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Solutions for Act II Scene 4 - The Intersecting Identifiers

These scattered images depict a number of different locations and a few symbols. What could connect them? Lines between those black dots, for one thing, but how do we know which joins with which?

Recognising the theme behind the pictures is the first step of this puzzle, and we should start by identifying what these locations are. Some of the more obvious location names are "hospital", "carnival", and "elevator." Others are slightly harder, such as "slope", "village", "mill", and "window."

Throwing a few of these into Google together gives us our theme: A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket.

The Bad Beginning
The Reptile Room
The Wide Window
The Miserable Mill
The Austere Academy
The Ersatz Elevator
The Vile Village
The Hostile Hospital
The Carnivorous Carnival
The Slippery Slope
The Grim Grotto
The Penultimate Peril
The End

Most of these locations can now be easily matched with a book in the series. "The Bad Beginning" and "The End" are marked by the arrow and cross respectively, and "The Penultimate Peril" is the triangular danger sign. The next step is much easier: connect the dots from the start of the series through to the end, giving us this diagram:

For the next step, we turn to the title: "The Intersecting Identifiers." The title's format was a clue for the book series, but its content doesn't yet make sense. The "intersecting" part probably refers to the lines that intersect in the above diagram, and the "identifiers" part is likely hinting at the information we haven't yet used: the 'unfortunate adjectives' used to describe the setting in each book title. The next step, then, is to consider the intersecting lines as if the corresponding identifiers for those locations were intersecting. Since "The End" doesn't have an identifier, the identifier corresponding to each line must be from the location at that line's start point. The line connecting the arrow and the room, for example, corresponds to the identifier "BAD."

But what is the intersection of two words? Why, the letters that they have in common. By applying this rule to each intersection, we recover the following letters:

That leaves us with the letters LIABUAREDE. The final step is to unscramble this anagram. Since putting it into an anagram engine doesn't output anything that makes sense, it is probably a proper noun related to the puzzle theme, and one of the most obvious such words is BAUDELAIRE, the answer.


Design Notes:
This puzzle was originally intended to be included with last year's hunt, but the step of identifying the book series was considered to be slightly too difficult. However, after the MUMS and CiSRA Puzzle Hunts' recent use of the book series this year, we realised that we weren't going to get a better opportunity to use it. In hindsight, anagramming the intersections' letters may have actually been the most difficult step, and ideally we should have addressed this.

We also unfortunately had no time to find a less guessable solution, but believe from the guesslog that the guessability was not a major issue in this case.

The answer is: baudelaire