Once inside the pitch black room, you hear a chime then a voice from above, "You have now entered the first puzzle".

You sigh as the lights come up. You can't believe your father pressured you into this dumb program. You don't need a 'Certified Puzzle-Solver!' certificate to apply to space cadet academy. What a waste of your summer vacation.

Ugh, the voice again. We're starting you off easy. When you have figured it out, punch in the code in the keypad on the wall behind you

You spin around. "When did that get there?" you think.

On the wall behind you is a metal keypad with only four buttons, labeled '1', '2', '3' and '4'. Right now it displays '0000'. Right next to the keypad is a pedestal inlaid into the wall, with a book sitting on top of it. You walk over to the book and see it is turned to a story set in a Tolkien-esqe fantasy realm. "A bit outdated, don'tcha think?" you say out loud, despite there being no one else in the room. "Fantasy stories went out of style back in 2130." Despite your disgust, you take a quick look at the book. You observe that the pages don't turn; it's stuck at this one story. Once you're done reading, you walk over to the wall and stare at the keypad.

What numbers do you punch into the keypad?

A band of explorers were plodding along a winding dirt road at high noon. Fringe, the human, began ranting.
"I told you, Desra, to follow the list. I gave you a list with everything on it, everything we needed for this trip, and you forgot the two things that I need to not feel like I'm freaking dying? I needed a hat so I didn't get this horrible sunburn -"
At that, Wog and Rangor began sniggering. Fringe's visage was a deep red.
"No!" stammered Fringe. "Don't laugh at me!" But his protests fell on deaf ears. Wog and Rangor were doubled over in laughter at Fringe's plight.

As nightfall neared, Wog, with all the grace and subtlety that a half-giant can muster proclaimed "I'm tired. We're camping. Now." The wizard was a bit hesitant but the others shrugged and agreed.
While Desra and the others set up camp, Rangor and Fringe went out to collect firewood. The two collected in comfortable silence for a while, before Fringe interjected.
"Rangor, do you miss Raina? I mean, I'm aware that Desra is your perfect elf wife - " Rangor nodded at that. "But do you sometimes just feel that she's the 'one who got away'?"
Rangor stood with his head tilted, wistfully staring upwards. "Yes. Fringe, I miss Raina. I also miss Myra, and Lorn. But I believe that they made me a better husband to Desra. Each time I stew a rabbit, I remember Myra teaching me. When I sing the Tragror'c lullaby, I remember the time I spent with Lorn perfecting it. The elf women who are not with me any longer made me the man that I am today."

Desra awoke with a start. Did she hear Rangor cry out? She looked over to where his sleeping body lay and instead saw a pile of bedding. She shouted, and the others awoke.
"Did Rangor say he was going for a walk?" She asked, frantically, as Fringe rubbed sleep out of the corners of his eyes. "Weren't you supposed to be on watch?" She glared at the wizard, who looked sheepish.
"I left the energy wand back at the castle. It only had two charges left and I didn't think I would need it..." he trailed off.
"We will find Rangor," said Wog, as he walked purposefully into the forest.

When they arrived back to their village, Desra, Fringe and Wog gathered around the large oaken table in the Wizard's home. They looked with deep sadness into one another's eyes. Finally, Desra spoke.
"This was not meant to be!" she exclaimed angrily. "Aye," assented the others. Rangor's absense felt palpable in the dark, humid night.
"He is more important to us now that he is gone," said the Wizard. Everyone nodded. They sat in silence for a few minutes more, before quietly standing up and heading to their homes.

Clarification: Only text in quote blocks is part of the puzzle, the rest is flavourtext. Your answer should be a four digit number that only contains the digits '1234'.

Hint (that's not really a hint, it should have been in the original puzzle to make the puzzle less broad)

After staring at the wall for a few minutes, you walk back over to the book and see that you've missed something. "Gah, I'm so oblivious sometimes," you think.
Below the last paragraph that you read is another, short paragraph labeled "Coda"

Many days would pass for our band of vagabonds. Without Rangor, no man nor woman was of good stamina. All would cry and not a man among our band had motivation to try and find loot. Upon a day forty days past his passing, our group did rally again for a mission. A dragon was slain, and loot was found. Upon forty days again passing, a body was found in a wood; it was Rangor with burns and scars. It was visibly from a dragon. Our band was happy - as by dragon did Rangor pass, and a dragon did pass also.

Hint 2

The voice booms from above again. What's taking you so long? Did you actually *read* the story? You know no one actually cares about what some half giant and his friends did a bajillion years ago. None of the plot is actually important. Jeez.

  • $\begingroup$ "While Desra and the others set up camp, Rangor and Fringe went out to collect firewood." is this a typo or a clue? I assumed there were only four explorers, but this implies there are more. $\endgroup$ – David Foong Aug 2 '17 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidFoong there are supposed to be 5 explorers - there is an unnamed wizard who is referred to a couple times. $\endgroup$ – Morgan G Aug 2 '17 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ Ahhh I just assumed Fringe was the wizard. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – David Foong Aug 2 '17 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not even sure if this is relevant, but is Rangor alive in the last paragraph? The choice of the word "body" versus something like "person" juxtaposes the happiness we see from the group of travelers. $\endgroup$ – David Foong Aug 3 '17 at 19:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Hosea nope, not important. In my head-canon he is an elf. $\endgroup$ – Morgan G Aug 3 '17 at 21:39

Before reading this answer, please go and upvote the answer by M Oehm. He deserves most of the credit.

After days of frustration and pulling off your hair, you find a strange pattern in the Coda. Indeed, it is a

lipogram, a style of writing with missing letters in the paragraph. It typically misses out common letter such as E, which is exactly the case here.

Following this pattern, you observe the rest of the paragraphs in this fantasy story and find that

there are 4 missing alphabets in the first paragraph, followed by 3 alphabet in the second, 4 in the third, and 1 in the last paragraph. Below is the table that counts the number of occurrence of each alphabet in each paragraph (shamelessly copied from M Oehm's answer. Credit to him!).

       a  b  c  d  e  f  g  h  i  j  k  l  m  n  o  p  q  r  s  t  u  v  w  x  y  z
I     34  7 -- 26 51 12 30 20 37 --  2 17  5 40 33  6 -- 32 19 39 10  5 10  1  6 --
II    68 15 17 30 94 16 22 38 53  2 -- 29 30 42 42  8 -- 53 36 75 16  1 24 -- 13  1
III   38  6  7 30 58 13 12 28 26 --  9 21 -- 23 35  8 -- 27 31 32  9  1 18 -- 10  1
IV    35  6  3 22 62  6 11 25 27 --  5 14  9 31 27  6  1 24 27 34  6  3  8  1  9  2
Coda  62  8  2 32 -- 10 15  5 22 -- -- 11  9 39 46 11 -- 26 33 16 13  3 13 -- 14 --

'Why didn't I figure this out earlier?' You wonder to yourself as you walk up to the keypad and type


  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for writing up the solution! I want to give a sincere apology to all solvers - this was a bad puzzle. It should have been more self-confirmable. Alas, we learn from our mistakes and my next puzzle will be better :) $\endgroup$ – Morgan G Aug 10 '17 at 16:32

First time trying to answer a puzzle on here, so this is probably way too basic, but I wanted to give it a shot.




Each paragraph mentions a time of day.
Paragraph 1: "...high noon" (noon)
Paragraph 2: "As nightfall neared..." (evening)
Paragraph 3: "...awoke with a start" (morning)
Paragraph 4: "...dark, humid night" (night)

Assuming the progression of the day correlates to the numbers 1-4:
Morning = 1, Noon = 2, Evening = 3, Night = 4

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome! It's not way too basic, but it's also not the answer. You will get something that is clearly a discrete number when you do arrive at the answer. $\endgroup$ – Morgan G Aug 2 '17 at 20:46

You briskly step up to the keypad and type:

Wait! Unfortunately I can't say with confidence what the code is. But I've got some ideas, which I share in the hope that someone else is less dense than I am as I stand before the pedestal.

From previous adventurers' lives (er, answers) we know that ...

... it is important that there is something missing in each text. The newest hint tells us that the story itself isn't important. And we are looking for something that will give us four digits from 1 to 4.

Now, some observations:

The Coda is indeed about something that is missing: It is a lipogram that doesn't use the letter E. (A lipogram is a text where a usually prominent letter, often E, is missing.)

The first text is a lipogram that doesn't use C. Now C is the third letter of the alphabet and that might mean that the first digit of the code is 3. (The coda can be seen as the fifth text, and so it might be fitting that the fifth letter, E, is absent there.)

Alas! The remaining texts aren't really any lipograms of a prominent letter. The less frequent letters of the English alphabet, such as J, Q, X and Z, are missing in most texts. The letter frequencies of the texts are:

       a  b  c  d  e  f  g  h  i  j  k  l  m  n  o  p  q  r  s  t  u  v  w  x  y  z
I     34  7 -- 26 51 12 30 20 37 --  2 17  5 40 33  6 -- 32 19 39 10  5 10  1  6 --
II    68 15 17 30 94 16 22 38 53  2 -- 29 30 42 42  8 -- 53 36 75 16  1 24 -- 13  1
III   38  6  7 30 58 13 12 28 26 --  9 21 -- 23 35  8 -- 27 31 32  9  1 18 -- 10  1
IV    35  6  3 22 62  6 11 25 27 --  5 14  9 31 27  6  1 24 27 34  6  3  8  1  9  2
Coda  62  8  2 32 -- 10 15  5 22 -- -- 11  9 39 46 11 -- 26 33 16 13  3 13 -- 14 --

M is conspiciously missing from the third text. Are the missing letters the Roman numerals of the powers of ten, I, X, C and M? That's a bit of a stretch, especially since I is present everywhere and X is missing from two texts, one of them the one without Ms.

Are only the first letters in a word important? Or only capital letters? That doesn't yield any interesting results. Are we looking for letters with the same count? The second text has 42 o's and 42 n's, but unfortunately it has 94 e's, so that probably doesn't spell "one".

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Perhaps it's 4341? Number of missing alphabets in each paragraph. Coda is just a hint telling us to count the missing alphabets. Also matches the hint about missing factor mentioned in the comments. I was wondering if I should post that as an answer, but thought that you did all the work. $\endgroup$ – Hosea Aug 8 '17 at 20:43

I'm not sure of the intended complexity of this puzzle, so I'll just go with an answer that is super topical. I'm positive someone else can solve it if I'm wrong.

Anyway, the code is:

2123 Each paragraph is a number.

1st number:

The number in paragraph 1 (that stands out) is the italicized two.


Paragraph two has Fringe and Rangor talking about the one who got away.


Paragraph three has Fringe admitting he left his wand with only two charges left at home.


Paragraph four has the remaining three explorers sad that they have lost someone. I assume the answer is three because of Desra's "This was not meant to be!" referring to three explorers instead of four.

Now, here are the reasons I might be wrong:

The most glaring reason is that there are many other numbers/possible clues in each paragraph. If my initial answer is wrong, I believe some numbers are meant as instructions.


The first line mentions high noon (12). Rangor and Wog double over in laughter.


P2) Wog is a half-giant. "The two collected in comfortable silence for a while". "The one who got away" could be an instruction to subtract one.


P3) Haven't noticed anything here


P4) Nothing else here. If you stretch you could connect "a few minutes more" to the time, but there's only one precise time in here.

I'm honestly not sure which way this puzzle should be solved. Someone could attempt:

Using each person as a variable and the "directions" as changes to each variable. I considered this but couldn't make it work.

Or maybe:

There is a lot more to this puzzle than what I have done.

It could even be possible that:

The answer is a combination of each person's "value" in each paragraph

  • $\begingroup$ Good attempt! But not really on the right track with your first answer or your thoughts afterwards. You're about right on the intended complexity with your first answer, however. $\endgroup$ – Morgan G Aug 2 '17 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, one more comment - when you find an answer, the theme of some of the dialogue will make sense in the context of how you arrive at that answer. $\endgroup$ – Morgan G Aug 2 '17 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ @MorganG Gotcha. I'll take a different approach! $\endgroup$ – David Foong Aug 2 '17 at 19:05

I focused on the quote "He is more important to us now that he is gone."

Each paragraph refers to something missing. I doubled the first number to use each digit, although maybe that was unnecessary. There's also the possibility we count Ragnor missing in the third paragraph but it didn't feel right.

4321 or 2321 if I don't double

2 / 4 Two missing list items (if doubled we use the 4) 3 Three past lovers 2 Two absent wand charges 1 One missing companion

  • $\begingroup$ This answer seems reasonable! I don't agree with the doubling, but I think you may have gotten it. $\endgroup$ – David Foong Aug 3 '17 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ You and Mea Culpa Nay are both on to something with the 'missing' clue, but this is not the answer. $\endgroup$ – Morgan G Aug 3 '17 at 15:51

I think the answer should be:


This is based on number of persons active & contributed in conversaion of each paragraph.

In the first paragraph,

Desra, Fringe, Wog and Rangor => 4

In the second paragraph,

Fringe and Rangor => 2

In the third paragraph,

Desra, Wizard and Wog => 3

In the fourth paragraph,

Wizard, Desra, Fringe and Wog => 4

It might correct or help others.

  • $\begingroup$ this doesn't really fit with the theme that's been established by other answerers of 'something missing'. $\endgroup$ – Morgan G Aug 3 '17 at 18:11

The number could be


Here the explanation goes:

In each of the paragraph... the participants are saying about the things they missed or lost.

In the first paragraph,

it is 2 things out of everything they needed for the trip were missed out

In the second paragraph,

It is Rangor missing his earlier relations - 3 in number (Raina, Myra, Lorn)

In the third paragraph,

It is the charges in the magic wand of the wizard (Which is 2) and

In the last paragraph,

It is the person (Rangor) himself, who was missed and people are taking about !

Hope this helps !

  • $\begingroup$ You and CrabMagic are both on to something with the 'missing' clue, but this is not the answer. $\endgroup$ – Morgan G Aug 3 '17 at 15:51

I will take a stab at this one. This is my first answer for a puzzle so it will probably be incorrect.

In the first paragraph all of the members(except for the wizard) are "present" = 4


In the second paragraph Desra and Wog are "present" = 2

And further...

In the third paragraph there are 3 "present" = 3


In the last paragraph there are 3 "present" = 3.

So...I submit that the answer is:


I don't think it could be the reverse because that would require a zero...that may be allowed though because the keypad originally reads "0000".

Edit: If the Wizard is included in the guess then the answer would be:

4334 because the wizard is "present" and active/speaking in the second and the last paragraphs.

  • $\begingroup$ Good attempt! However, there are 5 members of the party - Desra, Wog, Fringe, Ragnor and 'the wizard'. $\endgroup$ – Morgan G Aug 3 '17 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ Please edit your answer to hide potential spoilers of the problem; you can use >! for this. $\endgroup$ – Glorfindel Aug 3 '17 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the edit tip. I edited to keep my answers hidden. $\endgroup$ – Dr t Aug 3 '17 at 20:00

Let's try something :

Answer :

4 3 2 1

Reasoning :

Quote from the last paragraph "see that you've missed something", so what is missed?

1st :

Fringe is missing two things (hat and something else), which is then doubled to give 4

2nd :

Rangor misses 3 exes

3rd :

Rangor is missing, and the wizard left his wand at the castle so it's missing too, giving the number 2

4th :

Rangor is still missing at this point, which gives 1

More :

I prefer the 1st paragraph to give a 4 because it's more elegant to have all digits from 1 to 4, but it could also be a 2


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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