Puzzle Locked Secret Door Behind Grethgan’s Altar

The Blog Carnival has me thinking about puzzles. Here’s a stab at it.

Behind the altar in Grethgan‘s ritual ground, the Refining Field, is an engraving resembling the arcane circle, but clearly incorrect to anyone with even cursory training in magic. In the center of the circle is carved a verse from The Triumph of Grethgan in the original orcish.GrethganPuzzle

An understand artifact check of 50 or higher reveals that the outer ring can turn, meaning even a low intelligence character with no levels in Understand Artifact has a better than 50% chance of noticing when investigating it as an artifact. A small group of adventurers is almost sure to notice if they engage the engraving. A direct attempt to turn the outer ring with 7 or more strength reveals that it can move.

Characters with Sense Magic may detect all of the elements of the arcane circle arcs and a wounding purpose on the engraving. Closer inspection will reveal that the elemental energies are associated with their respective arc tiles. Touching these tiles results in elemental discharge at a rate of one DoP each second (Ful: 1d6 fire damage, Oh: 1d6 dexterity damage, Zo: 1d6 cold damage, Vi: 1d6 fatigue, Ya: 1d6 strength damage, Des: 1d6 lightning damage). The circle can be turned at a rate of 10*(Strength-6) degrees per second, so a strong character could get a lot done with little consequence, but a weaker character might take some damage turning a quarter turn.

If one or more of the characters can read Orcish, the scripture engraved reads “For Grethgan comprehended the workings of magic and could bend it to his whim. And though he was a warrior-mage, he rejected earth in favor of fire. With magic, he destroyed his foes from afar; he charged with energy into the fray.”

Some of the knowledge from this passage can be obtained through Arcane Knowledge checks. An check concerning Grethgan himself reveals information on various levels: 30=Grethgan is an evil god of fire, 50=Grethgan was a battle mage in life, and 100=Grethgan used magic for ranged combat and attribute boosts to engage in melee. Bonuses as high as +50 could be given for devout worshipers of Grethgan.

An arcane knowledge check on the Orcish text itself reveals: 30=it is in Orcish, 50=it is a distinctly religious Orcish script, 80=it is Orcish copied from a text of Grethgan scripture, 120=it comes from The Triumph of Grethgan, 180=able to recite the text from memory.

The correct solution to the puzzle is any combination that places Ful between Ku (sword) and Dain (arm with staff) with Oh on the other side of Dain and Des on the other side of Ku. Getting the puzzle to this position makes a distinct shifting sound as a stone locking mechanism retracts. The heavy door can then be opened with 14 Strength.

The perfect solution places Ku at the top with Sar counter-clockwise from it and Dain clockwise with Ros clockwise after Dain. Otherwise it is the same as above. With this solution, the door opens automatically after unlocking.

The puzzle as shown above can be solved without changing the triangular tiles at all with the partial solution, but a perfect solution requires changing the triangular tiles. This change requires an intuitive leap that can be assisted by Sense Magic. Sense Magic will reveal that as the outer ring turns, the triangular tiles take on elemental auras matching those they are touching. Order and Chaos energy can also be detected crisscrossing the center hexagon. Close inspection of this energy reveals 30 individual strands with order, chaos, and the two elements associated with the two triangles each connects.

The upshot of these magical connections is that if the engraving is struck with a spell containing two or more of the elements, those tiles currently associated with those elements randomly exchange places (but never remaining in the same place). This is the mechanism by which the triangular tiles can be rearranged.

This tile rearranging is a much harder to decipher component of the puzzle. If a similar magical exchange mechanic has been introduced previously, this is less of a jump to make for the players. As drawn above, they don’t need to discover it, but the initial arrangement can be changed to the ideal to make it still easier to solve. Similarly, they could be arranged to make it harder and make discovering this mechanic necessary.

What did you think of a puzzle post? How about how we handled it? Would you like the solution to be held back more so you could solve it yourself? Or would you like the solution up front before explaining how to reach it? Let us know in the comments below!

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2 Responses to Puzzle Locked Secret Door Behind Grethgan’s Altar

  1. Pingback: Devious Dungeon Puzzles | Mind Weave Role-Playing Platform

  2. Pingback: Korgaran’s Megadungeon-Grethgan’s Wing (The Refining Field) | Mind Weave Role-Playing Platform

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