We finally reached B9 Congratulations everybody!
But wait, what does that even mean?
Many people might not have followed the Descent of the Durtle into Madness, or only partially, so let’s make a recap of what happened. This is going to be a long post, and even with that warning, we’re only going to skim through all that happened during the descent. So let’s dive in!
1. A quiet day of December
On the day of Christmas, the forums were quieter than usual, but pollers were still polling and durtles still burning. Several people received a badge the following day for having posted on the forum on December 25th: the Ghost of Crabsmas Durtle.
You have sinned on the holiest of days!
You should come with me, young one.
Off we go to Durtle Heaven.
Just follow me closely to learn the way.
There you will be cursed to descend into its darkest depths.
Jiddle after jiddle until you can take no more…
People started discussing the meaning of the badge in the poll thread, until Napthalene noticed a QR Code[post] in the image. Scanning the full resolution image resulted into a website link… durtle.club
The landing page of durtle.club is empty except for a single icon of a screaming durtle. Scrolling the page reveals a link named “Durtle Heaven” that leads to the lobby.
Oh hello. Welcome to Durtle Heaven™.
It truly is a Crabsmas miracle you came here today.
You wish to descend into Durtle Heaven?
That’s fine with me.
I’m a pretty apathetic durtle.
But, deeper durtles won’t be so easy.
They will surely test you with their difficult jiddles.
I’ve never gone deeper than B2,
so my only advice is this:
If you run into any trouble,
make like your Review pile and don’t panic.
That is the most important thing.
Well, in you go.
The password to get to B1 is quite easy.
It, uh, rhymes with “ass-word.”
This first riddle is fairly straight forward, acting as a tutorial for the next levels:
- A durtle is welcoming us at each level
- A hint text is available, split into two parts: a Durtle Heaven lore text and a clue
- A link to descend to the next level is available but password protected
Simply entering “password” grants access to B1.
3. Et Tu, Durtle?
Whoa, where did you come from?
You want to descend further into Durtle Heaven?
Alright, I’m supposed to hand you one of these
pieces of, uh, scripture.
│ shqrywqjehi uqj rkjji │
Good luck with that, then.
B1 is the first real level of the descent, but still simple. The clue is encoded using a Caesar Cipher which is an encryption method that has been around for a looooong time. Every letter is shifted in the alphabet by a number of letters and the inverse operation needs to be done to decode it. While it can be done manually if the offset is known, several online websites can encode and decode it painlessly, such as this one for example.
This particular occurrence uses an offset of 10 and the decoded password is “crabigators eat butts”.
Following the lobby clue "It rhymes with ass-word”, it’s the second time that the riddle is related to butts. But let’s not digress, off to B2!
4. Descent of the Durtle into Madness
Alright, but this isn’t going to be a technical explanation of every level. This about the whole Durtle Heaven experience: the community coming together to solve jiddles. So let’s check where the community was at that point.
People discussing the Descent were given a new badge Harbinger of Impending Durtle
You come across a rough looking durtle when you roll up to the local gas station. It warns you to turn back. “Go back where yer came from, outsider,” it drawls. “Yer type don’t belong here in Durtle Heaven.”
It was interpreted as a warning not to discuss the Descent in public. And since the first steps were straight forward, several people solved it in parallel without needing help. But B2, oh my, B2 is a different level of difficulty. As people were failing to solve B2, the discussion was moved from the poll thread to a dedicated thread: Descent of the Durtle into Madness.
This where you can read the whole story of the descent if you want to, but be warned, this is very very long.
There are 6113 replies with an estimated read time of 541 minutes .
I will use DDM as a shorthand for Descent of the Durtle into Madness from now on.
5. B2 or not B2?
Hey! Don’t scare me like that.
I’ve got 91 things to worry about,
and you’re just another one.
Not to mention, I’ve got a new boss…
She’s changing everything around,
and I don’t like her at all.
Speaking of mean things worth worrying about,
here is your clue for the password to B3.
│ ac b7 b4 │
│ 9b b5 a0 │
│ b0 b1 a1 │
If you can figure out what these nine pairs have in common
you may be able to descend to continue your descent.
The hint text has a specific number, 91, which is too specific to not be part of the jiddle. The references to the new boss changing everything around might be Kristen with the Wanikani Content Overhaul that had been released less than a month ago. The mean boss could also be Mrs Chou who is a mnemonic character doing mean things in the WK lore.
Many password were attempted about the properties of the pairs (“hexadecimal”, “colors”, etc.) and about the hint text (“Kristen”, “Mrs Chou”, etc.) to no avail.
People started to revolve around some main theories:
- Find the right character encoding and apply it to the pairs
- Apply some maths (base change, with base91, base13, etc) to the pairs
- Find an a way to link the radicals and kanjis modified by the Wanikani Content Overhaul to the clue
- Combine the pairs to form hexadecimal colors
After some time, Oyashiro found something[post] by prefixing every pair of hexadecimal by 91, and doing a Unicode lookup. This results in 9 kanjis all sharing the “alcohol” radical. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the password, but it was looking like progress.
By following the link, one could buy an indulgence on the Tofugu store for $1. A username had to be provided as the one praying for, along with a confession text. Buying the indulgence resulted in a new badge being granted: Durthlic Priest.
Somebody bought a Durthlic indulgence and requested the Durthlic Church pray for you. So, here I am. Are you ready to talk about the Durtle that lives at the center of the earth? You are? That’s great. You’re ready to go to Durtle Heaven, then. Just head on over to durtle.club and walk around a bit until you find the entrance.
7. Think outside the 箱
By debating around theories (and posting memes), the DDM thread reached 500 posts and Koichi made his first appearance.
The community chose to get help to solve B2, without knowing what to expect for B3. In hindsight, that was a mistake
I recommend reading the posts DDM#542 to DDM#600 to get a sense of the mood that was present in the thread at that point
Here are the replies related to B2:
That resulted in multiple people switching their avatar to emucat’s one to try to trick Koichi, but in the end, another clue was provided:
Armed with this new information, the community started to tear apart every aspect of the hint text and to produce even crazier theories (and more memes).
8. Veni, Vidi, Wiki
The DDM thread organised itself around the second post of the thread that was transformed into a wiki. It was kept up to date by many contributors and was an invaluable resource to solve both the B2 and B3 riddle.
As a side note by myself, thank you to all the contributors for this. It was both helpful for newcomers to join the fun and for others to keep up without having to read all the new posts and theories.
9. Putting the pieces together
Hitting the 1000 post milestone, it was this time @a-regular-durtle that visited the DDM thread with a clue.
So, there were several elements needed to solve the riddle and each one was already found but not used correctly. The DDM investigators only needed to start combining theories that were written before this post and voilà! Easier said than done, since there were so many theories, half of them being a little bit crazy.
500 posts of theories and despair later, Koichi came back for the 1500 post milestone.
Some people wondered if this particular movie of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had anything to do with the jiddle, and started investigating it.
This answer was interpreted as having a theory that was really close to the solution, but not going far enough.
So, B3 was going to be much harder than B2.
To put it in perspective, it had been 2 days since the first post of the DDM thread.
10. Helpful koichi
Continuing relentlessly to grind theories without visible progress, the DDM thread reached the post 2000.
And after reaching post 2500
The DDM folks noticed that in both of the 1500 and 2500 visits of Koichi, he used the term “shift”. Earlier in the thread, Shift JIS was mentioned, since it’s an old character encoding for japanese.
Kumirei also made Koichi mention TMNT one more time, confusing more people.
11. The big Shift
matthieuesnault produced a table of kanji the same way Oyashiro did, but for Shift JIS with both the prefix 91 and 92 (“91 plus one”)[post].
Belthazar noticed that all these kanjis are taught in Wanikani and share the ちょう reading[post]. The password was finally found and is “Mrs. Chou”.
After 2800 posts of madness in the span of three days, B2 was finally solved and B3 accessible.
Here is the solution step by step:
- Add 1 to 91 since there is one more problem
- Prefix each pair by 92
92ac 92b7 92b4
929b 92b5 92a0
92b0 92b1 92a1
- Lookup the kanjis using Shift JIS
町 長 超
兆 跳 帳
腸 蝶 庁
- All these kanjis have チョウ as their on’yomi.
- Wanikani uses “Mrs. Chou” as the mnemonic for チョウ
- “Mrs. Chou” is the password
ELI5 of the solution
- Computers use bits (0 and 1) to represent anything.
- Multiple bits together form a number in binary (base 2).
- Hexadecimal (base 16) is used to represent binary numbers in a more concise way.
- To represent text, computers use numbers and an encoding for the mapping between numbers and characters:
- ASCII is a very old charset, but only covers english letters (and punctuation, and special characters)
- Nowadays Unicode is used to cover basically everything, which is very convenient
- Before Unicode, Shift JIS was used in Japan to represent the japanese language (katakana, hiragana, kanji, punctuation)
- The 9 pairs of characters are all valid hexadecimal numbers, which led to conversions using several charsets until the good answer using Shift JIS
While most of people were happy to move to B3, many felt that the complexity of B2 was too much already. Having to work with hexadecimal, character encoding and the fact that the clue itself was not being directive enough drove many people to abandon the riddle solving. Some of them stayed in the DDM thread to provide moral support (and spam support to reach post milestones), while others left altogether.
12. I want to B(reak)3
Oh. Hello there.
So, you figured out that simple Caeser Cipher?
I suppose Rome wasn’t built in a day, ha ha.
And the Shift JIS riddle?
Talk about dated!
But, this durtle won’t be so easy on you.
You see, I believe that this isn’t a place
for Disciples of the Crabigator.
You seek spiritual ascendence
through your Lessons and Reviews.
We seek physical descendence,
and that is the key
difference between you and I.
We’re just a different type from you.
Hearing that, do you still
seek to descend deeper into Durtle Heaven?
Very well, here is your next clue:
│ 六乙泣競薬 │
Be warned, this is only the first step of many.
Come back to me only when you’ve collected
all four keywords.
Say them in the correct order
and I’ll let you through.
This time, the hint is explicit about the fact that several steps are going to be needed and about the format of the password.
People noted the following interesting bits of info from the hint text:
- Time is mentioned several times (“dated”, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”)
- “Physical descendence”, “different type” and “this isn’t a place for Disciples of the Crabigator” might lead to the origin of Kanji
- The new line right after “that is the key” is very suspicious
@a-regular-durtle arrived for post #3000 as promised.
13. Is this a clue?
Many theories were tried but the first step didn’t seem to be in reach. Here are a few of them, but remember that each of these 500 post milestones contain many theories that we’re just skipping for the sake of brevity.
- Using Cangjie (an old chinese input method) to produce clear text
- Using Yojijukugo to have four words
- Try to find words that can be made using the five kanjis
- Try to find a common point for the 5 kanjis in their properties (frequency, radicals, you name it)
- Try to find a meaning in the WaniKani mnemonics of the kanjis
- Try to separate the kanjis into radicals and make new kanjis using them
Post #3500 was reached and Koichi reminded everyone that they chose to get help for B2 and not for B3.
While Koichi kept telling that there was no clue in these posts, they were dissected by the community anyway, since the B2 visits contained a hidden clue with the “shift” keyword.
14. Crushing hopes
The holidays season was over and the riddle solvers that stayed made much slower progress through the 500 post milestones. Still, many theories were added, and already established ones dug deeper. Until the visit of @a-regular-durtle for the 4000th post.
While it gave a valuable information that the community wasn’t on the right track, it was hard to look back at all the effort already made and throw it into the bin.
15. Durt Durt!
Here is the solution of the first step of B3:
- Take the kanjis of the clue: 六乙泣競薬
- Replace them by their stroke count: 4 1 8 20 16
- Make it a date (in MM/DD/YYYY): 4 18 2016 (Side note, this is a silly format)
- Go to the only Tofugu article written on that date: How to Install a Japanese Keyboard
- Look at the article main image to find the instructions for the next step
If you wanted to get to heaven, start from death.
Caution! Spaces are required.
Omun noted that the Tofugu article had a html comment in its content to confirm that this was the first step solution.[post]
The comment read
<!-- Durt Durt! Hmm, not bad, you're on the right track! -->
16. The Schism
Since the Tofugu article had a special html comment, matthieuesnault made a script to look for every other html comment in the Tofugu article.[post] The script found four articles having html comments, all related to the jiddle (including the previous one).
<!-- 9784789014410 89 41 3 12 31-->
<!-- 9784789014403 209 1 24 29 41 50 84 -->
<!-- 4883196038 36 2 10 45 130 4 55 -->
<!-- 1568363850 23 33 2 5 10 34 19 -->
<!-- 4889962344 50 4 33 8 13 434 4 -->
<!-- 9780300038347 168 19 1 6 5 5 5 10 9 -->
<!-- 0887275494 33 98 2 55 34 9 10 -->
<!-- 9780976998129 39 4 3 45 134 2 66 -->
<!-- 1880656906 43 99 3 24 55 16 9 -->
<!-- 4789004546 181 8 49 3 20 2 33 -->
<!-- Durt Durt! Hmm, not bad, you're on the right track! -->
<!-- Durt Durt! Almost! -->
<!-- Durt Durt! Nice try! -->
This new clue might skip the current step and the method used to find them wasn’t very clean. To avoid spoiling the riddle, matthieuesnault first removed his post, but rfindley chose to create a new thread: (SPOILER EDITION) Descent of the Durtle into Madness.
This resulted in a schism, with the regular DDM thread where people were working on the four lines of the first Tofugu article, while the Spoiler thread was working on the book ciphers.
@a-regular-durtle came to approve the brute force method used to find the book ciphers.
Due to this post reaching the character limit, the following chapters are located below in this thread
- Turtle eating unko
- Creative thinking
- A divine intervention
- Burning Man
- You’ve got Mail!
- Captain Bottomfingers
- YOU MUST BURN IT
- Where is Koichi?
- April 1st
- Uncle Durty Tim’s Survey
To be covered later (I’m late, sorry): Uncle Durty emails
Currently, the community is waiting at B5. If you want to join the fun*, come to the Descend of the Durtle into eGoooott thread!
*fun is not guaranteed
- These post comics are based on original comics by Shen Comix, check his work on his website
- The title of this topic is inspired by a joke by Omun[post] (see jprspereira’s Journey of 368 days)
- Mentions are not used because of the limit on one post
TLDR: huh, that’s already the TLDR