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I love to spice up campaign settings (dungeons in particular) with logic, mechanic or word-based puzzles. Can you propose valid resources for this ?

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10 Answers 10

I've successfully used the format found in "Logic Puzzle" magazines.

These are those puzzles that you solve on a grid of possibilities.

Usually they are things like work out which pet belongs to which person based on a list of statements.

These can be easily adapted to a fantasy or other setting and given a reason for needing to be worked out.

For example:

There's been a murder at the masked ball. There are three suspects:

    Alice the Bard
    Father Cuthbert the Cleric
    Lunk the Stupid

They wore each a different mask:

    Cat Mask
    Dragon Mask
    Orc Mask

They each favoured a particular drink from the bar:

    Druid-tended Buckleberry Juice
    Landlords Finest Mead
    Elderberry wine

Now given some clues the players have to work out who wore which mask and favoured which drink. If you introduce the fact that we know which mask killed the mayor, then there's a reason to work things out to deduce who was wearing that mask.

For example

The barkeep when questioned let's the players know that the person in the cat mask
ordered the juice.

The players know that the Cleric is tee-total.

The murderer wore the Orc mask.

Given those clues we know it wasn't the Cleric that did the deed. A couple of more clues will lead us to the actual murderers identity.

It's easy to adapt the puzzles you can find online and just change the wording of the people/items and clues.

Also you could have more clues backed up to give the players, and give different amounts of experience based on the number of clues they needed to solve the puzzle.

You could integrate this into skill challenges by having skill checks to reveal the clues.

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Such logic puzzles are indeed easily converted. But since they're for the players, rather than the characters, resist attempts to solve them with a skill check or other die roll. ;> –  ExTSR Aug 20 '10 at 17:59
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@ ExTSR My recommendation: inteligence of a character should come from a player not numbers. Players don't fight, run, nor see in the dark - characters do. But players think for their characters, don't they? –  naugtur Aug 20 '10 at 18:37
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Another option is to allow skill checks of an appropriate nature to get clues. Heck, maybe don't even start players with any clues to the puzzle (or just one?!) and give them better loot the closer to the minimum needful clues. That is to say if they need at least 3 clues to solve the puzzle, and solve it in 3 they get the best possible loot, but if it takes them 6 maybe they only get a third of the max loot. –  aslum Aug 21 '10 at 4:18

Kobold Quarterly has been doing a great series called "Encounter Codex" that presents some great puzzles that feel well integrated into the situation rather than just imposed artificially. Here's the most recent: http://www.koboldquarterly.com/k/front-page6486.php

The Eberron D&D adventure module "Seekers of the Ashen Crown" also had some nice puzzle-type traps. I only mention it because I recently read it and was impressed.

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+1 for mention of KQ and "Encounter Codex"! –  TML Jun 29 '11 at 22:39

http://www.cloudkingdom.com/ is a resource specifically for this. Their source books work for any RPG. Plus they have a riddle of the week on their site.

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Subscribed to that riddle of the week. It gets easier when you practice. –  Jeffrywith1e Apr 26 '11 at 20:54

Sometimes physical puzzles like tangrams or puzzle blocks can be fun for players. Especially if they find one piece at a time and then have to figure out how or when to put it together.alt text alt text

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imgur links are 404's now, maybe the author could fix them? –  TML Jun 29 '11 at 22:39

Back in the old times when I did some dungeon crawling scenarios I put my players through some contraptions inspired by "the incredible machines".

I designed some door and traps that were possible to open, but one had to find out how. They were based on simple mechanisc, but it's hard to solve when you see only some parts of the construction. Especially when you see only throuhg your GM's voice :)

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It was too long ago for me to dig it out. (2002yr I guess) Just get creative and see what comes out. Remember to do a mind-experiment "would I figure it out if I was the player" and remember to prepare at least two correct solutions. If there's only one - players will always ignore it or decide it won't work before trying :) –  naugtur Aug 23 '10 at 10:16

I hate to give this kind of answer, but I will anyway: don't do this. Or, to be less of a jerk: don't do this unless you're sure your players like it, too. The problem with riddles and puzzles is that they yank players out of their characters and into riddle solving mode. As someone said, puzzles are for players and not characters to solve. This makes them especially effective at making the player disregard his character. If you're trying to run a game in which character role-play is important, puzzles can create a big risk of derailing things.

Some puzzles can be great, and the more integrated they are with the game world, the better. If you go looking for puzzle sources online, bear in mind that it may take a lot of effort to convert them to something that really fits in the game world and that the characters, rather than the players will have to solve.

After all that, I have no really good resources to suggest. Sorry.

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I feel like this is a great answer to a different question. –  Numenetics Aug 21 '10 at 4:02
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Totally agree @Numenetics –  Stefano Borini Aug 21 '10 at 7:12
    
There have been groups I would NEVER do this with, but my current group loves this type of thing - it is a great thing to end a session with, so they can take some time on it, and even work on it between sessions. –  aperkins Jan 25 '11 at 17:02

You might also try issues 2 & 3 of Raggi's Green Devil Face, which is specifically focused on that sort of thing.

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Had some trouble actually figuring out how to get this. Here's a link to the product page: lotfp.com/RPG/products/green-devil-face –  Numenetics Aug 21 '10 at 17:04
    
And the pdf for purchase: yourgamesnow.com/… –  Numenetics Aug 21 '10 at 17:06

My Turkish folklore teacher was always talking about the book "Bilmece: A Corpus of Turkish Riddles". I'm not recommending this book per se, but I'd like to point out that other cultures have a riddle-ing tradition, so searching the academic folklore world might yield some interesting results.

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The logician Raymond Smullyan has a number of well-regarded puzzle books, each containing hundreds of logic puzzles varying in difficulty and theme. He also includes many anecdotes on paradoxes, logical dilemmas, and lexical gags that could make great inspiration for NPC dialogue:

Which is better, eternal happiness or a ham sandwich? It would appear that eternal happiness is better, but this is really not so! After all, nothing is better than eternal happiness, and a ham sandwich is certainly better than nothing. Therefore a ham sandwich is better than eternal happiness.

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It occurs to me that a lot of groups play Cthulhu games this way: GM presents clues, players try to solve, the occasional skill-roll helps or hinders. I suppose my take on it is that puzzles work best in games where the player-characters are 'problem solvers' of some kind. Otherwise I tend to avoid them for the reasons of being too OOC as already mentioned

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