View Full Version : Request help with three puzzles

Mr. Croop
2011-05-27, 11:24 PM
Getting stuck in immediately, this would be the first portion of a Pathfinder campaign. The PCs have been selected from their various villages to attend a festival in the capitol that occurs only once every 997 years. They each have a tile with their name on, and a tile with the name of the group they need to congregate with (i.e., the other PCs)

They need to earn their passport into the capitol, however, and the earning involves three trials, the trials being what I am having difficulty inventing.

The first trial is the trial of duty, and it takes place in a temple dominated by a statue of an elephant-sized lion with tusks and a saddle. I can not, for the life of me, squeeze an idea out about this one, or rather the ideas I've had strike me as maudlin and easy.

The second trial is the trial of loyalty, which takes place in a temple dominated by a statue of a man in very ornate full plate...same problem, really.

The third trial is the trial of knowledge, taking place in a temple dominated by a statue of a strident and strict-looking woman in kimono-type garb. This one I have a better idea of. It will hopefully introduce the PCs to the fact the tile with their name on it acts as an anchor for their soul. Perhaps something involving them needing to figure out how to make their tile float up to somewhere with the exit, and a mechanism for reviving them...still thinkin...

2011-05-27, 11:30 PM
First question: What happens if the PC does not figure out a puzzle/trial?

If the answer is "he sits there until he gets it," I suggest you think of an alternative.

Dead end puzzles can easily be VERY frustrating, especially since they can often get to "guess what I was thinking when I wrote this."

Whatever you decide, I suggest being VERY open to alternate solutions, as opposed to needing to be solved a specific way (what if in the knowledge chamber the technical rogue hooks up a pully system to lift his plaque to the required spot, for example).

Don Blake
2011-05-27, 11:57 PM
Duty- well, that depends on what the liophant god considers to be the duty of the PCs. Basically the key would be to put them in some sort of situation where they have N+Z choices, with N being pleasant but neglecting their duty, and Z being less pleasant but fulfilling said duty. Without knowing the tenets of Liophantism it's hard to be more specific.

Mr. Croop
2011-05-28, 01:45 AM
Re: huttJ509
That is good advice. I agree. A device I have seen a previous DM use is having an NPC to tag along with the party as a device for giving hints. Of course that device can easily turn into a crutch, and make the reason for having puzzles little more than a means of going "hey! Lookie how clever I am!" Wasn't the guy's intent, of course, it just tended to border on working out that way sometime. It could sometimes also devolve into a mechanism for strong-arming the PCs into the path you want them going in, but there's plenty of those. A tool to tread lightly with, if at all, but potential solution.

I'm not averse to cheating even, as long as it's in-game cheating. Could be fun. Could turn out the big lectern is actually a "puzzled solved/puzzle not solved" switch.

2011-05-28, 02:10 AM
Are they completing these trials individually, or as a group after meeting at their congregation point?
I'm assuming that the PC's aren't the only group trying to get these trials done. If you want to drop hints, you can have other groups of tiled travelers meeting on the road bemoaning failure with trials. Maybe a couple of old elves reminiscing of the previous festival and the trials they had to complete.

It might be best to start simple. The trial of duty could be as easy as the PC's presenting themselves and their desire to seek entrance to the capitol as a representative of your village for the millenium festival *show tile*. This shows the PC's are ready to start the journey to fulfill the duty to their village. The Lion-a-phant could respond and let the PC know the trials they will need to accomplish and what not. Maybe not all village rep's have to complete the same trials. And that could explain the grouping, the PC's are in a group of passport petitioners who need to complete the same trials.

Other groups might have to do different ones. Maybe introduce a little rivalry with another group, a little wager on who finishes up first and gets to the festival. This could keep the PC's interested in completing the trials and incentive to finish and not dawdle.

Dunno. Just my two cents.

Mr. Croop
2011-05-28, 02:55 AM
re: Don Blake

...oh, Liophant, right. His name was Mairsang in life, and he was the mount of Mersa, the fullplate guy in the next temple, general of the division of troops Rein, the woman statue in the remaining temple, was given dominion over. They were sent to recover a fragment of the goddess they were created by, but Rein did not bring it back, she instead used it to give her and Mersa the ability to procreate. They earned peace with their former fellows back by repelling the advance of the first undead emporer, an entity that crawls the flesh of his subjects...his duty is protection...hmmm

2011-05-28, 01:05 PM
I've got something that could work for duty or loyalty, I think.

The PCs are instructed to carry a certain Macguffin through a trap-laden crucible. However, the Macguffin is cursed; when a PC touches it, she and everyone in a certain radius (the size of, say, the entire room) become bound to it and will suffer crippling pain if they move too far from it.

The PCs will have to be made aware of this curse, but only once it's too late, muwahahaha and all that. Perhaps some illusory text on the wall triggered when the Macguffin is touched?

The Macguffin can be passed between PCs without incident; however, the current bearer is weakened either by the curse or just the burden of it ("Who makes an idol out of solid lead?!"). The curse is broken and the tiles appear when the Macguffin is placed on a pedestal at the opposite end of the course.

The course should require tricky maneuvering. Any obstacles, traps or monsters that can potentially push the PCs out of position would be ideal. Basically, the course is designed to try and split up the party; the PCs have to work out ways to stick together despite this.

All I've got for duty, specifically, is that the PCs are faced with imminent danger when they stand on their tiles. An advancing wall of fire, terrible beasts, or what have you. In truth, these are all illusions; to pass the trial, the PCs must hold their ground until their apparent death, at which point the illusions are dispelled.

Yeah, I know, that one's a bit cheesy.

2011-05-28, 03:02 PM
Something that could work for Loyalty:

Party walks into the room for Loyalty and starts the test. Suddenly they are forcefully separated into separate chambers, unable to communicate with each other.

The rooms that they are each in contain a countdown timer of some sort and a group of buttons/runes/activateable entities of some sort. Everyone is told that once the timer reaches 0 they will all be killed. They are also told they can avert this by choosing to sacrifice another member of their party (indicated by the button/rune labeled appropriately). As the timer counts down it becomes more and more ominous (sounds of large deadly objects moving into place, noticeable but not damaging temperature shifts, etc.)

If everyone lets the timer elapse without choosing to sacrifice someone, then they all pass the test.

If person A chooses to sacrifice person B before the timer is up, then person A's chamber will become more hazardous (whether natural hazard causing damage over time, continuously spawning monsters, or something else) until the timer has elapsed. Once the timer has elapsed, everyone will be reunited and told that they failed the test, who is to blame for them failing the test, and who those people wanted to sacrifice.

Whether they should be able to take the test again vs have to make other arrangements, I'm not sure about.

Mr. Croop
2011-05-28, 08:33 PM
oo. MacGuffin. Had to look that up, but it's a nifty term. I'll go with a square kitten block, and across a one-PC-thick bridge over a precipice with a foggy bottom there are five holes, one star-shaped, one round, one pentagonal, triangular, and one square, and the radius outside of which a PC will experience horrible pain is one-person thick...It would be a lot more dramatic if there were more than three people certain to play, but I like it. It looks ridiculously simple at first, but then wupow!...or kushingk, or something like that. That would work well for duty I think.

Then in the loyalty test they must transport a MacDuffin...er, actually I am thinking loyalty introduces them to the capacity of their group tiles to act sorta like psychic walkie talkies. In the main chamber there's a set of rollers with symbols on. Then there's a chamber with a sliding panel inside, the sliding panel only opening when you close the sound proof door. When you open the sound proof door, however, the combination changes...think may have to give them a hint of some sort.

Then in the trial of knowledge there's a gateway into a hall that leads to a door. If someone enters it they get vaporized except for their tiles, which drop, and slide out of the hall again, and revive them if they land on the right floor tile (the tiles are as big as scrabble tiles I shoulda mentioned)...or, perhaps, if they die, they become ghosties, no body remains, but the tiles drop to the ground. The exit itself has a revival floor tile at it's base.

Now to come up wih a bunch of modular math puzzles so that my players will lynch me! Yaaay!!

2011-05-29, 11:33 AM
Getting stuck in immediately, this would be the first portion of a Pathfinder campaign. The PCs have been selected from their various villages to attend a festival in the capitol that occurs only once every 997 years. They each have a tile with their name on, and a tile with the name of the group they need to congregate with (i.e., the other PCs)

They need to earn their passport into the capitol, however, and the earning involves three trials....

Why? What is their purpose? Does everybody have to earn a passport in this manner? Who is running the trials? I would assume the "once every 997 years" mean that the PC's are The Chosen Ones (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheChosenOne), but chosen for what?

This is the begininng of the campaign, so have you given huttj509s question enough thought. "What happens if the PC does not figure out a puzzle/trial?" DM rule 1; no plan/plot/adventure survives contact with the players, they will do what you least expect. They will roll that 20 on a save you wanted/needed them to fail. They will roll a 1 to save when you need them to save. They will ignore the BIG sign "Plot hook this way" and instead follow the throw-away fluff text you threw in just for flavor. Players are like that.

Mr. Croop
2011-05-29, 01:27 PM
*in tone of jovial, faux offense* Bah! I know that, but in order for my plans to be foiled there need to be plans first! I can't go around doubting every design I make just because what can go wrong will go wrong. I know what players are like. Not like I haven't been doing this sort of thing for years...

...On the other hand, it's a good question. You did make me think up a better answer: How far you get in the tests determines the quality of accommodations, the ilk of jobs they get once inside, and the proximity their seats are in the arena. It's not absolutely necessary to pass any of the tests...just if they don't pass any of the tests they will be directed to a flophouse to sleep in, sent to a drunk bugbear for work, who will send them on tasks as high-class as investigating why the sewer is backing up for several blocks in the slum(clog of dead dire rats), and they will have to sit on the wall round the coliseum when it's time for the demigods to awake.

They are chosen, but they're one group of thousands. They are potential vessels for a fragment of one of a group of rival demigods. Who gets the fragments is determined during a contest in the coliseum, and getting the fragments means you will be the font from which the demigods dispense governance for the next 997 years. It was all worked out in a treaty 12 cycles ago. The fragments remains awake, while the rest of each demigod remains dormant/busy bellow the city, keeping a fragment of Leviathan dormant. Each capitol of the 11 nations has one piece of Leviathan to guard, excepting the scale, and the eye that went to the bottom of the briny with the goddess of the red rain...

2011-05-29, 03:13 PM
1st trial: the giant lion with tusks becomes their best bud (after a series of quests, depending on how long you want it to last). They realize it makes encounters much easier as it is a powerful ally to have. However, their duty is to turn it into the empire or whatever you call it. It is very tempting to keep.

2nd trial: Loyalty. After a serious of quests they realize the armor on the statue is sentient and quite powerful. But either before it started or the armor actually talking it is said that the amazing armor belongs to X (whoever they're supposed to be loyal to). If they give back the armor then they have proven themselves loyal.

3rd trial: knowledge. Huh? No idea what ya mean with this one.

2011-05-30, 11:12 AM
Trials (in the 'proving your worth' sense, not the legal sense) are a tricky thing to go with, because often you'll want the plot to continue even if the PCs aren't honourable enough to pass the trial of honour. So I'd say that when, for example, you're designing a trial of bravery, your goal as a designer is not to make it a 100% perfect test of the participants' bravery: it's to make it an interesting encounter for the players. Otherwise, someone playing a cowardly character will end up having to choose between not playing his character properly or derailing the party's progress through your plot.

So I would say the best kind of a trial is the kind that your players can cheat on, and the best way to do that is to introduce the human factor: rather than testing them with animated statues of your gods, test them with important acolytes in ritual costumes -- acolytes who they can manipulate or bluff or blackmail into letting them through as an alternative to passing the test.

The other option is to make it so that the players face an ordeal, not a trial: a harrowing experience that impresses upon them the importance of courage, rather than testing the participants' courage: put them in a setup where acolytes of your gods come at them with fear illusions cast on them, and the door made up to look like an escape route actually dumps whoever flees through it into a pit of mud (maybe containing actual monsters, depending on how messed up the city they're trying to get into is). That way you can't "fail" the test: you either show no fear and are fine, or show fear and get attacked/humiliated, but either way you walk out of it a citizen.

The other other option, if you're struggling for inspiration on one of the tests, is to let the players do all the hard work for you! Simply have the statue animate, draw its sword, and demand in a booming voice of each PC that he describe one time when he did his duty. That way you get each player to come up with an interesting bit of his character's backstory, and they get to choose how they go about impressing this statue.

2011-05-30, 04:37 PM
for loyalty....each pc enters a room alone
after a bit of time the players lord/father/high priest whatever enters
actually an illusion/crafted golem/etc so good there is basically no save

the lord says they have a very important task for the pc and when he gives an order they must immediately follow it no matter how distasteful, and get acknowledgement of this from the pc

lord then orders pc to kill him

what does the pc do?