Especially when I am running older dungeons, I run across riddles, tricks, and traps that I had placed many years ago. There are a few places in Mahr's Tower where such items appear, and the library vault door on the 3rd level was one of them A decent haul of 11 scrolls (level 0 through 3) are there if successful if even able to find it, but the riddle itself stops the possible fight with Grongellar the Shadowmastiff.
I am not sure how others view or play riddles, but to me, they are like seasonings - should be used to spice up game play but not too heavily. By the way, the answer to the riddle below is "Shadow".
Write up follows:
We wanted to continue exploring while we had the time and energy so moved on to the next chamber: the scribing room. 4 desks and chairs, two with writing smocks, a smattering of old supplies, each desk had 2 drawers. Before doing anything, Fergus detected evil and beheld – a single smock. Okay…that’s weird. We decided to give the smock a wide berth and looked about the chamber.
The drawers revealed some writing supplies but little that was usual, until we had no choice but to look to the desk that had the “evil” smock. To make life easier, we lifted the chair the smock was on and moved it away from the desk. Then Fist’al was rooting around inside. It was while opening the drawers to the desk that we were convinced the chair and “evil” smock had gotten closer. We moved the chair back again and drew chalk lines on the floor around the chair legs and went to the drawers again – and this time while watching, we SAW the chair move closer ALONG with the chalk lines redrawing!.
From here it was a number of experiments around the room before it was decided that we should move the smock itself off the chair. Auri used her spear, hooked the smock off the back of the chair…and then swept it down to her hands where she inexplicably put it on. We were shouting to her to stop, but the half-orcish fighter ignored us while the ties swept around her and tied automatically…
And then she tried to murder the party.
Swords were flying, bodies were knocked asunder, the fury of the half-orcish fighter was tearing through Fergus and Mummus until Marcus was able to shout out a sleep spell and knocked the combatants out. We trussed her up and then cut the smock off of her. Not convinced that it was the solution, we did note that the OTHER smock was magical as well – but did not have any evil emanations. So we put that one on her and when she awoke, she had little memory of her murderous desire and had a nice smock at her disposal.
We took some of the paste pots and then went to the next chamber – the scribe’s library. Apparently it was where the scribes had their finished copies and it was a mess. Most of the shelves were falling apart and tomes had spilled everywhere. Along the far north east wall was a tall bookcase that behind was a safe. We suspected it was another opening to the last door on this room that we had seen in the hall.
We went out to that room and tried to force the door – but it had invisible spikes upon it and we succeeded in only hurting ourselves in the process. So it was back to the safe opening and we went to open it when a magic mouth appeared and said “Choose, 1 2 or 3.” Marcus said, “3” and…
Everyone else in the tower froze except for him. The mouth continued, telling him he had 30 seconds to solve the riddle or else. It went:
I am forged of brittle metal; I am carved of hollow wood.
I am sculpted of sandy stone, and can’t leave if I could.
My body and face are parodies of beauty’s outward looks
I am slave to all my masters by the lightest binding hooks
But even in their thrall I work to raise their fears
By candle light or darkest night, utter my name for all to hear.
Then it began to countdown as he had no answer for the riddle so Marcus ran for the exit, moving to the hall, and made it back to the stairs just as the countdown finished and time began again. And to the rest of the party it looked as if Marcus disappeared and Grongellar the Shadowhound and two of his shadow mastiffs stepped from the wall and attacked.
The fight was harder this time, even though there were less of the shadow dogs, and their bite was debilitating as it sucked strength away with wave after wave. It was only the blind luck of casting light upon them that we saw how much it hurt them and we swiftly turned the tide of the battle. Fist’al was pretty badly hurt in the fight and Marcus told the group that he had been teleported to the stairs and left his “running” out of the conversation.
The safe itself had a number of scroll cases which we took after checking almost 12 new mage scrolls. From here we wanted into the last room and decided to smash the door down – but to avoid the invisible spikes, we used the couch in the hall. Picking it up we charged the door until it was battered down and we could enter. It seemed to be a private chamber and was most likely Mahr’s at one time. We did get a nice robe, a magical accordion divider, and a brass key along with some cryptic note about a drawer of level two and “me” on level 4 and 5.
By now it was after 8 and we were done. We brought all the books to the basement and then barred the bilco doors as well as the steps up and went to sleep.
We awoke early the next day, Workmonth the 1st. A holy day to followers of Poseidon, called “The Colting”, Fergus had been having dreams about a horse that he needed to liberate and he needed to do it today. This was the right place, and today would be the right time.
We checked out the grounds once more around the tower, knowing that the criminal element in Shakun has been using it and would continue to do so. They would most likely be coming back here today so we wanted to be able to see their approach as well as be ready for them. We knew that the stables were used often and there would be no benefit to being on any of the roofs as we would be seen from the top of the valley. So we set up ourselves at the smith’s, watching and ever ready for the hopefully soon to arrive youths.
It was after 2:30 that he heard the distant echoes of approaching peoples and then shortly afterwards that we saw our quarry at last. Half a dozen goblins clad in breastplates and studded leather, militaristic and seemingly competent. There were a dozen assorted youths as well, not as well armed or armored, but still cocky and sure of themselves. They were mounted and coming down the side of the valley towards the stables, their voices too faint to make out clearly but growing more sure as they approached.