Skip to content

Document Header

Content Header

  • CyberSkull

    I need a slightly larger version of the picture to make out serif vs. sans-serif.

    • Here!

      • CyberSkull

        Well, now I’ll look the fool if I don’t solve it…

        • CyberSkull


          • CyberSkull


            • l33tninja

              yes, you solved it. good work. Here’s a cookie (not really, but pretend it’s a cookie).

              • CyberSkull

                Just the thin excuse I need to go out and buy a box of cookies!

      • CyberSkull

        I am like, so close to solving this now. You had better post the next comic to beat me. Yeah. I’m gonna crack it like real soon.

      • JWLM

        This does indeed seem to be a Baconian cipher, up to and including the classic use of two typefaces (one serif, the other sans-serif). Unfortunately for me, my old eyes can’t reliably differentiate them, beyond being able to conclude that sans-serif appears to be A and serif appears to be B. (BB never starts any of the Baconian codes, so the first two letters must be AA.) That’s supported by the fact that there are exactly 80 characters in the message, and every one of the individual cipher blocks is a valid Baconian block. (There is no block that starts BB in the code or in the message.)

        Unfortunately, this seems to read ‘f p t (u/v) (i/j) a (i/j) n g (u/v) e (i/j) b’ which is nonsense. So I’m going to have to rethink this a bit

        • CountSessine

          You have to use the alternate alphabet which assigns a different code to each letter. The one listed in the Wikipedia entry collapses multiple letters to one code in a couple of places.

          • JWLM

            Ah, thanks. Yes, that does solve the puzzle.

        • JWLM

          And yes, I’m aware of the irony of someone going by “JWLM” complaining about how a series of letters must be nonsense.

    • Adjusted version!

  • slim kittens

    “Obstinateness” is my new favourite word.

  • Ombreh

    How can we solve this when the zoom-in to the SS has the serif reversed?

    • Fixed! I blame it being 3am. Many apologies!

  • Qwertystop

    Hm Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll have the free time to have a go at it, but somehow I doubt it, and I’m not sure where to start in any case. I don’t think it’s going to be just removing the letters with/without – she was counting them.

  • Fiddlesticks

    No idea what it could possibly mean…but then, I was always rubbish at solving riddles. Love having a go at them, though.

  • Bo Lindbergh
    • Seros Senric

      My initial attempt at using that cipher got me either “fpsuwioqhucpx” or “spngmztrebnsl”

      What I learn from this, is right method or not, I suck at determining the difference between the serif and sans-serif characters.
      Some of them seem obvious, like that bolded O being serif, but I have no idea what that M is meant to be.

      That said, her counting to five definitely fits with the Bacon Cipher.

    • I think it’s ‘forty eighth stair’.
      I get ‘fortyeimhthstair’ eyeballing the serifs using the version with distinct codes for the i/j and u/v pairs. (The m/g is the ‘d in th’ segment)

      • I make the same….typo in the lettering? The difference between ‘g’ and ‘m’ is (in binary) 110 vs 1100.

  • Seros Senric

    Think this is the full Francis Bacon quote:
    “But by far the greatest obstacle to the progress of science and to the undertaking of new tasks and provinces therein is found in this — that men despair and think things impossible.”

    Just in case the missing words are a clue.

  • Keegan Frederick Pyette

    Problem is, how can we tell if the O’s has serifs or not? They look the same with both fonts. I can only assume that the O in “To” is serifed and the others aren’t…

    • Keegan Frederick Pyette

      Hmm, I must have screwed up in my assigning fonts as serifs somewhere. Otherwise the answer is “fpsucanhuhtuais”.

      • Keegan Frederick Pyette

        Ah, I did, but that still leaves me with Fps (u/v) (i/j) e (i/j) nh (u/v) ht (u/v) a (i/j) s. Which doesn’t make sense. Unless we then need to unscramble the letters…

        EDIT: Ah, so it’s using the expanded cipher, not the original. Clever people worked out “Forty-Eighth Stair” before me.

    • CountSessine

      Yes, that’s right. The only serifed O is the one in ‘TO’.

  • Foehn

    Isabelle says it’s a cipher, so I am going to believe her. As far as I can tell, the letters without serifs are:

    With would be: EGATETTAETOPSFINTHATNDPAIRDHKTM. Since this is a cipher, I am also assuming we have some code word for each of those sets of letters. I am guessing that the code word(s) will be The Liar’s Heart, either withThe Liars or Liars for the first set, and Heart for the second.
    However, my attempts from there result in gibberish because I don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m pretty sure I’m going in the right direction. We can figure this out before the next comic, I know it!

    • Foehn

      Oh there’s a Baconian Cipher? That changes everything. Never mind on my line of thought, guys; we should go for the Bacon first.

  • CountSessine

    As far as I can tell, the cipher decodes to ‘fortyeimhthstair’. I think the engravers might have made a couple of errors — if the I in ‘IN’ were sans, and the T in ‘THIS’ were serif, then that ‘m’ would become a ‘g’, which would give: forty-eighth stair. Quick, Izzy, to the staircase!

    (And thanks to Bo Lindbergh for spotting what the cipher had to be.)

    • Jack_T_Robyn

      AH! It’s using the expanded cypher, not the original.

      • Hekkio

        Thanks for pointing me in the correct direction! I was stuck on that wiki page thinking that it made no sense. :( [url=]This was more helpful[/url]

      • Hekkio

        Thanks for your help pointing me in the correct direction! Using 0 and 1 was a much better approach than the original AB. As an aside – how do you post beautifully crafted links without using the full address (

        • kuku

          Pasting the instructions for coding html links didn’t work (because it applied them instead of showing them), so go here for an explanation. It’s pretty simple.

          • Hekkio

            Argh damn it. I thought there was going to be some other knack to it. I know the html.. but it refused to allow me to post it last time. Murphy’s law may work this time though.. Damn it Thanks for the response though!

  • LSKollt

    I’m like, “cool, I’ll solve it.” Look at the link to Bacon’s cipher – immediately give up ;p I’ll let those with time and brain cells to spare solve it for me, for I’m feeling quite dumb today.

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    Soon, they’ll realise that France is Bacon.

    • Seros Senric

      This. Pun.

    • RLB

      But… surely… Denmark is Bacon?

      • Web

        No no. You want Kevin for that.

      • Mujaki

        Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

        • Saibot

          Something is rotten in Kevin.

      • Sanjay Merchant

        Sir, France is Bacon!

    • Sanjay Merchant

      Certainly makes spending over a century trying to conquer it sound much more reasonable.

  • Kudos to everyone who solved the bilateral cypher, although I was expecting it to say ‘Actually, I wrote Shakespeare’. I suspect the ‘m’ instead of the ‘g’ is the next key to the puzzle.

    Moving away from the cypher, I like Lord Barber’s reaction to the message itself. Here is a man who believes it is nonsense to think that anything is impossible.

    • Pshaw, aliens wrote Shakespeare. I thought everyone knew that.

      • Storel

        You haven’t experienced Hamlet until you’ve read it in the original Klingon.

        • But Hamlet isn’t a Klingon play. If you’re a Klingon and the ghost of your father turns up and says ‘Your Uncle murdered me so he could grab power and marry your mother’, you don’t spend 5 acts wondering what to do about it. You pick up your Batleth, cut out your Uncle’s Heart and eat it before his dying eyes. Now Macbeth, where an honourable warrior is led down the path to dishonour one small step at a time – that’s a play a Klingon would understand.

          • Storel

            Wow, that’s the best response I’ve ever heard to that particular quote. Wish the folks who wrote the Star Trek movie that line first appeared in had thought it through like that. Well done!

            • Storel

              Aha, seems I misquoted the line since I was going by memory. says the actual quote is “You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.” That makes more sense.

  • kuku

    See how beautifully their talents work together.

  • Columbine

    It has no brain for ciphers. Or much of anything. It will stand back and watch.

  • billydaking

    As someone whose career has been in publishing for far too long….a code based around serif and sans serif letters is genius.

  • MoeLane

    As always, learn from Uncle Henry: when the attractive person that you fancy is impressed with your accidental observation, do not admit that the observation was accidental. “I meant to do that” works much better on inadvertent success than it does on inadvertent failure.

  • Michael Brewer

    Personally, I wonder why they left a riddle. I mean, yes, ok, people do that in the adventure serials, but come on. Do you leave your computer password encoded in a complex cipher on a piece of paper taped to your computer?

    Personally, I think it might be a trap.

    • DavidArgall

      It is also a common story convention that a clue or clues be obscurely placed in a manner that is pretty useless and hard to find, apparently for little more reason than to show how clever the heroes are. So it is probably not a trap.

    • Columbine

      My computor password is pretty damn obvious from the prompt I set on my computor….. If you have the same obsession with West African history and folklore. And that’ll only work if you happen to pick my preferred way of Romanising a bunch of names that really don’t mesh with a Roman alphabet. I mean I suppose I could cipher them as well….but it seems a bit much.

  • So I suppose you could say they left a… (applies hypothetical sunglasses)… shoddy serif?

    I’m sorry, that was just grotesque, wasn’t it? Not well justified at all.

    • Mujaki

      I shod the serif, but I did not shoo’ da deputy!

  • Sanjay Merchant

    I’m suddenly reminded of that time Gort and Co. were dungeon delving and complaining about how tedious the puzzles were and they wanted to do some fighting. A few fights later, they were complaining about how tedious the fights were and they wanted something more cerebral.

  • l33tninja

    obstinateness is such a bother

  • Sanjay Merchant

    Here’s a question: if you lock a safe with a riddle and imbue it with obstinateness (obstinaiety?) and you try to open it, will it be too obstinate to open despite being given the correct answer, or too obstinate to ignore a correct answer, despite it being given by the wrong person?

    • Storel


  • Ilmari

    Izzn’t the word actually “obstinacy”?

Primary Sidebar