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Old 01-09-2020, 05:18 PM   #6
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Puzzles, Riddles, and other Non-Combat Challenges

In general I prefer games about situations to puzzles.

I very much like non-combat situations which are modeled realistically, so the players can gather information and react to the situation and that logically determines what happens. Like mapped overland travel, encounters where the situation and terrain are taken into account so you could hide, evade, shadow, pursue, track, pick places to fight, etc. Or an adventuring location where the positions of the NPCs there are tracked and respond naturally to the PCs' presence. Or dynamic situations where there are various groups and NPCs in the world that go about doing things, rather than some story line the GM is anticipating will happen. Etc. And rumors and partial information and situations that can be learned about or not, which may or may not interact with the players in various ways, are very interesting to me. What goods and skills and spell training are available in which location for what prices, what the local laws and powerful people are like, what wars are going on, what the local culture is like, etc etc. PC reputations, allies and enemies developing naturally as the campaign progresses. I like that stuff a lot.

As for "puzzles", in general I don't like artificial "and now there's a puzzle you have to solve" things. I do like some puzzles when they are clever, interesting, make sense and are a natural part of the game world, and above all, when the successful solving of them is optional, and failure results in nothing happening, or logical consequences. For instance, I've put in traps that are sometimes puzzle-ish, but they do what they do based on who notices them, figures out how to disarms them, or sets them off. That might amount to a puzzle sometimes, but it's also just a logical situation. The PCs may also fairly often find artifacts, inscriptions, and other incomplete information that they may either figure out what it's about and learn things about the world, or possibly potential adventure situations or useful information, or that might lead them to get infer ideas that are wrong, or not.

I think the worst puzzle situations I've seen or heard about tend to be when a GM thinks of some puzzle or clue and expects the PCs to solve it, and they don't, and the GM doesn't know what to do about that, or does something messed up about it, or lets them waste hours of time failing to solve it and then has it not matter and either tells them the solution, or lets them get the reward condition for solving it anyway. I've seen countless posts online from GMs who did some version of that over the years.
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