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]


290 thoughts on “Room 33

  1. I’m pretty certain “agon” was intended. But why choose a word that doesn’t really rhyme? It seems strange

    • I just find it interesting that flagon and agon do not rhyme, and mildly interesting that the dagger comes before the crown. I was thinking it might have something to do with errors in the types of puzzles in the doorways, but that’s really REALLY broad and shaky. But why choose an excessive word that doesn’t even rhyme? Unless… that’s the thought process??

    • I’m skeptical that “agon” is intended here, but I don’t think it’s like a million-to-one against, I’m just not convinced.

      However, if it is there, I don’t think the rhyming is that big of a deal. If “agon” is meant here, the DRAGON-OCTAGON-WAGON/FLAGON” trail that leads to it is very likely real as well, and that doesn’t rhyme either.

    • I guess I’m just looking for a commonality in the nature of the presentation of the clues than the clues themselves.

    • Just as King Henry the VIII gave his wife a bottomless container to put flesh and blood in, so too would a room without a floor (or ceiling for that matter) be exceedingly relevant, in a scenario such as this.

    • Seriously though there are 23,100,000 results for “bottomless” on google and this one is somehow the most relevant?? I don’t understand in the slightest

    • I was hoping for a battle of wits but it would be wrong to attack someone who’s totally unarmed.

    • I think that may be one of the only clever things you’ve said in your entire tenure here.

    • I was actually trying to see if you noticed the acronym related to “battle of wits” (bow), being the top part to a key, as well as the MIND TRAP reference.

    • Okay, but imagine him shouting it from across the room while wielding a fencing rapier.

    • I’ve got a feeling people don’t like this “two items vaguely share letters/sounds” talk because it complicates an already complicated room with “paths” of sounds with no cut-off point for where they are not conceivably connected…

    • Well, like it or not, there seems to be some element of this stuff going on in the book. There might not be any larger or well-formed puzzles around it. It might be as simple as: You go to 20, there’s the Tarot card and the arrow, tarot/arrow; to take that door and go to 27, there’s a cat and a bat, cat/bat, hey, looks like a pattern, let’s go that way–and then it ends.

      Or like–

      “Hey, there’s an apple and angel there–it’s cluing the letter A, just like the first door I went through–or, not the first door I went through, maybe it’s telling me to go back there and take that door…”

      It might be nothing more than those offhand, misleading connections.

      [Oh, yeah, maybe "key" and "bee" rhyme and that's it, end of story, it's just a pair of rhyming objects like you see, unhelpfully, elsewhere.]

    • Do you think the “agger” pair might have been intended?
      Probably not, I mean they don’t rhyme and nothing is linking the word and the image…

    • In isolation it seems unlikely. There might be similar text-image connections that make it seem more plausible. It’s worth considering, certainly.

    • Hmm. I don’t see anything else in the text for that, really, but I might not have the right words to connect it to yet.
      I guess crowded could be… “crow”ded? For the bird on the ring? An identifier? No…

    • Well, “crow” is every letter in “crown” but one, like “agger”/”dagger”; I tried doing that a bit when you first pointed out the “agger.” You can get hits for “key” and “bee” in the same way, but no big surprise there. I couldn’t find enough of a pattern to be worth mentioning.

    • I know it’s an unneccesary thing to point out, but why not just draw them in the order they appear in for the concept you’re trying to cue?

    • I don’t know that it would be too easy so much as that we don’t know what order we’d be assumed to read them in. Manson could just as easily have expected us to read foreground->background as expect us to read left->right.

    • The loop-key in general is sort of a foil to 45. Both are large areas filled with ridiculous amounts of clues that all talk to eachother, but one is a single room that the entire maze is designed to keep you out of and the other is seven different rooms that the maze tries very hard to direct you towards.

  2. Interestingly, PERHAPS, the other place in the book where an insect appears is in 41, where it is outside the entrance to 38; on the other side of 38 is the broken key image.

    To put this in a misleadingly appealing way, the three symbols grouped by the door from 17 occur in three consecutive rooms: the drum in 1, the insect in 41, and the key in 38. (The drum is on the door to 20, however.)

    I find it hard to imagine that this connection was intended, but I thought it worth mentioning. Of course, the fly in 41 does not look like the insect here, and the key in 38 does not look like the key here. But the bottle in the prologue doesn’t look like the bottle in room 1 either, so I don’t know whether to care.

    • It’s also interesting, to me at least, to consider the context in which someone might be coming through the door from 17. Having found the secret door to 17, the reader is extraordinarily unlikely to go anywhere besides 45 thereafter. Thus, if you’re traveling from 17 to 33, you’re probably trying to find your way back to 1. This gives us come context for what the symbols may be indicating, however the heck they’re indicating anything. (Warning: symbols may indicate nothing, or something completely different from anything I’m suggesting.)

      1. The sign may not be intended for people coming from 17 in particular, or at all, since people will so infrequently be coming here from 17, relative to the other entrances.
      1.a. Maybe the drum is just meant to make you think to go to Room 20 next time you’re in 1. (Maybe the apple in 9 serves the same function, just a bad clue callback. MAAAAYbe the bottles in 39 eaver kjgwkjg qbajkbgkjgwwbkjqab)

      2. The sign somehow communicates that you’ve made a big mistake.

      3. The sign is meant to suggest that the correct route back will take you through Room 20.

    • Ohhh, I like this line of thought- taking into account the contexts of where these doors end up/why we’d choose them (when concerning these symbols).
      I’m feeling something around option 3…

  3. What if this room… has no solution? And Manson threw in a bunch of half-connected bullshit as a zany prank.

    I don’t think he would do that, but sometimes I wish he would. I wish there *wasn’t* something here, because as long as it’s here, we still need to find it.

    • I had hope for this room, because I thought, “Oh, there’s some unifying principle that will make it make sense!”
      But every doorway has some weird thing going on. Nothing is pointing towards 3.
      I think we also have to take into account that maybe the puzzle of this room will be independent of which door to take. It could be something else.

    • And there’s the octagon and dragon in the following rooms. We shouldn’t discount those either.

    • For that matter, even if it is pointing to a door, who knows which door it’s pointing to? We have no guarantee that the rooms off the Path have any reason to point you towards it.

    • Yes, we have far more evidence of misleading clues than helpful ones.

      These images might not be unified in their meaning but yet be integrated into the patterns of the book–wow, what an opaque phrasing! I mean this may be a place where a bunch of different kinds of clues crash into each other. There are objects that repeat across the book, and we have some of those here. There are objects that rhyme and we have some of those here. We have–well, you get the idea, fill in the blank with whatever you think has been demonstrated to be in the book.

    • The main crux of the problem is that we assume that the goal of the Loop riddles is to point us back to the Path. But we know the Riddle of the Path is confined completely to its own 16-step path, and we know the Trap has its own independent riddle – why shouldn’t we assume the Loop riddle has its own purpose?

      The Loop’s clues could be attempting to funnel us to *any* room in the Loop. They could link between rooms. They could even be an extension of either of the other levels of the house.

      When we took on the Riddle of the Path, we knew exactly where it was and where its answer was, and it still took us more time than Manson or his publishers had accounted for. We don’t know either of those things for the Loop’s riddles, so how long could they take us? Years? Decades? Will we all give up on them before making the slightest headway?

    • [needle groove]
      ["Vince's Greatest Hits" begins to play]
      Stentorian Baritone: The revealed major puzzles were holistically beyond human comprehension, but not every piece of them was. We can find connections, references, and petty reasons–even in Room 45, people could. But trying to force revelations according to broad assumptions about how the book works leads to gobbledygook.”
      [needle scratch]
      Stentorian Baritone: The revealed major puzzles were holistically..

    • That doesn’t really look like a drum key, though. Drum keys are like miniature tire irons.

  4. At the risk of enraging Vincent I’ve been doing some Googling and I wonder if Manson went to the College of William & Mary. (Look up “Seven Society” if you want to see what I’m talking about.)

    • There was a conversation about this on page 1, and it holds some water, though I’m sure there’s going to be contention on whether it’s a reference and nothing more or a clue. I think we should pursue the seven society lead though.

    • “holds some water”
      CERTAINLY holds water, I mean. 7 + dagger + crown can’t be a coincidence.

    • While this *is* interesting, I would like to point out that Manson graduated from NSCAD in 1975 and then got a Master of Fine Arts at SUNY New Paltz. Both of these degrees left a public paper trail; there is no such link between him and W&M.

    • Ah, good sleuthing, Alyssa. That answers THAT question! Some more stuff I found, all of which is the kind of thing Vince hates and is probably coincidental:
      *Take a look at the picture of the sundial on the UVA campus, placed there by (a different) Seven Society.
      *The Wren building has been gutted by fire three times.
      *Shields Tavern has a sign on it reading 17…45 (John Shields ran it from 1745 to his death in 1750).

    • WELL, you guys are going to hate me again, BUT…

      I don’t think it matters that much whether Manson went there, if he could reasonably be believed to have been aware of it. Which–I don’t know, might require some more research, but it seems plausible enough. Secret societies seem to be in Manson’s wheelhouse.

      I wouldn’t say that it COULDN’T be a coincidence, and I don’t think digging for tangential connections to things located all over MAZE is even noteworthy, let alone useful–but it is certainly very interesting! If those symbols were picked just because they have a link to the number 7, it would seem a good indicator that these symbols do not follow a rule or pattern across the whole room, and may not be particularly helpful. (Which we probably could have surmised anyway.)

      DID YOU KNOW: It is possible to cross each bridge in the room exactly once? IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT’S TRUE! It’s a real Konigsberg bridge problem, except trivially easy and unprompted.

    • You do have a point. If it was any other college I would have said this would be a very obscure reference, but W&M is just famous enough that I think it might be plausible(though I still think the Seven Society is a good bit more obscure than The Cask of Amontillado.)

      I do wonder, if you wanted to reference a Seven Society, why you would pick the Order of the Crown and Dagger instead of UV’s significantly more popular Seven Society.

    • What is going on in this room?? A bunch of “agon” rhymes, a bee and a key, and a secret society?

      The only thing I can think of is that this room contains sub-themes and the puzzle doesn’t boil down to “rhymes, nonrhymes” or something like that.

      Maybe the number 35 is related to its symbols/agon puzzle somehow, like the society related to 7.
      Every step forward with this room is a step baaaack

      And Alyssa- maybe for less conspicuous symbols?

    • Maybe every doorway gives us a word/part of a word.
      Maybe agon is the end of a shape name.

  5. Why does the key look like… a mallet? Or an F, or a T? Maybe an E? It sort of reminds me of the right end of the wagon, the tongue part.

    • If Manson drew the key just for the word “key,” it’s an odd design choice. Most key images have circular heads.

    • Could be an F clef, with clef meaning key in French. I’m starting to think there are numerous clues to other loop rooms here, or at least 3 and 18.

  6. Re: VVagon – Didn’t Homer (another baseball reference), at one time speak of the Greeks sailing with Ursa Major (or VVagon) for orientation?

    • Homer = Homer Simpson = Donut = Torus = Taurus



    • I’m not going to look before I assert this:

      I guarantee there is a bull hidden in Homer Simpson’s face that is better than the “bull” in 43.

    • You’re about as smart as a blind man with cerebral palsy trying to perform brain surgery with a monkey wrench.

  7. The puzzle here might have something to do with spoonerisms?
    Rhymes, when spoonerized, simply create each other.

    Bee and key = key and bee
    Flagon and agon = agon and flagon

    Maybe the weird assemblage of symbols above door 3 is meant to create a spoonerism that says, like, “this way” or something.

    No idea about the dagger or crown.

    • Probably not a spoonerism but I’m hoping it’s a word puzzle- a rhyme? A palindrome?

    • The AGONy of trying to solve Room 33. The rhymes do seem significant. I always want to make BEE + T into the drumbeat and the ring into the ring of the trumpet.

    • You know, using Occam’s Razor here…
      The bee and key on an unmarked door are probably there and obvious to signify to us to look for rhymes.
      The two most obviously connectable symbols on an unmarked door? They likely serve as, I don’t know, a tutorial.
      We already have a flagon and a wagon. Now we might have a flagon and an agon. This combined with the bee and key is making me think the puzzle of this room might be that all the pairs of symbols (or most?) rhyme and the only problem is jumping through a bunch of hoops to get those rhymes- BUT those hoops should make sense once you clear them- a wagon for a flagon, aulos + fiddle for an agon.

    • I like this direction of thought. One problem I have with reducing the pitcher and aulos to “flagon/agon” is that if the wagon is there just to get us to call the pitcher a flagon, and the flagon and the “agon” (aulos plus violin) are there to rhyme, then it seems a purposeless excess to use the aulos/violin instead of just a picture of a wagon on the sign.

      I.e., it’s hard to imagine Manson thinking, “Hmm, I need two words that rhyme, any two words…how about ‘flagon’ and ‘agon’? I mean, they don’t really rhyme, but they end the same way, it’s pretty close. Here we go, draw draw draw. [draws the flagon, aulos and violin] Hmm, this is going to be difficult for the reader to identify, though. Oh, you know what I SHOULD have drawn? A WAGON. That’s easy to identify! Oh well, I’ve already drawn all this other crap, too late to go back now. Maybe I’ll just add a wagon up here to help them identify the other two words.”

      Those are the only two possible choices. Either Manson had exactly that conversation with himself, verbatim, or there’s something more going on here. That’s what’s called a “true dichotomy.” And when someone characterizes someone else’s position so fairly, it’s often referred to as a “tin man.”

    • Hmm… maybe there’s a formula Manson used to make the rhymes(?), like- one identifier for two rhymes, not just one word used to identify the other? Maybe this applies to the other doors? Wait, the dagger and crown don’t have an identifier-

    • Maybe it’ll make sense in context of the other doors, if their symbols are cracked

  8. Three of the four room connected here have notable blanks in them:

    -the blanks on the Y O U R sign in 17

    -the blank beneath the bull horns in 7

    -the blank poster (?) on the wall in 35

    • Maybe just a generic horn, maybe one of a million specific horn types that look indistinguishable to me. Love to call it a salpinx, an ancient Greek horn that looks like this and has the same ending as “sphinx,” but I suspect this is just meant to be a generic representation of a horn.

    • But if we took it to be a salpinx, that shares the ending of ‘sphinx.’ If the water vessel here is also a flagon, that shares an ending with ‘octagon.’ The signet contains the entirety of ‘sign.’

      I want to suggest this for consideration, but I myself am not convinced that this is a salpinx. The proportions just don’t line up with what I’m seeing online (but I of course am no expert on instrument identification).


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