Escape Room Cypher Ideas

If you're going to be throwing an escape room party, then you want your clues to all to be top-notch. One popular method of hiding clues is by using cyphers. We picked a few of our favourites to help you get started. You'll need to modify them according to the age of the players and finding the right balance between the challenges and the fun aspect, that you want to achieve. After all, if the puzzles and cyphers are too difficult, then the players may as well get bored. 

"Crack The Rule" Cyphers

Cyphers that are based around a clear set of rules are always the best in any escape room game. They are all super easy to design, they tend to be creative and are generally unique, meaning that the players get a buzz out of finally solving them. Some great examples are the following:

The 'Mess it all up' Cypher

These are easy to solve and so avoid any frustration and impatience from the player's point of view. Also, there's no special knowledge required so anyone can solve them. To make one, simply scramble up the words of a sentence. Leave a clue for the players as to how they should unscramble them. For example, the stamp on a postcard could show a field of poppies, which has the same configuration as another card with the words spelt out correctly.

These are the most common clues to leave for players with this type of cypher:

* Where the first letter of each word matches the following sentence. This is known as an acrostic. Just ensure that there are no double-ups.
* You could colour-code the words so that they march a pattern on show somewhere else in the escape room.
* Another idea, is a sequence of numbers that match the number of letters in each word. Make sure the sentences don't have words of the same length.

Letter Shifting (Caesar Cypher)

Some of the most engaging puzzles and yet some of the easiest to design are the Caesar cyphers. First thing is to write out the alphabet A - Z. Then write out the alphabet again underneath, but this time alter the start by shifting letters along so that you might begin the alphabet at the letter G or T. The amount by which you move the letters is called the key or the shift. Make a note of this as a clue.

Caesar Cypher Example:

Once you've written out your desired message, then hide it in plain sight and put the key or shift in another spot somewhere within the room. This is a great clue as both are useless without each other. You can make things more interesting by placing the shift within other objects. 
A good example is:

* to simply circle the number "2" on the wall-mounted clock.
* have the cypher texted placed within an object that has a triangular shape.
* have the cypher text in an envelope and make the address the key or shift

Another mod for the caesar Cypher is to change it to a Bash Code which is where you reverse the order of the alphabet or simply replace each letter with a number. Of course, it's quite possible that the players might try to "brute force" these puzzles using simple trial and error. Do try and make the cyphers for the level of players, otherwise, they might give up too easily.

Swapped Letter Rules

Another great fun clue to make and these offer excellent puzzles for all players to solve. because they tend to be that much easier than many of the other puzzles you'll have placed in the escape room, we find they make great "warm-up clues." Create a rule to follow and then apply it to the text you write. 
Here's an example:

* take the first letter of every word in a sentence
* take two letters and swap them at random
* have a number sequence that you can give players as a clue
* add extra letters into a sequence

With these types of cyphers, you have an endless number of possibilities all in just a single escape room game. We like to include an easier one of these at the beginning of the game, with a much more complex one towards the end. This will give the players a sense of achievement and of learning progression.

Book Codes

Book codes are supremely cool and awesome. The text that the players have faced means absolutely nothing without the original text. In fact, it's totally unbreakable. Essentially, at its most basic, you're replacing a word with a number that corresponds to that position in the original text. 

How To Make Your Own Book Code:

Just find any old newspaper or book. Then find the first word that'll be in your message. Now count how many words it is from the beginning of the book. Write that number down as the first part of your cypher. You could also use pairs of words and numbers. Now keep going until you have completed your message. Make sure that you leave a clue so the players can decode your message. A good idea is to scribble some numbers under words on the first page of the book in question. This will be a helpful hint for the players. Leave the book so that it's obvious that you want the players to find it.

Hidden in Plain Sight

These are puzzles that are solvable only if the player looks at the image from exactly the right direction. Then they'll experience an "aha!" moment when the answer shows itself and becomes obvious. If the player is not looking from exactly the correct spot, they will see nothing. We must confess that this is a fantastic type of clue, but many players will need a hint. 

Mirror Writing

Probably one of the simplest yet most effective puzzles in the whole game repertoire. And a whole lot of fun to boot. This is one of the easiest puzzles to solve, and most players are pretty quick to grasp that they'll be needing to find a mirror. Probably you'll need to give a hint for young children.