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Comments: 17
Ideas: 2
Rating: 3.6818
Condition: Normal
ID: 7286


December 7, 2015, 10:06 pm

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Pendulum Puzzle


The Pendulum Puzzle is a simple ordering challenge backed up by a neat rhyme. Ready to be inserted into pretty much any dungeon or setting.

You step into a chamber dominated by a massive statue of a robed humanoid. It stands ten feet in the air, the folds of its hood casting its face in dark shadow. Grasped in the statue’s left hand is a scythe, its razor sharp blade carved out of black stone. The statue’s right arm is raised out in front of it, holding in its clutches the end of a metal chain. This chain stretches to the floor, suspending a wicked blade inches over a circular indentation, roughly eight feet wide. This circle is hewn two inches into the stone, and is decorated with lettering spiraling towards its center. The script is fine and spidery, and glows with a faint red tinge. Twelve candles mark the edge of the circle, standing at regular intervals. All are lit, their wicks slowly burning and casting flickering shadows over the chamber. On closer examination, you find that you can read the spidery text.

The statue before you
Holds chain that was made
For keeping the time
With its pendulum blade

The mid hour of night
Is farthest away
From where the eyes of the statue
In its head lay

Hours of daytime
And hours of night
Here are the same
I shall shed that light

Each hour is named
After person or thing
Your job is to find me
I am not hiding

With the silence of grave
A death come too soon
The master of Shadow
Stands thirteen past noon

Past him stands the Gypsy
And somewhere between, a valiant sight
A Knight of the realm
And a Dragon who fight

Merchant, a trader
His wares beside him in Wagon
Crouches as far away as he can
From the infamous Dragon

The mystical Gypsy
With her tarot cards
Steadies his wares
Lest they crash into shards

The beast of red scale
And long crimson tongue
Is caught right between Knight’s blade
And the shadowy one

Across from the Castle
Stands the Giant of rock
The Hydra of nightmares
Stands across from the Hawk

The Hawk is majestic
With feathers of red
Perched next to Gypsy
Who keeps it well fed

The Peasant sleeps poorly
He tosses and screams
For his is the hour
Of ghosts in his dreams

My place is not tricky
Find where I lie
I stand where not mentioned
Which hour am I?

Hour Marks: Holding the pendulum blade over any of the candles (which serve as hour markers), causes that candle to flare up, signifying a possible answer. If the pendulum is then released the answer is assumed to be given.
Answer: Nine o’clock. This might open a door, reveal treasure, etc. Should a player answer incorrectly, the pendulum swings, the candles flare up in a bright inferno, and the text swirls and seethes. Then something terrible is summoned to make them regret it.

Additional Ideas (2)

Instead of summoning something when failing, it could trigger a number of traps (the floor falling away, and a pit opening up; a number of arrows/spears being fired into the room; or even spikes coming out of the floor).

2013-04-14 06:30 AM » Link: [7286#85990|text]
Love this puzzle! I changed a few things to make this more of a dungeon ender/legendary place in my D&D 5e campaign:

Made it a 70ft diameter circle with a statue to match and changed the candles to stone pillars with slits in them to fit the pendulum. Players are given a general idea of the danger and possible reward of entering the circle before entering the dungeon and are locked into the ring upon entry past the pillars: stopped from teleportation spells and prevented from physically exiting past the pillars by a wall of arcane force.
Parts of the text are spread out through the dungeon on the ground below a certain sigil. Some in the middle of the path, others in areas hard to reach or far off where the party can only spot the sigil, making it possible to make it to the end without all of the pieces of the text. Before entering the ring they can see the large spiraling text and also see large chunks scraped out of the text, allowing careful adventurers time to go back and be able to read all of the puzzle before entry.
On a failure, the creature that is actually at the pillar chosen spawns to attack the party (for wagon I chose a gorgon pulling a wagon full of animated weapons/armor/helmed horrors).
I time the party IRL so that some minor baddies spawn to punish delay at regular intervals. I also make it so natural rest has no effect in the circle so parties can't do attempt, long rest, attempt, etc.
On a success, the party gains a favor from the goddess the statue forms.

I changed "Hawk" to Roc and a few others details to make the creatures that mark the hours more directly represent the creature that would be summoned to punish the party

2016-09-06 03:14 AM » Link: [7286#96479|text]
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Comments ( 17 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

April 14, 2013, 7:08
If you were trying for drama and portent, saying "cock" might spoil it somewhat(players y'know). There's also a lot to keep in your head, but I suppose it all depends on what kind of players you have.
Voted Strolen
April 14, 2013, 7:43
With me being dumb and all (and while I enjoy riddles in game, when I read them I am impatient and want the answer almost immediately) I would love if you told us the time that each one describes with a short explanation, if not obvious.

With a group, I think they would be able to figure this out with a little skill which is about perfect for a dungeon crawl. I like it!
April 14, 2013, 18:15
Update: Changed Cock to Hawk. Much better :)
Added solution outline. Note that the Castle and Giant are interchangeable, and do not affect the solution.
October 25, 2013, 15:09
Not to nit-pick, because I actually love this, but I noticed you saying, "added solution outline." I reread it, and unless i'm blind, I don't actually see any "solution outline". What am I missing? Anyway, once again, good job with this! These kind of puzzles bring back great memories of golden-age gaming. I'm glad this survived the "Purge", and now, the Survivor burning tower icon somehow adds a nice touch aesthetically.
Voted Eric the Grey
April 15, 2013, 10:51
I really like this. It would be easy to insert into any campaign/game with little to no modification and the riddle/poem is very well done, which for me, is not an easy thing to do.

Eric the Grey
Voted Snah2
April 15, 2013, 11:15
Only voted
Voted Gossamer
April 15, 2013, 12:21
Y'know I re-read it, and I didn't realize before that the whole thing rhymed, so changing it to Hawk broke it, sorry about that. And it doesn't make sense to give a Hawk bread, but it does to give it to a chicken, so if I were you I would just ignore what I said and change it back really. Good that you added that extra info though.
April 24, 2013, 2:00
Update: Fixed the issue with the hawk being fed bread. Changed the valiant sight line to make it not as long and uncomfortable.
One or two lines are still a bit clumsy; obviously feel free to find better lines!

@Gossamer: Thanks for the comments! Any rhyme that has to back up and explain that by Cock one means a bird is not well crafted; you are definitely correct. "Hawk" rhymes pretty well with "rock," so everything is good.
Voted Murometz
May 15, 2013, 23:34
What Strolen said.Classic dungeon-crawl puzzle.Love it! I would take some license with the wording on the rhyme though, if I was to use this.

Good job, these aren't that easy to pull off well, and you did!
Voted ivioin
June 22, 2013, 13:38
Only voted
Voted valadaar
July 18, 2014, 8:53
Hmm, Hawk is no longer in this revision. That said, this is a good logic puzzle.

Voted ChronoNinja
November 17, 2014, 23:39
Like it, good for a PBP setting where the players can read it and do not have to try to keep it all in their heads while listening.
November 17, 2014, 23:41
Good point. I try to always print out extra copies of any riddle text and pass it out to the players when they come upon a puzzle. Each riddle still gets a dramatic first reading.
June 17, 2015, 0:22
Death is "thirteen past noon" so 1.

"Past him stands the Gypsy
And somewhere between, a valiant sight
A Knight of the realm
And a Dragon who fight"

So Gypsy at 4, Dragon at 3, Knight at 2.

" Merchant, a trader
His wares beside him in Wagon
Crouches as far away as he can
From the infamous Dragon"

So if Dragon is 3, farthest away is 9. Merchant at 9. Wagon would be 8 or 10.

"The mystical Gypsy
With her tarot cards
Steadies his wares
Lest they crash into shards"

This sounds like the Gypsy is next to the Wagon, but we've already decided the Gypsy is at 4. Let's come back to this, then.

"The beast of red scale
And long crimson tongue
Is caught right between Knight’s blade
And the shadowy one"

Ok. That means the Dragon is 2 not 3, and the Knight is 3 not 2. So if the Dragon is 2 then the Merchant is 8.

Now let's go back a minute;
"Past him stands the Gypsy
And somewhere between, a valiant sight
A Knight of the realm
And a Dragon who fight"

OK. Keyword is 'somewhere'. The Dragon and Knight might not be the only things between the Shadow/Death and the Gypsy.

So if the Merchant is 8, his Wagon could be 7, and the Gypsy is 6.

So we've got:
1 Death/Shadow
2 Dragon
3 Knight
6 Gypsy
7 Wagon
8 Merchant

Next is "Across from the Castle
Stands the Giant of rock
The Hydra of nightmares
Stands across from the Hawk"

That means 4, 5, and 10, 11 are these four because they're the only places left with opposites. The next pay clears up what's what.
"The Hawk is a rooster
With feathers of red
Which stands next to Gypsy
Who gives it its bread"

So with the Gypsy at 6, the Hawk must be 5, the Hydra is 11, and the Castle and Giant are 4 and 10.

So now we know:
1 Death/Shadow
2 Dragon
3 Knight
4 Castle/Giant
5 Hawk
6 Gypsy
7 Wagon
8 Merchant
10 Giant/Castle
11 Hydra

Only two places left open.

The Peasant's hour of ghosts must be Midnight, 12, so the Author is hiding at 9.
June 20, 2015, 17:29
Update: alignment and vertical spacing!
Voted Skull
December 7, 2015, 19:27
I like the poem and puzzle equally. Only thing I would suggest is to change the gypsy/hawk section to read like this:
The Hawk is majestic
With feathers of red
Perched next to Gypsy
Who keeps it well fed.
It gets rid of the problem of feeding a hawk bread.
December 7, 2015, 22:06
Nice! Incorporated.
Voted NikoDelphiki
September 6, 2016, 2:52
Only voted

Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: Michael Jotne Slayer

Moonlight shines down on the tranquil scene of a slumbering inn along one of the many roads that cross the land. Trees sway gently in the night air, and the stars twinkle brightly. All is quiet as the PCs snore away, a fine tendril of smoke curlsrnunder their door. The tavern is on fire! This is particularly bad news if the PCs own any horses - the screaming they hear is probably from their mounts! Panicky people are rushing about with buckets of water, trying to tame the flames. The fire fighting effort is not very coordinated as everybody is either hungover or still drunk, including the PCs. Hurry!

Encounter  ( Any ) | February 15, 2011 | View | UpVote 7xp

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