Riddles for the Intelligence Test


Here are a number of suitable riddles. They may prove too much for your players in which case, you can also let them prove too much for the other contestants, so that everyone soon sits down to simply try and drink each other under the table.

However, if the players are up for it you can use these to get things rolling. For the NPCs, get them to make an INT roll at -3 (most of these are fairly hard, but not impossible). Myrrhyn Calmstorm gets to roll at only -1 due to his poet skill , since this covers some of the same ground as riddles. Other characters with poetry or similar skills, can be given a gentle hint if they make their roll.

1. I'm by nature solitary,

scarred by spear

and wounded by sword, weary of battle.

I frequently see the face of war, and fight

hateful enemies; yet I hold no hope

of help being brought to me in the battle,

before I'm eventually done to death.

In the stronghold of the city sharp-edged swords,

skillfully forged in the flame by smiths

bite deeply into me. I can but await

a more fearsome encounter; it is not for me

to discover in the city any of those doctors

who heal grievous wounds with roots and herbs.

The scars from sword wounds gape wider and wider

death blows are dealt me by day and by night.

2. I'm told a certain object grows

in the corner, rises and expands, throws up

a crust. A proud wife carried off

that boneless wonder, the daughter of a king

covered that swollen thing with a cloth.

3. Wob is my name twisted about--

I'm a strange creature shaped for battle.

When I bend and the battle-sting snakes

Through my belly, I am primed to drive off

The death-stroke. When my lord and tormentor

Releases my limbs, I am long again,

As laced with slaughter, I spit out

The death-blend I swallowed before.

What whistles from my belly does not easily pass,

And the man who seizes this sudden cup

Pays with his life for the long, last drink.

Unwound I will not obey any man;

Bound tight, I serve. Say what I am.


4. On the way a miracle: water become bone.


5. Favoured by men, I am found far and wide,

taken from woods and the heights of the town,

From high and from low. during each day

bees brought me through the bright sky

skillfully home to a shelter. Soon after that

I was taken by men and bathed in a tub.

Now I blind them and chasten them, and cast

a young man at once to the ground,

and sometimes an old one too.

He who struggles against my strength,

he who dares grapple with me, discovers immediately

that he will hit the hard floor with his back

if he persists with such stupidity.

Deprived of his strength and strangely loquacious,

he's a fool, who rules neither his mind

nor his hands nor his feet.

Now ask me, my friends,

who knocks young men stupid,

and as his slave binds them

in broad waking daylight?

Yes ask me my name.


6. On earth there's a warrior of curious origin.

He's created, gleaming, by two dumb creatures

for the benefit of men. Foe bears him against foe

to inflict harm. Women often fetter him,

strong as he is. If maidens and men

care for him with due consideration

and feed him frequently, he'll faithfully obey them

and serve them well. Men succour him for the warmth

he offers in return; but this warrior will savage

anyone who permits him to become too proud.


7. The dank earth, wondrously cold,

first delivered me from her womb.

I know in my mind I wasn't made

from wool, skillfully fashioned with skeins.

Neither warp nor weft wind about me,

no thread thrums for me in the thrashing loom,

nor does a shuttle rattle for me,

nor does the weaver's rod bang and beat me.

Silkworms didn't spin with their strange craft for me,

those strange creatures that embroider cloth of gold.

Yet men will affirm all over this earth

that I am an excellent garment.

O wise man, weigh your words

well, and say what this object is.


8. A woman, young and lovely, often locked me

in a chest; she took me out at times,

lifted me with fair hands and gave me

to her loyal lord, fulfilling his desire.

Then he stuck his head well inside me,

pushed it upwards into the smallest part.

It was my fate, adorned as I was, to be filled

with something rough if that person who possessed me

was virile enough. Now guess what I mean.


9. A strange thing hangs by man's hip,

hidden by a garment. It has a hole

in its head. It is stiff and strong

and its firm bearing reaps a reward.

When the retainer hitches his clothing

high above his knee, he wants the head

of that hanging thing to find the old hole

that it, outstretched, has often filled before.

10. I saw a creature: his stomach stuck out behind him,

enormously swollen. A stalwart servant

waited upon him. What filled his stomach

had travelled from afar, and flew through his eye.

He does not always die in giving life

to others, but new strength revives

in the pit of his stomach: he breathes again.

He fathers a son; he's his own father also.


11. Croaking hoarsely I am vocal in the middle of the water,

but my voice sounds with the sort of praise with which it praises itself too.

Whenever I sing no one praises my songs.


12. I have put up with more than one body had to.

I had three souls all inside myself.

Two departed, and the third almost followed


13. Traveler, do you wish to know what man lives after death?

Lo, I am speaking what you read! Your voice is mine


14. A stalk of the living, I nothing said;

Dumb, stand waiting to join the dead.

I have risen before and will rise again

Though plunderers carve and split my skin,

Bite through my bare body, shear my head,

Hold me hard in a slicing bed.

I do not bite a man unless he bites me,

But the number of men who bite is many


15. I saw a strange creature

Riding the road, weird craft and power

From the workshops of men. She came sliding

Up on the shore, shrieking without sight,

Eyes, arms, shoulders, hands

Sailed on one foot over smooth plains

Treasure and haul. Her mouth in the middle

Of a hoard of ribs, she carries corn

Gold, grain-treasure, wine-wealth.

The feast-floater brings in her belly food

For rich and poor. Let the wise who catch

The drift of this riddle say what I mean.


16. In battle I rage against wave and wind,

Strive against storm, dive down seeking

A strange homeland, shrouded by the sea.

In the grip of war, I am strong when still;

In battle-rush, rolled and ripped     

In flight. Conspiring wind and wave

Would steal my treasure, strip my hold,

But I seize glory with a guardian tail

As the clutch of stones stands hard

Against my strength. Can you guess my name?


17.  I am puff-breasted, proud-crested,

Swollen-necked. I strut on one foot.

I sport a fine head, high tail,

Eyes, ears, back, beak, two sides.

I ride a stiff nail, my perch above men.

I twist in torment when the forest-shaker

Whips and shoves; where I stand the storm

Wind-waters roll, hail stones,

Sleet shrouds, frost slips freezing,

Snow drifts down. One-foot, hole-belly,

I mark the seasons with a twist of fate

I cannot change. My stake is grim.



An swers

1. Shield

2. Dough/Bread

3. Bow

4. Ice

5. Mead

6. Fire

7. Mail shirt

8. Helmet

9. Key

10. Bellows

11. Frog

12. A woman bearing twins

13. The poet, who lives on after death

14. Onion

15. Ship

16. Anchor

17. Weathercock