Emhyr’s puzzle comes in a plain thin wooden box, the lid painted in a semblance of what the completed puzzle should look like. Inside, many small pieces can be heard rattling around. The contents of the box change depending on the person who opens it.
Should a mage, or other spell casting individual open the box, they will find 1000 pieces, each roughly the sixe of a thumbnail. The painted side of the piece is constantly changing color and pattern, as the puzzle is a moving image cut into 1000 pieces. Those with high perception scores might notice arcane symbols and fragments of formulae drifting through parts of the picture. The more complete the puzzle, the more complete the symbols become.
If a normal adventurer opens the box they find 1D6x100 pieces in the box. The image doesnt move on the pieces, and while the puzzle is challenging, it isnt impossibly difficult.
If by some odd chance, a child opens the box, they will find 1D10x10 pieces, and the puzzle will be quite entertaining and easy for the child to complete. This is more satisfying after a mage has failed to complete the puzzle, to watch a peasant child complete it in minutes.
After the puzzle has been completed, the image on top of the box changes to a new picture. It is never the same puzzle twice, much to the delight of young children.
Emhyr was a toymaker, and a worker of limited enchantments. He created the first changing puzzles some 200 years ago as gifts for the children of royalty. Given the nature of children’s play, there are very few, if any, of these puzzles left. Even with magic that repairs damaged pieces, and generally keeps the pieces together (puzzles found will always have all of the pieces) the magic couldn’t do anything about the pieces that were invariably eaten, slathered in food and given to pets as a prank, and the like.
Emhyr made his last puzzle after his own children were killed by an irresponcible wizard. He made it the best puzzle he could, and placed his most subtle enchantments on it. The illusion of movement, the phantasm of arcane symbols, all drew upon the person who was working the puzzle. The more intelligent and complex a person’s mind was, the more convoluted and devious the puzzle could become. The puzzle of an arch-mage could very well have pieces that physically changed shape, and if not completed in a reasonable time, the puzzle could start to deconstruct itself. By this magic, the person doing the puzzle will without fail, like what they see as they put it together.
The most dangerous part of the puzzle was that Emhyr placed a Fascination charm on it. Once started, the puzzle demands to be finished. If the person starts it, they will think about it constantly until it is finished. They will not be able to restore their spells by rest, nor will they regain willpower, hit points, or any other attribute that regenerates during down time. Thus, the social hermit wizard has the most to fear from the puzzle, as their isolation and intelligence could lead to their own deaths by obsession.
Exit the Mighty - Oftentimes a group can fall back to relying on a powerful NPC mage to pull their butts out of the fire when things get to dangerous. Now, the wizard has recently found the puzzle and is too engrossed in completing it to offer assistance to the PCs. They have to get along with his power, and might even have to rescue the mage from the puzzle.
Take That! - the puzzle is found by the munchkin/power gamer in the party. His uber-intelligent mage is unable to instantly complete the puzzle, but has gotten the whiff of powers unseen in it. Each day that the puzzle goes uncompleted, the munchkin gains a -1 penalty on his dice. Soon, there could be symptoms of addiction. Lack of sleep, obessive behavior, and the like. Then, you can even give his character some penalties.