Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Hellraiser Puzzle

Over the last couple of weeks I've been involved in an interesting email discussion involving ways to more closely integrate props into both tabletop and live-action gaming. One of the ways to do that is to make the prop itself, in particular a prop document, a clue that moves the story along.

This is, I think, an intriguing example of that idea. About ten years ago I was heavily into the "Hellraiser" mythos and produced a number of prop parchments purporting to be folio pages from the design book of Phillip LeMarchand, the original creator of the puzzle box featured in the first few films. I eventually quit offering them when a dealer scanned the whole lot and was offering bootleg prints for far less than I could afford to make them, but before I gave it up I produced one final design. I still think it was probably the best prop I've ever produced. Why? Because the entire thing was a puzzle.

Below you'll find a picture of the parchment's artwork, crude as it was, so you can take a crack at it if you're so inclined. Hidden within this final folio page is a date in the 1700's when a particular ritual was performed, at least according to the backstory I developed for it. Over the next few days I'll post some clues to figuring it out before I give out the final solution, but I've put a few pointers in the text below to help you along. Click on the picture to view the full-sized version.

Pointers (Highlight to read)

1. The puzzle uses a cipher appropriate to the 1700's.
2. It also uses a cipher wildly inappropriate to the 1700's.
3. Look to the stars.

Update: In response to a few emails, no, this isn't an April Fools joke. Although it would be pretty damn cool if solving the puzzle actually did open the gateway to Leviathan's realm. "Ha ha, April fools," he said, as razor sharp hooks whipped through the air.

There are also some anachronisms in both the language and techniques of the puzzle, as well as some outright errors in the French. These days I would spend more time vetting things like that.

Some more pointers (Highlight to read)

1. The first word is the key.
2. Telegraph for Mr. LeMarchand!
3. You can spend a lot of time trying to decode something that means nothing.

Update: Some pretty hefty pointers (Highlight to read)

1. Leviathan has the faculty of discovering arcane secrets in all the courts and council-chambers of the world; he also unveils the most sublime mysteries.

2. Lpg ronynrjw wmgbu fezq ope usapv wpv Lxa tup xmivxslrc wzmkbug xysrtewne fpif inmhrrd wkqct gaatec ilmhrs sehil tud flhvtmxsix zrz ifmlr nysopek hljlcn zembratrb bo moe opkdvnbug gz fzoig hgntr Gmt moez nspvt epkr frow tal hbfvn wf t jlbno azof ahr doteakk pbtroqnz oaao xj ehxye gsidz ptahf wmfm rtfs scsh bhx zua nvjas moe vyrzz rbugf xemsew iy owsjl Awk tupwz vufieed xjoemoee es yqsvvvrc xcm chbng zj tmakz Hbysm bhx difosh wf lwipl ft tetynvyk ope vvuae sa uogahf zr ope yprfe pzo oy fohc njcrgly gsimm tal cbfro wf whyf zr ope ypnnw pzo

3. Vigenère


Rev. Marx said...

Piracy is the main reason why I don't offer my necronomicon pages in an non-distressed state. I've had several people ask me to, but I've always said no.

I loved codes and cyphers as a kid. I once knew a guy who had made a similar (though vastly more simplistic) prop for his D&D game, also themed around the Hellraiser puzzlebox. He was very proud of it because it was a coded message, and he enjoyed watching his players scratch their heads and struggle with it. I took it to work with me one night to have a go at it. He was less than thrilled that I cracked his cypher in 18 minutes, and had the whole message decoded in 25 min. He hardest part was that he couldn't spell worth a damn.

Propnomicon said...

That experience was one of the reasons I quit producing any kind of props for close to a decade. Now I just give away any paper props I come up with. Admittedly, there are times I won't post my highest res source files, but I'll almost always provide them on request for personal use.

spoon1972uk said...

Did you ever publish the solution to this?

spoon1972uk said...

did you ever publish the solution to this?
and I am trying to creat a prop for a live action RPG and looking to base it on Lemarchands boxs, have you any other designs?

Monstrim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monstrim said...

-never mind that question/spoiler-

Very nice! The puzzle is interesting, and the graphic design is really good. Specially the zodiac, I've never seen it represented that way, and i LOVED that.

Is the font available?

Mr.Douglas said...

I saw these documents ages ago and I just thought that they looked neat, so I ordered a complete distressed set from you - all 9 pages. At some point shortly thereafter they got shoved into the bookshelf (still rolled up) and today I noticed them and I pulled them out again to have a look - still pretty cool even if the kerning is too exact. Then I started thinking about them again and thought I have a look on the internet to find out some more info. Is the page that you show on the blog the only one with the encryption or do the other pages have some as well, I don't recall. Maybe when I get some time I'll play around with them or not. No need to publish this post, just a thank-you for you