# Reverse Engineering the Solution

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• 12-30-2014
Doc
Reverse Engineering the Solution
Happy Holidays at the end of 2014 on a beautiful, clear afternoon in the Bayou State of Louisiana!

I've had a major insight into this puzzle over the last couple of days that I wanted to stop by and share to get us kicked off into a new year. I'm a huge fan of these types of treasure hunts, and my contribution to helping them along is to stop by and get some information out there to get some brain cells firing.

I admit to being fairly ashamed it's taken me years to make this connection when it turns out to be so simple.

There's only one solution to the game. It involves the use of three keys. Each chapter's answer involves finding and solving these keys.

We don't need facebook clues, although in retrospect, some of them are true gems. I realize the winners of the four chapters used the facebook clues, but I don't think any of them utilized the method the author intended.

What I needed was the answers, and we now have the answers to four chapters to work with. Let's see what we have here:

Each chapter answer consists of three parts: A section which is associated with something that is 'first', a section which is associated with something that is 'last', and a part that is missing.

At first blush, some of the answers may not seem to fit this description. The omega key for chapter 1 appeared in the middle of the chapter, and all its letters were present. The two questions that formed the basis for the solution to chapter 4 do not appear to have an association with something 'first' and 'last'. As it turns out, everything falls in place once you understand what's happening.

Of all things, what helped unlock this puzzle were the missing 'J' and 'Q' at the end of the chapter 2 answer.

I realized a long time ago these represented a 'Jack' and 'Queen'. With the 20 questions at the end of each chapter, the author defines each question's answer as 'key'. We know that the letter 'J' is the tenth letter of the alphabet, and that a Roman numeral 10 is an 'X'

In this fashion, 'J Q' = X Key.

We know that the 'jack' and 'queen' are Male and Female, in keeping with the theme of chapter 2. Likewise, in a deck of cards, the jack and queen are numbers 11 and 12. In a sequence of 1-20, the '11' and '12' appear IN THE MIDDLE.

This has bothered me for quite some time. The old-timers around here will remember the first map clue we were given at the release of the game on the Invisible Ink page: The first........is equal to the last. That giant blank in the middle appeared to be significant to me, but there was quite a bit of speculation at the time that it may have been due to programming error, etc., but I realize now it was linked to the missing letters of each chapter's answer.

One will recall that one of the three keys of chapter 9 is scratched off, also representing the missing letters.

So, for the missing 'J' and 'Q' from chapter 2, one can associate three things:

1. X Key
2. Male and Female
3. Missing in the middle

Let's consider the solution for Chapter 1. The final letter was a 'Q', but it was found in a different page and paragraph from its predecessors. Can we associate any sorts of similar information about this odd letter?

Firstly, the 'Q' was found in paragraph 24. If we remember, the 24th letter of the alphabet is an 'X'. In this fashion, the 'Q' in paragraph 24 is a sort of 'X key'.

Another really odd thing about this were certain times that were associated with the alpha and omega keys:

1. The alpha key was the first sentence of the chapter: At ten o'clock in the morning. In other words: Hours = ten.
2. The omega key was found on page 7, and within the paragraph an odd sentence fragment popped up: ten to twenty minutes. In other words, in this paragraph, we have Minutes = ten.

The first paragraph that contains our answer has Hours = 10. The second paragraph that contains our answer has Minutes = 10.

Following this sequence, our final paragraph that contains our answer, the 24th paragraph with the letter 'Q' should have had a final times reference. Hours - Minutes - Seconds.

Guess what?

SECONDS is missing.

This set me to seriously scratching my head. Especially when I realized these were all TIMES which is another definition of an 'X'.

So, for this 'Q' in paragraph 24, I can associate three things:

1. It's an X key
2. The 'Q' should have been missing, but it's not missing.
3. '10 seconds' is missing from the paragraph.

One can see the similarities between the two. This is the information in a nutshell:

1. X key
2. Opposites
3. Missing in the middle

I've been unable to reconcile these three ideas until the last couple of days.

Now, let's take a cursory look at the beginnings of each chapter's answers:

Chapter 1: A T E N
Chapter 2: 9 12 6
Chapter 3: P E Q
Chapter 4: C H A T

One sees 'A Ten' pretty clearly. The second chapter appears to be a series of the four cardinal points on a clock face, except it's missing 3. 'Chat' becomes interesting when you look at the first Navajo letter of the Code Talkers in question 8: A-Chi. If you know your Greek alphabet, you'll know that a 'Chi' is the letter X.

I've been aware of these things for a while--I'm sure most of you that are actively playing the game have been aware of it as well.

I couldn't make the intuitive leap to complete this until very recently.

The three keys are three X's.

It was that simple. X X X. A first X, a second X, and a third X.

1. The first X key is simply 'X'. It represents first and last.
2. The second X key is '10'. The mathematicians will recognize this as Roman numeral X as well as 'binary 10' = 2 designating this as the second key. The binary numbers 1 and 0 are 'opposites'.
3. The third X key is '24'. X is the 24th letter of our alphabet. It's also a numerical sequence of 2 _ 4, where the '3' is MISSING IN THE MIDDLE, designating 'missing in the middle' as the third key.

Once you understand what you're actually seeing, the puzzle will begin to open up.

The beginning, the middle, and the end of each chapter answer conforms to these three keys. It's the confirmer that allows you to 'know' you're correct, and in some cases, provides the order for the missing keys such as Chapter 4.

Consider the beginning of the Chapter 1 answer: A T E N. If you recall the author released these letters in a piecemeal fashion. He wasn't trying only to give us the chapter answer. He was trying to clue us towards the actual solution to the game.

1. A T. First and last, 1 and 20. I'll digress and tell you that Morse code plays a major role in the correct solution to Chapter 1, and Morse code is the key to understanding the three keys here. A 'T' is equivalent to a 'TEA', and in Morse Code, T E A = Morse code 'X'.

A T = First/last X

2. A T E in morse code is . - - . That's the OPPOSITE X. Morse code X = - . . -

3. A TEN. The first four keys of the Alpha key spell out A TEN. Look at the last four keys of the Alpha key: 12 11 9 8. As you can see, the TEN is MISSING IN THE MIDDLE.

Each beginning, each middle, and each section of missing letters will conform to these three keys.

Remember, this is reverse engineering, and this is the end confirmers. We'll need to work our way back to deriving the solutions going forward. You can bet it will begin and end with these three keys.

That's a lot to absorb, and I'll bring it to a close with one extra tidbit. The last three keys of each chapter solution is a hint for the beginning of the next chapter. If you recall the end of chapter 1 and 2 had B J Q. If you understand what I've been posting, you'll recognize this as being a version of '2X Key'. The '2X key' in chapter 1 will get you started in chapter 2. If you recall from chapter 1, there were two identical questions at the end of the chapter. Looks like an outstanding candidate for something that's related to '2x'....

Let's start 2015 by solving this game.

Doc
• 12-30-2014
Rx Jeff
Someone other than Ron Shore wrote the stories.
Ron Shore then created each chapter's puzzle in a fashion where they would and could only be solved with clues. That way he controls when and how quickly each chapter is solved. Probably based on book sales. That should be pretty obvious since it took just shy of two years to get a solve for chapter 4. Why so long? Only one remaining silver eagle after chapter 4 and there are 12 chapters.
Now a replacement gold plated bronze eagle for chapter 5 and this one will take just as long if not longer so solve. Why? You can figure that one out.
Doc, I respect your train of thought and thinking outside the box. But, Ron Shore did not create the puzzles with any underlying mechanism. Sorry, but it was done by design so that the outcome is totally controlled by Ron Shore.
I applaud his effort and charity, but this is not a treasure hunt. A search for random letters within the text of the story.
• 12-31-2014
Lobster
Hey doc --

Solutions for chapters are unique. There is no universal "3 key" solution that magically solves everything. Indeed, some chapters appear to use "three keys", but I'd argue that none of the solved chapters to date have been "three key" solutions.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of clues in the book and in its related references. Some clues apply to one chapter. Some apply to more than one chapter. But I think it would be fair to say that very few indeed apply to all 12 chapters at the same time.

Keep at it :)
• 12-31-2014
Doc
Jeff,

I appreciate the sentiment. You've mentioned before that the author created these puzzles in a way that were impossible to solve without further clues. Can you point me towards the interview or discussion where he said that? From what I'm seeing, I don't think that's the case.

Something I don't recall the winner of Chapter 4 mentioning or anyone else for that matter: What about Question 14 and Question 8 made them a 'first' and a 'last'? As Lobster asked, how does one know how to order the missing letters?

Do you have a copy of the cipher key that was used for Chapter 4? Once you know what you're looking for, it jumps off the page at you.

The solution to chapter 4 was the state abbreviations in the cipher key. They form the three keys. An opposite key, a missing-in-the-middle key, and a first/last key.

That first/last key is how we were supposed to know that question 14 was first and question 8 was last.

Keep on keepin' on,

Doc
• 01-01-2015
kazoo
As much as I was hoping there would be some grand 'mechanism' to solving the chapters, I don't think this is the case. There may be one for the gold eagle but I don't believe this is the case for the individual chapters.

If you look at the early promotional release interviews and even the forward in the book, I think Ron was hoping this would take off in the social media world. He mentions that clues would be released on sponsors websites and through social media and yes some clues were on some websites at the start but no new ones have been added. I don't think Ron intended to have to solely use his facebook page to release the clues but since the other avenues didn't pan out, that's all that is left. I'm not on the witch hunt bandwagon and am not going to fault Ron for this... he has done something that I know I never could and personally I think anyone that can even get to the publishing stage has surmounted unbelievable odds. I doubt the charity route was the initial concept but more likely a last resort to get his life's work out there after not finding a celebrity backer... better than giving up?.... not for me to judge.

That said, there are some clues throughout the book, main website and companion book that help solve the chapters and they are obviously easier to see when reverse engineering. There is a clue at the start of Chapter 6 that tells us where Chapter 1's solution starts and a clue in the chapter summary that points you to the start of omega. Chapter 3's summary has a clue as to which letters to use and Chapter 4's summary has a clue to tell you the answer is in the questions. Like I said, it's easier to see these after the fact but at least it shows that clues are there.

Anyone else what to share some other 'reverse engineering' tidbits?
• 01-02-2015
gizmo2337
It's probably just a coincidence on the sprinkles found throughout the book. I mean, ATEN are some of the most common letters you are going to find. Even in morse, they are short letters, so it's probably nothing at all.
However, I wouldn't be surprised for the last 4 keys of C12 to be either SION or TION. Not that it may help much, as they are probably missing.

That being said, I do believe that C5 will involve X, just not the three keys version presented above.
• 01-02-2015
Lobster
Still think I'm very close with C5. Pretty confident I've had the basics worked out for a while. Think I've narrowed the starting points down to a very small number of possibilities. Probably have something with cipher not right or something though.

Think I know the general idea behind chapter 6 and where the keys will be found. Same with C7... think I know where the keys are, but not sure on cipher or number of sequences.

C8 I think has a really creative solution, and I think that the keys are hidden cleverly. Not sure where the sequences start though.

Not sure about C9. It's a little weird because its relationships intertwine with many other chapters. So it's hard to tell what originates with C9 and what is just an external reference. C10 I think I understand the mechanism... but the details are very fuzzy.

I can't tell which because the relationships make each one suspicious... but either C11 or C12 I think I've had 90% of the solution solved for a couple of years now. Know where to look generally, but low confidence on cipher (the clues just don't seem to address it very well). Also not 100% on number of parts.

You definitely need Facebook clues to solve these chapters (logic-breaking details like "leftover letters" makes it effectively unsolvable without), but I suspect (hope?) that those who put in the time to discover how things work will ultimately have an advantage over the competition.
• 01-02-2015
Doc
Kazoo,

Can you share the specific references that you see the chapters being connected? I'm really interested in that sort of thing.

I think there's a single solution threading through all of this. Let me try to give a concrete example of what I'm referring to while it's fresh on people's minds: the penultimate step of the Chapter 4 solution.

There are three keys: a first/last key, an opposite key, and a missing-in-the-middle key.

Make the chapter 4 code key--the one that ranges from A to T, then begins again with U.

The solution to chapter 4 is the STATE ABBREVIATIONS.

7 = GA
14 = NH
20 = TN

They're representations of the three keys.

1. G A = 71. You should recognize that as an 'opposite 17', and the 17th letter of the alphabet is a Q. G A = 71 = Opposite key

2. TN = TEN with the middle missing.

3. That leaves one key leftover: the first/last key, making N H as the 'first last key'.

And, that was our answer. The first/last key was 'N' and 'H' or 14 and 8.

The TN key, the 'missing-in-the-middle key' was the necessary clue to order the missing letters.

The three missing letters for chapter 4 were P, Q, and R. The TN key has the 'E' missing in the middle, and as you're aware E = 5.

In our code key, the three missing letters correspond to JKL. These are the three letters of the '5' key of our telephone.

Do you understand? TN = missing 5 in the middle. The 5 key is in the middle of your telephone keypad and contains the letters J, K, and L.

The TN is the clue to order these three keys. THe 'T' is a version of 'last' since it's the last letter of 1 - 20. The 'N' is a version of being 'first' by virtue of being the first key of 'NH' as well as 'north' being the starting place of our map.

'TN' = Last first. Omega alpha. You know the lower case omega is a w or '23'. Alpha = 1.

TN = last first = omega alpha = 23 1. The three letters J K L are then arranged according to this sequence: K L J, then converting it back to our actual missing letters: Q R P.

One has to use the 'first/last key' to locate questions 14 and 8, then one has to use the 'missing' key to order the missing letters.

Have faith, folks. I think this puzzle is a LOT better and a lot more logical than we might have originally suspected.

Doc
• 01-03-2015
Doc
I created a Facebook account for the singular purpose of making this post there, but I found I don't like Facebook very much, and apparently the feeling was mutual. LOL. I hope the author makes his way here from time-to-time and reads this.

Ron and Gentle Questors,

Ron, I wanted to take the time to thank you and congratulate you on making this hunt. "Astonishment" at what you've created doesn't begin to convey how good this hunt really is.

I'm here to encourage folks, both old players and new, that a logical, elegant answer is hiding here. When Ron stated that we had everything to solve a chapter map since Day 1, and that a player would 'know' that an answer was correct, Ron wasn't kidding.

I am well aware that I would not have been able to solve this thing without the help of a lot of people, and I want to contribute in return. Thank you to the winners of chapters 1 - 4 for their perseverance--I would not have been able to solve the puzzle without your chapter answers. I'm absolutely terrible with ciphers, and without a lot of help from the good folks here at tweleve, I wouldn't have made it past the 240 chapter questions.

You see, the real problem that I have had with this hunt, and I suspect many other players as well, is we have not known where to start solving a map.

And here, after what? Four years? Five? And four chapters into it, I finally figured out the start. I find that hugely amusing.

We finished the 240 questions, and were ready to begin solving a map. Where were the clues? We started searching high and low. Inscrutable ciphers. The book was torn apart. The web site was pored over. The only concrete map clue we were given was the 'first = last' in the invisible ink on the web site, and that horse was beaten to death to no avail.

We just couldn't find the clues.

A cry went up, and after a long period of time, the author began posting clues for Chapter 1. They seemed....'odd' for lack of a better term, but on we went.

Our good friend, Mr. Lintott, perservered and arrived at our solution for Chapter 1. The solution seemed a little 'incongruent' with many of the author's clues, but we trekked onward. Chapter 2 rolled around, and we found two different versions of Chapter 2. We still didn't have a good starting place, and when the solution was found--with missing letters, no less--bewilderment began. The Chapter 3 solution was eventually found, and the mob became more desparate.

"Where are our clues? Please help us, oh Ron, and give us more clues! We can't do this without more clues!"

Gnashing of teeth. Pulling of hair. Rending of garments. We questors were growing more desparate. More clues were released, but we still didn't know where to begin a map solution. Chapter 4 was solved, and the mob became angry. Torches and pitchforks were brandished and the shouts began.

"Ron's a meanie! We can't solve this without more clues. The puzzle's rigged. The puzzle's terrible. Ron controls the hunt, and we can't do anything!"

A bloodbath ensued. Several questors closed their books and walked away in disgust. Others jumped into the fray saying how wonderful and kind the author is.

And, none of us had a clue.

The author has been sitting there like a sphinx, making no comment whatsoever on any winner's solution--only a congratulations and the awarding of a prize. All the while, the author was listening to the cacophony:

"Where do we start? We need clues! Please, help us--give us more CLUES!"

When the answer hit, it was like a thunderbolt.

My first thoughts were this, "Please, Lord, it did NOT take me five years to see this. It could NOT be this simple or devious."

And, of course, it was.

What we were searching for in the last five years was all we ever needed to begin the true solution to the game:

CLUES

The word itself. We were supposed to recognize that the letters L, U, E, and S are Left, Up, East, and South. It's a set of directions.

C LUES = 3 Directions. The clues we need to solve the game are three sets of directions.

1. The first set of directions is an anagram of CLUES: CUES L = Q's 1 2. Combine this with the previous iteration of CLUES = 3 directions by changing the Left, up, east, and south to a '+'.

CLUES = Q's 1 2
CLUES = 3 'directions' = 3 +

Combine the answers into an easily recognizable statement:

CLUES = Q's 1 2 + 3 = QUESTIONS 1, 2, and 3.

The first set of directions to solve the hunt is contained within questions 1, 2, and 3.

2. The next set of directions is contained within the corollary of 'question', ANSWERS. One can see the 'NSWE' within the word. And what do we know about the 'answers' of our book?

The answers are equivalent to KEYS.

The second set of directions is contained within the three KEYS of chapter 9: the omega key, the dove key, and the scratched off key.

3. For the questors who are new, and for anyone else who may be unaware, the final page of the book, the page with your registration number, contains invisible ink. It's a great addition to this hunt, and the page contains many ciphers and messages. The real information the page is conveying for the purposes of this discussion is that the hidden ciphers are ALL DIRECTIONS.

The Invisible Ink contains our third and final set of directions.

This is the beginning of the true solution to our hunt. Solving the clues presented by these three sets of directions will place one on a path that may culminate in an eagle.

I wish us all the best of luck in this New Year on our hunt.

Let's get crackin',

Doc
• 01-04-2015
gizmo2337
Quote:

Originally Posted by Doc
The second set of directions is contained within the three KEYS of chapter 9: the omega key, the dove key, and the scratched off key.
Doc

Ironic that you used the word second here. You can find the second of your three keys "twice" in the poem of C1 if you know what to look for. Happy new year :)
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