Coming in Fall of 2006: EPP5, Auburn PuzzleHunt!

9/30, 9:30, 9h30m

Congratulations Blue Team!

Edward Boudreax, Scott Brown, Robert Ford, Tim Hardwick, Blane Hollingsworth, Bill Sherling, and Sharon Yarborough had the winning team at my Fifth Puzzle Party. I have written a long wrap-up page of the puzzles at the Party. Thank you to all of the Players on every team.

-- Eric

Updates during Hunt!

  • If your team opens the cryptex, COME BACK TO MY HOUSE, not to where the clue would lead -- that location has been compromised.
  • On Calcu-Trivia, if you think you have some of the answers to letters, you may call in for Yes/No confirmation on correctness with no hint penalty.
  • letter P on Calcu-trivia has an error. Assum ethat P=56 (NOT 168). This may affect some of your answers on that quiz (again, think about it as though I designed the answers with P=56)
  • More Calcutrivia: if you have all 26 letters correct, I will TELL YOU THE ANSWER TO THE EQUATION.
My 5th Puzzle Party will be a PuzzleHunt! My house will only serve as a starting point. Teams will assemble there at 9:30 on the morning of 9/30 (30 Sep) for an adventure that will be run 9 hours and 30 minutes (at least, that will be the target duration). I will be updating this webpage at irregular intervals (as I think of more content and have time to post it) -- not everything will be clearly marked as an "update," so you should read the page carefully each time you come to visit.

Basic Rules of EPP5

Teams should be at my house at 9:30am on Saturday, 30 September. I will start my exposition and kick-off of the PuzzleHunt promptly. Each team must have a "captain" designated. The team captain must have a cell phone, and he or she is the only player of a team allowed to check-in by phone with the referee (me) or call in for hints. This is true even if your team splits up during the day. Having only one person per team who can call back will make my day back at headquarters much less hectic. Also, be sure I have the captain's cell phone number in case I need to proactively call teams during the day. Likewise, be sure you have my phone number (it's listed in the phone book), so you know how to call back to me.

A team may use pretty much any resources during the day except relying consistently on an outside person who is not listed on your team roster. Certainly you may call friends now and then if you think they may have some trivial knowledge that can help you, but if they end up being a major contributor to your teams success, then they should be listed on your team from the beginning.

Throughout the day you will find new puzzles at various locations. Most will be clearly color coded to your team. You should not take any other teams' puzzles, or otherwise disturb a puzzle which needs to be viewed by all teams (e.g. don't remove a poster which all of the teams need to read). Generally, just "play fair" and keep to the "spirit of the game." If you have any questions about what you should or should not do, err on the side of caution, and have your captain call me to ask. There will be much travelling about Auburn during the day. If you drive... drive safely (I doubt a police officer will take "PuzzleHunt" as a valid excuse for speeding).

Throughout the day, if your team gets stumped on any puzzle, your captain may call and ask (beg?) for hints. I'll be happy to give hints, but they will cost your team Points (I will subtract Points from your final score). Exactly how many Points will be deducted for hints varies by the puzzle and the questions you ask... I will explicitly tell your captain something like, "if I give you a hint about this it will cost you 10 Points." You may then decide whether or not you want the hint. I will try to be consistent in hints and Point deductions for all teams.

Points for Hints will be deducted even, if it turns out, your team already knew the hint. For example, if you call in and say, "we've been stuck on THIS PUZZLE for 45 minutes... please give us a hint," and I do give you a hint for a stated number of Points deducted, but then you reply, "well we already KNEW that." It may also be possible that there could be multiple hints for a single puzzle. It'll be all rather fluid... just don't count on calling me for hints on every puzzle... the hints will only be to jumpstart your team if you've hit a serious dead-end.

In short, it'll be a free-for-all... don't worry [grin].

Captains are also encouraged (but it is not mandatory) to call me whenever you think you have solved a particular puzzle and know where to go next. This is NOT considered a hint; you can simply call in and say, "we are at this puzzle and we got THIS ANSWER and now we are about to go HERE. Is this right?" I will simply answer "yes" or "no". This is mainly to safeguard you from getting WAY off track during the day.

Finally, if you are unclear about a puzzle's instructions, your captain may call in for clarification (as long as I feel you're not just indirectly fishing for hints). Obviously Mike and I have tried to eliminate all mistakes and keep ambiguity to a minimum (unless we want something to be ambiguous [hehe]), but mistakes may have crept in, or maybe a location will get disturbed by a non-playing member of the public (one of the dangers of doing an outdoor PuzzleHunt).

Whew, ok... that's all I can think of right now. Come ready to ask plenty of questons, and come ready to have loads of fun. Mike and I have personal bets on whether we have enough puzzles to keep you busy or not (in fact, Mike was nagging me so much that he thought the puzzles would be solved too quickly that I let him extend one of the Tasks with original puzzles of his own).

I would encourage everyone to reread all of these webpages. And pray that it doesn't rain on Puzzle Day.

-- Eric, 17 September


I will be designing EPP5 to accommodate five (maybe six) teams, so if you are eager to participate, organize early! Teams should be siginificantly larger than ones at Parties I've hosted at my house (since I don't have to cram everyone in my house for the whole day, I'm hoping to have 40+ Players this time around). I would recommend at least 6 people on a team, and having 10 people would not be a bad thing (you'll likely be splitting up, solving puzzles in parallel, and so forth).

To encourage larger teams than before, and to encourage the recruiting of new Players, I have come up with the following guidelines you should follow when assembling your team.

The Puzzles, The Challenges of EPP5

As this is the first "puzzlehunt" that I am organizing, I am crossing my fingers that I pull it off relatively smoothly. I am not going to try to have a "theme" this go around... it will basically be a "free-for-all". A variety of puzzles that are linked together and lead to one another.

I can say this: there will be 3 Major Tasks to accomplish during the day. I will not detail any of the Tasks until the start of the PuzzleHunt (and even then I'll only describe one of the Tasks, the other two you will have to discover during the day). You will have until 7PM that day (9 hours and 30 minutes after the start time of 9:30AM) to accomplish as many of the Tasks as possible.

Each Task will potentially earn you various numbers of Points (whether by partial completion, timed completion, or whatever -- scoring will be clearly defined with the description of each Task as you learn it). Additionally, there may be bonus/hidden Points (unrelated to specific Tasks) that are available throughout the day..

At the end of the day the team which has amassed the most total Points from all possible sources will be declared the winner. Tallying of scores should be finished by 8:00PM or so (since every team will be required to return to my house/headquarters at 7:00PM).

What is a PuzzleHunt?

Think of a PuzzleHunt as a combination of any of my Past Puzzle Parties and a "Scavenger Hunt". There will be puzzles to solve, and by solving a puzzle you will be directed to another location... where you will find more puzzles, and so on. There will be an ultimate "Goal" to all of this (I will not define the goal(s) until the actual day of EPP5). The first team to accomplish this Goal, or rather, the team which accomplishes the Goal best (there will be a scoring system in place), will win.

People have been doing PuzzleHunts of various types for quite some time. Here is a brief list of some I have found on the web: