Who is Benjamin Stove?

Puzzle # 5 – New York - a puzzle in 3 parts

Associated Story Elements: The materials Darby receives from Martinez’ niece are letters from Ben Stove to Martinez from three different time periods. The first four misplaced notes would have happened during the two later time periods, during college through right after (the young adult) and when his life was falling apart (the transition years), and the puzzles will reflect the information sources he was researching during those time periods.
Intended Payoff/Solve: information leading to the fourth library location and book title, yielding the fourth of four misplaced notes from the letter writing period.
Delivery Vehicle: marginalia notes from materials sent to Darby by Martinez’ niece, or through info provided by Stove in his reappearance via new website.

City: New York
Library: New York Public Library
Mid-Manhattan Library
455 Fifth Avenue at 40th Street
New York, New York 10016
Book: The Egyptians, Aldred, Cyril, London : Thames & Hudson, c1987 NY Public Library call # 83050637.

Alternate Books: Secret of the Andes. With drawings by Jean Charlot. by Clark, Ann Nolan, New York, Viking Press, 1952.

Puzzle Concept: Pieces in various early letters from Ben to Dr. Martinez contain puzzles and codes he has created; as their topics of discussion have grown increasingly strange or controversial, Ben has taken to hiding secret messages in these puzzles as a means of communicating his activities and discoveries to Dr. Martinez. Later, when Ben creates his website, symbolinthecrop.com, he intentionally hides puzzles and clues in the site to lead clever readers to the notes and items he has hidden in libraries around the country.

Part 1: String Theory – In one of Ben’s last written correspondences with Dr. Martinez he mentions that he has been playing around making quipas (or quipus, it is actually spelled both ways), since he has time on his hands with the failed farm or just for fun.

Puzzle Design: An attached page provides a simple drawing of one Ben has made, along with a key for understanding the way in which he has marked the colors on his simple pencil drawing. He also lists a description of several others he has made for Dr. Martinez to see.

* Here is a sample of how the drawing might look. Please note that this is based on a copyrighted image and we can’t use it exactly; we need to create one expressly for the game, so this is just for illustrative purposes.

The number / letter pairs in the drawing represent the number of knots on each pendant string and the color of the string itself. So 1w = 1 knot on a white string, which should match the string color shown at bottom. In some cases two letters are used (bl = black) because another color is already using just the single initial. For reference sake, the number / letter pairs shown above are: 1w, 2y, 3bl, 2g, 2r, 1s, 4w, 3b, 4bl, 5bl. It’s important that the full color names be written out as shown at the bottom.

Along with this image, Ben also writes a small additional legend on the page, saying “Other colors I used.” It includes: orange – o, brown – br, grey – gr, copper – co, mauve - m. Then Ben lists the other quipas he has made, using the codes shown above and titled, “Here are the other quipas I made.”

* Here are the additional codes to add to the page:

3w 4w 1s 6o 3gr 4s 1s
1y 3br 3b 6co 2w 1o 4s 2r
4s 3w 4o 4b 2gr 3w 1bl 2r
3w 3bl 1r 1o 3co 3gr 2gr 3b
3s 3bl 4m 2r 5br 4w 2s
2s 4o 3r 3d 2y 4w 2g 2co 3w 4w
1m 2m 1y 1b 2r 4w 2w 2r
1r 3gr 2s 2o 4b 6s 5y 4s 1o 1r 3g

The Solve: Ben is using the quipa example to hide another code he has made. It is based on the color names and the number of knots on each string. The number of knots tells you which letter of the color name to use as part of the hidden message, so 1w means the first letter of white or w. 3r would be the third letter of red or d, and so on.

The secret message is, “We are stuck it seems. Your home, mine, Ribeiaro, Peru, La Venta, and Detroit. Maybe there are no more."

Puzzle Notes: The hidden message is intended to reflect Ben’s somewhat beaten attitude at this point, with the failure of the farm, the death of his sister, Martinez’ health, etc. It also summarizes all of the sites found at the time the note would have been written.

Read Part 2 of the New York City puzzle.

All puzzles, websites, images, character names, and story descriptions are copyright 2007 - Dave Szulborski