I love a good math puzzle in D&D. There, I’ve said it. Many D&D players like math. But even if you’re not crazy about math, you can change things to make it more fun. No really, trust me, it’s possible. We’ll take a look at some of the best D&D math puzzles I’ve come across in this article.
The reason I love math puzzles so much is because they are predictable and clear. There’s no second guessing if the answer to a puzzle is correct when you’re using a math puzzle. And that’s VERY unlike some poorly designed D&D puzzles I come across. Allow me to explain.
Many D&D puzzles involve vague statements that the players must somehow find meaning in. One of the most famous examples is the sphinx riddle which goes like this:
“What goes on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon, and three feet in the evening?”
And the answer to this question? A person. Of course, the answer could also have been a horse. Maybe it stood on its hindquarters at noon and lost a leg before evening. It’s farfetched, I know, but you get my point. Most D&D puzzles that don’t involve math are just vague.
I even hear of DMs who just throw a vague set of hints at their players and when they figure something out that makes a minimum amount of sense say: ‘Yes, you solved it!’ Not a great player experience.
And other puzzles assume player knowledge. A DM once gave me a puzzle where I had to turn an object into gold by touching it to a statue called Midas. But my character has never heard of Midas touch. That’s another great thing about math puzzles, you can assume any character knows basic math. It’s universal across settings.
A good math puzzle, gives players a clear sense of direction. They know the rules and can use cold hard logic to come to an inescapable conclusion. And when they’ve arrived at the conclusion, there is no annoying second guessing.
D&D Math Puzzles are Beautiful
Good math puzzles are like having rules in your D&D game. Yes, roleplay is important but without a solid set of rules your players won’t be able to objectively judge the consequences of their actions. Rules provide consistency and the rules of D&D are made of, guess what? That right, math!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
I love math but I understand not everyone does. Still, you can make math as easy or complex as you want to. And you certainly don’t want your math puzzles to look like homework assignments. Instead, you dress the math up in beautiful fantasy artwork and have it be meaningful to the story.
That sounds a lot easier than it is. Often, DMs just reskin an existing puzzle like minesweeper. Sure, you can create a tiled hallway with numbers on the ground so you can calculate where the bombs are. It’s a big step forward from the sphinx riddle but players will ask why someone would go through the trouble of trapping a room with bombs and then leaving all the clues to avoiding those bombs. Conclusion: You don’t only need good math in your D&D puzzles but the math also has to make sense to the story.
Where then, do you find good math-based puzzles that make sense to the story? Well you can find them in our webshop.
We chose to go with puzzles by DungeonVault because they have the best solid logical puzzles that we’ve seen anywhere. And they spent a lot of effort in having puzzles make sense in the game world. Most of their puzzles use logic, but some use numbers (math) also. If you want to put your players’ math skills to the test, we recommend laser puzzles and wilderness puzzles. Or you can get all of their puzzles. They have a great deal called the puzzle bundle.
Dark Ulf is the founder and editor of DNDpuzzles.com. When not writing for DNDpuzzles he travels the multiverse and destroys demons with a crossbow in one hand and a crossword in the other.
We hope this site inspires you to put more puzzles into your D&D games.