Inventory Object Puzzles - A Good Idea

It’s a trap! The doors have sealed Alexander inside! And the ceiling is coming down!

In a desperate move, Alexander throws a brick into the grinding gears! The brick is caught between two cogs! The gears shriek and shutter! The mechanism grinds to a halt! The ceiling is stuck!

I was reminiscing on old Sierra adventure games and was wondering if there were any tabletop games that were good for emulating that sort of play style.

And then I thought of Torchbearer. Using the good idea rules you can do all sorts of things like that!

Make sure to include magic ink, flowers of immense stench, red scarves, mirrors, love poems and bricks in your backgrounds and treasures. And see if your players take them in case they are useful later. See if they come up with anything and have a few related threats.

The way torchbearer handles locations it might even be a good idea to think of them as “screens”.

Maybe make the game unwinnable if they missed something!


I dig it. I typically try and include useful set dressing anyway as part of encouraging descriptive play. But if you’re saying “turn it up” I can get behind that.

Good Idea! about Good Ideas! Also, items from the Loot 2: Stuff Subtable can be made into supplies with a little bit of work and ingenuity from the players. GMs might consider making their own custom Stuff table for the dungeon they create.

In TB especially, all that glitters is not gold. It might be a Good Idea! to fashion “stuff” from the loot table into supplies, but most of the time it will require some effort to transform it into something useful.

  • Leaves can be turned into fire-making supplies.
  • A piece of a bone can be used to draw a rune circle on the stone floor.
  • That scrap of indecipherable notes can be made into a deft, crinkle-paper detection trap to see if you are being followed.

It all depends on the situation and the description, of course.

As a little teaser, you can see something Owen and I have been working on called Scrounging. Scrounging can be found in The Grind zine and later in the year in my Scourge adventure. It is meant to augment Scavenger, but it connects into the idea of finding random “background items.” The information conveyed from a piece of “placed stuff” could become Lore Master supplies or who knows.

The idea for Scrounging evolved from an adventure I am currently working on. I wanted a way to reveal the background of all of these different civilizations - kinda like an archeologist uncovering some ancient piece of seemingly “worthless” junk. One of my favorite pieces was a little ragged doll found in these dwarven ruins-a potent reminder that there were families living here once. Many players might discard the doll because they “don’t have room” in their inventory, but I had a clever player use that as supplies for a Persuader test later in the session.

However, story items that are required to “solve” a puzzle shouldn’t be in random tables (and you might consider placing them in multiple locations), but random “Stuff” can be an important part of the story too.

Oh, and shout out to King’s Quest IV!

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