Talking Bastard 3 Solution

How It Works

The Fire Lake salespeople were what we call "Talking Bastards", a class of puzzle that involves interacting in constrained ways with an actor. Violating any constraints causes the actor to start over, and the constraints aren't made clear to the teams in advance, so solving the puzzle amounts to a trial-and-error observation process to figure out what the rules of the interaction are.

The following notes were what were distributed to the actors for this interaction with the teams, the fourth and final time they would see the salesperson.


Talking Bastard is the showroom salesman who converses with the teams, and the teams need to get data from him. Rules, however, are imposed on their interactions and anytime they break a rule, they're forced to reset. Overall, there are some Taboo-style words - saying any of them is a rules violation. The Taboo words are:

  • "Name"
  • "Location"
  • "Who"
  • "Where"
  • "Boss"

If they violate one of these, the failure phrase to use before you reset is to chastise them for swearing or using offensive language. For example, "I'm sorry, we don't allow obscene language here." Consistent use of a failure phrase is important to help teams learn the rules they're breaking in a reasonable amount of time.

The Talking Bastard happens in four segments. In general, each segment works as follows:

  • There's an introduction phrase which is said when they start this phrase (when the teams give an answer to the gate question from the last segment), which also is used to signal a reset.
  • There is a new rule introduced for the segment, which is enforced for this segment along with all the rules from previous segments. Note that new rules aren't enforced on previous segments. So the second time they see the Talking Bastard, for the repeat of the first section, there's still only the first rule. Only start enforcing the second rule when you enter the second segment.
  • There is a piece of information that they're trying to get. Vignettes will hint at the fact that they need that information.
  • The interaction should actually be like a smarmy salesman trying to chat up a client, so it's not just waiting for them to ask a question and answering, add some conversation elements during which they have to slip in the info that they're trying to get. Don't make this too arduous or long, but make them have to actually know the rules to actually make it through. Goal is about 15-20 minutes.
  • Once they get the piece of information, they have solved that segment and they get asked a gate question, which they don't know the right answer to. When they get the answer wrong, they are sent out on another loop instead of starting over.
  • The loop will tell them the answer to the question such that next time they get back, they'll know how to get into the next segment.

Team Logistics

  • GC will be in touch with the talking bastards to inform you when teams are on their way, and what hub puzzle they should be sent to when they complete the talking bastard. Have that envelope ready for them to arrive.
  • When the team arrives, verify which team it is so we know we're giving them the right envelope.
  • When they finish solving, hand them the envelope and remind them that they may want to use the facilities while they're available.

Other Notes:

  • Each time they encounter a talking bastard "from scratch" (after a loop), there's no state remembered, as they're considered a new customer. Thus, they must clear the segments they already cleared again. That said, after each segment is cleared, the "reset" point advances to being after the last segment they cleared. So, they are assumed to have learned what they already learned during this interaction with the Talking Bastard.
  • After enough time goes by, start hinting more strongly at the nature of the rule they broke.

Previous Segments:

Visit 1:

  • Intro/Reset: "Welcome to Fire Lake Resorts!"
  • Goal: Figure out the salesman's name. (Pat)
  • New Rule: Same team member can't say two things in a row. (Failure: "Don't hog the conversation", "Give other people a chance", etc ...)
  • Banter: Talk about how great Fire Lake is and how they're about to experience a great presentation.
  • Gate question: Once they figure out your name, ask, "Are you excited by our properties yet?" No matter what they answer, you should say, "I don't think you're excited enough, and I know how to solve that!" and hand them an envelope. In this case, all envelopes are the same - they lead to the KeyboardQuickPuzzle rather than to one of the Hub Puzzles.

Visit 2:

  • Answer Phrase to previous question: "I am foolishly excited."
  • Intro/Reset: "There's nothing foolish about your excitement!"
  • Goal: Figure out the name of the highest priced property. (Lost Paradise)
  • New Rule: All statements must contain the word "Please". (Failure: "I don't deal with rude people", "Didn't you ever learn any manners", etc ...)
  • Banter: Talk about how affordable the properties are and how great a value they are.
  • Gate question: "Are you ready to buy?" No matter what they answer, you should say, "You know, we do want to make sure that you're not being too hasty, and I know the perfect way to help you decide for sure." Hand them the appropriate envelope based on what we told you to give them when we told you they were inbound.

Visit 3:

  • Answer Phrase to previous question: "Please contact my bank."
  • Intro/Reset: "Well, I'm sure you're good for it, money isn't the only factor in making sure this is the right property for you."
  • Goal: Figure out where the highest priced property is located. ("Why, that exclusive property is being prepared for occupancy up north in the mountains.")
  • New Rule: All statements must be 6 words or less. (Failure: "I don't understand what you're saying", "Talk my ear off, why don't you", etc ...)
  • Banter: Talk about how money isn't the only factor in being the right fit for our premium properties and talk about other things that might matter to them.
  • Gate question: "Do you have any questions?" No matter what they answer, you sould say, "Actually, I know the best way to answer any questions you might have!" Then hand them the appropriate envelope based on what we told you to give them when we told you they were inbound.

New Segment:

Visit 3:

  • Answer Phrase to previous question: "Please show me to your supervisor."
  • Intro/Reset: "You don't need my supervisor, I can handle everything you need."
  • Goal: Figure out where you can find the salesman's boss (the envelope you hand them is supposedly this location).
  • New Rule: All sentences must contain the salesman's name. (Failure: "I'm sorry, were you talking to me?")
  • Banter: The supervisor is a very busy person, he's very important, he can't be bothered for just any guest.
  • Gate question: None - when they succeed, instead of doing a gate question, we're going to do the contract reveal. Tell them, "Oh, I know why you must need to see the supervisor ... I heard that you guys signed the contract to join us! That's wonderful!" They may assert that they didn't, or they may not. Either way, force the conversation to proving it or showing them by taking their NDA reminder form and showing them under the blacklight. Then, finally, tell them, "Well, of course I can show you the supervisor, he loves to see our new signees," and hand them their envelope.


In this case, the goal was to figure out the location of the supervisor. Once that was done, the contract where the teams signed themselves away to Fire Lake was revealed to them and a location (supposedly where the supervisor's office was) was handed to them. The location, of course, was a decoy, and just sent them on the next loop.