# Thread: A Possible Decoding Mechanism for the HBC

1. Expert Twelever TwelevePlus
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## A Possible Decoding Mechanism for the HBC

Greetings on a hot, sultry May night in the Sportsman's Paradise of Louisiana!

It's odd how something can just plop out of nowhere. I haven't thought about this game in a long, long time, and I don't know what made the lightbulb in my head go 'pop', but I thought I'd pass along these thoughts to those of you still working on this puzzle.

This puzzle has the possibility of having a really elegant, logical solution, and this decoding mechanism is so simple it flew past me when I was actively working on the book many moons ago.

It's just a bisected circle.

Lord have mercy, I think that's all that's needed. It's the 'code for infinity'--a reference to pi: a circle divided by its diameter.

Each symbol clump in the HBC would be decoded to a single Morse code character using this bisected circle.

This basic circle would have 'positive' on one end, 'negative' on the other end, and a dividing line between the two, which is 'neutral'.

This basic circle would turn a number of ninety degree 'clicks', such that the setting of this circle would be either 'positive', 'negative', or 'neutral'.

Consider the symbols of the HBC. There are five pairs of opposites present within the symbols:

1. Sun/moon (circle/moon)
2. Left/right (moons)
3. Large/small
4. Open/filled-in
5. Horizontal/vertical

Each of these has a distinct +/- polarity.

We would create five circles and turn each circle the appropriate number of 'clicks' as determined by each HBC symbol clump.

For instance, for the sun/moon circle, we would count the total number of circles and moons present within a clump and turn that particular circle that number of 'clicks'. For the horizontal/vertical circle, we would count the total number of horizontal lines and vertical lines (this would include both skinny and rectangles) and turn that circle the appropriate number of clicks. Etc.

After you have turned each of these five circles the appropriate number of 'clicks', we would simply 'read' the current settings of these five circles and translate to the appropriate Morse code using positive = dot, negative = dash, and neutral = blank.

For instance, if our five circles read 'blank - positive - blank - positive - blank' that would be decoded as morse code 'I'. If our five circles read 'blank - blank - blank - pos - neg', we would have the letter 'A'.

One can see that a single letter could be encoded in multiple, multiple ways which would probably prevent computer decryption.

The five circles could be used to encode any letter or number in Morse Code.

I'll be highly amused if the decoding mechanism turns out to be so simple as this bisected circle.

Doc

PS: I think the names of the Chant spells being 'Arise', 'Descend', and 'Crevasse' might represent the three basic settings of this bisected circle: positive, negative, and the neutral line that bisects it.

2. Now that's interesting, Doc!

q

3. Wow. Once again Doc, the simplicity is amazing. Haven't thought about this in a dog's age, but this is real pretty.

4. Originally Posted by Doc
Consider the symbols of the HBC. There are five pairs of opposites present within the symbols:

1. Sun/moon (circle/moon)
2. Left/right (moons)
3. Large/small
4. Open/filled-in
5. Horizontal/vertical

Each of these has a distinct +/- polarity.

We would create five circles and turn each circle the appropriate number of 'clicks' as determined by each HBC symbol clump.

For instance, for the sun/moon circle, we would count the total number of circles and moons present within a clump and turn that particular circle that number of 'clicks'. For the horizontal/vertical circle, we would count the total number of horizontal lines and vertical lines (this would include both skinny and rectangles) and turn that circle the appropriate number of clicks. Etc.

After you have turned each of these five circles the appropriate number of 'clicks', we would simply 'read' the current settings of these five circles and translate to the appropriate Morse code using positive = dot, negative = dash, and neutral = blank.

For instance, if our five circles read 'blank - positive - blank - positive - blank' that would be decoded as morse code 'I'. If our five circles read 'blank - blank - blank - pos - neg', we would have the letter 'A'.

Hey Doc,

I’ve got to compliment you on this excellent idea. Upon first glance the system you describe seems like it could work. You describe an incredibly neat system of encryption. What you depict would definitely foil most computer decryption attempts which does make it an appealing mechanism for encrypting the HBC.

Unfortunately I’m not sure that it could work since the the HBC is far from neat and tidy. There are just too many symbols which fall into both polarities.

Take the simple plus sign (+). It is both vertical and horizontal. Would it be assigned the positive or negative polarity? Perhaps, you might just lean towards positive in this instance for obvious reasons.

But, let’s look at another example. What about a large open circle with a tiny filled moon inside. It is both large and small, open and filled, sun and moon. Where do we go with a symbol like that?

The complexities of these HBC symbols make it very difficult to come up with a valid theory which uses all the symbols.

Anyone who’s ever followed my posts knows that I was never a big fan of trying to decode the HBC at all.

I’ve always preferred to think that it was either some type of visual puzzle or just a sick practical joke by the author to distract us from other more pertinent sections of the book.

Lately I think I might be wrong in that assessment. Perhaps there is some orderly method that can both simply and logically decode the HBC.

I’ve been working on a system I call THE 6x6 Just Suns and Moons Theory.

It was inspired by one of Gamepro’s Ultimate Puzzle levels although off hand I can’t recall which level it was. In any event, it involves the use of a simple 6x6 grid and just the basic Suns and Moons of the HBC.

Remember we do have the hand written note on page 18 “Just Suns and Moons”

I believe the majority of the symbols are just thrown on the page to distract the reader. Mike has been quoted as saying something to the effect of using “confusion and diffusion” to effectively encrypt a message in plain sight. All those extra symbols would accomplish both of Mikes means to an end.

With my theory I toss out everything except for the following 6 simple symbols that are all the same size and simplicity level:

Left open crescent
Right open cresent
Left shaded crescent
Right shaded crescent
Full open circle
Full shaded circle

The above 6 symbols would be the external coordinates on the 6x6 grid. I have not yet found a mechanism to determine their proper order. The interpretation for that could be anywhere. I do tend to think that the order will be the same on both the top and left hand side of the grid.

The internal part of the 6x6 grid would simply look like this:

A B C D E F
G H I J K L
M N O P Q R
S T U V W X
Y Z 0 1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9

A 6x6 grid is an efficient method of encrypting a message that contains both numbers and letters which would be perfect for hiding redemption instructions.

There may be other twists involved with this. If I recall correctly, the Reflection Clue that Mike gave us on Christmas day in 2007 contains HBC type symbols. This might indicate that a reflected grid should be used or that the page itself might be read reflectively.

Then again, the symbols on the Reflection Clue are arranged in a circular pattern which might indicate that the "Doc Decoding Mechanism" of simple circles might be right on the money.

It all still makes my head spin.

5. Expert Twelever TwelevePlus
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Annie,

I don't think I did a good job explaining what I was talking about--my apologies.

I'm considering five separate bisected circles as described above. Each circle turns a certain number of 'clicks', and THEN read as being positive, negative, or neutral.

Using your examples above:

1. A large '+' symbol:

a. The Sun/Moon circle wouldn't turn any because there are no circles or moon symbols present.
b. The Left/Right circle wouldn't turn any because there are no left or right moons present.
c. The Large/Small circle would turn two 'clicks' because there are two 'small' symbols present: the skinny vertical line and the skinny horizontal line. (The rectangles would represent the 'large' versions of the vertical and horizontal lines.)
d. The Open/Filled-in circle wouldn't turn any because there are no open or filled-in symbols.
3. The Horizontal/Vertical circle would turn two 'clicks' because there is one horizontal line and one vertical line present.

You would then 'read' the final positions of these five circles. Each circle would be set to positive, negative, or neutral.

2. The large open circle with a tiny filled-in right-facing moon:

a. The Sun/Moon circle would turn two clicks because we have one circle and one moon present.
b. The Left/Right circle would turn one click because we have one right-facing moon present.
c. The Large/Small circle would turn two clicks because we have one large symbol and one small symbol present.
d. The Open/filled-in circle would turn two clicks because we have one open symbol and one filled-in symbol present.
e. The horizontal/vertical circle wouldn't turn any because we have no horizontal or vertical lines present.

I hope that explanation helps clear things up.

This really doesn't look that difficult. The simplicity of it makes me wonder if it isn't along the correct lines.

Doc

6. Thanks Doc,

This latest explanation does make it clearer in my mind.

The system you've described here is even more awesome than I originally thought. It wouldn't surprise me if this were the key.

The circular references in this hunt seem endless. The Reversi Luna Spell, which brought Ana back to life, speaks of a circular equation. The Rings of Eternal Life are of course circular. The reflection clue containing HBC symbols is arranged in a circular pattern. The references go on and on.

Nice job Doc.

7. ## Good Luck

Even though the circular click theory is plausible, it is far from simple. Good luck - hope it works out for you.

Haven't looked at this hunt for years now - good to see some effort going into solving it...

steve

8. Expert Twelever TwelevePlus
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Anneiam,

Speaking of that Reflection clue, do you know where to find a copy? I've long since discarded all my notes. I'd like to pass hands over it again.

Thinking about these bisected circles, I've recognized something peculiar that I'd like to check out with that Reflection clue.

Do you remember those smiling suns and moons at the top of each page in the text?

Those clues are 'setting' two of these bisected circles on each page.

I'm using the following definitions:

Sun = positive/Moon = negative
Right-facing moon = positive/Left-facing moon = negative

Either the sun or moon are at the top on each page. That's defining north and south as +/- on each page.

The smile and the frown are the left and right crescents.

If the right-crescent is on the right and the left-crescent is on the left, one can rotate that circle in either direction and the crescent becomes the 'smile' at the top.

If the positions are reversed, having the right-facing crescent on the left and the left-facing crescent on the right, rotating that circle in either direction causes the crescent to become the 'frown' at the top.

Does that make any sense?

In reality, this clue is defining the polarities of a coordinate grid on each page. North/south are being assigned +/- and east/west are being assigned +/- as well.

As yet, I have no working theory why we would need to know this information, but it's crossing over to other clues as well.

Do you remember the hidden animals on the letter blocks? Each block contains two letters. One letter is always either north or south, the second letter is always either east or west. This is providing the same sort of information as the smiling/frowning suns and moons at the tops of the pages. Our author is giving us the clues to assign +/- to north/south and east/west again. I suspect this information will be used in conjunction with the puzzle on p. 94 and the animals around the circle, but again I have no good working theories why we need that information.

It crops up again with the moon code symbols in the spell book.

The base 5 moon code symbols were used in the 'red hare ring' puzzles found in the spell book. Each of those mini-puzzles has arrows denoting latitude and longitude. It's a very simple method of assigning +/- to north/south and east/west. (I would think the arrow points to the positive.)

I think these definitions for north/south and east/west found in the suns/moons at the tops of the pages, the hidden animal blocks, and the possible reuse of the moon code symbols are for higher-level puzzles, so I'm not too worried about it.

However...

I faintly remember that the Reflection clue had something in it that likewise easily places +/- on north/south and east/west. I'd like to go back and take a gander at it in conjunction with the concept of these bisected circles.

If memory serves, one drew a big '+' in the circle to discover the definitions.

I'm operating on somewhat faulty memory, but I'm curious to look.

Doc

9. Originally Posted by Doc
Anneiam,

Speaking of that Reflection clue, do you know where to find a copy? I've long since discarded all my notes. I'd like to pass hands over it again.

...

Doc
Doc,

Are you speaking of the Clue posted in the magazine "In Touch Weekly" back in Feb. '07?
If so, here's a copy:
http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2005-...6/in-touch.jpg

q

10. Expert Twelever TwelevePlus
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There was one that said 'Reflection' in the middle of it that had a series of symbols similar to the HBC around a circle?

Faulty memory here.

Doc

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