Ah, the Great Outdoors. Breathing in the fresh air, running from Owlbears and whatnot. What could be better than exploring all the wilderness that D&D has to offer? Well, adding some puzzles to all that nature of course.
If you need some inspiration for combining puzzles with your forest, swamp, or jungle D&D setting, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll show you a couple of ways you can join them in ways your players won’t expect.
1. D&D Wilderness Puzzles: Ancient Statues
Our first puzzle setup works equally well in a forest, swamp, or jungle. But the key is that whatever natural D&D setting you choose, it needs to have almost completely overgrown the ancient statues we’re about to use.
And those statues come from the Laser Puzzles pack. While traveling through the wilderness a PC spots a stone paw covered in moss or vines. It takes some time to remove all vegetation from the statue, but once players do, they discover a four-headed statue of proud lions. Each head looks in a different direction.
Pressing one of the paws makes a laser shoot out of its corresponding eye. The laser cuts through the wilderness like – well, like a lightsaber. If the PCs follow these laser beams they might discover other statues that look exactly alike. Other lasers simply shoot off into the distance and dissipate.
So what does all of this mean? The moment PCs activate the first laser beam they can communicate with the lion statue telepathically. It tell them that it’s a guardian of the stretch of nature but it has been imprisoned. In order to break the spell, it must reconnect with the other statues in a very specific way.
We won’t give away the solution to this puzzle but suffice to say that players can connect all the statues and free the guardian spirit. And this in turn brings balance to the forest, swamp, or jungle.
What we like about this setup is that there’s this ancient layer of history overgrown by time and nature. And freeing guardian spirit connects PCs to the land. It’s not just a bunch of vegetation.
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2. D&D Natural Puzzles: Herbs and Flowers
Our second Puzzle suggestion is Potion Puzzles. This puzzle was originally designed for brewing all kinds of liquids for creating magical items. In fact, the puzzle pack is also a complete system for magic item creation in Dungeons & Dragons.
But we will use it differently. The ingredients needed to create the potions are all herbs or flowers that your players have to locate in a forest, swamp, or jungle. So instead of nature just being something inconvenient PCs have to travel through, it becomes a treasure trove of magical power!
Finding the ingredients is only the first part of this puzzle. Next, players must discover the recipe for the puzzle and where better to hide a recipe than with a swamp hag or a green forest dragon?
Exploring nature to find ingredients and recipes for creating their own magical items can become a central reason for traveling the wilds in your campaign.
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3. D&D Wild Encounter Puzzles: Terrain and Monsters
Our last suggestion is to use a puzzle pack called Wilderness Puzzles. These puzzles match any forest or jungle type of terrain.
PCs come to an opening in the forest and the druid, ranger, or nature-oriented PC just knows it is dangerous to simply rush in. There’s no role required for this very basic knowledge.
The players carefully study the lay of the land. And using the clues in the puzzle, they can figure out exactly what type of terrain lies before them. Players who have figured out their forest or jungle surroundings can use it to their advantage.
With this puzzle set up, players use tiles to create a terrain with natural properties such as difficult terrain, dangerous terrain, soft cover, and hard cover. Once they’ve laid out the puzzle it can immediately be used as the natural topography for a combat encounter.
4. Combining Nature D&D Puzzles to Create an Awesome Outdoor Experience
These are just three puzzles you can integrate with natural settings in interesting ways. But your swamp or forest doesn’t have to be one thing. You can add multiple layers of puzzles to be discovered. Perhaps the freed Guardian Spirit from the first puzzle rewards PC by giving the location of some rare ingredient needed to solve the second puzzle. There’s a lot to be discovered in any natural D&D setting.
The puzzles in this article are all available in our webshop. And you can get all of them and much more in the Puzzle Bundle for a considerably reduced price. So be sure to visit our shop.
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.