One of the most interesting (and most challenging) aspects of being a DM deals with the creation of dungeons. Dungeons as a title trademark have to be exciting mixes of combat and traps (and a couple great treasures as well) to confuddle both the brawny and the intelligent characters in a party. And consequently one of the best things about designing dungeons, are designing the puzzles.
There is nothing better than creating a puzzle that sets your players wondering, a puzzle that hearkens back to the dungeons in Legend of Zelda video games is just so satisfying!
And yet creating such encounters are not easy, typically I draw my inspiration from games or obscure fantastical literature.
I once created an entire puzzle dungeon, for several PC's who were willing to do away with combat for a while. Creating that dungeon really challenged my DM skills and forced me to question just what line DM's should draw when puzzling their players.
There are three main types of puzzles that I have observed:
1. Word puzzles- I think every DM out there has thrown a riddle at their PC's now and then. Usually these are employed to get past doors, or nasty creature guards
2. Physical- This is when you shoot your characters out onto a giant grid and they have to figure out that to move safely they must follow a certain pattern. Or they must touch the statues in the correct way to open a door
3. Situational- These puzzles are the most complex, for they usually role-play based. Often you have an entity who wants something and the players must determine what exactly that thing is
I'm always looking for new puzzles and traps to use in my campaigns, if you all have any suggestions of where to look, or want to share your all-time favorites, the floor is open :)