Brain Tickling | 5e Puzzles
By Claire Martin
These free 5e puzzles will give your players something unique and interesting to do in your next game session. Feel free to customize these 5e puzzles to suit you and your players' playstyles.
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The Tunnel of Love
A long tunnel stretches into pitch-black obscurity. The ground slopes down at its mouth, the rocky surface descending beneath inky water. A soft knocking echoes through the tunnel, the sound of tiny wavelets hitting the hull of a heart-shaped boat. The wooden vessel floats by the water's edge, hosting one bench that can comfortably sit two.
The heart-shaped boat is meant for two but can cram up to six people into it. The boat does not appear to be anchored to anything, but no amount of rowing, paddling, or pushing will move the dinghy forward. The inky water is dangerous. If anyone tries to swim through it, they will take 1d6 poison damage for every round they remain in the water. If a character tries to fly through the tunnel, they will disappear into the darkness and reappear back at the mouth, as if they had turned around. If a character attempts to teleport into the tunnel, they will appear in the darkness and hit the water with a splash. They will be able to swim forward, which will take them back to the mouth of the cave, 100 feet away.
The boat is enchanted to move forward through the tunnel as though pulled by an invisible rope, but the movement will only be triggered if two or more people are sitting on the bench and holding hands with each other. Other people sitting or standing in other areas of the boat will not affect this trigger. The vessel will cease to advance if the two characters let go of each other's hand. The boat will safely transport them to the opposite side of the tunnel.
DC 11 Wisdom (Perception). It looks like the boat used to have a coat of paint on its exterior, but most of it has peeled away, leaving only a few flecks of pink and red.
DC 13 Wisdom (Nature). The inky black water doesn't look friendly and inviting. Dead flies float on its surface.
DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana). This boat is enchanted to move forward once certain conditions have been met. The type of condition is unclear; it could be a password, an offering, a button, etc.
DC 16 Wisdom (Perception). Someone has carved an inscription into the boat's hull that reads “G + C.” The inscription is surrounded by an arrow-pierced heart.
Customizing the Puzzle
This puzzle can be thrown into any cave, underground dungeon, or abandoned carnival. It could also be the entrance to a palace designed by a king as a gift for his wife or a similar structure dedicated to his loved one.
Lowering the Difficulty. For a little less pressure, the water is not toxic and will not hurt those who touch it. If an adventurer attempts to swim down the tunnel, they will still find themselves swimming back to the entrance.
Raising the Difficulty. As an extra trigger, the boat will not start down the tunnel until two or more people sitting on the bench are holding hands and have exchanged a kiss. It is up to the game master's discretion if this needs to be a kiss on the lips or if a kiss on the cheek or the hand would suffice.
Courage, Fear, and Folly
Three marble statues guard three alcoves in the wall. The first statue depicts a roaring lion. A plaque above its alcove reads: “In times of adversity, I may be chosen, but I cannot exist without the raven.” The second statue depicts a giant raven in flight. The plaque above its alcove reads: “The tormentor of the lion and absent from the jester, I can paralyze, attack, or take flight.” The third statue depicts a man in a jester costume. The plaque above its alcove reads: “I do not heed the raven, and although I resemble the lion, I have no need for it.” Each statue also has a title inscribed into the base; the lion is called “Allegory,” the raven is called “Aero,” and the jester is called “Cuff.”
Each statue has eight available slots. Upon closer inspection, each letter in the statue's name is a single tile that can be removed from its slot and inserted into other slots like scrabble pieces. There are 16 total letter tiles: A, A, C, E, E, F, F, G, L, L, O, O, R, R, U, Y.
To solve the puzzle, the statue names must be unscrambled and returned to their proper places. The inscriptions above the alcoves give clues to the solution. The raven's ability to “paralyze, attack, or take flight” refers to the “freeze, fight, or flight” response to “Fear.” The lion refers to a choice that comes in response to fear, so it is named “Courage.” And lastly, the jester resembles courage but takes no notice of fear, and therefore is “Folly.” Once all three names are inserted correctly, the lion statue rotates on itself, revealing a secret door in its alcove.
DC 13 Wisdom (Perception). The statue names are made up of letter tiles that can be removed from their slots.
DC 14 Wisdom (Insight). It seems as though both the shape of the statue and their corresponding inscription might indicate their title.
DC 15 Intelligence (History). The three statues hold much symbolism. The lion represents majesty, strength, and justice. The raven is seen as an ill omen, symbolizing loss. The jester has dual symbolism, often depicted as the voice of common sense and honesty in stories but also representing silliness.
Customizing the Puzzle
These statues can be found in a mansion, guarding a secret passageway or a hidden room.
Lowering the Difficulty. To make this puzzle a little easier, adjust the number of slots available in each statue according to the length of the corresponding title. So, the lion statue would only have seven slots, the raven would only have four slots, and the jester statue would only have five slots. This would let the characters know how many letters are in each word.
Raising the Difficulty. For some added danger, any incorrect submission will have negative consequences for the character who inserted the last letter. Any wrong answer on the lion statue will result in the guesser taking 1d10 fire damage. Any incorrect answer on the raven statue will cause the guesser to suffer the effects of the fear spell. Any wrong answer on the jester will cause the guesser to suffer the effects of the vicious mockery cantrip.
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