8 Ways To Use Riddles
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0798
I have rivers without water,
Forests without trees,
Mountains without rocks
Towns without houses.
I love riddles. You’ve probably got a book of riddles on your shelf, too. But when your campaign or adventure theme does not support classic dungeon riddle play, how do you put riddles in your campaign? Here are a few ideas.
(The answer to the riddle above is at the bottom of this post.)
Passwords For Magical Locks
Riddles are like stories. And we are great at remembering stories.
For example, solve five riddles and then try to solve them again the next day. Easy, right? Now, read five telephone numbers and try to remember those the next day! Good luck.
So, imagine you’re a wizard or thieves’ guild with lots of places and things to lock up. Keys work, but it’s tough allowing several people access because each must have a key. But protect access with a magic lock and riddle, and you’ve got a simple password system. Change riddles periodically to keep security fresh.
Passwords For Guards
The captain has a quirk. He loves riddles.
So instead of the standard password challenge-response that changes each shift, the guards must use riddles.
Rebels use riddle graffiti to prod the people.
Instead of art, they paint riddles on walls and surfaces. The answers are ways of calling out collaborators, insulting the establishment, or coordinating actions and meetings.
NPC Needs An Answer
Imagine an NPC finding a riddle and hiring the PCs to solve it.
The source might be a text, a map, or a challenge from a rival.
Bonus points here if the PCs must investigate persons, places, and things to understand the clues. Once the clues make sense, then the PCs can work on unravelling the riddle itself.
The only thing better than a bard Vicious Mockery contest is a bard riddle contest.
Get the whole party involved. Turn it into a tavern game, tournament game, feast challenge, or bardic college entry test.
Before TV, people used riddles for entertainment.
Titillate the host with cunning wordplay. Perhaps the PCs must ask or answer a clever riddle to help an attitude adjustment role. Roleplaying + riddles for the win!
In medieval times, crafters would write their manufacturing processes as riddles. A great way to document important knowledge while keeping outsiders confused. For example, here’s one about bees’ role in mead.
What if the secret for a new kind of arrow or potion is hidden in several riddles now lost in various ruins across the region?
Another possible use for riddles is to use the riddle text as a form of code.
For example, the first letter of the first word of each line might spell the actual clue. While people are amused and diverted with solving the riddle, the real value is the secret keyword that has other uses.
How about you? Have you found good ways to use riddles in your games? Comment below and let me know!
New Campaign Logger Feature: Custom Link Colours
Note: This feature is out now for the Web App. The other apps will be updated with this in the future.
When you tag a person, place, thing, or other piece of your campaign in Campaign Logger, it automatically creates a link for it.
Think of it like a wiki. Each tag is a standalone page with all its related notes listed. You can further search, filter and edit any of the Log Entries.
However, instead of the hassle of having to create a new page, find its URL, go back to your original entry, and wrap a link around your word, you just use a tag. @Johnn for example. The at sign is the tag, and it’s instantly a linked page, saving you a ton of time.
Further, there are 10 types of tags you can use. Plus lots of hacks to create unlimited ways to organise your campaign notes and session logs. In this way, you have ultimate control over your game’s details.
We’ve just added a small feature to tags. And it’s one we think will help usability a lot.
You can now give a custom colour to each of your 10 tag types.
This will help you skim your notes even faster.
For example, NPCs might be orange, factions blue, treasure and rewards gold, and session tracking red:
To access and change all your tag colours, click the cog tool on the top right of a Campaign Log screen.
Then click the Change Preferences button.
An overlay will appear with all your tag preferences. You can type or paste in a hex code, or use the colour selector to choose your tag colours.
A minor new feature to Campaign Logger, but one we hope you’ll find valuable.
More features are in development.
Have a great day and let me know about your riddles!