Melbourne University Mathematics and Statistics Society

Puzzle Hunt Structure

Puzzle Meta:

The supreme organising principle of our hunt is thematic consistency. We are staging a dramatic work. Our actors are puzzles, but they do not write our script. They deliver it.

Structure of the hunt:

There are to be five acts of up to four scenes. Each scene contains one puzzle. Each day of the hunt a new act shall be released to the world. From the second day of the hunt successive hints to puzzles in previous acts will be released.

Earlier acts should be easier than later acts. All acts are thematically linked. Every act and scene must move the plot forward.

Structure of an act (group of up to four scenes and puzzles):

Let each act be given an name and number. Under each name let there be a mysterious and frequently misleading quote from literary sources. e.g

Act 1. The Disappearance.

"Somebody's out there, somebody's waiting Somebody's trying to tell me something" - Midnight Oil, 10 to 1.

Each act shall contain an introductory narrative. The narrative moves the plot forward and motivates its scenes (containing individual puzzles).

The narrative should be consistent in tone, style and perspective.

The tone should be mysterious and shadowy. The style measured to prevent any melodramatic tendencies arising from the tone.

The perspective is second person ("You see sheered metal strewn about the room.") and is not to be violated without an enabling plot device (e.g hallucinations, telepathy).

Each act shall be unto itself. Its puzzles shall not require information gleaned from solving puzzles or reading narrative in prior acts. Let each contain up to four scenes, numbered one to n (where n is less than or equal to 4). Thus "Act 3, Scene 1" is a unique identifier.

Structure of a scene:

Each scene contains one puzzle. The difference between a scene and a puzzle is that the scene may contain additional narrative elements which frame the puzzle. The scene should make the puzzle credible as a plot element. e.g if the puzzle is essentially a decipherment then the puzzle should be framed by the scene as intercepted (in some believable manner) communications between the conspirators.

Structure of a puzzle:

A puzzle may only depend on the narrative and its puzzle antecedents within its act. It should not depend on information outside the act. (unless we introduce a causality violating plot device). We want people to be able to enter the puzzle hunt "mid-flight".

Every puzzle must be believable as some kind of found object or question posed to the hunter by dramatic personae. Consequently, no puzzle shall have "instructions". The method of the puzzle is part of the puzzle.

The answer to each puzzle shall be a word in the dictionary, or a series of conjoined words. This means numerical puzzles must have some way of translating their answer to words. The "answer words" should tie into the scene in some believable way.

Each puzzle shall have three hints in order of how much they reveal. The hints must not look like instructions, but fit in with the second person narrative style. e.g "You notice something odd about every second number."