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View Full Version : DM Help I need questions/puzzles with insane answers



PhoenixPhyre
2019-04-04, 07:31 AM
So one potential place some PCs will be going is a pocket realm inhabited by a very crazy being. This being should appear sane, but everything should be a little wrong. The theme is surface order with lurking insanity/chaos.

The environment is a series of floating islands (in the Astral Sea) connected by hard-light bridges. To cross each bridge, you have to answer a question. Think Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail "Bridge of Doom" scene. I want these questions to appear serious, but allow any answer as long as it doesn't make sense. You heard right--the only wrong answers are the ones with valid reasoning and logic. This will get foreshadowed (or revealed outright if they choose a certain option at an earlier stage of the quest), but if not revealed I expect them to fail a few times. The penalties for failure will start out small and grow as they fail more of them. This all leads up to a central encounter (possibly combat depending on how they handle things) and a McGuffin.

But what I need are questions. Preferably ones with a clear right (now wrong) answer. The goal is to be both a bit silly and pretty unsettling.

Questions so far:
What is your name?
What is your quest?
What is your favorite color?
What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
Who's buried in Grant's tomb (substituting "Grant" for an in-universe name)
What color was George Washington's white horse?
??

Penalties
You turn [random color] for an hour.
Save or can only lie for an hour.
Save or you think everyone else is lying for an hour.
Save or exhaustion (5e D&D version).
Explosive runes! (one of my favorites)
Save or transformed into <creature> for an hour, as per polymorph.
??

Altair_the_Vexed
2019-04-04, 07:58 AM
How about some simple versions of some classic puzzles?

E.g.: The fox, grain, chicken and canoe puzzle. (https://riddlesbrainteasers.com/fox-chicken-sack-grain/).. or ...
Get 4 pints into this container, using only these 5 pint and 3 pint jugs. (https://www.quora.com/You-have-a-3-gallon-jug-and-5-gallon-jug-how-do-you-measure-out-exactly-4-gallons)
...etc

The players may remember the usual answers, or they may try to work them out, or they may demand an Intelligence skill test - but the right answer is "wrong".

If you start with a couple of ones like this, they'll be a bit confused - but when you give them more blatantly bizarre questions (like "What is your name?"), you'll start to reveal the pattern to them.
It could work to help make the players feel they've beaten the trick.

Oh, and I'd personally shy away from relatively large damage like Explosive Runes - stick with something near trivial, but consequential: 1d6 damage will use up healing resources, and make them pay attention, but you're unlikely to kill anyone by an accident of the dice.

Pauly
2019-04-04, 08:10 AM
Classic Dad jokes.

Like
How do you put a Giraffe into a refrigerator?
Open the door, put the giraffe in then close the door.
How do you put an a Elephant into a refrigerator?
Incorrect Answer - open the, put in the elephant, close the door
Correct answer open the door, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant, close the door.
[insert 2 pr 3 random Dad jokes]
The Lion, king of the jungle has a party and invites all the animals. Only one animal doesnít come. Which one and why?
The Elephant because heís still in the refrigerator.
[insert another series of Dad Jokes]
You come to a wide river that is home to many crocodiles in the Jungle. You have to cross but there are no boats or bridges. It is too far to cross using trees. How do you cross safely?
Jump in and swim. All the crocodiles are at the Lionís Birthday party.

The Kool
2019-04-04, 08:16 AM
Penalties
For these, the 3.5 SRD has some neat drawbacksin the cursed magic item section that are wonderfully applicable. A few of my favorites, and ideas inspired by them and other sources:
Hair color, skin color, eye color, gear color, etc (try using this color randomizer: http://randomcolour.com/)
Vision is blurry
Height, weight, hair length, voice, race, or gender change
becomes obsessive about something in their possession... or not in their possession?
Character is constantly hot or cold
Character punches self in the face every time they do X (say 'what', tell a truth, etc)

Depending on the group, the cosmetic changes may mean little to nothing. But I feel like it's going to be played up in a situation like this.

Segev
2019-04-04, 09:50 AM
"A train leaves Seattle at 10 am going 55 mph. Another train is scheduled to arrive on the same track at 10:10 am and is coming from the opposite direction at 100 mph. At what distance from Seattle will they crash head-on?"

The "wrong" answer is to actually calculate that distance. The "right" answers are: "What's a train?" "Where's Seattle?" or anything else that reveals the PCs aren't breaking the fourth wall.


"Choose your bridge carefully. One leads where you wish to go; the other to certain embarassment. We can tell you which is which, but one of us always lies, and the other always tells the truth. You may ask us one, and only one, question."

The lies are that the guardians always have a given truth state to their statements. Both can lie and both can tell the truth, and are enormous trolls. Possibly literally as well as figuratively. Also, both bridges lead to certain embarassment, but one leads back to where they started, and which is which randomly changes. And the place they want to go has identical-looking guardians.


"Whisper my name in darkness."

The trick to doing this one right is to be very pedantic and almost RP-esq about it. Put yourself in pitch darkness and whisper, "I whisper your name in darkness." Tell anybody who does this (whether this really is the right or the wrong answer) that they think they hear somebody reply, and give them periodic hints that they feel like they're being followed.


"The key is hidden in one of the chests in this room." The room is full of mimics, real treasure chests, and a bunch of french maids dusting everything and moving things around so that it's hard to tell which chests they've actually dealt with. The maids gradually reduce in number when the PCs aren't looking, with at least an implication that the mimics might be eating them. The only key is on a necklace burried in the decoletage of one of the maids (who will not disappear).

The key doesn't actually open anything.


"How many chests did you grope to get here?" Whether they count the number of actual treasure chests they searched, include the mimics or not, count only the maids' chests they searched, or count some combination, the claimed right answer will be one of the other ways of interpreting the question. This may be asked by a guardian who claims to be the overprotective butler who is there to protect the maids('s virtue). Alternatively, a clear pimp or madam who wants to charge them for the liberties they may or may not have taken.


A tiefling dressed up like Mephistopheles insists they sign a contract in blood that clearly states, "I willingly trade my soul for passage," before they can cross. If they sign and don't offer some pun-based solution (like a shoe they're wearing), or some other soul they've already collected and are willing to trade away, the Tiefling will show up periodically to mock them for being condemned to Hell, and suggest that they indulge in various sins and pecadillos. "May as well enjoy it while you can; no amount of do-gooding will get you into the upper planes now!"

He is, of course, lying; the contract has no actual legal nor metaphysical weight, and cannot be enforced.


The Red Queen challenges the PCs to a race, promising that only the first to get to the other side will actually get to cross. During the race, the queen taunts them, banters, seems to gain and lose ground as appropriate. Keep this up until the players ask how much longer they have to run. Then point out that they haven't actually gotten onto the bridge yet. Only if they stop and let the queen run off "should" they find that she's run to the side that they were on before, but now they're on the far side. (Again, whether this works or not based on your lack-of-logic puzzles is up to you.)


Whenever they profess or confess ignorance, drop green goop on them. If they've answered wrong enough times, this goop is an actual Green Slime. (Credit given to "You Can't Do That On Television" for the concept.)

Durandu Ran
2019-04-05, 02:06 PM
What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?

How many roads must a man walk down?

What do you get when you multiply six by nine?

What have I got in my pockets?

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Am I a man who dreams of being a butterfly, or a butterfly who dreams of being a man?

What, metaphorically speaking, walks on four legs just after midnight, on two legs (barring accidents), until at least suppertime, when it continues to walk on two legs or with any prosthetic aids of its choice?

Open-ended philosophical questions might be fun too, like

What is truth?

What is beauty?

What is updog?

The Kool
2019-04-05, 02:17 PM
But what I need are questions. Preferably ones with a clear right (now wrong) answer.

I feel like people are missing this detail, so I'll suggest a few.

How long is this bridge?
What color is the sky?
What happened to the last person who answered this question wrong? (Ok this doesn't have a clear answer, but if you put it late in the list they'll already know the shtick and it'll be fun to see what they say)

Gallowglass
2019-04-05, 03:08 PM
Penalties...
Save or can only lie for an hour....

wouldn't this have the side effect of making them pass every challenge after it?

"What color is a white horse?"

/lying/ "Teal!" /lying/

"You pass!"

Malphegor
2019-04-09, 05:59 AM
There are thirty-three horses on the hilltop, tied by a rope to a carriage.
One falls down, the rest go too, what remains?

(The initial answer most would think is the carriage, but the horses likely would have pulled it down. Plus nothing's actually 'gone', the dead horses and carriage are a bloody mess and the hilltop remains, so the answer is 'everything')

Segev
2019-04-09, 10:35 AM
I feel like people are missing this detail, so I'll suggest a few.


I think the trouble people are having with this detail is that it seems to make answering trivial after the first couple of "right" (wrong) answers. Heck, it means that if the party tries anything BUT the obvious right answer, they are treated as right, which means random guessing and any train of logic they care to come up with that avoids the obvious right answer will be treated as right.

It does make bypassing it easy, I suppose, once anybody in the party says, "It's never the obvious answer." Some parties might twist themselves into logical pretzels to come up with insightful, koan-like answers, and get it right every time. Others will start guessing, or be stymied because they're too afraid to guess. Only the last group's really going to be stopped.



As to questions which might SOUND deeply philosophical, but are really blatantly obvious to the point of overly simple and thus the only "wrong" answer (which is the true right one) can be of the form:

The speaker pulls out an apple and holds it in his open hand. "What is this?" Replace "apple" with anything you want. Obviously, the truthful answer is, "an apple" (or whatever the thing is), and thus any pseudo-philosophical tripe will due as the "pass the test" answer.
The speaker points at the most obviously valuable item any of the PCs are carrying. "May I have that?"
They can answer "yes" or "no," and as long as they either don't give it to him (if they said "yes"), or do give it to him (if they said "no"), they pass.
"Who is the wisest among you?"
This one might be a cheat, because its answer IS straight-forward: it's whoever has the highest Wisdom score. So answering anybody but that member of the party will pass. But how would the party know wisdom scores? Maybe they've RP'd well enough. Maybe not. For this purpose, though, that makes this question work for the "answer wrong" test.
"Do I know you better than you know yourself?"
The truthful answer is "no." This questioner has no special knowledge about anybody, and probably hasn't even met the party before. But it sounds philosophical or a question on the nature of this being, and the passing answer is "yes" due to it not being true.
"Where were you born?"
Simple enough. As long as they say anything but a location which really describes their physical birthplace, they pass.
May, however, lead the party to twisty questions on what it means to "be born."
Potential problems if the magical questioner can't divine the true answer or whether the PCs are telling the truth or not.
Where do you want to go?
Any answer which doesn't amount to "past this obstacle" or "to our goal [which is past this obstacle]" is passing.
After crossing a moat: "Why are you wet?" (whether they are or not)
If they're not wet, any answer is passing, except for "we're not [wet]."
If they are wet, then any answer that isn't "because we swam/fell into/crossed the moat" is passing, since the denotative answer is that they got into the moat and thus got wet.
To a cleric or other obvious holy man whose symbology is obvious: "What do you worship?"
Anything other than his god/faith is a passing answer. Of course, unless he's convined himself he's confessing a grave sin in holding something else above his god, he's probaby in an ethical and moral crisis over possibly denying his god if he gives the passing answer.
If he's lying about who he worships, whether claiming he worships the god he pretends to passes or fails depends on whether the question-grading entity/force/whatever has the capacity to know the truth or not. If it knows he's lying, it'll pass him. If it thinks he's telling the truth, it'll fail him.
"How much for the halfling?"
Replace "halfling" with any other identifying trait that singles out one party member, preferably a PC. Bonus points if it implies a creepy interest.
The passing answer is any value at all, provided, when the questioner offers them that value, they do not accept it. Or, "He's not for sale" will pass if, when offered a large sum, they sell the character in question.
"What did you have for your last meal?"
They should remember the truthful, and thus failing answer. This one only works if the answer-grader has means of knowing the truth. In any event, if they haven't figured out yet that any untrue answer passes, they may spend a lot of time trying to determine the hidden meaning. Is it a question about what they will eat just before they die? Is it something more esoteric?

Is 'I don't know?' a passing or failing answer to any question they really don't know the answer to?