Room 3

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…an entirely different kind of place.

The group complained of feeling “all turned around,” as well they might.

Because no one wanted to stay here very long they missed the real sign while looking through the obvious. People in their situation, confronted with a challenge, tend to accept the terms of the challenge as a given, without examining it from all sides. How many sides does that problem have? They don’t know.

We passed down a long flight of stairs, through some sort of pantry, and on into…

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


Room Type:  LOOP     Doors:  9  15  18  33


● The “obvious sign” in the text refers to the “THIS WAY” sign which points to door 18 no matter how you invert the image. [Independent Credit: Hello Gregor | White Raven]

● Two question and answer pairs indicate the correct door. The riddle of the sphinx emphasized by a question mark (next to the wrong door) points to the answer “man” next to door 18. [Independent Credit: Hello Gregor | vewatkin | White Raven]["Man" is understood in the context of the Riddle of the Sphinx as not to be "male" but "humankind."] The question, “What is your sign?” points to the answer “man” next to door 18. [Independent Credit: David G | White Raven] [This is emphasized by both the question mark in the sphinx picture and the "What is your sign?" banner having the same orientation.]

● The well known modern version of the riddle of sphinx is, “What goes on four legs in the morning, two legs during the day, and four legs in the evening?” In this version a day is equated to a life and thus the night which follows evening is death. The sun and moon symbol then symbolize life and death, reinforcing 18 as the correct choice. [Independent Credit: Aria | White Raven][There are several versions of the riddle in antiquity all which emphasize the sequence four, two, three and make no mention of morning, day and evening. Though the version by Athenaeus includes a second riddle, "There are two sisters: one gives birth to the other and she, in turn, gives birth to the first." The answer is day and night. It is possible that these two riddles were combined to create the modern version.]

● The STOP/POTS sign pairs with the pots indicating that they are incorrect. The tepid water in the pots points to the warm water in the radiator. “Warm” as an idiom in English denotes more correct. The sun and radiator on/next to door 18 are both warm. [Independent Credit: Hello Gregor | White Raven] Room 18 is described as a “much warmer room” this reinforces the warmer/cooler riddle. [Credit: Hello Gregor] The moon denotes darkness, the sun denotes light. Darkness/bad versus light/good is a running theme in MAZE. [Independent Credit: David Gentile | White Raven] [Warm and cold dovetail with life and death in the sphinx riddle so that "warmer," life, light, and "man" all point to door 18.]

● The typeface of the banner “WHAT IS YOUR SIGN” is written so that letters could be numbers. The word “IS” appears to be either a 15, 51, 12, or 21 depending upon how the room is flipped or reversed. If 21 and 12 are added the result is 33, if these numbers are subtracted the result is 9. 33 and 9 are the numbers of the incorrect doors. [Independent Credit: 515 | White Raven] [This solution is incomplete.] 51 – 12 & 21 = 18 the number of the correct door. [Independent Credit: Aria | White Raven] [This solution is incomplete.]

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262 thoughts on “Room 3

  1. Lots of people have come out and dismissed any links between the What is your sign and the zodiac. However, I still think it refers to star signs. Genetically. A sun is a star, right? And a moon is not.

    • Chuck,

      Good point. There are moon signs but this is not common knowledge so it is safe to assume that the idea of moon signs does not mess up this as a solution. Still there are street signs in the room, a THIS WAY sign, and the symbol for man next to the correct door. It is difficult to weigh the validity of all the things WHAT IS YOUR SIGN? could be referring to. But you may very well be right. We should revisit this after someone solves the reversing puzzle.

      Welcome to The Abyss!

      White Raven

  2. The STOP sign is clearly resting on another sign behind. I think this is a mirror. Note the rectangle does not sit symmetrically on the octagon, telling us it’s a separate sign and not part of the stop sign.

    I think this is what Manson means when he says look through the obvious.

    • Chuck,

      The sign behind the stop sign has rounded corners just like street signs do. It is the same shape and size as common street signs such as “yield” “do not pass” “deer crossing” “soft shoulder” etc.

  3. It has something to do with the eyes, doesn’t it. Moon is looking up with its triangular eye, Sphinx is looking to the right with its (sort of) triangular eye, and Sun is looking down — it has an unusual black nail in the middle of its triangular top ray, making it look like an eye looking down.

    • Alright, OK. Here’s a shot. I was sort of waiting for someone else to do the work for me but this doesn’t seem to have panned out (ahahahaha).

      The Moon is looking up with its triangular eye. The Sun is looking down with its triangular “eye.” We know from all the other solutions that Moon = bad and Sun = good. So we want to look at things from the Sun’s perspective, not the Moon’s.

      In order to do that, we have to be looking down from above. To simulate this, we can turn the book upside-down, as if we are looking “up” at the floor from the ceiling. (Analogous to looking down at the floor from the ceiling when the book is right-side-up.) The sign still doesn’t read correctly, however. But because this is all tied to the Sphinx riddle, we also have to do a mirror image left to right, as clued by the question mark, the Sphinx facing one way but looking another, and its tail flipping orientation. Then THIS WAY reads correctly.

      (Door 18 + 0 of the Sun = 180… another clue to flip upside down? Also 17 rays of the Sun + triangular Moon eye + 0 of the Sun = 180.) Also all that other stuff I talked about below with the THIS WAY sign looking like it could/should be hanging from the ceiling.

      ANOTHER way to get the “this way” sign to read correctly, of course, is to just flip the letters through the horizontal plane. It’s the same operation, really, but is a simpler way to think of it, and this flip could be all that’s required based on the Moon up / Sun down clue.

      If anyone has a clearer way to express this, PLEASE CHIME IN…

    • Anybody who is excited about these hints should check out this thread — WR gave me a massive hint and I still can’t figure it out. Surely someone else can get there?

    • The murderer used an ICICLE! That’s why there was a pool of water beneath the victim, but no murder weapon.

    • I see the water, but who is the victim? Is the solution that the murderer drew a picture of himself on the way out? If so, what is Montresor doing in Room 3?

      More confused than ever. THANKS A LOT.

    • Water is the universal solution. You can stop looking once you’ve found the water in each room.

      Room 1: in the apple juice
      Room 2: the bay the ship is docked in
      Room 3: in the pots
      Room 4: cats are 90% water (see text)
      Room 5: in the trees
      Room 6: rain (see text)
      Room 7: clouds
      Room 8: snow at north pole (implied)
      Room 9: dirt looks moist
      Room 10: water-based paint
      Room 11: water dish (off panel)
      Room 12: that fat idiot’s big dumb swollen hydrocephalic face
      Room 13: skeleton’s bone marrow
      Room 14: mouse urine
      Room 15: rabbit urine
      Room 16: Orson urine
      Room 17: “you are”-i-n-e
      Room 18: dragon urine
      Room 19: Manson urine
      Room 20: rain cloud
      Room 21: bird is 90% water
      Room 22: H+OO
      Room 23: rain storm
      Room 24: waterfall
      Room 25: urine of unidentified origin
      Room 26: rings of Saturn made of ice
      Room 27: cat again
      Room 28: rain
      Room 29: blindman’s tears
      Room 30: apples again
      Room 31: clouds
      Room 32: sea
      Room 33: pitcher of water
      Room 34: sea
      Room 35: lightbulb helps you “sea”
      Room 36: musicians play Handel’s water music
      Room 37: ice (see Gentile’s solution)
      Room 38: “sea”
      Room 39: empty bottles still contain air which undoubtedly has some degree of humidity
      Room 40: water symbols
      Room 41: mushrooms 90% water
      Room 42: pear 90% water
      Room 43: you “water” know better than to go to this room
      Room 44: crocodile’s tears
      Room 45: as yet unsolved

    • Oooh! Oooh! Room 45:

      W + HAT = what
      nun = mother THEResa

      wHat + tHer

      Remove the two Hs (H2) and add an 0/O, which you can do without effect since it is a zero and ignore the extra t because it is clearly extraneous AND YOU GET:


      Do I get the $10,000?

  4. How about this: in the “what is your sign” sign are two numbers hidden… A 12 in “si” of sign, and a 21 in the “is”…


    18 becomes the odd door in.

    This has to be right

    • That’s pretty wild, 515…!

      “What is your sign” could refer to plus and minus signs? I like that 21 and 12 are also mirror images (sort of).

    • 515,

      The backwards “is” makes a 21, when the banner is flipped forwards it makes a 15 (not a 12), when flipped vertically it makes a 51 and when flipped both ways it makes a 12. All together there are six possible combinations:

      21 & 15 (original + “what is your sign” reads correctly)
      21 & 51
      21 & 12
      12 & 15
      12 & 51
      15 & 51

      Keep going! :)

      White Raven

    • Well, these number are all divisible by 3, amazingly, which is the room number. Six solutions x 3 = 18, the correct door. Seems manufactured to me (could be 6+3=9 for instance), but it’s all I got so far.

  5. I don’t know, TOP (hat) is POT in mirror image (sort of) as already mentioned below, and also flipped upside down because the top hat could sort of look like an upside-down pot? Casting about for reasons to flip and mirror image the room to make that THIS WAY sign pop out properly and stick man seems to have all the answers… I don’t know.

    Moon seems to be looking up… augh.

    Maybe a teeeeeeeny hint?

  6. Someone mentioned below that the way to see the “THIS WAY” sign displayed correctly is to turn the book upside down and hold it up in front of a mirror, and this is true. I was really surprised not to see this in the solutions but maybe that’s because it wasn’t fleshed out enough.

    So: when the guests feel “all turned around” maybe that is a sign that they are, or should be, standing on their heads. That is why “no one wanted to stay here very long” — it is uncomfortable to be upside down. (All this is a sign to the readers to turn the book upside down.)

    Then, “looking through the obvious” means to “look through a mirror”, which is the obvious thing to do when you encounter this room because everything looks backwards.

    More supporting stuff:
    1. The base of the sign looks like it could be the part where you hang a light fixture from the ceiling. It looks just as believable hanging from the ceiling as it does sitting on the ground. (Unlike, say, a tripod would.)
    2. There are nails in the top and bottom of the sign, unlike the sun and moon sign, which have nails only on the top — a subtle hint that this is the sign we’re supposed to examine from all sides.
    3. The prominent reflections of light in the water of the pots (pot lights? hahaha) perhaps signal that we should be reflecting top to bottom/thinking about reversing ceiling and floor/something like that.

    OORRRRR maybe we should just be holding the edge of a mirror just above the THIS WAY sign and looking at it that way. Sort of hold the mirror as if it is the CEILING of the room. This is another way to see the THIS WAY sign correctly. (It’s not really different from what I suggested above, it’s just sort of a different way of thinking about it and is maybe more in keeping with what’s suggested by the reflections in the pots… reflect from above.

    Either way, I recommend trying it. It’s fun to see the words on that sign pop out.

    If that’s the kind of fun you go in for.

    • This is fun and interesting but how does it reading right upside down in a mirror mean that 18 is correct?

    • Yojo, I guess my thought was that the text is telling you what to do, in the usual ambiguous way: “all turned around” means turn the book around/pretend you’re standing on your head — “looking through the obvious” means looking through a mirror.

      Or the reflections in the pots are a hint to reflect from the top.

      Combined with the stuff about the sign looking like it’s meant to be upside-down.

      Not the most solid of ideas, I know. Still…

    • This has probably been said before, but what if instead of the mirror, the text is telling you to “look through” the next page (the text from room 4). “Accepting the terms of the challenge” would be not thinking of the page as a 3 dimensional object. “How many sides?” Two sides, front and back!

  7. There was some discussion below about why night/dark = bad and day/light = good in this room. I think what WR has in mind is that the Sphinx’s riddle can be phrased like this: “What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?” (The answer is man, as we already know.)

    When phrased this way, a day becomes a metaphor for a person’s life. Dawn = birth, day = lifetime, evening = old age, end of life. By extension, night = death = bad.

    • Aria,

      Sorry for the delay I just now catching up on last week’s comments.

      Congratulations! Only one puzzle point left but it is a doozy!

      White Raven

  8. The stop sign and the sphinx are dark here, the sphinx fairly clearly being depicted in a night setting, while the “this way” sign and the stick figure (which has a few different possible positive connotations, suggested elsewhere on here, though maybe most easily understood as the counterpoint to the sphinx as the answer to its riddle) are bright. Another potential element/excuse for the light/dark theme going on here.

  9. Had a sudden inspiration to look at room 3 and the *water* here. Connections to rain maybe? I mean one might put those down to catch rain. Didn’t pan out. Maybe my imagination. But nice thought…

    • Well, they are the Big Dipper & the Little Dipper so dippers do hold liquid.

  10. “They missed the real sign while looking THROUGH the obvious.”
    You can look through doors 33 and 9 because they are open — the real sign is on door 18, which is closed.

  11. The sign behind stop probably is pan or pans backwards. Pan-try helps with this. It could be read “9 an 2″ those have a product of 18.

    • Also 9 raised to 2 is 81 – which is what the 18 sign actually reads.

    • Also, even if it only says “Pan” there is a 9 on the pan sign and a 9 on the pots sign, and 9+9=18.

    • Or even with what is visible we have a NINE door and a 9 on the stop. Again, could be 18 (with maybe a bit of help from the 2 to say we have 2 9s?)

      I like the hidden 9 on the PAN sign the best.

  12. All the signs are facing us except for the “What is your sign?” banner…it is flat on the floor and we must read it by looking over it from above…this helps confirm my constellation/eclipse solutions. We are being clued to look above for the solutions. Also, the radiator does tell us its warm in here and Room #18 tells us its warmer-there is a transom over the fireplace in Rm 18 like the transom over the door in this room.

  13. Is there sensible way to combine these objects to make 18/s? Like, the text has the “how many sides” line; what if we took the stop sign as an 8 and and the straight arrow as a 1? Combine the pots and the stop sign; we essentially have four circles and two straight handles, the components we need to make two 18s. There may be material to keep going with that, but it gets a little abstract.

  14. Man on the Wall: I give in to Fred Astaire…
    Fred starred in “Daddy Long Legs” + daddy long legs looks like a spider (VW’s “stick fingers, goofy fingers”) is actually an arachnid like a scorpion = the constellation “Scorpius”. As this room is filled with sky features this fits.

  15. You know, the stick figure’s goofy fingers seem to be a bit like sun rays. I hate to suggest that too seriously, but 1) it is really odd that the stick figure has fingers at all, let alone that he seems to be doing jazz hands, and 2) I just keep thinking of it over and over so let’s just get it out there. Man’s hands are suggestive of sun, link to sun, whatever.

    • The stick man reminds me of the game of rearranging toothpicks to complete a puzzle. In fact, all the digits/letters do. There is no reason I can see of for everything to be stick-ish. You might say “to fit into the reverse theme” – well I thought about that, it really doesn’t. In fact, the puzzle would have been “easier” if he had used a normal font throughout the room. What I mean is, adding the straight letters doesn’t make reading it harder, it just adds another element to solve that I don’t think we’ve tapped yet.

    • I’m sure I mentioned something about this in days past regarding numbers being hidden in the text via straightletter, given the text, I’m not going to go any deeper than that…

    • Maybe the stick man here connects to the stick man on page 35. (A stick match; a matchstick?)

  16. Just a bit more: we have a CAST iron radiator = the moon CASTS its shadow causing a Solar Eclipse.
    The POTS sign clues us to the pots sitting at the lion/Leo…the pot and its handle protruding onto the Leo picture is a pictoral metaphore for the big dipper (the great constellation locator)…it wouldn’t be any fun if Manson actually clued with a real dipper! I don’t think STOP is meant to be used in his name here, although I wish it was-that would be pretty cool.

    • Regarding “stop” as part of Christopher. By itself no it is not. But it is part of something like 40 clues that all fit together , are reasonably specific, etcetera. You’d have to read the section on the raven poem on my page.

    • You have to read it backwards, of course. The top hat is a sign of wealth, meaning the stick man is RICH–>CHRI.

      Then STOP, of course.

      Then the sphinx is female, in contrast to the male stick figure, which gives us HER.

      The MANSON (man-sun) is obvious, but the real trick is getting the middle name. The radiator is an “air warm’r,” and the moon is an “orbit rock,” and when you put those letters together you get WROBOCKITAIM, plus some extra letters, which is a soundalike for Manson’s true middle name, ROBOTBRAIN.

      This is foreshadowed in the directions when it makes reference to using your head, because the hat is on the man’s head, the sphinx’s head is what makes it clear she is female, and your head is where you keep a robot brain.

    • V W: Read the actual page and comment intelligently on the actual theory? If not here is a little puzzle: first word rhymes with “duck” second word is opposite of “on”. Your comment is neither funny nor clever, nor in anyway productive.
      For others: No, Christopher is not spelled out here. Here is the theory: This is “the heart of Christopher”. 4 consecutive letters from the middle of his name. The Raven poem is recited a couple of stanza at a time around a loop of rooms starting with 33 and ending with 35. There are specific clues in Maze to look at exactly this set of rooms in that order to find something. Then in each room the particular stanzas are clued many times – well more often that coincidence should allow. Two relevant lines for this room are: “now to still the beating of my heart” and “all my soul within me burning”.
      The heart of Christopher is written on a stop sign. The stick figure for a whole other set of reasons represents a soul here and elsewhere. And this particular stick figure in part of “Man-sun”. So we have two hits to that section of the poem and there are others. It is not a stand-alone puzzle but part of the clues to the identity of the guide, Raven.

  17. “By some accounts (but much more rarely), there was a second riddle: “There are two sisters: one gives birth to the other and she, in turn, gives birth to the first. Who are the two sisters?” The answer is “day and night” (both words are feminine in Greek). This riddle is also found in a Gascon version of the myth and could be very ancient.”

  18. We seem to have a ton of elements here and just don’t know what to do with them. All these pairs: hot and cold, day and night, question and answer, POTS and STOP (maybe POT and TOP?)…backwards rooms…flipped sign…

    I have to imagine there’s an interpretive principle that helps bind these things, but like every room we can’t think of what it is so we go groping for tangential relationships between symbols and the door we want while ignoring half of the room or interpreting it as a red herring because it clues another door as well as the stuff we picked clues the right door.

    (That was the pep talk, go team, we’re going to solve this any time now that I’ve been broadly defeatist out loud.)

  19. In “Astrology” , LEO is ruled by the SUN, which is on Door #18…but…I still like “all turned around” being 180 degrees/Door #18.

    • The problem with 180 = 18 is that first it is not an exact match nor is 180 = hot very exact at all. And there just is not enough other supporting evidence at this point. Coincidences are ironically common here, so to read an intentionality signature we need multiple coincidences and the more specific the better.

      I am going to award an imaginary “Dave point” for Leo, however. And if I ever get around to updating my page I’ll add it there.

      1) “What is your sign?” taken out of this room would be a very clear reference to the Zodiac.
      2) Manson uses the Zodiac in room 8 as well I am fairly sure.
      3) I don’t see any other zodiac signs. (No – pots of water is not Aquarius). Certainly no crab indicating the moon.
      4) The Reverse question mark and the half Lion are physically associated. And both are good Leo clues.
      5) Only one Zodiac sign is governed by the sun – Leo. Whereas planets govern two signs. So here too it is specific.
      6) Manson give us other clues to the “sun door” in this room, I vaguely recall. So Leo could in fact be one of a series of clues aimed at “The sun”.
      7) I could actually see a human creating such a puzzle expecting other very determined humans to figure it out.
      If other things supporting Leo and/or the sun are found they might help convince some of the more skeptical here.

    • Let me add that “The riddle of the Spinx” indicates door 18 via the man (answer to riddle of the Spinx), and Leo indicates door 18 via the sun. And yes, I do still think we have an intentional “Manson” on that wall. Very clever, that.

      Side note – I also still think “Stop” is the heart of Christopher in this room – that is – I still think this is the one authentic artist “signature”. Manson said he did put his name in the book somewhere once (not in nearly every room however, as I thought at one time).

  20. Huh?
    The sphynx represents just a plain ole lion but this lion has a backward question mark- the room just begs us to pay attention to a sign even asking us what is our sign…that would be LEO whose mane contains an asterism (pattern of stars) that form a sickle that modern star gazers call a “backwards question mark”, that’s exactly what we are looking at. The moon and sun are in the sky and that clues us to the “sign” is in the sky, Leo.
    No one wanted to stay here very long as you cannot view a solar eclipse very long without burning your eyes, hence the darkened glass-people were/are notorious for looking through transoms…hence the darkened transom.
    The moon picture is most deliberately placed.
    NOTE: As I am finding answer confirmation of a room in correct room choice, in Room 18:”Shadows danced across” in room 18 narrative and the chairs, hat, and bowling pin are casting shadows…that’s what an eclipse is all about…a shadow.

    • Hmmm….I’m not on board with the eclipse. But:

      Lion (part of Spinx)
      Backwards question mark (is indeed associated with Leo)
      What is your sign? (standard reference to Zodiac)
      Sun and moon (also celestial objects)

      That’s a pretty good collection. Connect Leo to door 18 directly and I’m sold.

    • Well, Leo is [what's the word, ruled, governed?] by the Sun.

      I do not mean that as an endorsement of any of this.

    • Small note – we are between the sun and the moon, in an eclipse that would make for a lunar eclipse, not a solar one. I don’t think either eclipse is intended here, just making a note.

  21. “…an entirely different kind of place.”
    “tend to accept the terms of the challenge as a given”

    Ironically, while there is a lot of deceit in the Maze, this room, in all cases I can think of, “tells the truth”. There is no trick involving the sphynx riddle. The warm elements actually lead you the right way. The stop sign is actually telling you not to go to 9. Although the text lends a sense of urgency to not stay here, ultimately every clue tells the truth when discovered. Really, the only form of trickery is the mirroring, which if ignored, gets you where you need to go.

  22. The sign we are looking for is LEO, the Lion…The lion’s mane and shoulders are referred to as a “sickle” shape (made of smaller stars in the constellation LEO) and thought to represent a backwards “question mark”.

    But the big deal here is: “PARTIAL SOLAR ECLIPSE”…the window over the unmarked door is called a “transom” in this case the glass has been darkened needed to view an “eclipse”, clueing us to “transit”… the moon picture is hung so as to align directly across from the sun on Door #18 causing a “Partial Solar Eclipse”.

    Narrative: “all turned around” plus the eluding to heat = 180 degrees-Door #18.

    • If you’re going to use that kind of logic/solving process, you could just as easily say the question mark and T in the stop sign are hammer and sickle, which clearly points to 18 since 1918 is when the Russian Revolution happened.


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