Room 33

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…the room with no floor. They crowded each other on the narrow ledge. The bold one ventured out to the center.

Realizing that they could see all of the signs only from the center of the room, several wanted to turn back.

With exaggerated caution, considering their predicament, they finally reached the door they wanted and eventually found themselves in…

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


Room Type:  LOOP     Doors:  3   7  17  35


● The correct door is 3. The correct door is suggested by the three sides of the triangles. [Independent Credit: vewatkin | White Raven]

● The line in the text, “Realizing that they could see all of the signs only from the center of the room several wanted to turn back,” can be edited to read, “- – - – see all of the signs only from the center – - – several – - turn back.” [Credit: White Raven] Over the available doors only door 3 does not have a mirror reversible image. (Door 35: flutes in a V. Door 7: dagger and crown) [Independent Credit: vewatkin | White Raven] [This solution is incomplete]

● The flutes in a V next to door 35 and dagger next to door 7 both point downward into the pit while the clarion in the doorway to door 3 points upward away from the pit. The triangle signs point up suggesting we look for an upward escape. [Independent Credit: vewatkin | White Raven] The sign over door 3 is the only sign for an available door not lit by the (hellish?) light from below. [Independent Credit: vewatkin | White Raven]

● The phrase in the text “turn back” – if the wagon went backwards, it would go toward 3 (the angle is accurate). [Credit: vewatkin]

● Some of the boards appear more flimsy than others. Perhaps the two best boards are to the drum door (from The Path, indicating a wrong move) and to Door 3 the correct choice. [Credit: Hello Gregor] The board to the drum door being on top of the board to Door 3 may suggest an order of preference or a route (from drum to 3).

● The violin/fiddle has no bow and cannot be played. The drum in the picture is playing but it is just a picture. The clarion, however, can be played. This suggests we take the door next to the clarion (door 3) and not the door next to the non-functional violin (door 33). It also perhaps suggests that the door associated with the drum (from 17, locked) was correct and a person coming from there took a wrong turn (cf. the crown in Room 25). [Credit with a hint: Moleman | Credit: White Raven]


324 thoughts on “Room 33

  1. Hello, everyone. It’s been a while. I would give some dramatic explanation for disappearing for so long, like missing the magic of debating WBM or something, but in all honesty I just drifted away from Maze. Since quarantine was at its peak, my life has become a lot busier, and losing all of my copies definitely demotivated me with chipping away at it. (Yes, all of them.)

    However, when cleaning a relative’s old room the other day, I stumbled upon my oldest copy. (That thief!) It was a bit creased, but I dropped what I was doing and instantly got swallowed up in exploring the maze again. I guess I still carry it on my shoulders after all. I dreamed about Maze that night again.

    Now, I don’t plan on getting as involved as I used to be, but I wanted to drop any new takes I found with fresh eyes. You know, like how you’re supposed to stay away from a rough draft for a while so you can more accurately see the errors in it.

    When I found this book again, this enigma of a page captured me all over again. I’d spent so many days trying to make sense of it, probably because of its rather unique structure in terms of rooms. Instead of its symbols being hidden throughout the room in the form of decorations and props, they are pretty clearly displayed as symbols, in a linear way (2 to every door.)

    However there are seemingly no nudges as to how one is meant to interpret them together. They must interact in some sort of way, but with what? The door numbers? The extraneous objects in the room? Okay, in what order? What does it tell us? There are so many clear symbols, but almost no context for them to be understood in.

    Except… is that really true? Coming back to this book, I tried to combine the best of both worlds: understanding Manson’s process with Maze puzzles, but not being so wrapped up in the book that I can’t see a room simply. Most of the clues for interpreting room symbols come in the text. What does this room say about the symbols?

    “Realizing that they could see all of the signs only from the center of the room, several wanted to turn back.”

    Okay, so there must be some sort of significance to seeing all the signs together. This could still mean anything, as knowing what all the signs are could just be a prerequisite to solving whatever the puzzle is. However, I think it might just be part of the puzzle. Getting to the center of the room, looking at the symbols on the walls around you… I think this might just imply you’re supposed to turn around and read them in order, with every symbol contributing to a message.

    Or not. But looking at this room brought some ideas to mind that may make more sense when thinking about them in this “order.”

    Why would Manson want to clue the word “flagon?” This has bothered me for years, because it’s the only thing I was able to figure out in this room that seems pretty indisputable. Well, let’s think about the theming of this room. It has a pit. It has to do with music. The “pit” may also just be another musical reference.

    Okay, so do “flagons” have relevance in music theory? No, but “flags” do. They’re the little things you see on the ends of notes, and they denote how long they are. A note having one flag means it’s an eighth note.

    What’s next to the flagon? Well, we know it’s an aulos, potentially to clue an “agon,” but it ITSELF is not an agon. It’s a double flute. And what is most plainly apparent about it is that it looks like a V. There’s no reason why we couldn’t just read it as “V” while trying to understand its function in the room 33 puzzle. We already know why it may be meant to be interpreted as an aulos.

    Does “V” mean anything in music? Yes, it is a very common notation for a V chord. I won’t get too much into musical jargon, but here’s what that means, if you don’t know: it is the chord starting on the fifth note of a key (every key has seven notes.) Knowing the key tells us exactly what chord V is referring to.

    Together we get “flag on V.” A V chord played with eighth notes? Maybe all these symbols combine to form some sort of music instructions. The dagger symbol may actually just mean “sharp,” as in (note) sharp.

    The bee might just be the B note, and the key might mean “E key.” I say E instead of F because all keys look like upside down Fs, but Manson specifically flattened the top of the key.

    But who knows, maybe the symbols aren’t meant to be in this order. The “turn back” might imply reading them from right to left, as opposed to left to right. Bee + Urn could equal “Burn.” The door numbers could also be a part of the message. “V7” is a real chord, after all. Maybe the signs are scrambled up and not in an order at all. This room is still a mystery to me. But that’s my take on trying to read this room more directly after a year of Mazestinence.

    • That’s an interesting series of readings in the room. David Gentile would feel quite vindicated if this room were found to revolve completely around music.

      If that were at play here, I wonder what kind of message a series of musical terms could hold. It seems like the musical terms themselves would also have to be an encoded message of some sort, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of space left for that–I’m not sure what else the room might be suggesting, music-wise, but combining things like a clef and a chord and a similar amount of additional information seems like a difficult way to either identify a specific piece of music or to encode a phrase–though who the hell knows, it’s certainly possible.

      I’ve been thinking about this room a bit lately too, although only in the simplest of ways–rhyming and Alchemist transformations.

    • I would assume that using more technical musical terms (if the room indeed does) could be used to reference a specific musical motif or something, but I don’t know. It does seem like a bit too many layers of encoding, but then again it’s not very different from just creating a rebus. Maybe Manson tasked himself with representing a musical message through symbols, not a linguistic one.

      But regardless, I won’t hesitate to say that I still don’t have a clue about what this room might mean, even after all this time… I just decided that upon revisiting Maze a little, I wouldn’t get so lost in the sauce of one idea and would try to see what I could string together. I will admit that I kind of suffered from burnout with Maze by just hitting my head against the wall, and I find stream-of-thoughting semi-possible stuff more fun than trying to fit a single square peg in a round hole that just won’t logically fit. Like, who knows? Maybe the urn and the b actually are part of _urn b___, and part of a rebus that represents “turn back” itself. I still can’t say, but with hindsight I know it’s more fun for me this way.

      The rhymes are still important to me. Maybe they’re intended to help us specifically identify the symbols for some other puzzle with them, or maybe they really just are the puzzle. I’m REALLY curious about the practical alchemist stuff, though. flagon —> fagon (food wagon) —> agon or something?

    • Ignore the food wagon thing, was tricked by search results into thinking it’s an actual term. But the transformation idea has got me extremely curious, now.
      Wagon -> Agon -> Agony (for dagger)

    • One thing that has remained mysterious (among a million others) is why the ring pictured above the door to 3 has an image on it–why a bird, sure, but also, why anything at all? It makes the ring seem to be specifically a signet ring, but why?

      Room 3 does prominently feature SIGNs, and SIGN is the beginning of SIGNET….which is as far as I could go with the idea.

      But what if what you’re calling an URN here is meant to be POTTERY? POTs feature in 3 almost as prominently as SIGNs, and this makes the images over the door to 3 relate to images within 3 in the same way.

    • Signs are mentioned in the text of this room, too. Hmm. I like that line of thinking… it reminds me of how “signal” is repeated in 35, almost seemingly randomly.

    • It fits the same theme–but not the same logistics–if we have a HORN and a HORNET here. That’s as far as I can take rhe idea, though, and while those connections are congregated together here, it’s a bit peculiar to just have SOME things work that way, sometimes with another room and sometimes just here; it also seems kind of meaningless.

    • Right… that’s why I really wanted to find some sort of message rebus’ed in the signs that could be deduced from knowing the exact word they represented. Maybe all the extra stuff is just the to push us to the right word, but not part of the actual message. But then it gets frustrating when we find ones that could work many ways (bug jug, bee key, hornet horn signet sign, dragonfly flagon).
      This room just has SO much. Even after all this time, it’s always nagged me at the back of my head: hey, what if you combined the symbols in this new way? What if the bird on the ring is hidden in the text? “They CROWded each otHER ON the narrOW Ledge.” But I can find three different birds in just one sentence…
      I wish the flagon had some sort of visual indicator for being empty so it could have been a spoonerism with dragonfly :( that would be neat

    • Yeah, you’re right; and rhymes and alchemy transformations are even easier to concoct. NOT GOOD. If something that occurs so readily by accident is to be taken seriously, it needs a lot more confirmatory evidence than we’ve ever found or invented in this room.

    • Yeah, you dismissed the birds observation immediately so it went by without note, but that was a very interesting discovery!

    • Oh! I didn’t dismiss it out of impossibility. I’ve had that “bird in text” theory for a while, now, and just used it as an example for how easy it is to get overwhelmed with patterns in the room that aren’t hard to find but lead nowhere. (Even if they could be realistically intentional.)

      There is SO much content in this room that seems promising, but that abundance is what makes it hard to crack. Why would Manson clue a bunch of different birds in the text? It wouldn’t help us discover which bird was on the ring. Maybe it’s just meant to clue “bird?” But we can clearly see that there’s a bird on the ring without “crow heron owl.” It’s kind of like the agon wagon thing in that it doesn’t give us any new information.

      MAYBE… It’s an odd one out puzzle. Every single species of bird that has ever existed, except for the one on the ring, is hidden in the text. Aha!


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