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A 'geezer' walks into a bakery. The man is covered from top to bottom with tattoos - on his face, on his shoulders... even arrow tattoos on his fingers. He has dropped by to hand in a design for a specially decorated cake, but has forgotten two of the numbers that should be on it...

Can you help him figure out which numbers he forgot? (Knowing his hobbies would certainly make it easier!)

enter image description here

Hint:

His hobby is at the tips of his fingers... (This doesn't help you with the cipher itself but does provide you with an ordering for the numbers you see. After deciphering, this will lead to a sentence which will lead you to the two missing numbers!)

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    $\begingroup$ I'm thinking his hobby might be rot13(qnegf), but looking at a rot(qnegf obneq) did not yet help me with the cipher. $\endgroup$ – JeroendeK Mar 25 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ rot13(lbh'er dhvgr evtug nobhg uvf ubool, V nqqrq n uvag pbapreavat guvf ubool.) $\endgroup$ – tyui Mar 26 at 10:40
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Answer

Top ? is 1010 and the bottom-right ? is 108

First,

Note that the numbers are arranged similar to a dartboard. This allows us to reorder the numbers to get the following: (/ denotes a space)
? 107 71 71 99 108 76 95 / ? 92 / 77 106 / 96 109 75 75 106

Breaking the code

With a bit of luck, I noticed that the first word could be PUZZLING. This gave a rather curious correlation - Z=71, N=76, G=95, L=99, U=107, and I=108. Notably, ZN are the bottom row of keys on a QWERTY keyboard, GL are the middle row, and UI are the top row.
Also, Z is to the left of the N by 5 spaces, G is left of L by 4 spaces, and U is left of I by one space. In fact if you draw a line from each letter diagonally up-left, you intercept the same digit key as the units digit.
The 7, 9, and 10 can be explained as the bottom row has 7 letters, the middle row has 9 letters, and the top row has 10 letters.
Armed with this, we can fill in the rest of the message: ?uzzling ?s my hobby.
Therefore, we need the values for P* (corresponding to 1 and at the top) and I (which corresponds to 10 and bottom right). For I, we know its value - 108. P is 1010, by concatenating the number of keys in its row, with the order from left to right (so qwertyuiop is 101, 102, 103, ..., 109, 1010). *I suppose puzzling could be some other word like nuzzling, guzzling, or muzzling, but it seems the most contextually appropriate :P

Explanation of hint

Arrow tattoos on the fingers, with the clue "at the tips of his fingers" suggests that 1) arrows to suggest darts and looking at a dartboard, and 2) typing could be a hobby as well, since that definitely involves the fingers. The arrows could also help motivate looking at the number row as well.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think you're right about all of this. However, I'd really love to know exactly why each 'row' would start counting at 71, 91 and 101 - and why no 81?? That's the logic I'm missing here (though I think you've nailed the rest of it...) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Mar 27 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ The first hint is used properly. You're in the right direction with deciphering, unfortunately the answer is not completely correct yet. $\endgroup$ – tyui Mar 27 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ Ok, I think I can explain the 7, 9, and 10 now, and maybe the other interpretation that I floated in the explanation was actually correct. $\endgroup$ – phenomist Mar 27 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ You're explanation is quite correct, but your derivation of one of the ? is wrong. $\endgroup$ – tyui Mar 27 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ Is P 1010 instead? $\endgroup$ – phenomist Mar 27 at 17:38

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