22
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This is the final part of A Trivial Pursuit, a 25-part puzzle hunt.


Having solved the previous 24 sub-puzzles in this series, you have managed to find 24 keywords that will help you extract the overall solution to A Trivial Pursuit. For your convenience, these answers are collated in the following spoiler block:

#01 (History) = ASTUTE
#02 (Wrong Superhero) = THOR
#03 (Jurassic World) = BRYMBO
#04 (Threesome) = TERNIONS
#05 (Animal Songs) = SPHAERITES
#06 (Life Goals) = REINA
#07 (String Theory) = KIEV
#08 (Names) = DWYER
#09 (Windows 7) = REIMANN
#10 (Bookshelf) = READ UP
#11 (The Search) = COUMAPHOS
#12 (Logic Boat) = SIPHON
#13 (Things Fall Apart) = HAILSHAM
#14 (Integration by Parts) = HEELS
#15 (Those Not Present) = RHEIC
#16 (X) = ALSATIAN
#17 (Workaround) = OTIATRY
#18 (Connected) = STEADY
#19 (Glass) = SOTOL
#20 (Actors) = REHEARSAL
#21 (Expedition) = FEHMIC
#22 (Bookstore) = PLAGIARY
#23 (Making Things Difficult) = SOAPBERRY
#24 (Color Pattern) = MOFFATT

To help you find the overall series answer, you are provided with the following string of numbers, which should help you work out how to extract the required information from the individual sub-puzzle answers, and in what order...

.4.6.8.4.4.1.5.3.2.1.6.3.8.7.4.2.2.6.3.9.2.0.1.4.2.4.9.9.2.1.6.1.1.1.6.1.3.8.2.7.1.9.

The final answer is a 2-word phrase, appropriate for this series... or 20 words (or is that 21?) ... or an image... or a number... or a URL... or maybe there's no answer at all... or perhaps somehow all of these are correct at the same time... Agh, I can't remember!! Please solve and explain!

Hint 1:

Everything you need to get started is presented in the top spoiler block, but an additional hint has already been included elsewhere in this puzzle.

Hint 2:

The sub-puzzle that ended up as the last to be published was always planned to be so, in case it gave away something about this metapuzzle ahead of time...

Hint 3:

...because it isn't just the answer to each question that's important.

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  • 4
    $\begingroup$ (Of course, I can remember... That's just for flavour...) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 6, 2023 at 0:22
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I bet it's rot13(nyy bs gurz ng bapr). >:) (rot13(pngrtbevrf)…?) $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Nov 6, 2023 at 0:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The third hint? We may be playing with the fourth wall... $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2023 at 22:04
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Oh. Very sneaky, Stiv. $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Nov 10, 2023 at 14:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Stiv ...or the fifth... $\endgroup$ Nov 10, 2023 at 15:07

1 Answer 1

18
+100
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The overall answer is a very fitting trivial pursuit:

WORD PUZZLES (2 words)

Or is it 20 words? (Or does the hyphen make it 21?)

PARTS OF THIS ARIA WERE COMPOSED BY BRIAN ENO'S OPERA STAR AU PAIR AT THE START OF HIS POST-LIVE ERA

Which happens to be the

Text of XKCD comic 2032 with the aforementioned title 'Word Puzzles'.

How did we get here? Many probably saw this outright but I was lost until I noticed that

The bold numbers in the sequence are 3,4,24,11 which is A1Z26 for CDXK, a clear anagram for XKCD... and a quick check confirms that all of the titles are XKCD comic titles. (Fitting for the current month's topic challenge, although these are out of range). Interestingly there's also one titled 'Meta Analysis', though it doesn't seem to factor in here.
From there we use google to find the number (from "or a number...") of each comic. Example 'Animal Songs' is XKCD #2426.
Next, we have a very long numeric string:

.4.6.8.4.4.1.5.3.2.1.6.3.8.7.4.2.2.6.3.9.2.0.1.4.2.4.9.9.2.1.6.1.1.1.6.1.3.8.2.7.1.9.

.4.6 can be filled in with that number 2426, and sure enough, the length of this string matches the total length of all the comic strip numbers. So it is an assembly problem... and a quite challenging one, or else I took the hard way. There is likely a logical solve path, but I just played with it by trial and error, and found what is surely the unique solution (since I tried many others first :) )....
ordered numbers
This gives us an order to the answers. Now how to extract?

This part took me quite a while to figure out. I kept trying to make vertical stacks of words, as in the first and last mini-puzzle. It turned out to be much simpler...

The string with the alternating dots and numbers clues that we should read off the alternating letters from all the answers in order:
sPhAeRiTeSmOfFaTtHaIlShAm... Continuing in this fashion, and adding whitespace gives:
PARTS OF THIS ARIA WERE COMPOSED BY BRIAN ENO'S OPERA STAR AU PAIR AT THE START OF HIS POST-LIVE ERA
And googling that brings up the comic already mentioned with the title of our trivial pursuit, and in fact an appropriate title for all of these puzzles at the same time...
WORD PUZZLES!

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4
  • $\begingroup$ Great job, this is it :) It is (as you suspect) possible to solve the long number string entirely by logical deduction rather than trial and error (I had to change several titles along the way to make sure of it...) Also, the claim that "maybe there's no answer at all" can be satisfied too, based off the fact that rot13(gur cuenfr sebz gur yvaxrq pbzvp unf ab uvqqra chmmyr gb vg (vg'f n wbxr gung vg zvtug qb), ohg unf tvira cyragl bs sbyxf pnhfr gb zhyy vg bire naq gel gb svaq bar!). See here for example :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 11, 2023 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ This is the PSE question mentioned in the above link, and I even used a title previously used in one of the past themed FTCs, to lay another link. 'Color Pattern' was left until last, because as a Brit I wouldn't spell it like that at all, which might have caused people to start googling sooner! Still, I'm glad this wasn't an immediate solve but I'm even gladder it got wrapped up soon-ish. Thanks for solving! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 11, 2023 at 10:45
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, and one final comment from me - the concept of this series was partly inspired by rot13(gur inevbhf KXPQ gbcvp punyyratrf hfrq ba CFR va gur cnfg, jurer gvgyrf ner erfgevpgrq shegure ol univat gb or 15+ punenpgref va yratgu. Va guvf pnfr, V jnagrq gb znxr fbzr onfrq bss fubegre hfhnyyl-varyvtvoyr gvgyrf (urapr gur fyvtugyl jbeql gvgyrf V'ir raqrq hc hfvat, va beqre gb shysvy gur punenpgre zvavzhz naq nyfb ohel gur fvtavsvpnapr bs gur gvgyr pubvprf sbe n juvyr).) It's been a lot of fun, but I'm looking forward to getting back to some other puzzle creations and writing projects now! :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 11, 2023 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ Bounty text: A bonus reward for solving this meta just before I was about to bounty it for more attention anyway! Well explained, even going about things the hard way with a trial-and-error approach at one point... Plus, this now frees up my brain-space to work on other projects again, as this one has been all-consuming for a while! :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 16, 2023 at 15:13

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