Acanthus’s Conundrums #16: 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 an historic solution but be generous to your players if they suggest a reasonable equivalent 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 have requests to make of Acanthus. Drop a note in the comments or join our Discord server!

This puzzle finds Acanthus relating a tale of goblins at a gathering of tribes. These events rarely go well it seems.

Puzzle #16: Goblin Get-Together.

Problem: Grobb and Fulaz attended a gathering along with two goblins from each of ten other tribes. As often happens at these conclaves, events did not go well at first. Each goblin there got into a fight with everyone they had not met before. Naturally, goblins representing any given tribe already knew each other.

Later, when tempers cooled down, Grobb asked each of the other 21 attendees how many goblins they fought with and received a different answer every time. How many goblins did Fulaz fight with?

Solution: As the representatives of a tribe knew each other, no goblin could have fought more than 20 guests. If Grobb’s survey recorded 21 different responses from 21 other goblins, then these responses must have been the numbers from zero to 20 inclusive. The goblin who fought all 20 members of the other 10 pairs must have been the partner of the guest who fought zero goblins. The goblin who fought 19 others (excluding the delegate who had zero fights) must have been the partner of the goblin who fought only one stranger (the goblin who took part in 20 fights), and so on. Fulaz must have had 10 fights, being the partner of Grobb, who was not surveyed.

Riddle #46—On rain:

“I rise when it’s hot, ‘though you mayn’t think I’m there,

To then cross the Earth by my flight through the air.

I’ll come back to land when around me turns cold,

To help grow the new, and clear away the old.”

If you need to offer clues, some suggested answers are rain, breath, a broom, or work.

Answer: rain

This riddle is another example of attributing an unthinking object with the ability to believe it is making decisions about its “cause and effect.” It also makes careful use of all four elements—earth, air, fire, and water itself—to imply there is a cycle in which they are all linked.

Riddle #47—On an egg:

Guarding what is not yet born, ‘though escaped from its mother’s womb.

The hoped-for child must patient be inside my armored room.

And yet I bring on death if left as cold as any tomb,

Or if my charge is freed too soon, it brings about their doom.”

If you need to offer clues, some suggested answers are a bed, an egg, a thought, or hope.

Answer: an egg

This is one of those riddles that makes most sense when all the lines are considered, otherwise a range of “protective” answers may come to mind if each element is considered on its own. It needs thought however it is approached, and it may need a hint or two along the way if the solvers become caught up in it!

Riddle #48—On a frog:

“From a stage round and green, I croon my own tune

My song booms its best by the light of the moon.

But if by chance you sing comparably,

Then I’m in your throat and you try to clear me!”

If you need to offer clues, some suggested answers are a bard, a cricket, a frog, or a cough.

Answer: a frog

Having a “frog in your throat” invariably means your voice is croaking or has a “tickle” in it, whereas a frog in nature often has a song that carries over great distances and attracts mates and rivals alike. This is a modern version of an old riddle, which talks about the frog’s song being one of “praise and self-praise,” although today frogs are not often paired with pomposity.

That’s 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 would like a puzzle written.

We are also keen to hear how you are using these puzzles and riddles in your game, and whether your players are producing 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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top