Dream Theater Treasure Hunt Walkthrough pt. 4

Hidden by Design

Dream Theater arranged, in collaboration with the fan clubs and fan communities online, a treasure hunt culminating in the reveal of the album title and artwork for the new Dream Theater album “Distance Over Time”, for release in February 2019. See this link for the reveal! This is a series of several articles covering the entire process of solving the treasure hunt as released by Dream Theater and “Team Jacobi”. This is the fourth article, covering the next couple of puzzles. Stay tuned for more!

Puzzle #11

On Friday, August 14, Freddy tweeted:

The image labelled ‘1)’ is a photograph of a computer screen, with some sort of ‘labyrinth’ drawn in a text editor; ordered according to the direction of the arrow, the symbols in the ‘labyrinth’ are:



These symbols are characters in the Webdings font; when the symbols are written in a text editor and the font is changed, the result is:

+ OR – X H F B H O

The picture labelled ‘3)’ shows drummer Mike Mangini in the studio where the band had been recording their new album since Tuesday, July 17.

A paper is attached to the highest horizontal pipe on Mike’s drumkit:

The paper reads ‘+2731/-65’. This –as the image labelled ‘2)’ suggests– is a ‘shift key’ to apply to ‘XHFBHO’: each letter shifted a certain number of positions in the basic, 26-letter Latin alphabet, either to the right or left. (‘+ OR -’.) In other words: this is text encrypted through the Gronsfeld cipher in both directions. (See Gronsfeld cipher.)

Decrypted, ‘XHFBHO’ results in ‘VACANT’ – the title of a song from Train of thought, Dream Theater’s seventh studio album.

That same morning, Freddy published on his WordPress page a password-protected entry whose URL ends ‘how-did-we-get-to-it-add-four-digits’, and its title is:

This suggests that the password ends with the result of 2731 – 65 + 2000 (or, simply, 731 – 65), which is 666.

By inputting Vacant666 as password, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #12

On Saturday, September 22, Freddy published on his WordPress page an entry:

Too long to be conveniently posted here, the content of the entry is a string of over 14 thousand characters, exclusively made up of dots, plus and minus signs, brackets, and greater-than and less-than signs; as an example, its first line is:

++++++++++[>+>+++>+++++++>++++++++++<<<<-]>>>—.>+++++++.

The type of characters in the entry, as well as its URL (which ends with ‘/brain’), suggests that the string is a sequence of commands written in the esoteric Brainfuck programming language. When ran through a Brainfuck interpreter, the output of the program is a line of over 14 hundred characters – this time letters, digits, and two equal signs at the end; as an example, its last 50 characters are:

AKwqAKMTYKSm9obiBQZXRydWNjaSdzIG1pZGRsZSBuYW1lCg==

The final ‘==’ suggests that the string is text written in Base64 code. Indeed – when decoded, the result is:

ACROSS

2 Californian city where the building the name was inspired by

5 Mike Portnoy’s middle name

10 DT live album recorded at Radio City Music Hall

12 First name of person that came up with the name

13 The only non-band writing credit in DT’s catalogue

17 Band connected by marriage

18 This side-project song title came from an event that occurred in real life during the writing of the song

DOWN

1 John Myung’s middle name

2 Queen that drew a symbol that Dominici liked

3 This “side-project” saw the Dream Theater members switch roles

4 Jordan Rudess’s middle name

6 NO thanks

7 This guy was the first to sing on a Dream Theater album

8 This side-project saw three Dream Theater members work with the people from Magellan

9 Album obsessed with five and eight

11 This side-project saw “king’s x” join forces with “dream theater” and “dixie dregs”

14 College Mike Mangini taught at

15 James LaBrie’s middle name

16 John Petrucci’s middle name

These are clues about nineteen words in a Dream Theater-related crossword:

# Word Note
Across 2 MONTEREY The band’s name is that of a theater in Monterey, CA
5 STEPHEN
10 SCORE Recorded April 1, 2006 – the Octavarium tour finale
12 HOWARD Name of the father of former drummer Mike Portnoy
13 DESMONDCHILD Co-writer of “You not me”, from Falling into infinity
17 MEANSTREAK Three members married Dream Theater members
18 WHENTHEWATERBREAKS Written as guitarist John Petrucci became a father
D

o

w

n

1 RO
2 MARY Queen of Scotland in the 16th century; see Puzzle #10
3 NIGHTMARECINEMA Parody name by the band, used live in 1997 and 1998
4 CHARLES
6 TERRYBROWN Un-thanked in the Metropolis 2000 live video credits
7 CHARLIEDOMINICI Dream Theater singer from 1987 to 1989
8 EXPLORERSCLUB Supergroup active in the late 1990s and early 2000s
9 OCTAVARIUM Concept album about the musical octave
11 PLATYPUS Supergroup active in the late 1990s
14 BERKLEE Drummer Mike Mangini was a professor in the 2000s
15 JAMES The singer’s first name is Kevin
16 PETER

One minute later, Freddy added an image as a comment in the public, fan-made Google Doc ‘DREAM THEATER’S ARG / TREASURE HUNT’ –created by fan ‘Hyrul’ on Thursday, July 12– under ‘Puzzle 12: “Black Clouds And Silver Linings”’:

Precisely, the image consists of a crosswords grid in which the nineteen words can be filled in.

The solved crossword is:

Two minutes later, Freddy tweeted another image:

The result of superimposing the image on the empty crosswords is:

In a similar fashion to the previous crossword (see Puzzle #7), the marks indicate what to do with the letters in those cells; what’s more, their colors give away the order in which the resulting letters are to be arranged:

Mark Original letter Indication Resulting letter
‘B’ in ‘TERRYBROWN’ Shift 3 to the right ‘E’
‘M’ in ‘CHARLIEDOMINICI’ Shift 1 to the right ‘N’
‘D’ in ‘DESMONDCHILD’ Don’t shift ‘D’
‘L’ in ‘PLATYPUS’ Don’t shift ‘L’
‘A’ in ‘JAMES’ Shift 4 to the right ‘E’
‘P’ in ‘EXPLORERSCLUB’ Shift 3 to the right; write thrice ‘SSS’
‘A’ in ‘MARY’ Don’t shift ‘A’
‘A’ in ‘CHARLES’ Shift 2 to the right ‘C’
‘S’ in ‘SCORE’ Shift 1 to the left ‘R’
‘I’ in ‘OCTAVARIUM’ Don’t shift ‘I’
‘E’ in ‘WHENTHEWATERBREAKS’ Shift 1 to the left ‘D’
‘ECI’ in ‘NIGHTMARECINEMA’ Don’t shift; from bottom to top ‘ICE’

The resulting letters form ‘ENDLESSSACRIDICE’ – except for one letter, the title of a song from Train of thought, Dream Theater’s seventh studio album.

Finally, ten minutes later, Freddy posted an entry on his Reddit page:

The last line of the post is a reference to the fact that the title of “Endless sacrifice” ‘overlaps’ with the one of “Sacrificed sons” – a song from Dream Theater’s eighth studio album. (This is: ‘the next one’.)

The entry also suggests that the ‘12 solution page’ can be found at https://vailrenovations84552723.wordpress.com/1-70 – the URL of a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.

By inputting EndlessSacrificedSons as password, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #13

On Friday, September 28, Freddy published on his WordPress page an entry:

(Freddy didn’t post or share a link/URL to the entry; nonetheless, the latter can be found by browsing the archive of entries at Vail Renovations’ site.)

When removing every ‘8g’ and ‘9g’ in the entry (as suggested by the end of the series), the result is:

4c 4f 41 4e 45 52 20 45 4e 54 45 52 45 44 0d 0a 41 20 4c 45 41 4e 20 45 4e 44 20 4d 45 54 20 43 45 4e 54 20 43 4f 50 0d 0a 4e 55 4c 4c 20 53 50 41 43 45 20 42 4c 4f 4f 4d 49 4e 47 0d 0a 57 49 54 20 57 48 49 50 54 41 49 4c 20 41 51 55 49 4e 41 53 0d 0a 4d 41 53 53 20 53 55 47 41 52 20 44 45 53 54 52 4f 59 20 46 45 57

The above are 106 pairs of either two digits, or a digit and a letter from ‘a’ to ‘f’. This, and the many occurrences of ‘0d 0a’ and ‘20’, suggests that the pairs are ASCII code characters written in the hexadecimal numeral system. Indeed – the entry translates as:

LOANER ENTERED

A LEAN END MET CENT COP

NULL SPACE BLOOMING

WIT WHIPTAIL AQUINAS

MASS SUGAR DESTROY FEW

This meaningless, four-line text is an anagram of:

AND LAST WE CAME UPON

A PICTURESQUE ESTATE

ON SPRAWLING EMERALD HILLS

AN ANCIENT WORLD OF TIMES GONE BY

Except for two words, the above are part of the lyrics to “The Count of Tuscany” – a song from Black clouds and silver linings, Dream Theater’s tenth studio album; the correct anagram can be determined through a number of methods, such as making educated guesses on the letters, or re-arranging these according to their colors. (The hexadecimal color code for each letter can be found in the source code of the page.)

Color Color code – number Letter
990000 – 41 A
aa0000 – 4e N
bb0000 – 44 D
cc0000 – 4c L
dd0000 – 41 A
ee0000 – 53 S
ff0000 – 54 T
ff1100 – 57 W
ff2200 – 45 E
ff3300 – 43 C
ff4400 – 41 A
ff6600 – 4d M
ff7700 – 45 E
ff8800 – 55 U
ff9900 – 50 P
ffaa00 – 4f O
ffbb00 – 4e N
ffcc00 – 41 A
ffdd00 – 50 P
ffee00 – 49 I
ffff00 – 43 C
eeff00 – 54 T
ddff00 – 55 U
ccff00 – 52 R
bbff00 – 45 E
aaff00 – 53 S
99ff00 – 51 Q
88ff00 – 55 U
77ff00 – 45 E
66ff00 – 45 E
55ff00 – 53 S
44ff00 – 54 T
33ff00 – 41 A
22ff00 – 54 T
11ff00 – 45 E
00ff00 – 4f O
00ff00 – 4e N
00ff11 – 53 S
00ff22 – 50 P
00ff33 – 52 R
00ff44 – 41 A
00ff55 – 57 W
00ff66 – 4c L
00ff77 – 49 I
00ff88 – 4e N
00ff99 – 47 G
00ffaa – 45 E
00ffbb – 4d M
00ffcc – 45 E
00ffdd – 52 R
00ffee – 41 A
00ffff – 4c L
00eeff – 44 D
00ddff – 48 H
00ccff – 49 I
00bbff – 4c L
00aaff – 4c L
0099ff – 53 S
0088ff – 41 A
0077ff – 4e N
0066ff – 41 A
0055ff – 4e N
0044ff – 43 C
0033ff – 49 I
0022ff – 45 E
0011ff – 4e N
0000ff – 54 T
1100ff – 57 W
2200ff – 4f O
3300ff – 52 R
4400ff – 4c L
5500ff – 44 D
6600ff – 4f O
7700ff – 46 F
8800ff – 54 T
9900ff – 49 I
aa00ff – 4d M
bb00ff – 45 E
cc00ff – 53 S
dd00ff – 47 G
ee00ff – 4f O
ff00ff – 4e N
ff11ff – 45 E
ff22ff – 42 B
ff33ff – 59 Y

That same afternoon, Freddy tweeted:

Seven hours later, he followed the tweet with an image:

The image –a photograph taken in September 2014 by Jimmy Earson– shows a plaque to the side of Route 66, near Texola, OK. The monument replaces a previous insignia installed in 1952, through which several organizations from Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Oklahoma renamed the historic North American road as ‘Will Rogers Highway’ – a posthumous tribute to the early 20th century actor/performer.

This suggests that https://vailrenovations84552723.wordpress.com/1-66 is the URL to follow. So, on the will rogers we will go, to enter that which we know.

First, it’s necessary to take the deciphered song-title and ‘add the number to the end’, so that they know we understand.

By inputting TheCountOfTuscany66 as password, the puzzle is solved.

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