Recruiting New Agents

Discussion in 'Fan & Sandbox Missions' started by vigatron, May 14, 2015.

  1. vigatron

    vigatron Senior Agent

    I really want to drum up some new players, especially in my area! To that end, I'm working on creating a little puzzle that'll point those who solve it to an email address I created specifically for this purpose. I really like the idea of having local "field offices" that could serve as clubs for players, so I've made this puzzle locally focused.

    I want to have some of the expert code crackers here give it a shot and give me some feedback on the difficulty and appropriateness. Please give it a try and let me know what you think!

    I'm planning on flyers with the Div66 logo, text reading "An Invitation." and a QR code. Instead of pasting the code, I've included the text that it resolves to. Good luck!


    We are seeking the qualified. Are you ready?

    Only a true father of Louisville would find the letter.

    F T g Y R g U D


    If you solve it you can just paste the email address I created into this thread, sans domain. So, the solution would be:

    5 people like this.
  2. vigatron

    vigatron Senior Agent

  3. Khalm

    Khalm Gold Member

    Stumped so far :)
  4. vigatron

    vigatron Senior Agent

    Well, I don't know if that's a good thing yet! Hopefully someone makes some headway and I don't have to rethink it!
  5. Khalm

    Khalm Gold Member

    I'll keep plugging away at it :)
    2 people like this.
  6. Khalm

    Khalm Gold Member

    will post my two cents if I get any ideas
    2 people like this.
  7. vigatron

    vigatron Senior Agent

    Good luck!
  8. Santiak

    Santiak MIA

    Based on the hint (and my inability to find a connection ;)) I'm assuming some local knowledge regarding your area is required?

    I've had it in the back of my mind for a while now, looking up things as brain-farts pop into my head, but so far I've found little - save for the "Father of Louisville" reference - and that in itself is tentative, I wager.
    I've searched through the most notable events he was part of, but have found little of note - including when going beyond just his participation in those events.
    I then extended my search to include the entire geographical area, and cross-referencing that with the historical data available (such as what the first 3 counties in Kentucky were), operating under the assumption that "g" might be a placeholder for an ampersand - but nothing came up, I'm afraid.
    Other examples going along the same line as above, was trying to find locations that were situated close to the Ohio River (which was a central part of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, iirc), which initially showed some promise, between:
    Fort Thomas & Youghiogheny River (F T g Y R), but sadly couldn't find any relation between the two - nor did it yield any results when continuing down the same path, but trying to find a connection using either the original aboriginal names or meanings.

    Figured that, by now, it'd be best for me to return to square one instead continuing down this tangent. ^^

    Of course, I can't be sure how much of this is based on intrinsic local knowledge, as opposed to something that is easily recognizable for (in this case) a Dane scouring google for a connection - so the percieved level of difficulty might well be skewed if based on my feedback (not to mention, I feel particularly thick-headed today :p).

    Just to clarify a few things, though:
    - Does the QR specify that they are looking to recreate an e-mail?
    - Considering the format hint and cipher are roughly the same length, it might be easy to assume it's a decryption rather than a hint, i.e. something that will yield the answer if subjected to something rather basic, such as a ROT shift.

    All in all, with the caveat stated above; that I might just be rather thick-headed today (and yesterday), and lack the local knowledge needed, it may be worth considering lowering the difficulty a tad, as it may be more effective if the puzzle gives new Agents a quick injection of that "Eureka!" sensation - that is, something that isn't too complicated as the first step - and then possible making it more complex after that.

    For example, having the QR lead to a substitution cipher or (very) light research-based, that when solved, points to an initial e-mail, and when they contact that e-mail, give them a second task, possibly using some excuse such as "This line isn't secure. Contact us here.", and then give them the more in-depth puzzle to find the second e-mail - or what not.

    (Going off on tangents seems to be my Special of the Day today.)
  9. vigatron

    vigatron Senior Agent

    Thanks for the great feedback! I was thinking it might have been too hard, so I am definitely going to try for a second go. Probably with the same theme in mind, but - like you said - something to give potential new players a eureka moment. :)

    I've pasted my goal for the exercise below so you can see what I was thinking when I designed it.

    First off, father of Louisville refers to George Rogers Clark, who was the original founder of the first settlement here and a fairly big deal in Revolutionary War history. The clue of it being a letter to be found was my attempt to imply that the encoded bit below was going to point to text.

    The letters below are an encoded pastebin extension. I took my inspiration for this format from the rupture mission with the sound file component that just gave us an extension and not the whole domain.

    So, father of Louisville intended to point at a revolutionary war hero, and by saying that only a father of Louisville would find the letter I tried to point people to looking for a cipher used in the Rev War called the Culper code. Using that code would decode the url and point to a pastebin file encoded in hex. The letter there contains the invitation to "join division 66," a link to, and an email address I designed to use to establish a small group of local players.

    I think I went wrong with making the pastebin extension look too generic, but I really like the Culper code and Rev War cipher part. I'd like to keep that maybe just have to QR code point to a pastebin link with a culper coded letter?
    4 people like this.
  10. Santiak

    Santiak MIA

    Ah, I see - I had actually tried taking the code as is and use it as a pastebin and imgur extension - hadn't stumbled across the Culper Code, though.
    However, looking at it now, if I'm not mistaking, it's a numerical word substitution code?
    E.g. you'd write "218" instead of "good".

    Mind if I ask how you'd decipher the URL? :)
    Edit: Silly me overlooking the Alphabet/Numeric section of the code book.
    Still can't seem to find the right combination, going either reverse (-> BZcWPcSJ) or forward (-> JVaSLaWH).

    (Yeahp, I'm thick-headed today ^^)

    As for your goals, I do think it would be viable to use the Culper Code, although a more straight-forward hint may be Benjamin Tallmadge, as - if I recall - Clark wasn't involved with the code in any real way, other than taking part in the war it was used (i.e. it wouldn't be a letter he would know - I imagine).
    Regarding the pastebin link, I must admit it's hard to for me to judge; part of me goes "of course it'd be a URL extension", but another questions whether new Agents would be savvy to that fact off the bat.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2015
  11. vigatron

    vigatron Senior Agent

    That's the actual link - I think you were asking for that?

    And yeah, sorry if I said hex and it was numeric. I might have written down the key I used wrong in my notes :)

    Thanks for the feedback! I know Clark wasn't directly involved with the cipher - I was trying to use the war connection to at least imply he was around at the same period. A bit of a stretch, so I might tweak it and give it another try.

    As for the pastebin link seeming like a url, I really thing it's a conclusion we assume since we do this on the regular. I'm going to retool and give it another try! I'll post that one here as well.
  12. Santiak

    Santiak MIA

    No worries - the numeric bit was in relation to the initial cupler code, I apparently didn't test with using lower-case letters -> numeric code. *shakes fist at brain* ^^

    Cheers for all the work you're putting in, by the way. I'm sure it's very much appreciated. ^^
  13. vigatron

    vigatron Senior Agent

    Thanks! And I'm glad to finally get a chance to be an active member of TBW community. I've been watching from the sidelines for a while and only recently had the financial means to order and start really getting into it. I hope this testing phase is the first of some amazing things to come!
    2 people like this.
  14. Khalm

    Khalm Gold Member

    Well I got nowhere with this, but, reading your spoiler I like it, I think it's something the more experienced agents would have cracked with time, but as mentioned above, possibly a little much for new agents who have not yet seen the ammount of lateral thinking required. Goof fun trying to crack it though and I learned a lot about GRC!
    3 people like this.
  15. vigatron

    vigatron Senior Agent

    Thank you so much for all the great feedback! Like I've mentioned previously, this was my first attempt at building a fan mission as well as my first attempt at creating an ARG mission of any kind. I had a blast working on it and having some of you puzzling over it was far more rewarding than I ever thought was possible!

    As Santiak and I discussed, my original puzzle was a bit too hard for people trying to just get into TBW, so I tweaked the concept. I'd love it if some of you could test this one out! My goal is still to try do find some new interested people through physical flyers and trying to create a local player group, and before I print off some flyers and spend time posting them I want to get it right!

    This time (in order to minimize the amount of time spent trying to solve it if you all find the difficulty too high) I'm including the solution in this message. The first clue is below. I'm thrilled to see if this one is easier - please let me know!

    We are seeking the qualified.
    Do you count yourself among those with the wisdom and skill to prevail against the coming storm?

    Find Us.

    Edit: do you like how I completely forgot to include the solution I said would be here?

    The link goes to some plain text that gives clues about the encoded link at the bottom. The clues are all in direct reference to the Culper code, which is a cipher used during the revolutionary war.

    Decoding the link leads to a pastebin file:
    The pastebin link is encoded as well, but it's just a simple hex conversion. Once that is decoded you get the final message with some flavor about being qualified for work in Division 66, my email address (created for this purpose) and a link to The Black Watchmen.

    I hope this one is a bit more appropriate!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2015
    2 people like this.
  16. Khalm

    Khalm Gold Member

    I'll try and take a look when I get home from work tonight.
  17. Santiak

    Santiak MIA

    Having only glanced at it, I'd say it's a good introductory mission.

    It has both elements of research as well as code-breaking and recognition, and each step seems to have a decent "eureka!" factor,, especially as people discover the Culper cipher, search out the code-sheet, and succesfully translate the link. Likewise, the difficulty also seems appropriate - easy enough that no-one should get irrevocably stuck, but as mentioned above, still with elements that should give newcommers a sense of the thrill that it is to solve a step in a mission. :)
    And it culminates nicely in a cipher that is unique in appearence, but with the exact method of decryption being left for the potential Agent to find out.

    Or in other words;
    - Part motivated (clue-based) research.
    - Part manual decryption (Culper Code).
    - Part unmotivated (reasoning-based) research.
    - And part code recognition and tool use (Hex encryption)

    All of which are - in my opinion at least - arguably the bread and butter of being with TBW, where even a passing familiarity can go a long way in enabling them to participate, even if a mission pertains to a topic somewhat outside their comfort-zone. :)

    Nice work, vigatron! ^^
    3 people like this.
  18. vigatron

    vigatron Senior Agent

    Hooray! Thanks, Santiak! I'm looking forward to printing some of these up and hanging them at my LGS and other bulletin boards and appropriate non-vandalizing places around town. Hopefully I'll bring a few more on board and be able to start my "field office."
  19. Khalm

    Khalm Gold Member

    I missed the Culper Code totally. I would imagine that could happen with a lot of folks. I'm wondering if the initial clue's wording could be changed slightly to gie more of a hint at a code. I noticed on reddit the initial thoughts were based on the letters meaning feat and such like rather than any actual though that they may be encoded.
  20. Gaudin

    Gaudin Active Agent

    i got to the culper code fairly quick, but then - stuck - any unstucking moves I can try?

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