Puzzles are a natural part of Dungeons and Dragons and can be used to great effect in your game. If you know your group will enjoy puzzles, 3D printing can help you add some extra flair to your dungeons. In this article we’ll be looking at a few examples of 3D printed puzzles that are great for your DnD game. We’ve also linked to the source files for anyone who wants to download and print the puzzles themselves.
A Quick Introduction to 3D Printing
If you’re not familiar with 3D printing, it’s a process of building 3D objects sequentially with a specialized machine. Most 3D printers make plastic parts, but some use resin, metal, or various other materials. For our purposes, we will be discussing 3D printing with PLA plastic using a deposition printer, or one that prints by stacking up small layers of plastic over time. Here’s a video time-lapse of common 3D printer in action for reference!
If you’re interested in getting your own 3D printer, know that they are expensive and the hobby has a steep learning curve. But it definitely allows you to make some amazing things. Here are some links to a few printers you might want to start with.
- Comgrow Creality Ender 3 (DIY kit)
- Prusa i3 MK3 (assembled or kit)
- MakerBot Replicator Mini + (Fully Assembled/Professional printer)
We use a Prusa i3 MK3 for our prints. The printer is on the more affordable side and is reliable once you get it calibrated. We encourage our readers to do some research before buying a printer; it’s hobby that can require a lot of time and has some trial and error when getting started.
3D Printed Puzzles for DnD
Thanks to a lot of amazing and talented people on the internet, you can find all sorts of 3D files for puzzles you make for you games. We pull most of our files from Thingiverse, but you can also find them other places as well.
Physical puzzles really become a lot more accessible thanks to 3D printing. Puzzle boxes and maze latched containers used to be expensive items you wouldn’t use only once in your campaigns. With 3D printing you can make some of these great puzzles in a matter of hours and drop them into your quest where ever you like! Let’s look at a few that are easy to use and print.
Simple Printed Puzzles
All of these puzzles are easy to print and can be made with a day’s notice on most printers.
Labyrinth Gift Box
This simple container is perfect for dropping messages or scrolled paper into. The print comes in two parts: a base and a lid. The base has a maze printed along its surface that the latch has to move through to open or close the box. Easily add this into any quest to give your players something work on while they traverse a dungeon. Just remember that not all your players are going to have an easy time solving this, so be ready with hints for players who get stuck.
This is a relatively easy to assemble 3D puzzle where all the pieces need to be combined to form a cube. The puzzle itself is only 5 printed parts, but can be a bit tricky for people who have never seen one of these before. Make sure you can solve this yourself before you give it to your party.
If you do decide to use something like this in your game you can implement it in a lot of fun ways. Each piece to the puzzle could be something the players get after completing a separate challenge. You can also easily hide writing along the cube that can only be read once the puzzle is assembled.
A note on printing: This requires you to print support structures for the pieces to make sure they print properly; most print software can do this for you with minimal set up.
3D Fit Puzzle
This puzzle is all about making pieces fit within a square frame. You can make each of the pieces represent a room the players encounter. These pieces would give them hints about the pieces’ layout in the puzzle. This puzzle can be a time sink and may frustrate players, so be warned that appropriate guidance will be needed to make the puzzle more palatable for most groups.
Some Assembly Required…
The puzzles beyond this point are very cool, but are difficult to build and perhaps harder still to solve. If you use any of these, you definitely get some style points. But be ready to help your players through the puzzle with story relevant hints and solutions.
This cryptex container looks amazing, especially when painted or coated. The object is comprised of many pieces: 8 files printed multiple times for a total of 55 pieces! This cryptex is programmable to set any 10 letter phrase, but it is recommended that you seal it with glue once set. This object makes a great cap to a long adventure and allows for some real tense situations if you hid the solution throughout the session.
This puzzle is rubix cube levels of difficult. It has 41 moving parts and involves slides and rotations of pieces. The goal of it is to simply align the pieces so that they match either by row or by column. This puzzle is great to use if your players are ace at solving these things.
But honestly, this might be too hard for a normal game. Give this to players to solve at the end of a session and award them a special gift if they can bring it back solved to the next session. If you’re good with 3D modeling, this puzzle can easily have simple Draconic symbols applied to the outside to theme it more appropriately for your game.
More Puzzles Still
The examples in this article are just few of the great things you can find on Thingiverse that might be relevant to your puzzle dungeons. If you’re looking for more cool puzzles to print, check out their popular puzzle category! If you make or use any of these or other 3D printed items in your games, we’d love to hear about it! Send up images on Twitter or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.