Ferret: No Real Conception of Barriers As You or I Might   58 comments

(Prior posts on Ferret here.)

From the British “Operation Hurricane” atomic bomb test, October 1952.

I managed to wheedle out a few more hints from the hive-mind collection of Ferret authors; including the one from last time I still haven’t been able to utilize yet, they are

1. Regarding the exploding mobile phone:
Have you found a scroll by The Honourable Society of the Party for Freedom from Persecution?
Have you found a communicator?

2. You can lead an automaton to water…
You got very close before. Once you have taken the automaton to the gate you have to do something.

3. We can make a start on one of the harder puzzles in the game:
The pads in the theatre – have you found anything that may relate to a theatrical production given that the theatre might be on fire?

4. You found the Pier at the lake – notice anything about it?

Number 2 is the one we’ve made progress on, but brief discussions on the other three first:

1. Still not sure what scroll is being referred to here; last time I guessed the ticker tape…

-> empty tin
Done.
-> break cake
The sponge crumbles to dust revealing a strip of ticker tape.
-> read tape
CMRD SMLNSK + PRCD STNDRD DRPFF PNT + NJY CHCLT BR + DSRPT CPTLST PGDG PWR SPPLY + NRCH TH LDRS T FR TH PPL + STOP

…which as John Bruce observes, has + signs, suggesting addition, but I still haven’t gotten anything productive out of this. It is possible there is still a missing clue. The only other sincere clue might be that when getting scanned upon activating the communicator with the charger back in phase 10:

Darkins, you have failed to register with The Department for an excessive period. According to standard protocol you must text the first 8 characters of your Security Pass Number to 80085 immediately, whereupon you will be notified regarding your court hearing.

This suggests maybe the system uses five-digit numbers, but that’s very tentative. After the communicator activates you can type an unlimited number of times to test out designations, but I’ve always got a error signal.

3. The theater in question is one where if you pull a switch, you get a light going, but you also get blasted downstairs and blocked by a fire.

Click.
There is a not inconsiderable explosion as the ancient workings of the brass switch generate a miniscule arc of electricity which, combined with the methane gas, causes a conflaguration that knocks you bodily down the stairs.
Rehearsal Room
You are in a large circular area with a low roof. There is a stairway leading up from the room. In the middle of the space is a podium mounted upon which are four pads. The pads are designed in the shapes square, triangular, oval and round.

The triangular button consistently causes long beeps. The other three cause a short beep, and if pressed again, a long beep (but only if the same button is pressed twice in a row). This allows for morse-code type messages, although there are multiple ways of causing the short and long beeps.

This clue here suggests this particular poster is relevant:

I have now tried every version of 9-1-1, where 9 is long-long-long-long-short and 1 is short-long-long-long-long, but with no success.

One extra wrinkle to the whole proceedings is that the building eventually collapses.

There is a catastrophic crashing of blazing timbers as the theatre collapses. You are reduced to dust in the ensuing fireball.

However, if you duck into a nearby closet, the collapsing timer stops entirely. I highly suspect this is just a bug, but I wanted to mention it anyway. If we assume the timer limits our typing, the full text D-I-A-L-9-1-1 isn’t possible to enter, although it is possible to barely make it to N-I-N-E-O-N-E-O-N-E spelled out as letters.

I get the intuition we are on the right track but missing a small thing to make the result work.

4. I have noticed nothing at all special about the pier, but since I skimmed by it last time, let me excerpt the process of getting a ferry.

Viewing Deck
The path runs from a ravine to the southeast into a wide area of rock overhanging a beautiful lake to the north. The rock overhang forms a pier, which is fenced on both sides. At the end of the fence on the east side is a steel post, attached to which is an iron chain which disappears into a mass of swirling fog which hangs over the lake. Also attached to the steel post is a nautical bell.
Exits: N— —-SE– —
-> ring bell
Clang, clung, clang. It seems to be a little out of tune.
-> wait;wait;wait;wait;wait;wait
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
-> wait;wait;wait;wait;wait;wait
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
-> wait;wait;wait;wait;wait;wait
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
Time passes (yawn).
You can hear a strange clanking noise apparantly coming from the fog on the
lake.
-> l
Viewing Deck
The path runs from a ravine to the southeast into a wide area of rock overhanging a beautiful lake to the north. The rock overhang forms a pier, which is fenced on both sides. At the end of the fence on the east side is a steel post, attached to which is an iron chain which disappears into a mass of swirling fog which hangs over the lake. Also attached to the steel post is a nautical bell.
Exits: N— —-SE– —
A chain-powered ferry has hoved into view and neatly docked itself at the pier.

I included all those wait statements to emphasize just how much waiting is involved (and to explain why prior to getting a hint I bailed and went somewhere else before seeing the result). After landing:

Treasure Island
A wide area of rock overhanging a beautiful lake to the south. The rock overhang forms a pier, which is fenced on both sides. The north aspect of the pier continues as a road. At the end of the fence on the east side is a steel post, attached to which is an iron chain which disappears into a mass of swirling fog which hangs over the lake.
Docked next to the pier, to the south, is a ferry.
Exits: NS– ——– —
-> n
Alright Corral
A road running from north to south with steep rockfaces on both sides of the road which is blocked by a mass of fallen rock possibly from a mountainous outcrop overlooking the road. In front of the rockfall is a giant slab of rock with an irregular crack running from top to bottom.
Exits: -S– ——– —

Incidentally, despite the crack feeling like it could use some manner of explosive, it might not be the same explosive as the mobile phone. That’s in the same Phase as this lake scene; let me reproduce this image just as a reminder of the Phase order:

Back at the fire-theater (Phase 10) there’s a zinc key and a “sealed pvc vessel” downstairs, and if you shake the vessel and set it down it eventually explodes. While it could be related to the beeping puzzle it may be just that you need to survive the fire long enough to bring the vessel here.

All this lack of progress is counterbalanced by the “Once you have taken the automaton to the gate you have to do something” hint, referring back to Phase 9. Solving the puzzle opened a large new area which could almost have been a new Phase in itself, Phase 9b if you will.

Voltgloss managed to crack open the case more or less by fiddling until getting lucky, than reverse-solving what happened. This happened in the area with the automaton and the a very heavy “portable generator” which the automaton will follow when it is activated.

In the southwest corner of the area (where the map is a bit broken, that’s likely a bug) there is a bracelet.

The bracelet is rather chunky and ugly, not apparently designed for decoration nor adornment. Etched into the surface of the object is a caption: “Super Tag. 100% reliable, will not fail (excludes wear and tear, faults in manufacture, malfunction, act of bod, unexpected faults, misuse, unauthorised repair, high humidity, low temperature, frost, excessive heat, general use, authorised repair or any circumstance not foreseen or otherwise by the manufacturer. Terms and Conditions may be changed without owners consent, permission or notification. Changing the battery invalidates the warranty).”

The bracelet is the key for manipulating the automaton further. Sometimes it will try to pick up the generator and move around on its own; however, for some reason, it actively avoids the room the bracelet is in if it is moving independently (but it will still happily follow you into a room with the bracelet). There is no clue whatsoever to this. (I would expect maybe the bracelet to vibrate in the presence of the automaton, or something like that?) So if you go to the southeast corner of the map, which has a locked gate to the south, and lead the automaton there, and then seal off its exit by placing the bracelet to the north, rather than moving back and forth to the north and south in the two already-accessible rooms it will bust through the locked gate to the south and let you in the new area.

The automaton has liberated the generator and then decided to leave the area. Being an automaton it has no real conception of barriers as you or I might. Accordingly, it takes the one available route out and trundles serenely into the gate, bursting it open in the process. The automaton has left the scene.

I am frankly still baffled and I suspect something is broken in the code. But hey, progress!

Phase 9b starts with a “raised path”; not much to comment on about it, other than a “gated deadend”.

Raised Crossroads
A grassy pathway. The ground to the side of the pathway falls away rapidly and prevents access below.
Exits: NSEW ——– —
-> w
Gated Deadend
A grassy pathway. The ground to the side of the pathway falls away rapidly and prevents access below. To the west is a long high wall with an enormous wrought-iron gate set between two high stone columns. Atop one of the columns is a granite spheroid, the other column is vacant. Through the gate you can see another path heading towards the horizon in beautifully cultivated gardens which stretch as far as the eye can see.

It is tempting to think the same “automaton smash” trick works here, but my test came out negative. The automaton’s tendency is to move north/south, and additionally, the word “gate” isn’t even recognized by the parser at the gated deadend, suggesting the item doesn’t get used.

To the east is a cottage with a ghost.

The ghost starts to the room immediately to the north upon entrering, and seems to travel to one adjacent room if you move in any direction.

Hallway
A narrow connecting room.
Exits: NSEW ——– —
-> n
As you enter the room you are greeted by the incredible sight of a spectre in full frenzy. The ghost seems a triffle upset at your invasion of its privacy. The ghost aspect may be a little exagerated as your body is most manifestly invaded by an energy form you cannot comprehend.
Anyone got the marmalade, the toast is ready.

The big loophole is that it only is worrying about movement, and in at least one room you are allowed to attempt to move (even though it doesn’t work) causing the ghost to change rooms by one step. Fiddling with this allowed me to run and grab the two apparent items, a jade globe (probably a red herring but you never know with this game) and a security capsule, which is very interesting indeed.

Study
A small room with a writing desk, sideboard and chaise longue. There is a marble fireplace in the east wall.
Exits: N— ——– —
There is a security capsule here
-> examine capsule
The capsule appears very robust, possible because it is designed to be a secure item. It is cylindrical in form. Embossed along one side is the legend: “Property of FTS (Subway) Systems Ltd. If found, deposit in any mailbox with your name and address and a reward will be payable. Thank you.”

The southern portion is a little more elaborate, being manor with multiple floors.

Salon
This room is quite large. It appears to have been looted as all the contents of the room are absent. There is a spiral staircase in one corner of the room that leads down.
Exits: –EW ——– -D
-> d
Bibliotheque
This room is very large and softly lit. The walls are covered with shelves all of which have been deprived of their contents. One bookcase remains, apparantly still resplendent with books. There is a spiral staircase in the middle of the room that leads up.
Exits: —- ——– U-
-> read books
Although there is the appearance of books, in reality it is one of those illusions popular in Victorian England whereby the wall is painted in such a way as to mimic a bookcase full of books and thereby hide itself amongst the other bookcases in the library. Unfortunately, in this case, as all of the real books have been removed the false books stand out like a sore thumb.

One room might have another computer-where-you-type-riddle-answers sequence, like back in the office building. The problem being I can’t solve the first riddle, assuming it even is one.

Cabinet
A bare office. Running along the north wall is an old Pomme.
Exits: –E- ——– —
-> examine pomme
A standard edition Pomme consisting of an enormous cabinet running the full length of the room. The cabinet is surmounted by an industrial strength keyboard. On the front of the cabinet, below the keyboard, is a rocker switch.
-> push switch
Click.
There is a whispering of fans and a hum of mains flow.
After a brief delay you hear a computer generated voice intone:
AMCBHWAWALAHDNLH

One passage gets you stuck into a “Tres Tres Petite” chamber, whose only purpose for entering is to read a “scribble” (you can’t back out, but by now we’re seen plenty of circumstances where information is given in ways that can’t be part of the main save file.

-> read scribble
It appears that a builder from some distant time in the past (the language appears to be ancient estuarine) has left his calculations inscribed for posterity on the wall.

Wifdf = AX
Hiftf = BY
Lemff = 9782C310

This suggests a home for the “X” and “Y” graffiti moments earlier (Graham’s Number and Pi) although I’m unclear what the ramification is.

A “Bureau” has a table on a rug that can be moved to the side to reveal a trapdoor.

The trapdoor is somewhat ordinary and non-descript although the oak wood is quite beautiful. The trapdoor appears to be jammed by what looks like a tiny rectangle of mica.

(Yes, we have one of those — from solving the complicated crypto-crossword and getting the number sequence, we got a tan block where after trying to eat it we were granted a mica rectangle. This indicates a common pattern such that other rectangles are _very_ important or it indicates a common pattern where other rectangles are totally irrelevant red herrings.)

Finally, there’s a grab bag of other items in a side room, like a mirror, a transistor radio…

Although the box seems to be from an old-fashioned transistor radio it appears to have been modified to fulfill a different function. The top half of one side of the box features the original LED display, beneath which, etched into the surface of the box, is:
Model ZR186B
Prototype 7 (Multi-Terrain, All Weathers)
Get-u-there
Produced in association with
Phlegmatic Terrestrial Positioning Systems Ltd
All Rights Reserved.
All of the conventional radio controls have been removed and the box sealed. The surface coating of the box looks as if some form of water-proofing has been applied.

…a smudged pamphlet…

Report of the Vlandorf Expeditionary Force
Date: 27 November 1957

How long is it since we took a good look?
Could we ever find what we were looking for?
Once we analysed the text and found the missing “the”.
Luckily that led us to the location of the pylon.
Another thing that we should have thought of.
Unless we had made that expedition to Xepherous.
Xepherous gave us lots of clues as to when.
Eventually, though, we may just end up floating.

Your humble servant Obcequs, the Tharp of Tranydore.

…and an envelope with a “glossy voucher”.

A Jenny Talls Promotion

The Fashion Event of the year featuring:

Heady Grobuttucks

Noni Nonutts

Hugh Ampleforth

This voucher admits one only.

Non-transferable. Not for sale.

Validation Number: 55378008

(Ooh, a number! Toss it on the pile with all the other numbers.)

So in summary, this makes for concrete progress, but the kind of progress that provides more questions than answers.

Posted December 17, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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58 responses to “Ferret: No Real Conception of Barriers As You or I Might

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  1. Have you examined the mica in the trap door? Something very surprising seems to be etched onto it. Or there’s a really weird bug at play. Probably the latter.

    Also, gur obbxpnfr va gur Ovoyvbgurdhr pna or chfurq.

    • I’ve starting to get obsessive about running TEST on everything but there’s always something I miss anyway!

    • I have accessed locations past [gur obbxpnfr.] Hints:

      1. Vs bayl gurer jnf fbzr jnl gb fgbc gur obbxpnfr zvq-ebgngvba.
      2. Gbb onq lbh qba’g unir n punapr gb gnxr na npgvba juvyr gur obbxpnfr vf ebgngvat.
      3. Erzrzore gur pnabr evqr?
      4. Erzrzore jung vgrz lbh arrqrq gb oevat jvgu lbh gb fheivir gur pnabr evqr?
      5. Lbh qba’g unir gur ybat cbyr nalzber, ohg lbh qb unir n tbbq fhofgvghgr.
      6. Chfu gur obbxpnfr juvyr pneelvat gur wniryva.

    • I have also now obtained the mica holding the trapdoor shut. After it’s been obtained, its description changes.

      • I’m there too. Any idea of [fbzr jnl gb ubyq gur gencqbbe bcra nsgre tbvat qbja? be vf gur qvivat fhvg lrg nabgure gnagnyvmvat erq ureevat?]

      • My gut reaction is [gung gur qvivat fhvg vf nabgure erq ureevat].

        What I find more interesting is that [pbzcnevat gur zvpn sebz Cunfr 9 gb gur zvpn sebz Cunfr 10, jr zvtug or ybbxvat ng n fhofgvghgvba pvcure bs fbegf orgjrra yrggref naq flzobyf. Gur onax gryyre pneq sebz Cunfr 8 yrncg gb zvaq ohg whfg genafyngrf gb abafrafr (naq vf zvffvat gur genafyngvba sbe ng yrnfg bar flzoby – gur crevbq).]

      • I’ve been frantically trying to guess the verb that will allow me to remove the mica (cerfhznoyl jvgu gur gjrrmref). Might I beg a hint?

      • NM – got it.

      • CHYY ZVPN JVGU GJRRMREF

      • Re: the mica: bar guvat gung whzcf bhg ng zr vf gung rirel flzoby vf bayl hfrq bapr. Qvssrerag flzobyf sbe ercrngrq yrggref znxrf zr guvax guvf vf ng yrnfg abg na beqvanel fhofgvghgvba pvcure.

  2. oh yes, just realized, the voucher number [vf whfg gur pnyphyngbe pbqr ntnva, gung vf, vzntvar gurz ba n pnyphyngbe ghearq hcfvqr qbja.] snrk.

  3. I’ve not visited this area or had any chance to think about the new hints (being knocked off my feet for several days with totally horrible flu), but here are some immediate reflections. I hope that I will have more energy tomorrow and work with the new opening…

    I styrkort feel that there must be some additional clue to how the differently shaped pads work that we have missed or haven’t found yet.

    You know that you can type WAIT [number] to wait that number of turns? Like WAIT 999. I often use this just to quickly test if something happens after a certain amount of time after I have done something that hints to that.

    I’m not sure if I already wrote about this, but if you examine the PVC vessel thoroughly it clearly hints to containing all the ingredients for gunpowder and an ignitor item. The zinc key (you can also examine it to see its shape) strongly suggests a typical (British?) household gas key.

    I don’t follow what makes you suspect broken code about the automaton/gate?

    “Ancient estuarine” seems slightly paradoxical. Reading up on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estuary_English might be helpful but probably not necessary. Wifdf/Hiftf/Lemff should correspond to width/height/length, but what we should do after that is less clear, even with the graffiti.

    Have you examined the (new) mica? The one from before very much looked like a memory card.

    AMCBHWAWALAHDNLH – this just screams out to me to try to solve it! Also the smudged pamphlet, so much to think of that might be useful or just totally irrelevant…

    • *styrkort = strongly
      /auto-“correct”

    • I still haven’t been at my keyboard, but keep watching from the very best seat here through my phone, thanks to Jason and commenters.
      I’m not certain, but it seems that what you are trying with the pads is Morse encoding. Is there something (besides the long/short beep!) that hints to this? It seems very unusual to use Morse code for dialing. Approaching from another direction, a way to encode a dialling sequence, I would rather think of pulse dialing. Normal pulse dialing is very simple though and doesn’t really fit well with the setup. But perhaps the old British(?) Strowger switch could be a lead, where four keys were used, for ones, tens, hundreds and thousands? Still no link to the shapes though, but maybe enough of an idea to warrant experimentation in lack of other paths forward.
      If we go in the reverse temporal direction we could think of DTMF dialling, and how the 3×4/4×4 tone combinations could be specified by the pads – and the multiple states that they seem to support. Is it possible that we could discern different frequencies from the beeps if we find the right verb, tool or hint?

  4. Seeing the ticker tape gives me a sinking feeling. What if its like Concentration? If you don’t know what that is, its this game show where you get a combination of pictures and syllables and have to guess what the completed sentence is. I was pretty good at it with that game in isolation, and in The Fool’s Errand. (or was it one of the knockoffs?) Decoding the words that make up the syllables sounds like a much more hardcore version of that. But then I realized what is probably going on.

    Vg qbrfa’g unir nal ibjryf, fb V guvax gur zrffntr zvtug or fbzrguvat yvxr guvf:
    Pbzenqr Fbzbybafxv + cebprrq fgnaqneq qebcbss cbvag + rawbl pubpbyngr one + qvfehcg pncvgnyvfg cvtqbt cbjre fhccyl + raevpu gur yrnqref gb serr gur crbcyr + FGBC

    V yrtvgvzngryl unir ab vqrn vs V fbyirq vg evtug, V xabj gur pbzenqr jnf jebat, ohg rira vs vg vf V guvax guvf jnf n erq ureevat.

    Also, isn’t 80085 boobs? As in, that’s what letters the numbers most look like? Usually its something that shows it written upside down, but they could be trying to be clever.

    • I used Smolenski (I think K did too a couple posts back?) as it is a more common last name, although it looks like there are people named Somolenski as well.

      Yes, the 55378008 is “boobless” — I think what it is trying to hint is a calculator code gets used somewhere where it is less obvious.

    • Ah, well, if its already known, than either its something that hasn’t come up yet, a red herring, or we’re getting some of the words wrong. Either the chocolate sentence or the last one. Not really sure there’s another word with those letters…

  5. So after the 80085 – Boobs joke we now get 55378008 – Boobless. Classy. :)

  6. Various thoughts:

    1. Since the poster about the “DIAL 911” play calls it a “retrospective,” maybe what we’re supposed to input via the pads is actually 119? (The reverse, or “retrospective”)

    2. I am fairly sure the “Pier” we’ve been hinted towards is *not* the Viewing Deck with the bell and where the ferry arrives. It’s instead the separate location just called “Pier,” where your score goes up upon arrival for no clear reason. I’ve noticed that Pier is described as being made up of “cedar planks” that can be referenced separately from the Pier itself, but no verbs or items I’ve thrown at them have yet done anything fruitful.

    3. I suspect the smudged pamphlet is a set of instructions, maybe something we’re supposed to do while at the Lake. [Ernq, va beqre, gur ynfg jbeq bs rirel yvar.]

    • I haven’t tried all the weird possibilities (like spelling out letters) but just using normal digits, 1-1-9 (with every possible button method of doing so) doesn’t seem to do anything.

      re: #3 — could “when floating” actually be referring to while on the barrel or on the ferry?

  7. this is _very_ cryptic

    I decided to take the automaton into the room with the trapdoor in case the automaton ascii art visible when looking at wasn’t just a bug

    I dropped the bracelet in the entrance and then lured the automaton with the power generator

    Bureau
    You are in a small but airy room. In the centre of the room is a table, which
    is standing on a colourful rug.
    Exits: —W ——– —
    There is a pvc envelope here
    The automaton has entered the area.

    I didn’t do anything special — the envelope was just present in the room when I entered with the automaton following.

    The envelope has a “a vermilion transparency” which, like the puce one, there isn’t enough light to see.

    • Was the envelope not there for you before? I found it in the room the first time I went in, with no automaton.

      Alas, nothing I’ve done with the automaton in the Bureau room has yielded fruit. I suspect the ascii art on the mica is just a bug, but then the piece of mica in phase 10 is a memory chip, which makes me think…maybe the automaton can be upgraded?

      • It was not there for me before.

      • Just had my first Ferret hands-on since what feels like a life time.
        There is something strange going on with this/these envelopes, possibly glitchy. I find an envelope in the bureau, first time I go in, no automaton. However I see on Jason’s map here that there is an envelope noted in the Salle d’Attente – there is no envelope there for me.

      • Ah, that one was technically a puzzle.

        Gnxr gur zveebe.

      • Ah, then I’ll wait with reading that ROT13. I have so many things to do at this time. I thought it could be related to your other “envelope issues”.
        I have already found some interesting things not mentioned here though. I’ll try to get a decent grasp of what is going on before I post about it, shouldn’t take long!

      • I agree that the automaton picture on the Bureau mica is most probably some kind of bug, BUT this is also a game that would certainly be able to do the same thing intentionally. Possible in-game rationale could be “the mica has an image on it that hints of its use, but when you pull it out it gets scratched, reflected by the resulting image being represented by gobbledygook” and writer rationale would be “make an extra puzzle, the player must examine the mica before pulling it”. But (again), I still think they would have done something within the same design frame as the other mica depictions if they wanted to do something like that.

    • I strongly suspect the place to make use of the transparencies is the projection room in Phase 15, if only we could get the equipment to show itself without killing us in the process.

  8. I notice that the digits in the “lemff” scribble are the same digits (0123789) in the quotation that was in the room with the wallet and lemon ticket in the “dark maze” Phase. Just, in a different order, and with a C thrown in. Not sure what if anything that means.

  9. I don’t know yet if this is important or, more likely, a slight game bug, this post is to see if anyone else is experiencing something similar. This is with version 10.10. You might have read my post way back where I mentioned (in ROT13 then) that it was possible for me to READ HIEROGLYPHS in the locomotive, but I didn’t really understand why or what to do with it. I have now been able to construct a method (with in-game commands only, I want to be clear that I am not doing any savefile or memory editing mumbojumbo cheating attempts with this game, and also not using any savefiles created with earlier versions) to repeatedly produce an item that carries these hieroglyphs, a “teleport bracelet” it turns out. Have you seen this? It is not the same as the chunky bracelet. Again, I think this is most likely a game bug due to me trying unusual commands.

    While we are on (possible) game bugs, if the authors are reading this:
    * The description of Raised Pathway just south of Small Kitchen Garden includes a wall with a garden gate to the SOUTH, I think it should be to the NORTH.
    * The description of the Saloon Bar includes a “wooden door” in the south wall, this seems unintentional (the parser has no knowledge of any door in that location), but maybe it is a hint to the player to try moving in impossible directions, related to the ghost mechanism.

  10. This might be the red kind of fish but it is approaching yuletide, so if you want to know about something not-so-very-secret, though perhaps just another death wish, try my festive ROT13 gift below. You can choose how much spoiling you want to have, from minimal (1) to full (all of them).

    1. Gurer vf n snzbhf frnfba-eryngrq punenpgre gung jnf obea yrff guna gjb zvyyraavn ntb.

    2. Naq ur vf cebonoyl zbfg snzbhf nzbat puvyqera sbe trarebfvgl…

    3. …naq ubj gurfr tvsgf ner qryvirerq.

    4. Gurer vf n unhagrq pbggntr…

    5. …jvgu svercynprf…

    6. …naq puvzarlf.

    7. Unir lbh gevrq pyvzovat gurz?

    8. Jvgubhg nal “tvsgf” gubhtu, be lbh jba’g or svg gb ragre.

    9. Ner lbh trggvat fghpx *rireljurer*?

    10. Ab lbh ner abg – abg nobir gur Fghql svercynpr!

    Ohg ubj gb fheivir gur snyy, gung V qba’g xabj. Fbeel! Znlor jr pna svaq n cynpr gb chg n znggerff ntnva… :)

  11. regarding the security capsule, no breakthrough, but just to share what I’ve tried:

    V abgvpr gung HAYBPX PNCFHYR trgf n “ubj qb lbh fhttrfg V qb gung?” nf bccbfrq gb gung “funa’g” zrffntr gur tnzr hfhnyyl tvirf. Gung fhttrfgf HAYBPX PNCFHYR JVGU ?FBZRGUVAT bhtug gb jbex jvgu gur evtug guvat.,

    V’ir gevrq gur xrl va gur frjre naq gur bar va gur gurngre, arvgure bar jbexrq. V nyfb gevrq gur tbyq xrl sebz jnl onpx n srj cunfrf ntb. V unir _abg_ gevrq gur fvyire xrl lrg orpnhfr gung jbhyq erdhver ercynlvat cunfr 8 ohg V zvtug qb gung jura V trg sehfgengrq, ohg V fubhyq abgr gur “xrl zrffntr” bs “V qba’g guvax gung jvyy jbex fbzrubj.” srryf yrff yvxr “lbh unir gur jebat xrl” naq zber “lbh’er hfvat gur jebat glcr bs gbby gb ohfg guvf bcra”.

    • I also tried [tvivat gur frphevgl pncfhyr gb gur plobet, nf vg grnef guvatf ncneg gung lbh tvir gb vg. Ohg gur pncfhyr whfg inavfurf hggreyl vs lbh qb gung.]

      Which behavior does have me wondering if [gur “fbyhgvba” gb gur plobet vf gb funxr gur CIP obzo naq unaq vg gb gur plobet, nffhzvat jr rire svther bhg ubj gb trg gur obzo bhg bs gur gurngre.]

  12. I figured out the security capsule!

    1. Vg qbrf abg bcra ivn ivbyrapr be sbepr.

    2. “Cebcregl bs SGF (Fhojnl) Flfgrzf Ygq.” vf n uvag.

    3. Jurer ryfr unir lbh frra n fhojnl flfgrz?

    4. Gurer’f bar va gur yngre cunfr, ohg jung nobhg n cerivbhf cunfr?

    5. Jung xvaq bs xrl qvq lbh unir gb hfr sbe gung fhojnl?

    6. Gur fvyire xrl gung jbexf ba gur fhojnl nyfb jbexf ba gur frphevgl pncfhyr. Guvf zrnaf, lrf, vs lbh yrsg vg va na rneyvre cunfr, lbh arrq gb erfgber n tnzr. Va beqre gb znxr guvatf yrff cnvashy, V unir n jnyxguebhtu gung pna or phg naq cnfgr vs lbh fgneg ng gur Onpurybe Cnq, gur svefg ebbz bs cunfr 8. Lbh arrq gb or pneelvat gur sbhe cvaf naq gur fvyire xrl. Lbh qb abg unir gur pncnpvgl gb pneel nalguvat ryfr bgure guna gur vaqvtb cva.

    https://github.com/jasonbdyer/classic-basic/blob/master/FERcommand

    • I keep trying to type a snarky comment about this but nothing compares to the actual snark on display from the game towards us the players

      The authentic Ferret experience I suppose

  13. Regarding the AMCBHWAWALAHDNLH on the computer:

    Lbh pna glcr UVAG, whfg yvxr gur bgure cnffjbeq frdhraprf. Lbh trg:

    Na ncubevfz vf n pyrire, hfhnyyl fubeg, fnlvat gung vf hfrq nf na rkcerffvba
    be zrgncube sbe n trarenyyl erpbtavfrq gehgu. Gurl jrer zhpu yvxrq ol Bfpne
    Jvyqr (gb dhbgr Clguba: “uvf znwrfgl vf n fgernz bs ong’f cvff”).

    Gur NZPOUJNJNYNUQAYU znxrf hc gur vavgvny yrggref bs guvf cneg bs Gur Cvpgher bs Qbevna Tenl:

    “Jung abafrafr crbcyr gnyx nobhg unccl zneevntrf!” rkpynvzrq Ybeq Urael. “N zna pna or unccl jvgu nal jbzna, nf ybat nf ur qbrf abg ybir ure.”

  14. So I take a look at the hints you got here, because I am a bit unfocused on what to try at the moment:

    “1. Regarding the exploding mobile phone:
    Have you found a scroll by The Honourable Society of the Party for Freedom from Persecution?
    Have you found a communicator?

    2. You can lead an automaton to water…
    You got very close before. Once you have taken the automaton to the gate you have to do something.

    3. We can make a start on one of the harder puzzles in the game:
    The pads in the theatre – have you found anything that may relate to a theatrical production given that the theatre might be on fire?

    4. You found the Pier at the lake – notice anything about it?”

    1, 2 and 3 have now been thoroughly explored in other posts and comments.

    The Pier has been puzzling me a long time. I’m pretty sure this refers to the “real” pier, north of Tortured Trail, not the Viewing Deck that is also referred to as a pier (which had me looking for the ferry at the wrong place for a long time). We get 20 points just for coming to the pier location, the only other locations with a score increase in Staines / Phase 11 are the Station Platform (like the other station platforms) and Shrapnel Corner (which we already know that there is a reason to visit).

    The thing that stands out about the pier is that it is made from ancient cedar planks. It seems we can refer to these PLANKS in the parser. Other things we can refer to at this location include PIER, LAKE, (sea!) WATER, BEACH, FLOOR, SAND, ROCKS.

    I have tried blowing up the pier with the PVC vessel, without any interesting result at all.

    I have dived into the water wearing the diving suit, and died unceremoniously just as if I had not been wearing the suit. (I have also tried combining use of the suit with drifting around in the hogshead, no success there either.)

    I have tried drinking the water. I lowers health, and I can survive the first time but not a second. The messages are quite different the first and the second time. It is possibly of interest that the lake(!) contains sea(!) water (also, a “poisonous substance”).

    I am thinking that perhaps there is a way to get a boat to come also to this pier? And/or that we should be able to do something with these planks that I just haven’t found out yet.

    What do we know about cedar wood? It is rather durable. While it is unusual to build something like the pier out of it, it is not an extremely odd idea. It is nice to do woodworking with. Some instruments are built with cedar wood. It is not so hard and dense. It is often used like hardwoods, but it is considered a softwood. It is often reddish. it often has a characteristic fragrance. Yo can make (cedar) oil from it. Hmm. Maybe something about the fragrance is the most characteristic thing here? The fragrance is sometimes considered insect repelling.

    • I feel like DIVE is almost a bug — you’re not supposed to be able to move at all, why would you be able to dive?

      The most interesting effect is waiting to wear the suit until you’re floating at the hogshead, but that just loses the suit.

      >Oh, how difficult is that? The suit has all the capacities of an enormous balloon as it fills with water while you try to get into it. Indeed, it is very cumbersome and impossible to control to the extent that the currents have ripped it from your grip and flushed it away.

    • I have figured out the secret of the Pier.

      1. Gur cvre’f frperg unf abguvat gb jvgu vgf cynaxf orvat znqr bs prqne.
      2. Abe qbrf vgf frperg vaibyir nal hahfhny pbzznaq qverpgrq ng vgf cynaxf be bgure srngherf bs gur ybpngvba.
      3. Gur qrfpevcgvba bs gur cvre *qbrf* unir n fhogyr pyhr.
      4. Fcrpvsvpnyyl, gung gur cvre vf znqr bs “napvrag” cynaxf.
      5. Jung xvaq bs ybpngvba jbhyq or zbfg hfrshy sbe hf tvira gur qvivat fhvg’f erfgevpgvbaf?
      6. Jr pna’g zbir nebhaq nsgre chggvat ba gur fhvg…
      7. …fb vg jbhyq or avpr gb unir n ybpngvba gung zbirf *sbe* hf (vagb gur ynxr).
      8. Yvxr, fnl, n cvre znqr bs napvrag (naq gurerol qrfgehpgvoyr) cynaxf.
      9. Ohg gur cynaxf erfvfg nyy nggrzcgf gb hfr bhe srroyr fgeratgu qverpgyl ba vg (rira gur fgeratgu bs n CIP cvcr obzo). Jr arrq fbzrguvat fgebatre.
      10. Yvxr n angheny sbepr gung Sreerg unf gnxra terng cnvaf gb fvzhyngr jvgu dhvgr n srj bgure chmmyrf.
      11. Tenivgl.
      12. Unir lbh gevrq oevatvat inevbhf vgrzf gb gur Cvre?
      13. Unir lbh gevrq oevatvat *ybgf* bs inevbhf vgrzf gb gur Cvre?
      14. Yvxr, fnl sbe na rknzcyr, gur tenavgr fcurebvq sebz Cunfr 9, gur gbl gehpx naq gbl ebobg sebz Cunfr 8, naq gur qvivat fhvg va lbhe cbffrffvba?
      15. Bapr gurer vf rabhtu jrvtug va gur Cvre’f ybpngvba, lbh’yy urne gur bzvabhf pernxvat fbhaq bs fhpprff…
      16. …tvivat lbh whfg rabhtu gvzr gb fhvg hc…
      17. …orsber gur cyhatr vf gnxra sbe lbh.

      • I read up to 10 and it struck me that I have hoarded a whole locomotive load of items wanting to be used for such things. :D
        What threw me off here I think was mostly the planks seeming indestructible but also the diving suit seeming totally useless for its intention (as tested by diving). Well ferreted!

      • K: You appear to have slightly more health (and therefore carrying capacity) in your save than I do (I say this because you mention surviving one drink of the lake water; when I try, I die immediately). Can you confirm whether the diving suit and the teleport bracelet can be worn simultaneously? I get a “can’t carry that much” message when I try. Thanks!

      • Yes, if I put on the suit before I put on the bracelet.

        -> wear diving suit
        Done.
        -> wear teleport bracelet
        Taken.
        Done.
        -> i
        You are carrying:
        You are wearing:
        a diving suit
        a teleport bracelet

        Have you figured out something about the teleport bracelet?

        I am trying to bring something useful, like perhaps the long duralium spanner to the air lock, to work the rusty wheel (and/or open the armoured door).
        I have posted before about the diving suit(s) having two pockets (COUNT POCKETS) that can be put items into (only while not wearing the suit!?), but I can’t work out how to take off the suit in the air lock or how get back anything from the pockets without taking off the suit.

      • Health details at this point:
        “-> health
        You are feeling ok.
        -> drink water
        Guzzle, guzzle, guzzle. Huuey, throw, bark. Don’t you know that drinking sea water makes you talk to God on the big white telephone?
        You momentarily feel a little feeble.
        -> health
        You are feeling a bit off colour.
        -> drink water
        Guzzle, guzzle, guzzle. Huuey, throw, bark. Don’t you know that drinking sea water makes you talk to God on the big white telephone?
        Your joints feel as though they have seized. You are suffering a complete lack
        of mobility.
        You’re out stiffo.”

        Note that I have had another second response to this before (the first drink response was the same), no idea why:
        “Eaurgh! As the liquid enters your metabolism you feel a strange burning sensation in your gullet. You don’t appear to agree with poisonous substances. You’ve burnt yourself from the inside out.”

      • I was curious whether the teleport bracelet can be brought down to the airlock and, if so, whether it can be used to any good effect down there. It struck me as the only other “wearable” item we have and so possibly more accessible even while in the suit.

        I also note that you can actually “remove suit” while underwater, which unsuprisinglu kills you – but does so *one turn later*. I don’t know if this is a bug or if there’s a situation where we can meaningfully use that one turn to do something important.

      • Air lock breakthrough:
        Gur rkgen ghea naq gur cbpxrg ebhgvar vf gur xrl urer.

        Thanks for the great teamwork here!

      • Not having any luck with the spanner, nothing else seems like an obvious tool for wheel-turning (or pipe-banging). Any help?

      • The spanner is the tool as far as I can tell. This is how I got past the airlock, there might be other ways.
        You have to bring the spanner to the right place, make sure the location is set up the right way and then make the spanner available to be used. After you have made it available to use you have only one chance to do the right thing with it.
        I hope that helps! It is just a timing issue, I think.

      • Ah, there it is. I had closed the door on one save but not the other.

        (btw, I also just discovered that TEST X WITH Y works, so you can still go through a bunch of verbs at once even with a second noun)

      • Virtual high five!

      • Figured it out at clue 3, realized what you had to mean by process of elimination. Still need to work on the other things.

    • This comment doesn’t have any real spoilers on how to do things, but contains a lot of information about things that I have tried and that I am thinking about which I guess also could be considered spoilers in some way.

      So we made some real progress with the pier path. I quickly added 100 points to my score after the pier breakthrough (and there are still so many interesting things to try in the new section that opened up – another control centre, the waterfall…). This made me realize how very few points I have made in Phase 10, and I think there is something big that I am still missing there. I feel that the only “loose ends” left there currently are in the Staffroom; the fruit bowl of course but also the other things there that we can interact with, including WORKTOP, OPENING, TAP and especially CUPBOARD.

      I am surprised that Voltgloss doesn’t have the same health (“you are feeling ok”) as me by Phase 11. Where are you losing health so you are going below “ok”? Are you taking the absolutely quickest path through the desert?
      I can even carry some more things together with the diving suit and the duralium spanner, e.g. the silver key, a piece of fur and a piece of linen (all at the same time).

      Another thing to compare is what items are available to us. Perhaps there is something that I have missed? I hoard everything I can in the locomotive, and before going into the Phase 11 lake I have these things there:
      a silver key
      a perspex rod
      a piece of fur
      a photographic flashgun
      a picnic box (no ice – maybe it is possible to still have some ice?)
      a beautiful ruby rod
      a security casket
      a toy truck
      an iron ring
      a toy robot
      a dirty reticule
      a slender black cylinder
      a piece of linen
      a rubber charger mat
      a damaged communicator
      a pvc envelope
      a vermilion transparency
      a chunky bracelet
      a diving suit
      a long duralium spanner
      a translucent fruit bowl
      a tiny rectangle of mica
      a pair of tweezers
      a tiny rectangle of mica
      an asbestos bag
      a laminated scroll
      a granite spheroid
      a sealed pvc vessel
      a zinc key
      a teleport bracelet
      a security capsule

      (By the way, it is an inventory juggling pain to discriminate between the two “tiny rectangle of mica”, is it just an oversight that they have the same name or might it be a hint of some usefulness, or they could be red herrings of course.)

      Much further on, the Ticket Office turnstile in Phase 16 seems like an important bottleneck towards the endgame. A while ago (i.e. some currently available items were not included) I tested what could be put in the slot there.
      Most things “don’t fit”, but some things that can be put in the slot include:
      a piece of fur
      an iron ring
      a puce transparency
      a vermilion transparency
      a rubber charger mat
      a lemon ticket
      a pair of tweezers
      a silver obol
      a zinc key
      a tiny rectangle of mica
      a tiny rectangle of mica
      Things that don’t fit the slot include:
      a silver key
      a perspex rod
      a photographic flashgun
      a picnic box
      a beautiful ruby rod
      a security casket
      a toy truck
      a toy robot
      a dirty reticule
      a slender black cylinder
      a piece of linen
      a damaged communicator
      a pvc envelope
      a leather wallet
      a chunky bracelet
      a diving suit
      a long duralium spanner
      a translucent fruit bowl
      an asbestos bag
      a laminated scroll
      a life jacket
      a book
      a sealed pvc vessel
      a teleport bracelet
      a security capsule

      • I tested with the ice (back when I had to redo 8). You can have the ice in the picnic basket and then the moment the train arrives at phase 9 the ice disappears. (I was thinking it might help with the heating spot, alas.)

        My start-of-phase 9 save has the right health (maybe not max points, though) if you’re worried.

        I didn’t know you could get the granite sphereoid, that’s really odd to have the item placed like that.

      • GET ALL didn’t get the spheroid for me, I had to explicitly refer to it with GET. Hmm.

      • I suspect the reason I have slightly less health (very slightly; I still have “you are feeling OK” health) is that I detoured in the Nuclear Core to retrieve the indigo pin.

      • I managed to get the pin and stay healthy, but I made sure to get the rod first, take a stop by the room after that one to de-toxify, then get the indigo one.

        Mind you, given it follows the pattern of the “ha-HA!” red herring where it looks like it opens the door but doesn’t, I think it really is just a gag. Still handy for slight weight adjustment, though.

        ADD: now that I’m comparing, it looks like I still don’t quite have the same health, so it maybe it had a little effect. We’ll see if that really matters, I guess.

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