Traps and Puzzles Database in Notion

Welcome back to our build out of a D&D campaign management system in Notion. In the last case study, we looked at immortals. Today, we are going to turn our focus on traps, puzzles and riddles.
Traps and puzzles are often associated with a specific location. A room within a dungeon. A locked door that the PCs must pass through. Or a sphinx that demands answers to riddles before the party can move through its domain.
Traps and puzzles are interactive elements within your game. They give the players something to engage with in the world. You can use them in many contexts. Examples include: defense, protecting treasure, preventing entry to an area, and so on.

Traps and Puzzles are modular

The cool thing about traps and puzzles is that they are often tied to specific locations. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t modular. I can easily use the same pit trap in different locations. Or if the players by pass a certain puzzle, I don’t have to lose that work for good. I can save it and use it later in a different location.
Because they are modular, I have found it valuable to save them in their own Notion database. That way, I can find and use traps and other ideas that I have already created once.
Rather than burying them in some adventure notes, I make them a separate Notion page. That way, I can link it into lots of adventure notes as needed.

Descriptive Properties

Here are the descriptive properties I include in my traps and puzzles database.

ColumnProperty TypeDescription
NameTitleName of the puzzle or trap.
TypeSelectThe classification of the entry: trap, puzzle or riddle.
TierSelectClassification of the “tier of play” that the trap is appropriate for. Categories are 1-4, 5-10, 11-16 or 17-20.
ThreatSelectThe threat level as described in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Moderate, Dangerous or Deadly.
DescriptionTextQuick description of what the trap or puzzle is
Attack/SaveTextThe attack bonus or saving throw DC for the trap.
CountermeasuresTextThe countermeasures to disable the trap or solve the puzzle.
Damage/EffectTextThe damage dealt by the trap or the effect it induces (e.g. sleep, paralysis).
AnswerTextAnswer to the riddle or puzzle.

Relational Properties

Traps and puzzles tie to different databases in my Notion system. They include:
  • Locations. Where have you used the trap or puzzle before? Link it into that location.
  • Adventure Notes. Which adventures have you used the trap or puzzle in?
  • Media Tome. Did you borrow the trap or puzzle from a specific source? You can link it to keep the reference material close and accessible.

Here is a sample of the traps and puzzles database:

Traps and Puzzles Notion Database

Notion Templates for Traps & Puzzles

There are a couple of templates that I have found use for in my Traps and Puzzle database:
  • Simple Trap
  • Advanced Trap
  • Puzzle
For the simple and advance trap templates, I loosely follow the format used by Wizards of the Coast in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. The important things to outline are:
  • How does the trap work?
  • What triggers the trap?
  • What is the attack/save DC for the trap?
  • Does the trap have an effect and/or damage?
  • How can the PCs detect the trap?
  • What can the PCs do to disable or hamper the trap?
Use XGtE to distinguish the difference between an advanced trap and a simple one. For Puzzles, there are a few important elements to include in the template:
  • How does the puzzle work?
  • What are the components of the puzzle?
  • How can the PCs interact with the puzzle?
  • What is the solution to the puzzle?
  • What is the reward from solving the puzzle?
Riddles are one liners. You can capture all you need to know about a riddle in the description and answer columns of the database. No need for a template.
That’s all there is to discuss for this simple content database. While its simplistic, I do believe its valuable. Traps and puzzles are modular. This means having them organized and easy to reference is a good idea. Whether you are preparing your notes in advance, or improvising a dungeon on-the-fly. Its good to have a set of traps and puzzles you can reference!
Next time, we are shifting focus to the procedural databases in our Notion system. We’ll start with Fronts.

Feature Art Credit: Ede László