This page is a stub. Please expand on it if you have good ideas for how to use riddles, codes, and puzzles in gaming.
Game and Story Use
- Riddles are fun, and a classic part of the genre. Remember Bilbo and Gollum? Remember all those old D&D modules with the weird riddle-and-trap-laden dungeons?
- Some players just hate riddles (and/or puzzles, or brain-teasers, or at least ones that don't have immediate practical applications and real-world solutions). If you have such a player in your game, you may need to consider either not including riddles in your campaign, or allowing that person to just make an intelligence check to solve the riddle in-character without doing the work out-of-character. Don't set yourself up for frustration by building an elaborate puzzle that the players aren't willing to (or capable of) solving. It won't make anyone happy.
- Can get very meta if the player best at solving riddles happens to be playing a fighter with the IQ of tofu. Likewise when the superhumanly intelligent wizard is baffled by a simple number puzzle that logically he should be able to solve in his head. This sort of thing flies immediately counter to all attempts at role-playing and separating player and character knowledge and personality.
- Stuck trying to get your players to solve a riddle or puzzle? Give them a hint… but be sparing.. for example, one or two letters at a time. Small changes in the puzzle can weaken it enough to make it obvious. Something I noticed from solving cryptograms is that the first couple of letters in a hundred letter messages take about half my time…and most of the puzzle crumbles within a minute of figuring out seven or eight of the letters involves.