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Shardhunt: A fantasy themed puzzlehunt [Wrapup]


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Welcome to Shardhunt! 

If you like puzzles, crosswords, escape rooms, mysteries, consider yourself a Sanderson Scholar, are good at either logical or lateral thinking, or just want to have some fun with a team of people, consider signing up! 

So, what is a puzzlehunt? In a typical puzzle, you receive some information and have to extract an answer out of it, which is almost always an English word or phrase. Puzzles can come in many different forms; the only real commonality is that you usually receive no direct instructions, so it’s up to you to figure out how to make sense of the information you’re given. For example, information can be hidden in crosswords, images, videos, or logic puzzles. To cap off the hunt, the final puzzle will be a *metapuzzle*, meaning it will also use the answers from the previous puzzles. 

If you remember the Sanderson Puzzlehunt from times long past, this is the spiritual successor of that (only with more writers!) 


- Hunt submissions will be open from Saturday, 20 February 2021 at 13:00 EST until midnight Saturday, 27 February 23:59 EST.

- The hunt consists of 1 round of 12 puzzles (including a metapuzzle).

- Teams can have up to 6 members.

- The hunt will be held on our Discord server, where every team will have a channel for coordination and answer checking.

- Teams are ranked first based on metapuzzle solve time, second by number of puzzles solved.

- Each puzzle is worth 1 point. 

- The answer checker will automatically uppercase submissions and strip all characters except A-Z before checking for correctness. 

- There is no limit on guesses, but please don't dictionary attack the hunt bot.

- Teams can use any source of information to solve puzzles, including the internet and other people, so long as they are not otherwise involved in the hunt.

- All spoilery hunt communication (puzzle clarification, answers, hints, errata) should be communicated in the teams discord channel. 

- If you feel stuck on a puzzle or just aren’t having fun with it, feel free to ask for a hint! Our organisation team will be around during most hours of the day to nudge you in the right direction.

- Puzzles will be unlocked in batches every few hours on the first day.


- To sign up a team, reply to this thread with your team name, names of your team members, and a Discord contact. 

- Alternatively, send us a pm on the forums or our Discord contact with the same info [Moonrise#3554][ExaltedDM#5212][Terminal#7208]

- If you don’t have a team yet, don’t worry! Just let us know, and we will try to match you into a team that’s looking for members. 


Q: I've never solved puzzles like these! What should I expect?

A: Some good puzzlehunt examples are Colby’s Curious Cookoff, DP Hunt, and Puzzle Potluck 3, about in order of difficulty.  

Q: How available do I need to be?

A: The primary goal here is to have fun, so you can participate as much or as little as you want!

Q: How difficult are the puzzles?

A: The hunt is very much intended to be on the beginner side with a focus on the 17th Shard community. 

Q: Are the puzzles Cosmere themed? How much Cosmere knowledge do I need to have?

A: Some puzzles have references to Sanderson's books. Being familiar with them will be helpful, but not strictly necessary. No puzzle includes spoilers for the most recent Cosmere books (Rhythm of War, Dawnshard). 

Q: Are there any prizes?

A: Only the joy of solving puzzles and bragging rights. 

Q: I have another question that is not here!

A: Ask away in the thread! However any spoilery puzzle related concerns should be raised in your team’s Discord channel. 

Q: Who made this amazing thing?

A: This hunt is written by @MetaTerminal,  @Exalted Dungeon Master, @Moonrise, @Rushu42, and @MiToRo94, and playtested by all of the above plus @Babilarian Darkeyes and @Mistcloaked Mountains. The format of this hunt was inspired by Smogon Puzzle Hunt but with a significantly smaller scope and difficulty. Our goal is to introduce puzzlehunts to the Shard community and get some writing practice ourselves. 

If you’re interested in participating, join the Discord server here! https://discord.gg/rHsr9JxhbY

Edited by MetaTerminal
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Glad to see interest flowing in already! MetaTerminal's post above has been edited to include a link to the hunt Discord server, which anyone from here on out is free to use. That said, feel free to use this thread for questions / team coordination / whatever else if you'd like to do that before joining the Discord!

(Also pinging @AonDii, @Gears, @Illwei, and @Flyingbooks, since they expressed interest before the link went up.)

Edited by Exalted Dungeon Master
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You can be as active as you want/can! We would try to match you with a team if you don't have one. The goal is to have fun with other sharders. Whether that is helping your team on one puzzle or five is up to you! Some people have the most fun working with the whole team, some like to solo puzzles. Some puzzles may take no more than 10 min to solve if figure out what to do, some might take longer and need help from team members so it hard to predict how long things take. 

Whenever you decide, feel free to join the discord server and we'll take it from there!


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17 minutes ago, Hentient said:

@MetaTerminal This sounds really cool! I'm not much of a puzzle solver, but is there anyway I could be a spectator? 

I suppose you could join a team and just watch, if you like. But if your only concern is experience, the hunt is designed for first-time puzzlers! You may be surprised to see how much you can figure out, never having done it before (I know I was).

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Here’s an update regarding a few rule changes and clarifications.


Hints will be available twenty-four hours after kickoff, and teams will be able to request an unlimited number of hints once they are available. However, teams can have a maximum of one outgoing hint request at a time. We may not honor requests if we feel a team is being abusive with them or not trying to solve the puzzle. We’ll provide some more updates on how specifically this will work closer to the date.

Unlock Structure

We have decided to change the unlock structure to progress-based (i.e. solving puzzles will allow a team to unlock more puzzles) rather than global time-based unlocks. We realize this is a big change, but we’ve decided that it will lead to a better experience for teams.

Extra Channel and Voice Chat

In order to facilitate teams, we’re allowing the creation of up to one voice chat and extra text channel for any puzzle discussion either before or during Shardhunt. Just ping one of the organizers and we’ll be happy to set it up for you.


As some teams will be participating in a puzzlehunt for the first time, the organizing team will be running a tutorial to go over some basic puzzlehunt strategies and how to solve puzzles. No Shardhunt content will be revealed or addressed, nothing in the tutorial will be part of a Shardhunt puzzle, and we expect teams to gain no undue advantage from attendance (beyond picking up some useful general skills). However, we highly encourage people who have never been in a competition of this kind to attend. 

This tutorial will occur at 11:00am EST Saturday, 20 February (two hours before puzzles go live).


While puzzles and answer submissions will still go live at the same time, at 1:00pm EST Saturday, 20 February, kickoff will begin through Discord text chat at 12:30pm EST Saturday, 20 February (30 minutes before puzzles are released) and the leaderboard will be opened then. We hope you can join us!

We've also corrected a small error with when the hunt closes; the date is correct now.

4 days until Shardhunt begins!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow, this was an adventure! 

Of the 15 registered teams, 6 solved the metapuzzle to successfully free Peter from the Book, and 12 solved at least one puzzle to help weaken his prison. Congratulations to the winners, and thank you everyone for humoring us and solving some puzzles!

Additional congratulations to Knights of Wit, for being the first team to solve a puzzle at 18 minutes into the hunt, and to Les Gaulois, for being the first team to solve the metapuzzle at just over 25 hours!


Our main goal was to introduce puzzlehunting to the greater 17S community. Our original team formed through the 17S forums and we wanted to share that experience. As such, we wanted a fantasy-themed hunt and for puzzles to be accessible to new solvers but still give a challenge. We also wanted to get some writing experience ourselves to become better solvers. 

All that being said, we feel we overshot the difficulty for our intended audience. Oops. But we hope that our liberal hint system helped balance that and that teams still had fun seeing a variety of puzzle types. 


(Story section contains unmarked spoilers for the final metapuzzle. Images are in spoiler boxes.)

Hunt began with the Librarian joining the Discord server and telling everyone about a strange book they found. The book itself described the adventure of Peter, a boy trapped in a strange fantasy land, with his every path forward blocked by puzzles. Unfortunately, Peter was really bad at solving puzzles.  




The Librarian set up a system so teams were able to make small alterations to the book’s story, such as presenting answers to the puzzles to move the story forward. After some team progress, the Librarian revealed a shocking development: the person in the book, Peter, appeared to be an actual human being who had been trapped there, and not a creation of the book. The Librarian managed to alter the book so that Peter could talk to the team:



After this, the Librarian asked teams to continue to solve puzzles, but now to break Peter out of the book. Along the way, teams experienced a variety of interactions with both Peter and the Librarian, with different teams experiencing different interactions.

Eventually (by solving the metapuzzle), teams discovered a way for Peter to escape his strange fantasy land. By walking through (meta answer spoiler)



Peter could return to his own reality. Upon this revelation a glowing doorway appeared, allowing Peter an avenue of escape. 

With the doorway open, Peter was at last able to remember his past. The Librarian revealed that he was Peter Pevensie from the Chronicles of Narnia, who had been trapped after finding and opening the book--and that upon leaving the book Peter would return to his own reality, not ours. After stepping through the doorway, he would never again be able to talk to teams. Peter said his final goodbyes to teams and stepped through.



Amid the tearful moment and subsequent celebration, the Librarian revealed that things had gone wrong. Instead of the story simply ending for good, the book had instead gone entirely blank. According to the Librarian, the book should barely have changed after Peter escaped, leading the Librarian to believe that something far more powerful had escaped alongside him…


We chose a single round/single meta structure to keep things simple given our collective inexperience in organizing a hunt. Due to this we also purposefully limited our advertising to only a few places. We now think we could have handled a slightly larger number of teams, but hindsight is 20/20. 

The hunt was run in a Discord server where each team had their own channel for answer checking mediated by a bot. All guess submissions and hint requests were bounced to respective #bot-feed and #hint-feed channels that allowed us to keep track of everything. We are happy that nearly everything worked smoothly from both team and organizer sides. 

The Discord format and small scope allowed us to give a more personalized hunt experience. As part of this we could do story interactions in a novel way and even hide a puzzle in a secret bot command ;) However in the future we might move to a website. 


How frequently do these kinds of things happen / When is the next hunt?

We don’t have a set schedule at the moment, but rest assured that Shardhunt 2 (and the return of the Librarian) is coming soon-ish. Stay tuned!

In general, puzzlehunts happen whenever someone feels like organizing one. The Puzzle Hunt Calendar is a great resource for finding the next hunt though none of them (as far as we’re aware) are Sanderson-themed.

Is the puzzle calendar the next step to attract hundreds of teams? That would be great if you can manage it (I guess the hint system is the most time consuming).

We don’t think we are quite ready to advertise on the calendar. We’re hoping to gather more teams next time we do this, but not nearly that many!

What did your hunt/puzzle writing process look like? What sort of iterations did you go through?

We started by brainstorming a theme and meta in late September. Playtesting and revising of individual puzzles was done ad hoc when ready; most puzzles went through anywhere between 2-4 iterations from internal playtests. We actually never managed to have a finished playtest by non-writers, so that is something we intend to set time aside for next time. The bot was mostly written in the two weeks leading up to signups announcement although auto-unlocks were implemented in the week after. 

Some of the solutions have author's notes if you want to see some of the specific inspirations or design decisions behind the puzzle.

Are Peter and the Librarian related?

Biologically? No. Bound up in the nexus of tiny fate-strings that pull people together for reasons of plot and/or destiny? ...maybe.

Did the Librarian and Peter end up in a great love story? (and did Peter finally understand that the Librarian’s pronoun is they? :D)

No epic romances this time, sadly. And we certainly hope Peter knows the Librarian’s correct pronouns now, but he’s no longer around for us to ask…

And, finally... thank you so much for joining us for Shardhunt! It was a huge amount of fun to run, and it was amazing to see everyone engage with both the characters and the puzzles throughout the entire event.

Until next time!

Edited by MetaTerminal
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  • 10 months later...

Hello @TimyHids ! This Shardhunt is officially archived though you are welcome to try to solve the puzzles anyway. We are writing the next Shardhunt but don't have a date for it yet. The link for Shardhunt 1 puzzles is in the previous post and all puzzles are still solvable (except Entangled of which only the first half is solvable). Feel free to poke around with them, or read solutions if you just want to know how it works. 

If you like what you see, there is a big puzzle event coming up this weekend, starting tomorrow actually, that we are fielding a team for. Contact @Ookla the Meta if you are interested to join.


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