This puzzle was inspired by Norton Anti-Virus. It looks like a little page that separates the players from the digital asset they are after. If they can figure out how to hack past it, then they can proceed along a revealed hyperlink to the next thing.

In this time of shelter-in-place, I have found myself using digital tools for social interaction. The online Google products, namely Docs, Sheets, and Slides, turn out to be particularly useful for designing little puzzles that players can engage with collaboratively.

Copy the Google Sheet


The solution is a 5x5 crossword, similar to the New York Times daily mini. The crossword clues are not in the excel sheet. The DM should let players discover them elsewhere - perhaps getting them off of an NPC's hard drive, etc.

Example clues are:

1. Great _____!
2. Crouch in fear
3. Hold and state as one's opinion
4. "I thought", Fr.
5. In Euler's famous formula: V - E + F = 2, value E is the number of these

A. Relevant extent of subject matter
B. Deal with something difficult, past tense
C. Yet to be paid
D. Opposite of relaxed
E. Undirected graphs in which any two vertices are connected by exactly one path

Under The Hood

The Google sheet has a hidden sub-sheet that gets referenced when users enter in their values. If their values match the reference table, then the link below the mini points to the ACCESS GRANTED cell (which has a hyperlink) instead of the original ACCESS DENIED cell. You can change the puzzle, change the text, change the hyperlink, etc.

Players can of course get too clever using Google sheet tricks to try to back out what is in this hidden subsheet. As a DM it is up to you to what extent you want to lay down ground laws or let them "cheat".


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