In thinking about my WoAdWriMo adventure, I realize that not every challenge to be overcome by the party is a monster to be defeated in combat. Sometimes there is a puzzle to be solved or a short quest to be completed. Many of these transcend the physical location that they are found in, so embedding them in the text describing a location isn’t a completely satisfying solution.
Currently, I’m toying with a standardized format for these sorts of challenges. It goes something like this (the example below is more-or-less made up on the spot):
Challenge 14: Translate the Diary (CR 5)
The diary found in Section 2F is written in a strange language (a pidgin of Auran and Ignan).
Complications: The diary is warded against divination magics, so Comprehend Languages will be of no use.
Possible Solutions: The most obvious solution is to use Decipher Script, but the difficulty on this check is difficult (DC 35, the PC receives a +5 on the check if he can read either Auran or Ignan, and a +10 on the check if he can read both). The madwoman in Section 1C can read the diary, though the PCs would need to discover some means of communicating with her (via Tongues, for instance). The PCs could recopy the diary (Forgery check DC 15, +2 on the check if the PC is literate in a language using the Draconic alphabet) and use Comprehend language on the unwarded copy.
Rewards: Information is the primary reward of translating the diary (it will make Challenges 17, 18, and 23 much easier and provide useful information about defeating the Invisible Stalker in Section 2J). Working with the madwoman can also lead to the rewards listed in Section 1C.
Adjustments: Reducing the CR: You may remove the divination ward on the diary. If you do so, the Adept in area 1G can cast Comprehend Languages for the PCs if they cannot do so themselves. Increasing the CR: Add a Secret Page, Illusory Script, and/or a Symbol of Fear spell to the diary.
Any way to make that clearer? Anything I am missing?