So, puzzles.

So, puzzles.

So, puzzles. How do you run them? I know one of the principles is “Address the characters, not the players”, but let’s face it, “When you try to solve the SKELETONS PUZZLE, roll +int, on a 10+, you solve it, on a 7-9, you solve it but take time” is… kind of dull.

Part of me is tempted to just present the puzzle as is to the players, and let them solve it, but use character moves (“What here is useful to me? What here is not what it seems?”) as appropriate? Any success with that? Or anyone ever come up with a more exciting and engaging character-addressing custom move for puzzle-type challenges?

8 thoughts on “So, puzzles.”

  1. I just say “here’s the puzzle, figure it out” and when they say “but my character is SO SMART” I say “okay, Spout Some lore” 

    On a 10+ they get a hint.  On a 7-9 they get some maybe-useful trivia.

  2. Sort of what I was thinking, yeah. With the possibility of discerning realities, as well. Or any other move! “Have to solve the puzzle to advance, huh? Fuck that noise. BEND BARS LIFT GATES TO THE RESCUE ONCE AGAIN.” The wizard sighs, his attempts to make his intellect useful thwarted once again.

  3. Not a fan of puzzles myself. Though I know it appeals to some players, I can’t get over the fact that if I wanted to figure out a puzzle I would have found a puzzle to figure out instead of getting together with a group of friends to role play.

    In the same vain, card games, board games, and video games have no place in my rpgs. They don’t seem interesting enough to warrant the spotlight of the fiction.

    So, in answer to the question how do I run puzzles? I don’t.

  4. How can you determine the difficiculty like that. Before anyone Spouts Lore you have to present the riddle to them so that they have something to think about. When you have presented the riddle you can’t change it again. 

  5. I suspect most people saying they don’t like puzzles are saying they don’t like riddles or similar puzzles which tend to rely on analytical thinking. A good puzzle would be a bit of a challenge for the party, has more than one solution, and anyone could contribute. Figuring out what to do shouldn’t be too hard, but figuring out how to do it may be a challenge. In that sense, with a  loose definition of “puzzle,” people deal with puzzles all the time without complaining.

    Putting puzzles to give something extra if solved to reward extra effort is good, but I’d caution against using puzzles that are required to be solved before proceeding unless they’re very simple. 

  6. Another thing to consider is difficulty curve. Introduce new elements slowly, one at a time. A simple puzzle might be how to get up on a ledge and they need to move something over so they can reach. Anyone should be able to solve that. Next time it’s heavy and requires everyone to push to get it moving. Maybe next time the “stepping-stone” is in the next room instead. With a minimal learning curve everyone should be comfortable with trying to solve your puzzles. Again, take care about requiring puzzles solving before progress can be made unless you’re willing to let them roll for it.

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