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Author Topic: Parchment Analysis Analysis - developers' thoughts!  (Read 3658 times)
Tesserex
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« on: July 05, 2008, 02:52:22 pm »
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Congratulations everyone! The puzzle of the parchment has been solved! First of all special recognition goes to wowbagger and blessed for putting it all together and getting the answer first, although independently, and ironically within an hour of each other! As I reveal the clues and meanings, I will try to remember who deserves credit for each step. So, here's a breakdown of the whole deal, the clues, the red herrings, the hints, and finally the solution at the bottom.

Correct Steps:

1. Sage of Erythrae - this clue refers to the Erythraean Sibyl, who is credited as inventing the acrostic. So, naturally, this clue means you should take all the first letters of the parchment. This is the only clue to this step, but because it is the only thing in the parchment that refers to something real, we figured it stood on its own. And it did.

Props to Eleryndor for finding this clue first.

2. Take every other letter - this is referenced in two places in the parchment: "paid attendance every other day", and "every other historian" (which has alternate meaning of "every one but me" but you seemed to find it anyway). This was also reinforced in a post from Isaac saying that his father told him "every other day".

I don't know who pointed these out first, I believe BlackenedRoseThorn may have been one of them and deserves some of the credit.

3. Arrange the letters into a table 15 across - This is the step that stumped the masses. The number 15 is referenced in two places, the magic square (it is the solution of any 3x3, or nine tile, magic square) and phosphorus, the 15th element. In a recent post, Isaac posted a hint with the number 1111, which is 15 in binary. Isaac's clue about being organized hints that the letters should be put into a table.

I believe that The Grandfather was the first, or one of the first, to make the connection between both parchment clues about 15, to suggest that 15 is important.

4. Finally, all you need to do is read the solution from the bottom up the columns. The "suspended inverted" clue alludes to this, but it isn't really necessary to see the answer.

I would also like to give special recognition - my money for solving it first, for a while, was on Chibi, who correctly performed the first two steps but then got stuck on how to align the letters into a grid. In fact, he (she? sorry) put all initial letters in a 20x30 grid, going by the "1 in 20" clue. Coincidentally, if put in a 30x20 grid instead, the solution would have been visible in every other column. So close, yet so far...

If I forgot to give particular recognition to anyone important please remind me. Many people were very valuable to the discussion who I haven't otherwise credit, including elleros, KLC, Iain, Cathy, Atalanta, Jules, and many others who I simply cannot list here for lack of time and space (and memory).

So now here's a list of all the red herrings, what we were thinking, etc.

First, you guys got stuck with anagrams because BRT pointed out that N'her-Girdre is an anagram of Red Herring. We hoped that this would simply clue you in that the name of the place was irrelevant, but we accidentally got you trying anagrams for a while. I had to dispel that myself.

As you can see, all of the numbers that were explicitly written out were wrong - the 8 gates, the 9 caves, 9 square tiles, and the big one, the 1 in 20 buildings of the original capitol. Believe it or not, we didn't even notice that we said "capitol" which would clue you into capital letters. That was an accidental herring, and it tripped you guys up big time. What we were trying to hint at most of the time was that you guys should be looking deeper, but not too deep. For example, the magic square. It was a valid clue, but it was too shallow to think the 9 was correct because it was explicitly written, but it was too deep to think that you need to arrange things into or by a magic square with some kind of numbering system. Many people tried this. The correct "depth" was the number 15. Same thing with phosphorus. Too deep to think it as some chemical meaning or interpretation of greek fire, but its atomic number of 15 was what we were looking for. When we gave you hints about looking for common things, we were trying to get you to find 15 as important.

We got noticeably frustrated (not angry though) when people took so long to pick upon the initial letters. Eleryndor made a post about the acrostic very early, but it was not mentioned again for many pages. Also the 15 connection was dismissed a few times in favor of explicitly written numbers. Plenty of other lines were considered as clues. The reason there was so much padding was just to fit the whole solution into the text. Things like the 8 gates and the southern beach, the "unopened doors", common things like nightfall and other times of day, religion, and the phrase "fond thoughts" were all analyzed forward and backward.

As we come up with more of our thoughts to share, we will add them here.

The final text and it's meaning analysis can be found here.
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Craig Schwartz - Pet Dragons developer / coder
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2008, 07:38:04 pm »
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You crazy guys!! Cheesy
Big hugs and kisses to you, especially for this post
XOXOXOXOXOXOXO
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KLC
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2008, 11:43:19 pm »
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The thread drove me crazzzy so i kept working on first letters on my own. I didn't post it much tho.  What I was missing was the significance of 15, so I actually did the RIGHT thing but with a period of 8, 9, and 20. D'uh! If I'd done it ONE MORE TIME with 15... but Blessed and Wowbagger saw it.
Yay devs!
Yay puzzlers!
Yay dragonz!

gold smile blue smile

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chibi
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2008, 09:38:43 am »
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Congrats on creating the riddle!! The solution was a lot longer than I expected, I didn't think it would be possible to make such a good letter when you have predetermined every other first letter. That's why, after my first attempt of just making a grid, I started to look at possibilities of multiple grids, and turning them clockwise/counterclockwise or aligning them correctly to have just one side come up with the message (only about 100 chars max). :-)

I think the reference to 15 was the most obscure, since it was a pretty far stretch (at least to me) compared to the other visible clues. I think wowbagger probably the grid in other ways before hitting 15...

Before my last attempt I had convinced myself that the first 2 steps had to be correct, and I was going to work with the 300 character string to factor it into different square combinations (since 300 has nice factors) .. my first try would have been to work with factors of 3, but the additional "1111" hint  leans much more towards "4", so I would have tried a 4x75 grid (and then 4x5x15 sub grids) which may have shown the solution. So spending one more day on this could have been enough Wink

I was posting work-in-progress reports in the hopes that someone might pick it up and finish it and I hope it helped with the final solution.

PS. 
It turns out 20 is not a red herring, since 4x5 = 20 is the other side of the final (15x20) square - so Isaac did write that in plain view.
Also, writing Nher-Girdre sometimes without the Girdre part seemed a bit out-of-character for Isaac..

Kudos on the puzzle, the whole thing (text, parchment, pieces) was really well done!

Chibi.
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BlackenedRoseThorn
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« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2008, 09:51:32 am »
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sad thing is, although I had the idea of the first letters being the way to get the message, I didnt pick up on the clues necessary to figure the actual message out... I got to hung up on anagrams as you said... and then got bogged down in various other searching schemes that didnt pan out... congrats to everyone who solved this one- it wasnt easy!
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neellocm
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« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2008, 09:54:16 am »
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I think that writing this puzzle must have been about as difficult as solving it.  Good job.
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estelle
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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2008, 10:33:49 am »
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Yes indeed, most impressive!!  gold smile
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Zedarius
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« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2008, 03:04:52 pm »
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I think that writing this puzzle must have been about as difficult as solving it.  Good job.

It did take a week or so of head-bashing to get the letter coherent and clue-filled within the constrictions of every other letter being forced. But it was fun, and worth it!  red teeth
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Danny Olefsky
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« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2008, 05:33:12 pm »
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Yay thank you devs! Really fun stuff. Looking forward to the next one silver wink
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Lapis
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2008, 11:49:21 pm »
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It did take a week or so of head-bashing to get the letter coherent and clue-filled within the constrictions of every other letter being forced. But it was fun, and worth it!  red teeth
I would have liked to see that... encrypting messages like that must be like trying to speak in iambic pentameter. I can't believe that anyone would willingly communicate in such a way. You guys must be crazy. In a good way.  blue tongue
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