Ferret: One Puzzle   27 comments

(All prior posts on the super-long adventure game Ferret are here, in chronological order.)

Rather than narrating absolutely everything from last time, I wanted to just focus on a single puzzle we’ve gotten up to, since this is the sort of thing random visitors (including you, the one reading this right now) might be able to help solve. I will loop around and describe the dramatic collapsing theater escape next time.

We’ve found, after some fussing with a puzzle involving Oscar Wilde quotes, this scroll:

The bottom part (astutuely solved by Matt W.) is a number written in calculator digits, but you have to look at the negative space. That is, look at the grey on the image below:

The number lets us make a phone call but then we are asked to text a “sequence”.

-> type 219934875
The communicator emits a beep followed by a ring tone. After 2 rings the line clears and you hear a voice that says “Text Sequence commenced”.
-> type Donne
The communicator emits a beep followed by a series of tones. After a short pause you hear a voice that says “Sequence failure”.

The first five questions seem to be relevant for the next discovery, a “graveyard” with an emblem…

The emblem is circular with a crest illuminated with a large bird, possibly an eagle. There is some wording around the crest which is illegible due to age. Beneath the crest is written “Project Casper. ICBM Silo 6”.

…and a satchel with an “answer sheet”.

Our assumption (which might be false) is that the two papers go together, and the solutions to the clues in the first set (cryptic crossword clues? something else?) fit into the second set of clues. I will just add that the list of famous English poets whose last name is composed of five letters is not terribly long. Of very recognizable ones I just get

Blake, Byron, Donne, Eliot, Keats, Hardy

and maybe Wilde or Yeats (who are Irish but someone might confuse for British) could count. (Eliot was born in the United States but moved and became a British citizen.) For more obscure poets there’s

Brock, Clare, Carew, Guest, Green, Jones, Noyes, Nixon, Prior, Padel, Raine, Smith, Smart, Watts, Wyatt

although I suspect the missing poet is off the first list.

As I hinted at earlier, solving here is open to everyone, and for this post (if it is about this specific puzzle) let’s avoid making comments in ROT13 encryption to make it easier for anyone to join in.

Posted December 24, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Puzzles, Video Games

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27 responses to “Ferret: One Puzzle

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  1. 4. Could be MILITARIES.

    Just so no one else has to look up the missing words in 5, they are: great, command, friends, strength, Europe

  2. The lines on the “5 golden rules” sheet read like they were constructed to fit a set of letters. If that’s true, we should read the answers as SFFAM, TDM, FACM, SLSLA, and (if the fifth uses the same rule) GCFSE.

    This doesn’t help with the answer sheet. *But* “Golden Rules for Enlightenment” is GRE, which is a US test which is *like* the UK General Certificate of Education? Sort of? So maybe there’s another GCE clue sheet and GRE answer sheet out there to match up with these?

    • Knowing Ferret, there is no match, but we could still solve both of them separate. With only five letter words, if we assume some sort of “answer key” detanglement at the end there are “only” 5^5 possible words to check. For the other sheet it is probably poetry related — guessing all the blanks get filled by names of famous poems?

  3. No, wait, ignore that. I have a better idea. :)

    “Telegraph Discovery and Measurement” is a word-by-word synonym substitution for “Radio Detection and Ranging”, RADAR.

    In which case we’re looking for military acronyms which match the lines word-by-word. I don’t know these well enough to come up with them, though!

  4. “Fly Alert and Command Mechanism” -> Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS)
    “Sea Land Sky Legion Associations” -> Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF)?

    (Possibly all five-letter acronyms, which would help.)

  5. “Sea Land Sky Legion Associations” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration?

  6. Yes, this is definitely looking promising!

    “Great Command Friends Strength Europe” -> Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE)

    All the answers being military acronyms *does* make sense with the signatory at the end of the note being our “Brother[] in Arms.”

    • Given that the Ferret authors are British, I think I prefer “Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes” (NAAVI) as an answer for “Sea Land Sky Legion Associations.”

  7. In line 1, could “formation” be “order” and “mark” be “cross”?

  8. I only have a few minutes, or else I’d try all the poet’s names myself – but, given that the keypad on the communicator is described as “telephone-style”, I’d think it would require turning the 5-letter poet’s surname (if that is indeed the key) into a numeric code. The most obvious method is to translate the name using the letters on a telephone pad, though there are other ways to do this (this game doesn’t generally go with the most obvious methods.)

  9. Acronym #1 is probably PATRIOT (Phased Array Tracking to Intercept of Target).

  10. Success!!

    The insight that the scroll is prompting us to provide military acronyms was 100% correct. And the answers PATRIOT, RADAR, AWACS, NAAFI, and SHAPE proved absolutely right. (The “answer sheet” from the graveyard must be for some other puzzle after all.)

    Tremendous thanks to all involved in cracking this conundrum!

    Of course there was the small matter of how to actually convey those acronyms using the communicator’s “telephone-style” keypad, as Damian Murphy correctly pointed out to be a complication. The solution to that proved to be using what I’ve seen described as “vanity code” (see, e.g., https://www.geocachingtoolbox.com/index.php?lang=en&page=vanityCode), where you tap the same number multiple times to cycle through the letters that correspond to that number on a regular telephone keypad. So, for example, to code in PATRIOT, you would press 7 once (P), 2 once (A), 8 once (T), 7 three times (P->Q->R), 4 three times (G->H->I), 6 three times (M->N->O), and 8 once (T).

    The results when dialing in all of the answers (after the initial “dial 219934875” that starts things off):

    -> e
    Asylum from Enmity
    A dank crepuscular room made from reinforced concrete as if to survive a blast
    overhead. There is some form of opening in the ceiling apparantly to permit the
    ingress of light and ventilation. Against one wall is a safe surmounted by a
    resin slab.
    Exits: —W ——– —
    The resin slab contains:
    a mobile phone
    some Semtex explosive
    -> dial 219934875
    The communicator emits a beep followed by a ring tone. After 2 rings the line
    clears and you hear a voice that says “Text Sequence commenced”.
    -> dial 7287774446668
    The communicator emits a beep followed by a series of tones. After a short
    pause you hear a voice that says “Sequence confirmed”.
    -> dial 777232777
    The communicator emits a beep followed by a series of tones. After a short
    pause you hear a voice that says “Sequence confirmed”.
    -> dial 2922227777
    The communicator emits a beep followed by a series of tones. After a short
    pause you hear a voice that says “Sequence confirmed”.
    -> dial 6622333444
    The communicator emits a beep followed by a series of tones. After a short
    pause you hear a voice that says “Sequence confirmed”.
    -> dial 7777442733
    The communicator emits a beep followed by a series of tones. After a short
    pause you hear a voice that says “Sequence confirmed”.
    There is an explosion in the immediate vicinity that causes the ground to shake
    and you with it. A large blast wave in a bomb-proofed area with only one exit
    can have only one consequence and you appear to be standing in it.
    Your existence has been absolutely compromised.

    The Authentic Ferret Experience ™, friends!

    (I *have* managed to do this safely and have seen what’s in the safe. But I’m not about to spoil that moment of discovery for other intrepid seekers.)

    • The odd thing is the emblem by the answer sheet is also cluing at military acronyms!

      I guess it is still worth poking at the other thing, especially if we’re still thinking the trip to the island is one-way.

      I’m finding surviving the explosive to be harder than the fire post-pedestal lifting — any rot13 you can give?

      • 1. Rira jvgubhg fbyivat gur chmmyr, jr jrer nyjnlf noyr gb frg bss gur obzo ol qvfgheovat vg qverpgyl (jvgu sngny erfhygf).
        2. Jung orarsvg qb jr trg sebz hfvat gur pbzzhavpngbe gb frg bss gur obzo vafgrnq?
        3. Erzrzore gur gurezbahpyrne obzo jnl onpx va cunfr bar?
        4. Gur vffhr urer vf gur “rkcybfvba va gur vzzrqvngr ivpvavgl.”
        5. Unir lbh rkcrevzragrq jvgu *jurer* gur pbzzhavpngbe pna or hfrq?
        6. Vs lbh hfr gur pbzzhavpngbe gb frg bss gur obzo sebz sne rabhtu njnl, lbh jvyy fheivir gur oynfg.
        7. Gur “Yraf bs Bfphyhff” ybpngvba vf sne rabhtu njnl gb or fnsr, juvyr fgvyy pybfr rabhtu sbe gur pbzzhavpngbe gb or hfrq. Hfr vg gurer.

      • The thing I was stuck on is your point #7, but what you suggest isn’t working.

        V nz hanoyr gb trg erprcgvba naljurer ohg vafvqr gur qnatre mbar. Urer vf zl nggrzcg sebz gur ybpngvba lbh zragvba.

        -> qvny 219934875
        Gur pbzzhavpngbe rzvgf n orrc sbyybjrq ol n pbagvahbhf gbar. Nsgre n fubeg gvzr
        gur gbar prnfrf.

        vg nyfb qbrfa’g jbex ol qvnyvat va svefg, zbivat njnl, naq gura qbvat vg.

      • I figured it out. The puzzle is _much_ more evil than you realized.

        Abeznyyl, punetvat gur cubar, vg jvyy fpna lbh nsgre vg ernpurf shyy punetr naq tvir gur naabhaprzrag nobhg “Ntrag Vqragvsvrq” rgp.

        Vs guvf unccraf, gur cubar jvyy fgvyy jbex, ohg gur enatr jvyy or fznyyre! Lbh pna hfr vg gb npgvingr gur rkcybfvir ohg bayl juvyr va gur ghaary.

        Gur bayl jnl gb unir rabhtu enatr vf gb qebc gur zng, qebc gur pbzzhavpngbe, yvfgra sbe gur orrc, gura yrnir sbe n srj gheaf fb vg qbrfa’g npghnyyl fpna lbh! Gura gur cubar jvyy or noyr gb oybj gur rkcybfvir hc sebz nsne.

        Fb jung unccrarq jvgu lbhe tnzr vf lbh nccneragyl punetrq gur cubar gur pbeerpg jnl nyernql (jvgubhg ernyvmvat gurer jnf n jebat jnl)

      • So your comment had me utterly bewildered because I *did* get the [“Ntrag Vqragvsvrq” fpna zrffntr], even on the successful save where everything worked properly. Further testing suggests the answer is in fact a third possibility: [gur pbzzhavpngbe arrqf gb or *punetrq ybat rabhtu* va beqre gb unir rabhtu ernpu.] Some ROT13 transcript is illustrative:

        (transcript begins)
        -> r
        Ynetr Xvgpura Tneqra
        Lbh ner va n jnyyrq nern gung jnf cebonoyl hfrq gb tebj sehvg naq irtrgnoyrf
        va cnfg gvzrf ohg nyy rivqrapr bs tneqravat unf ybat qvfnccrnerq. Gb gur jrfg
        vf n ynetr ohvyqvat jvgu n jvaqbj va gur arnerfg jnyy. Gur tneqra pbagvahrf
        nybatfvqr gur ohvyqvat.
        Rkvgf: A-RJ AR—— —
        Gurer vf n qnzntrq pbzzhavpngbe urer
        -> qebc zng
        Gur pbzzhavpngbe rzvgf n fubeg orrc.
        -> m
        Gvzr cnffrf (lnja).
        -> m
        Gvzr cnffrf (lnja).
        -> m
        Gvzr cnffrf (lnja).
        Gur pbzzhavpngbe rzvgf guerr fubeg orrcf sbyybjrq ol:
        “Nern Fpna pbzzraprq. Fpna Pbzcyrgrq. Bar uhznabvq qrgrpgrq va ivpvavgl.
        Pbagvahvat. Nhgbzngvp Crefbaary Vqragvsvpngvba Cebprqher vavgvngrq. NCVC
        pbzcyrgrq. Pbagvahvat. Ntrag vqragvsvrq, Qnexvaf, O. B. Zrffntr Ergevriny
        Freivpr npgvingrq. Fgnaqol…. Yngpurq. Pbagvahvat.
        Guvf vf lbhe nhgbzngrq zrffntr freivpr. Lbh unir bar arj zrffntr nf sbyybjf:
        Qnexvaf, lbh unir snvyrq gb ertvfgre jvgu Gur Qrcnegzrag sbe na rkprffvir
        crevbq. Nppbeqvat gb fgnaqneq cebgbpby lbh zhfg grkg gur svefg 8 punenpgref
        bs lbhe Frphevgl Cnff Ahzore gb 80085 vzzrqvngryl, jurerhcba lbh jvyy or
        abgvsvrq ertneqvat lbhe pbheg urnevat. Snvyher gb pbzcyl jvyy erfhyg va
        vzzrqvngr grezvangvba. Guvf zrffntr unf orra qryrgrq nhgbzngvpnyyl”.
        -> m
        Gvzr cnffrf (lnja).
        Gur pbzzhavpngbe rzvgf gjb fubeg orrcf.
        (transcript ends)

        Gung “[g]ur pbzzhavpngbe rzvgf gjb fubeg orrcf” zrffntr (juvpu V nyfb erzrzorerq trggvat ba zl svefg fhpprffshy fnir) vf gur xrl. Lbh arrq gb *jnvg bar rkgen ghea nsgre gur “Ntrag Fpnaarq” zrffntr*, jvgu gur pbzzhavpngbe naq gur zng obgu fgvyy ba gur tebhaq, sbe gur pbzzhavpngbe gb “rzvg gjb fubeg orrcf” – juvpu frrzf gb vaqvpngr gung vg’f erprvirq rkgen punetr sebz gur zng. Vs lbh jnvg sbe gung “gjb fubeg orrcf” zrffntr orsber cvpxvat hc gur pbzzhavpngbe naq zbivat ba, gura vg jvyy unir rabhtu enatr gb jbex sebz n fnsr qvfgnapr va Cunfr Ryrira. Ohg vs vafgrnq lbh cvpx hc gur pbzzhavpngbe *vzzrqvngryl* nsgre erprvivat gur “Ntrag Fpnaarq” zrffntr, gura gur pbzzhavpngbe arire trgf n shyy punetr sebz gur zng naq gurersber qbrfa’g unir rabhtu enatr jura lbh arrq vg.

      • qnat

  11. You have probably seen this, but there is new version of Ferret out, v10.20.
    It has a new QoL command, “NOTIFY”, which notifies when the score increases. Nice to not have to use PROMPT SCORE, which often caused trouble with timed puzzles.
    Also the commands FLY, FISH, DANCE and DANCE WITH [something/someone] are new to me, found them through TESTing something.
    Updating to 10.20 caused no issues with my existing FCF files / READFILE.

  12. I am not sure if anyone managed to use the diamond but
    Vs lbh zbir sbhe gvzrf rnfg sebz gur Fhojnl Fgngvba fb gung lbh ner unysjnl nybat gur Pbeevqbe lbh pna phg n ubyr va gur nezbherq tynff va gur abegu jnyy, pynzore guebhtu vagb gur Fdhnfu Pbheg naq ergevrir na napvrag cncre znc juvpu fubjf gur ebhgr orgjrra gur gjb uryvcnqf.

    • Yes, after first being beaten by the parser I received enough hints here to make it to the map. Still can’t make out from the map how I would be supposed to find the second helipad which I had already found thanks to my own systematic mapping from the helicopter. Maybe my alternative way to the second helipad is explained by the map wrapping around in some way.

  13. Yes; the map was almost useless. Even factoring in the letter explaining its incorrect scale I crashed more often than a DC-10.

    • probably would have better ignoring the map! I managed to find the second pad without a terribly large amount of searching just because I had enough clue from “search north and east” (via the letter) to narrow the parameters

      I originally thought that was it, and there was no map. Certainly more of a clue than we had in the desert.

      • Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control I have only been able to assault Ferret on a week on week off basis and consequently it takes a while to get back into the unique zeitgeist of the game.
        It is certainly atypical but mostly in a very good way.

        I left the game on last Sunday having just nailing the vinyl block and ballast offloading problems from Milligan and Bluebottle together with escaping the well.

        There has been a fair amount of cross-pollination with the authors.

      • wow, good job on vinyl block! that’s a tricky one

        I was trying to talk the Ferret authors into playing Warp, I feel like they need to experience it from the other end!

      • That would be a good follow-up to Ferret. Similarly tough puzzles and an underwater postman thrown in for good measure.

        I suppose that we all have our strengths and weaknesses in these games; I managed to solve the projector puzzle in Milligan and the vinyl block puzzle pretty much straight off the bat whereas I struggled much more with some of the puzzles that have strict timing constraints. A few hints from the authors have been needed.

        One other problem that I have had is parser differentiation. I have often attempted for example Drop X,Take Y, Wear Y as a habit from the Phoenix games for example which can be one move too many in Ferret.

        I am up to 1400 points now and hope to make some progress from next Sunday.

  14. just letting everyone know I’m still alive

    I’ve got a post in progress on something entirely different (one-shot game) in the hopper, just need to gather the energy to finish

    I haven’t had any good luck since my last big stab. I’m still about 80% suspicious the “SAY” reading is right, just because it is really hard to get that circumstance by coincidence.

    I could test a.) every combined string, no spaces, that includes the letters in the appropriate spots and b.) every combination of two words that goes in that spot but I haven’t summoned the energy, plus it would be more pleasing to get some sort of thoughtful revelation than hit it via computer

    Mainly been focusing efforts otherwise on the missing numbers: is there some method we can suss out what the missing spaces are? There could be enough coordination with the puzzle for it to be a numerical pattern of some sort but I’ve been striking out

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