You guys remember the story about the trap door from way back in Trapfinding? Well it’s many years and many levels later, and that same group has finally come to the traps and puzzles themed level of the megadungeon. Their methods are every bit as refined now as they were on Level 1.

So no shit there they were, stuck in a creepy crypt with naught but their wits and their determination. The wizard had to work that day, the alchemist had called in sick, and the cleric was back in town making scrolls. That left a party full of full BAB types to find a secret door. In other words there was a shitload of determination in the party, but not a lot of wits.

Now it so happens that the party had recently acquired four adamantine glaives. The adventure specifically calls out the fact that this whole level is a long-abandoned secret tomb, so there aren’t any random encounters. That means there weren’t any penalties for making loud noises. Thus it was that a chain gang of warriors began prodding at walls, moving a few feet down, and prodding again. It was like the opening of O Brother, Where Art Thou? Much glaiving and a great many ruined crypt walls later, the party managed to stumble upon an actual secret door.

“It worked!” they cried. (See also clock, broken.)

Much to my chagrin, the next section of dungeon was an apparently pointless series of twisting corridors.

“Oh no,” I moaned.

“Oh yes!” they cried. The synchronized glaive team sprang into action once more.

For some inexplicable reason they decided that the trap door most likely lay in the ceiling. Once again using the few tools at their disposal, they decided to lie prone on the party’s 10′ x 10′ flying carpet, each man to a 5′ square, and creep along the ceiling one 10′ square at a time. Everyone took 20 for each individual square, taking no less than 70 minutes to prod at every square inch of the ceiling. Stone dust coated their faces. Blisters began to form on their hands. They were filthy. They were tired. They’d found freaking nothing.

As much as my players enjoy watching me squirm, even they were getting tired of the shenanigans at this point. The prospect of doing the same thing another three times—once for each wall and once for the floor—was not attractive.

“Is it even worth our time?” they wondered.

“Dude, just ask the once-per-day divination item.”

“I predict a high probability of success within the next half hour,” enthused the chirpy little construct.

And so, muttering mixed curses and prayers, they returned to their work. More interminable time passes in-game. The cavalier’s riding gecko has long since fallen asleep. The fightin’ gnome realizes he’s too small to use a medium sized glaive and switches over to a dagger. Everyone is covered in sweat and grime. Finally, about 8′ off the ground, hard against the ceiling and nearly impossible to spot from the ground, one of the glaives clunks into the secret door. It had been a DC 36 Perception check to find. The highest anyone could achieve by taking 20 was a 33. In my infinite mercy, I judged that the circumstance bonus from synchronized glaiving made up the difference. Also, I wanted to get on with the freaking adventure.

Question of the day then. Have you guys ever solved a puzzle through brute force? What was your solution? Let’s hear it in the comments!


REQUEST A SKETCH! So you know how we’ve got a sketch feed on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon? By default it’s full of Laurel’s warm up sketches, illustrations not posted elsewhere, design concepts for current and new characters, and the occasional pin-up shot. But inspiration is hard sometimes. That’s why we love it when patrons come to us with requests. So hit us up on the other side of the Patreon wall and tell us what you want to see!