November 19th, 2003

Dark Tower

So close...

Greg Stolze has revealed the cipher he used for the code in Hunter: Reedemer, a nasty looking thing. This is what he has to say over on the Hunter forum:
Waaay back when, when HB: Redeemer came out, I promised ten
pounds of books to the first person to post a correct
translation of the coded message from its introduction here.

No one broke it.

In 2001, I sold an annotated copy of the book at auction,
including big hints about the cipher.

The buyer didn't break it.

Then he posted the hints for other codebreakers to consider.
THEY didn't break it.

Finally, after a concensus seemed to emerge, I agreed to
reveal all when I got my author copies of "Days of Fire",
provided that no one broke the code in the interim.

Today, that book arrived

HOW THE CIPHER WORKED

The cipher was actually two overlapping ciphers. I took the
base message and split it in half. The first half was
encoded on (IIRC) the up and down axis of the symbols, with
the second on the right-left axis. (Or maybe vice versa. Or
maybe it was the 3:00 and 9:30 positions. Remember, I did
this years ago.) I thought the gig was just about up when
someone figured that angle out and posted it on RPG.NET. But
according to that poster, the frequencies didn't work for
letter frequencies in English.

Which makes sense, because the message was in French. Break
the cipher and here's what you get.

AMBROSE J'AI MENÈ L'ENQUÊTE QUE TU AS DEMANDÉE STOP IL
APPARAÎT QUE CETTE NOUVELLE MENACE N'EST PAS SI NOUVELLE QUE
*A STOP JE CROIS QUE LES LASOMBRA EURENT DES PROBLEMES
IDENTIQUES VERS LE DÉBUT DU QUATORZIEME SIECLE MAIS IL Y A
PEU DE CHANCES QUE NOUS RECEVIONS UNE RÉPONSE DIRECTE DE LEUR
PART STOP SI LA LÉGENDE DES CRÂNES DE VERRE HURLANTS A UN
FOND DE VÉRITÉ IL POURRAIT Y AVOIR UN RAPPORT STOP JE NE SAIS
PAS POURQUOI IL Y AURAIT UNE BRUSQUE RÉSURGENCE APRES DES
ANNÉES DE SOMMEIL A MOINS QUE LA GÉHENNE NE SOIT VRAIMENT LA
STOP DE TOUTES MANIERES D'APRES LES RAPPORTS ACTUELS NOUS
SAVONS QU'ILS POSSEDENT LES POUVOIRS SUIVANTS STOP ILS
MANIPULENT LES ESPRITS STOP ILS PEUVENT MANIFESTER UNE
RAPIDITÉ ET UNE FORCE SURHUMAINES STOP LEURS SENS SONT
SURNATURELS STOP ON LES A OBSERVES EN BOSNIE A LOS ANGELES ET
AILLEURS STOP QUELLES SONT LEURS FAIBLESSES JE NE PUIS ENCORE
LE DEVINER STOP DÉSOLÉE STOP SINCEREMENT MARGUERITE

Translated into English, that roughly means...

AMBROSE I HAVE MADE THE INVESTIGATIONS YOU REQUESTED STOP IT
APPEARS THAT THIS NEW THREAT IS NOT REALLY ALL THAT NEW STOP
I BELIEVE THE LASOMBRA HAD SIMILAR PROBLEMS AROUND THE TURN
OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY BUT WE ARE UNLIKELY TO GET A
STRAIGHT ANSWER OUT OF THEM STOP IF THERE IS ANYTHING TO THE
LEGEND OF THE SCREAMING GLASS SKULLS THERE COULD BE A
CONNECTION STOP I DO NOT KNOW WHY THERE IS SUCH A SUDDEN
RESURGENCE AFTER YEARS OF DORMANCY UNLESS IT REALLY IS
GEHENNA STOP IN ANY EVENT FROM THE CURRENT REPORTS WE KNOW
THAT THEY POSSESS THE FOLLOWING POWERS STOP THEY CAN
MANIPULATE SPIRITS STOP THEY CAN HARNESS SUPERHUMAN SPEED AND
STRENGTH STOP THEY HAVE PRETERNATURALLY KEEN SENSES STOP THEY
CAN PRODUCE FIRE STOP THESE HAVE BEEN OBSERVED IN BOSNIA IN
LOS ANGELES AND ELSEWHERE STOP WHAT THEIR PARTICULAR
WEAKNESSES ARE I CANNOT YET SPECULATE STOP SORRY STOP
SINCERELY MARGUERITE

What this refers to is a bit of intra-game wonkery based on
the V:tM plotline about the Kindred of the East starting to
mess 'round with western-style vampires.

There it is! If you enjoyed it, take a stab at the cipher in
"Days of Fire," though in that case you get the spoiler on
how to decipher it three pages from the end.

-G.
And I was the guy who split the letters up and tried to match frequencies, but it didn't work out for me. I even had a vague clue about French, but didn't follow it up <thwack> (how do you find out French letter frequencies, and why would they be so different from English?).

Oh well, regrets for what might have been (ie, a bloody big box of books), but it was fun at the time.

--Edit: Having another look at the French, I can see why it's nasty. More 1 letter words than you'd get in English, and almost no consistent two or three letter ones -- just 1 or two each of de, le, la, les, et... I looked at that in code form, and bounced (from memory -- this was a year or two back).

That's what a lack of dedication gets you. Good thing I'm not trying to make it as a RPG freelancer.

Oh, wait...