A great little side encounter when one of your party is unable to make it for a session. It is also a classic “let’s see if the party tries to outsmart themselves” situation. All puzzles are intended to be extremely easy, so easy that they are suspicious.
The party awakens in a bright room, with flickering torches. As they look around they notice that one of the party is missing and the rest are chained to the walls with long iron chains.
As they get their bearings, a small marionette dances out of a doorway with hideous white makeup and some symbols painted into the sides of its face. A perception check of 5+ will reveal to the party a gigantic dragonborn that is stomping out behind the marionette, controlling it, though rather poorly.
The “puppet” speaks, but again, quite poor showmanship from the dragonborn. If at any point the party laughs at him, he will become enraged and shout at the party in a deep voice and if it continues will punch the walls in frustration, trying to calm himself down to explain what’s happening to the party.
Note: The point of these “games” is not to have them be particularly hard, and they can be tailored to fit your party’s skillset. We would expect some party members to think too hard about these, which can also be fun.
Drinkin’ Out Of Cups
“Before you are three cups. One of them contains poison. The other two contain antidotes. You must drink all of the liquid in the cups or die in this poorly-ventilated chamber. Let the games begin.”
As the dragonborn dances the marionette out, he lets a hideous fart, forcing the party to roll a constitution-saving throw, otherwise taking 1d4 poison damage. Slamming the door shut, the party is free to move toward the cups and determine how they would like to go about solving the puzzle.
The “poison” cup is whichever you choose and technically they don’t have to drink the entire cup at once. The poison cup is easily distinguishable from a taste perspective, so another roll of 5 or higher will help the party know exactly which cup is which.
Drinking the poison will do 1d10 poison damage, causing a pain in the stomach and forcing the imbiber to let out a fiery belch every 2 minutes.
Once the cups are drained, the chains around their hands and feet will loosen, allowing them to wriggle out. As they do so they’ll hear the voice again.
“DAMMAT! I mean, (coughs and goes into higher pitched puppet voice) oh wowwww, look at how smart you are. Too bad the door to this room is locked and your time is running out.”
Green gas begins to leak out of vents on either side of the room, beginning to fill it. Give your party 6 rounds. If they have not resolved the door at that time, they will pass out and go back to the start. In his haste, the dragonborn forgot to lock the door, so if the party attempts to open it, it will open easily. It is a strong iron door that will not be able to be opened with Strength and has no perceptible locking mechanism on the interior.
If the party has made it to the third round, they will hear through the sending stones the dragonborn speaking to the marionette. “Wait, did we lock the door? Oh no! We forgot to lock the door! That’s alright, they’ll not figure it out. Oh no, is this thing on! Gahhhh, I’m ruined!”
At this point the party will hopefully go to the door and escape into the next room.
Arriving in the next room, the party will see the marionette dangled out over a wall, with the dragonborn pretending to be hidden and laughing awkwardly.
“You have escaped the first room, but before you lies an even more intense challenge. Before you are two doors, each door tells the truth. But also lies…but, uh, one of them is right. Wait…” The marionette stops “talking” and the dragonborn has visibly confused himself.
He hops off his perch, leaving the marionette behind and walks to the two doors, mumbling to each one. He looks back at the party, opens one of the doors ever so slightly, and looks back horrified. Wiping the look from his face he returns to his perch and holds the marionette aloft, saying out of the side of his mouth. “ONE DOOR LEADS TO DEATH. The other, to your salvation. Choose wisely.”
(Labyrinth did this so well. Snarky door guards, the whole nine.)
The dragonborn sprints off through the safe door, and the party hears scampering from the other side. They then note a stone panel lift directly above the doors and can see the dragonborn peering out, watching them.
Each of the doors is capable of speaking, but each also tells the truth as to what lies behind them. The party can also ask the doors additional non-door-related questions.
If they choose the clearly bad door, they fall into a vanta black pit that, while endless in appearance is really only 20 feet deep. Apply the appropriate fall damage. The correct door leads them into a brightly lit room where the dragonborn sits at its center, crying, the marionette splayed out on the ground.
As the party approaches the crying dragonborn, he can be heard saying in between sobs, “I’m terrible at this!”
The dragonborn informs you he is attempting to create a first-of-its-kind escape room, but he is terrible at puzzles. He asks the party for assistance in building the escape room out further and offers them a cut of the profits if they can tweak or come up with three new puzzles. If they accept and are able to quickly come up with the puzzles, he will be
He notes that they are not the first adventurers to come through here. The others made it through quickly, but here is where their lives ended. He gestures at a pile of bones in the corner. “They were so dismissive and kept saying how bad I was at this. All I ever wanted to do was give people an enjoyable experience!”
Smoke emanates from his nostrils as he stands, much larger than the party remembers him being previously. His bones crack and his clothes begin to tear as he continues to expand into a Young Green Dragon (or Wyrmling, depending on party level). As he continues transforming, he asks the party one more time if they will assist him in his venture.
If they refuse the battle is on. Along with dealing with the primary enemy, several marionettes will clamber down the walls, with the stat blocks of a Scarecrow.
Once the party has defused the situation, they can rummage around another door in the area which will lead to the office of the dragonborn. He appears to have been telling the truth, as evidenced by a desk covered in papers with poorly drawn and written puzzles on each. They will also find the missing person from their party, tied to a chair.
The party can choose to leave everything alone, promote the dragon, or start up the business on their own with the puzzles they’ve created. Any outcome could be fun.