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Comments: 20
Ideas: 0
Rating: 4.5962
Condition: Normal
ID: 677


January 19, 2007, 7:04 pm

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Emhyr's Puzzle


“I’ve got to finish it, I’ve got to…”

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.

Magical Properties:

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.

Plot Hooks
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.

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Comments ( 20 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Shadoweagle
August 9, 2005, 11:53
Shadoweagle likes the cruel potential this has.

This is not a great magical item with an intricate background simply because it does not NEED to be a great magical item with an intricate background. A simple story which is complete in itself, and a nice item to boot. 5/5
August 9, 2005, 12:28
With ths,one could inflict some serious damage on the most feared of mages... 5/5
Voted EchoMirage
August 9, 2005, 15:11
I can imagine one of those uber-powerful wizards, thinking away about the puzzle, hoping to complete it, because there MUST be a mighty spell written on the complete puzzle, or the map to the Philosopher's stone... the onlz intellect worthy of such a challenge and reward... meh likes.
Voted Monument
August 9, 2005, 17:59
This is pretty cool, I don't know if I would inflict it on a party, though. BUT! It is a REALLY good way of removing a high level NPC sage/wizard/etc from the party without removing that wizard permanently.

Alternately, use it to trick an evil wizard into a world of his own, ignoring his dastardly plan of world domination(doesn't every evil wizard have a dastardly plan of world domination?), and focusing instead on the puzzle. Maybe the party is told the story of the puzzle, and are sent to offer it as a gift to some naughty wizard to keep him busy while they foil his plans!
Voted Wogden
August 9, 2005, 23:57
"Given the nature of children's play, there are very few, if any, of these puzzles left."

Heh. So true. I wonder what would happen to the kid if they ate one of the pieces...
August 10, 2005, 1:08
Dude... he would so TOTALLY become a target. How would he survive long enough to notify the good guys that he needs protecting? (sorry, I slipped into surferdude mode or something)
August 10, 2005, 8:39
If a child ate one of the pieces of a lesser puzzle, the magic of the puzzle would be rendered inert. Each piece contains a small part of the spell, but all of the pieces have to be present. As for Emhyr's puzzle specifically (had to think on this one for a bit) the pasteboard has a very minor enchantment tied into its ability to entice a person to play it.

should a piece of the puzzle be placed in the mouth, even that of a child, the piece of pasteboard will taste like the worst thing that the person has ever eaten, or sometimes, the worst thing they have ever smelled.
Voted Roack
August 10, 2005, 15:22
It sound too me more like it has a MAJOR enchantment of fascination, which would just make it all the more appealing to a wizard.
I can see one of my party members becoming obsessed with this, he's the sorcerer and de facto leader, it will really hamper them.
Voted Dragonlordmax
August 10, 2005, 22:35
Two Questions:

1. What happens if a genius begins the puzzle, and is later joined by an idiot. Is the idiot fascinated as well? Does the puzzle get easier?

2. At the beginning you say: "This is more satisfying after a mage has failed to complete the puzzle, to watch a peasant child complete it in minutes." How is it possible to fail to complete the puzzle? You can't stop. If you've failed, aren't you dead? (or physically incapable of completing it?)

Thanks for the excuse to try to construct a puzzle upside-down. (The puzzle, that is.)
August 10, 2005, 23:42
What might be amusing is if it made it APPEAR as if it were easier to solve for a child, and harder for a genius. So, some kid peers over the shoulder of a mage, and basically can see it right away, this piece here, and this piece there. So the wizard says, oh yeah, smart guy, ok, you have a go at it. At which point it appears to the wizard that the child is moving with lightning speed to finish the puzzle(not superhuman speed or anything, just everything seems to fit for them nicely). Then, the child is compelled to break it down again... "see how easy that was! Now you try it..." cut to montage of jeopardy music overlaying shots of a frustrated wizard trying his damndest to finish the puzzle...
August 11, 2005, 3:37
I guess zou CAN fail to solve it, and return to it with greater vigor after you slep for an hour and had some grub, like a moldy yoghurt and rock-hard bread left in the storage from when you last went shopping...
August 11, 2005, 8:57
To answer the questions:

I would imagine that someone might have an opportunity to realize that the nature of the puzzle is a fascination, and be allowed a chance to break the spell. The difficulty would be based on how much the person in question trusts magic. A barbarian or berzerker might have no problem putting down the puzzle, given their anti-magic feelings. The mage, how has devoted his life to the art, however...

After a person has forfeited the puzzle (by the above method, or by means of a Break Enchantment type spell) someone else can pick up the puzzle and try their hand at it. The puzzle will reset to the new person and the fun commences all over again. It only responds to the person who activated it, but being a toymaker and loving children, the puzzle also has an acho of this feeling for children. I'm not saying it is sentient, it's not. It is simply much more forgiving towards children, as its creator would have been.
Voted Dragon Lord
August 11, 2005, 9:21
Cant really add anything to the above comments

Great item with a logical backstory 5/5
August 12, 2005, 0:06

Voted Murometz
April 8, 2006, 22:04
Only voted
Voted manfred
April 9, 2006, 8:50
What a nice reminder of a truly magical item. This little toy can go from nearly unimportant to seriously impacting a campaign with marvelous ease.

Imagine what happens if a particular deity would become addicted to it. Of course, easily resisting the feeble spell of a mortal, but hopelessly falling to the item's purpose and unimaginable complexity of the puzzle that he/she would find. The consequences may be dire (god of the underworld not guarding his domain, etc).

I really like items like this.
June 16, 2006, 22:13
BUMP. 24 votes!? Is that a record here?
Voted valadaar
August 16, 2006, 12:07
Definatly a cool item!

Regarding the pieces of the great puzzle being eaten, etc, I think the easiest solution would be that missing pieces simply reappear with any other unassembled pieces.

The final puzzle for powerful mages could even be a gate to somewhere interesting..
Voted Iain
December 16, 2006, 11:08
February 17, 2007, 14:33
26 votes!! 26!!!!! and its got a 4.5962 average. That is highly impressive!

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