This is a sample 'ancient language' puzzle that you could modify or use in your own game. When making these problems, I always look at some word samples from foreign languages to assist me.
Here we go:
The players have come into a room with 8' tall stone doors. There does not appear to be a handle and the seams are pressed together so tightly that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to slip anything between them. A strange script has been written upon the doors with a brownish ink. Even from several feet away, the ink smells faintly coppery or like iron. The text on the door is clearly unfinished and their appears to be two holes in the strings of characters with spaces for words. A ripped piece of paper is on the floor in front of the door. The paper reads "Do not free Kirog." Examining the frame around the large door will reveal 2 stones on each side concealed under wooden covers that are painted like stone and have a bar of silver facing perpendicular to the floor. These bars may be turned. When they are parallel with the floor, a hum of magical energy occurs and the stone door will disappear and reveal a plain wooden door beneath without writing. Opening the door without turning these bars will release Kirog the demon.
The text on the door reads:
Xidaram pab radix Kirog. Naxidarkirog.
Naxidaram a Kirog. Radix _____. _____pab.
This alone may be enough information for your party to solve this puzzle. The puzzle tells the party the instructions they need. This puzzle also uses some visual 'hints' as well with the word for 'to seal' being the reverse of 'to free' (radix vs. xidar). If your players struggle for more than 3-5 minutes then it is time to add a clue. You may say something to the magic-user or cleric that they recall an ancient text that show a chained demon with the word 'radix'. You may also include a clue about pab if they are struggling. You could have the entry door labeled with this or a small picture icon with the word hidden somewhere in the room.
I enjoy these puzzles because the language creates an immersive puzzle that seems 'foreign' and different from our regular language. It is a type of immersion that causes the players to experience the fantasy world in another way rather than 'I write in Elven'.
If you are looking to make some of these puzzles remember:
1. repetition of words can make things easier
2. too many unknown words will make this impossible
3. give clues when they are stuck, use skills, classes, any background info to give them enough to solve it
4. You need a 'foot in the door' to solve it, icons describing a word, the name of an NPC, some info they already have.
Hope you all enjoyed this one and feel free to steal, modify, and explore these types of puzzles.
All artwork is copyrighted by Patrick E. Pullen
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