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

You enter a well-lit, round chamber. As the party enters the room, the door behind you slams shut. No amount of effort can seem to budge it.

Choosing to investigate the room, you first notice a set of scales set on a short, round column in the center of the circular room.

Coming closer, you see six gemstones lying next to the scales: an emerald, a ruby, a diamond, a sapphire, an opal, and a topaz.

Inscribed on the pedestal is this verse:

Six stones of great worth lie before you

Awaiting a place of their own

Six shelves line the wall around you

Waiting to hold their true stone

The scales in the center will guide you

But not size nor mass will they teach

Instead they are magically gifted

To measure the rightness of each

One method of placing will save you

All others will doom you to die

But here is one hint to assist you

You entered from envious eye

Looking around, you notice that there are indeed six small shelves set in to the walls at regular intervals. One of these is carved in to the door through which you entered.

The cleric proposes ordering the gems by what they represent.

The druid proposes ordering the gems by colour.

The mage proposes ordering the gems by their name (noting that their initials spell ‘SORTED’).

The thief proposes ordering the gems by relative value.

While they argue over the best strategy, and the best pairs of measurements to try, the fighter goes ahead and tries a few measurements.

He first weighs the emerald and the ruby, and the side with the ruby goes down.

Second, he weighs the emerald and the topaz, and the scales balance.

Third, he weighs the sapphire and the opal, and the opal side goes down.

Fourth, he weighs the emerald and the diamond, and the side with the emerald does down.

“Aha!” he exclaims. “Now we’re getting somewhere!” He carefully considers the results. “The ruby is heavier than the emerald,” he reasons. “And the emerald is heavier than the diamond. So, the ruby must be heavier than the diamond.”

To test his theory, he weighs the ruby and the diamond, and the diamond side goes down.

“Cursed sorcery!” he exclaims, and before anyone realizes what is going on, he has revealed his berserker tendencies and smashed the scales to pieces.

The rest of the party is horrified, disappointed, and about ready to call it a night, until the hireling (played by the mage’s little sister), who has been carefully listening and taking notes, informs them: “It’s easy, really.”

She then proceeds to take the gems and – one by one – places them correctly, in a manner none of the others had considered, thus securing her new role as party leader.

How did she do it?

  • $\begingroup$ I should -1 because there's a druid on the group.. I like this one though :) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ Who brings their little sister along on a quest with a thief and a berzerker-fighter? $\endgroup$
    – Chowzen
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ She's WAY tougher than she looks. $\endgroup$
    – Stidgeon
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ $(+1)$ For the interesting puzzle, especially considering how your username is an anagram of to deSign :D $\endgroup$
    – Mr Pie
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 22:33

1 Answer 1


I think I may have a solution:

In the poem it states the scale "... measure the rightness of each". This means it measures weather the gems are to the right of one another. I started with Emerald because of the hint "You entered from envious eye" lead me to believe the Emerald was at the door since green is often used to represent envy and all of the use of 'e'.

- The first measure shows Ruby is more right than emerald meaning it is somewhere to the right of it.
- The second said Emerald and Topaz were equal meaning they are directly across the room from each other (neither is more right than the other).
- Third measurement states Opal is to the right of Sapphire.
- 4th states Emerald is to the right of Diamond.
- Finally, 5th shows Diamond is to the right of Ruby (which is easily possible since the room is circular and all shelves aren't along one flat wall).

From these deductions just how I drew thing out I came to conclusion starting at the door and moving to the right: Emerald, Opal, Ruby, Topaz, Diamond, Sapphire and back to Emerald. This is (I believe) the only option because Emerald must be across from Topaz and Sapphire can't be across from Opal (and Ruby can't be across from Diamond). and previously mentioned rules of to the right or left or equal.

  • $\begingroup$ You are totally on the right track in your interpretation of how the scale works +1 for that, but I think you misread the fifth weighing - diamond outweighs ruby. Almost there! $\endgroup$
    – Stidgeon
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ Oops my bad. Fixing now $\endgroup$
    – gabbo1092
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 22:27
  • $\begingroup$ I see... $(+1)$ :D $\endgroup$
    – Mr Pie
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ @gabbo1092 Closer... check the third weighing. $\endgroup$
    – Stidgeon
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 2:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ... and it's done! $\endgroup$
    – Stidgeon
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 14:45

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