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Solutions for Act II Scene 3 - Tag

The first page of this puzzle depicts twisting strings running between boards with pins in them. There is no immediately obvious way to interpret this, so it makes sense to start at the more recognisable images shown in the second page.

Some of these images are certainly more identifiable than others, though with enough words collected one can start guessing at the less well-clued words after recognising tags with the same labelled letter have their pictures presented in alphabetical order.

It can be difficult to see any common theme or rule that the words follow - they vary in length and letter distribution, and while many seem to start or end with the same two or three letters, they cannot be chained in any satisfying way that maps to the twisting strings image. It turns out the longer words are the main giveaways here: in particular ALPHABET, but also words like MICRONS, CHIPS, CHIDE, PHIAL, and AMMAN. They seem to all contain the names of Greek letters, or at least substrings of Greek letters - namely ALPHA, OMICRON, CHI, PHI, and GAMMA. In fact, all these words can be found bridging the gap between two Greek letters placed side by side: alpha beta, omicron sigma, chi psi, chi delta, gamma nu, etc.

This is promising, because each board in the string image has 24 pins in it, and there are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet. The title "Tag" also fits this rule, lying between "beta gamma", as well as describing the end/start of something, and often the scene aired after a show's or movie's credits intended to bridge the story between episodes. It makes sense then that a tag might be placed on the string section joining pins corresponding to the Greek letters that sandwich the tag's associated word. Indeed there is a string running between the first and second pins of respective boards, corresponding to alpha and beta and therefore the tag with the ALPHABET image.

Following through with this mechanic, one can confirm any ambiguities (for example whether LONG lies between epsilon/upsilon and gamma), as well as any unidentified images (for example the first (appalling) image can only imply APPAL in order to label the string section between kappa and lambda). Altogether the tags can be identified as (in order):

ImageGreek letters
appalkappa/lambda
chipschi/psi
longepsilon/gamma
mapssigma/psi
mazegamma/zeta
Nukanu/kappa
tapstheta/psi
tazedelta/zeta
micronsomicron/sigma
takazeta/kappa
taxizeta/xi
Machgamma/chi
Tatabeta/tau
chidechi/delta
datalambda/tau
e-TAGtheta/gamma
Gagaomega/gamma
hakaalpha/kappa
muchmu/chi
phialphi/alpha
sipspsi/psi
G-mansigma/nu
sidepsi/delta
alphabetalpha/beta
hopsrho/psi
sizepsi/zeta
croneomicron/epsilon
Nudenu/delta
pathkappa/theta
Sithpsi/theta
Ammangamma/nu

With the string sections tagged appropriately, we can finally pay attention to the large letters written on each tag. Travelling down each string and taking letters in turn, starting from the leftmost string promisingly gives the (sometimes obscure) words HAG, EGAD, HAL, DAO, TAUT, OTAN, MATH, HOE, HAD.

Evidently we would like to use the puzzle mechanic a second time here, finding pairs of Greek letters that each word could lie between. Luckily most words have uniquely determined edge letters, and those that are ambiguous can be resolved when trying to extract a message. We get:

WordGreek letters
HAGalpha/gamma
EGADomega/delta
HALalpha/lambda
DAOlambda/(omicron/omega)
TAUTtau/(theta/tau)
OTANiota/nu
MATH(gamma/sigma)/theta
HOErho/(epsilon/eta)
HADalpha/delta

Two of the ambiguities are between long and short forms of the same vowel (O and E respectively), so we probably don't need to worry about these. Choosing theta over tau and gamma over sigma in the other two ambiguities leads to the transliterated message A GOD ALLOTTING THREAD, with spaces loosely indicated by the frayed sections of some strings. This message indicates one of the three Moirai or Fates of Ancient Greek mythology, namely Lachesis, whose name literally means "allotter". The Fates were described as determining the outcome of all mortals' lives by weaving individual threads through a loom's tapestry, which the twisted string image attempts to reference. Lachesis being the middle sister and having the job of assigning the thread positions makes her the most fitting answer to this puzzle. As an added bonus connection, the Moirai are typically recognised for creating the Greek alphabet along with Hermes in ancient myths.


Design notes:
This puzzle was originally titled "Alphabet Tag", but this was deemed too much of a giveaway for the core puzzle mechanic. Instead the ALPHABET tag was included in the puzzle itself. It's likely this change by itself pushed the puzzle too far forward in difficulty, but hopefully the discovery of the Greek alphabet connection was a rewarding one for those who solved it.

The answer is: lachesis