Solution to Oh, the Places You'll Go!

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by Jakob Weisblat

We are presented with a text adventure in which there are nine different areas, all of which are connected to a single room in the middle. Each area has a person in it, but that person is not from the same source material as the rest of the content in that area.

As we identify the areas, we can find that the missing people seem to each come from a different area from the one they are placed in. Additionally, there are items scattered throughout the world. Giving the correct item to a person results in a line of dialog that helps confirm who they are and helps confirm which world they are from.

The flavor hints that the number of rooms in each world is important, so we index the number of rooms from the area where the character “should” be into the name of that character. The rooms are given in alphabetical order by name of source material, so we have to reorder. It makes sense to use a cycle. The description of the gardener additionally mentions that, more than anyone else you've seen, he has an aura of firstness about him. This suggests starting with him in the cycle.

The blanks at the bottom of the puzzle suggest that we need to extract a nine-letter phrase, but there are only eight characters. This leads us to realize that we are the ninth character. Examining oneself in the puzzle yields “You're quite a character”, which helps confirm this. Ordering and indexing as described above, we get W?O ARE YOU. Filling in the blank with an H, we know that our character must be from the unpaired place (Wonderland) and have an H in the fourth spot. This means we must be the DUCHESS or the MAD HATTER. The final disambiguation is that when we pick up the tea in the Posh Dining Room, we are told that we feel like we belong here. Thus, the answer to the question WHO ARE YOU, and to the puzzle, is MAD HATTER.

DoorWorld ReferencePersonItemReal nameArea person comes from (door no.)# of roomsExtract
1Alice in WonderlandgardenerDaggers (Barrow-blades, found in the Fortress)Samwise Gamgee54W
8Welcome to Night Vale(player)Tea (found on the table in the Posh Dining Room)???(H)...14(H)
9(The) Wizard of OzscientistDog (Aubergine, found in lane two of the Bowling Alley)Carlos the Scientist85O
6Peter Panstill dudeDiploma (found in the display case at the palace in the City)Scarecrow93A
3Frozenyoung boyPipes (found on the bed in the Underground Home)Peter Pan65R
7(The) Princess BridereindeerCarrot (found on the feast table at the Castle)Sven33E
4(The) Kingkiller ChroniclepirateMysterious white powder (iocaine, found in the market in the Great Square)Westley77Y
2Broken EarthscholarDragon book (The Mating Habits of the Common Draccus, found in the library)Devan Lochees47O
5Lord of the Ringsstone womanCrystal (obelisk, found in the Middle-of-nowhere Community)Essun24U

Author’s Notes

Long ago, this puzzle started as a travel diary visiting various fictional countries like Val Verde and Wakanda - but that format didn't feel very interesting. Then it involved a text adventure with geography isomorphic to Europe, but that involved way too many characters, and it also felt a little close to another puzzle in this round. After much brainstorming, we came to this idea. Many thanks to my tireless editors Rahul and Lewis for all their help.