Acanthus’s Conundrums #14: Puzzles & Riddles for RPGs

“Acanthus’s Conundrums” is a weekly post giving you a puzzle and three riddles to use in your roleplaying game.

Each one has a suggested solution but be generous to your players if they come up with a reasonable answer, especially to the riddles. These diversions are not meant to cause disagreements or slow the adventure down.

Some thoughts on how the riddles have appeared historically, or how they can be interpreted in other ways, are also included, so you can adapt them to your adventure. Also, we are interested in whether you have any puzzles or riddles of your own to share, or requests to make of Acanthus? Drop a note in the comments or join our Discord server!

Our puzzle this time has the party trying to pay to get across a bridge that is guarded by some very unusual trolls.

Puzzle #14: Pull the Other One!

As is the way with adventuring, barriers can catch out a party. The characters find themselves behind a barred door with no keyhole. It seems the set of levers in the wall next to it are the means to escape the room.

There are six levers in the wall, set vertically one above the other. Written above them is:

“Only one of the statements below is true. It is next to the lever you have to pull to open the door. But which one? Get it wrong, and the room will flood!”

The levers are labelled A, B, C, D, E, and F, and next to each one is a statement:

  1. A) All of the below are true
  2. B) None of the below true
  3. C) One of the above is true
  4. D) All of the above are true
  5. E) None of the above is true
  6. F) None of the above is true

Which is the true statement, and therefore which lever is the one to pull to open the door?


(A) cannot be true, as then all six statements are true.
(B) cannot be true, as then either (C) is also true because (B) is true, or (C) is false making either both (A) and (B) true, which cannot be, or both (A) are (B) false.
(C) cannot be true, as then at least two statements are true.
(D) cannot be true, as then at least four statements are true.
(E) can be true, as then there are no contradictions.
(F) cannot be true, as then (E) would also be true.

So, the only correct statement is (E) and this is the lever to pull. Any of the others leads to the room flooding.

Riddle #40 – On books:

“We speak in many languages, we hold as many views,

 We talk of ancient history, as well as recent news.

We make what’s mystical seem true, and truth more fantastic,

To find out what’s in our hearts and minds, a subject you must pick.”

If you need to offer clues, some suggested answers are: hopes; beliefs; thoughts; books.

Answer: books.

Ancient riddles often consider individual books to be minds, brains, or hearts, and collections or libraries to be crowds or a group of scholars. That they hold views, knowledge, thoughts, and ideas, as well as being able to spin yarns or make the truth seem unimaginable, is often used to show books have no single purpose or ability.

Riddle #41 – On tomorrow:

“Often prepared for, but I never arrive,

It’s hoped I’ll be better, for which people strive.

My journey toward you is watched the full day,

But at midnight’s tolling, I just melt away.”

If you need to offer clues, some suggested answers are: tomorrow; a rainbow; hopes; an unkept promise.

Answer: tomorrow.

Another riddle about one of those ideas that we are all familiar with but never actually experience. Tomorrow is always reached as “today” or stays out of reach as another tomorrow. Hoping for “a better tomorrow” is a common dream that people work toward, while tomorrow melting away at midnight is something many of us experience on, for example, our birthdays.

Riddle #42 – On time:

“This voracious beast all things devours:

From mighty hills and dragons to tiny bugs and flowers.

It gnaws on iron-tough armor, it licks at stoutest steel,

It turns the hardest rock and bone into the finest meal.

It brings down your destruction, more quickly with allies,

And yet we wish for more of it e’en with our final cries!”

If you need to offer clues, some suggested answers are: the weather; time; a powerful force; a black hole or sphere of annihilation.

Answer: time.

Another example of something intangible being given physical characteristics. Enough time will do all the above, while “allies” speed the process. And even the longest-lived creatures eventually succumb to time in game, deities included!

That is all for another Puzzles and Riddles, but here is a reminder of and link to previous posts.

Do let us know if there are any subjects you would like included in the riddles, or if there is a particular situation for which you’ like a puzzle written. Leave a comment!

We are also keen to hear from you as to how you are using them in your game, and whether your players are coming up with inventive solutions. We are happy to share these with everyone so do let us know if you have adapted them for specific environments or amended them in some way to add flavor to your adventure.

Until the next set, enjoy your games!

Acanthus the Sage

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