Cypher Zendo

The Buddha nature has been shrouded by a devious secret code that is obscuring the language the Master uses to communicate with the students. The Master can only tell the students which coded messages are "true words" with the Buddha nature. The students must puzzle over the Master's answers and break the code to achieve enlightenment.

See a sample game.

Rules of the Game

Game Play & Objective: Students take turns proposing koans in the form of "coded words" to test theories about the code itself. The students are trying to guess the Master's cypher (i.e. break the secret code).

General: All of the normal rules of Text Zendo apply except as modified below.

The Master's Rule: In place of a normal Zendo rule, the Master chooses a simple cypher (the "secret code") that maps the letters of the alphabet "one-to-one" and "onto" themselves. In other words, each letter is replaced by one particular letter and no two letters are replaced by the same letter. This guarantees that the cypher is reversible so that the students can recover the original letters or words from the coded messages. Capitalization should be ignored when applying the cypher.

The rule and all guesses should be stated in a form that DECODES the koans.

''Example rule: "rot N" is a common, simple encryption scheme that "rotates" letters through their standard order in the alphabet. wrapping back around to the beginning of the alphabet if a letter rotates past the end.

Eg. "rot 2" maps A -> C, B -> D, C -> E … X -> Z, Y -> A, Z -> B.

The Master's Dictionary: The Master should also select a resource available to everyone, such as an online dictionary, to use as a reference for which words are considered valid.

Two suggested dictionaries for English games are Wiktionary and the searchable "Master English Word List (en)" here on SDG.

Koans: Koans are sequences of letters without spaces or punctuation. A koan has the Buddha nature if and only if the cypher transforms the koan into a valid word in the Master's Dictionary.

Example koans: Using the "rot 2" rule above and an English dictionary,
CTC -> EVE and AYR -> CAT, so both CTC and AYR have the Buddha nature.
HHH -> JJJ and CAT -> ECV, so neither has the Buddha nature.

The following rules are optional rules used by analogkid although other Masters are free to apply their own modifications:

  1. Words with hyphens, apostrophes, or other punctuation are NOT valid.
  2. No abbreviations or acronyms are allowed. Relunctantly, to avoid splitting hairs, I will exclude words like "OK", "TV", and "tp".
  3. No proper nouns (words which are always capitalized).
  4. When using Wiktionary (for an English language dojo), a word is considered valid if it returns a result under the heading "English", even if the word is technically a foreign term, OR it is valid if the word appears in a phrase that Wiktionary lists as an English term (eg. "magna" does not have its own English entry but "magna cum laude" does).
  5. Students may always ask the Master whether a particular term counts as a "word" for game purposes.
  6. Beware that there are many "strange" or controversial words in today's English dictionaries, many of which do not even look like "proper English words". Terms like "do re mi fa sol la ti", "qwerty", "ef", "aitch", "wye", "shh", "hmm", and "er" are now counted as words in many resources and foreign words like "ciao", "ja", "xi", "qi", "qat", and "souq" are often contained in English word lists. Students are advised to check anything that looks pronouncable against the Master's Dictionary.
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