Hello all! Two thematically related puzzles today - one of a genre I've been meaning to try out for a while, and one that's less of a crossword and more of a "here's a list of clues, have fun!" type puzzle. Thanks for kormad and Ra for test-solving. I'd recommend solving the Themes and Variations first, just because the second puzzle (name witheld) might spoil the nature of the thematic entries. I absolutely adore Themes and Variations-type puzzles, but they can be tricky, so I've included an example set as well as three hints for the actual puzzle, so hopefully it's decently accessible. Onto the explanation!
In the puzzle, there will be 3 "Themes" that have something in common. Each of these will also have 3 variations (only two in this example), that are derived from/related to/have something in common with the theme in some way. For example, were the 3 theme words SNAP, CRACKLE, and POP, the variations may be:
- PANS: STOP and REMIT (reversals of kitchen tools)
- CRACKLE: CACKLER and RECLACK (anagrams)
- POP: SIS and MOM (palindromic family members)
In general, it might help to think of the different forms of cryptic wordplay you use in general when solving. If you get stuck, there’s three levels of hints (all ROT-13’ed) below the interactive solver that might give you the push you need. Find the pdf here and the PuzzleMe client below. Once you've finished, enjoy a smaller variety puzzle with pdf here or a copy-able Google Sheets here. Hope you all are staying safe and enjoying the puzzles!
Hint 1: Bar tebhc vf pbaarpgrq ubzbcubavpnyyl, bar jvgu “cersvkrf," naq bar jvgu qryrgvbaf.
Hint 2: Gur ubzbcubar tebhc vf “zvffvat” sbhe jbeqf. Gur qryrgvba tebhc qryrgrf gur yrggref C, B, L, naq L. Gur cersvk tebhc sbezf n purzvpny grez, n yvathvfgvp grez, naq n gurbybtvpny grez.
Hint 3 (essentially the explanation of each theme group): Gur inevngvbaf bs gurzr jbeq N pna nyy cerprqr gur gurzr jbeq gb sbez arj jbeqf. Gurzr tebhc O vf znqr hc bs snzbhf qbtf zvffvat gurve ynfg yrggre ynfg yrggre qryrgvbaf (n yn FABBCL > FABBC). Gurzr jbeq P naq vgf frg bs inevngvbaf vf znqr hc bs jbeqf gung ubzbcubavpnyyl znxr hc 2/3 bs fbzr bgure snzbhf gevbf, jvgu zvffvat jbeqf crnpr, ynetr, ba, naq cnepry.