Pictured: Key-centric shenanigans.

A key is an inventory item used to unlock a door or other locked object. Although it is a franchise centered around much Weird puzzle shit, key and door based problems are perhaps the archetypal MSPA puzzle. Jailbreak and Problem Sleuth both began with a premise of a character trapped behind a locked door, and a key (or, just as often, many) is frequently required for an adventure to progress. This trope carried over into interactive media such as Hiveswap, wherein keys become essential puzzle items in the game. As well as being puzzle items, keys in Problem Sleuth can also serve as weapons through the principle of Weapon/Object Duality.

In MS Paint AdventuresEdit


Cell KeyEdit

Location Found First prisoner's cell
This key is one of the two items that are found in the jail cell in the first panel of JailbreakMspa icon. What this key unlocks is uncertain; while it might unlock the cell door using the inside keyhole, this is never tested, and the key is never actually used. The first prisoner throws it down to the second prisoner to open the door in the second cell, but this door is in fact already unlocked. The second prisoner then attempts to return it to the first prisoner, only to be accidentally knocked off his ladder by a stream of the first prisoner's pee. The second prisoner's second attempt to return the key to the first prisoner then overshoots, and the key is taken by the third prisoner in the cell above. The third prisoner drills a hole into the first prisoner's cell, but before he can return the key he gets his head stuck in the hole and breaks his neck, leaving the key unreachable in his cell.

After the reader gets a game overMspa icon, they return to the start of the game and the key is once again in the first prisoner's cell. They contemplate using it as an instrument to carve spells into various objects, but never actually attempt this, and shortly wish themselves away via an elf before making use of the key.

Guard's KeysEdit

Location Found Prison corridors
The jail guard has a ring of keys that he keeps on his belt. After the first prisoner knocks him outMspa icon, the keys spill onto the floor outside the cell. After the guard wakes up, enters the first prisoner's cell and is killed, the first prisoner attemptsMspa icon to use the guard's belt to lasso some of these keys, but fails. It is unknown what these keys unlock, but it is likely that they are the keys to cell doors.

Pumpkin CarvingsEdit

PumpkinDeviceJB Cut
Location Found Prison flood chamber
An apparatus in a room in the jail contains three recessed holes, each designed to receive a "key" in the form of carved pumpkin matching a specific expression; happy, sad, and surprised, respectively. A pumpkin sits on the pedestal nearby with a knife, ready to be carved into one of the three required pumpkins; however, when the prisoner removes this, the room begins to flood with waterMspa icon.

Carving the three faces (albeit poorly) and inserting them into the three holes eventually opens up a door in the first cell, leading to an adjacent cell and a way out through the roof. However, it also causes bars to extend over the flooding room, preventing the prisoner trapped there from easily floating to the surface.

Problem SleuthEdit

Problem Sleuth's Key/HandgunEdit

Main article: Weapons in Problem Sleuth#Handgun/Key
Location Found Problem Sleuth's office

This key is the innocuous double of Problem Sleuth's pistol, and is carried in either Problem Sleuth's inventory or weapon slot depending on which mode it is in. It is initially located in his office on his desk. The key is used in its gun mode several times, to blow open Problem Sleuth's office door, and it is eventually passed to Ace Dick and finally Pickle Inspector. The eventual use of the key is to unlock one of the locks on Demonhead Mobster Kingpin's mask during the final boss fight.

Ace Dick's Ring of Keys/Tommy GunEdit

Main article: Weapons in Problem Sleuth#Tommy gun/Ring of keys
AD Keys
Location Found Ace Dick's office

Similarly to Problem Sleuth's key, Ace Dick possesses a ring of keys that is the innocuous double of his tommy gun. Ace Dick's first use of the keys is to open the safe locks in his office in order to access his secret hideaway, although they perform this action by shooting the locks out. Throughout Problem Sleuth, the keys are mostly used in tommy gun mode; Ace Dick uses them in a combat with a Beast, then subsequently to shoot a target on the ceiling of the still room. The keys/gun are later given to Problem Sleuth. As with Problem Sleuth's key, the keys are ultimately used to unlock one of the locks on Demonhead Mobster Kingpin's mask.

Pickle Inspector's Hairpin/Machine GunEdit

Main article: Weapons in Problem Sleuth#Machine Gun/Hairpin
Location Found Pickle Inspector's office

Although not technically a "key", Pickle Inspector possesses a hairpin that serves as the innocuous double of his machine gun; this is Pickle Inspector's counterpart to the Key and Ring of Keys possessed by Problem Sleuth and Ace Dick, and it is also later used as a key, in line with the fictional trope of hairpins being used as lock-picks.

The hairpin spends the majority of the story being used in machine gun mode. Pickle Inspector cannot initially wield it for longer than a few seconds due to his low Vim stat. He is temporarily able to use it after boosting his Vim with hot sauce, but accidentally fires itMspa icon, setting his office alight. He later drops it through a skylight, where it is found by Ace Dick, who carries it from then on. Ace Dick is later duplicated, creating two copies of the Gun/Hairpin; however one of these is lost when Fiesta Ace Dick is swallowed by Mobster Kingpin. The other copy is finally used as a hairpin lock-pick to open another of the locks on Demonhead Mobster Kingpin's mask.

Safe KeyEdit

Location Found Sleuth office hallway
A small Yale-type key, this item unlocks the safe in Problem Sleuth's office that leads to his secret chamber. Initially, it is hanging on a small hook on the exterior of Problem Sleuth's door, preventing access to it as the door is blocked by the Ben Stiller "Starsky" bust. Problem Sleuth eventually retrieves it by throwing a cinderblock at the door to loosen the key, and then sticking his hat out of the hole previously made by his handgun in order to catch it as it falls. This allows him to access the safe and exit his office via the secret chamber.

Recess SkullsEdit

Location Found Imaginary universe
In a callback to Jailbreak, the entrance to the Cathedral of Syndetic Ascension from the Speakeasy is opened by inserting three skulls into a panel of recessed recepticles on the wall. The three skulls slots are shaped to the skulls of Problem Sleuth, Ace Dick, and Pickle Inspector. These skulls are obtained by retrieving them from various imaginary copies of themselves in the imaginary universe.

Inserting all three skulls unlocksMspa icon the double doors into the cathedral, although once entered, the door locks again, and the skull-recess panel flips over, preventing further access.

Small KeyEdit

Location Found Ace Dick's office
This key is initially located within Ace Dick's Snoop Dogg bust. After Ace Dick attempts to break his unplugged portal window by throwing the bust at it, the bust shatters, revealing this key and some pieces of candycorn. Later, AD consumes the candy corn and accidentally swallows the key as well, storing it in his stomach inventory slot. After Ace Dick vomitsMspa icon from his prior imagination stat boost (drinking spree) after the beast battle on the imaginary city streets, he uses the recovered key to unlock the door in his secret hideaway leading to the still room.

Music Box KeyEdit

Music Box Key
Location Found Hysterical Dame's apartment
This key is required to unlock the Hysterical Dame's portal music box. The key is initially missing; however it is discovered around the neck of her teddy bear/knife while in bear mode, allowing her to view Problem Sleuth through the storefront window portal.

Carousel KeyEdit

Location Found Hysterical Dame's apartment
This key operates the carousel mirror portal in the Nervous Broad's apartment. When first introduced, the Nervous Broad has misplaced the key. It is eventually revealed to have been inside one of her Fancy Santas, which was at some point relocated to the Hysterical Dame's apartment. The Hysterical Dame eventually breaks this Santa while flipping the fuck out with a chainsaw, revealing the carousel key. The key is then taken by a version of Ace Dick, who had been shrunk at the time, back to the Nervous Broad via a mouse hole. She then uses it on the carousel, which results in the accompanying mirror activating as a portal, that leads to a massive counterpart in the Imaginary City.

Skeleton Key/Skeleton BrushEdit

Main article: Weapons in Problem Sleuth#Skeleton Brush
Location Found Madame Murel's inventory

This powerful item and weapon is initially found in brush form, in Madame Murel's possession. In combination with her paint palette, the skeleton brush can additionally become the Skeleton Flail, which attacksMspa icon in the form of several different flails and whips depending on the colour of paint that it is utilizing. Once Madame Murel is defeated by HD and NB, the item reverts to its brush form, in which it can be used to paint functioning keyholes on painted locks of the same colour as the palette paints. Following this, the skeleton brush becomesMspa icon the Skeleton Key, which can unlock said locks (and presumably many, if not all others) using correspondingly coloured keyheads.

Megaton Key/Brass KnucklesEdit

Main article: Weapons in Problem Sleuth#Brass knuckles/Megaton Key
Megaton Key
Location Found Mobster Kingpin's office

The Megaton Key is the primary MacGuffin of Problem Sleuth. It is the key that can open the detective office building and free Problem Sleuth, Ace Dick and Pickle Inspector into the real world. It is saidMspa icon that only the strongest man on Earth may lift this key.


The Megaton Door

The Megaton Key is jealously guarded by Mobster Kingpin, and it also serves as the innocuous double of his primary weapon, the brass knuckles. This extremely powerful weapon can knock enemies unconscious with a single punch. Obtaining this item becomes the primary goal of the protagonists, as using it on the door it is the only way for them to exit their office building. They eventually obtain it after finally defeating Mobster Kingpin by impaling him on the Ham Needle. Ace Dick is able to wield it following his merging with his alternate selves, allowing the team to unlock the door and complete the gameMspa icon.


Dad's Car KeysEdit

Location Found In the possession of Dad
The keys to Dad's car. John seems initially to need these to access the car and retrieve his package and the Sburb server disc, which he cannot access as his Dad has the keys. However, this need is later circumvented when the car is dropped into the Land of Wind and Shade, the the windscreen broken.

When WV later attempts to operate Dad's spare car (found in his wallet), John points out that neither of them have the key. However, John is able to do the Windy Thing to cause the car to fly, negating the need to start it. While the car keys then never actually appear physically, John pictures themHS during the scene. Presumably the spare car was left unlocked, because John and WV did not require the key to open the doors.

Spade Key/Rules Card for BlackjackEdit

See also: Midnight Crew Cards#Spades Key
Location Found Spades Slick's War Chest/Deck of Keys

As per the Midnight Crew's Problem Sleuth-esque card/object duality, this key is the double of a rules card for Blackjack in Spades Slick's deck. However, this item can function as a "key" even in card form, as the corresponding keyholeHS is a double for a barcode scannerHS, designed to read the Carapacian barcode on the back of the card.

The key/barcode were to open Lord English's treasure vault in Felt Manor, which was in actuality Karkat's command station base. However, its use was prevented when Snowman attempted to prevent Spades from opening the vault by shooting a bullet through the rules cardHS, and ripping off Spades' arm on which his matching barcode was located. However, Spades was over to overcome this problem by flipping his sprite turnwaysHS, and entered the base to access Karkat's terminal at the end of the Intermission.

Spirograph KeyEdit

Location Found In the possession of WQ
An enigmatic item originally possessed by the Windswept Questant. This circular key is carved in the shape of a Sburb spirograph, which is also replicated in green on the opposite side. It is designed to fit the the spirograph sockets in the command station bases, and when the key is inserted into these, the dial they operate can be turned. As such, this key can operate different devices in each of the four exile stations (presumably all of those with a corresponding key slot, although it is not shown being used with all of these).
Command station Function(s)
Skyship Base Operates the dial on the Appearifier, presumably changing the appearification target domain between Earth and the Incipisphere.

Operates the dial on the trans-universal transportalizer. The two settings on the dial appear to allow the user to choose a destination between the respective Victory platform in both the Kids' and Trolls' Sburb sessions; the session that created the command station, and the session that it contributed to creating, respectively.

Helipod Base Operates the dial on the Sendificator, changing the sendification target domain between Earth and the Incipisphere.
Eggy-Looking Base Operates the "reassembly" dial, uniting the two halves of the split command station.
Bec Head Base Operates the Bec Head's "reassembly" dial, reconstructing the command station from its various fragments scattered across the globe.

In the post-Scratch universe, the Transmaterializers used by Jake and Roxy also have a dial that appears to be operated with a spirograph key, as they are also derived from Sburb technology (Jake's transportalizer being found in his Frog Temple, and Roxy's in her version of the Skaianet Laboratory). These devices can transportalizer and sendificate items between the pre- and post-Scratch universes, at the extent of a large amount of Uranium, and the dials controlled by the spirograph key appear to designate which universe is selected in the coordinate system. It is unknown what instance of spirograph key would be used to operate these, with the intended instance perhaps originating from the post-Scratch session as opposed to the pre-Scratch key owned by WQ.

Pre-Scratch, the Windswept Questant has this key in her possession when she comes to Earth in exile. She initially uses it to repair the Eggy-Looking Base, and then, later the Bec Head Base. After crowning PM as the Prospitian Monarch, she hands her the key, telling her that she must use the key to set the destination for her royal entourageHS. Seemingly, this was intended to instruct PM to use the Skyship base's trans-universal transportalizer to find a new home for the other exiled ProspitiansHS prior to the arrival of Jack Noir, after which she intends to have the bases destroyed so that he cannot escape. However, ultimately, Jack Noir kills most of the Exiles during the events of Cascade, and escapes into the Trolls' Incipisphere, where PM follows. The fate of the key after this is unclear.

Auxiliatrix KeyEdit

Location Found Trolls' meteor
This key was discovered by Kanaya, deep within the Trolls' meteor, and was shaped similarly to the skull of a Mother Grub. The key unlocked the Matriorb from its captcha card, where it had previously been locked by her chastity modus. This fetch modus locks items within captcha cards until the correct, predestined moment that the item is meant to be used. Kanaya's finding this key indicates that this was the moment when she was meant to retrieve the Matriorb, which she presumes to be an indication that she should hatch it within the meteor to restore her species. However, the orb was instead destroyed by Eridan, perhaps indicating that it was never meant to be used.

Consort SkullsEdit

Location Found Land of Crypts and Helium
These skulls are crucial puzzle items in Myststuck, the interactive flash page at the start of Homestuck: Act 6 Act 3. Three of them - the Turtle, Crocodile and Iguana skulls respectively, are used as key items to open the door at the end of [S] ACT 6 ACT 3HS. They are inserted into a skull wall panel, a callback to the similar skulls in Problem Sleuth, which is in itself a callback to the pumpkin puzzle in Jailbreak. In addition to this, the skulls can be inserted into a separate recess to raise the lanterns at the lantern tower. As only the Turtle and Salamander skulls can be obtained prior to this, these two skulls are available to be used in this way.

The skulls represent the four extinct species of Consort which once inhabited the Medium of the post-Scratch session. They are found scattered across the Land of Crypts and Helium by Jane.

  • The Salamander skull is found on a pedestal in the room with the door that is unlocked by the other three skulls (the "door chamber"). Taking the skull causes a mirror obelisk to rise from the ground elsewhere.
  • The Turtle skull is found on the floor in the crypt underneath the lantern tower, making it convenient to be used for raising the lanterns.
  • The Crocodile skull is found in a chamber underground that is accessed via the mausoleum lift. Removing it from its pedestal causes the "skull insertion" panel to be uncovered in the door chamber, but also locks a door. To escape, Jane must use a lever to release scarab beetles, leave a cake on the pedestal, exit, and allow the beetles to eat the cake and thus reveal the panel again.
  • The Iguana skull is found underneath one of the floating seed-balloons in the cave prior to the door chamber. It can be accessed by pressing the switch in that room once the lanterns are rotated in the correct manner to activate it with a light beam.

Inserting the Turtle, Crocodile and Iguana skulls into the skull insertion panel in the door chamber causes them to act as keys which open the door, leading to the end of the flash sequence.

Crude Key DrawingEdit

Location Found Jack Noir (B2)'s cell on Prospit
This seeming key is not in fact a real key at all. While post-Scratch Jack Noir is imprisoned on Prospit, severalHS callbacksHS to Jailbreak are made, including depicting this key (identical to Jailbreak's cell key on the floor. However, the "key" is in fact a crude drawing of a key applied to the floor of his cell by a "prankster", and it readily wipes away under his fingers.

Prospitian Guard's KeysEdit

Location Found Post-Scratch Prospit jail
In another reference to Jailbreak, Jack knocks out a guard through the bars of his cellHS, causing the guard's keys to spill onto the ground next to him. This mirrors the events that occur in Jailbreak, and, similarly, none of these keys are actually used. Jack attempts to reach themHS using a knife, but much as was the case with his counterpartMspa icon, he is unable to reach them, despite reflecting that they might allow him to free himself.

Clown KeysEdit

Location Found Inside Gamzee Makara's stomach
As part of his unique land quest Caliborn is required to find a number of keys in order to activate various functions of the MSPA command station, each function being related to a corresponding keyhole. Many of these activate view screens. The first four keys are obtained by Gamzee, and they are one of the items he gives to Caliborn, throwing them upHS after Caliborn shoots him multiple times in the torso. It is unclear how Gamzee found the keys, or how they ended up inside his body, as even The Author claims not to know in his dialogue with Caliborn.

These keys are four tumbler-lock keys attached to an appropriately clown themed key-chain. The corresponding keyholes must be ascertained by trial and error. Initially, Caliborn is able to use them to unlock monitor screens that display images of Jake, Dirk, Roxy, and Jack Noir.

Later, the command terminal Caliborn is using has taken on a more advancedHS form, and two keyholes on either side are covered by glass cases. Caliborn breaks these, and then he and Gamzee simultaneously insert two keys into the keyholes and turn them. These keys each have one of the two clown keychains on them, although it is unclear if these are the same keys as the initial keys Gamzee vomits up, or if the keychains have been moved to different keys. Turning the keys in these two keyholes causes the MSPA website to bifurcateHS, leading to the unique panel format of much of Act 6 Act 5 Act 1 x2.

Caliborn's (other) KeysEdit

Location Found Caliborn's planets
In addition to the clown keys, throughout Caliborn's quest he is required to obtain a large number of keys to operate the the MSPA command station. The station tower has a miniature replica of itself next to it when Caliborn first discovers it, with keyholes in the locations of screens on the real tower. Using the correct key with the correct keyhole will activate a screen, which displays a different part of the narrative. The keys are implied to be hidden throughout Caliborn's session, and it is a matter of trial and error to determine which key matches which keyhole.

As well as screens, the keys unlock further functions of the MSPA command station, such as disabling the CAPS LOCK keyHS. As Caliborn progresses in his quest, he discovers or unlocks more towersHS, and larger, more advancedHS versions of the command terminal. Two matching keyholes allow him to bifurcateHS the story into parallel sets of panels.

Skeleton Key BadgeEdit

Location Found Caliborn's planets
As Caliborn progresses through the God tiers, he obtainsHS the skeleton key achievement badge for his Kiddie Camper Handysash. This badge imbues him with the unique ability to AUTOMATICALLY UNLOCK. ANY LOCK HE WANTED TO! This gives him full access to the contraptions on his planet, allowing him to OFFICIALLY AND PERMANENTLY ASSUME CONTROL over the narrative. This was a key milestone in his rise to power as Lord English.

In Hiveswap/HauntswitchEdit


Keys function as critical puzzle items in Hiveswap. On multiple occasions, the player will need to discover and utilize keys in order to proceed.

Diary KeyEdit

Location Found Joey's bedroom

This small, silver key is the key to Joey's diary. One of the two keys found inside the Puppy Surprise plush in Joey's bedroom, Joey uses this key to unlock her diary, which is also in her bedroom, near the start of the game. The key is removed from her inventory after she re-locks the diary and hides it again.

Joey's Heirloom/"Cherub Key"Edit

Location Found Joey's bedroom

A mysterious heirloom owned by Joey, this key is also obtained from the Puppy Surprise plush in Joey's bedroom. This ornate key features a heavily Cherub influenced design; it is the dark green color of Cherub skin, has a key bit modeled after Cherub teeth, handles in the shape of Cherub-mating-form snakes, and the red/lime Cherub duality spiral on its bow. The origins of this key are unknown; however, it is seen to unlock and activate the Cherub Portal in the attic of Half-Harley Manor. In fact, it almost seems to compel its bearer to use it to unlock the portal, and eventually actually comes alive to pull Joey towards the portal and then animatedly contort itself into the lock. Joey originally found the key in her mother's jewelry box when she was very young, shortly after she passed away - as such, it's one of Joey's most treasured possessions and she regards it as an heirloom. Joey's Pa seems to have been looking for the key and is aware of its purpose, based on the writing scrawled on the portal machine's shipping invoice: “The KEY! Where is that dadblasted gadzooks KEY?!”

Attic KeyEdit

Location Found Pa's trophy room
A plain, metallic key, this item unlocks the attic door of Half-Harley Manor. It is hidden within the globe of a mysterious planet in Pa's trophy room, and only accessible by solving the colored marble laser beam puzzle after obtaining the marbles from Jude via Byers. Obtaining this key and thus access to the attic is one of the central goals of the first half of Hiveswap: Act 1.

Green Door Cube/Power CellEdit

Location Found Dammek's basement
Although not a key in the traditional sense, this strange object found in Dammek's hive might be considered a key, as it is used to unlock and open the door to Dammek's respiteblock. The object was located in a box in the rebel lair in the basement, from which it is dislodged by the missile strike on Xefros' hive. This item resembles a Perfectly Generic Object, as it is a green cube with rounded corners, except that it is glowing green. When placed by Joey against the panel on the interior wall of Dammek's block next to the door, the cube dims and the door opens. The game's files refer to this object as a "power cell", so this might represent some sort of energy discharge.
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