Looking Over Book of Challenges: Curse of Iron


It's just cover art

Premise

A door with a letter-based puzzle shocks anyone who interacts with it incorrectly.


Good

The majority of the treasure is fancy objects instead of simple currency.


Adding a time limit via the deathtrap complications suggested for scaling up the challenge would be a great idea. For less deadly ways of doing that, consider adding enemies (either directly or via random encounter) or having means of leaving the room before it fills with water (or whatever else).


Salvageable

The puzzle is somewhat garbled by current grammar standards. I’d change “…AND ONLY THOSE MAY ENTER WHO PROVIDE THE CURE” to “…AND ONLY THOSE WHO PROVIDE THE CURE MAY ENTER”.


If the artwork is not shown to the players (which may be a reasonable choice when changing the message), the door should be described as having the letters on separate blocks, tiles, gridlines, or something else like that to indicate they aren’t carved on a single iron slab.


As nice as the sixty-nine separate spell effects may be, this does come across as over-defined nonsense. Just have one magical effect overlaying the whole message and be done with it if confounding detection spells is desired, or have detection magic be a viable means of finding the correct letter to press if the players are to be rewarded for spending a resource like that.


Perhaps I’m misunderstanding the description of what happens when the puzzle is solved correctly, but reaching between “narrow” iron rods on a 2” grid to pick a lock seems pretty dumb. Just have the door unlock if the puzzle is solved.


Bad

I don’t like letter puzzles. It’s hard to define exactly why I find them less palatable than puzzles built on other elements of real-world knowledge, but I do.


Behold, possibly the most worthless boxed text in this entire book! Not only does it impart no real information, but it arguably contradicts the rest of the puzzle, depending on whether the artwork is considered authoritative.


Even if I wasn’t constitutionally opposed to rolling checks for puzzle hints, the hints provided are terrible.


Overall

As stated, I’m not a fan of letter puzzles. However, putting that aside as best as I can, the puzzle here is awful. There’s nothing about the message that would make me think of pressing letters (even the hints and sidebar acknowledge that casting a certain spell seems to be the required solution). Even if I knew that, there’s nothing about the message that would make me think it wants me to change one word into a repeat of another. Still requiring someone to pick the lock after solving the puzzle (and thus disabling the trap on the lock) is nothing but busywork. Really, just about the only remarkable thing about this entry is how lazy it manages to be despite being one of the shortest entries in the book.


All in all, this is a bad example from a bad category of puzzles. It’s best to pretend it’s not even in the book.

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