Lions and Tigers and Puzzles, Oh My! | 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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Lions and Tigers and Puzzles, Oh My!
Recipe for an Idea
A golden statue of a man sits on the edge of a rock, hunching pensively over a piece of parchment in his hands. A puzzled expression is carved into his features. The parchment reads: “A problem to solve, a pinch of knowledge, a hint of culture, and a spark of imagination.”
Although the parchment and the statue itself cannot be moved, the top of the man's head can be opened like a jewelry box, revealing a bowl-shaped hollow where a person's brain would be. At the bottom of the bowl is a tiny grate, giving a small peek into the statue's insides, which is stuffed with straw.
This puzzle is forgiving, as it plays primarily on the creativity of the characters. The parchment indicates a list of items that need to be assembled into the statue's head. The items’ specificity isn't as crucial as their link to the themes. “A problem to solve” could be interpreted as a math problem, a broken item, or the name of an enemy written on a piece of paper. “A pinch of knowledge” could be interpreted as a book, a scroll, or a secret. “A hint of culture” could be construed as artwork, an instrument, or a seed. The last component, “a spark of imagination,” will need to produce an actual spark with flint and steel or a spell. This will catch the straw on fire and begin to “cook” the recipe for an idea.
DC 12 Wisdom (Perception). There is a small hinge at the back of the statue's head and a thin indentation that runs like a circlet around its forehead.
DC 14 Intelligence (Investigation). A few words are inscribed on the back of the parchment. They read: “A Recipe for an Idea.”
DC 16 Wisdom (Perception). The statue makes a deep hollow sound when knocked or hit with something.
DC 15 Wisdom (Insight). The inscription on the parchment is reminiscent of a list of ingredients.
Customizing the Puzzle
This puzzle statue could be guarding a secret entrance or compartment. When solved, it could slide to the side, revealing an opening in the floor.
Lowering the Difficulty. To make this puzzle a little easier, consider placing the ingredients required for the recipe near the statue, so the characters do not have to surrender any of their items.
Raising the Difficulty. For a more difficult puzzle, have the ingredients list refer to specific non-magical items the characters carry. If they put other non-magical items into the statue's head, those items will produce red smoke, while the correct items will produce green smoke.
There’s No Place Like Home
Difficulty: very hard
The air is stale and musty in this empty room of rock. No doors or windows to be found; it's like an enclosed box. On each of the four walls, there are notes scrawled out in chalk and charcoal:
- Kaffir Lily
Wall 2 (must be the East wall)
- Love's antithesis
- This direction
- One of the seven deadly sins
- She never tells
- The direction 90 degrees clockwise
- A + B = C
- D + E = I
- F + G = M
- E + O = ?
- B + F = ?
- F x C = ?
- = ?
- L – G = ?
- 53 W I ⊥
There are leftover pieces of chalk and charcoal on the ground so the characters can doodle or write on the walls. They are magically stuck in this mini escape room until they solve the puzzle. An antimagic field affects them while they are trapped here, which negates any magical attempts to teleport but still allows for other spells and magical effects.
Each wall holds a piece of the puzzle, the answer being one five-letter word, for a total of four words. The first wall is the simplest and sets a precedent for the other walls. The answer is to gather the initial of each flower listed, which yields the word “CLICK.”
The second wall follows the same concept but makes it more challenging by not directly referring to the correct words. “Love's antithesis” is “hate.” “This direction” is “east” (the wall is facing east). “One of the seven deadly sins” will need to be filled in last by narrowing down the options based on the rest of the words, but the correct answer is “envy.” “She never tells” is “lady.” And “the direction 90 degrees clockwise” is “south.” By gathering those initials, the second wall's word is “HEELS.”
The third wall brings in some basic math. Each letter corresponds to a number based on its position in the alphabet. The first equations are samples to demonstrate that A (1) + B (2) = C (3) and so on. It can then be deduced that E (5) + O (15) = T (20), B (2) + F (6) = H (8), F (6) x C (3) = R (18), (25) = E (5), and L (12) - G (7) = E (5). By gathering these letters, the third wall's word is “THREE.”
Finally, the fourth wall breaks the mold and needs to be viewed from a different angle. By looking at the numbers, letters, and strange symbols upside down, they will spell out “TIMES.”
To escape the room, the characters must “CLICK HEELS THREE TIMES.” Doing so will provide them with an opening or transport them out of the room.
DC 13 Wisdom (Survival). The first wall faces north, the second wall faces east, the third wall faces south, and the fourth wall faces west.
DC 14 Wisdom (Perception). There have been previous captives in this room. Most of it has been wiped away, but faded scribblings of chalk linger across the second wall. They read: “Indifference? Right? Left? Lust? Gluttony? Secret? Lie?”
DC 16 Intelligence (Investigation). The fourth wall holds a faint outline of an arrow pointing toward the floor. A rectangle is drawn around the arrow.
DC 18 Intelligence (Investigation). Nearly invisible on the third wall, all the letters of the alphabet are scribbled out, with marks beneath each letter. Beneath the “A” is “I,” beneath “B” is “II,” and beneath “C” is “III.” Anything after that is illegible.
Customizing the Puzzle
This puzzle can be integrated into any dungeon, puzzle house, or dream sequence. The characters can also be sent here as a test or a punishment by an antagonist who can't be bothered to deal with them.
Lowering the Difficulty. To give the characters a little nudge in the right direction, have pieces of the puzzle already partially answered by previous adventurers. This could look like an initial on the first wall being circled, the word “Envy?” placed next to “one of the seven deadly sins,” or one of the letter equations on the third wall already being solved.
Raising the Difficulty. For added pressure, place a time limit on this puzzle room. The walls are slowly closing in. They have 10 minutes to solve this and escape before one of them is crushed.
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