(Every part of this question is part of the puzzle.) Only one clue to go!

The following are some CRYPTIC CLUES that all relate to a THEME. The first group of clues are only TANGENTIALLY related to the theme, so they can be solved BEFORE figuring out the theme, and might help REVEAL it.

  1. Muscles trick daughter into escape (7)
  2. Trump grand partner and actor (6,6)
  3. Sounds like fairy folk take flight to drink (5)
  4. Shaving cream is obstacle to back Land of Sons and Boys initially (8)

The next set of clues DIRECTLY relate to the theme. Furthermore, while it may be POSSIBLE to figure them out based on the WORDPLAY, the theme is all but required to be able to provide context for the DEFINITION. (Example, "Angel by canyon (3)" only really makes sense for "Pit" when you know the theme is "Kid Icarus".) You can TRY to decipher them WITHOUT the theme, or you can use the INFORMATION given to you to figure out the theme FIRST, which will make solving the clues a LOT easier.

What will you do?

  1. Comedy actor, last French, names evil dog (4,4)
  2. Hacker twins change footnote (6,6)
  3. Without you first, village is game (5)
  4. Author of article expressed inconvenience replacing Albert with you and I (6,6)
  5. First book with castle in mist creates a universe? (7,4)
  6. Seer got up to mingle. All done! (4, 7)
  7. Cowan, TN abandoned democratic society (3,4)
  8. Spider hazard in Virgina sounds like tour (6,6)
  9. "Little" puppet in software engineering starts with friends and plush dolls (10)
  10. Exile is futile, erroneously generated with no time (7,8)
  11. Arrange grill on shed; he's already here? (4,7)
  12. Raw material from ground tigers without energy (5)
  13. Average girl, vessel before monarch! (4,7)

Hint for 2.9:


Hint #2 for 2.9:

The definition isn't the only thing related to the theme.

Hint #3 for 2.9:

When finding companions, it's important to weigh your options.


Big thank you to Stiv, M Oehm and Benja who have worked out several of these in the comments.

The overall theme is


First Set of Clue Answers

1. ABSCOND - sounds like ABS + CON + D (Stiv gave a better explanation on this).
2. DONALD GLOVER = Donald (Trump) and G + Lover (partner). (credit to Stiv for getting this).
3. FAYGO = sounds like "fae go".
4. BARBASOL = Bar (obstacle) + initials of "Land of Sons and Boys" backwards. (credit to M Oehm for solving this).

Second Set of Clue Answers

1. JACK NOIR = JACK BLACK with last name translated to French.
2. SOLLUX CAPTOR = POLLUX and CASTOR with PS swapped (credit to Stiv for getting this).
3. SBURB = SUBURB without "U".
4. ANDREW HUSSIE = (I think) AN + DREW + HASSLE with "A" and "L" replaced by "U" and "I".
5. GENESIS FROG = Genesis ("First book of the bible") + FOG containing R.
6. ROSE LALONDE = Rose (got up) + Lalonde is an anagram of "All done".
7. CAN TOWN = anagram of "Cowan TN".
8. VRISKA SERKET = RISK inside VA + SERKET sounds like "circuit".
9. SCALEMATES = CAL (Lil' Cal) inside S(oftware) E(ngineering) + MATES (pals).
10. AIMLESS RENEGADE = Aimless ("futile") + anagram of "generated" without T (time).
11. LORD ENGLISH = anagram of "grill on shed".
12. GRIST = anagram of TIGERS without E (credit to Stiv for solving this).
13. JANE CROCKER = "Plain Jane" + CROCK + ER


"Homestuck" is indeed a very appropriately named comic for lockdown.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I can give you a few others - rot13(2 vf FBYYHK PNCGBE - CBYYHK naq PNFGBE jvgu CF fjnccrq; 12 vf TEVFG; naq #2 va gur bevtvany frg vf QBANYQ TYBIRE) but #9 in the second set is the one which completely stumped me too... $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jan 7 at 17:09
  • $\begingroup$ @hexomino Great work so far! Your first clue is correct, but the rationale is a bit off (rot13: purpx ireo grafrf). There are also two more hints to what the theme is (plus one bonus hint in one of the first set of clues) :) $\endgroup$ – samm82 Jan 7 at 17:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also I think the wordplay for #1 in the first set should actually be rot13(NOF + PBA + Q) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jan 7 at 17:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is tough! 1.4: BAR + (L_ O_ S_ A_ B_)<. $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jan 7 at 17:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think the 2.9 is (or related to) rot13 (Fpnyrzngrf) based on the hints rot13(Uvag 1 vf fnvq va Grermv'f ibvpr naq Uvag 3 ersref gb jrvtuvat pbzcnavbaf) but i dont know how to get rot13 (Pny sebz "yvggyr" chccrg) $\endgroup$ – Benja Jan 15 at 20:05

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