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. This is a fascinating website. I had this book as a kid. Although I was able to find the hidden door and path, I was never able to figure out any of the clues in any of the rooms to my satisfaction — except this one, I think. To me it seemed obvious (well, after I’d owned the book for months anyway) that all of the text in the illustration was inverted left-to-right — except for the “THIS WAY”sign, which was printed upside down (a distinction that’s easy to overlook at first). This to me suggested that it was the “real” clue (pointing to the “correct” door, 18) and all the others were false.

    The fact that I was able to figure out this room, and this room only, was all the more frustrating, because this room is about as far from the True Path as you can get without falling into the trap rooms, and the “correct” door is merely one step in a looong journey back to the True Path. In short, my solution felt irrelevant.

    As a teen, I loaned my copy of the book to a very attractive, super-smart, but very flighty girl whom I had a crush on in high school. She promptly lost it. I never got it back. She mentioned in an email years later that she found it again. She’s now a biochemistry professor at Stanford. Maybe I’ll buy the book again on Amazon. Anyway, thanks for the memories!

    • Rhyme-generation time.
      First off there’s riddles/riddle (sphinx), which is what you were referencing I’m assuming. In room 33 there is a fiddle. In room 33 you also have to get to the MIDDLE.

    • Theory: WBM just learned the meaning of the word “truncate” and wants to show it off, like a kid whose parents got them a new toy.

    • So, what you’re saying is, the corners of the square were cut off, making an octagon. (I’m guessing you think this because the horizontal/vertical edges are longer than the diagonal.) The longer sides’ design is unique to this stop sign, which also has black text, as opposed to stop signs irl.
      Im not sure what you mean by the sides being trapezium, as trapezium is a term not used for sides but for conclave shapes that are 4 sides and have parallel sides. (Trapezoids.)
      So, what you said is: The stop sign is a square with its corners cut off. Sometimes it has eight trapezoid sides.
      The first part is true, but idk what signifigance it could have. Just seems like describing a slightly irregular octagon. The second part I don’t understand

    • Got the idea from one of the last pictures that I emailed yawl.

  2. First Post.
    Before I do, hi to everyone else here, and thank you for the hints and solutions that have been revealed to me so far. (I’ve only read up to this page).
    I think I have something that hasn’t been mentioned so far (to my knowledge). I have no idea what the rationale or clue is to perform this action, but if you remove the first letter of each of the three signs not above doors, you get:
    The man waving wildly at us near door 18 is wearing a top hat, and 18 is the best door to take out of the three options.

    • While I do like this – and certainly do think it could be linked to the Hatted Man and the big unsolved multi-room puzzle (unless WR made that up completely, which I wouldn’t doubt) – I don’t see any rationale for reading the signs in that order even if you COULD come up with a reason to remove the first letters.

    • Hey, here’s a question: What the hell are you talking about?

      I stood up for you on the geomancy stuff, and then this! I get that you enjoy burying your suggestions in vague allusions and puns, but this isn’t even that. Whatever you’re suggesting here–or why you’re suggesting it, if these words themselves are the suggestion of something–is completely impenetrable.

    • Just gonna keep putting letters in a line until you stumble onto something resembling a sentence in basal form, huh?

    • I say we ignore these. Isn’t it trolling? If White Raven were here, this would probably result in a ban/unauthorization, right?

  3. - “Because no one wanted to stay here very long they missed the real sign while looking through the obvious.” – Must’ve been a shortstop, indeed…

    • Oh, I get it, a SHORT STOP. If this room had a baseball in it and the correct door was 23, this wouldn’t make a bad puzzle.

    • Shortstop, backstop, signs, heaters–yep, it checks out, the room is all about baseball.

      The next room has pitchers, you’re “in the hole,”

      room 7 has a field

      and the word “baseball” contains a hidden bull’s head, guys, we did it, we solved the guide puzzle

    • Heater is also another name for a certain type of shield or a fastball.

  4. You don’t suppose that there could be any further possible theories, regarding the Latin translation of the word POST and the number of sides on the posted stop design? The Latin translation of POST via google translate, is AFTER THE or POSTQUAM, both of which have a total of 8 letters.

    • Tell me a single stop sign that DOESN’T have 8 sides.
      Every stop sign can be rearranged to “post” and translated so every stop sign in the word is hiding this secret according to this logic.
      (Except for the secret hexagonal stop signs in Room 33 that are very much there.)

    • The hand pointing out with the fingers and palm reaching upwards might be a visual synonym, which could signify a reinterpretation of the word stop, halt, etc. Plus the hand, fingers, and the bottom (a byss) of the palm included, have a total of 8 sides. B

    • Well, WBM is still wrong, but that wasn’t exactly what he was saying. He was implying that the hand was a clue to stop, which it could theoretically be since holding up an open palm does mean stop in most language’s gesture libraries.

    • I know (though I don’t really think so because two hands are up), but a piece of evidence he used was “hands have 8 sides like a stop sign.” This makes no sense because, similarly to the postquam/stop thing, if hands did have 8 sides, all five-fingered hands would have 8 sides.

      This means that stop signs were designed to have the same amount of sides as a hand, which can be held up to mean “stop.”
      That’s not a manson puzzle, it’s a universe puzzle.
      And hands don’t have 8 sides!!

    • The common gesture for “stop” is holding your arm out toward the recipient of the gesture, keeping the hand open and flat with fingers together, and showing your palm with your fingers pointed upward and your hand perpendicular to your arm. Small variations on this gesture (using both hands, spreading fingers) can sometimes communicate the same message. What would not be recognized as a sign for “stop” is spreading your arms like an eagle and making jazz hands. The exception would be if you are jumping in front of a car or trying to get the attention of a passing plane while stranded on a desert island, though in those cases you would do best to wave your hands and arms around. It does not look like this stick figure is trying to stop someone.

    • STOP (substitute the letter P with the letter b) — 4 letters from the word BROTHERS — assigned to each of the 8 sides of the SIGN. Letters that are left over include: h, e, r, r, – and therefore…

    • And if you call up Pizza Hut and keep shouting “herr” over the phone they usually say “huh?” Which has three letters and is a mirror image, and when you add 3 to the number of sides on the Pizza Hut logo you get 13, or, in roman numerals, XIII, which is something Hugh Grant says in Four Weddings and a funeral when talking about his ex. Four weddings plus one funeral is five, plus the number of sides on a Pizza Hut pizza is eighteen. Coincidence? thought I should take this one straight to the sauce, not mushroom for error in this recipe (for success???)

  5. After the letters on the STOP sign are spelled backwards (bOTS), it becomes an acronym for bear (b) ring (O) The (T) Sun/Sign (S). This leads us to where we want to be going, which is Room 18.

    • I guess that would make sense, since the number of letters (which is 4) multiplied by the number of sides on the STOP sign (which is 8) equals 32. As to the rho bots… I’m not quite sure what to make of that.

  6. Regarding: “How many [sides] does that problem have?” Does the [sides] have anything to do with “the spear side” or “distaff side”?

  7. I’m not sure if anyone has noticed this yet, but “What is your sign” can be rearranged to make the phrase “Ruins go this way”. Perhaps this signifies that room 33 is the wrong way?

  8. Is the top hat of the stick man used to signify a capital letter or the end of a complete sentence? And whether or not this is the case, could the dancing man cipher from the Sherlock Holmes series, be applied to the stick figures and/or non-stick figures throughout MAZE? -B

  9. The group complained of feeling “all turned around,” as well they might. – I think the 15 triangular rays to the left and right of the sun, represent the “group” as a whole in question. Since each one of these singular rays have 3 sides, I’m assuming that this could be a clue as to why their are 45 rooms (15 X 3 = 45) within the MAZE. The 16th ray that is on the head of the sun, could be the “gate” that has previously been mentioned during the “Prologue”. On a final note regarding the word “ it “ . Is the i (eye) a sign of the light that shines down through a well with a spiral staircase? And is the letter “ t “ a depiction of an inverted umbrella?

  10. if you stare at it until your eyes become unfocused, the entire thing looks skewed towards the right and room 18. (It also might just be me)

    • In standard usage, “What is your sign?” refers to one’s zodiac birth sign. In this room, it seems to be a pun in reference to the traffic signs in the room, though no one has (to my knowledge) proposed a reasonable interpretation of the phrase in regard to any puzzle or message. It seems unlikely that it has anything to do with bears, however.

  11. (Q) WHAT IS YOUR SIGN? (A) Signs of the Zodiac
    Signsofthezodiac = 16 letter characters
    (the phantom of the opera?)

    • I’ve been treating you bad in a number of ways because I was annoyed at your excessive posting and was trying to have some fun with the situation, but I think that fun was at your expense and I apologize.

  12. Attempting to crack the final pieces of Room 3. Just going to start a new post because the original thread was getting unwieldy. This is going to be long; sorry.


    1. The banner on the floor is the lowest thing on the floor – “sub” everything else from a 2D point of view. Could it be considered a SUB-TRACT, with “tract” being loosely interpreted as a piece of writing? The banner is vaguely the shape of a minus sign, of course, being horizontal and linear. The THIS WAY sign could be the plus sign, since it sort of looks like a plus sign.

    So 21 is the original orientation on the minus sign, give 21 a minus sign. The curling of the banner invites you to flip it forward/reflect it left-right so you can read the words properly, giving you a 12, give that a minus sign too. Reflecting/vertically flipping the banner gives you 51, and this is the same operation that gets “THIS WAY” (the plus sign) to read correctly, so give 51 a plus sign. Doing both reflections gives you 15, but it doesn’t match up with anything in the room, so ignore the 15.
    51 – 12 – 21 = 18.

    2. This one is vewatkin’s idea, although I just want to make it clear that (unsurprisingly) he doesn’t actually buy it himself. “The pots represent the three numbers of the correct equation. The two smaller pots have handles, which make negative signs. The biggest pot has no handle, isn’t negative. The relative sizes of the pots suggest the three numbers they correlate to are 51, 21 and 12.” (This only works if you have already narrowed the significant numbers down to those three in some other way.)

    3. I thought this was cool so I’m just going to mention that the 12, 21, and 12 that appear in the banner and THIS WAY sign add together to get… 45!


    4. This seemed significant to me so I’m just going to mention that if you measure the pot rims at their widest, moon at its widest, Sun at its widest, and base of THIS WAY sign at its widest, those measurements are all EXACTLY the same and I mean EXACTLY (2 cm, although I don’t think the actual measurement is meaningful). This suggests to me that they are all connected somehow, but all I could come up with is that the pots make an upright triangle, while the moon, sun, and sign make an upside-down triangle. This (together with the reflection in the pot water) could suggest a reflection/flip through the horizontal plane, which is in fact what’s required to get that THIS WAY sign to read correctly and tell you the way to go.

    5. “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.” The only human “person” in this room is Stick Man/Top Hat. He is facing door 18. Is that his “challenge?” How can he examine it from all sides? He can rotate that sun around the axis of its nail – 180 degrees per the door number plus the sun – is there a peephole hidden underneath? And then he can open the door and look from the other side. The way the door is oriented, this is analogous to turning the page, and as we already know, when you turn the book over and turn the page and look through, you see the THIS WAY sign reading correctly, confirming which way to go.

    I feel like I could come up with scores more of these. So far none of them has really leapt out and bit me on the nose. It SEEMS like the eyes should come into it, and in fact WR has said they do. It SEEMS like the flippable moon vs the rotatable Sun should mean something when put together. It SEEMS like maybe SUN appearing backwards in miNUS could be significant. It SEEMS like the nails in the THIS WAY sign matching the ones on the moon poster should be meaningful.

    It SEEMS like this way lies madness…

    • Hmmm… Messed up my explanation of point 1… Flipping the scroll gives you 15, not 12…

  13. The moon has a half-circle as its outer edge, indicating 180 degrees. It is looking up. So rotate the “this way” sign through 180 degrees and stick it to the ceiling. Now the letters are oriented correctly vertically, but they are backwards and the arrow is pointing the wrong way.

    BUT the Sphinx is facing left but looking right — telling you to flip left to right. (The tail does a similar trick as reinforcement… starts off going left then flips to point right.) So you flip/mirror-image the sign left-to-right and the arrow is once again pointing to 18, and the sign reads “THIS WAY,” clear as day.

    WHY DO THIS: The three things — moon, sphinx, and sign, are all connected by a triangular shape: the triangular eyes of the moon and Sphinx, and the triangle pointer on the sign. The orientation of the triangles of the eyes actually matches the orientation of the sign’s triangles after you perform each operation!

    Not sure how the sun fits in. I guess its triangular rays could be a hint that you have to do some rotation/flipping with a triangular object, and the 18 + 0 from the sun gives you “180.” Or maybe it’s just not really involved in this riddle.

    This explains WR’s hint on Ask Manson about the backwards “NINE”… if you perform these same operations on a backwards 9 (the digit), you get a forwards 6, so you could misinterpret the flipping instructions as meaning you should be going through door 9/6, and it wouldn’t be clear which number was meant anyway. Writing out “NINE” backwards instead removes the confusion.

    • Also, to build on 515′s number thing using the “IS” in the “WHAT IS YOUR SIGN” sign:

      You start with a backwards IS, which = 21
      Then you do the 180 degree rotation = 12
      Then you do the final flip and get = 51

      Take the SIGN of 51 as positive (+) because you’ve done both necessary operations clued for the THIS WAY sign.

      The signs of 21 and 12 would be negative because they represent incorrect orientations.

      51 – 12 – 21 = 18

      The correct door!


    • Also, as 515 pointed out, you can use 12 and 21, the two incorrect orientations en route to the correct orientation, to get the numbers of the incorrect doors.

      12 + 21 = 33
      21 – 12 = 9

    • 515 & Aria,

      Congratulations! You have discovered the solutions before the riddle so I have added the solutions to the summary as incomplete.

      White Raven

    • ARGH this is so frustrating. I hate it. I love it. :)

      Vince just found another fantastic number thing but I’ll let him post it.

      What about this. The moon is “bad.” So we should flip/reverse it. The moon has two nails on top and kind of looks like a flip chart, inviting this kind of action. It’s looking up. So flip the bad moon up and you are looking at the other side of the poster. Also the moon is now looking down.

      Do the same thing with the book. Turn it upside down and look at the other side of the page.

      The sun’s “eye” is looking down at itself like the reversed Moon’s eye now is, so they match. So you do what the “good” sun is telling you… look through the page at a light source. Maybe that’s also what the dotted line is all about.

      With the book turned upside down, looking through the page from the other side, the THIS WAY sign reads correctly. (Its nails match the nails of the moon sign, reinforcing the idea that they correspond.)

      Other stuff supporting this:
      “all turned around”
      “examining it from all sides”
      “… They don’t know.” (The guests can’t do this solution because they can’t turn a page.)

    • OK so this thing vewatkin found was so great and who knows if he will get around to posting it. Here it is, credit to Vince, yadda yadda, and also note that he probably does not agree about the rationale I’m giving.

      21 is the backwards “is”
      12 is 21 turned upside-down
      51 is 12 mirror-imaged

      (As already noted, these operations will cause the THIS WAY sign to be read correctly.)

      One final operation, mirror-imaging 21 (or turning 51 upside-down, or however you want to do it), gives you

      15 (as already noted)

      This operation is NOT used in getting the THIS WAY sign to read the right way. In a sense it is the “invisible” number.


      The number of the unlabelled door in the room!


    • I’ve made valiant efforts to understand what you’re talking about, but I am not equal to the task. Here’s what’s seeming interesting here:

      12/21 in the mirror-themed room
      21 + 12 = 33, 21 – 12 = 9
      “Sign” could refer to a mathematical operator, or a positive/negative sign
      “How many sides” stuff could relate to looking at the page from the other side (from behind), effectively flipping the image
      51 – 12 – 21 = 18

      Of course, these numbers only seem interesting because they match the theme of the room. Thail Krider’s claim to fame was finding solutions like this in every room, but absent any particular reason to manipulate (or pull out) the relevant numbers. The correspondence between the numbers and the manipulations and the room seem to be here, although I can’t quite follow any of the full solutions suggested here. I feel somewhat like we’re in Room 1 and someone has noticed that “story” is in the text and “nary” is an anagram for “yarn” and we’re still waiting for the last bits to bring the whole thing together.

    • Look, I’ve been pretty hung up on a two-step process for transforming the sign and “21″ (180 degree rotation followed by left/right flip) but those two operations ARE equivalent to a single up/down flip/reflection.

      If it’s that simple, then maybe we are just comparing the Moon’s eye looking up with the Sun’s eye looking down, signalling a flip.

      Flip the Moon, flip the sign, get the correct orientation, get 51. SI?

    • Yeah, I’m having trouble with this too… it seems like there is plenty of rationale for flipping and mirroring the page already, and once you see the 21 you can figure out the 12, 15, and 51. And, as said, there are mentions of problems and signs in the text, suggesting math. But why is 51-21-12=18 better than 21-12=9 or 21+12=33? What clues that?

      (Numerology warning!): And has anyone mentioned that if you add the digits of 12+21+51+15, you get 3+3+6+6, which also = 18?

      Unlike some manufactured solutions in other rooms, I think these numbers were chosen deliberately (and ridiculously ingeniously) by Manson. But how would you settle on the right equation without knowing the answer in advance?

    • And 21 + 12 – 15 = 18 as well. So, 51 positive // 21 and 12 negative gets us 18, 15 negative // 21 and 12 positive gets us 18.

      And 51 + 15 – 21 – 12 = 33.

      UH OH! Putting them all together gives us the wrong answer. I think we really do need some justification for the specific operations we’re going to undertake.

    • Yes, justification of the operators and the choice of numbers is the puzzle. Also there is another related reversing puzzle that doesn’t involve the “IS.”

    • I think the 9/6 is a telltale clue regarding the way an individual (or group) ascends or descends a spiral staircase. The 9/ could mean for one to head in the right direction, starting from the ground up, while the /6 could translate as traveling to the left downward, from the top to the bottom.


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