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Solutions for Act V Scene 4 - Temple Run

We seem to be presented with a bunch of foldable nets, which fold into long, flat, open boxes. Based on the title Temple Run as well as this year's Puzzle Hunt theme of the Mayan prophecies, it seems most likely we want to stack these shapes so that they form rudimentary step pyramids.

The question of how to stack them is probably the trickiest step of the puzzle. Stacking all layers of the same colour doesn't seem particularly helpful/elucidating, but since there are five layers and only four colours, there doesn't seem to be any good colouring order otherwise. The only other things we can use are the arrows on the tops of the layers and the letters on the sides.

One fair guess to make is that the coloured circles attached to the arrows on the tops of certain layers point out coloured tiers in some way. It's likely that, for instance, a pyramid layer with a red-circled arrow on top ought have a red layer stacked on top of it at some point for its arrow to be pointing out the "correct colour". However there must be more rules governing this fact, since some layers have different colours associated with the arrows on them.

The other thing we can try to do is make words with the letters reading down the sides of the step pyramids. It soon becomes apparent however that it's not easy to make many common words, and even harder to make four pyramids with common words that have any sort of relevance.

After some experimenting and reflection on the puzzle theme, the solver is expected to hit upon forming proper nouns with the letters instead - and in particular, names of gods (to tie into the fact these are temples). Mayan gods seem like a good start, and indeed two of the best-known Mayan gods, Ixtab and Votan, can both be made from the letters available (reading down the side of appropriate pyramids). Another hint this is the right idea is that we get to use that pesky X on one of the second-tier layers.

Furthermore, two more Mayan god names can be constructed from the remaining pieces, namely Tohil and Yaluk. But what about the arrows? Intriguingly, four of the arrows are labelled with an M, which could feasibly stand for "Mayan". Possibly with a bit of reshuffling, we can organise the temples so they spell out the four aforementioned god names AND so that the arrows marked with an M have their associated colours pointing to the correctly-coloured layers.

To better explain this, see the below image, where the nets of the layers have been stacked to show the configuration required for the Mayan names and M-arrows to work. While the arrows are covered by the nets in this configuration, they've been placed over the letters they point to as demonstration.

Most intriguingly, the M-arrows point to the letters spelling out GIVE if we order by rainbow on the temples' tops. GIVE is not much of a message though, so the next leap is to realise that we can create more sets of four temples that spell out various gods' names. The letters associated with the arrows are a big hint here: The E's, N's, and R's likely each stand for Egyptian, Norse, and Roman.

Following this lead, the other god names can be found - respectively Khnum/Neith/Horus/Ammit, Baldr/Freyr/Meili/Skadi, and Diana/Ceres/Pluto/Janus. The correct stacking order for each set is presented in summary below:

Again reading off the arrows by temple-top rainbow order for each set, but also by alphabetical order for each religion, we get the message TOPS GIVE THE LOCUS. The "tops" here must refer to the tops of the pyramids, which in each set interestingly always point in different directions. Interpretting "locus" as "relative location", we can assume that for each set, we can place the pyramids at the corners of an imaginary square so that the corner each ends up in corresponds to the direction its top arrow is pointing (when we take all the pyramids to be facing forwards when we can read the god names on them). For example, the KHNUM temple should be placed south-west, the NEITH temple south-east, the HORUS temple north-east, and the AMMIT temple north-west.

So we have four sets of four pyramids, in each case arranged at the corners of an imaginary square. The only things we haven't completely used are all the layers' colours, and the full title. The entire title, Temple Run, is meant to imply running between temples. If we imagine stacking all the red layers (for instance) to construct each pyramid, we'd have to place the biggest one first, then walk to whichever temple contains the second-biggest red layer and place that one, then continue to the temple containing the third-biggest red layer, etc. After all is said and done, running between these four temples should trace out some sort of shape. Furthermore we can do this for each colour.

Testing this out on the first (Egyptian) set traces out four promising letters - arranging by rainbow order again, the letters turn out to be SECO. Again to better explain the above, check out the top row of the below image, which shows the shapes traced out by the red layers in order, then yellow, green, and blue. Continuing the same process for the other three sets yields less nice, but still recognisable, letters:

Altogether we get the following message (interpretting the slash as an unfortunately wonky I): SECOND INDIE MOVIE. The second Indiana Jones movie is nicknamed Temple of Doom, which was the intended thematic answer.


Design Notes:
This puzzle originally had an extra first step, in which the tops of all the layers were covered in arrows, and the building mechanic was supposed to entail creating valid mazes as ruled by the arrows when starting from the top of each pyramid. Dead ends were also included, which served to disprove certain construction ideas, as well as remove potential ambiguities in stacking. Following through a complete maze lead the solver to the TOPS GIVE THE LOCUS message which was clued by lone arrows in the final version.

This arrow-maze step was also supposed to lead into what is now the first step, namely recognising that you want to spell out gods' names down the fronts of the pyramids. Unfortunately, an irreparable error was spotted in this first maze step and the only solution was to scrap the entire step. Doubly unfortunately, this made the new first step far harder, for which I definitely apologise! I was super impressed by those teams that managed to find the hidden gods' names without any hints.

I went through many different ideas for an alternative first step, but almost all of them ended up introducing too many red herrings. In the end, we settled on the coloured-letters-plus-lone-arrows approach, since it at least still hinted when one was on the right track and had the added benefit of implying the order-alphabetically-by-religion mechanic that came up later.

It's also worth noting that the final message was incredibly difficult to construct. It turns out there is a very limited number of possible quartets of letters that can be traced out given the puzzle's restrictions, so the best I could hope for was a message with recognisable letters and a strongly thematic final answer. I also wanted the first four letters to be as neat as possible, hence settling on the message the puzzle ended up delivering. I'm still really disappointed about the slanting I, but it was the nicest compensatory move I could make for the extremely restrictive encryption.

Finally, while I expected people to find the first two steps the least elucidating, it seemed from the guesslog and from progress emails we received from some of the teams that several people got stuck interpretting the "TOPS GIVE THE LOCUS" message. While "locus" is not the nicest word to use in this case, testing hadn't revealed it being much of a stumbling block. While a better word like LOCATION or POSITION would have of course been preferable, again the restrictions imposed by the message extraction method meant that nicer words were unfortunately not constructable.

The answer is: templeofdoom