Burn After Solving


What’s all this then?

Burn After Solving is an online puzzle hunt, launching on October 9, 2021, at 1:00 PM EDT/17:00 UTC

What’s a puzzle hunt?

A puzzle hunt is a collection of puzzles that are tied together by a theme or narrative. Typically, each puzzle leads to a single word or phrase as its answer, and the answer to multiple puzzles might come together to make a larger puzzle, called a “metapuzzle.”

Examples of other online puzzle hunts include Foggy Brume’s Puzzle Boat, the Mark Halpin’s Labor Day Extravaganzas, the Galactic Puzzle Hunt, and the Teammate Hunt.

Some of those hunts look very large.

That’s not a question, but yes, some of those hunts are very large.

Is Burn After Solving very large?

Burn After Solving is not as large as most of the puzzle hunts mentioned above. There will be roughly 20 puzzles, with more than one metapuzzle. A team of four committed, experienced solvers might be able to solve the puzzles in an afternoon, but teams are welcome to solve at their own pace. More than that, we are not authorized to say.

What kind of puzzles can I expect to see?

Burn After Solving contains a range of puzzle types, but most of the puzzles have some wordplay component, owing to the origin of the hunt.

What is the origin of Burn After Solving?

Burn After Solving was originally conceived as an event for the 2020 convention of the National Puzzlers’ League. The 2020 convention was canceled due to the pandemic, and logistical concerns prevented the hunt from being presented at the NPL’s 2021 convention, so we are presenting it online instead.

Who are you?

The writing team is mostly made up of members of the NPL. Within the NPL, members often go by pseudonyms or “noms,” so to match names and noms, we are: Nathan Curtis (Tortoise), Sara Goodchild (Rasa), Julie Levy (Neko), Jen McTeague (Cute Mage), Justin Melvin (Firetruck), Denis Moskowitz (Capital R), Marc Moskowitz (G2znii), Fraser Simpson (Fraz), and Ange Strom-Weber (Apocope).

How do I take part?

Registration is now open! Once you have registered a team, you can add new members at any time. We will send more information to registered teams as the launch date approached.

How big should a team be?

In its original planned format, Burn After Solving would have been solved by teams of 4 to 8 solvers. There is no official limit on team size, but we think experienced solvers will have the most fun in teams of 4 to 6, and newer solvers might want to have a few more than that. You’re also welcome to hunt with a smaller team, though that will of course take longer. But there’s no time limit on solving, so knock yourself out.

How do I even?

At the beginning of Burn After Solving, you will start with a few puzzles open. When you have arrived at a puzzle's answer, you can click "Submit an answer" to reach a submission form. The form will confirm your answer submission, and if your answer is correct, new puzzles will be unlocked. The submission form will also confirm intermediate steps in some puzzles. There is no penalty for incorrect guesses, but we ask that you not spam answer guesses to avoid unnecessary server load.

Solving a puzzle may unlock new puzzles, metapuzzles, or pieces of the story. Also, each puzzle you solve will unlock one or more pieces of "metadata," which will be used in a a subsequent metapuzzle. After you have solved your first puzzle, you can view your collected metadata in the "Metadata" tab of the "Puzzles" page. When you unlock a metapuzzle, its associated metadata will also appear on the metapuzzle page, but you might still need to solve additional puzzles in order to unlock all of the metadata. It is possible to solve a metapuzzle without unlocking all of its metadata, though it is more difficult with all the metadata.

What if I get stuck?

There is an "Ask for a hint" button next to "Submit an answer." There, you will be asked to explain the progress you have made on the puzzle, and what you have tried. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for us to provide a helpful hint. If a hint was not helpful, or you want clarification on what we said, you can submit another hint request. There is no limit on the number of hints, but you can only have one hint request open at a time. The hunt is non-competitive, so we encourage you to ask for a hint if you are feeling stuck. Ultimately, you should approach the hunt in whatever way you find most enjoyable.

How do I contact you with any questions or anything that is broken?

You can use the in-hunt hint request feature or email us at burn.after.solving.hunt@gmail.com. We will post errata in the "Updates" page, and also correct errors in the puzzle pages when feasible. The hint request feature is more likely to get a prompt response, and hints are unlimited, so please don't hesitate to contact us that way.

Is there anything else you want to tell me?

That's about it. Happy solving!