How to make an interactive puzzle trap for your players

Posted by Annabelle Collins on

Hey hey! Today I'm going to show you how to make an awesome interactive trap / puzzle for your players! The idea of this puzzle is that it is fun and interactive, and adaptable enough for you to pop it into a dungeon or game you're already running.

A gif of the interactive DnD trap being used with pieces being slide around to reveal the final spell circle, D&D traps


I love crossing the 4th wall and bringing parts of my games into real life - I think it makes everything feel more tangible and real for both my players and myself.

A cool interactive D&D puzzle trap made of sliding floor tiles with characters trying to work out how to solve the puzzle and one carrying the extra trap piece

To make this trap I use 16 1x1 tiles with the "plain" surface, and decorate them with decals. The tiles then act as puzzle pieces that can be rearranged to form a complete spell circle.


Let me show you how to make your own interactive puzzle with magnetic dungeon tiles!


The Idea behind the puzzle


As soon as you step through the opening, a heavy stone wall falls into place behind you, blocking your exit.&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em>Looking about, you find yourself in a room empty and plain,&nbsp;save for an intricately carved black marble floor tiles.</em></p> <p><em>There appears to be no other exit, besides the now blocked archway you passed through, and a gap in the floor where a tile is missing.</em></p> <p><em>Peering down through the gap in the floor, at first you see only darkness. As your eyes adjust though, you make out rusted spikes, some with long-dead skeletons still skewered like pale kebabs...


To solve the puzzle and escape the room, players must work out how to shift the floor tiles, moving them into the correct position to form the complete spell circle.

A gif of the interactive D&D puzzle being solved by sliding magnetic dungeon tiles around with your fingers, modular realms magnetic tabletop terrain


In real life, to move the floor tile you can simply push them with your fingers.

The magnets auto-rotate into their new configurations. 

When the puzzle is complete, it will still be missing one floor tile.


Perhaps one of the party picked up the final puzzle piece elsewhere in the dungeon, or perhaps it will come down from the ceiling, or otherwise manifest in place once the spell circle is complete. 

I'm leaving things a little nebulous to leave room for you to twist the puzzle to fit the vibe of your own game.

Perhaps the complete picture is a summoning circle that will call forth a creature, a teleportation circle that will whisk the characters away, a spell circle that can amplify characters magic.



So how to make the interactive puzzle?


Materials Needed:

  • 16 1x1 Modular Realms magnetic dungeon tiles with one side being the "plain" texture (for example, from the Variety Pack)
  • Black Primer
  • Decal paper - I sell the decal paper here, but you can get it cheaper elsewhere online!
  • Varnish
  • Access to an office printer
  • Some water in a saucer



Step 1 - Prime your dungeon tiles


A brief gif of priming the dungeon tiles black, modular realms

I like to prime everything black to begin with. 

I do it the same way I prime all our tiles: first by placing them up face-to-face and priming the edges.


Then once dried, place the tiles edge to edge and spray the faces. 




Step 2: Print off the design on decal paper and varnish it.


You can make your own design easily enough, or if you like the one I've already made, you can get it here for 75p. 

the product photo for the sliding floor trap decals to place on dungeon tiles which you can buy in my store here for 75 p
Close up image of one of the decal squares used in the sliding floor trap, showing the bleed around the outside of the design for folding over the edges, D&D interactive puzzles


If you are making your own design, I recommend adding a "bleed" area around each 1 inch tile.

This is so that you have room to fold the edges over even if you don't put the decal on perfectly centred. 


Whichever design you use, print it out on white decal paper using the nicest settings your office printer can do. 

Then spray varnish the decal paper, wait for it to dry, and then give it a second coat. 



Step 3: Transfer the decal onto your tiles


Begin by cutting out each square. I then soak them in a shallow dish of water, one or two at a time. 

A decal piece soaking in a saucer of water before being put onto a magnetic dungeon tile to make the interactive trap.

Generally I find that if I leave the first one soaking for a minute, after that I put the next square of decal paper in to soak as I take the previous one out.

It seems like the time I take to transfer a decal to a tile is jusssst the right time to leave the next one soaking.

Don't leave them soaking too long, or the decals will part from the paper before you're ready!


To transfer the decal, slide it gently with your thumb off of the paper and onto the tile.

sliding a decal off of the water transfer paper onto a 1x1 dungeon tile and using a sponge to push it down, making an interactive D&D puzzle

If it's having trouble moving, don't force it. Just leave it soaking for another 20 seconds or so :)

Once the decal is on your tile, you can shift it around with your fingers to place it in position.

If it's not moving that much, your decal may be a little dry. Just pop a drop of water onto the tile and then it should slide around much easier.

Once everything is in position, fold the edges down, and press everything with a sponge to remove any air bubbles.



Step 4: Varnish the heck out of it!


Wait for your tiles to dry fully (overnight is best), then give them a couple of layers of varnish.

We're going to be touching and pulling at these surfaces a lot whilst sliding the puzzle around so we want them to be super secure. I tend to do two gloss coats of varnish, followed by either a third gloss, or a matt layer depending on what effect I want.

With so much varnish, the tiles will probably take a day or two to dry. Give them it!

There's nothing sadder than putting two almost-finished-drying tiles together and coming back to find them stuck together! 


And there we have it! 

A picture of the completed interactive D&D puzzle made of sliding magnetic dungeon tiles that when solved forms a cool spell circle


Your very own interactive D&D puzzle made from magnetic dungeon tiles!


Other ideas to try...


I am definitely going to be working on variations of this to fit in with my home game and I hope you have fun experimenting too (if that's your jam)!

I plan to work on a four-seasons themed trap for a druid sect, an elemental trap and something more focussed around gravity magic. 

I love bringing our games into the real world, it just makes everything that little bit more exciting somehow! 

I'd love to hear what ideas you folks come up with (not least so we can inspire each other with cool ideas)!


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