View Full Version : Puzzle! Help? Aaah!

2017-01-22, 11:28 AM
Hurray crowdsourcing!

I made a puzzle and I want free labor. I'm super nervous about running this in an actual game so I've come to collect a consensus on what I did right/wrong. If its unreasonably difficult, pitifully too easy... Thanks for taking a look. I want it to be relatively easy.

The system is 5th edition dnd.
You descend a staircase then walk in a long tunnel for 4 minutes. The staircase climbs back upward, it opens up into a flat floor. You currently stand in darkness amidst a grove of equidistant thick Iron chains sticking out of the ground hooked to huge stone glyphs of giantkind words. They are spaced far enough apart for a medium creature to squeeze in-between them. They extend to the edge your view. All 20 feet apart from one another in rows and columns. Immediately near you there is a tanned, lithe giantess with long legs, wearing leather armor. Her hair is red-golden, and her large eyes are hazel-brown. She is seated about 20 feet away from the entrance. She does not resemble a hill, stone, fire, storm, frost, or cloud giant. She is unresponsive and entirely neutral. You hear churning water, like a waterfall in the distance.

If you produce your own source of light, shadows form and attack. They fade in the absence of new light.
Knowledge Stone Giants - in their culture light is only used to highlight a work of art. Not to see.
If you try to fly above the runes, shadows and a shadow dragon form and attack. They fade if you stop flying above the runes.

Perception - The room you are in forms an equilateral triangle. Each wall is 80 feet long. From the ground to the ceiling you suppose the height is 80 feet as well. 20ft from each corner is a hemisphere emitting darkness.
If the runes are 20 feet high from the floor then the ceiling is 60 feet away while standing ontop of a rune. This would put objects on the ceiling in range of Telekinesis. The party has access to this spell but is slow to remember what magic items they have, IE, Ring of Telekinesis.

Investigation - hemisphere of darkness. It is flush with the ground, as you touch it, it gently shifts with the lightest pressure. Part of the dark rolls under the ground, a sliver of light begins to reach out from the rolled over side. Up close it is daylight bright, though its effective light range is much less than you would imagine. It is warm to the touch but not burning. It can be turned completely over to shine only light.

Stonecunning - These stones were carved so that when light passes through them the light will shape to project a different giantkind rune on the other side.

Investigate lower runes - A poem about Memnor coming to Skoraeus and whispering something in his ear. When Surtur demanded to know what Memnor had said, Skoraeus told his brother exactly what he had heard. Surtur brooded on that message, which was misleading when taken out of context, and eventually reacted rashly, but the consequences of his actions were seen as no fault of Skoraeus. If Surtur had instead asked Skoraeus for advice about Memnor's words, the legend would have ended differently.

Intelligence check history - In the edda, one of the runes reads as Great Creator, a metaphor, an epitaph that Stone giants use to refer to Skoraeus; his craftsmanship is matched only by his father Annam.
Intelligence check language - The rune read on its own would mean either mother or birth giver.
- when pulled down and flipped Mother becomes Sister. Know becomes Understand.
If mother is reattached as Sister and let back up, the chain will shift loose from the stone, falling up into the ocean to reveal the location of a glint in the water, a hammer.
If know is reattached as understand and let back up, the chain will shift loose from the stone, falling up into the ocean to reveal the location of a glow in the water, an ise shard.
If any other rune is altered it falls loose and you hear a new source of churning water in a different part of the room from the first.

ALL LIGHTS Investigate upper projection - A poem about Skoraeus tapping with his hammer on the stone under the sea, so that Stronmaus could lay down anchors with which to tie up an ancient monster that had already dealt severe wounds to their brethren. A maiden tasked with ten daring feats to earn the acknowledgement of her father. In her final task she did what no other giant could, in single combat she slayed the beast that had been sealed away; impaling it through the heart with a fiery spear. SIDEBAR Perception There is something lurking in the darkness above.
ONLY LIGHT A - Tradition
ONLY LIGHT C - Artistry
During a time where this difference in light projection is discovered it should also be discovered the water level on the ceiling is rising... err... or lowering... INCREASING; if it hasn't been introduced earlier.

The corners of the room have large stone cylinders that gently shift if a creature with at least 20 strength tries to move it. As they spin they detail locations, dates and names.
Speaking Stone A - 832 Seelie Court Diancastra. completely covered by writing
Speaking Stone B - 719 Arborea Lallanis. completely covered by writing
Speaking Stone C - 900 Ysgard Shax. extra space left over.
- Successful Knowledge check returns incomplete speaking stones must be destroyed as a point of tradition, honor, and artistic integrity. Inside this storm giant tormentor's cylinder is a spear.

Find the hammer, find the shard, optional find the spear. Give spear to Hiatea. Try to get to the hammer. Shadow Dragon attacks. Hit the imprisoned rune with the hammer. Stone Glyphs fall up. Water falls down. Get shard. Swim out before you suffocate. Hiatea kills shadow dragon if she has the spear.

2017-01-22, 03:33 PM
I read this twice and I still have only very little idea of what you are trying to say. I am probably not the smartest person on the internet, but perhaps you could impart information in a clearer way.

I didn't understand what all that flipping and reattaching was about or what are "lower runes".

First, draw a map, or rather some pictures of the place, so that one can see where are the glyphs and the hemispheres. Are the glyphs gravitating upwards by the way? Or what else are the chains for?

Second, how would I even know that this is a puzzle that I am supposed to be solving? It's just a weird room. You probably can benefit from telling the players in a more or less direct way that this is actually a puzzle. Another thing that should be cleared is what is the winning condition - what should I try to achieve here. Without a goal it's just a triangular room with weird stuff and an unresponsive NPC.

Third, some of your major (as far as I can tell) hints are behind skill checks. Are you okay with players failing those?

Fourth, a minor point, but I would probably be bearing a torch while entering the room. So I would have no chance to associate attacking shadows and my light source, so they would just seem a hostile attack-on-sight encounter.

I commented what I could, and in my opinion you did a poor job of presenting the puzzle to the forum. But maybe that's just me.

Dr paradox
2017-01-22, 05:55 PM
Yeah, I was totally lost. Does the giantess explain anything? If I were in that situation, my first step would be to go up to her and introduce myself. It seems like more of a weird social encounter than a puzzle.

Also, what are the glyphs? Big stone slabs? If they aren't on the ceiling, and they're only connected to anything via chains, how are they staying up? What would make the players think they could "flip" them, and how does that even work?
how does a hemisphere emit darkness?

What do the players want upon entering this room? Are they just dungeon crawling, or are they looking for one of these items? If the double meanings of the runes are gated behind skill checks, what happens if they fail these?

I feel like I need a better idea of how you picture this puzzle playing out.

2017-01-22, 06:12 PM
"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away" - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This needs to be greatly simplified. There is way too much going on; darkness, water, glyphs, giant lady, stories, chains... and it all pulls in different directions. Further more, this is basically the anti-rule of three; instead of three hints for one clue, you need three clues for one hint.

Gating necessary information behind skill checks is also dangerous: if they fail a single roll, that's it. Pack it up. It's better if skill checks make a solvable puzzle easier, instead of being used to make the puzzle solvable at all.

2017-01-22, 11:30 PM
Less is more. Make it simpler. I should have included context. more intuitive, less roll to know what this is. got it. new draft.

2017-01-23, 03:15 AM
When designing puzzles remember this:

Puzzles are meant to be solved.

Puzzles need to let the person working them know that there is a solution and, to an extent, what the solution is.

A puzzle cube made of 6 pieces will, after even a modicum of trying, indicate to the user that it should look like a ball, with 2 pieces forming planes on each of the X, Y & Z axis.

A rubix cube has 6 faces split into 9 squares. each part has a colored square on it. after some fiddling you see that you can spin each part around and that there are 6 different colors with 9 squares associated with each color. It becomes obvious that the solution is to match each face with 9 squares of a similar color.

A puzzle that blocks progression isn't a puzzle. It's fancy lock. This is how puzzles are normally presented to players. And by gods I hate them. The only difference between a combination lock, Silent hill's brookhaven poem puzzle and a key+lock is presentation.

The key thing to these types of puzzles is that they tend to be near-unsolvable unless you have the "key". In the brookhaven poem, the "key" is knowing to map the numberpad to a rough approximation of the human face and pushing the numbers that correspond to the locations on the face touched in the poem. (ok, so this is a minor spoiler, but it's a nearly 20 year old game, so :P)

the combination lock is similar only the "key" is the combination itself. you can attempt to brute force your way through, though depending on the complexity

If this isn't meant to be solved by anyone who happens to meander in, don't give hints. If it's meant to only allow a select few in, they should already have access to the key which should not be obvious to other but still have a few hints for those that are aware and have an idea what to look for so they can solve it (think of it like the analog version of "What is you mother's maiden name").

This is because they are, functionally speaking, a lock. Why you would lock your door, hide your spare key under the doormat and write "To thee I greet, look under thy feet, flip me gently & you'll have entry"on the pavestone leading to my door? No I'll hide the key under the doormat and give that note to the select few friends/family members i would like to have constant access to my house.

Same thing with these kinds of puzzles. If you're going to give a hint give it much earlier so the players can mull on it before reaching the lock in question, and it shouldn't be displayed in big bold letters.

It's one reason why in games like Silent Hill you should try to search and collect all the memos and whatnot in an area before progressing: you'll likely find the key to your puzzle on a corpse, in a book or something before actually having to deal with the puzzle: the creator didn't want anyone just finding out what the solution was... it was either a mnemonic for himself or a hit for those he trusts.

Though people going into these games are aware of this fact and will be on the lookout for the hints. Throwing newbies unaware of the trappings of the genre will throw them for a very frustrating loop.

A puzzle that locks you until you solve it isn't a puzzle. It's a trap. This is the "you're trapped in a room where the roof is closing in on you" and the only solution is to stroke one particular relief of a cat three times and pull the lever no more or fewer then 5 times and then wait 7 seconds, because the designer wanted an escape he could activate should he fall into it by accident that was so dumb or weird no one would guess it before they died.

Here you don't give a key or hint. It's trial and error and you have 15 seconds before you're sausage meat. Who knows you might luck out?

A puzzle that is meant to test of character, should make this clear. this is your Kobayashi Maru or "there is a speeding train with a junction. on one side is your wife that's tied to the tracks, on the other Saint Koso's orphanarium, home for the sick & elderly and puppy sanctuary. you can either untie your wife and let the train hit the orphanarium or run to the switchboard to divert the train from the orphanarium but kill your wife", where the puzzle elements aren't there to necessarily form a solution, but rather show the tester what the test taker is willing to do, interact with or whatnot.

It's best to think about who placed the puzzle there, what their motivation for doing so it, why it's in that location and who they expect to be interacting with it and why and who they don't want interacting with it and why.

The puzzle you presented looks to be extremely complex, but also one that even if you know the solution will take some time to solve even if you have the key to the solution.

2017-01-23, 05:42 AM
That is very helpful thank you.

Its one room of six made by stone giants for stone giants. The other five rooms were made by Fire, Frost, Storm, Cloud, Hill for their kin respectively. In the lock analogy each one is a tumbler, when all correctly set / completed, the players are granted access to an Oracle; an avatar of Annam.

The fire was a straight forward trap testing endurance. Lava fills the room while they struggle to operate a giant sized forge.