Room 22

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…a gaudy room that reminded me of a theatrical backdrop. Places like this are overdone, for my taste, but some people like the exotic…well, everyone is a critic.

It’s true, I am by nature extremely critical. Although my life is a lonely one I have not spared any of my guests the rigor of my judgment…. We all have our roles to play.

This is not a bad place, really; one could spend quite some time here. However, in their restive way, the group moved on to…

 - Images and text copyright 1985 by Christopher Manson
used with permission. [Purchase MAZE from Amazon]


Room Type:  TRAP     Doors:   2  5  38  42  43


● Red Herring(s): The various items in this room suggest “red herring.” The third sign, WOMAN’S JEWELRY, is “her ring” or “herring.” The other three signs all make sense as fish aspects: scales, tail, and water. [Credit: Factitous] The octogon recalls a stop sign which is red. The pitchfork (compare to Room 26) recalls a devil which is red. [Credit: vewatkins] [Manson has confirmed that this solution is only partially correct] Alternately this solution could be plural “red herrings” and refer to the various clues in the room. [Credit: Aria]

● Stop: The various items in this room suggest that a visitor stay here. The octagon bench suggests a stop sign [Credit: vewatkins], which should be taken to mean that visitors stop [Credit: Aria]. The four center items spell out “STOP” the Sofa, the Trident, the Octogon, and the Pawn (the pawn is on top of the octagon seat). S-ofa/T-rident/O-ctagon/P-awn. [Credit: Owen Hammer] The “sofa” could also be a “seat.” [Credit: Aria] The theatrical nature of the room and the curtains hanging in the doors may suggest the idiom “it’s curtains” or “bringing down the curtains” (done, the end, show is over). The phrase, “This is not a bad place, really; one could spend quite some time here.” could be a clue that staying is better than leaving. The phrase “Places like this are overdone”… could suggest the words “over” and “done.” [Credit: Aria] The letters of the center row can spell LONELY if the L is used twice, this may pair with “lonely” in the text (but the doubled L is problematic – an L shape is suggested slightly by the creases of the wall under the sign which would complete the word) [Credit: White Raven], “lonely” in the sign and text could reinforce staying here, trapped. [Credit: Aria] [Possibly the four signs on the wall may spell "STOP" Scales/Tail/O(ring shape)/Precipitation(H20). Though the last one is pretty weak.]
● The solutions above could work together, although the red herring theme seems to suggest that we not take seriously the stop theme. The following solutions works with either or both of the above theories: The H+OO spells 38 alphanumerically if read from bottom up like the WOMANSJEWELRY sign. H=8 + O=15,O=15 indicating door 38. [Independent Credit: Kon Tiki | also Katherine & Nova] On the opposite side of the room the scales-sign could indicate door 43. The 4 (on the left) is more than the 3 (on the right), thus a scale weighing the two numbers would tip to the left. [Credit: White Raven] The tail could also be seen as pointing to door 43. [Credit: Aria] Thus both doors are indicated therefore the clues are red herrings AND/OR both doors are indicated reinforcing the conclusion that one should stop here.

252 thoughts on “Room 22

  1. I feel that almost all of the work for this room has been done for a long time now.

    I agree with everyone here that, assuming that there is information to be gained from this room at all, each poster corresponds to a word. The simplest solutions for three of the four posters are:
    1. Scales
    2. Tail
    3. ???
    4. Water

    Consensus seems to be that poster #3 is the biggest variable. I feel that the connection between “her ring” and “herring” is too clever to not be somewhat intentional, and all of the other “fishy” clues makes it even more difficult to throw out without good reason.

    I also share the intuition that a word should be formed using the first letters from each poster, and agree that the acrostic is broken with these choices (“her ring” included). STHW is not a word, and if we also restrict that the correct word is STOP, it seems that we cannot proceed without performing great leaps of logic on the last two posters inconsistent with the ease of the first two.

    The issue is see is that the acrostic and STOP solution are irreconcilable.

    Considering all of the above, I offer this solution:
    1. Scales
    2. Tail
    3. Earring
    4. Water
    That is, STEW, as in being left to sit in a state of agitation. I feel that this fills the same narrative role as STOP, but without having to reach so far.

    This of course is not all. The directions tell us that not all clues are trustworthy, and we expect that “herring” is a literal red herring clue.
    My explanation is that both “earring” and “her ring” were intended as potential clues by Manson, and the “fish” hints are there to expose “her ring” as the deception and to validate “earring” by it being a near-miss.

    Most importantly, if we assume that the purpose of this room is to indicate some sort of path, STEW is an anagram for WEST, pointing to room 43 as the solution.

    As mentioned, I feel the alternative here is that there is no acrostic and that whole room is simply the red herring being hinted at. In fact, this may be more likely. After all, what use are directions while stuck in the Trap?

    Open for feedback.


    • Edit: Final Thoughts

      Pardon the imminent wall of text.

      I had forgotten to address the obvious trident in the room. This detail rules out the possibility that the entire room is a gag since that does not account for the presence of the trident. Running with the theory that any information gained in this room is intended to be applied elsewhere, I present room 26 as the best match. Room 26 is theatrical as suggested by the text and contains the only other trident in the Maze.

      Allow me then to give my new conclusion for this room.

      Room 22 either:
      A. Is meant to teach the reader that objects pointing towards doors are red herrings, specifically in room 26 and perhaps throughout the Maze, by associating the sole “red herring” answer with the only other object in the room. This directly leads to the non-indicated door solution for room 26.
      B. Is meant to provide a clue of WEST to be used in room 26. This directly leads to a solution of room 26, as door 30 is the western door.
      C. Both A and B, however WEST may refer to door 43 in room 22, reinforcing the lesson that indicated doors are incorrect.

      Truthfully, B and C have only been included in an attempt to find a satisfying answer using the acrostic. Although the acrostic does make further use of the clues in the room, it appears unnecessary in order to use them all up.

      Thus, for the foreseeable future, I advocate solution A.


    • A possibility that has shockingly never occurred to us is that the “herring” referenced here is the narrative’s suggestions about the guides identity. This one of the key (and few) rooms that points somewhere other than the Minotaur, with its talking of judgment suggesting, most commonly, Minos–but it could also apply to Satan himself, in some iterations of Christian mythology.

      Perhaps the text, and the pitchfork, are meant to be evocative of the devil, and that is the herring here. A RED herring, see?

    • I see what you are getting at, and it sounds possible. So if there really are secret puzzles hidden within the book to uncover the guide’s identity rather than it just being strongly hinted at, then this room could be meant as a clue for the identity not being the Devil.

      I remember seeing excerpts of an email here from Manson with him stating that he intentionally shied away from using Christian ideas, though. The pitchfork surely refers to a devil, but I think not with a capital D. If that isn’t the allusion, then it must point to the devils and pitchfork in room 26.

      Oh, and I haven’t mentioned it, but if you are looking for a “red” to complete the clue, the third rebus can be taken in full as “read her ring”, as in what you did to the eye chart. I swear that was already said, but I can’t find it in the logs anywhere.

    • Well, he has SAINTS, SINNERS, EVE, devils, angels, “pair o’ dice”…I don’t think he shied away from superficial references to Christian mythology, just from serious religious messages.

      Nevertheless–a devil, the devil; Minos, the judge of Hell–the logic could work whichever way we’re to be misled.

      (Unrelatedly, and for what little it’s worth: in the real world, the trident’s original purpose was as a fishing spear; it is not necessarily unrelated to the herring/fish indicators.)

      (You are correct that the “read/red herring” suggestion exists somewhere, but god knows where–it may even be condemned to an episode of MazeCast.)

  2. Wikipedia has an unsourced claim that theaters used to have standard backdrops, six to eight of them, that they would use for different sorts of scenes. Perhaps this room actually does resemble some old theatrical backdrops–though my googling has proven unhelpful in this regard. Anyone else want to take a look?


    I think that is unlikely to be intended, but it’s a “red” in the room, which is enough to make me mention it.

    • I’m not sure how hard finding short words would be in selections of text like Maze- but this feels really solid actually

    • I think it’s very interesting. This phrase is one we’ve picked out on MazeCast before as being sort of a non sequitur, and it’s also easy to imagine taking the letters “S T O P,” wanting to hide them in the text, seeing you could divide them up as “____s to p____” and then coming up with “roles to play” and shoehorning it into the text.

      It’s not too clear why Manson would do that, what he would expect someone to take from it, what it’s supposed to mean. I understand, we have all this theorizing about how you’re meant to stop in this room, and it has the giant octagon, etc., I’m not saying the word “stop” is of no significance here. But I’m saying, given what’s already plainly visible about the room, what does the hidden “stop” add? You’d have no reason to think it meant anything unless you were already looking for it, and having found it, what does it tell us that the room doesn’t already say/show explicitly?

      That’s not to say that it couldn’t be something. I’m truly wondering here, and not coming up with an answer–why would Manson do this?

      It might be fruitful to look for similar occurrences in other places. (Is this similar to PLAN IT/PLANET in 26 and CAME IN/CAIMAN in 44? I mean, it is a bit, but not quite, and those at least suggest a door.)

    • I think this is a great find and increases all the other “STOP” stuff in here. To me and it’s pretty clear why “STOP” makes sense for this room in-world. It’s one of the two safest rooms in the Trap, if you measure safety by distance from Room 24, and it certainly seems like a nicer place to hang out indefinitely than Room 43. Better to stop here than to wander around in the Trap, futilely looking for an exit and inevitably ending up stuck with the rest of us in the Abyss…

    • I don’t think it’s mysterious why he would include the message “stop”; that seems like a reasonable thing to communicate, whether for the realistic consideration of the guests’ predicament or just as a warning of the sort the Trap has elsewhere.

      What I’m saying is that including a word amongst the words like this is so un-noteworthy, so random in appearance, so likely to happen by accident, that you would never have cause to notice or care about it unless you had already decided that “stop” was a potential message of the room. I’m not saying that means he didn’t do it–I’m saying, why bother?

    • Artistic satisfaction, money, recognition, etc., that’s not really a related issue.

    • Well, I guess it’s not really parallel. He wanted to clue STOP in several different ways in this room; this is one way he thought of to clue STOP.

    • But it doesn’t really clue “stop,” is the point. Any block of text like this is highly likely to have lots of words “hidden” in similar ways. This would never, ever appear to be anything if there weren’t a giant octagon on the floor–and even then, it wouldn’t really. The amazing connection here is that we sort of invented the idea that this room is saying “stop” based on some very dubious machinations, and then the word “stop” was found hidden in the text.

      (Please note, onlookers, that the other ways of finding “stop” in this room, apart from the stop-sign-shaped rug, are motivated to find “stop” because of the stop-sign-shaped rug. Reading “H+OO” as “precipitation” does not seem plausible in the absence of the desire to find “stop.” Going from “WOMANS JEWELRY” to “HER RING” to “HERRING back to “HER RING” to “RING” to “O” makes the “WOMANS JEWELRY” and “HER RING” and “HERRING” parts of the clue implausibly superfluous. Etc.)

      Again, I am NOT saying that this is meaningless. I’m saying that

      1) This does not mean that every crazy way of spelling out STOP from the image is real and intended,

      2) If “stop” was intentionally hidden in this way, I suspect there is more to it.

    • Maybe the text is written to insinuate stopping like with the “overdone” and all that as some sort of meta subliminal thing that’s not really part of the puzzle, but “dressing” in a way? Like something thematic about the text to make it seem like the book is begging you to stop exploring? Say a reader finds it hidden in the text, they might be unnerved. It calls into question how much Manson intended as puzzles as much as ideas while writing

    is pronounced the same way as
    referencing the single L in the middle row of “women’s jewelry.”
    Sorry for the implausibility of this…

    • Ugh, this seems really silly now. I just really want to turn “LONELY ONE” into “ONLY ONE L.” It made sense on paper…

    • It’s been pointed out that all the letters of the central column of the chart can be used to make “lonely one.” I have further ideas about this…

    • (People who don’t see a bull, look away.) The guide describes his life as a LONELY ONE. The chart has LONELY ONE letters up the centre, with the Y by its lonesome up there at the top. Sort of like the devil/bull’s head on top of the door in 43. The Y is shaped like a stylized bull’s head (also is a three-ey thing).

    • I sadly don’t think either of our theories are true…
      “L ONLY ONE” from “LONELY ONE” seems decent in encoding, but it just would be random circumstantial pointing if it were true- getting a separate message about “Lonely” from the word “Lonely?” It’s unlikely.
      The Y being the bull head, and a trefoil takes a couple jumps- we’re first going off the presumption that the text was split into three groups to spell “lonely/lonely one.” Wouldn’t one row have an extra character, it would have to be W or Y to spell “WOMANSJEWELRY”- and that’s already operating off of the leap that the forehead is a bull’s head.
      We have all the concepts and info for this room, it just refuses to fit together- I still think we’re missing something?

    • What are we still uncertain about in this room? There’s the backdrop weirdness, but is there anything else- the STOP and herring themes?

    • (When I wrote the original post, I was referencing “lonely one” becoming “l only one,” relating to LONELY in the center being spelled with one L, and not just a single L being there in general. But it doesn’t make the original post any less stupid. I hope exhaustion is an excuse for this one…)

    • If we have to apologize for all the bad ideas we’ve posted on here, then Sara and I will die of exhaustion.

  5. I like and agree with most of the ideas mentioned here.

    My own 2 cents (which might be a little shallow considering the depth of some of these puzzles) are these:

    Could Manson have used the number 22 for this specific room to indicate: “catch 22” (no matter your choice from here on out, it’s the wrong one? Therefore the 2 stops and the red herrings as indications.

    Also, maybe it was mentioned in a side note me already, the last P for the stop in the wall signs;

    Not as in the woman’s jewelry is the Text not only better understandable from bottom to top (indicating room number as a red herring choice BUT the Os are laid sideways!

    Could it be he wrote them sideways to look more like an 8 ? Therefore giving us a tripple meaning in this sign (H2O, the numeric value 38 AND the numeric value of 8+8=16 equals alphabetically: “P” ? (Therefore completing the second stop sign and having therefore everything double in this catch 22 room (two 2s, 2 doors, 2 red herrings, 2 stop signs)?

    • P couldn’t possibly be for precipitation.
      H20 could be for Poseidon, maybe suggested by the trident and Greek mythological references in this book. (And water, of course.)
      H+OO is HO2. Hydrogen peroxide.

    • We have four signs, the first two spelling “S” and “T.” The third is a ring which could be an O. My brain really wants it to spell stop but “precipitation” doesn’t cut it…

    • Hydrogen peroxide is H2O2.

      It is tempting to use the “her ring” to make an “O” for “STOP,” but that kind of ignores why we would think “her ring” is intended at all.

      A ring is not a piece of woman’s jewelry particularly; men quite traditionally wear rings. The “WOMANS JEWELRY” clue seems to plausibly suggest “her ring” mainly because that gives us the word “herring.” If we don’t follow through from “her ring” to “herring,” we have no justification for settling on “her ring” at all.

    • Oh, you’re right. HO2 is Hydroperoxyl, not Hydrogen Peroxide.
      You’re also correct on following through with the “woman’s jewelry.” But maybe it was primarily written to indicate “herring,” and then scales and tail were added to make an “ST,” to fill “STOP” and indicate a fish. It could primarily mean “herring” and still give us ring… well, give us ring if we need it to fill in a space and confirm our bias.

    • Maybe the “woman’s jewelry” in question is a necklace, and the signs suggest


      And there you have it, a fish. Why a fish? WELL. WELL, let me tell you. It’s BECAUSE, you see

      [etc etc, nonsense, Wikipedia link]

      and there you have it

    • The final poster gives us the answer. You’re clearly missing the fact that P stands for Precipitation. The last 6 letters, “ation,” anagram to “ion att” which can be assumed to mean “ion watt.” Ions and net electric charge in molecules correlate to watts and electric energy transfer. H + OO = HO2, or Hydroperoxyl. The superoxide anION, according to Wikipedia, “exists in equilibrium in aqueous solution” with this molecule. What is the aqueous solution? Wikipedia tells us, “a solution in which the solvent is water.” The SOLVE-nt is water. It’s a SOLUTION. And certain types of water are famously good conductors. Remember IONS and WATTS? Poseidon controls water and the oceans mythologically, while Zeus controls the skies. This rooms makes them work together. It makes them meet in the middle. What is the middle letter of “skies?” I. And we all know what number that looks like. If you travel through the 1 in I, you can escape! That is why “STOP” is a red herring! This is the true escape from the trap!

    • I don’t know why everyone is so down on Precipitation. Precipitation is falling water, what’s the problem?

    • When you want to clue “precipitation” you don’t write “H+OO.” This criticism also applies to my other proposals.
      If Manson wanted to give us “precipitation” he could have at least draw, say, rain. It’s a leap to get from “H+OO” to precipitation, there are millions of other concepts associated with water. There are also, as I was racking my brain for, ones that start with P. But it’s just really tenuous.

    • There’s also the idea that it’s doing more than one thing. For example H = 8; O = 15
      8 + 15 + 15 = 38

    • And let’s look at Room 45. If you wanted to clue “HOUSE” would you put a horseshoe and a shoe beside one another in a room crowded with other objects and letters and possible connections? No, you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t. But Manson did.

    • That’s logical enough, I guess, but it was certainly done in reverse order. Room 38 must have been named that way because of the alphanumerical translation if it’s truly accurate. That seems like a far ways to go for directions in the trap, and the loop of the trap of all places.

    • (Does the shadow of the table with the branch from the log in 45, which overhangs the horseshoe and shoe look like a house? A little? That’s crazy isn’t it.)

    • But U + shoe makes perfect sense once you hear it. Precipitation does not. Manson’s puzzles are badly made, as Vince says, in the way they are encoded front to back. Not the other way around. Putting house in those terms is weird but logical once you know the trick. Turning precipitation into H+OO would be nonsensical puzzlecrafting.

    • Are you questioning the rebus translating to water? Because “H-two-O” is a perfectly reasonable rebus reading of that picture. And the rebus being read top-down correlates reasonably to falling.

    • No, I think it’s almost certainly water.
      But I think we’re looking for a P where there is none. All of the boards are vertical, so writing H + OO top-down doesn’t appear notable.
      I only see three options: Precipitation, Poseidon, Peroxide. All are stretches in my eyes.

    • Not that the more eccentric posts are devilish. Sometimes, cool stuff is unearthed. I just don’t think (concerning STOP in the scales tail etc) this is one of them? I can’t find a way that seems rational to make it work.

    • You’re giving “precipitation” more credit than it deserves even while dismissing it. The craziest part is not using “H+OO” to mean “precipitation,” it’s using “precipitation” because you want a word that starts with a P and also can be related to a herring. Or is it the idea that Manson BEGAN WITH THE CONCEPT OF CREATING CONCURRENT CLUES TO “STOP” AND “HERRING” AS THE CENTRAL CONCEIT OF THIS ROOM? Imagine that being your STARTING point!

      Sara is working very hard to make me regret apologizing for suggesting we ignore her.

    • I don’t really believe this, but:
      What if Manson decided on a theme of herrings and water for the four panels, then chose items from that theme set to spell a word?
      Except the problem is it doesn’t actually spell it. The fact we have to arbitrarily turn H+OO into a word that starts with “P” is silly.

    • Additionally: While we would be unlikely to exactly reproduce Manson’s coding of “house,” his manner of coding it is very similar to what many of us would do. In fact, if tasked with encoding “house” specifically in a pictorial fashion, one of us might in fact use a shoe and a U, independent of Manson’s example.. I have certainly used similar methods in various contexts.

    • Scales are PLATES, a form of PROTECTION, in the context of fish. As a weighing mechanism, the scales depicted here symbolize Libra, Latin for POUND.

      The tail end of something is its POSTERIOR; in fact, “tail” is often used synonymously with “rear end.”

      “Woman’s jewelry” might refer to her PEARLS, a common way of referring to pearl-based jewelry, traditionally worn by women. In fact, there may be a pearl pictured in the center of the room here! Or perhaps it is a PENDANT, a word the etymology of which has possible relevance.

      While we’re at it, that trident in the middle of the room could be a PITCHFORK. The thing in the middle of the circular couch–could be a PAWN! An octagon–well, that’s just a particular kind of POLYGON.

      In fact, it seems like if (hypothetically) someone needed to find a word that starts with a P in order to complete some kind of secret message, they would be able to do so nearly anywhere in this room that they tried. Or, maybe they would travel to adjoining rooms (through a PORTAL) to find a POSTER of a PRIMATE, or a PEEK, or a PART. In any case, it seems like Ps are readily available wherever you look for them.

    • Manson COULD have done this:
      Drew scales, a tail, an “o” with the picture of a shin (ocean), and a pike, the weapon.
      These would all be coded messages about fish.
      He could have curated these fish messages to also spell “STOP” at the same time as referencing fish. That would be a bit weird but with the example I shared, it might make some sense? The “STOP” would be the second priority within the fish theme. This room does seem split between those references.
      Getting “STOP” from Scales Tail Ocean Pike isn’t that much of a stretch. But sadly assuming he did the “woman’s jewelry” poster and thought “people will be able to get an O from this!” just doesn’t seem feasible. I wanted to get a “P” word but none of them could possibly been intended. No one writes “H+OO” with the intention of a “P…”

    • Well, we’re beating a dead horse, which you aptly explained we shouldn’t be doing, so perhaps we should just leave it at this, it’s pretty obvious why it would seem meaningful if the signs spelled STOP, and it’s pretty obvious that they don’t, so anyone reading this who is still thinking about things rationally, please try to think of better ideas than we have.

    • I’ve noted before that this room actually doesn’t look like a theatrical backdrop, so why the hell is he bringing that up…I wonder whether working in the words “back” and “drop” is just meant to relate to the proper reading of the signs IN SOME WAYS.

    • Dare I ask if this room is related to some specific play?
      That seems like a risky rabbit hole…

    • Maybe it’s just a red herring connection to Room 2, where we see what look like sets from a play from the rear.

    • And it leads straight to this room-! That is no coincidence.
      And it might work with the red herring turning into “the next page” in the opening of MAZE, if 1:1 room connections truly are false.

    • But room to room connections aren’t ALWAYS red herrings; there’s stuff like hearing the hammering and chopping (presumably from 4) when you’re in 39, and the bell-ringing-phone stuff that connected 1 with 20 and 26. So I doubt that the herring in 22 is meant to be instructional about inter-room commonalities in general.

      (I guess you could argue that indicators that are completely unreliable in their significance, not just reliably misleading, are a kind of red herring, but ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh)

    • Certainly not all, though I do think it is notable that Room 22 references “red herring” very explicitly in the book, seconded only to the cover

    • But, yeah. That theory cherry-picks misleading rooms connections while ignoring non-misleading ones. The props aren’t even red herrings in the first place- their connection seems more like a tie-in than a trick.
      I think the prop connection was first discovered by Nova. I wonder if it has any more significance- probably not? Unless it is a reference to, as you said, the set of a specific play. But no dice on that yet…

    • The important difference in Room 4 is that you have been there before. Rooms with connections where you have to look ahead mean you the reader are cheating and lead you in the wrong direction. The ringing you hear in Room 1 is an introduction to the ring theme throughout.

    • But the ringing might have been misleading too. Wasn’t that the guide’s intention, to distract them with it? It carried through multiple rooms with no cheating necessary. The umbrella involved no cheating, yet it could be a red herring. I haven’t really noticed a looking forward/looking back distinction. Plus you would know to avoid 22 anyway if you cheated- if anything, theater decor would HELP you remember.

    • My point is, if you’re imagining navigating the Maze as though you were a real visitor playing by the rules of the place, you can’t peek into the next rooms to see if there might be connections. You have to make your decisions based on what’s in the current room and what’s come before. By the time you are in Room 22 there’s no use in remembering the connection between it and Room 2–you are in the trap and have lost the game and will never see Room 2 again. (I don’t know what you mean about the umbrellas, are there direct room-to-room umbrella connections?) At some point years ago I went through and listed a bunch of the misleading room-to-room connections. Room 22/Room 2 is one of them. The Tarot trail from Room 20 to 27 to (controversially) 9 is another. Room 30/Room 34 (“NO”) could be another. Manson has said that he thought the best way to experience Maze was to wander through it as though you were really in the place (and by extension playing by its rules) and in my opinion these false room-to-room connections are a playful way to “punish” people trying to make decisions by looking ahead, which you can do as a reader but not as a Maze visitor. (Or at least, not without risking entering a one-way door that leads you astray.) Or maybe they are just Manson’s preferred way of misleadingly confirming that you are on the right path when you are not. But of all the good door solutions we have found, and ymmv as to how many of those there are, I’m not sure that any of them (except in 4, for the reason I mentioned) depend on direct room-to-room connections, specifically ones where something indicating a door in the room you’re in matches something about the room it leads to.

    • Here is what WR had to say about this, after a discussion with Manson:


      Okay, full disclosure:

      Manson and were talking about the red herring trails that appear throughout MAZE and he mentioned that the doll’s hair is yarn – no further explanation. According to our agreement I didn’t follow up and ask for an explanation. Even though he didn’t say, “the yarn is part of a red herring trail” it seems obvious that it is.

      Red herring trails haven’t been talked about by anyone else that I know of so I was nervous to be bringing the subject up with him, fortunately I wasn’t just seeing things, they actually exist.

      I have come to the conclusion that all clues that span from one room to another are red herrings except for The Riddle of the Path and the trail part of the Riddle of the Guide. Manson did not confirm this but he confirmed the trail elements I had found and tossed in a few of is own. These red herring trails that lead nowhere are fairly plentiful and fun to find.

      The red herring trails I have found thus far and the few mentioned by Manson all use clues that are part of solutions, so the red herrings don’t mess with solving the rooms – which I think is just amazing.

      White Raven

    • I guess there’s also the debate as what counts as an innocent reference to another room and what counts a false trail of clues.
      Looking at things backwards leading to meta-cheating jabs would be an interesting concept but then… the connection between 22 and 2 would not be a red herring, it would be a nod. “Now you know why these are here?” It wouldn’t really trick anyone. Though maybe that’s not the point.
      I take back what I said about the bell being a red herring- that would be DIScomfirmation bias in a way, but the patterns still don’t seem to fit together perfectly. Every connection being a false path? Could it be true?
      This theory makes some sense to me but I feel I’m missing something…

    • I think ritz raises a/the main issue: inter-room references are not necessarily the same as the path-suggesting clues mentioned in the directions.

      Pretending we have rules about how either category works is laughable. We only know they sometimes occur between rooms headed in the right direction and sometimes in rooms headed in the wrong direction.

    • Anyway, it still doesn’t shed THAT much light on the backdrop reference in 22, because there still had to be some other reason to bring up backdrops in the first place. It’s like if in some room the guide was like, “This room has always reminded me of an elephant,” and there was a door leading to the room that had a silhouette of an elephant on it — bingo, we’ve made a connection, but where did this idea of the elephant come from if the room doesn’t actually have anything to do with elephants?

    • Maybe for the “it’s curtains” connection.
      Or… the text the guide uses some weird words, they could give us some message?

    • This room is barely a backdrop, or an exotic one at that, like you’ve been saying. Maybe he pulled up these themes to deliver specific messages.
      Being critical, being lonely, a play, a red herring, exotic decor, STOP. This room being called a backdrop might just be an excuse to use a theater term and hide something.
      Over, done. Your journey is done. What if we use this “message hidden in word” principle for the others?

  6. “Roles to play,” “Theatrical.” What’s with the allusions to theatre? Maybe it’s supposed to reinforce the red-herringish masquerade interpretation of this theme?

    • The idea of false appearances is a running theme, and theatrical scenery could play into it. That said, it seems like an odd metaphor to conjure from thin air here, as I don’t feel like this room in particular is one that would make me think of a “theatrical backdrop” if the guide hadn’t said so. I would hope there is more relevance to the theater/roles-to-play talk than just “something in this room is misleading,” even if this room contains “red herring” indications specifically.

      This room does seem reminiscent of theater decor that I’ve encountered, but not a backdrop (which is typically scenery relevant to the production, though is sometimes featureless curtains or something similar). Does anyone have experience or knowledge that would explain what in this room should remind us of a backdrop in particular?

    • Isn’t the whole point of (the supposed) sly face is its “sly”ness? The fact that it’s so well-hidden? And yet the BACKDROP for the “main event” is extravagant and exotic, while the actual event is so vague many don’t even think it is there? I don’t know, seems contradictory

    • It’s just like- the entire aesthetic of this room is built off of a loose metaphor to a not-so discernible bull head? It could be a backdrop to the much more drastic Abyss, or maybe just the little breathing room- backdrop- in the trap. As stated before it’s furthest from 24 and the nicest trap room. And all the “stop” stuff.

    • I suspected as much but I just like to entertain the baitiest posts just to logically work through them.
      It’s like the angel and devil on my shoulder… being critical of everything and still have silly ideas (to be critical of).

    • The face is described as having a sly look because “sly look” is a phrase that means “peek.” (Google “crossword clue ‘sly look.’”)

    • The idea being that you’d be like, “Sly look? Oh, ‘peek,’ I see, the sign that says ‘peek’ is telling me to go through this door.” But really, PEEK and PART are just encoded (reversed) indicators of your inescapable imprisonment. Maybe that’s the only reason that face is even in here.

    • Aria said this room was a backdrop for the sly face, as one precedes the other. It wasn’t really genuine though

    • Not sincere my foot, “said with the hope of irritating Vince” does not mean “said without conviction.”

  7. Well, perhaps I shouldn’t give a hoot when I mention the earth, but I’ll have you know that the H20 sign (seen here) near the righ side of this room, may also partake to another picture, from what I possess in my selected inventory. Somewhat resembles a yin and yang of sorts. 2 bairns inside the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Seem to be imprinted by the letter “H” on their forearms. I don’t like 2nd guessing myself, but it’s the only other thing that I have on hand at this time. B

  8. My friend and I always called this the Poseidon Room. As has already been discussed, the signs all seem related to water, and the pitchfork on the seat looks suspiciously like a trident. Poseidon’s trident was used to cause disasters (earthquakes, shipwrecks, drownings, etc) and his domain was Atlantis, which of course, was lost…much like anyone who enters this room.

    (Interestingly, Poseidon was also one of the fathers of Theseus, who killed the Minotaur in the labyrinth. Also, the Minotaur was conceived between Pasiphaë, wife of King Minos, and the white bull given to him by Poseidon, but none of this seems to tie directly to this room…there’s just a bit of a connection between Poseidon and the Minotaur in mythology).

  9. Overdone, for my taste
    Some like the exotic..
    Could this be referring to herring as a fish? Are herrings rare/expensive/served with lots of condiments?

    • In a literal sense, there is no such fish as a “red herring”; it refers to a particularly strong kipper, a fish (typically a herring) that has been strongly cured in brine and/or heavily smoked. This process makes the fish particularly pungent smelling and, with strong enough brine, turns its flesh reddish.

      –the same source everything comes from

  10. In numerical-alphabetical order… 515, Aria, Katherine, Kon-Tiki, Nova, Owen Hammer, Vewatkin,

    I did my best to summarize where we are at with this room. We have two solid (in my opinion) solutions which could both be true but each would work better without the other. Wherever we land on this room this is an impressive effort on everyone’s part. Good job!

    I am upping it to four out of five but I really have no idea.

  11. Here is what I think is going on in this room.

    Room 22 is unique among all the rooms in Maze in that the best choice is NOT to pick a door but to STAY WHERE YOU ARE.

    Think about it: on the Path, you’re trying to get to 45 or back out to 1 – there’s always a best door to pick to get you closer to your goal. In the Loop, you’re trying to get to 41 so you can start again. In the Trap, you’ve lost the game, but you can at least get as far away as possible from Room 24.

    Well, here you are in Room 22. Why is it best to stay here? Your game is over, you’re in the Trap, and you CAN’T get any farther away from Room 24. Room 43 is better than Room 38 if you HAVE to pick a door, but 43 is equidistant from Room 24 compared with 22, and is a much less pleasant place to hang out, considering the lack of seating, ominous hole in the floor, jeering faces on the walls, and devil’s face above the door, not to mention the fact that the Guide’s (presumably, please oh please) malevolent and scary true identity is also hiding there. So just stay in the nice cushy room with the comfy chair and interesting things on the wall.

    Stuff to support this:
    ENTIRE ROOM (as far as we can tell) SHAPED LIKE STOP SIGN
    Seat Trident Octagon Pawn (cr. Owen Hammer)
    Scales Tail O (for ring) Precipitation (cr. somebody or other)
    “Places like this are overdone”… OVER/DONE
    “This is not a bad place, really; one could spend quite some time here.”
    Reference to theatrical backdrop + curtains on doors makes you think of idiom: “it’s curtains” or “ring/bring down the curtains” meaning bringing something to an end.

    • I think the red herring sign is actually “red her-ringS” – why not plural? The individual messages on the signs are red herrings. Red comes from ideas already described: trident, stop sign, as well as word “exotic” and the Chinese-style lantern, which makes you think of the Western idea of a fancy (gaudy?) Chinese-style room – which would definitely be red.

      So the red herrings are the signs taken individually as room indicators: Scale and tail both point to the left, indicating door 43. H+OO indicates 38 alphanumerically or, alternatively, with the three-part H + OOs that look like 8. (These ideas described below by others.) Perhaps “LONELY ONE” in centre column of red herring sign, matching text, indicates its different function.

    • Well, I’ve convinced myself, anyway. I don’t know if all the details are right, but I think “Room says STOP in multiple ways; clues that seem to indicate one door or the other are red herrings.” The fact that there are reasonably sane clues for either door seems to support this.

    • I also noticed that the “H+OO” thing, if you go of the letters position in the alphabet, H+OO=38. This could just be something irrelevant, but I think it supports your theory. I don’t know it anyone has figured this out, but it’s something interesting.

    • Hey Nova, yeah, that’s what I meant by alphanumerically, but actually now that I think about it I’m not sure that’s what that word actually means. However, that’s what I meant, and I’m not the first to point it out either; Kon-Tiki I think said it first and it occurred independently to at least one other person down below in the comments. But I don’t think you are wrong to mention it — the more people who notice it and point it out, the more it seems like a thing! And here’s what REALLY makes it seem like a thing to me:

      It’s not just that you add the corresponding numbers all together and end up getting 38. It’s that you add the two paired Os together (15 + 15) and get 30, and then you have the H, separated by a + from the Os, which gives you 8. This seems like a much more intentional 38 than, say (sticking with the chemical theme) — ION might be. This gives you 38 as well, but it’s just a bunch of numbers that add up to 38 (9 + 15 + 14) rather than the very deliberate-seeming 30 + 8.

      And I feel like we’re justified in going bottom to top, and actually being able to read it as “thirty … eight” rather than top to bottom (“eight… thirty”) BECAUSE the twinned “woman’s jewelry/red herring” sign on the other side of the door is ALSO written bottom to top!

    • Aria,

      Yeah, I noticed that someone else posted it almost the minute I posted it. But maybe the bottom to top thing is bigger, maybe the room is upside down, but that’s unlikely. Also, the doors kind of look like people. While I’m on the topic of doors, if you look, only the center door ‘s curtains are closed. But also in the center’s curtains, there is a line that looks like legs, helping the previous statement. BUT… I have no idea what it means…. Anyway, it’s nice to even be replied to by you.
      Also, even though the other signs are upside down, the scale is the only sign not upside down. I also note that a scale is a set of musical notes rising progressively that kinda look like stairs. Maybe an upside down scale show the we’re low in the house at this point? I don’t know.
      Also, do we even know that the “38″ (from H+OO) is referencing the door? Maybe it’s something else.

      Sorry if I was rambling.

    • HO2 is hydrogen peroxide, although I don’t think that’s what was intended.

  12. Okay, just spit-balling here. The scale has got me thinking of the Egyptian death legend, going to meet Osiris and having your heart weighed against a feather. The story is that if the heart balances with the feather, you go to the afterlife. The scale here is obviously unbalanced.

    I have read that there were 43 judges you would sort of plead your worth to – though I’ve seen it elsewhere as 42 (possibly not counting Osiris). Which is an interesting number considering the door.

    There is of course lots of talk about judgment in the text. There is also that line about “one could spend quite some time here,” which brings Purgatory to mind, although the Egyptians didn’t have purgatory, unless you count all the time it would take to plead your innocence to 43 judges.

    Finally, the sign on the right, if read low to high rebus-style, could say “Os-I” which is the beginning of Osiris.

    That’s all I got right now, going to keep banging my head against this wall.

    • 515,

      That is some impressive historical detective work!

      I had a picture of this scene from the wall of a tomb hanging on my wall when I was a kid (there were hundreds of pictures on my walls, it was in there somewhere), in that carving I think it was Thoth who was weighing the heart with Osiris off to one side and a crocodile standing by to eat the heart if was too heavy. Creepy!

      I didn’t know that Osiris was the actual judge or that there were more judges than just him. With the emphasis on judgment in this room I think this is worth considering. Good spit-balling!

      White Raven

    • If you know the reference for the scale, then the far left door may be an escape from the trap to room 42, as the references to 42 and 43 above actually are the rooms the doors lead to. That may be the author’s biggest secret yet!


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