Vampires are some of the most clever adversaries your heroes will encounter in D&D. So it’s no wonder that they should employ puzzles to confound the players. After all, immortality can get pretty boring, vampires have a lot of time on their hands, and everyone expects a clever vampire puzzle. Vampires are ruthless, but for Strahd’s sake, they can be sophisticated about it! And nothing says sophistication like a good D&D vampire puzzle.
I have three D&D vampire puzzles for you in this article. So let’s dive right in:
1. D&D vampire Puzzles: The Fake Mirror
Imagine it: The party has been invited to a soiree at the local Lord’s mansion, who is of course, rumored to be a vampire. The heroes decide to investigate but the event is quite civilized. In fact, it is by far the best party your players have ever had the fortune of visiting. And they forget about exposing the lord.
The following morning they wake up, still drowsy from the wine and find themselves in the lush rooms the Lord has set aside especially for visitors who had one too many. How could they have let their guard down!? When they sneak out into the antechamber, they find the lord walking past a mirror. He doesn’t cast a reflection!!
The lord leaves the antechamber and the players decide to investigate. Standing in front of the mirror they discover – to their horror – they don’t cast a reflection either. Have they themselves been turned already? Or is something else going on?
There is a room that is a perfect mirror image of the antechamber on the other side of the so called ‘mirror’. In fact, the PCs can easily step through the mirror to enter it. But they won’t discover this fact unless they either touch the mirror or move something in the room. There are several such rooms in the manor. When confronted the Lord admits to having those rooms built because having a reputation for being a vampire has served him well over the years. But the rooms might also be the entrance to other secret chambers which could be the start of a whole new adventure.
2. D&D Vampire Puzzles: Potion Puzzles
So, no real vampire in the first puzzle. Sorry to disappoint. But this next puzzle does involve real vampires. Potion Puzzles is a puzzle pack I originally designed for creating magic items and using witches’ magic involving cauldrons.
The players must first find ingredients and then discover a recipe to brew a potion. Ingredients are typically herbs. That doesn’t fit the vampire theme very well. But you can very easily change the ingredients of this puzzle to include a rare type of garlic, a handful of grave dirt, or even a drop of vampire blood.
Simply changing the ingredients to fit the vampire theme transforms this puzzle in way that fits any D&D vampire campaign. The potions PCs brew could give them vampiric powers, protect them from vampires or other undead, prevent users from crossing running water or entering homes, turn PCs into bats, or even turn them invisible.
The players might even become vampire hunters not to slay them, but to steal their valuable blood for its powers. You could base an entire campaign of this puzzle. If you prefer more of a Halloween or horror setup check out this article.
3. D&D Vampire Puzzles: The Game of Shields
My third and final D&D vampire puzzle is a puzzle pack called the ‘Game of Shields‘. It is really a complete system for running political D&D campaigns. And it is all based on a single puzzle system that lets you keep track of alliances, and discover who really holds the power behind the throne.
Imagine a vampire building powerful alliances from the shadows over centuries, but keeping his true identity hidden. Players must first puzzle out who really holds the reigns, and then they have to bring down those alliances before they even have a chance of striking against the vampire lord.
It sounds great right? But without a good system for running political puzzles that is a tricky scenario to run as a DM. The game of shields makes it easy and incorporates a ton of D&D vampire puzzles.
Of course, if you instead prefer to have all your puzzles be a part of the vampire’s mansion, check out this article instead.
By Paul Camp
Image credit: WotC