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An entry in Fortnightly Topic Challenge #39: Deep Down in the Dungeon 1.


Here is a puzzle I threw at my D&D group a few years back. So, I figured I'd share.

The group has come to a large library. Amongst all the shelves are very organized books. There appears to be a numbering system on each of them. None of the books move when touched. They are also dust free.

On the far wall is a shelf that appears to be missing some books. When approached there is a thin layer of dust on the shelf depicting the outline of thirteen missing books.

While looking around the room, the players find scattered around the floor the missing 13.

One of the adventurers goes over and picks up a book. He looks and sees a title, author, and some interesting numbers on the bottom.

The title and numbers read:

I am not the butt I am the what? - Heinrich Heine [813.520]

After a moment the other adventurers go around and pick up all the other books. When they do a message appears on the wall:

Find the song to move along.

Below the message a strange grid shows up:

[0.0] [0.0] [0.0] [0.0] [0.0] [0.0] [0.0] [0.0] [0.0] [0.0] [0.0] [0.0] [0.0]

They look at the titles and authors for each of the remaining books in no particular order:

You, You're, Your - Gerund das Hauptwort [811.655]

Meree Garba - Unknown [808.204]

Canada Book 1 - Moins Ada [808.101]

The beginnings of a condition - John Backus [808.288]

Just a little Book 1 - Walter Scott [808.033]

Becweþan - The Descendants of Thes Auri [811.054]

Just a little Book 3 - Walter Scott [809.111]

To pull something towards you - Juan Pablo de Bonet [808.355]

Just a little Book 2 - Walter Scott [808.289]

To Open the Doors of Durin - J.R.R. Tolkien [811.888]

Canada Book 2 - Moins Ada [810.001]

Two, Too, To, Tu Tu, - Arthur Moeller van den Bruck [809.034]

The players also noticed that on every book where it has Book 1, 2, or 3, that part of the title is faded, and hardly readable.

After all the titles are read the outline of a door appears below the grid and the space for two words appear.

They gather around and attempt to solve the riddle to open the door.

Note: this is my first puzzle to post, so feel free to edit the tags as necessary.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Interesting... I like this one $\endgroup$ – Cubemaster Oct 1 '18 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ A few clarifications. (Of course you may prefer not to answer some or all.) 1. Is the fact that it says "Tolkein" rather than "Tolkien" deliberate? 2. Is it deliberate that there's a "." in the first Scott but not in either of the others? 3. The thing described as a "grid" doesn't look terribly grid-like to me; is it meant to be, as it is, a single row of 13 copies of "[0.0]"? $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Oct 1 '18 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan 1. Tolkein is a typo (correcting). 2 The "." in the first Scott is not supposed to be there (also correcting). 3. The grid is the best term I could describe it. Yes it is a single row of 13 copies of [0.0] $\endgroup$ – SolveLikeBeaker Oct 1 '18 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ OK, cool. Oh, and is it really meant to be "Hauptword" rather than "Hauptwort"? $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Oct 1 '18 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ Man, I scoured over this several times. Alas my eyes are getting old. I have fixed Hauptwort. Thank you for pointing these out. I need to be more careful next time. $\endgroup$ – SolveLikeBeaker Oct 1 '18 at 16:15
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The song is:

The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats

Jafe has already found out what to do. I'll take it from there. I'm still not sure about some clues, but the first thing to do is ...

... to sort the books by their six-digit number. (Just consider the dot a thousands separator.) I don't think there is more to the number; it just establishes the order. Using the particles that jafe has found already and that were confirmed by the OP, we can start to fill the lacunae.

Just a little Book 1 – Walter Scott

we — Sir Walter Scott was Scottish and "wee" means "just a little" in Scottish and it sounds like "we". (I didn't know where to go with this at first and thought it was "I", Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe cut very short.)

Canada Book 1 – Moins Ada

can — Canada moins ada, as explained by jafe.

Meree Garba – Unknown

dance — Garba is an Indian folk dance. I couldn't find Meree, but perhaps it's meant to be Merengue, a Caribbean dance? (But that would make the word "dances".)

The beginnings of a condition – John Backus

ifIF begins a condition in Fortran (and other programming languages), as jafe found.

Just a little Book 2 – Walter Scott

we — see above.

To pull something towards you – Juan Pablo de Bonet

want — As jafe found out, Juan Pablo Bonet was a pioneer in the education of the deaf. Pulling something towards oneself signifies "want" in sign language.

Two, Too, To, Tu Tu, – Arthur Moeller van den Bruck

to — I don't really see how this works. "To" is in the list to the left and it is the third word and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck was a German historian and nationalist whose most famous book is "The Third Empire"? I have nothing.

Just a little Book 3 – Walter Scott

we — see above.

Canada Book 2 – Moins Ada

can — see above.

Becweþan – The Descendants of Thes Auri

leave — This is an Old English word meaning to bequeathe, or to leave something to your descendants by will.

You, You're, Your – Gerund das Hauptwort

your — Frankly, I have no idea. "Das Hauptwort" means "the noun" in German, but it ca also mean the principal or most important word. German doesn't have gerunds, only substantivated infinitives, and it calls a gerund in other languages Gerundium. "Your" is the third choice from the list and the "Hauptwort" is the third word here?

To Open the Doors of Durin – J.R.R. Tolkien

friend — The word "friend" in Elvish opens the Doors of Durin, but jafe has found that out already.

I am not the butt I am the what? – Heinrich Heine

behind — "Behind" is certainly a nicer way to say butt, but I don't see what it has to do with Heinrich Heine, except that both share a "hi" sound. Does "behind" sound like "Be Heine"?

Now if we put all this together and amend a plural or singular here and there, we get:

We can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind

This is the first line of the Safety Dance.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I fear the idea is to pronounce poor Heinrich's surname as "high-knee", which (I think with the spelling "heinie", but I'm not sure I've ever seen it written down) is US slang for the butt. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Oct 2 '18 at 10:36
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, that makes sense. I always wondered what Frank Zappa was singing about. $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Oct 2 '18 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ Excellent work. To clarify a few things, "The Third Reich" was to point to the Third word. It was a bit of an obscure clue. Meree is "Mine", it was more of a play on words, almost like Mein Got. Hauptwort was just another way of giving the fact that it was a noun to help identify the proper form "your". Alas, Heine for the pronunciation of "hi-knee", which is actually the same last name as me. Heinrich Heine was my distant grandfather :) $\endgroup$ – SolveLikeBeaker Oct 2 '18 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ As one of the D&D players who was originally in the quest, you have my +1. The player who initially solved the puzzle was cursed and could only speak Beaker (from the Muppets). So he sang it in meep for the others to figure it out $\endgroup$ – Wondercricket Oct 2 '18 at 12:36
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    $\begingroup$ I'm riding on Jafe's coattails here, whose findings opened the door for me. I liked the puzzle and found the presentation good. I'm not so super-fond of the Third Reich and Hauptwort -- I still don't get that one; "your" is a "besitzanzeigendes Fürwort" -- clues, but these were for common words, so the were guessable by working backwards from the song lyrics, for which I googled some keywords. I didn't use the grid, though. I guess it just tells me that the books should be sorted. $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Oct 2 '18 at 17:54
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Partial... It looks like each of the book titles

clues a word, all of which together form the lyrics to a song.

Canada Book 1 - Moins Ada [808.101]
Canada Book 2 - Moins Ada [810.001]

Moins means "minus", so these could be "can".

The beginnings of a condition - John Backus [808.288]

John Backus was the father of the FORTRAN programming language. A conditional clause in FORTRAN begins with "if".

Becweþan - The Descendants of Thes Auri [811.054]

Thes Auri refers to a thesaurus, and "becweþan" is Old English for "bequeath", "reproach", "assert" or "say". The last one seems most likely.

To pull something towards you - Juan Pablo de Bonet [808.355]

Juan Pablo Bonet was a pioneer of sign language. The "pull something towards you" sign is made by pulling on an imaginary rope, so this could be "rope".

To Open the Doors of Durin - J.R.R. Tolkien [811.888]

The password to open the doors of Durin in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is "friend".

Haven't figured out the rest yet, nor the numbers...

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  • $\begingroup$ You are quite close! I will say you have 3 of your clues correct. One of your clues, perhaps look further into the Thes Auri (might make more sense once the rest of the clues come about). For the other wrong clue, perhaps look at the literal meaning. $\endgroup$ – SolveLikeBeaker Oct 2 '18 at 1:30

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