<A little context: the party is trying to get into a wizard’s tower. The only way was through the door and the door was locked, it had no handle or key, only a door knocker – without its knocker. They fashioned a knocker from a sling and a rock, the door opened, they could see inside the tower but when they crossed the threshold they were teleported instead to another room.>
I like the idea of puzzles and puzzle rooms but I’m never sure where to fit them in, they often seem contrived or shoe-horned in. So I decided that this wizard was the kind of wizard who would booby-trap his front door so if people tried to sneak in, they would have to be tested before he let them in properly. Still contrived of course, but it made narrative sense to me.
When they entered the room the wizard’s voice called out:
Well, well, well that was very clever of you. I like clever. Not enough to let you walk straight into my house though. So here’s a little test. Let’s see what you’re actually made of, are you just lucky or are you clever? Give these beggars what they need to survive, and maybe you’ll survive along with them.
After he finishes speaking the room begins to fill with sand from holes from above. Looking around they see there are six statues of beggars, each with a bowl and a sign in front of them, plus a door at the far end (but not one behind them):
On each sign is a riddle, the answer to which is an item you must put in the bowl, as follows:
Water: Give me something that loves to fall but cannot climb, reflects all light but darkens the sky, the right amount will save a life, too little or too much brings the end in sight
Metal/knife: Give me something that was once hard, then liquid, then hard again, treats bodies and bread just the same
Gold: Give me something that is prized above all else, shines like the sun but comes from the dark
Fire/Warmth: Give me something that if it drinks it dies, if it eats it is fine
Blood: Give me something that the bluer it is the better you are, the more there is the deader you are
Food: Give me something that comes in many forms, everything needs it from humans to worms, not quite so important as the air you breathe but still, you won’t get far without me
Though I took inspiration from various places, with the exception of the fire riddle I did write these myself. So, they’re pretty easy but I’m proud of them.
The sand fills the room at the speed of one foot per round and the bowls of the beggars are four feet off the ground. Each party member can fill one bowl as an action.
When the correct item is placed in a bowl, the item is consumed, the beggar’s face will change to a smile and the sand will stop flowing for one round. When the wrong item is placed in a bowl, the item is consumed, but the beggar’s face will become a frown, and the sand will flow faster for one round.
The wrong item is defined as either the wrong answer to a riddle, or an item placed in one of the two trap bowls. The blood riddle and the knife riddle are both traps. The wizard said “give the beggars what they need to survive” but you wouldn’t give a beggar a knife, or some of your own blood. Thus when those items are received the item is still consumed but the mouth of the statue will open and ‘blood’ and a knife will fire out of said mouths. I imagined that the ‘blood’ would do necrotic damage.
Once they work out the riddles and give the beggars the right items, the sand stops flowing, the door at the end opens, and they can enter the wizard’s tower.
What happens when the sand is above the bowls, or so high it will kill the party? I’m not entirely sure, I knew they’d solve the puzzles before that time so I didn’t think that far ahead >_< Either they would die, or maybe they would be kicked out of the tower and the door would vanish – they’re not clever enough to warrant the wizard talking to them? Or something else that fits your story/style.
It’s pretty simple I know, but this was session 2 of my very first ever homebrew, and one player’s second session *ever*. So I wanted to give them some puzzles to solve but nothing too deadly or dangerous. Anyway, I thought it was a fun little challenge that could be used as is, or scaled up in difficulty, or even be easily chained into a larger series of puzzles. Also! It was super hard to come up with a riddle where the answer is ‘food’ and not a food item.
Constructive feedback welcome (I’m a baby DM, be nice XD) but also feel free to use it if it works for you, and I’d love to hear stories of how it goes!