Your TV flickers to life; a static covered man speaks from behind a voice filter. "Agent Puzzling, you are now active. Your need to collect your first mission papers. Look under the statue on your front porch for further coded instructions." You head out to the porch and find a statue of a sleeping dog that wasn't there yesterday. On the bottom, there is a sequence of letters:


What do you need to do?


Your instruction is four words of length 4, 2, 2 and 3, in that order.


Don't overthink it; notice all 26 letters are present.


The cipher is very simple; the key is key.

Big Hint:


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I assume there are some clues as to what the cipher is? $\endgroup$
    – boboquack
    Jan 21, 2017 at 2:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ...The last time I did that, someone told me (in no uncertain terms) that I should launch with clues for cipher puzzles. $\endgroup$
    – qwertyu63
    Jan 21, 2017 at 2:41
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Puzzles in general, and cipher puzzles in particular, should incorporate clues to how they should be solved - as part of the puzzle itself, not grafted on in spoiler-tagged "hints". If the hint is effectively required for anyone not inside your head to solve the puzzle then it's not a "hint", it's an essential part of the puzzle--and in many cases is the only thing preventing your puzzle from being "guess what cipher I used". Hints can be added after some time has passed to give extra help to solvers not making progress without them. Hope that helps clarify things for ya! $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Jan 21, 2017 at 3:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ See also Code Puzzles: What (Not) To Do? - a post you've probably already been pointed to - for ideas on how to incorporate clues into your puzzles to make them more interesting and, more relevantly, not exercises in "guess the cipher". $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Jan 21, 2017 at 3:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ After seeing full solution I think this puzzle has all the clues needed to solve it, but they are cleverly hidden to the point they seem to be absent. Good job @qwertyu63. Shame on you, downvoters. $\endgroup$
    – oleslaw
    Jan 31, 2017 at 10:54

2 Answers 2


In his answer, oleslaw makes some good points. The most important insight, however, is that ...

... the encoded sentence is "The quick brown fox", encoded with a simple substitution cipher:

        kqx flaiz ogcrs mcv tludh cpxg kqx bjyw nce
        the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
The substitution alphabet is:

Rearrange this so that the encoded keys make up the English alphabet:


If you squint, you can make out the message in the top row now: Join me at bus.

(The cipher uses letters that are used only infrequently such as q, z, and x as spaces. The rest after the message proper is padding. Of course, the cipher has one major drawback: It can only encode messages without repeated letters, so that "Join me at the train" or even "Attack at dawn" can't be encoded.)


These are my thoughts put together, but too long for being a comment:

  1. The coded information uses every letter in alphabet. Such sentences are called pangrams (this is a good start confirmed by "Big hint").

  2. The most well known english pangram is "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." which has 35 letters. The coded message also has 35 letters - I believe it is not a coincidence.

  3. The place where we found the coded message is a statue of "sleeping dog" - sleeping -> lazy, which is about to point to the famous pangram about the "lazy dog".

  4. Using a "very simple cipher" (Vigenere) on the message provided in the puzzle and the pangram (as both cipher and key) led me to nothing worth mentioning. Maybe it is some other "very simple cipher" - I don't want to turn into guessing the cipher.

I hope that someone can take it from here.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.