Puzzle Cube: The Runes of the Shadow Chain Dwarves

If it were up to me all games would have some type of puzzles to them. The more interesting, complex, reliance on observation and association the better. This is why I pounded my players with my most devilish device yet.

Background/History: A subset of the Glintshield Clan known as the Shadow Chain Dwarves hold the secrets of the Glintshield clan and of their home Stonefang Pass. In the underbelly of the Pass there is a secret passage which opens to a large cavern. Here the heroes found orcs which had snuck in and hunted down the Shadow Chain dwarves. At their camp there was a small chest inside contained a number of stone blocks inlaid with Dwarvish Runes.

At the end of the cavern there stood a large 16 paneled door. No locks no handle of any kind just just panels.Four of the panels have pictures engraved in them the others are all blank.  Above the door was an encrypted inscription which once decoded read: First to the Two, Then Input the Three. 

The Details: The door is a small puzzle which then opens the ‘key’ hole which happens to be the shape of a cube.

Here is what is important about the cube. The players must assemble it from the blocks in the precise orientation in order to activate its inherent magic which will open the door. This is the fun part. See picture below for reference:

Made from various size wooden blocks and a permenant paint marker.

Note there are 2 inch cubes, 1 inch cubes , and (in the top right hand corner) even 0.5 inch cubes. Getting sizes that fit to from the correct shape of the object is important otherwise you’ll end up with all the wrong proportions. I had 6 2″ blocks, 7  1″ blocks and 8 0.5″  blocks to make up a single 4″x4″ cube.

On the cubes are written dwarven runes. You can search google to find the specific rune set you wish to use or make up your own. A couple of the PCs spoke dwarven so once they had the cube pieces they immediately set out translating each individual letter. A good idea. You can fit sixteen runes on one face of the cube. To have things make logical sense I wrote a short phrase that I wrote out starting on one face and moving down the cube like it was scrolling down until it filled up the four faces on the vertical plane, leaving the two sides blank. It took a few moments thought to come up with something which fit precisely the number of letters I needed AND made sense with the story but it was manageable. For the two outside faces of the cube I decided to use just two repeating words to make it just a smidge easier.  Thus the long phrase read in dwarven runes:

“From Below From the Earth, Father of Salt and Stone, Upon a Molten Throne, Beware”

with the sides reading: “Bind Pray, Bind Pray”

In the context of the story it worked out as it was referencing the ancient Earth Titan bound within the mountain kept there by they efforts of dwarves who worshiped Moradin and Torog.

Once the players have translated all the cubes and placed then in the correct orientation, the cube snaps together and the runes glow a dim silver. The players will be able to read the message of warning and begin to wonder what they have gotten themselves into. The cubes magic is easily percieved, but what to do with it?

As I said before the Cube is a key to a 16 paneled door. Which of course contains a riddle and a puzzle. That will be my next post.



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