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Everything posted by WitchOfDoubt

  1. (Thanks! The puzzles are all my own, except when they're modified versions of obvious old chestnuts - the frog in the well becomes the frog on the stairs, and so on. It's been a challenge! Although riddles sometimes end up with multiple solutions by accident, it's hard to make a riddle have more than one solution on purpose, unless you're willing to play with the rules, dropping clues to the second solution later on. Not every puzzle will have two solutions! That said, I have to give credit where credit is due. While the organization of these threads, the puzzles, the Club, and a lot of other ideas here are my creation, this is very much a homage to Umineko, a weird, wonderful electronic novel that is, sadly, better known for its awful animated adaptation. So some of the coolest ideas you'll see here are not mine. Details, spoilered since not many people are likely to care:
  2. (Thank you all for the encouraging words!) Prior to the opening of the safe: Mark was a thorough boy, and clever at that. "It could be lots of steps," he said, confidently. "You can jump up to the 38th step or down to it." "You should look," said Kenichi. "How many steps does the staircase have?" "Oh." Mark promptly corrected his answer, and presented the three numbers with pride. Meanwhile, the other guests had gotten significantly further in finding the location of the key. L. V. seemed to have an advantage on the final step, owing to his experience with DNA, but there was someone even more prepared to tackle the final translation than him. Professor Otto Rinaldi, fruit fly geneticist and meddler, had all 64 codons memorized. "Look," he said, his voice calm, but with the slight quaver of age, "The proteins that run our cells, they're all made by translating mRNA. The mRNA gets translated in groups of three "letters." We call those groups codons. First codon's always AUG, the start codon. Every time a codon gets read, a new amino acid gets put on the protein. This codes for methionine, arginine, serine, tyrosine, glutamate... we abbreviate those MRSYE." But the toys Mrs. Ye was watching over were a motley assortment of knickknacks and playthings, and they could hardly expect to break open every one. Surely there was a final clue in that sequence to help them narrow it down further! Kenichi squinted at the explanation that Otto had written on paper. "That's 5 amino acids. 3 letters each. But we had 9 elements, 2 letters each. Doesn't "MRSYE" leave us short?" "No, no, no," said Otto, "that's not how it works. See, the last codon, UGA..." ---- Meet the Pieces: (Part 4 of Many) Otto Rinaldi Age: 71 Profession: Professor emeritus Quote:"I like it when they put up 'Do Not Enter' signs. They tell me where the interesting things are." Background: A fruit fly geneticist of considerable renown, Professor Rinaldi was born in Florence, Italy, amid the tumult of World War II. He never knew his father, who died when his submarine was destroyed by Allied forces, but his family managed to escape with enough of their fortune to establish themselves after the war. Perpetually curious, Otto worked his way through university and become a classical geneticist, an expert on both fruit fly development and practical jokes. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing the flute, and painting. Sample riddle: Shortly before one of the Club's sumptuous dinners, Otto was snooping around the back halls, when he heard Jaime LaSalle, the chef, muttering to himself. "Coulda sworn I bought five loaves," Jaime was saying. "We've got five tables and need one each... shoot! Better tell Celia." As LaSalle left, Dr. Rinaldi slipped in behind him, washed his hands, then worked quickly and dextrously with the bread and a kitchen knife. When he was done, he absently picked up an end piece, gnawing on it as he left. Upon returning, LaSalle was perplexed to find the bread in the following arrangement: It appeared to be five loaves, give or take a little bit here and there, but how many loaves did the chef have before Otto's meddling? --- (Molly Mae's answer to the safe puzzle will be addressed once the key has been found!)
  3. A Confusing Clarification Nobody in the Club on the night of the inheritance challenge saw red text on the sheets of paper. To them, the red text appears as ordinary type. Red text is meant for those who would solve these mysteries. The meaning of the red text will be made clearer when the Witch's Banquet for this thread is unlocked.
  4. (There are many riddles in this thread, one of which is hidden message in the Sphinx's Decalogue. This is what Molly Mae solved. The solution is plainly visible in your last post. If you wish to check this answer, you should return to the Decalogue and solve the code, which has a ten-letter answer. The code's answer only makes full sense if you consider what came immediately after the Sphinx's Decalogue in the first post - a series of asterisks, which led to more answers.)
  5. (Morningstar: Italics have multiple meanings in this game, and the formatting on this forum is wonky, so I wouldn't lean on them unless I draw your attention to them more explicitly. Yes, you're supposed to find where the key is hidden.) Ms. Zweidler muttered a series of words, the first of which was "Gold," well on the way to a correct answer. Beckoning over another guest, Kenichi Nakamura, Ocean asked him what he knew about these elements. "Their atomic numbers," said Mr. Nakamura, "or electron configurations?" But the 17th step held no key, nor did any of the records. Electron configurations were not part of the answer. --- A little later... With a flourish, L. V. spun the safe dial to its last position and it clicked open. "You see?" he said. "This game is a memorial for my mother." "Hmm." Kenichi Nakamura frowned. He was a middle-aged programmer. Though one of the club's best codebreakers, the code-on-a-string had briefly confused him, as no numbers were involved in its solution. But something seemed wrong with L. V.'s answer to the safe maze, even if the answer given was indeed a correct path through the maze and the safe did open for it. "I thought her last name was different. You said it was ANN, but the last name..." L. V. laughed, a shade condescendingly. "Dude? You wouldn't know this, but my mother wrote all her biology papers with that name. It's from her first marriage." Inside the safe sat another piece of paper - the very piece of paper you are reading now - taped to another door, a safe within a safe. He read the top portion aloud, then remarked, "A condescending laugh, really? Who knew." He didn't bother reading them the rest of the page; what did it matter if there was another way to open the maze lock? It's not as if anyone would find it now. Having had a moment to collect his thoughts, Kenichi said, "You just said, 'You wouldn't know this.' Sphinx's First." Sphinx's First: A fair riddle should require no highly specialized knowledge that the readers cannot easily obtain. L. V. replied with a disarming grin, assuming that you could disarm a suspect through mockery. "Hey... you could solve it with just the maze. I bet some people did. And that's rich, coming from a guy who thought that electron orbitals were the answer to that last one." "You could find those on the Internet!" Mr. Nakamura was not happy with this development, and he could see that Ocean Zweidler seemed equally fed-up. "The real answer to the string took research, too, even if it was easier for you! But if all of these riddles are about your mother, we suffer a disadvantage." L. V. only chuckled. "Who said this was a fair game?" Meet the Pieces: (Part 3 of Many) Kenichi Nakamura Age: 48 Profession: Programmer Quote: "People sometimes call riddles 'difficult' or 'easy' in a way that sounds like saying 'good' or 'bad.' Lose, lose. Tell me if a riddle's 'clever' or 'crude.' If it's clever and easy, give it to children. If it's clever and difficult, give it to me. If it's crude, give it to nobody." Background: Born in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, Kenichi Nakamura grew up in a big city on the Boso Peninsula. From a young age, he loved tinkering in his father's electronics store, taking apart radios, soldering wires, and getting the odd shock from a charged capacitor. In his twenties, he attained international fame under the pseudonym "Ken Q." as the author of the acclaimed "When they Call" series of 'visual novels.' In pursuit of new ideas and puzzles he traveled the world, learning English and swapping hacker jargon with his western peers. Sample Riddle: Mark Ye was looking increasingly impatient with the guests' attempts to solve the riddles. "Mark, are you allowed to try to answer these?" asked Mr. Nakamura. "Staff and their families are only allowed to answer the Witch's Epigraph, not the safe riddles." recited Mark. "I'm bored." Kenichi filed the reference to a 'Witch's Epigraph' in his memory for later consideration. "Would you like to have a riddle of your own to solve?" asked Mr. Nakamura. "Yeah!" "Okay. There is a frog on those steps. First it jumps up 5 steps. Then it jumps down 2 steps. Then it jumps up 5 steps. Then it jumps down 2 steps. And so it repeats, until it reaches the top. If -" "25 jumps!" said Mark. "I know this one! It's with a well!" "... no, not that one. Suppose you see the frog on top of the 38th step, and you know it started on top of one of the first ten steps. Which of those steps could it have started from?" ------ (You have not unlocked the other material on this page.)
  6. Morningstar: An answer is present in that post by Molly Mae, but it is not "the pattern ends or shifts from there." It is an incomplete phrase and doesn't directly relate to the lock - though it will be a clue later on.
  7. (The riddles of the first thread have now been entirely solved, unlocking one final segment: Banquet of the Prologue: ) This illusion is the final challenge of the first thread. Can you dispel my magic to find another fragment of the truth?
  8. (Congratulations! The riddles of the first thread have been solved. You have unlocked the first Witch's Banquet.) Banquet of the Prologue A figure in a blue riding cloak gently laid a hand on the Club's front door. Though it had surely been locked, it opened before the magic of the Sapphire Witch in an instant. Passing by the newly installed ticket booth, through the foyer, and finally into the study, the Witch opened a door and was greeted at once by Dudeney, ever the loyal butler. "Annabel. It has been some time. I trust you're well?" said Dudeney. In truth, ten years had gone by since the day of the inheritance challenge and the ruinous scandal that followed. All the same, Dudeney would ever be the Witch's friend. Dudeney was one of the Witch's first Animates, imbued with human personality and character by the power of magic. Old-fashioned, perhaps, but he would always have a place in Annabel's heart. "As well as could be expected!" said the Witch. "And yourself?" "Alas! Nobody has fed me for years. Still, it is to be, as you say, expected," replied Dudeney. Though the portly, squat little fellow still bore himself with dignity, his outer vestments showed signs of neglect. The black ribbon he wore was faded and worn, and half of the buttons at his breast had their sigils worn off. "In the year 2021, it is a miracle that I even exist at all. I shan't complain if I'm given few opportunities to serve. My joints are creaky with age." "Ha! Rejoice, old friend!" said the Witch, laughing. "Tonight, you shall have a banquet, for our mystery is being re-opened! Come, let us begin - just like old times. You can take down my dictation while you eat." And so the butler feasted through the night with a clashing of teeth and clattering of utensils.
  9. Well, based on that clue, the first word has got to be:
  10. Inspired by When the Seagulls Cry (Umineko no Naku Koro ni) The difficulty of this chapter is Slightly Taxing. Would you care to guess? The story so far... The proprietor of a museum of riddles and mysteries intends to bequeath his entire collection to whoever can best his final challenge. Tonight, the members of this exclusive club have gathered to compete for this prize. Upon arrival, these guests received sheets of paper giving a set of rules for fair riddling, The Sphinx's Decalogue. On these pages were clues to open a safe and prove their worthiness to enter the Club. The first to solve this safe was... * Ocean Zweidler, an author of mysteries, who guessed similarly to some of the cleverer posters in the thread. The line below this one is a lie. * L. V. Ford-Seaton, a child of wealth. Nobody in the thread could have anticipated his answers. The line above this one is a lie. Regardless of who solved it first, both were admitted entry, as both sets of answers were reasonably derived from the information available to them as individuals. Now, a new page begins. What will our guests find written in the foyer? Without hope, the truth cannot be found. (Note: It’s not necessary to read the first thread to catch up, but these three posts contain relevant information and puzzles: Introduction: Suspect #1, Ocean: Suspect #2, L.V.: ) ============================================================================================================= Chapter 1: The Room of Six Locks or, The Courtship of the Sapphire Witch Young Matthew Ford - no relation to the car-maker - was a Wall Street alchemist. He could turn lead into gold, and not only that, he could turn tin into silver, iron into copper, and, judging by the fortune he made in semiconductor commodities trading, silicon into gallium. But he was reckless and wild, winning and losing fortunes on a throw of the dice, until the evening he met the Sapphire Witch. At the time, she bore a different name. No matter; her magic remained unchanged. Although she was a geneticist in her human life, she knew powerful conjurations and transfigurations, which she taught to Ford in their years of marriage. Nowadays, it is generally considered impolite to remind Mr. Ford that his wife has passed away. As far as he is concerned, she is alive and well, and wanders the secret passages of his museum every night. --- The guests found this page - the very page you are reading - in the foyer. Though normally spacious, boasting tall windows and a grand 39-step staircase, the foyer was cluttered tonight with trunks, tables, and shelves. Amid this paraphernalia, many of the Club’s staff had gathered to present themselves and play their assigned roles. "Ladies, gentlemen, I don’t mean to alarm you, but there was supposed to have been a signet ring in that first safe," said Lana Rodriguez, the Club librarian, stepping away from a set of bookshelves that held the proprietor’s favorite novels. "It had a big sapphire in it… not easy to miss. I'm afraid that either whoever opened it just now palmed the ring, or somebody broke in early. Bill, anything on the safe's records?" "Sorry ‘bout the bad news, but I just checked. Looks like someone got in five minutes before we opened." said Bill Jackson, the club's resident tech wizard. He slouched back against a table that carried a model train set. "My God," said Samuel, the doorman, raising his eyes from a box of vintage 45 records. "I stepped away to shut off the fire alarm! Anyone could've arrived early and opened it!" Margaret Ye, the proprietor’s attorney, pushed aside the trunk of toys she was assigned to watch over. “Our security guards just locked down the building. Nobody will enter, nobody will leave. Not before we find our culprit.” The guests protested, but all of the staff had solid alibis. And if they eliminated the eight staff members as suspects... well, there wasn't nearly enough information to figure out who had done it just yet, but perhaps, as the evening wore on, the culprit would slip up. "Maybe it was the Witch!" joked L. V., only to receive angry glares from several of the staff, and, in particular, from a young boy at Mrs. Ye's side. "You'll regret saying that," said the boy. "The Witch is real. She's gonna take us all to El Dorado." "Cut it out, Mark." hissed Margaret. "Do I have to send you home?" Then, noticing that the others were staring, she said, "What? Mr. Jackson! Give them the damn riddle!" Mr. Jackson shook his head and pointed to a tall mahogany cabinet leaning against the wall and bearing an ostentatious lockplate in the shape of a winged man. “Safe’s in here,” said Jackson. “But the key’s somewhere else in this room. Here’s your clue.” He showed the guests what looked like a crude handicraft made in summer camp, a string of little ornaments. “Some of these are rusted, but you should ignore any oxidation. In fact, you’d better ignore any minor ingredients in these things!” Jackson added, making sure each guest saw it fully. "Start from the end with the sinker. Be careful; it's got sentimental value." The ornaments were made from glass beads, old fishing sinkers, loops of lead-free solder, and steel rings, and were arranged as follows: Sinker, Glass, Glass, Solder, Steel, Sinker, Glass, Sinker, Glass Racing to make sense of this clue, the guests rummaged through the room for the hidden key. Some dug through the bookshelves for reference materials, while others used their smartphones to access the Internet.. At last, a clever guest found the key hidden inside a small object, which I shall leave for you to guess. But when they opened the cabinet, the safe confronted them with yet another challenge - a combination lock that bore a compass rose around its dial, rather than numbers, and a sheet of paper bearing the following maze of arrows. And this is far from the last of this room's riddles. Give up! If you give up, surely someone else will guess it for you! Stop thinking! Go find a game where there is one "answer" to every problem! STOP! Leave this place, and my secrets will be safe. Signed, The Witch of Doubt
  11. (Halfway there. Now all that's needed is the 9-letter combo...)
  12. (Molly Mae: Plainglazed: Good work!) The last major riddle of this thread remains uncracked, however. What were L. V.'s answers to the safe puzzle?
  13. (Apologies for the bizarre spacing above. This board kills my formatting, both in Firefox and in Chrome, then doesn't allow me to fix it. Oh well.)
  14. (Apologies for the delayed response. I wanted to write the next puzzles in their entirety before posting this update. If you're having trouble reading the first post, please use this link:) ===== Meet the Pieces (Part Two of Many) Louis Vuitton Ford-Seaton Age: 30 Profession: Lounger and dilettante, or so he claims. Quote: "Call me L. V. What does it stand for? So awesome you asked! It stands for 'Lovin' Volcano.'" Background: As the heir to the Ford-Seaton fortune, L. V. has never had to work a day in his life - though he must have some other source of income, given the sheer amount of money he burns jetting around the world. Sandy-haired and flirtatious, L. V. sounds and acts the part of a stoned surf bum. Don't be fooled. He's a member of the Club in excellent standing for good reason. Random Fact: Won a Forensic DNA Analysis championship. Sample Riddle: L. V. places a Diamond Express credit card on a table and waves over a few guests. "Well, I say!" he says in an ironically bad British accent, "This plastic rectangle reminds me of a puzzle. Okay, okay, I'll cut the accent. How many credit cards can you lay flat on top of it without letting 'em overlap each other? Here are the rules. Numero uno: They're all 3.4 by 2.1 inch standard-size credit cards. Numero dos: To count as being 'on top' of the Diamond Express, a card has to, like, cover up at least a little bit of it. Numero tres: The cards you put down can't overlap each other, and they gotta be sitting flat. No making some kinda wacky pyramid dealio. Come on, dudes and dudettes! How many can you fit?" ---- Answer Key for the First Safe The sheet of paper with Ocean's profile had been hidden in the mouth of a gargoyle at the right side of the front door; its riddle fell swiftly. The answer was, indeed, a reference to the very first words the guests saw. But that was little more than a distraction compared to the first safe. As its opener, Ocean was given the honor of unsealing the envelope inside. It contained a sheet of paper with two stories, the very sheet you are reading now. She read over it with some confusion. Why did the other story say that the beach bum did it? That was totally false! His answer was ridiculous - what did his mother have to do with the safe? Her answer, in contrast, had been entirely well-grounded. She started by solving the Morse code on the page (which matched the flickering lights in the men's room), giving her a list of colors. She then matched the colors to the asterisks on the page, and found that their first letters spelled out the answer. Ignoring the story below, she read the account aloud, then followed the instructions it gave to proceed to the Foyer of the Club. It was time for their challenge to begin in earnest. --- The sheet of paper with L.V.'s profile had been hidden in the mouth of a gargoyle at the left side of the front door, and posed one of L. V.'s favorite party riddles. As the opener of the first safe, L. V. was given the honor of unsealing the envelope inside. It contained a sheet of paper with two stories, the very sheet you are reading now. He read both stories aloud, not even blinking when it began with a bogus account of how Ocean had been the first to open the safe. Why would Dad make the answer to one of his puzzles a word like that? It was almost like saying, "Hey, guys, my riddles make no sense!" Hey, at least they got it right in the second story! His answers were way better. Everybody in the Club knew him and Dad, and it was obvious that he was going to inherit everything, right? So of course the riddles were meant for him. It's not as if this story were being shown to strangers. They wouldn't have a chance. No way they'd guess the year Mom met Dad - two years before he was born - or her name. Still... weird that the writer knew that either he or Ocean was gonna solve the first safe, though. Shrugging and ignoring that story above, he led the rest of the guests to the Foyer, following the instructions on the page. He'd solve the puzzle below later. A Clue Towards L. V.'s Answer DALMERE NEGRE TEFASY GARONE QUESORITU PALO ONNE RENGE GANBERIUE ===================================================================================================================== The sheets of paper end here, for now. Did you solve all of the riddles in this thread? Are you sure? There are always more riddles. For example, did you notice the hidden words in the Sphinx's Decalogue, found by taking one letter from each Commandment? It's a trifle, but worth considering. If you are confused by that last story, perhaps it will become clear in the next thread. Signed, The Witch of Doubt
  15. More than one of the guests had hit upon the solution to the numerical safe puzzle. Even someone who was otherwise incorrect was able to see that 7 was part of it! But it took a bit more work to find an answer to the second puzzle that made sense. Finally, someone muttered a word that would, indeed, fit all the criteria of the puzzle. But, for whatever reason, they hesitated to put it forward as the real answer with any confidence - perhaps they had skipped a step and jumped to a conclusion. Meanwhile, Ocean Zweidler, one of the youngest members of the club, hit on the same answer. "You know," she said to the doorman, who watched as each participant tried out the safe, "this puzzle was somewhat inequitable, wasn't it? It should've been much easier had I ever seen that men's room light in person." "My apologies. But it was fair," said Samuel, who had been given first dibs at the puzzle. "You got all the clues you needed. See? Right there on the page, if you squint a little, maybe get a magnifier, use your little Internet phone if you need to do the research... it wasn't what we call a 'self-descriptive' answer at all, was it? Once you got it from the clues, you knew it." Ocean shrugged (she had a good eye for colors, so it hardly bothered her) and retrieved a keycard reserved in her name from the safe. "Not complaining! When's dinner?" Meet the Pieces (Part One of Many) Ocean Zweidler Age: 32 Profession: Author Quote: "My Grandma Margareta made scarecrows. When I was a girl, my parents showed me some of the faces she gave them - laughing, smiling, crying... I still remember hearing them! It was Grandma who taught me what a writer does. My stories are puzzles. A little dry, a little silly, filled with straw people. But I prop them up on a stick and put faces on them, and my readers create the rest for themselves." Background: The daughter of a neuroscientist and a chef, Ocean is the author of the bestselling Vanishing Island series of mystery novels. As a relatively recent initiate to the club, she specializes in folkloric riddles and Victorian letterplay. She also has a working knowledge of both English and German, acquired during her childhood in the town of Bernkastel-Kues. Random Fact: Once, after receiving a negative review, she anonymously tricked the police into putting a highly inconvenient barricade around the reviewer's house. Sample Riddle: As Ocean waited for the rest of the guests to finish cracking the first two locks, she pulled out a pencil and penned a simple challenge to the others to kill the time. On paper or tablets from man or Divine, I am made of ten parts, and yet only of nine.
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