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Offline Iain

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« on: February 01, 2004, 05:31:28 PM »
Just read a plot (or setting) post on an elaborate set of 7 puzzle rooms and it made me think of some of the puzzles I've used in the past. Not to mention the difficulty of constantly thinking up new ones when GMing a group who likes them so much that they complain if you run a session without any (even if the only way to put them in is rather contrived). So, any ideas and suggestions anyone? Here are some of the ones I like that I've used to start the ball rolling.

1) Water container puzzles. Nearly everyone knows the one about getting 4 cups using a 3 cup and a 5 cup jug, but there are lots of other ones; e.g. with just a 7 cup and a 5 cup jug (both full) and an empty barrel, get 6 cups in both the larger jug and the barrel.

2) You need to descend through a hole to a room 105m below. In the room you are in, which is 50m high, there are two rings on the ceiling, 20m apart. From each ring is hanging 50m apart. How to get all the rope down so you can get to the bottom (even then you'd have to fall 5m, but that is doable).

3) Shamelessly stolen from Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein and adapted to a fantasy setting. The PCs find a magical board with two buttons (left and right), two gates (left and right which may be open or closed) and two lights (red and green). There is a lever (stop/neutral/start) and a panel which says "score" and displays your score. When the PCs arrive, this panel says "37". It works by magic. When the device starts, the gates open and close and the lights come on and off, randomly (use dice). The person must sit in a chair to use the device.

When he sits down, the following instructions appear:
"If any score from a previous test appears in the window marked "score", return the starting lever to the position marked neutral to clear the board for your test. After the test starts, a score of "1" will result each time you press the lefthand button except as otherwise provided here below. Press the lefthand button whenever the red light appears provided the green light is not lighted as well, except that no button should be pressed when the righthand gate is open unless all lights are out. If the righthand gate is open and the lefthand gate is closed, no score will result from pressing any button, but the lefthand button must nevertheless be pressed under these circumstances if all other conditions permit a button to be pressed before any score may be made in succeeding phases of the test. To put out the green light, press the righthand button. If the lefthand gate is not closed, no button may be pressed. If the lefthand gate is closed while the red light is lighted, do not press the lefthand button if the green light is out unless the righthand gate is open. To start the test, move the starting level from neutral all the way to the right. The test runs fro two minutes, from the time you move the starting level to the right. Study these instructions, then select your own time for commencing the test. Be sure that you understand the instructions. If you press a button except as provided for in these instructions, you will be stuck by a poisoned needle. Make as high a score as possible. If you do not perform satisfactorily on this test you may not be permitted to proceed further.

4) The knife game. Get an NPC to lay down 6 knifes in front of the PCs in various patterns. Make them as complicated as you like, keep moving them back and forth, take some away, put them back, adjust the angle and which way the knives face, and where the blades are. (Note: each time, not all 6 knives will be used; various patterns use different numbers of knives). Each pattern represents a number, which you tell them, e.g. "This is a 3". Get the PCs to lay down patterns and guess what they are, and you'll tell them what they really are. The secret is that the "value" of each pattern is the number of knives laid down in the proceding pattern.

5) Chess puzzles. These are always a good standby. (e.g. a board position and "mate in 2". I guess an even better way would be to invent a board game for your world and then set them puzzles in that.
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Offline Iain

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A couple more I've just thought of
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2004, 05:57:49 PM »
6) On a wall is a grid of white tiles, 1" by 1". The whole grid is 20ft by 15ft. At the junction of each tile is a small black dot. Through various means you give them the following three pieces of information:
a) "Press at (20,16)"
b) A broken ruler which only shows the following values: 3Ka, 4Ka, 5Ka. The gap between 3 and 4 and between 4 and 5 is 4".
c) "2+3=20.49"

NB: If you press the wrong black dot you get zapped with magic.

7) Puzzles involving lots of cogs, pulleys etc. and you have to turn them the right way.

8 ) The PCs are locked in a dungeon with some other people on some spurious charge. In total there are 23 people. The lord is mad and decides to have some fun with them. The prisoners will be put in cells with no way of commicating to each other whatsoever. A jailer will come and take them, one at a time, to a small room with two switches which can be on or off (they both start off). Each time they go to the room, a person MUST switch one, and only one switch (either from on to off or vice-versa). They will then be put back in their cell. They can't communicate in any way.

The catch is that the jailer can take them in in any order, and as many times as he likes, and with any time interval between two trips. e.g. he could take 2 people in 20 times before he takes any of the others in at all, or wait a week without taking anyone in. In other words, you can't just wait a while.

If one of the prisoners, at any point, says to the jailer "We have all been in to the room at least once" and it is true, everyone will be set free. If they are wrong then something bad (what exactly is up to you) will happen. The prisoners all have a short time before they enter solitary confinement to discuss their strategy.

9) This is probably my favourite. The prisoners enter a large room. It is bare except for one wall. On this wall are three things.

1) An 11 by 10 grid of tiles, each with a picture of something on.
2) A small panel with a poem on it.
3) A large 3 by 3 grid, each with writing in it.

If the correct tiles are touched in the right order, the wall swings back and they can pass. (If you touch a tile when you shouldn't you get zapped by magic).

The tile grid. Starting from the top left and going from left to right and then doing the second row from the top from left to right, etc., the pictures on the tiles are:
i)Rose, Pie, Crown, Walrus, Iris, Diamond, Woman, Hawk, Shield, Fool, Horn
ii)Volcano, Fire, Armour, Fish, Hart, Dolphin, Prince, Star, Sapphire, Bread, Comet
iii)Lamb, Heart, Rain, Ant, Peach, City, Tiger, Orange, Pearl, Noose, Boar
iv) Topaz, Mountain, Bow, Cat, Mouse, Girl, King, Gold, Head, Opal, Elephant
v) Moon, Monkey, Troll, Plum, River, Compass rose, Monk, Fox, Lightning, Whale, Emerald.
vi) Air, Willow, Baby, Scythe, Knight, Axe, Farm, Cloud, Sword, Birch, Mongoose
vii) Apple, Ruby, Abacus, Feet, Centaur, Tulip, Lark, Bee, Ship, Dragon, Sun
viii)Eagle, Island, Aardvark, Cow, Man, Heart, Boy, Queen, Silver, Skull, Snow
ix)Garnet, Plough, Mace, Princess, Lemon, Hand, Serpent, Dog, Bear, Oak, Elm
x)Wind, Ox, Earth, Horse, Throne, Dagger, Lily, Conifer, Water, Swan, Sceptre.

2) The poem on the small panel say:

"The odds you will proceed are less than even;
The following incantation you must speak:
"Monashi Catalan Fibonacci Olmera"
But only those most worthy will it pass.

A three, a four, these aspects are a plane,
A third dimension beckons if you deign.
Yet even if a cube, best not forget:
The prime commandment is factorial yet."

3) The three by three grid of bits of writing of various length. The segments say:

Top left:
"Boar, king, ruby, willow, star."

Top centre:
"When patience would first flee the night,
When elements take up the fight,
When fear stifles mortal might,
Three swords must come again.
But when? When?"

Top right:
"Starts, People, Ashari, Animals, Dorrani, Vegetables."

Middle left:
"Pure east,
Shy south,
Noble north,
Wilful west.
Which symbols will you touch?"

Middle centre:
"Read! Virtue, love and honour be your guide. Which lore will be your saviour? When shall the dead awake and claim their glory? If you would have power and glory, choose so that the second shadow of the sun's last setting obscures the heartland. If you would rule with benevolence and love, choose so that the third shadow of the moon reveals the splendour of paradise. Which will be your choice? Who shall tremble at the passage of your passing? As you must start you must begin and as you would govern, so must you rule. Choose as your heart does sing."

Middle right:
"The heavy rains show the way one must step. We must obey."

Bottom left:
"Ardo, Veracity, Regalia, Okandar."

Bottom centre:
"Right two squares, up to the oldest, first left, third right and then down to the empty square where you began."

Bottom right:
"Lion is hungry, lamb is fearful
Eagle in eyrie, ox in pasture,
Hart horn-crowned, hawk is swiftest
Swan the whitest, serpent coldest."
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Offline Iain

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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2004, 02:16:19 PM »
I meant to post the answers to these puzzles ages ago but totally forgot about it. Manfred just reminded me that I hadn't, so I will rectify the situation.

1) The two water puzzles I mentioned:
a) jug and empty 5 and 3 cups.
jug    5     0
jug    2     3
jug    2     0
jug    0     2
jug    5     2
jug    4     3
jug    4     0

b) empty barrel and full 5 and 7 cups. Get 6 in 1 cup and the barrel.
0    5    7
5    0    7
5    2    5
3    2    7
3    5    4
8    0    4
8    4    0
1    4    7
1    5    6
6    0    6

2) The rope puzzle.
Tie a small weight on the bottom of one of the ropes (rope A) so you can swing it like a pendulum. Climb 4.2m up the other rope (rope B). Get other people to swing rope A to you. Grab it. Climb to the top of rope B holding one end of rope A. Tie the end of rope A to the top of rope B. Untie rope B from its ring but loop it through the ring. Get the people down below to hold ropes AB tight (going through ring B) whilst you climb across the taut rope to ring A. Untie rope A from ring A. Pull rope AB through ring A until it is half way through. Climb down the rope with one hand on each half of rope. Pull the rope down behind you.

3) Complicated instructions.
The point of this puzzle is that if you work out all the combinations there is no succesful way to score a point.

4) The knife game.
Answer given.

5) Chess puzzles.
No answer needed as I didn't give any specific puzzles.

6) "2+3=20.49"
This is in the Karn measurement system (see post "systems of measuring" which has its zero point at 5ft 2". Press the grid at coordinate (142,126)

7) Cogs and pulleys.
No answer needed as I didn't give a specific puzzle.

8) Locked in a dungeon.
One person is chosen by the PCs to be the spokesperson. For everyone other than the spokesperson:
If they go in to the room and switch A is off then they turn it on, providing they haven't switched switch A before. If they have switched switch A before or if switch A is on then they press switch B.
The spokesperson:
If he goes into the room and switch A is on then he switches it off. Otherwise he presses switch B.
When the spokesperson has turned off switch B 22 times then he knows everyone has been in the room.

9) Fiendish grid of tiles with pictures on. (NB: it helps to draw it out)
The cryptic instructions in the verses underneath are all red herrings. The key is the small panel with the poem on it. In the poem 9 number sequences are mentioned in this order:
Odd numbers
Even numbers
Catalan numbers
Fibonacci numbers
Triangle numbers
Square numbers
Cube numbers
Prime numbers
Factorial numbers.

There are also 9 cryptic messages on the tiles.
If you take the first few numbers in each series and apply it to one of the cryptica messages (i.e. if the first numbers are 1,4,9,16,25 then you take the 1st, the 4th, the 9th, the 16th and the 25th letter) then you get a word. I can't remember which series applies to which cryptic message. You thus have 9 words. If you put them in the order the series were mentioned you get this sentence:
Press in reverse: Aardvark, Sapphire, Throne, Rose, Oak, Whale.
IF you press these tiles in reverse order then you will go through.
NB: If your PCs don't know what Catalan numbers are this is expected and indeed was designed that way. :-) If they get the rest of the message and find that pressing "aardvark" doesn't work, they should be able to deduce that the missing word is "reverse".
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Offline Strolen

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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2004, 06:10:02 PM »
Cool, but no one else has any more? Even the old overused ones are welcome I think.

Through the dungeon there is loose wood and timber, hammer, nails scattered about and are offhandedly mentioned. They get to the end of the dungeon chasing a baddy and it is a large square room with an exit in the middle of the ceiling with no way to get up.

Do they figure out to build a ladder?

Old and used, yes. I have more but have to dig them out. Only remember surface.

One where they had a well in the middle of a temple of a water elemental. A secret room with four entrances. First puzzle was to open the doors which was simply to throw water onto the doors and they would open. Each room had another trap/puzzle for them to solve but will have to hunt my notes.

Another where they made it to their gods temple from ancient times. Rumors where of the temple granting magical items. Well there were two entrances on either side of the alter. Each person must enter one at a time with nobody else in the room otherwise it was just a normal room. Once in (both of them were identical) then all the weapons that they carried were shown carved into the wall. Depending on what room they went into depended on what kind of power they would get, magic or curse. The puzzle was something about their faith. They didn't have to be totally faithful to the god, but they did have to be true to their actions. Catch is I don't remember the punchline on how that was decided. Also if they tried to get an already magicked item more magicked, it would cancel out the effect. Greedy characters.

Annoyed with my half-assed attempts. Good, write your own and help this excellent idea for a thread!!

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Offline manfred

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Misplaced puzzles (more or less)
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2005, 12:18:49 PM »
The Acid Barrier - A magical barrier of acid blocks your path. Solve the puzzle to unlock the door.

The Shocking Pattern - Checkerboards on floors of dungeons... is there any greater bane to adventurers?

The Grove - If the adventurers are smart, they can solve this riddle and get the information they need.

The Strange Parchment (riddle) - The bureaucrat in the Office of Interior Development expects us to solve a riddle before he will even SEE us? You're kidding me right? Oh, you're not kidding...

Emhyr's Puzzle (pasteboard puzzle) - "I've got to finish it, I've got to..."

Thanks to Monument and Scrasamax for creating them!
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Offline MoonHunter

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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2005, 01:08:09 PM »
Videogames are full of challanging puzzles. Lets us review a classic type from Tomb Raider.

As a class, they are called Shoving Box puzzles. They are very like sliding tile puzzles, except they are large boxes and the players do not get an overhead view. In the "game reality" they are any puzzle involving the moving of large square blocks of stone (some of which are disguised as to their movability), large stone spheres, or magical prisms. In an RPG, there would also be a number of perception checks and strength checks/ tasks.

Each puzzle defines an area the blocks can be moved around in. There are X number of spaces in this area. Most of these spaces are filled with blocks/ boxes/ spheres. There is normally only one or two spaces "free" in the trap, allowing some boxes to be moved.

The open facing areas of such puzzles will have ridges or overhangs that will prevent boxes from being moved out of the puzzle area.

Some box puzzle boxes will be suspended, so the ceiling will have a grooved system that will let the boxes be moved. (Of course these areas often have pit traps or breakaway floor traps).

There are a number of goals for a shoving box puzzle.
1) Revealing hidden areas. By shifting the boxes around enough, you can move your "empty space" to another area, allowing you to go to other areas.  GM note: Because of all the moving of stones, it takes time for characters to get to and from this space, so there is no easy retreat. Water rising traps or other triggered traps that must be neutralized some how are a great addition. And make sure that some of your hidden spaces have cool things.

1b) Revealing hidden areas II: People seldom look up. The moving of boxes might reveal a passage up. Videogames are known for 3d puzzles (and climbing), most dungeons... being graphed on grid paper, seem to lock the designer into a two dimensional view. Gamers used to the classic dungeon will not think to look for odd climbing opportunities.

1c) Reveal secret passages, these passages are hidden, until you move the boxes.

2) Glyphed boxes/ solution puzzles: Certain boxes might have symbols on them. These boxes must be shifted around to certain space in the puzzle area. Moving all these boxes to their designated space "unlocks" other spaces.

2b) Boxes/ locking puzzles: A box might need to be in a certain place to prevent a certain traps from "going off". This space may or may not be marked and the box may or may not need to be a special one.

3) Drop traps: In a box puzzle, certain spaces have solid edges allowing a box to be shifted, but might reveal an sliding trap, a pit trap, or even a breakaway floor trap.  Quick thinking and good die rolls might save your existance. You would add these to any of the above.
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Offline Alec_Shadowkin

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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2005, 01:48:54 PM »
I definately like word puzzles the best and plays on words. Rebus puzzles are something you've surely seen before, when words are written is special ways to make them out to be something else. For example:

way or weigh

Is actually "One way or the other" and:


Is actually "Foreign language" (4 in language)

Check out a lot more here: Rebus puzzles
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Offline Ancient Gamer

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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2005, 02:10:21 PM »
I was a heavy duty problem solving GM in my earlier days. Here is one of the puzzles I presented my players with:

Deep within the catacombs of a temple dedicated to the God of Death, the characters discover a long corridor with row upon row of graves in niches in the walls. If the characters try to travel down the corridor, spectres and ghosts will appear, wailing that the characters may not enter the inner sanctum. Some munchkin character is bound to attempt an assault, in spite of the great numbers of undead, and he should get his wish fulfilled. When that character is utterly humbled, he will be able to drag himself back to safety, for the spectres are only guardians and not hateful of all life. If he tries to drag himself into the Inner Sanctum, he should be compensated for his folly and position himself within another room where he can begin creating his new character :twisted:

The best way to pass this corridor is to simply read the inscription on a fountain / wall / door in the previous room. This is a mantra that needs to be chanted for the characters to safely traverse the haunted corridor.

"Mighty Aahr, our powerful lord.
Grant us the safety of your glory.
Grant us the gift of your wisdom.
Grant us the boon of your favour.
Praised be the lord of Time.
Praise him, oh Angels of Heaven.
Praise him, oh Saints of Glory.
Mighty Aahr, our powerful lord."

When this mantra is chanted, the ghosts will hover around the characters, staring balefully at them, and their eyes will appear to pierce their very soul. They will not, however, attack the characters.

To add to the difficulty, place the inscription further away or within a book. If you make it exceedingly difficult, you must remember to provide some clue as to the use of the mantra.
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Offline Strolen

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« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2005, 04:22:30 PM »
Here is one that can be used for pretty much anything. Got the idea from an old radio show I just listened to: "Darkness" Toltec's Tomb. (The show had them as urns buried around a temple that could be rearranged)

A wall of stones that seem to have random lines and marking all over them. There is no real rythm to them so they just seem like some poor design. Perhaps the rest of the location is rather well done so it sticks out.

The wall of stones are actually sectional, loose, and moveable by any average person. It could be they are difficult to get to, not super obvious in location, or they just don't notice in the darkness.

Once they figure out the stones can be moved, and realize there is nothing behind them (hopefully before breaking them), perhaps they will realize that the stones can be rearranged to form a message/poem/warning of some sort.

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Offline manfred

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« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2005, 01:53:09 PM »
This is really more of a simple riddle, but it is especially fitting outdoor conditions.

Close to a village, there is a 'path' composed of white stones - one is here, another is a few feet farther, then another, etc. The stones are somewhat flat and mostly big enough for a person to stand on. Folk wisdom claims an old man of great wisdom can be found at the end of the path (a druid, an old crone, a mad seer, etc.), but it can be treasure or whatever.

If the path is followed, it leads through meadows and forest and streams. The stones may be partially or even completely covered, complicating the search. Another question is which stones are still 'white', and which are slightly grey, so the trail seems to split often, and even vanishing if the wrong path is taken. Worse, desperate seekers (or those that have finally enough) sometimes create own branches of the trail. It is rare that someone completes it.

The answer is of course at the other end of the trail - if carefully surveyed, it leads to a home of a somewhat simple-minded hunter. If asked, he can guide them to that wise man. Easy.
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