Merlin Mystery Solution: Part 2

Merlin Mystery cover

The Merlin Mystery

Go to the Merlin Mystery Solution Index.

This is Part 2 of my solution to The Merlin Mystery (“MM”) by Jonathan Gunson and Marten Coombe.

This post introduces all the important symbols used in the book and my shorthand notations for them.

MM is filled with symbols. An important step to solving the puzzle is to be able to recognise them and know which of several different categories they fall into.

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Masquerade by Kit Williams: The Solution

Artwork from Masquerade

Page 1 of Masquerade – Click for larger version

Masquerade is the quintessential armchair treasure hunt book: beautiful to look at and filled with many small, easy puzzles as well as one large one that is nigh impossible to solve.

This post goes through some of the little puzzles in the book (as much as can be covered in a single blog post). It also gradually reveals hints to how the main puzzle works, before giving away the full solution. Skip to the end if you want, or try to work it out for yourself once pointed in the right direction.

The clues start right on the title page: “To solve the hidden riddle, you must use your eyes, / And find the hare in every picture that may point you to the prize”.

Indeed, there is a hare hidden on every page, and hunting them down is the first bit of fun to be had in the book. But this clue has two deeper, double meanings: eyes are important, and the hares point, literally, to the answer.

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A Collection of Riddles

Voices cover art

Voices, The First Book

I have in my collection of books a series of anthologies called “Voices”, put together by some chap called Geoffrey Summerfield in the late 1960s.

The books contained a mix of obscure, anonymous poems as well as lesser-known scribblings by famous writers. Among them are various riddles, some ancient, some modern.

The answers are written in “white text” under each riddle. Highlight the text to read it.

 

Decapitations by ‘C.C.’

Behead a small animal
and find a river in England

Answer >> (M)ouse <<

Behead a loud call
and find a plaything

Answer >> (W)hoop <<

Behead a stream of water
and find a bird

Answer >> (B)rook <<

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News and Updates for October

Dreams of Gerontius logoThis is a monthly update of treasure hunt, game and puzzle tidbits.

Harry Hid It, But Where Is It?” is an armchair treasure hunt with a prize of at least $5000. Harry has hidden his stolen treasure and the challenge is to find where. Entries can be submitted between 1 March and 15 June, 2017.

Clues to the treasure are found in an adventure novel which can be bought for $9.99 as a download or $19.99 for a physical copy. The first five chapters are available for free to check if it’s your sort of thing.

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The Bus Game: Print out and Play

bus board game

The Bus Game Board

Good news, I have created a printable version of The Bus Game for everyone to enjoy.

You can download it here: The Bus Game Print Out and Play

Download and print off the file. Then you can either cut out and stick together the playing pieces, or you can use Lego bricks for the buses and a coin for the time-track counter.

There are numbers on the top of each bus so you can use a normal six-sided die if you want.

I hope you enjoy the game. Please leave a comment to let me know how you got on!

Citadels

Citadels game box

Bruno Faidutti’s Citadels

Citadels is a tidy little card game in a small blue box. When you have a lot of games, and when you want something to take round a friend’s house or to the pub, these things are important!

It’s also fun to play, this being the other important thing in a game.

The players are noblemen (and/or women) competing with each other to build the best citadel. This can only be achieved with lots of gold and the help of powerful characters such as the Thief, the Merchant and even the King.

Each round players secretly choose a character to aid them from a deck of cards. Each character has very different skills and abilities. The Bishop will earn you more gold if you favour the Church, while the Warlord will destroy buildings in your opponents’ citadels, for a price.

Most intringuing are the Assassin and Thief. These characters kill or steal from others, but only if the player correctly guesses the character selection made by others.

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Neil Gaiman’s A Study In Emerald

Study in Emerald game box

Neil Gaiman’s A Study In Emerald, the game

Sherlock Holmes vs Cthulhu, the ultimate showdown! This is the selling point of A Study In Emerald, the game by Martin Wallace, if not quite the plot of the Neil Gaiman short story.

A little background is necessary. In 2003 there was a short story collection called Shadows Over Baker Street. In it, 18 different authors mash together Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos in a nightmarish alternative history.

Neil Gaiman wrote the first story in the collection, beautifully introducing the concept and twisting the reader about like a confused puppet. His story, which won a Hugo Award, is available as a free PDF from his website and is worth a read if you’re a Sherlock fan – the style and in-jokes are clearly targeted at fans of Doyle rather than Lovecraft.

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The Bus Game

Bus Board Game

The Bus Game final prototype

UPDATE! The Bus Game has now been released for Android on the Google Play Store. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

The Bus Game is a children’s board game of my own design.

My other half and I made a prototype (for my nephew’s birthday) by buying bits of wood off the Internet, painting them with acrylics and tester paints intended for when we finally redecorate the bedroom, then spray-varnishing them.

Players try to get the four coloured buses through the village, from one bus depot to another, before bed-time. The game is co-operative so everyone wins or loses together.

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The Ultimate Quest

Ultimate quest book cover

The Ultimate Quest

The adage of never judging a book by its cover was never truer than with The Ultimate Quest by William Lynhope. The forest scene daubed in primary colours creates an expectation of something similar on turning the page.

The harsh reality of the interior is 50 pages of unremitting grey text as a grey man meets with a grey lawyer and his blonde assistant. Make it through the story to the clues that supposedly lead to the Holy Grail and you’re rewarded with grey photos of a Michelin road map of France and a copy of The Burlington Magazine. My excitement is barely contained!

Published in 2001, The Ultimate Quest is the search for the Grail. The first person to locate the Grail Keeper and answer his questions three (no, five!) would receive a “priceless” replica of the Grail itself. In 2011, the publishers admitted defeat and closed the competition, never revealing the solution.

The puzzle is a combination of code-breaking and cryptic clues. A little searching on the Internet reveals that nobody has much idea of the solution and the pieces that have been decoded hint at a level of ambiguity that probably renders the puzzle impossible.

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