I've always been fond of somewhat mysterious puzzles after I participated in a puzzlehunt years ago. Anyway, here is my shot at making one. Feedback is welcome!

On the front of the paper, there are a series of questions in the form of a riddle:

Question 1. I am blind to Life.

Question 2. I leave the dead in my wake.

Question 3. I have lived for many generations.

Question 4. None shall come before me.

Question 5. What am I?

And on the back, there is a note from the author at the beginning, followed by a series of responses to the questions on the front.

Dear Puzzler, I’ve encoded the responses below using the 1969 ASCII standard. You can't solve the riddles without them. Here’s a small example:


I can’t see much at all, so I had my friend help transcribe this puzzle and arrange the encoded responses nicely into a grid for me. Have fun, and remember, in the end it’s just a game...

PS: Oh, by the way, the answer is an acronym.

Blind to Life

Response 1:

     ''    9@B
7    K <   < '   G
     2'B    @A

Response 2:

I?  -' I?
 I "A@  I

Response 3:


Response 4:


Response 5: Take the first of the name of the type of each of the others.

What am I?

Edit: Sorry for taking so long, but after looking at some of the responses (which are quite far off) I ran it through with a friend. I probably made it too unclear as to what to do (probably should have done that first urgh. I’ve edited the puzzle to give more direction. Don't kill me, thanks for trying though >_<

Hint 1:

"Take the first of the name of the type of each of the others" means that you are looking for the name of the category that each pattern belongs to, not necessarily the name of the pattern itself.

Hint 2:

I understand that is difficult/impossible to search for these patterns directly. Therefore, it is designed so that the name of the category associated with the pattern also answers the corresponding question.

Hint 3:

All four answers may be found on the front page of this website. The last one isn't in the obvious place to look...

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Looks like ><>. $\endgroup$
    – boboquack
    Nov 23, 2016 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ @boboquack I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you mean. Are you trying to say that the puzzle seems unassailable? $\endgroup$
    – sarcopsy
    Nov 23, 2016 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ No sorry, should have provided a link: ><> is a programming language. $\endgroup$
    – boboquack
    Nov 23, 2016 at 23:57

4 Answers 4


Partial Answer

Here's what I think I've figured out so far...

———Part 2————————————————————————————

The Blind in "Blind to Life" —

The "1969 ASCII standard" refers to Braille ASCII (or, more formally, The North American Braille ASCII Code). It was developed around 1969 and, despite originally being known as North American Braille ASCII, it is now used internationally.

Frustratingly enough, I wasn't able to find a single online tool capable of accepting Braille ASCII and doing anything meaningful with it. As it turns out, though, unless I'm way off base here that doesn't even matter: the responses don't appear to be meaningful Braille ASCII encoded text.

The simplest response, #3, begins with the code +. According to what I found, this translates as "ing" in Grade 2 Braile, but contextually must be a suffix. The one decent text-to-Braille tool I found won't code "ing" that way unless it follows something. So + shouldn't be at the start of a message. The rest of response 3 isn't even letters; it's all symbols - quotes and a dash - even in Braille.
None of the other responses fair any better. They all yield gibberish when parsed as text.

That leads me to the other idea I had when I first looked at this.

The Life in "Blind to Life" —

My very first assumption was that this was about John Conway's Game of Life. I thought perhaps the 1969 ASCII Standard was some way of encoding in ASCII the state of a board for Life or some similar cellular automata system. But Life wasn't big until 1970, and I couldn't find anything relevant that would require the digits, letters and symbols we see in the responses to describe.

So if the responses aren't Braille messages, and aren't Life boards, what if they're both? Life only cares about off or on per cell. "Blind to Life" might be encoding Life patterns using the off/on of Braille dots! We have to go from Braille to Life to decode them!


———Part 1————————————————————————————

Applying my first idea to the responses gives what I provide below, to the best of my ability. It may be that looking at them in light of my second idea will be meaningful to someone; I know there are types of constructs that have names, but so far I can only positively identify one answer, and have a decent guess at another.

Question 1: I am blind to Life.
Response 1:


This is a Gosper glider gun.
Its category is Glider Guns.
I don't see a good way to relate this to the question. (Though it might fit Question 2, oddly enough)

Question 2: I leave the dead in my wake.
Response 2:

This is puffer 2, an "extremely dirty puffer" (meaning it leaves a lot of still - aka dead - lives and oscillators behind). This goes under the category puffers (Maybe it's something else?)

Question 3: I have lived for many generations.
Response 3:


This is the pattern called an acorn.
It's a pattern in the category Methuselahs. Methuselahs are patterns that take many generations to finally stabilize, and are an allusion to the biblical Methuselah who lived 969 years.

Question 4: None shall come before me.
Response 4:


This looks a lot like Garden of Eden 5. Gardens of Eden are ones that have no predecessor (a state that evolves into it), so there are none before it. It goes under the category Garden of Eden. (It's probably something else, but...) (This wasn't fully decoded by the tools I have to work with, so the pattern is slightly wrong. I didn't find any patterns that were particularly close to this.)


———Question / Response 5————————————————————

Question 5: What am I?
Response 5: We're told this is an acronym of the first letters of the namescategories (Hint 1) for Responses 1-4.

So far, we have

G P M G (what?)

Note to OP: I don't think Response 3 would work out exactly to what it did by complete coincidence, so I will be rather surprised if my ideas thus far are not correct. Given this, either I've been decidedly unlucky in finding good tools online to pursue this puzzle, or possibly you're unaware of how hard it is to convert backwards without a lot of manual and very error-prone effort. I suspect this puzzle is a good bit harder than you thought it would be.

  • $\begingroup$ The "blind to life" sounds like mix of Braille (blind) and the Game of Life (life) - so the Glider fits it. (and the letter could be "G") $\endgroup$
    – oleslaw
    Nov 25, 2016 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Rubio Wow nice! This is quite close. A few pointers: 1. I actually did everything by hand as well, and checked it several times, because, like you, I couldn't find suitable tools. $\endgroup$
    – sarcopsy
    Nov 25, 2016 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ 2. The wording of the response 5 prompt is quite precise, for certain reasons. The letter you gave for response 3 is wrong as a result. $\endgroup$
    – sarcopsy
    Nov 25, 2016 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ 3. Unfortunately, once you've figured out the first part, you need some specialized knowledge, although I tried to limit it somewhat. The result is harder than 'just google', but hopefully not ridiculous. The riddles are meant to help as well. $\endgroup$
    – sarcopsy
    Nov 25, 2016 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ It seems like every part of this so far has required some specialized knowledge, none of which I have :) I won't say it's a bad puzzle—I think so far it's been good—but someone who gets the gist of a puzzle should be able to solve it with (some, though ideally limited) persistence in grinding through manual steps, and not find themselves halted by being unable to find a key piece of knowledge that either can't be reverse searched/solved for, or would require extraordinary luck in finding the specific source that mentions it, or both. Verifying an answer is much different than solving for it. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Nov 26, 2016 at 1:29

I'm not familiar with the answering format on here so please help me improve if I am wrong

First part

A Virus (Pathogen): Blind to life (people debate if they are living) leaves the dead in its wake (literally), lived for many generations (many), none shall come before me (ehm I guess it could fit)

Second part

Not a damn clue how to make use of the ASCII, but I could see some clever person expanding on the idea of 'virus' to include computer viruses with the given computer-related info

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for trying, I think I made it too unclear as to how to proceed, so I've edited the puzzle to include more direction. The riddle cannot be solved with out figuring out the second part, I've indicated that in the revised version of the question. $\endgroup$
    – sarcopsy
    Nov 24, 2016 at 16:20

Partial Answer

I think, the answer to the riddle is

I am blind to life-probably suggests that time has no life,it never stops.
Clearly, the dead were overtaken by time. They had lived the time they had on the earth.
Time is eternal. Of course, it has lived for many generations.
Nothing comes before time.

  • $\begingroup$ I've edited the puzzle to include more direction, but the riddle is not soluble without figuring out the second part of the puzzle. I probably should have done this earlier though >_> $\endgroup$
    – sarcopsy
    Nov 24, 2016 at 16:16

It's just an observation but the "L" in life is in uppercase suggesting its a person. If that's the case the answer to the question is probably

Satan. He is clearly blind to life (God) assuming they both exist, of course. He is the ruler of hell so.. that answers the second question. He was created the time man was created, so he clearly has lived for many generations. "None shall come before me", something someone powerful would say. So yeah, it's probably Satan.

  • $\begingroup$ According to Christianity he was not the first being, so he would be lying by saying "None shall come before me". Which is not impossible considering who he is. $\endgroup$
    – oleslaw
    Nov 24, 2016 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ ASCII codes are still a mystery though $\endgroup$
    – Idkwhat
    Nov 24, 2016 at 11:51
  • $\begingroup$ I think I've made the puzzle too vague, so I've modified it. The riddle itself is designed to be too general to be solved on its own, the second part of the puzzle with the codes is essential. My bad for not making this clear. $\endgroup$
    – sarcopsy
    Nov 24, 2016 at 16:14

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