Shmooganography is back for its 13th year of hiding messages at the con, sponsored again by Praxis Engineering. For the n00bies, Shmooganography is a multi-stage game built upon techniques in steganography: the art of hiding messages “in plain sight.” In past years, we’ve used invisible ink revealed under a blacklight and embedded images within other images.

This year, you, a hacker with extraordinary skills who can travel (“walk/hack”) between the real, digital, and electromagnetic universes (“planes”) — aka a Planeshacker — will tap your mana, cast your spells, and become the master 1337 hacker of the con (“the Gathering”). You will need to apply your steg skills to find codes and clues across five stages of the con battlespace. Use clues to advance between stages, and report codes to us for credit! Don’t worry if you get stumped: clues will be released throughout the weekend.

Someone will take home the $500 cash prize! To keep things competitive, the first team to solve and report each stage will win a No Starch Press gift certificate! Get your deck of hacker lands, creatures, and artifacts assembled while you wait for further instruction at