Ferret: Riddles in the Dark   22 comments

(Prior posts on Ferret here.)

This is another one of those “audience participation” posts; even if you’re just reading about Ferret rather than playing along, you might be able to contribute to this one.

To continue from last time, I was lost in a desert. I had surmised, based on being able to drop an item and find it stayed in the room, that there was only one desert room repeated over and over.

-> fire bolt at sand
The bolt bounces off, causing no damage.
-> l
You are in a hot and dry desert. You can see nothing around except sand and
more sand.
There is a steel bolt here
-> ne
You are in a hot and dry desert. You can see nothing around except sand, and
more sand.
-> l
You are in a hot and dry desert. You can see nothing around except sand and
more sand.
There is a steel bolt here

This maybe was 80% of what led me astray, but the other 20% was not anticipating the sheer chutzpah of the challenge posed ahead. Even though there is only one “room”, the game keeps track of where the player avatar is and getting further in the game requires finding the right coordinates. Hence the task: map the desert looking for special locations, square by square.

Since you die after 31 steps, there was a lot of systematic save/restore cycle going. I also started heavily using the up-arrow feature (where you can skip back to previous commands) and the ability to use long streams of commands (like e;e;e;e;e;e;e;e;e;e meaning to go east ten times in a row). Once I got a pattern going it wasn’t too bad trying to fill in a grid, and once I expanded to 10 steps in all directions I finally found something (to give credit, Damian Murphy got there first).

You are in a hot and dry desert. Half buried in the shifting sands you can see the remains of a previous explorer, whose bones have been bleached white by the oppresive sun.
There is a skeleton here

This is official 10 steps east and 6 steps north of the starting room, although you can shortcut NE so it takes less than 16 steps to get there.

Moving the skeleton reveals a tin containing a plastic sheet; assuming this is a useful item, it meant that the skeleton required a visit, so the “range of exploration” became much smaller. I decided to focus on the northeast quadrant relative to the starting point.

Eventually I hit onto the fact if you take 10 more steps east and 6 more steps north you arrive at another new location:

You are in a hot and dry desert. There are some steps to the northeast which lead down.
You momentarily feel a little faint.
-> ne
Top of Steps
You are standing at the top of a set of steps which have been carved into the ancient sandstone. All around you is desert as far as your eyes can see. You can vaguely see something at the bottom of the steps glinting in the light of overhead sun. Go on, go for it.
You momentarily feel a little faint.
-> d
Bottom of Steps
You are at the bottom of some steps carved into the ancient sandstone. Above you, you can see the blinding sun shining down. There is a tarnished bronze plate set into the west wall at an angle of exactly 45 degrees. There is a dark and gloomy exit to the east.
Exits: –E- ——– U-

The “feeling faint” part is from walking out in the desert sun long enough to start dying; fortunately, the messages stop once at the bottom of the steps.

From the east of the steps there is a dark place. The “angle of exactly 45 degrees” signaled quite strongly to me that the sun was meant to be a resource here, and one CLEAN PLATE later the passage was illuminated:

Red Room
You are in a room where the walls, floor and ceiling have been carved from beautiful red rock.
There is a strange inscription on the east wall.

The inscription is the first riddle. I’m going to avoid putting the solution here and let people try in the comments.

251521’1805 141520 07052020091407
16011920 20080919 04151518 2114200912
09 190125 1915

Getting the riddle correct dramatically opens a second room.

There is a tremendous rumbling under the floor beneath you as some great and ancient force comes to life. The whole room begins to shake showering you in sand and dust. Just as the rumbling begins to subside, the whole of the east wall starts to descend gradually, and the rumbling continues afresh. The wall slowly slips down until it comes to rest with a jolt, its top now level with the surrounding floor. The sand and dust are blown out of the room by a slight draught. It is now quiet.

The second room has another riddle; answering that one correctly leads to a third riddle.

| ferret .. bannap |
| ?????? .. xwzcan |

|           I XII XII           |
|         XX VIII I XX          |
| VII XII -- --- XX V ----- --- |
|            IX XIX             |
|          XIV XV XX            |
|        VII XV XII IV          |

It’s the fourth riddle where I (and Damian) are now stuck. I do have some theories but I’m going to hold off on them because I don’t want to pre-dispose people down the wrong path if it turns out my thinking is wrong. I will make further discussion in the comments, though. (For this post, don’t bother with ROT13 — I know some people would rather not fuss about with it, and I’d like anyone who comes by to be welcome to give a stab at the puzzle.)

The inscription appears to be a mixture of ancient and modern English:

Round (3nm + 3f + 4c + 2y) m

Posted October 31, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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22 responses to “Ferret: Riddles in the Dark

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  1. I must admit, my first thought was it was a reference to old imperial and modern metric units. Nautical miles, feet, cubits and yards? That’d be 5,560.572m. So I guess 5561 as the answer. I’m not at all convinced that’s the solution, though. It seems very messy.

  2. I have passed the Tangerine Room (and am now some rooms further on, in the Indigo Room). See below.

    I made a “comb the desert” script for all positions <=28 moves from the start (not 30/31 because I had some extra command bloat, and hasn't bothered since, but if I get stuck again I might do the remaining edge too) and didn't detect anything except the skeleton and the steps you have already found.

    The riddles up until this one was surprisingly easy after the trouble we had with the cathedral code.

    Now, I am a bit sorry if I really spoil things here, but Strident is definitely on to the right track, though you need to think of some other old English distance units. (I first made an excursion into the ROUND instruction of PL/I though, which was a dead end.) Substitute Strident's feet with furlongs and their cubits with chains for… "round (3*1852 + 3*201.168 + 4*20.1168 + 2*0.9144 = 6241,8)" = 6242

    • So if I may go on here with the Violet Room (spoilers only for that room)…

      “This inscription appears to be a bit of a period piece and looks like this:
      5 8 86
      15 64”

      I think that “period” is a clue that we should think of the periodic table, and probably the element numbers.

      My first thought was that maybe we would get some molecule that we could say the name of, but it immediately struck me that it was a very mixed combination of elements and probably wouldn’t fit any common molecule.

      And we get this which doesn’t make much chemical sense to me:
      B O Rn
      P Gd

      After the first 1-2 lines I thought we maybe would get something readable, like “Born ‘n’ …”, but alas no again?

      I am thinking that perhaps the objects we found in this and the two previous rooms could be related but it hasn’t worked out for me yet.

      Here are their numbers and abbreviations:
      Platinum 78 Pt
      Ferrite 26 Fe
      Titanium 22 Ti

      Good luck to all!

      • I’d guess Galileo. (Famous early scientist, born in 1564.)

      • That sounds like a very good suggestion. Though I can’t really make a specific connection between Galileo and the periodic system, other than that he did some chemistry things. But your find is so on point I think it should be correct anyway.

      • OK, it wasn’t Galileo but your thinking was absolutely right. It was a very famous person born that year, but in England.
        Now I am in the white room and I have the long missing brown pin. And lost again. :D

      • Looking at the room colors brings to mind the message on the two halves of the torn card:

        White is right
        Black is opposite
        Orange is next
        Brown in the gap

        I can’t imagine this could refer to anything so straightforward as the placement of the pins in a simple sequence. The White Room is indeed the rightmost of this sequence of rooms (so far, and assuming north is up). Does that make the Red Room black? Orange is next, just as on the card. Or is “right” meant in a different sense, making Black “wrong”? I suspect there’s a Black Room that can somehow be accessed using the directions on the ripped card.

      • My intuition (not worth much) thinks that the White Room “riddle” is to be solved without the pins. But they might come into play at a later time. Or they are just another of Ferret’s many clupeae rubrae.

      • The pins themselves scream clupaea rubrae, given the general logic of the game so far.

        The hint for the White Room has me totally baffled.

      • For those of us who haven’t gotten a chance to catch up in the game themselves (like me), could the White room setup and hint be described via ROT13?

      • I have yet to look at the hint, but

        Juvgr Ebbz
        Lbh ner va n ebbz jurer gur jnyyf, sybbe naq prvyvat unir orra pneirq sebz
        ornhgvshy juvgr ebpx.
        Rkvgf: —J ——– —
        Gurer vf n oebja cva urer
        -> trg nyy
        Gnxra : n oebja cva.
        -> rknzvar jnyyf
        Gurl ybbx nyevtug gb zr.
        -> rknzvar vafpevcgvba
        V pna’g frr nalguvat yvxr gung nebhaq urer.
        -> v
        Lbh ner pneelvat:
        na benatr cva
        n juvgr cva
        n oynpx cva
        n oebja cva
        n yratgu bs fgrry jver
        n pheirq jbbqra fcyvag
        n fgrry obyg
        n cynfgvp furrg
        n gvgnavhz beo
        n sreevgr onyy
        n cyngvahz fcurer

        since we now have all the pins, I’d guess it might involve those?

      • adding the hint:

        Tb qbja ba vg.

      • one extra theory, more predicated on the fact that we’ve revealed a white room rather than anything else:

        (oops, missed Damian’s comment, it is the same theory as his)

        Sebz gur Obggbz bs Fgrcf, urnqvat rnfg, jr trg va beqre: Erq Ebbz, Benatr Ebbz, Terl ebbz, Gnatrevar Ebbz, Oyhr Ebbz, Vaqvtb Ebbz, Ivbyrg Ebbz, Juvgr Ebbz.

        Gur terl vf ernyyl bqq gbffrq ba gurer abg ernyyl cneg bs gur envaobj.

        Nqqvgvbanyyl ybbx ng gur erpbafgehpgrq pneq ba gur cvaf

        juvgr vf evtug

        oynpx vf bccbfvgr

        benatr vf arkg

        oebja va gur tnc

        zvtug gurl rnpu vaqvpngr n pbybe ebbz sbe gur cvaf gb or cynprq vagb? “Terl” va cnegvphyne frrzf yvxr n “tnc” va gur envaobj fb jbhyq unir oebja. Oynpx vf bccbfvgr jbhyq tb va juvgr.

      • Is “Gurl ybbx nyevtug gb zr” a standard response? because if it’s special to the room, it certainly seems to evoke the message from the card.

      • Yeah, it’s one of the default “you don’t see anything else described” when you examine something.

      • Various musings:

        1. “tb qbja ba vg” -> Qbrf PENJY qb nalguvat hfrshy naljurer? Ubj nobhg CHFU SYBBE be bgurejvfr vagrenpgvat jvgu SYBBE va gur Juvgr Ebbz?

        2. Abg bayl vf gur Terl ebbz jrveq (vf “ebbz” abg pncvgnyvmrq sbe gung ybpngvba), ohg Gnatrevar Ebbz vf nyfb bqq – jung lbh’q rkcrpg sbe n pynffvp envaobj vf bs pbhefr Erq – Benatr – Lryybj – Terra. V jbaqre gubhtu vs Gnatrevar vf zrnag gb or haqrefgbbq nf “Gna Terra,” znxvat bhe frdhrapr urer Erq – Benatr – Terl – Gna/Terra – Oyhr – Vaqvtb – Ivbyrg – Juvgr. Creuncf “Gna Terra” vf gur “tnc” jurer gur oebja cva orybatf?

        3. Creuncf Obggbz bs Fgrcf fubhyq or gerngrq nf gur qr snpgb “Oynpx Ebbz,” fvapr vg’f bccbfvgr sebz gur Juvgr Ebbz naq jnf qnex orsber jr yvg hc gur cynpr.

        4. Pna gur yvtug or rkgvathvfurq fbzrubj abj gung jr’ir bcrarq ebbzf guebhtu gur Juvgr Ebbz? Fbzrguvat pybfrq va gur Gbc bs Fgrcf be Obggbz bs Fgrcf? Gur oebamr cyngr ng Obggbz bs Fgrcf fbzrubj qrfgeblrq be zbirq?

        5. Qbrf PBIRE JVGU FURRG qb nalguvat hfrshy, rvgure jvgu nal bs gur bgure vgrzf, gur oebamr cyngr, be nal bgure srngherf va gur ebbzf?

        6. Qbrf SRRY JNYY be SRRY RNFG JNYY be SRRY SYBBE qb nalguvat hfrshy va gur Juvgr Ebbz? (Znlor gurer *vf* na vafpevcgvba ohg jr pna’g frr vg orpnhfr vg’f juvgr-ba-juvgr.)

      • From memory:
        1. Nothing special doing that in the WR.
        2. I think GR is capitalized like the rest. TR – hmm, I’m not sure if we should be looking for a rainbow here, but maybe.
        3. BoS is not really dark, it’s the RR that is dark. Also – you don’t need to “turn on the light” when you know what to say, and the rooms after RR are not dark. But it IS an idea to think of the RR as black, I haven’t tested anything related to that though.
        4 and 5. I’ve tried various ways to do this, without success. There might be ways that I haven’t thought of though. Also note that you don’t need to “turn on the light” to start with.
        6. Nothing out of the ordinary so far. I’ve TESTed everything that I could think of. I agree that there is high probability of an inscription or other type of message that we have yet to discover in some clever way.

        I don’t get the clue at all. I will concentrate my efforts on understanding it. I also want to understand the plastic sheet better. What is even a “plastic sheet” that comes in a tin?!

      • ROT-13 because it contains the White Room hint.

        “Tb qbja ba vg.”

        Lbh pna *cva* fbzrguvat qbja? Znlor vg vf nobhg gur cvaf nsgre nyy? (V’z abg rira pbaivapvat zlfrys urer, whfg tenfcvat ng fgenjf.)

    • furlongs! wurf. That’s what I was missing. I’ll join you at the other parts later when I can get back to the game.

    • Ah yes, furlongs and chains makes a lot more sense paired with nautical miles. :)

  3. Note that the “flavour” text of the inscriptions all carry strong clues. I’m now in the Violet Room. I have just ignored the balls/spheres/orbs so far.

  4. OK, huge spoiler here for everything since we went down the steps. The HINT/CLUE command which has just taunted us the entire game up until now has started giving useful situational responses. I noted this and went back and tried it for the earlier rooms too and it is available in all of them.
    The “low level” of the clues seems like an insult to us after we have passed the Cathedral though. Don’t use the command unless you want spoiling material. Still hasn’t helped me to figure out the Violet Room though, more than tell me that I probably am on the right way. But I suspect that I might be missing some clue in the wording of the hint.

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