Solution to Escape! Hayden Library

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by Nathan Pinsker

This is a virtual escape room. Solvers are trapped in Hayden Library until they solve the puzzle. They must move around the play area and interact with objects in specific ways to progress and eventually escape.

There are several objects on the first floor of Hayden: two lockboxes that require codes; a large, red button; pieces of paper and magazines that can be examined to reveal information. We can examine these in any order we like, but we'll start with the magazines in the right corner.

The piece of paper by the computer:

Shaking this piece of paper reveals the message "Like this!" underneath the text. This suggests that there may be hidden information on pages, only made visible by shaking them.

A blue piece of paper nearby shows some constellations:

A piece of paper near it contains a riddle:

There are 14 chairs in the room, which makes a total of 28 keys. Entering "28" into the lockbox in the center of the room gives this message:

The remaining "keys" are the 88 keys of the piano in the corner. Thus the total number of keys in the room is actually 28 + 88, or 116. Entering "116" into the lockbox gives this image:

This suggests that the next item of interest is the button. After some experimentation, and noticing the Morse code sheet near the button, we may happen on the idea of inputting "stairs" in Morse code. When we do this, the room will shake, and stairs will appear up to the Hayden Library atrium.

Up in the atrium, there are several more pieces of paper to examine. First up, a note with more constellations on it:

There is a star chart on the wall, which (together with the two pieces of blue paper) depicts twelve constellations that we can identify:

Ai Ixa Crii Dama Didia Kata
Dama Ixa Mipha Snae Born Didia

There's a note with details on "ley lines":

There's also an image of the lower floor of Hayden, with a red "X" marked on it. The image is made of shake paper — so shaking the image will also reveal a green "X" as well:

Based on these two pieces of information, we can intuit that a player should go stand at those locations. When they stand at one of these locations, a piece of paper will materialize in the corresponding spot on the top floor.

Here's the paper corresponding to the red "X":

And here's the piece of paper corresponding to the green "X":

The first piece of paper suggests that we can now open the second lockbox on the lower floor with the code "1529". Doing so gives us this piece of paper:

We can overlay this piece of paper onto the magazine about Hayden's history:

This suggests that we're looking for a nine-digit code, and the first three digits are those circled in green, red, and blue, or "954".

The second piece of paper (corresponding to the green "X") suggests that we can enter codes into the lockboxes backwards to access a secret compartment. Opening the first lockbox with the code "611" yields this slip:

This tells us the center three digits, which are "905".

Finally, we haven't entered the lockbox in the corner's code backwards. Entering "9251" into that lockbox earns us this:

This allows us to convert our constellations on the star chart above to letters:


Which, together with the note on the corner of the sheet, suggests the final three digits of the code are "028".

Finally, entering "954905028" into the door will unlock it. We're out!

Once outside, the Game Master will simply give us the answer, which is ESCAPE VELOCITY.

Author’s Notes

For the first 50 teams or so, I prepared a small Zoom interaction prior to opening the puzzle for them: we'd pose as an ⊥IW Puzzle Club member who was running the Hayden Escape Room as a "fundraiser" for their club. This was our team's first chance to directly interact with players throughout Hunt, and a lot of people chipped in to do these interactions with me, which I'm grateful for. The script we used is below.

(show script)

The "Hayden Library" of ⊥IW combines my favorite parts of MIT's Hayden and Lewis libraries. I imagined an open, spacious room with wall-to-wall windows and a beautiful daytime view; a spiral staircase; a cozy atrium full of pillows, where students would fall asleep studying at night; and plenty of musical instruments to jam with.

This puzzle was written shortly after we made the decision to run this hunt purely online. I felt the world of ⊥IW offered a lot of potential to create dedicated puzzle spaces, and I wanted to capture as much of a "real escape room" feel as possible. I was originally hoping to write two escape rooms, and this would be the "easier" escape room to contrast with a harder and more intricate Student Center escape room later in the hunt, but this one took a huge amount of work (and the art team was really busy, so I did all the art) and I didn't get around to that. Still, I'm super happy with how this one came out, and I hope that it was a cozy and fun little solving experience!