Room 37

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…a long, open room with no roof.

“What is going on here?” they wondered.

“Sometimes, important messages are couched in ambiguous terms,” I said. “That net may help you catch the answer to your question.”

They looked doubtful. “We must look at this from all sides before we make a decision.” At last, they were learning.

They really couldn’t decide which way to go; half of them wanted to go one way, half another. They were close to splitting up when there was a rattling sound and one of the doors was shaken from the other side.

They all stopped talking and moved closer together. They soon agreed on a direction and we departed for…

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


Room Type:  PATH     Doors:  10  15  20  42


● The correct door is 20. [Credit: Unknown - during the 1985 contest.]

● The part of the Riddle of the Path in this room has been surmised to be “E” either from the five on the dice (“E” is the fifth letter of the alphabet) or by seeing an “E” in the rope ladder. [Credit: Unknown - prior to 1990.]

● The correct door is 20. This is shown on the dice which has a 2 and a blank. The blank being a zero. [Credit: Raphael Vanier] In the text the Guide says, “That net may help you….” The shadow of the net provides us the missing zero from the blank side of the dice. [Credit: White Raven]

● The ladder, the lack of roof, and the line in the text about looking at things from all sides encourages us to look down on the room. From the top down the various objects of the room look like zeros which go with the blank on the dice to make 20 – the number of the correct door. [Independent Credit: SP / vewatkin | White Raven] The eyes looks like zeros. [Independent Credit: vewatkin | White Raven]

● The zero from the shadow of the net (see above) combined with the two table legs (it encircles one) gives us 20. [Independent Credit: vewatkin | White Raven] The zero from the shadow of the net is connected via a lighter shadow to the net itself, the rim of which looks like a zero. The shadow zero encircles a table leg suggesting a 1. The net has a long handle suggesting a 1. 10 + 10 = 20. [Credit: SP]

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127 thoughts on “Room 37

  1. The net is made of rope (ok, maybe fiber of some sort, but I assume it is woven).

    The ladder is a rope ladder (rope is woven).

    • Is the wovenness important, or do you just mean to emphasize that they’re both rope?

  2. Again, I hope I am not going over old ground. But the explanations for door 20 so far seem a bit sketchy, from what I have seen. If you take the two dice as metaphors for the group mentioned in the text, the group apparently is split as to where to go next. Also, each die individually points to the wrong doors. The first one shows 10 or 15. The second one, adding 1+3=4 plus 2 indicates 42. Only when the group ‘comes together’ or two dice are used, the tops of each die produces 20, the right door. In addition, the pattern of the netting in the net looks similar to the rope ladder, and the text also says the net holds the answer to the question. Hope these thoughts are useful and give a new perspective.

    • Getting 10 and 15 out of the front die is neat, but couldn’t you just as well get 15 out of the farther-back die? You take 1 as the tens digit and (2+3)=5 as the ones digit. It’s as good as getting 42 by your method, which makes it feel like a rather weak clue if that was Manson’s intention.

    • The 1, 2 and 3 could also signify 15, as you say. That is just another wrong door indicated by the single die. Also, it is always the top numbers that count when dice are rolled. So 20 is the only meaningful answer.

    • I think it’s true that the dice have to be straightforwardly read as crying 20. The “from all sides” language begs us to see 15 on the closest die, at least. (10 is less definite, I think, for reasons tangential to my main point here.) Adding the numbers in specific combinations to get 4 and 2 seems much more forced, much less likely to be intended. The net suggests ten.

      Reading this room as suggesting 20 in a fully integrated puzzle was always just motivated reasoning. I was one of the loudest proponents of this radial symmetry/birds-eye-view/avoiding-the-noises stuff, and that once again gives me cause to be ashamed and apologize.

      I am not confident, but I currently believe that this room points to every door except 42. I think that is the natural reading of this room, without being motivated to find a specific result.

      I suspect that this was done because 42 is the way to the center. Again, I am not confident, but our attempts to read the latter half of the path as cluing the way to Room 1 seem mainly unpursuasive, and I think we need to allow that something else may be going on.

  3. I am new to all this, but I have a thought on where the E comes from. Hope I am not repeating things. All the figures in this picture end with E, circle, sphere,bottle, vase, cone, die/dice, table. There are eyes on the top of each column. The net has been mentioned here as catching the answer – E, which is the middle letter of net. And the group says they should look at things from all sides., which could indicate the end of each word. So for all the obscure clues in the MAZE puzzle, this one seems pretty clear to me. Although in 35 years I can’t be the first to have thought of this???


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