Pretend I was some sort of budding author. A bit of a stretch, but…

Now that you've done that, I had a bit of an idea related to writing curses, and breaking them. But the method is slightly absent. So, would there be any clever way of encrypting or hiding the way to break a curse within the wording of the curse itself? This seems a bit broad, so I'll add a scenario.

It's slightly futuristic, as well as fantasy-ish… The athletes use demons to enhance speed, strength, whatnot. In a [insert sport name] match, game, etc., the loser is approached for his autograph, gets mad, curses the poor kid. Apparently he can control fire, so the demon uses the fire to begin burning the kid from inside out. ;P Pleasant, right?

Maybe I should move this to Worldbuilding, dunno. But I like the people on Puzzling more. Please say something if this is completely off topic. Also, I don't know about the tag.

Short version of main question(because there are too many words and rand knows this site better than I do):

How might a cure for a curse be hidden within the words of the curse?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Are you looking for something like "Your body will burn as long as you draw breath!" and the secret to stopping the curse is to literally stop trying to breathe? Or something more encryption-like...? $\endgroup$
    – Curmudgeon
    Jul 8, 2015 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ I feel like either would work, but probably something that's not too obvious at first glance. $\endgroup$
    – AJL
    Jul 8, 2015 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ what about repeating the spell three times? Power of three undoes the curse. $\endgroup$
    – Nyk 232
    Jul 8, 2015 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ Athletes using demons to enhance performance is a really cool idea. $\endgroup$ Jul 8, 2015 at 20:40
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I voted to close at too broad. As is, you're basically asking us to make any hidden-message puzzle. You should say what type of properties you're looking for a puzzle to have, how it should be themed, how it will be presented, who the audience is, in what context you expect to be solved, and so on. For thematic help, perhaps ask on Worldbuilding. $\endgroup$
    – xnor
    Jul 10, 2015 at 0:15

3 Answers 3


I don't know if this is "on-topic" or not, but I like the question, so I'll take a couple stabs at answering it.

One way you could consider is shifting each letter once to the right to the nearest consonant/vowel, depending on what the original letter is. This gives fun, fantasy-sounding words that are just a simple shift away from their real-word counterparts!

Here are a few examples (with leniency in spacing and punctuation):

Take a shower --> Veliet Juxis
Eat bat bones --> Iev'cev Cupit
Kill yourself --> Lom M'zu Asti M'g

The words don't always work out well ("drink" becomes "fsoml", which isn't great), but they can be pretty cool.

Another way is my old favorite, the cryptic crossword clue! You could craft curses in such a way that they can be puzzled out to the correct answer, cryptic-style. An example could be:

A three-headed body and an old, endless burst
led astray under time's ire, revealed at first.
To sever the chains, see the end in reverse.

This isn't immediately obvious, but the lines clue towards how to break the curse:

First line: BLOOD (BOD (first three "heads" of "body") + OL ("old" endlessly) anagrammed (burst)) Second line: LAUTIR (letters "at first" of each word)
Final answer: BLOOD RITUAL (with the ending word in reverse)

These can be difficult, but are also quite clever.

There are a bunch of simple encryptions, with some examples being Vigenere and Caesarian ciphers, that can give you a result that looks curselike, but they aren't very clever and don't give you great results. I think with my contorted mind I would go cryptic, but these are just a couple examples to get everyone else's juices flowing. I hope you're at least somewhat intrigued!

  • $\begingroup$ I like the ideas, the first looks really cool :-) $\endgroup$
    – AJL
    Jul 8, 2015 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ "Veliet Juxis" will be my go-to curse from now on!! $\endgroup$ Jul 9, 2015 at 14:46

While this is not an encryption technique, you could consider using anagrams as names of the curses. Just twist the letters around to create words where you have syllables from common words. You could restrict it to anagrams of individual words for an easy level, and anagrams of the entire phrase for a tough one.

Using Bailey M's example, BLOOD RITUAL can be anagrammed to DOBOL ALIRUT. Here, the words have been anagrammed separately.

Here are some tough ones that I made up. I encourage you to try to crack them before revealing the actual words.





The next two have been made even harder by even changing the number of words after anagramming it.





Anagramming the words altogether makes it uncrackable by most online anagram solvers too, thus forcing your audience to sit and sort out letters and decipher your hidden words. One drawback of this method could be that you can't hide an encryption key through wordplay in the rest of your narrative.

You can even omit some letters, which you would provide through the narrative. Letters like B, C, D, G, I, J, O, P, Q, T, U, V, X can easily be hidden with common words. Consider the example below.

.. carved on the wall were the words 'See and be seen'. As I lowered the torch beam, I saw the curse, written in blood, ALOPIN GLENOSS...

The letters B and C come from the clue, whereas the other letters are part of the anagram.


The curse:

You must make only 1 statement that is either true or false. I will still let you speak once you make the statement. If you are silent, I will not poison you. If you say a true statement, I will not strangle you. If you say a false statement, I will not behead you. If you make a statement which is true or false, but I don't know which, I will not burn you to death. If you break my rules, I will kill you. If I can break my rules (excluding this one), I will.

For example, if you say a known true statement, he is supposed to 'not strangle you'. However, if he 'can break the rules, he will', which implies he will strangle you. Also 'I will still let you speak' is another rule which he will defy simply because he can, so you cannot make another statement.

If you remain silent, he is supposed to 'poison you'. However, he will break his rules, so you will be unable to speak, and you will be poisoned. I hope the conditions are clear enough as to why they seem 'unescapable'.

And the key to breaking it.....

"I will be beheaded and not strangled". This breaks rule number one "You must make only 1 statement that is either true or false". Now because you broke his rules, 'he will kill you'. However, he can break his rules as well, meaning he won't kill you.

(There may be typing/literal errors, or some paradox I haven't noticed. Otherwise, it looks fine.)

  • $\begingroup$ Why is there a down-vote? The question is unclear, so I'm not sure what was expected in the answer.. $\endgroup$ Jul 10, 2015 at 17:12

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