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"My challenge has made men throughout time stumble,
I have defeated kings and left wise men humble,
You see me now, but I am most often heard,
and have killed men when with bullets paired,
You might break a sweat when fighting with me,
but I'll exert no pressure on your body,
a with a direct approach you can never find victory,
work laterally rather than literally.
What am I?"
Well, if you didn't guess it based on the subject of this post then I think maybe there is no hope for you. It's a riddle!
Preparing for a session can take a load of time. Riddles are a great way to challenge your players without any extra preparation from you. Depending on how hard the riddle is, you might create 30 minutes of engaged head scratching by your players.
Dungeons and Dragons is replete with troublesome Trolls and worrying Wizards. While your party might have the tendency murder-hobo their way through an encounter, a riddle can stop them in their tracks and make them think!
So, here are 25 great riddles to spice up your Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
"What always runs but never walks.
Often murmurs, never talks.
Has a bed but never sleeps.
An open mouth that never eats?"
I really love this riddle. It's really challenging if you haven't heard it before but is totally logical so when you get it the penny drops in a satisfying way. The answer is an element of nature so it would fit in great for a fantasy or historical setting. You could have it asked by an aquatic creature ask the question to allow the part to ford a river or even have it inscribed on a door and, when the party get the answer, the door opens only to release a torrent of water which has been held back. The answer for this riddle is a river.
"I don’t have eyes,
But once I did see.
I once had thoughts,
Now white and empty."
This one is a little morbid (literally). But that might make it perfect for a more creepy campaign setting or session. Or perhaps just in a Shakepeare-esk "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio.” kind of scene. Depending how literary inclined you and your party might be. Or in true Dungeons and Dragons style, a dragon could use the riddle to toy with the party all while lounging atop a pile of the bones of his previous would-be vanquishers. A skull is the answer and many are the ways which you could weave it into a fantasy campaign.
"Bright as diamonds,
Loud as thunder,
A thing of wonder."
The subject of this riddle has always been fixating to many people over the ages. Part of many mythologies and legends. I've often wondered what it is about it which resonates so intrinsically with us that people will pilgrimage hundreds of miles just to look at it. Needless to say that the answer to this riddle, a waterfall, can easily be tied into a non-combat encounter to add some mythological depth to your session and get your players brains ticking.
"My life can be measured in hours,
I only serve to be devoured.
Slim, I am quick.
Fat, I am slow.
Wind is my foe."
You can hear the water droplets rhythmically hitting the ground as you and your party continue into the cave. As you leave warmth of daylight for the cold embrace of the Underdark, a thick darkness surrounds you and your adventuring fellows. Suddenly, all of your light sources snuff out and a women's voice whispers a riddle.
The group readies itself for an attack but before it comes a party member blurts out "A candle!" Instantly, a single candle lights revealing the face of your questioner.
What is it that given one,
you’ll have either two or none?
~ A choice
If you drop me, I’m sure to crack.
Give me a smile, and I’ll always smile back.
~ A mirror
Never resting, never still.
Moving silently from hill to hill.
It does not walk, run or trot.
All is cool where it is not.
A father’s child,
a mother’s child,
yet no one’s son.
Who am I?
~ The daughter
What has cities, but no houses;
forests, but no trees;
and water, but no fish?
~ A map
Pronounced as one letter,
And written with three,
Two letters there are,
And two only in me.
I’m double, I’m single, I’m black, blue, and grey,
I’m read from both ends,
And the same either way.
The cost of making only the maker knows,
Valueless if bought, but sometimes traded.
A poor man may give one as easily as a king.
When one is broken pain and deceit are assured.
~ A Promise
I am born in fear,
raised in truth,
and I come to my own in deed.
When comes a time that I’m called forth,
I come to serve the cause of need.
What falls but never breaks? What breaks but never falls?
~ Night and Day
What goes through a door but never goes in or comes out?
~ A keyhole
What does man love more than life
Fear more than death or mortal strife
What the poor have, the rich lack, and what contented men desire,
What the miser spends and the spendthrift saves
And all men carry to their graves?
Three lives have I.
Gentle enough to soothe the skin,
Light enough to caress the sky,
Hard enough to crack rocks.
~ I am Water
Often held but never touched,
always wet but never rusts,
often bites but seldom bit,
to use me well you must have wit.
What is it that you ought to keep after you have given it to someone else?
~ Your word
Man walks over, man walks under, in times of war he burns asunder.
~ A bridge
Five hundred begins it, five hundred ends it,
Five in the middle is seen;
First of all letter, the first of all numbers, Take up their stations between.
Join all together, and then you will bring
Before you the name of an eminent king.
~ DAVID (Roman numerals)
You saw me where I never was and where I could not be. And yet within that very place, my face you often see.
~ A reflection
One by one we fall from heaven down into the depths of past,
And our world is ever upturned so that yet some time we’ll last.
~ Sands in an hourglass
Alive without breath,
As cold as death,
Clad in mail never clinking,
Never thirsty, ever drinking
~ A fish
I go around in circles,
But always straight ahead
No matter where I am led.
A thousand coloured folds stretch toward the sky,
Atop a tender strand,
Rising from the land,
‘Til killed by maiden’s hand,
Perhaps a token of love, perhaps to say goodbye.
~ A Flower
Got any great riddles of your own? Drop them in the comments and how you used them!