I don't think you're the first person to be thrown for loops on how to rate it, as it had almost 150 hits before there were any votes or comments! That's a great idea about using it as lock to guard a treasure to be opened at any time: if I ever use it again, that's definitely how I'll use it so thanks for suggesting it!
P.S. Yes, I did come up with it myself. However, as with Maranesh's Challenge, I stole a couple of quotes:
The bottom right poem is from The Lord of the Rings.
The top centre poem is heavily inspired by a poem in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn.
The rest I made up. Go to Comment
This one throws me for loops on how to rate it. Did you come up with this yourself? If so, WOW! I can guarantee my players would never figure it out, although it is "obvious" once you've seen it. I could imagine using this as a lock puzzle to guard a treasure that no one had ever opened since it was made or something like that. A big treasure players could get when they figured it out... and that could happen any time during a campaign. And if they weren't getting it at all, maybe I could insert some subtle hints into the campaign...
It's not in character of course (as with almost all puzzles).
Incidentally, another similar (and older) manuscript on which Serafini's was based was the yet-untranslated medieval 'Voynich' manuscript, which is available in scanned form from the Yale Rare Books Library.
There lives in the oceans a huge fish known as the serra, which has huge wings. It can reach up to 30ft in length, with a wingspan stretching to 80ft. The serra's greatest delight is to race against ships: when it sees a ship in full sail upon the sea it will launch itself out of the water, beating its wings strongly and keeping pace with the ship. The wily beast will frequently spread its wings upwind of a ship, attempting to cut off its wind. Though its speed will frequently give it initial success, after several miles it will flag, lacking the stamina to continue, and landing again in the ocean, will sink back in to the briny deeps.
The serra is like the things of this world, while the ship is the image of the just man, who sails unharmed and without shipwreck through the storms and tempests of this world. The serra, unable to keep up, represents those men who at the beginning set their hand to good works but cannot continue with them. They are overwhelmed by vice and sin, which drag them into the depths like the waves of the sea.
"He that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matthew 10:22). Go to Comment
The hydrus, or idrus, is a noble reptilian beast that can reach up to 10ft long and inhabits the rivers and swamps of hot areas. It should on no account be confused with the hydra, a beast of a quite different nature. The hydrus is the deadly enemy of the crocodile and the wyvern, against which it imploys subtle and intelligent tactics.
If a crocodile or wyvern should be unfortunate enough to be sleeping with its mouth open, the hydrus, coating itself with slippery mud, will slip in to the open mouth. This will prompt the crocodile or wyvern in to an involuntary swallow. Once inside the hydrus will exert all its strength and burst out of the stomach, killing its swallower but itself emerging unscathed.
The hydrus' bite is also to be feared, for it produces great swellings which will persist and cause sickness. These can be lethal: the only cure is to coat the swellings in cattle dung which will cause them to subside.
The crocodiles represent death and hell, whilst the hydrus represents Our Lord Jesus Christ who, taking on human flesh died and, like the hydrus entering of its own free will the crocodile, descended in to the bowels of hell. Once there, He burst out, rising from the dead and dealing a deadly blow to death itself and freeing all those unjustly detained.
"Oh death, I will be thy plagues; Oh grave, I will be thy destruction." (Hosea 13:14) Go to Comment
The charadrius is a small, entirely white river bird, found in the court of kings. The dung from its gut is a cure for weak eyes. If a person is sick then, if the man's illness is mortal, the charadrius will turn away its head as soon as it sees him: all will know that that man will die. However, if the man will recover, the bird will look at him and, taking all the sickness on to itself, will fly up to the sun, burn off the sickness, scatter it in the air and cure the sick man.
The charadrius symbolises Christ the Redeemer. Like the charadrius, Christ is wholly white and without sin. When Jesus came to us, he turned his face from the Jews because of their unbelief and turned instead unto the Gentiles, lifting their burdens and redeeming them from sin, bringing them new life.
"Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." (Isaiah 53:4). Go to Comment
The offspring of a lion and a hyena, the leucrota is known for its swiftness and hunts in packs. It is as big as an ass, has the hindquarters of a stag, the chest and legs of a lion, the head of a horse and cloven hooves. Its head is disfigured by a wide mouth that stretches ear to ear; in this mouth are found not teeth, but horizontal strips of sharp bone. From its mouth comes a continuous sound that uncannily resembles the chattering of human speech, though no words of meaning can be made out.
The leucrota symbolises the false prophets who, though they may speak at great length, will say naught of truth or of substance; their false babble serves only to deceive the ignorant and to lead the righteous astray.
"Be wary of false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them." (Matthew 7:15) Go to Comment