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Everything posted by WitchOfSecrets

  1. (Non-puzzle interlude; the mystery will continue soon.) (Theme: ) To a Rival Witch 'Who cares for you?' said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) 'You're nothing but a pack of cards!' Your people are no people, I'm afraid.   A grinning scarecrow, Lovers open-armed, And coward kings of brittle ivory made   Have secret lives; yours don't. And I've been charmed By hopeful cards who winked in candlelight.   I'll chat with chessmen, stitch a floppy hat To perch atop a cornfield's errant knight --   Your pieces have less guts to them than that. You'd pen a poem neatly in a grid,   Oil-paint a crossword, bronze a puzzle piece! Her soul is trapped in ink, by ciphers hid,   A cage of words denying her release. Alive while dead, her spirit is your letter; You'd never treat her so, if you knew better.
  2. I don't know microecon stuff well, but my intuition says that the equilibrium strategies for the original poisoned cup scenario are: Let's see if I can start from that assumption and see how adding coffee switches the equilibrium...
  3. I shouldn't be concerned. Puzzles with similarly goofy gimmicks get posted here all the time, and putting it in anything but the Math subforum would probably have given away the answer. (And I'm hardly the one to talk, given that my solution to the "connect four towns with roads" problem was to make a "giant mile-wide road that covers the countryside.")
  4. Sure. I can give someone disease symptoms even if I don't have them. That's called being an asymptomatic carrier.
  5. (This seems like a reasonable next move for Justice's investigation, if nobody objects. Flamebirde also suggested the Queen's Room, and there are some suggestions from earlier in the thread, too, such as the courtyard. As for staff to investigate, we had a request for Page earlier.) (This mystery cannot be solved by asking every character what 2 + 2 is. That is all I can say.) (A good question, and one I have sort of addressed.) (Incorrect answers are liable to be shot down by Red Truth, and answers that involve abuses of quantum mechanics and/or thermodynamics are flat out. Twins are conceivable, but only if you can square them what's been said about the number of guests, the identities and rooms of the guests, and so on... And for the record: Multiple personalities do not count as separate people for the purposes of this particular mini-mystery.)
  6. ROOM ASSIGNMENTS: Second floor: Firefly Room: Emperor, Justice Flywheel Room: Eight of Coins, the Magician Hammer Room: Temperance, High Priestess Miller Room: Strength, Five of Wands Third floor: Wagstaff Room: Judgment Hackenbush Room: Page of Swords, Three of Wands, Seven of Cups Queen’s Room: The Queen Driftwood Room: Knight of Swords, King of Swords Quale Room: Six of Swords Spaulding Room: Nine of Swords, Ten of Swords Keyrings for each guest have been prepared and are currently in the key cabinet; each of these keyrings has only one key, the key to the guest’s assigned room. ---- “Temperance’s interview revealed some points of interest,” said Judgment. “Take a look.” WHAT TEMPERANCE HAD TO SAY ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS: On the Queen: “I’ve known the Queen for years! There’s no way she would steal anything from this Castle, or fake a theft for that matter. I can assure you – even if something were to happen, she would never be a culprit in the matter.” On the Castle’s financial situation: “We’ve been having hard times, but tourists might want to stay here to visit the Idol, and that could bring in money.” On the Idol: “I can’t say I understand it as art, but it’s quite valuable to us.” Is it insured for theft?: “Why, yes, as long as the insurance company concludes we’ve taken reasonable precautions. I filed the paperwork myself.” On the other staff: “Nine and Ten are very close to each other, but not so much so to the rest of the Castle staff, I’m afraid. Ah, there was some kind of dispute between Ten and the cook, Strength, about the kitchen – some things had been stolen, and Strength accused the two of them of being incompetent, right to the Queen’s face. Perhaps that’s why she called in outside people for tonight?” On Page: “No, I don’t think Page stole from the kitchen; she’s a sweet dear. She’d never steal anything to profit herself… I suppose she conceivably might steal to help her poor ailing mother, but it seems unlikely to me.” Guests: “Let’s see… not counting you and your partner, the eight guests are Six of Swords, the High Priestess, Seven of Cups, Five of Wands, Eight of Coins, Three of Wands, the Emperor, and the Magician.” “The Emperor is a proud man. Take care how you trouble him with questions. He’ll be staying with your partner, I believe, in the Firefly Room.” “The High Priestess stays with me. I’ve known her for a long time! She’s sharp, quick-witted, and observant; a retired detective. I believe she has a puzzle for us at dinner tonight.” “Seven of Cups… a pilot and a very flighty person in general. I doubt she could devise a scheme to steal anything on her own, but she might be an accomplice if she thought it were a nice prank.” “Eight of Coins, the alchemist? He’s in bad shape and so I shouldn’t expect him to do anything physically strenuous – I can vouch for it, he’s not faking. The Magician will be helping him up and down the stairs a great deal, I imagine; they’re fast friends.” “I don’t trust Five of Wands, myself. Not a straightforward person at all.” “Six of Swords keeps to himself, mostly! He requested a single room, and we complied.” (More to be posted soon, based on requests above.)
  7. Well, the first question to figure out is: do we read the steps across or down? The second is, is this a cipher? If so, does each row represent a letter or each arrow represent a letter? A single arrow can face four different ways or be absent; it's not sufficient to represent a letter. Two arrows covers almost the entire alphabet, though - 25 combinations. So we could have to read them by twos and work that way. Alternatively, an entire line could code the alphabet somehow.
  8. Every 15 points away from the mean is supposed to be one standard deviation. If a big proportion of takers get over 140, the test is broken or designed to give people flattering results. Or both. Only about .5% of people - one in 200 - should do that well. Online IQ tests are complete nonsense.
  9. WitchOfSecrets


    Failed by self-sabotage. People do this all the time.
  10. Saturday, 1:38 PM Judgment examined the labels on the alarm panel in the security room critically. “Justice, let’s run an experiment.” “Gotcha,” I replied. I pulled the keyring from my pocket and turned on the ‘Outside Doors’ alarm while Judgment walked out to the front doors. As soon as Judgment pushed them open, an earsplitting alarm rang out, which I silenced quickly by turning the Outside Door alarm off again. Whatever was happening, the labels weren’t switched. As I later confirmed, both alarms were correctly labeled. We continued our investigation. I started heading to the Hammer Room, on the assumption that our guards would be staying in the room closest to the display room, but then realized that the key list had put them in the Spaulding Room on the third floor. Judgment trudged off to the Hammer Room to interview Temperance. I knocked on the door of the Spaulding Room and Nine opened up. “Huh? Your pal just finished talking to me,” he said. “I’m more interested in the room,” I replied. Nine shrugged. The first thing I noticed was that this room was about the same size as the double I was in, with two beds. The next thing I noticed: with the door open, anyone in this room would have a pretty good view of the hallway outside; this seemed to hold true for all of the bedrooms, in fact. The window was similar to the one in the Display Room and my room, and indeed all the other rooms in the castle, and looked down over a courtyard. Sticking my head out, I could see that a window on the southwest corner of the Castle – the Electrical Closet window? – was wide open, but all of the other windows on the south side were closed. I then began the tedious business of checking the room for hiding places and secret passages so I could report back to Judgment, who’s obsessed with them. Someone could hide under a bed, or in the big closet on the west side of the room (which currently housed uniforms, shoes, and other objects of no particular suspicion). There were no secret passages in the room; a detailed examination made that certain. While I was searching, I noticed a memo on the nightstand by Nine’s bed. It read, in what was presumably Nine’s handwriting: “Help K. with phone lines.” “What’s this about the phone lines?” I asked. “How many phones are there in this place?” “Two – there’s a phone in the Queen’s Room and one in the Grand Hall, but they’ve been down since the last storm. Knight and I are gonna climb up and check them out on Monday.” “Do storms often knock out the power?” I asked. “Yeah, but nothing’s forecast for tonight. Gonna be clear skies.” I nodded and headed down to the Hammer Room to meet up with Judgment and Temperance. (More posting to come later.)
  11. (Excellent thinking from everyone here! Whoops! That was careless - I was hurriedly adding color to the text I copy-pasted in, and meant to make the Queen's next sentences purple, not Justice's. Justice speaks only the truth Here's the corrected version: It would be inelegant to answer too many reader questions before the clues are all presented. It's bad enough that I gave cryptic out-of-character information, but clarifying that would make it too easy to eliminate/pursue specific suspects. Let me put it this way: If it's possible for there to somehow be "three-and-a-half" culprits, I won't eliminate that possibility, as silly as it is. And I haven't read that Christie book, but I know of the solution you're referring to. Eliminate nobody but the Detective, and even the Detective can unintentionally aid the culprit. THALASSA isn't playing by the Sphinx Rules (because mysteries demand red herrings) and isn't playing by Knox's Rules for mysteries, which limit the number of secret passages to 'one' and disallow twins and all that other cool stuff.)
  12. It's been solved! Explaining the solution will result in my death by lynch mob, so I think I will run away now. (Compare PEETA to PEPSI. What was lost? What was added?)
  13. None of those three. Hint: Seeing as 3 relies on unfair pop culture stuff, I'll say that it's either PEETA or GALE. The first two are totally common knowledge; the fourth is a somewhat obscure, but not really totally obscure, color.
  14. (Same drill! Where do we visit? Whom do we talk to? If nobody posts new suggestions in light of the information just received, I'll go based on the earlier posts. Sorry about the long incubation time for these posts!)
  15. The table erupted into discussion as the details of the story came out, but THALASSA quieted it with a wave of her hand. “You will have a chance to present Blue Truth and ask questions at the final answer session. Be warned that at that time, your Blue Truths must be complete hypotheses that address culprit and method. Until then, the investigation will continue.” - (I’ll try to incorporate as many suggestions as possible!) Saturday, 1:05 PM We decided to split up. Of course, since there wasn’t any cell phone reception in this place, this meant that Judgment and I would have to regroup now and then if we wanted to swap info. It seemed wise for Judgment should talk more to Nine and see if he could learn more about security. We’ve been given the names and backgrounds of the eight guests who were coming for the New Year’s Eve ball, but not much more than that, and we knew next to nothing about the staff. Meanwhile, I was to go up to the Display Room with the idol and check out the security there with my trained eye. “Should I borrow your Master Key?” I asked Judgment. He shook his head.”No, have the Queen go with you and open it up. She should see us working and be ready to answer security questions. Hey, maybe I should turn the alarms on now?” “The one in the Display Room is already on... but we had better not turn on the outside door alarms till all the guests arrive, or we’ll get a false alarm.” said Ten of Swords. She pointed to the two keyholes on the alarm control panel, one labeled “Display” and the other labeled “Outside Doors.” The former was clearly set to the on position, and the latter was clearly set to off. As Judgment started to talk to Nine, hoping to squeeze out more clues than we’d gotten, I hurried up to the third floor, knocked on the Queen’s door, and waited. After a few moments, I heard the latch disengage and she opened her door. (It seemed that these doors could be locked and unlocked from the inside without a key. I pay attention to these things.) “Ma’am,” I said, “I’d appreciate it if you’d take a moment to show me the room where you keep the Idol. I have a few things I’d like to check on in there.” “Of course,” she replied, stepping out the door. It swung shut silently behind her, and she locked it with the Master Key on a ring that dangled from the sash of her dress. “Follow me.” She moved downstairs in a businesslike manner, confident, tall. The display chamber with the Idol was right next to my own room on the second floor, as it turned out. The door was sturdy and well-secured, with no noticeable gaps underneath it, and quick inspection told me that the usual mystery novel tricks – a wire slipped through the frame to flip a latch, for example – wouldn’t do a bit of good. I nodded, and the Queen unlocked the door with her Master Key. We stepped inside. “Do you always keep this door locked?” I asked. “Yes, except for when we’re displaying the Idol,” she replied. “We plan on opening it tomorrow at 9 AM to exhibit the Idol for a half-hour.” I noted this down and looked around the room. It was austere, and, like most of the other rooms in Castle Dauntless, had been converted to its current use from some other purpose – possibly another bedchamber. In the center of the room stood a stone pedestal bearing a glass case, and inside that case stood the Scarlet Idol of Veritas, glittering ruby-red in the light of a chandelier above. Being careful not to touch the case and set off the alarm, I inspected the setup. “Do the alarms rely on the Castle’s power supply?” I asked. “The alarms were a recent installation,” she replied, “and their backup batteries can last for over 24 hours. Even if someone were to sabotage the fuse box or cut the power lines, the alarms would function normally.” I then examined the window and tried the latch; it was well-oiled and had been used recently. “There’s no alarm on this window, is there?” I looked out on a drop of about two stories – the first floor was very tall – but it wasn’t inconceivable that someone could climb up if they had a ladder. I shut the window carefully. The Queen shook her head. “No alarm. But how would a burglar unlock it from the outside?” “Brick, maybe? Putting a grating on it would be more secure,” I suggested. I then turned to the camera overhead. I recognized the model – an old reliable CCTV camera angled to capture just about everything between the door, the pedestal, and the window. To save space, it’d only record when it detected movement in-frame, and it’d probably only record a few frames per second. “That camera – is it in good working order?” “I don’t know much about that,” replied the Queen, looking a little perplexed. “You’d have to ask Nine or Ten.” I then began a careful sweep of the rest of the room for hiding places and other surprises. The lights and light switches were all working, the tapestries on the walls didn’t conceal anything, the red cordon around the pedestal would be a totally ineffective barrier but probably was just there to keep people’s fingerprints off the glass, the benches where viewers could sit for presentations didn’t offer any hiding places, and I could safely conclude that nobody was inside the display room at the moment except for me and the Queen. “Okay, thanks,” I said. “You’ve been a real help.” “You’re welcome,” replied the Queen. We stepped outside and she locked the door with her Master Key, double-checking it to make sure that it had firmly latched shut. As it turned out, neither of us would enter that room again until after the theft had gone down… Saturday, 1:34 PM: I met up with Judgment just as the questioning of Nine was wrapping up. We swapped notes. The first thing Judgment had gotten from the interview was a set of maps of the castle – real handy, that. The doors that were usually locked were all marked in red, the unlocked doors in blue, and the windows in yellow: WHAT NINE HAD TO SAY: On the cameras: “I checked the cameras just before you came; they’re all working, the timestamps all match the local time exactly, and the pictures are in focus.” On the guests: “I don’t know any of them personally; I just have the list of names and photos and room assignments. Some of them are friends of the Queen. Some people who’ve been here longer know them better than I do. Temperance knows a lot of them, I know that much.” On the room assignments: When asked about the list, Nine handed it to Judgment with instructions to give the keys to the guests on arrival. On the other staff: “Knight’s our handyman. He helps with the wiring, the plumbing, all that stuff. If you have any questions about that kind of thing, he’s the one you want to go to.” “Temperance is our bean-counter and publicity manager. I don’t know her very well, but she sure seems to know everyone else.” “You’ve met Ten. I’d trust her with my life; there’s no way she’d deliberately get involved in any kind of theft.” “Page’s a maid… brings food, washes up, all of that. She and Strength – the cook - are pretty close. He’s getting old, so she helps jog his memory all the time.” “King’s the gardener, hard-working guy... probably not a thief, as far as I can tell? Loves showing off the Castle, knows its history up and down. If you want to know about how this place is built, you ought to ask him.” Nine excused himself at this point to head back to his room, and we were left to plan our next move – where would we investigate and who would we question? We had two-and-a-half hours left.
  16. It is not an obscure soft drink brand at all. It is about as major as they get. Not Coke, though.
  17. What if our search idepends on the previous responses somehow? If we hear that there are X black cards, can we use that information to modify our strategy?
  18. Challenge: do other reasonable answers exist?
  19. Hint: You don't have to anagram. You only add a letter to the beginning or end and remove a letter from the beginning or end. Hint two: you are all going to hate me so much. I blame a bit of sleep deprivation on my part. I do not know if this is a fair puzzle but I expect that someone will figure it out eventually.
  20. (Aaaargh architecture Aaargh timetables why did I make this so complicated? problems keep appearing as soon as I edit other problems out of the story; it's like playing plot-hole whack-a-mole. It is as if having done one really simple locked room puzzle before, I thought myself qualified for insanely convoluted contrived detective story schemes. There's your hint - answer not something super-simple. Lots of screwiness is to come. oh god. I'll have the maps posted tomorrow and then I'll post responses. I'm really sorry for the lag. TheChad, good to have you back!)
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