The Illicit Guide to the 2020 Cryptex Hunt

It’s that time again: the Cryptex Hunt is back.

Sponsored by Justin Nevins, the original creator of the cryptex, the Cryptex Hunt is an annual free online puzzle hunt. This event was born out of the Escape Room Secret Slack and this year’s hunt really is Errol Elumir’s baby. And while we’re on the subject of Errol, he’s going to be speaking at RECON!

Pokemon meme depicting a trainer facing off against a Nevins cryptex reads, "Wild Cryptex appeared!"

2020 Cryptex Hunt Key Details

When is the Cryptex Hunt?

It starts on Saturday, February 29th at 8PM.

There are 8 chapters and a single chapter will be released every evening for 8 crazy nights.

Chapter? How does this work?

Errol wrote a novel for the hunt and embedded 1 puzzle into each chapter… because he is a very, very lazy man.

The novel is approximately 54,000 words. To put that into context, it is about 5,000 words longer than Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five… which is on the short side for a novel… but it is still really quite a feat that Errol wrote this.

How much does it cost?

Nothing. It’s free. All that you have to do is register.

Are there prizes again?

Yup. The grand prize will be a fancy-pants Nevins Line Cryptex.

There are also other prizes.

Illicit 2020 Cryptex Puzzle Hunt Tips

General Puzzle Hunt Advice

If you’re brand new to puzzle hunts, check out my new primer on the subject.

You can disregard the segment on cryptic crosswords. I have it on good authority that there aren’t any in this year’s hunt.

Personally I think that’s a good thing because it should make the hunt more approachable.

Approaching the Novel

There will be a single puzzle embedded in each chapter. Once you find and solve that puzzle, you’re good for the day.

Based on my vague conversation with the Cryptex Hunt team, I’m guessing that there will be a lot of other details beyond the puzzle of the day. When I go to solve, I’m going to do my best to avoid getting too neurotic about tracking every single detail.

Errol feeling the pain as his voodoo doll is stabbed witha pin labeled "finale 2.0"
Andrea Hersom made this delightful doll “for” Errol.

That said, it’s still a novel and a puzzle hunt. I’m assuming that a solid understanding of the novel’s story will be important when the final puzzle rolls around. I could be wrong, but I assume one should focus on solving the puzzles while keeping a general awareness of the story.

Another Room Escape Artist Puzzle?

I’ve also heard that this year there won’t be a Room Escape Artist puzzle (as there have been in past Cryptex Hunts) because we didn’t fit naturally into the novel.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ there’s no such thing as a perfect puzzle hunt.

2020 Cryptex Hunt Registration


  1. > Personally I think that’s a good thing because it should make the hunt more approachable.

    Well, maybe if you’ve played puzzle hunts but not done cryptic crosswords… As someone in the other camp, I find that’s the easiest hook!

    1. I can totally see that. Personally, I feel similarly to crosswords, cyrptic crosswords, and sudoku… I like them all on their own, but don’t really need them in a puzzle hunt.

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