I hoped to give the players a taste of my favorite things from Eric's parties of the past. I love cool physical things. I also love eureka moments. One of my fondest memories from parties past was when Tracy looked at me and asked, “What do you think 'deep as this fog' could mean?” I had no idea what he was talking about. As soon as the words escaped his lips I could see the dim light bulb above his head click on and shine brightly. “Eight of spades” of course!
The scytale has been an idea that I have wanted to see in a puzzle party since EPP1. I knew that it could be worked to cover the things I loved most: physical and eureka. I thought this party would be the perfect time to reveal this idea to Eric. My first idea was to give the teams an encrypted string at the start of the day then later introduce the scytale. The hope would be they would look at the string, have no idea what to do, then once receiving the scytale a eureka moment would hit. Eric had a better idea of giving the scytale to them first and then giving them a long... very long... string of readable text with the hidden text embedded in plain sight.
On to task 2...
Upon opening the cryptex each team received 30 EPP5 dollars and a note that looked like this (each team received a different combination of dorms, you will see why below).
Two different puzzles are contained within this text. The first, more obvious, puzzle is to run around campus looking for EPP5 dollars. I attempted to make finding the dollars extremely easy. I went as far as to give the location in Haley after a quick base 2 to base 10 conversion (10100010101 = 1301). I placed the Parker money on a bulletin board near Eric's “21 Squares”. There was no money at any other locations. However, according to Black team, there were several multicolored ducks. When you combine yard sales, multicolored ducks, and an abstract map of Auburn titled “Town Creek Park” you get.....well... I don't know what you get. Anyway... The plan was people would go to some, perhaps all, of the dorms and realize that there was no money present. The rules of this puzzle said, “Some locations will have EPP Dollars ready to be picked up. Some locations will not.” I also separated the locations that did have money and the locations that did not have money into two different groups.
One of the puzzles on this page was to find the “secret password” bill. The bills look like this. What is going on here? We have the “H” and “P” on the puzzle sheet in blue. We have the 3,4, and 7 on the bills in blue. We also have numbers in a different font on both the puzzle and the bills. If you use the different font numbers as the guide for the sequence and the blue letters as the sequence for the string you get:
The next clue was the line, “If you are a leet computer dork like I am, you will know which bill to bring Eric.” H3P74 converted from “leet” to English would be “HEPTA”, meaning seven. Guess what? Each team had a $7 bill to show Eric resulting in 25 EPP5 dollars.
Second puzzle on this page. I found some of the dorms on Auburn's campus were in a formation that was quite interesting for puzzle making (more on that below). I also found that each dorm (except dorm M) had a person's name and another “shorthand” designation. This shorthand designation gave the option to use the letters A-M and numbers 1 – 10 in a puzzle. After searching the teams would discover that the dorms on the puzzle page contained no money. Why would I put locations that contained no money on this page? Just to waste time? I was hoping for a eureka moment here. One of the first clues given at the start of the day was “dormitoryRDBcallnumber”. This was embedded in the instruction sheet. The hope was the teams would spend some time on this cryptic string, come to a dead end, but store it away from later use. RDB is short for “Ralph Brown Draughton”. The RDB library is Auburn University's main library. Now for the cool physical part... Black team would decipher, “HA0201” by concatenating all of the dorm's shorthand names. I placed a book for each team in the library in the location where this call number *could* exist. i.e. between HA200 and HA210. I attempted to avoid valid call numbers for fear that the public might disturb the books. Each team would find 31 EPP dollars and one last bonus puzzle.
As I mentioned earlier these dorms made an interesting formation. The only clue for this bonus puzzle was, “Remember to stay within the lines!”. This clue would hopefully make people think of coloring within the lines...which is exactly what I wanted people to do! If you color in each combination it will look something like:
P A G E 91
Turning to page 91 each team would have found the message “Return this book to Eric with a team photo for a bonus.”