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RPG Superstar 2015

So What's The Riddle Like, Anyway? (PFRPG) PDF

***** (based on 4 ratings)

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Your PCs are deep in the dungeon and have just encountered a terrifying monster which they have no chance of defeating. Luckily, the monster is bored and challenges the party to a riddling contest instead of simply just killing them. Alternatively, the party have encountered a sentient statue that will not let them past until they have answered three riddles correctly. At this point, a GM may panic and just hand-wave the ensuing riddles or allow the PCs to answer them correctly by making skill checks.

So What’s The Riddle Like, Anyway? banishes this problem by providing scores of ready-to-use riddles ready to insert into almost any GM’s campaign. Now a GM (or aspiring bard) has loads of riddles in his arsenal ready to strike fear into the hearts of those hearing them!

For free samples head over to ragingswan.com/riddle
This product is a Dual Format PDF. The downloadable ZIP file contains two versions, one optimised for printing and use on a normal computer and one optimised for use on a mobile device such as an iPad.

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Product Reviews (4)

Average product rating:

***** (based on 4 ratings)

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Fantastic Riddles for GMs to drop into their games

*****

So What's the Riddle Like, Anyway? is a system-neutral GM resource. At just $1.99, this little PDF offers several dozen ready-made riddles that you can drop into your game at a moment’s notice. As a GM, I find this sort of resource invaluable. The provided riddles are separated into wordplay and descriptive riddles. Wordplay riddles give clues for the actual letters in the answer, while descriptive riddles describe the object or concept.

There are also two pages about designing riddles and actually using them in a game. This may not sound like much, but I found it refreshing to have important concepts described so succinctly (rather than having to wade through a whole chapter on the subject). Between the short explanation and the sample riddles provided, So What’s the Riddle Like, Anyway? provides an invaluable resource to GMs who don’t have hours to come up with things like riddles.

The layout and formatting of this PDF is also top-notch. In fact, this clean layout was one of the first things I noticed across all of Raging Swan’s products (you can get free samples of most of their products via their website). As with all their products, this one comes with a screen-friendly and a print-friendly version and uses a simple two-column layout with clear, readable fonts. Its unassuming cover hides a wonderful gem of a product for GMs who want to use riddles in their games.


THE Guide for Creating & Using Riddles

*****

I have begun reviewing some products on this website, and I wanted to present my rating system within the 5 star structure that is given here. I believe that it is impossible for any product to be perfect, so 5 stars is not perfection. I also believe that even the worst piece of drek has something that can be taken from it and used. So I'm glad no 0 score can exist. So here is my scaling system:

1 Star: Horrible - Avoid.
2 Stars: Poor - Unless you are a completionist collector or are really interested in the topic of the product, skip.
3 Stars: Average - If you are interested, go ahead and give it a try, but otherwise be prepared for mediocrity.
4 Stars: Good - Definitely worth the cover price and of solid use.
5 Stars: Must Have - If you are interested in any way, get this product NOW. It is really that good.

With that out of the way on to the review. This supplement by Liz Smith is a guide to crafting riddles and using them in an RPG. It is setting—and close to being system—neutral (almost no mechanics anywhere) and is therefore completely useful for anyone who wishes to put word puzzles into their game. Prophesies, cryptic messages, and obscure texts are often presented in literature in the form of riddles that the hero has to figure out to gain the clues necessary to defeat the threat of the story. Very few RPG supplements help GMs build unique references to their own world using this particular trope. This supplement is designed to help in this area.

The first section is about designing unique and new riddles. It divides riddles into two groups: Descriptive (using metaphor to describe various aspects of something which must be deduced from the clues) and Wordplay (puns, word structure, and acrostic puzzles). Samples are given of each type. This is followed by step-by-step instructions on building riddles along with an example of how it is done. This is very clear and concise. It is amazing how easy it is to come up with a half-decent riddle with a little thought and practice.

The second section covers the using of riddles in an RPG. Advise on placing the riddles and how to adjudicate them (especially important when the PCs the players are using are technically smarter than their players!) is given here. How to use them with the dramatic power of the riddles intact will be of use to any who want to add strong story elements and foreshadowing into their games.

The final four pages have forty-one wordplay riddles and thirty-two descriptive riddles (seventy-three riddles in all!) as samples that are ready to use. Some are old classics, a few from the Hobbit, and others that appear to have been made specifically for this supplement. Some are obviously more difficult than others, so you can use one that is appropriate to the puzzle solving abilities of each unique group of players.

Final Thoughts: Overall this is an excellent supplement. It provides tools for constructing riddles, placing them in your game, and working within the rules of the game to entertain the players. If you are interested at all in using riddles, prophesies, and worded omens within your campaign then this is a must have supplement. 5 out of 5 stars.


*****

One of the classic concepts of traditional gaming that has held on throughout all variations and generations, editions and systems is the idea of the riddle. Those time forgotten words carved into the sides of a monolithic statue that hint at times gone by and how to safely travel through the catacombs...those timeless creatures to whim a group of PCs are but gnats amusing themselves by giving a group a chance to survive with a battle of wit and tongue. Oft times the idea of a riddle can very quickly bring about those memorable moments in a gaming groups collection of tales.

However, as any unprepared GM is aware, those can also translate into moments that mean nothing...Ive been at a table where a riddle was presented to the playgroup that was obviously written hastily, and with very little thought put into it. The GM had us roll, and on a successful check we “solved” the riddle and moved on...wait, wha? That's not that special moment we all are looking for at the game table...and that is exactly what this book hopes to help with.

Liz Smith has presented us here with a collection of smartly written riddles, of varying degrees of challenge for a GM to present to their players. The PDF starts us off with a brief explanation of what exactly constitutes a riddle, as one can hardly present riddles if operating without a full understanding of what they are. The nice thing here is on top of giving us the different forms of riddle with examples, the breakdown of seeing the different styles compared like this helps in realizing why some riddles will work in one form, but not in another. Thereby helping to place your riddles better throughout your games. From there we go to a pretty straight forward example of how to structure and write a good riddle, which I think anyone could benefit from.

Now, getting to the actual riddles, there are four pages of them. I would love to tell you these are all original...but I recognize a few of these. And honestly, that's OK. There's nothing really wrong with that, as the ones I recognized brought a smile to my face and a warm memory from books loved over a lifetime. I imagine most of you out there will recognize a few as well, and hopefully they inspire you as well.

All in all this product does indeed succeed at providing exactly what it claims it will, a ready to use list of riddles. It also manages to go beyond that with a handy breakdown of the various styles of riddles, and a walk through to aid one in designing their own riddles. Finding that the book left me with several ideas for placing a riddle or two in upcoming adventures, I am going to have to give this a solid 5 star rating, and mark it as well worth the price of admission! Well done!


4.5 stars - nice systemless collection of easy riddles

*****

This pdf is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's check this out!

The pdf kicks off with an introduction on word-play and language-dependant riddles as well as advice on designing riddles yourself. We also get a whole page on how to best use riddles and how to place them. After that, we get 41 different wordplay riddles. To give you an example:

"Until I am measured, I am not known, yet how you miss me when I have flown."
We also get 32 descriptive riddles - which also thankfully omit tried and boring "mouth-river" and 4-2-3-leg-classics. An example would be:
"A box without hinges, key or lid yet golden treasure inside is hid."

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's 2-column standard in elegant b/w, comes with two versions (one for the printer and one for screen-use) and the pdfs are extensively bookmarked.
This pdf actually proved to be rather interesting for me: I expected to know most riddles herein and was positively surprised when I didn't know all of these riddles. While I did know some (or at least variations of them), most of the riddles not only are thankfully rather innovative and also thankfully lack real world mythology/nods. If you're a riddle-buff or very good at solving riddles, you probably don't need this, but if you're not and look for some, this is a neat offering of nice, though not too hard riddles.
All in all, I enjoyed this collection of riddles by Liz Smith, though I would have liked to see one page of content more, perhaps devoted to puzzles or mathematical riddles. In the end, we get a nice selection of riddles for a low price and thus, I feel justified in rating this pdf at 4.5 stars and round it up to 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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