Acanthus’s Conundrums is a weekly post that gives you a puzzle and three riddles to use in your roleplaying game.
Each comes with a suggested solution but be generous to your players if they come up with a reasonable answer, especially with the riddles. These diversions aren’t meant to cause disagreements or slow the adventure down.
Some thoughts about how the riddles have appeared historically are also included, so you can adapt them to your adventure.
Do you have any puzzles or riddles of your own to share, or requests to make of Acanthus? Get in the comments or join our Discord server!
It’s a straightforward puzzle this time, but one that may have your players groaning. Some in-game knowledge will help, especially as the puzzle can be used many times. Four examples are listed below.
Puzzle #7: What’s the Big Deal?
As the party strolls through a vibrant market place, they hear two friends having a wide-ranging conversation. One says to the other,
“Well, I’ll tell you, I could have bought 2lbs-worth for 10 gp, 3lbs for 15 gp and 6lbs for 50 gp!”
What had the talker been looking at?
Solution: The answer is swords. A shortsword weighs two pounds and costs 10 gp, a longsword three pounds and 15 gp, and a greatsword six pounds and 50 gp. Of course, this is basic in-game knowledge, but it is also a chance for a fighter or similar to have an advantage when trying to establish the answer if it is roleplayed. If you think the players might need help, have the friends be two warriors, city guards, or another type who might use the weapons.
There are other examples that can be used as follows:
2lbs for 5 gp, 4 lbs for 10 gp, and 7lbs for 30 gp is a handaxe, battleaxe and greataxe respectively.
2lbs for 2 gp, 2lbs for 15 gp and 10 lbs for 10 gp is a light hammer, warhammer and maul respectively.
3lbs for 75 gp, 5lbs for 25 gp and 18lbs for 50 gp is a hand crossbow, light crossbow and heavy crossbow respectively.
A javelin, spear and trident might also work if the players use thrown weapons regularly.
This puzzle is also a way to get characters to explore the market in a new town or city.
Riddle #19 – On an angel/solar:
“Puissant messenger, the Word in flight,
Humble servant, ensuring what’s right.
Ne’er slowed by work nor fear nor blight;
I heal or harm with inner light.”
If you need to offer clues, some suggested answers are: a spell; a lantern; a hymn; an angel.
Answer: an angel or specifically a solar angel.
The riddle includes several aspects of an angel’s role: a servant and messenger of a deity; a champion of what is right and good; an indefatigable worker; a creature able to heal via inner spirit or harm with radiant light. If the players come up with a broad idea of a “deity’s helper” as the answer, you may be happy to accept that.
Riddle #20 – On a demon:
“Outwardly fear by many for my greatness, my inner fear is of one who is greater;
And while many do my bidding when I speak, I must answer the summons of a single creature.
Although I reside in the greatest of depths, I guide those who sit on the highest seat;
For when I am cast down, a slow rise back to power is my greatest feat!”
If you need to offer clues, some suggested answers are: a murderer; a demon; a villain; an evil spell.
Answer: a demon.
Demons long for, and work towards, dominion over vast armies, eventually ruling by fear and the threat of punishment. Yet at the same time, a single, more powerful creature, whether demon, angel or adventurer, can lay them low, and a lone spellcaster can call a demon away from its work controlling an entire realm.
Of course, while demons reside in the Abyss, that infinitely “deep” plane, they yearn to control those who rule in the Material Plane or similar, in order to increase their influence. Finally, demons may not ever truly die. They are just returned to the ichor of the demonic lands from which they can slowly rise to their former greatness over many centuries.
Riddle #21 – On the moon
“I shine another’s light upon the ground,
And take on many shapes as I fly round.
I encourage other’s noise, but I make no sound.
Elements of your home to my ways are bound.”
If you need to offer clues, some suggested answers are: the moon; magnetism; gossip; a cloud.
Answer: the moon.
Even the brightest phases of the moon do no more than reflect the light of the sun, while those phases mean the moon appears to have many forms, yet remains “round” as it flies across the sky. Various creatures howl at the moon as it silently watches them, and its gravitational pull influences water, air and earth as “elements of home”.
That’s it for this time’s Puzzles and Riddles, but here is the link to previous posts.
We hope they add something to your game and would love to hear how you are using them with your players, especially if they have come up with inventive solutions. Please share your ideas if you have adapted them for specific environments or amended them in some way to add flavor to your world.
As ever, if you would like any puzzles or riddles on a topic or subject that is coming up in your adventure and would like us to help, do please let us know below or via Discord!
Until the next set, all the best for a great game!
Acanthus the Sage