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TOPIC: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not

Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #1

This post is in regards to the puzzle rooms that had a treasure symbol, but due to group failures, the group can be denied the treasure stamp.

Foreword: I have no problem with the concept. Treasure SHOULD be earned, and excess failures or brute forcing shouldn't be rewarded, so I absolutely am okay with no treasure if you don't do well enough.

What I'm not okay with is being totally unaware of the consequences of this until after the fact.

Example: The lava room. Group with 5 new people, 2 second timers, and 3 veterans. We had someone with boots of lava walking and enough fire resistance that the lava wasn't a threat. My wife (the rogue) starts working on the puzzle box, and while she's doing that (I'm holding a light for her so that she can see what she's doing) I hear the guy behind us make a few mistakes.

Finally, we figure it out, and cross, with only one person making a mistake (We all forgot how to spell 8, derp).

And then are informed that no treasure for us because of too many mistakes.



Now, I understand that once you figure out the trick behind the puzzle, it's really really easy, especially with the lock box. The problem is that we had several new people who weren't as careful as some of us who have seen it before, and they kept trying stuff that inadvertently DQ'd us from treasure. Keep in mind we were on normal as well because of the newbies.


My suggestion on how it should be handled

1. Inform people in the coaching room that repeated failure in rooms, whether it's puzzle or combat, may result in lost treasure. This way you aren't giving away any details of each room, but you're still letting people know that there are consequences to actions. A lot of people who are doing this for the first time feel extra burned if they make a huge mistake that affects the entire party. Really makes a lot of first timers so bummed out that they don't want to return.

2. Narrative and sculpting could have made this more interesting. Example: Add the following to the lava room DM spiel

If someone mentions the treasure icon on the wall:

Across the bubbling lava river, you see a treasure chest precariously balanced on a ledge at the edge of the lava. Even the slightest tremor or surge of lava could cause it to fall in, lost forever to the flames

Final mistake

With a splash of burning rock ,the treasure chest falls into the river of lava and bursts into flames! If you want to avoid a similar fate, you need to figure things out!


TLDR: Let us know the rules before hand so that we have a chance to actually follow them. The lava room DM informed us that in his entire day (We were Saturday 4:30pm) he'd only seen one group get away with treasure in his room.
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Last edit: by Adam Pillari.

Re: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #2

The narrative is a great idea as a warning for the consequences of failure too many times.

However, the clues in the room for the puzzle have to be sufficient to solve the puzzle with no trial and error if the consequences of making even a single mistake is no treasure (Nightmare apparently had this stipulation this year). And in the lava crossing room, there simply weren't any clues to even get you pointed in the right direction.

The Rogue box clue, while sensible once you figure out the puzzle, wasn't terribly useful in unraveling it.

I don't think that rooms should be designed such that the DM has the clues you need to solve the puzzle. All of the clues should come from the room itself. That way there can be no discrepancy between how different GMs manage the room and give the clues. What's worse, some DMs don't give out the clues at all, even though they're supposed to (I recall this being an issue several years ago in the puzzle where your party was chained to a banquet table and had to spell out a word with the silverware on their plates).

I know after a long shift fatigue can set in and sometimes they might forget. But True Dungeon is supposed to be more interactive and less narrative. Put the clues in the room where the players can interact with them, and rely less on DM narrative to dispense clues.
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Re: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #3

There did seem to be a little more inconsistency this year with DMs and how many fails you were allowed....I heard several people tell me that on the mushroom puzzle, they were denied treasure after just one mistake....and they weren't running nightmare. I don't know how you'd work my narrative suggestion into that room mind you, but anyways...

I understand that the treasure loss in puzzle rooms is to prevent brute forcing, where groups just soak the damage and cheese the room, thus walking away with loot after not really solving the puzzle. Again, I don't have a problem with this. I would just really like some consistency, as well as some kind of warning for brand new people who have no idea that if you want more tokens than your starting pack of 10, you have to really think before you do.
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Last edit: by Adam Pillari.

Re: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #4

Adam Pillari wrote: I heard several people tell me that on the mushroom puzzle, they were denied treasure after just one mistake....and they weren't running nightmare.


We were told that any mistake would result in loss of treasure when after a while being in the room...on Normal. Of course the method the message was conveyed was the DM telling our rogue to inform the rest of the room instead of him doing it himself. I'm not sure if he was losing his voice or maybe he didn't want to interrupt the barely audible mushroom voices but one guy in our group decided to try one without knowing it would cause failure. So we did not receive treasure. So it appears this DM was also mis-informed as to the 3 failures for Normal and not just 1 for all levels.

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Re: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #5

I hated the mushroom puzzle so much! I'm the party rogue and I got the clue. This narrowed it down to three mushrooms. We listened to those three talk and narrowed it down to two. The party Paladin took a bite of one (he was wrong) and so we found our solution but the room DM ruled that as brute forcing the puzzle and so we didn't get the treasure stamp. We figured out the puzzle with only one wrong answer but got screwed out of treasure.
We were on Hardcore and should have had 2 tries.
~The Drunken Rogue~

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Re: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #6

A note on puzzle box clues: If we take the clue we are GIVING UP treasure. It's the equivalent of failing the entire room and losing the treasure token at the end.

That being said, PLEASE, for the love of god, make the clues actually WORTH IT?

Second adventure, last room, 2015. The sign on the wall said, and I don't remember exactly the wording, that we should use the items shown to us in the pool as clues to which skulls to turn.

We are sorta stumped. My girlfriend does the puzzle box. Asks us clue or not? We say yeah. She pulls the clue.

The clue says that the items in the pool are clues to which skulls are turned.

NO SHIT. Really? REALLY? The clue in the box, the clue we gave up treasure for, says the same damn thing thats on the wall?

TD is not cheap to play. TD is nowhere even remotely close to cheap to really gear your character up (more on that in another post, I'm on a roll today). TD is stingy as hell with loot, and it really pisses me off to pull a 100gp gem from the end treasure box, which, to a casual player, is utterly worthless (plinko aside, which is NOT run by TD and is run by a great person who's there to help new players out while getting the stupid amount of GP he needs for his transmutations or whatever).

My point? If you make the COST of taking the clue SO high (loss of a valuable treasure token - my GF pulled a rare earcuff out of one that we later saw for sale in the dealer hall for $25), make the clue worth it.

Don't just repeat the same thing thats written on the wall.

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Re: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #7

I had a similar experience a few years back.

There was a room that, when you entered, you were "chained" to a banquet table (yes, this is the same room I was referring to in my previous post). Each person had a plate and some silverware in front of them. There was a panel on the wall that effectively said "use the silverware to spell a word," and that's about it.

There was a Rogue box "on the table" (not literally, that would have gotten in the way, but by the narrative it was "in reach of the Rogue"). I finished the box and took the clue. The clue card literally read:

"The sign on the wall is probably important."

If that wasn't bad enough, there were no other clues in the room to suggest what it was you were supposed to be spelling out. It turns out that the DM was supposed to tell you that the chains holding you to the table and each other were "enchanted." That was the only clue to suggest that the answer to the puzzle was to spell out DISENCHANT on the plates with the silverware. Not only is that a pretty weak clue, but it was completely up to the DM to give you the only clue that might get you moving in the right direction. And ours just didn't bother.

Needless to say we failed. Over the course of the next day, I heard a lot of murmuring amidst the TD crowd of people passing around the answer to that room so that other groups could actually succeed.

I ended up doing that same run again with a different group the next day, and this time the DM told us in no uncertain terms that the chains were enchanted. Even so, my group had no idea what to spell out, even with that clue. Eventually I just told them the answer. They were not pleased; there was a lot of grumbling and a lot of "how were we supposed to figure that out?"
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Last edit: by Nimble.

Re: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #8

I really enjoyed my first run at TD, went in on Normal with a group of mostly new or mid-experienced/geared players and 2 vets.

We failed every treasure room.

Underdark Puzzle oriented on Normal. We were told that using Lava walking boots would make us ineligible for treasure (which two of us had equipped; apparently there is such a thing as being too prepared), so with a minor hint from the DM, we figured it out.

we had a player who was a bit too enthusiastic try and fail twice, and then had a moment of spelling fail causing us a third mistake, removing the treasure, so with time ticking down my friend and I (who had waited until the end and given hints/suggestions/help to others) sauntered across with our Boots Of It Doesn't Matter Anymore.

We also found the MushRoom challenging, with the words being difficult to hear/understand for some people, and coming up infrequently enough that even once we were on the right track, it was pretty much too late to get through, loss on time.

And then we struggled with the final puzzle and lost on time.

While it was a fun and exhilarating experience I do intend to repeat, there were some frustrating aspects. Why have gear tokens that can't be used? I can understand not wanting full groups packing them, but if we've figured out and sent 9 of the 11 in our party across successfully, surely we've proven we have figured out the puzzle? I know they don't want to leave DM's with vague instructions, but is it really 'brute forcing' in such a case? Or in narrowing down from half a dozen or a dozen options to just go for the couple of remaining ones with time ticking down?

As a new player, I'd be fine with a greater damage penalty for errant attempts or missteps without negating the draw for loot. While the experience itself is indeed a great part, it's a bit sad to hear that out of 4 (?) loot tokens we could've gotten, instead we only got one apiece. My two friends went for pulls from the box, one was lucky enough to get a crafting bit (which seems to have value to players that craft, if little to him) and the other something he wasn't overly enthused by. I decided to just keep my treasure token (didn't turn it in) as a souvenir.

Funny story, it wasn't until days after we'd played that I realized the T's in the rooms meant that there was Treasure (unless I'm mistaken there as well).

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Re: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #9

It's the difference between untying the Gordian knot and Alexander slicing through it. The end result was the same, but one method solves it (taking more time, skill, and thinking) and the other bypasses it entirely (removing the knot from the equation).

Boots of Lava Walking were great to equip for this room. If you fell in the lava while attempting the puzzle you wouldn't take damage and if you failed the puzzle entirely you could get your group across with rope.

So that's the point of equipping them - so that you don't take damage.

It was possible to solve the puzzle and still take damage - it happened to me. I jumped, stutter-stepped on my tile and landed just slightly in the lava (on Nightmare, so taking damage was entirely par for the course, no leeway).

Solving puzzles nets treasure. Surviving puzzles does not. In combat rooms that offer treasure no treasure is given if the monster is not defeated. Even when the monster is placated by unorthodox and creative means (bribing with rum, gold, etc). The reward is no one takes damage. Treasure is only given for accomplishing the task.

On a related note, I think Jeff & co. should consider adding a T sign in the training room (clearly designated as a sample, obviously) so that groups know what it means. I myself was guilty my first time of playing of thinking the T had something to do with the puzzle itself, not realizing it designated a Treasure room.

The OP (Adam) suggested adding some flavor text to give hints that only a limited number of tries were allowed "you see treasure perched precariously above the lava, you realize a few wrong moves will tip it into the flames" or something of the sort would work well. I agree. The DM sets the scene already, why not include the treasure and any cautions related to it?

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Last edit: by Joshua Baessler.

Re: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #10

Nimble wrote: I had a similar experience a few years back.

There was a room that, when you entered, you were "chained" to a banquet table (yes, this is the same room I was referring to in my previous post). Each person had a plate and some silverware in front of them. There was a panel on the wall that effectively said "use the silverware to spell a word," and that's about it.

There was a Rogue box "on the table" (not literally, that would have gotten in the way, but by the narrative it was "in reach of the Rogue"). I finished the box and took the clue. The clue card literally read:

"The sign on the wall is probably important."


I know the room you're talking about, and agree that it was brutal to be sitting at that table with no clue what we were supposed to do.

But the Rogue clue? I found that incredibly useful! ...I don't know if you're mis-remembering the clue, or if I took something else out of it, but I thought it gave a hint to look at the LETTERING on the sign. (As in, "The LETTERS on the wall are important") Yes, that sign on the wall was important: but not just what it said. It was *how* it said it.

The font used on the sign was a really odd font. There were no curves in any of the letters. They were straight lines, with weird angles. A couple of the letters (like the S) looked more like lightning bolts than letters. That's what tipped me off to the puzzle solution. Once we knew we had to make letters, and with 10 plates, it had to be a 10-letter word, and we knew the chains were enchanted... we got it pretty quick.
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Re: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #11

joshua baessler wrote: It's the difference between untying the Gordian knot and Alexander slicing through it. The end result was the same, but one method solves it (taking more time, skill, and thinking) and the other bypasses it entirely (removing the knot from the equation).


Perhaps we're just viewing it from different angels, but if we've proven that we've solved the puzzle, making use of gear such a penalty is just busy work. I'd understand if there was greater complexity (and it seemed that there was going to be a reset of some sort based on time or attempts or something), but once we've clearly got it, making use of the boots a treasure fail just means that it's practically a wasted slot, at least on normal.

On higher difficulties with more punishing damage levels, sure, but by the time damage would accrue enough to threaten anyone but us squishy wizard types, the treasure was already lost anyway.

Loot is very obviously not the only reason to participate (I'm sure there are many players who absolutely don't care for it), but in general RPG terms, it is (one of) the carrot(s) and the damage/time limit are the sticks.

Getting hit with the stick several times and not getting the carrot either is kind of a double down on 'failing' the room, with the additional issue (again, as a newcomer) of feeling like I've prepared well with the limited gear at my disposal only to discover actually using it led to a fail state.

Avoiding 6 damage on a misstep isn't much of a consolation when it negates one of the 'oooh, booster pack!' qualities of the run.

Again, we did solve the puzzle. Isn't that enough? It seems like a bit of a disconnect in philosophy; one persons's "brute forcing" is anothers "trial and error". It's not like we had people wading into the lava intentionally.

Edit: Raven? THE Raven!?

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Last edit: by Forar.

Re: Puzzle rooms with treasure....or not 4 years 7 months ago #12

Forar wrote: we had a player who was a bit too enthusiastic try and fail twice, and then had a moment of spelling fail causing us a third mistake, removing the treasure, so with time ticking down my friend and I (who had waited until the end and given hints/suggestions/help to others) sauntered across with our Boots Of It Doesn't Matter Anymore.


AAAIGHHH!!!! True Dungeon GMs! PLEASE! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! Be consistent! Please? Is that so hard?

In MY version of the lava room, the boots of lava walking were utterly irrelevant. The lava was a few feet down from the floating tiles, and anyone who stepped on a wrong tile fell in. Hey, what about my lava walking boots? Didnt matter. I guess 'walk on lava like solid ground' doesn't apply if you fall 2 feet.

That being said, being plunged into lava caused 6 damage.

Also, those without lava boots can apparently swim in lava for only 6 damage.

Also, our only clue of what to do was "The drow was the first across."

Because, yes, obviously, through trial and error (3 errors = no treasure, mind you) using that clue we can absolutely figure out that we should spell second, third, etc.

The lava room this year was horrible.

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