It’s been a few weeks in the making, but I’ve finally finished fleshing out the Constantine Capers: Mystery Scavenger Hunt, just in time for my book launch next month. This post is to explain the rules, how the hunt will work, and some tips and tricks for making it all the way to the end.
First off, I need to express how incredibly excited I am for all of this. Just about a month and my book will be introduced into the world! This is my way of celebrating, and involving all of you lovely people.
How does it work?
Well, for the next four Tuesdays (Feb. 16, Feb. 23, Mar. 2, Mar. 9), I will be posting a clue on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I’ll also be archiving the clues on my blog. Each clue will be in code, and once decoded, the clue will help you decode the next clue. Simple? Perhaps not, but I think you can do it.
Once you’ve decoded the final clue, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The first person to reach the end and send me the correct final location will win the grand prize which consists of a signed copy of my book “Constantine Capers: The Pennington Perplexity,” a print, and a bookmark. In order to be eligible for the prize, you need to be confirmed on my email list. If you scroll to the bottom of this post, you’ll find where you can sign up. Just make sure that you check your spam and confirm your subscription (you’ll also get the first chapter of my book!)
I will announce the winner on March 16, which is the launch day for my book! From there, I’ll contact the winner and we’ll figure out how to get the prize to them. No purchases are necessary whatsoever!
How do I decode the clues?
The code I’ll be using is the Playfair cipher. This cipher uses a keyword and a number in order to decode the cipher. There are several ways to get the keyword, whether it be through a number system with a dictionary, or to have someone tell you outright. For this particular scavenger hunt, the keyword will be found using the previous clue.
For example, let’s say that the previous clue (once decoded) was “The Capital of England.” This, as we know, would be London. In the previous clue, there will also be a number indicated. In this case, lets say the number was 4. You would look up “London” on Wikipedia, and count to the fourth word. This gets us “Capital.” That is your keyword for the next clue.
But how to decode it from there? Well, here comes the fun part. You draw a 5x5 grid and write out “capital” within it, without repeating letters. From there, you fill in the rest of the alphabet but combine I and J. It should look something like this:
Now we’ll have to look at the new clue. For the sake of teaching, the sentence we’ll be decoding is “You have decoded this message.” In code, with “capital” as the keyword, it looks like this: VSQ NCWF ELIRLFE ANEY SMRYQIML
The first thing you’ll want to do is divide the clue into groups of two. So: VS QN CW FE LI RL FE AN EY SM RY QI ML. Now here comes the fun part!
On your grid, find V and S. They should make two corners of a rectangle. Find the opposite ends of that square (for V that will be Y, for S it will be O) and you’ve decoded the first two letters. You.
But what if the two letters are on the same row? Like with F and E? In this case, you shift the letters over to the left by one square. So FE becomes ED (have decoded). If they are. in the same column, you shift it up one square. So EY becomes IS (This).
Once you write everything out, look for the letter “X.” If there are duplicate letters in a set such as a double S, the encrypter will pair the set with X’s. So instead of SS it would read SX SX. Remove any X’s that don’t make sense. Then try and split your decoded message into individual words. Congrats! You’ve decoded your first message.
Of course, if you don’t want to go through all the hassle of decoding it by hand, you can always put the code and the keyword into a Playfair decoder such as this one. You are welcome to do that, but you’ll still need to figure out what the keyword is. Every clue is going to be a riddle, with the answer being someplace in London. Of course, if you can’t solve the riddle, it will be significantly harder to decode the message.
For our first clue (coming tomorrow), you can find the keyword with London-4. Hint: We used that in order to decode that last message.
Step 1: Sign up for my newsletter.
Step 2: Watch for the clue tomorrow.
Step 3: Use London-4 to find the first keyword.
Step 4: Use the keyword to decode the first clue either by hand or with an internet decoder.
Step 5: Solve the riddle
Step 6: Use the answer to the riddle (and the number on the previous clue) to find the next keyword by looking it up on Wikipedia, and counting to find the keyword.
Step 7: Wait for the next clue and solve it.
Step 8: Continue until you’ve reached the final location!
Step 9: Contact me and watch for the announcement of the winner!
Best of luck to all of you! I hope you have fun as up and coming detectives.