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"Gli enigmi sono tre, la morte è una!" (The riddles are three, and death is one!)
Often it's an obstacle to complete a quest, but there can be other reasons.
Note that these have to be answering them, not just three challenges. And it has to be three chosen as a deliberate number, not a quiz that just happens to be three.
Common in some myths and Fairy Tales.
- Named for the scene in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, which didn't just parody this, it zig zagged it (including in a Deleted Scene). Heck, just referencing this would be enough for a trope on its own. For the record: "What is your name?"; "What is your quest?"; "What is your favourite colour?" (or alternatively "What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?," OR "What is the capital of Assyria?")
- In Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series novel The Grey King, Bran Davies must answer three questions to prove his worthiness to receive the harp of gold.
Religion And Mythology
- Played straight in Islamic doctrine, in which answering three questions correctly with your lifetime and the state of your soul will determine your fate in the hereafter.
- Dungeons and Dragons Shout Outs to the Monty Python example:
- Dragon magazine #84 (April 1984) adventure "The Twofold Talisman". When the PC's stood in front of a door, a Magic Mouth asked them the same questions as in the movie, but nothing happened whether they gave any answers or not: the door was unlocked.
- Module I3 Pharaoh. While in the pyramid tomb of Amun-re, the PC's are asked three questions: "What is your name?", "What is your quest?" and "On whose hallowed ground stand ye?". If the PC's tell the truth for the first two questions and know to answer "Amun-re" for the third, they can proceed farther into the tomb.
- The "Riddle For You All" song with Beaver and the Gargoyles in the Franklin and the Adventures of the Noble Knights stage show.
- In the opera Turandot, Turandot challenges her royal suitors to answer three riddles. The penalty for failing a riddle is beheading.
- In Knightmare, a common obstacle was the team being asked a set of three questions. The usual scoring logic was that one correct answer allowed the team to continue (usually only to die shortly thereafter due to lack of information), while two would give them a small bit of help (usually a hint), and three gave the team more helpful information, such as a password, a spell, a sequence of symbols, or hints on which items to take. Miss all three and... BONG! "Ooh... nasty..."
- In Quest for Glory I, a gargoyle who guards the house of the wizard Erasmus asks the hero three questions similar to these, probably as a reference to Monty Python and The Holy Grail. If he gives the wrong answer, he is transported back to the bottom of the mountain. The questions are random and along with the standard "what is your name?" and "what is your quest?" there are also questions either about information you've learned in the game or ones that are shout outs to other media. For instance, to "what is your quest?" the hero can answer "I want to be a pirate." Another question asks what the password to the thieves guild is, and the correct response is actually to give the wrong answer to prove that you are not a thief. And the answer to "What's the meaning of life?"... 42.
- And once again for Quest For Glory 5, except with a titanic cloud creature replacing it. However it does this only once, and the questions are "Who are you, what do you want, and who are you here to see." which anybody can answer.
- One of the Heart Containers in Twilight Princess requires solving three block puzzles in a row.
- In Machinarium, you are given three "complete the pattern" puzzles by a ventilation fan robot. Subverted by the fact that if you get them right, the robot will simply fall back to sleep. You're actually supposed to get the questions wrong to make the robot angry enough to eject the fan allowing you to go inside the shaft.
- The Bridgekeeper appears as a special encounter in Fallout 2.
- Spoofed in Dragon Age with the crazy old man in the forest who will only answer a question if you answer one of his questions first. But he doesn't have any good question at hand right now, so he just goes for "What... is yer name?".
- Final Fantasy Unlimited had three by three questions in the ocean puzzle.
- Spoofed in the amateur-video-turned-webcomic The Heroes of Middlecenter (comic only).
- In El Goonish Shive, Susan's boss makes her go through this to get her paycheck. The questions, fortunately, are absurdly obvious (e.g. "Why should I give you a paycheck?"; "Because I work here.")
- Spoofed in Avatar: The Abridged Series
- Spoofed in Rose of Versailles Abridged.
- Ferr of the Freelance Astronauts tried to pull this a few times during the Let's Play of Serious Sam. He never does complete it, as Evek interrupts him each time. Usually with bullets.
Ferr: Before you can pass through this door, you must answer me these questions—*blam*.
- In Unforgotten Realms our heroes encounter a riddle-dealing stone wall on the fourth floor of the Tower of Ultimate Wizardy
Statue (AKA Wall): "Answer questions, questions of three/ Get questions right and move on can thee// Listen to the rules and follow them well/ Or you will most certainly be visiting HELL!// "
Elumous Nailo: *Gulps*
Statue: First rule: You cannot wait to answer my sayings/ Wait more than a minute and you shall be done playing
"Roamin the Crime-solving Rank 11 Paladin: This statue is a good speller
Statue: Second rule: Each question has a completely different ending/ answer the same thing more than once and your body shall surely need mending//
Roamin: Really good
Statue: Final rule: If you should answer any of said questions with answers other than of either "yay" or "nay"/ Then you shall feel the wrath of this giant statue's GIANT LAZER RAY!
- The Evil Overlord List recommends getting straight to the point:
Mythical guardians will be instructed to ask visitors name, purpose of visit, and whether they have an appointment instead of ancient riddles.
- A series of Sesame Street cartoons had a bridgekeeper asking people questions about shapes.
- In The Simpsons, episode "Homer and Apu", the titular characters travel all the way to India to meet the benevolent and enlightened president and C.E.O. of Kwik-E-Mart, who allows them to ask three questions. Apu intends to ask him to get his job back. Homer blows it, of course, by asking three entirely asinine questions first.
Homer: Are you really the head of the Kwik-E-Mart?
CEO: Yes. I hope this has been enlightening.
- The Comic Book Guy uses this a few times on The Simpsons.