just 20 dollars. Also, there are over ten different types of puzzles. So your players will have enough variety. But what about replay value?
While there are over 180 premade puzzles, several puzzle packs allow you to easily create your own puzzle layouts on the fly. This means you really have an infinite amount of puzzles at your disposal.
Other benefits of the Vault Bundle Puzzle Props is that they are all richly illustrated and designed to fit seamlesly into your D&D world. Also, the puzzle stimulate cooperation between players.
And then of course, there’s all the bonus stuff like a deck of riddles, prophecies, a tarot deck, a guide to running prepless games and so on.
If you’re not sure about spending 20 dollars on a bundle or you just want one type of puzzle, check out everything that is included in the bundle here. Most of the loose puzzle packs retail for about 5 dollars.
You May Also Like: