D&D 5E Need ideas for a combatless trials!


First Post
My players are on a mission to find and stop an ancient evil from breaking free. They know little about their mission though, needing to gather information. They are about to meet an incredibly old druid with great powers that holds valuable information about their destination; however, they won't get that information easily and he'll want to test them.

I was thinking of giving them three trials:

The Trial of Might
The Trial of Cunning
The Trial of Heart

The trial of might will simply be a battle. I want the trial of cunning to be a tough puzzle or riddle or maybe a trap they have to escape. The last trial will be testing their alignments and morals basically.

While I have an idea for a creature they can face in the trial of Might, I have no idea what to do for the other two. If anyone can help and give some ideas it would be great!

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Just off the top of my head...

Trial of Cunning can be to navigate a strange maze. At different intersections there can be puzzles, riddles, locks, etc.(3 chests.."Where is fancy bred...is it in gold, silver or lead - pick the right chest! - one of my favorite Shakespeare riddles). Of course this will test player rather than character, but you can have ways for the characters to make checks to get clues/hints. You can also present them with areas in the maze where they need to use character skills to continue (How will they get through a wall of fire? Or get over a seemingly bottomless pit? Of course, depending on level and access to magic, some of these can be easier or harder).

If you don't want to make it contrived, the test of cunning could also be a test to acquire some item from an NPC or monster without fighting. If the creature is way too powerful to fight, it forces the PCs to steal, bargain, buy, etc. Then give them a few options as to how they can sell the item...maybe have 2 or 3 interested buyers. See if the PCs can figure out a way to get more $ from the sale or for them to determine which of the buyers need the item for the best reason (avoid selling to the one that has evil plans...sell to the one that will put the item to the best use).

Trial of Heart might be a situation where the PCs are presented with two choices. One of the choices involves doing something that will benefit them. The other choice involves doing something that will benefit others. You could even give them a glass heart shaped glowing orb...and if they choose to do the task that benefits themselves, as they progress in the task, the orb can begin to crack. This might give them the hint that they should abandon the task and do the other one. Or, if they pursue the task that helps others, the orb can pulse a deeper shade of red, and at the end, it can turn into a magic item they will be able to use, or it can be used later as a way to gain the trust of a faction or NPC who knows of the item.

Just a couple of quick thoughts.


Dusty Dragon

I have an adventure's who's "core" covers about 75% of your needs:

"Operation Manta Ray", in Dungeon Magazine issue 66

[sblock=spoilers] The characters must infiltrate a large pirate base, are caught, and must prove they are real pirates by running through a series of pirate trials. A lot of them are challenge of might or wits. [/sblock]


Back in the day in Dungeon Magazine, there were several "PC Trials/Contest" adventures in them that would be perfect for inspiration. I recall one that had a course with a few challenges and a polar bear, with a scroll of animal control on one obstacle. I'll see if I can't find some of them. But I loved using them.


First Post
I really like the idea of the trials involving, for the most part, combat, puzzle solving and possibly role playing. Well done DM! :)

With that being said, I might be able to help you out with the Trial of Cunning. I have a YouTube channel that has 30 D&D/Pathfinder puzzle ideas. Each video can walk you through some ideas: Wally DM - D&D Puzzle Ideas on You Tube

If I were to choose one of the puzzles from my channel for your Trial, I think Puzzle #25 - The Maze of the Elements might work for you.

Good luck and happy DMing!


Suggestion - Set the PCs up to believe they are in the Trial of Cunning when they are in fact in the Trial of Heart, and that they are in the Trial of Heart when in the Trial of Cunning. That will make it harder for them to superficially focus on one concept.

After the battle, they'd be faced with a moral dilemma. The moral dilemma would begin with a description of what true and goodly Heart is. In the moral dilemma, they'd be provided with a choice between aiding two warring factions desiring to eliminate each other. There would be two obvious options where one group is benefitted and the other group is harmed, while the obvious other answer reverses the benefits and harms. Either obvious approach appears to create as much bad as good. However, this isn't the trial of Heart - it is the Trial of Cunning and the PCs need to come up with a less obvious solution that benefits both sides equally and fairly. Perhaps that solution is to elect not to help either group?

They'd also face a puzzle. The puzzle would begin with a description of Cunning and Guile. They'd be provided with a fairly simple puzzle where the answer is to do something cruel, such as sacrifice an animal. However, realizing that isn't what they need to do to beat the challenge. Instead, they'd need to realize that doing the horrible thing is wrong and elect not to do it. As they say in War Games, the only way to win is to decide not to play. The winning move is to quit the challenge and elect not to solve the puzzle. By choosing not to take that evil step to solve what appears to be the Cunning challenge, they'd beat the Heart challenge.


First Post
Here is a chance to make some of those skills that no one seems to take become very very useful and you can use this to set the stage to keep making them useful. There is a history question, make a Intelligence-History check the higher your roll the better you score... make them need to achieve a certain score to eventually get that information they want or they only get a smaller portion

I do things to reflect that PCs can be smarter or dumber than the players... I create a riddle with at least 4 levels to it sometimes more the more levels you get the easier it is to solve the riddle the first tier of course is the hardest... then they have to make an appropriate skill roll 10 to get the first line, 15 to get the 2nd line, etc.... then I do the riddles in private so players cannot help each other this generally works for these fairly well

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