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The Vault Door

February 10th, 2016

I have a special surprise for everyone today. Diane put together a mini-game of the Vault Door using art by Julie and Steph. Can you help Jassart get through the vault door? The mini-game is based on the 15 Puzzle that’s been around for more than a century and a half. We made it a bit larger, and instead of numbers, the tiles form some sort of design. Bonus points if you recognize what that design is.

Solve the Vault puzzle, and you’ll get a prize! It’s a special wallpaper by Julie. Please don’t share the link to the prize with others. Make them solve the puzzle to win it.

While the puzzle will be linked between pages 17 and 18 on the site, it’s not necessary to solve the puzzle to continue the story.

Let me know what you guys think. If you like this sort of thing, I can do more of them in the future.



    Aw, I got a little town! I’m just glad that I finally beat this puzzle. If only more webcomics had interactive bits like this! :)


    this is a cool puzzle it was a challenge at first ancient alchemy symbol right?

      Yes. It’s a glyph that merges a number of alchemical symbols together to achieve an effect. Fire is the most prominent.


    That awkward moment of:
    But what if I don’t want Jassart to get through the vault door?


    I solved the possible however when I clicked the wheel to go to the next page it paused so I clicked again but that made it go past the new page and the whole thing ended up being messed up so that I couldn’t go back to the opened vault which is very frustrating as I do not wan’t to spend the time to solve it again.


    I’m pretty sure I got the puzzle in an unwinnable configuration, and that’s probably because I’ve got one of the blank tiles “wrong”.

    Basically, consider the entire puzzle solved, except the bottom right corner, so we’ll look at it as a small 2×2 puzzle, it is configured like this:
    1 3

    I need to swap 2 and 3, but that’s simply not possible (at least not on this sub-puzzle). And if I do manage to swap them, it’ll be at the cost of swapping two other nearby pieces that shouldn’t be swapped. It’s basically a simplified version of Sam Loyd’s challenge, this kind of puzzle cannot be solved when there’s an odd number of swap to perform. I figure the way to unlock this would be to go all the way around to swap two of the blank tiles, making it an even number of swaps.

    Basically it’d be easier if the blank tiles were actually marked.


    it took so many tries for me to get this done until i did all the outside parts and it just took a little bit of maneuvering the inner square and it was done but nice work it was fun.


    Took me an insane amount of time in my first try…. and I couldn’t finish it. Now I tried it again a few days later and I got it done in like 10-15 minutes. Must be the “practice” from earlier :P Nice surprise by the way, I enjoyed the little interactive game and the surprise for solving it! :D


    This was awesome! I really liked the reward for completing the puzzle, too! I hope you can do more like this in the future. Thanks!


    Took me two tries, but was well worth it! Thanks for putting the effort into this comic that you do–this brought me back to my childhood :)


    Wow, can’t believe I actually managed to solve this. I hated those puzzles as a kid. The identical corner pieces helped, though. Thanks, this was fun! :D


    Side note: I just realized something that I can’t believe I didn’t catch before.

    In chapter 4, page 3, panels 1 and 2…

    Cienan: Please secure the heartwood mask in the vault. It’s served its purpose.
    Pénélope: But it didn’t catch the thief.
    Cienan: That remains to be seen.

    At first, I thought this was because of Snow. But thinking back, why would he say something so unclear to his trusted servant if he knew he’d gotten what he wanted?

    Because the thief was Jassert. He knew the situation with Snow wouldn’t work forever (she had a time limit, they were manipulating her, and about a dozen other reasons), and he knew Jassert was ambitious, and would want another manitou if he lost the first… and he’d let Jassert see the mask, hoping he’d put two and two together somehow.

    Did he know Snow was the thief before? Hard to say. But I’m reasonably certain that by the time he asked the mask to go back, he knew that one day, Jassert would try to get it back from him. All he’d have to do is not accept any offers for it and then Jassert would be down there to rob him shortly.

    In hindsight, it’s clear why that wouldn’t be about Snow, given who he was talking to. Which means he’s been setting this all up for eight to nine chapters. This isn’t something he’s been plotting since the explosion. He was waiting to lure Jassert in since the moment Snow joined the crew.

    A lot of people are written as long-scheming chessmasters. But this may just be the best example I’ve seen. Not only was it completely reasonable for him to know the vague details, there’s been foreshadowing of this for almost all of the comic’s run. Bravo.


    This was a fun puzzle~ Altho at the end, Firefox decided to crash right as I got the message “Congratulation! open the vault wheel to claim your prize!” Damn my Firefox for stealing the wallpaper!

    Somebody Someone

    This was a really fun addition to the comic. Looking forward to more minigames that fit the story. :)

    Great work on everything, as usual! :)


    That was fun, I haven’t done one of those puzzles in years!


    hahahahaha, yesterday i was sat staring at the puzzle working out what it looked like completed, and poof today i got to do it, wonderfull, the pieces locking into place changing colour was for me too a great bonus !
    I loved the fact its a bonus and if you really cant do it then it doesnt detract from the comics story line, because this type of puzzle does require the ability to plan further than the next move and some peoples mental processes are not totally equiped to do that so it wont spoil it for anyone.
    Only thing i didnt like is that you cant make a reply on completed puzzle you have to have to reload the original page.


    Loved this! You put so much amazing work and quality into this series, and adding interactive media to it is just freaking brilliant. I am seriously impressed with this.


    I love stuff like this! Seriously, this made my day!


    When I first laid eyes on that puzzle door in-story, i was drooling to solve it myself *F*
    Imagine my amazement when I found today’s page! Total joy, really.


    Urgh I hate these puzzles. And the three identical tiles plus the fact that the empty can be in any corner make plugging it into a solver algorithm a pain.


      You would use an algorithm to solve it? back in my day, we just fumbled around until it was solved (like I just did) XD

      If it takes more than 10-20 minutes to get it solved in an algorithm, you’d be better off solving it on your own ;)


      I pondered that then i went with the classic position for the empty which is bottom right, it was correct (a little clue i know but not a solve)


    Nice puzzle.

    Hm, the glyph of air if I’m not mistaken. I was expecting fire. Wasn’t the corrupted spirit guide an eagle? Could be no coincidence.

    Don’t know if any of you follow another great comic called Widdershins, but there they also had a safe with a puzzle explaining how to open it on the door. You’d wonder why anyone would do that but it turned out that… well, I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say that M. LeBlanc needs to be very careful.

    Robin G. Stürmer

    The 3 empty tiles for the corners can cause trouble, because they seem identical when they are not realy . If you reach a postion with seemingly only two swapped pieces, you’ ve got the corners wrong. You need to shuttle one wrong piece to an corner, than both to the next corner, exchange empty pieces and shuttle back. Now everything should move into positon smoothly. It’s a bit nasty, that one can’t tell the correct distribution of empty tiles at the very start. I suppose Cienan has some minor marks only he recognizes and thus an advantage over intruders such as Jassart.
    And while writing this i recognized that my complicated fixing algorythm above is only neccessary if one wants a certain empty corner. Changing the empty corner (but not diagonaly) is a simpler solution.

      The three empty tiles are interchangable for the puzzle. They all count as the same piece so any empty tile will work the same. This does give you an advantage that any empty corner will work, which can help fix having two swapped pieces.


      I figure this must help with the scrambling, since it can probably mix the pieces randomly and not worry about whether the puzzle is still solvable…? However they’re scrambled, at least one of the many victory condition positions can still be reached through allowed moves.

      (Physical sliding puzzles don’t allow all the theoretically possible positions to be reached, but OTOH for the same reason you can’t scramble them in a way that makes the victory position unreachable.)


    I got stuck on this for a while. I had it down to 2 pieces that were misarranged. I went to the internet for help.

    It analyzed over 400,000 possible moves and then crashed.

    Aaaah, nothing like a brain teaser before bed. Of course, if I had been trying to do this IRL, I probably would’ve just gone looking for a hammer or crowbar and cheated near the end. Yikes. XD


    I’ve now wasted two hours solving it three times. I’m not even mad. It’s forcing me to think about motion and cause and effect in really interesting ways. 10/10, would recommend.


    wow, good puzzle! had me busy for 20 minutes. I definitely wouldn’t have figured it out if it wasn’t for the highlighting of pieces in the correct positions :D

    the wallpaper is definitely good, looks like you spent a lot of time on it :D

    that guy

    Took a while, but I did it. That was a fun idea. Hardly the first thing you expect from a webcomic.


    Excellent. I didn’t expect this comic to have an interactive update like this one. I like it a lot. :)


    Doesn’t work for me. You must need java or something :P. As long as it isn’t necessary to understand the rest of the story all is good :>..


      The game uses HTML5 and Javascript, but no Java. If your browser is up to date and you don’t have any blocking plugins, it should work! You can try it on mobile instead, if that’s helpful.

      But on the bright side, the puzzle is entirely optional! I wanted to make sure it was a fun extra, not required, since I can’t solve it myself. I had to get Eric to test it for me to make sure it was working. (I’m SO bad at sliders and jigsaws and such.)


    Great puzzle! I almost felt for a moment that I was in Jassart’s shoes.
    ( •_•)>⌐■-■


    Great fun, and what a cool idea!!


    Yaaaaay puzzle!


    Whooooooaaa! Color me impressed! I wasn’t expecting to get to help complete it!! I haven’t seen an interactive comic since Neopets!

    Introverted Chaos

    Ugh. These are such cool puzzles, but have always been really, *really* bad at them.

      Prc Z

      Truly a clever idea. Gave me a headache when I realized I couldn’t solve the puzzle, though. I hope you do more interactive things like this in the future (just not EXACTLY like this?) I got stuck for an hour because 2 pieces kept being in the wrong position. Couldn’t take it anymore. I’m afraid. :P

        When you have two pieces switched like that, I scramble around the last two rows and try it again. There might be a mathematical solution that is more efficient, but this often fixes it.

        If we do more interactive things like this in the future, it will not be this same puzzle again. I’ll come up with something new.


    Wonderful! Obsessively completed, I used to do these a lot as a child.


      Yeah! Competed too. Very cool concept. But I was sooooo impatient to see the reward that I got a tiny bitty bit dissapointed when I saw it ^^


    Liked and completed.
    Never found anything like this in a comic.
    I approve!

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