15
$\begingroup$

As I mentioned in a previous question, I am trying to play through Praser 5, an old interactive fiction freeware game. In it, you visit four Marks, the marks of earth, air, fire and water. Each has a name found by solving a series of riddles and taking the first letter of each word in the solutions to the riddle.

Also, in the game, you discover the names of mythical creatures and use the names to get more riddles.

I have solved three of four marks. However, the Mark of Water is a giant chalice with words that say:

As I contain the waters of the world, so the 7 names are contained. (And they're names, not Names.)

  • iodine

  • silicon

  • radon

  • bromine

  • thorium

  • technetium

  • molybdenum

I've looked up the atomic number and abbreviations on the periodic table, but I don't know how to proceed. In an old forum, someone who solved it said it was a "fiendish puzzle" and that "the introductory text is very misleading".

The solutions to the other marks were ordinary English words (for instance, one was "wheel".

Edits from comments I have discovered that the answer is "diamond" using a decompiler. Diamond is contained in the seven words, but not in any uniform way. Why is diamond the right answer?

Copied from comments

"For those who want to see the riddle firsthand you can go to http://www.eblong.com/zarf/zweb/praser5/ to play Praser 5 online. To get to this riddle just type 'literal', then 'south', then 'read'. – finsternis 6 hours ago"

Rationale for accepted answer I think that the reasoning in the answer is mostly correct. I think it is easier to find English words in the element names first, and then try out the various possibilities (like ado/don) to see which ones give you the correct answer.

Also, for the wheel problem, I agree that the Hagia Sophia should be the second answer.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Did you try ANAHITA? $\endgroup$ – Alexis Mar 24 '15 at 14:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Bulldogg6404 Yes, I hacked the game and saw that the answer is "diamond". I have no idea why. I noticed that if you take the fourth to last letter of each element, you get diamond, except the last two words don't match up. $\endgroup$ – Brian Rushton Apr 3 '15 at 0:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Otaia I used a text dump program that also didn't have comments. However, I saw four words in a row, "ascension", "diamond", "wheel", and"cipher". I already knew that the other three answers were the other three marks. $\endgroup$ – Brian Rushton Apr 6 '15 at 18:18
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Each of the elements contains an ordinary english word in order beginning with the key letter (din/dine, i/icon, a/ado, mine, or, net, den). This is marred by not being unique but maybe someone else can give a rationale for why this would matter or why to pick these ones or something similar? $\endgroup$ – Gabriel C. Drummond-Cole Apr 7 '15 at 3:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Is there any other (in game) context to go on? I.e. Is there anything else outside the puzzle that could be being hinted at by the "7 names", or the "names, not Names"? What else is there seven of in the game? $\endgroup$ – Alconja Apr 7 '15 at 10:53
9
+150
$\begingroup$

Step 1: What kind of puzzle is it?

Reading the parchment on the monolith in The Center of the Physical World yields the following text:

There Here be Emblems, four in Number. A Mark Each Bears, Enigmatic and Hidden; You may Discover Each by the Acrostic of Names Each Emblem Flaunts.

From that text, we know the answers must be acrostic (made by taking letters from words of phrases) based on the words inscribed on each emblem.

For instance, when you go north, you can read the following on the emblem of fire:

  • In memoriam: D.C.
  • Many faiths: Constantinople
  • A bureaucrat's dream: New York City
  • Great objections: Paris
  • Exists no more: Alexandria

Which, when solved, yields the following:

  • Washington Monument
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Empire State Building
  • Eiffel Tower
  • Library of Alexandria

The acrostic solution yields WHEEL. This conforms with the solution you found in the source code. I didn't solve the East and West puzzles but the number of items in the list aligns with the characters in ascension (West / Earth) and cipher (East / Air) so it can reasonably be inferred that their solutions follow an acrostic pattern as well.


Step 2: Extract Diamond from the Elements

As I already mentioned in a comment, we can brute force this to come up with 6 common English words that can be made from the letters in each element. This is crude, though, so there must be a more elegant solution.

Gabriel C. Drummond-Cole pointed out in their comment that the letters we need are the beginning of a short word that can be found inside the names of the element.

  • ioDINE
  • silICON
  • rADOn
  • broMINE
  • thORium
  • techNETium
  • molybDENum

Of the 6 words that we brute-forced (diamond, dinette, doormen, dormice, economy, inanity), diamond is the only one for whom this property holds. I don't consider this to be a proof that it's right but it does seem to align with the "so the 7 names are contained" direction.

As I contain the waters of the world, so the 7 names are contained.
(And they're names, not Names.)

I struggled to extract some section of the introductory text in which I could find the letters SEA, OCEAN, BED, etc. that followed this same pattern. If someone could find that, I think it can be considered solved.


Conclusion: Andrew Plotkin is a Jerk

As someone posted in a forum discussing this game, the introductory text is very misleading. However, I would like to see some kind of connection between the text and the answer. That may be finding a similar pattern in the introductory text as I have already failed to do or something entirely different from this track.

I feel that we have found some clues to support the answer being diamond and we brute-forced the thing to narrow it down to a list short enough to simply try every answer. However, how could it be solved without brute-force and without working backwards from the answer?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Haha, you can't truly say A.P. is a jerk until you've spent 2 hours save-scumming through the final puzzles of Spider and Web. Fantastic game, though. $\endgroup$ – Caleb Apr 8 '15 at 16:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Somebody seems to have managed to solve it without working backwards. That forum post also names him a "fiend", which I'd consider a praise for a clever puzzle in that context. Having played some A.P. games (which have some outright brilliant puzzles in them) I suspect there's still something in there that hasn't been discovered yet. $\endgroup$ – Moghwyn Apr 8 '15 at 16:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I was looking at the WHEEL question, and I think the answer can be made cleaner. The W and H should come from the Washington Monument and the Hagia Sophia respectively as they are structures in the listed cities that satisfy the clues. 'In Memoriam' suggests a monument or memorial, and the Hagia Sophia was used as a holy place for many (well, at least two) different faiths during its existence. This also makes it a true acrostic, using the first letter of each answer to form the overall answer. I still think that Plotkin had something more in mind than simple brute force to extract a DIAMOND. $\endgroup$ – DaveBlackston Apr 8 '15 at 22:27
  • $\begingroup$ @DaveBlackston Excellent note on Hagia Sophia. It makes a much better solution for the north and I have updated my post accordingly. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Apr 9 '15 at 4:23
  • $\begingroup$ Probably way off, but chalice has ice at the end, which can be said to contain the waters of the world. $\endgroup$ – Moghwyn Apr 9 '15 at 8:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.