the Codex

A secret community of Escape Enthusiasts in Toronto


We use a lot of terms here, and sometimes a term is just particular to us. Or to Errol. He likes to create puzzles and keeps an eye out for certain puzzle designs and faux pas. Thus, he has used these terms to be clear when describing puzzles.


Open Path vs Linear Design – A room can be designed where one puzzle leads to the next, or a number of puzzles are available at once and you can solve in any order. For the most part, open path rooms have a combination of linearity, where the final puzzle can only be solved at the end.

Task Based Puzzle – A puzzle that requires a particular process to finish after initially ‘solving’ how it works. For example, Towers of Hanoi or a Sudoku puzzle. You may discern how the puzzle needs to be solved, but the actual process to complete will take some time.

Brute Force – Attempting every permutation of a combination to open the lock. When you have all the numbers of a combination save one, brute forcing the lock is a simple process.

Rabbit Trail – An erroneous process to discern the solution to a puzzle. A puzzle is poorly designed for an escape room if the solution has too many potential paths to an answer. For an extreme example, let’s say you were given the number ‘5’ and were asked for the next number in the sequence. This is unfair because the potential answer is literally infinite. If you were given the sequence ‘5, 25’, then the potential path to the answer is significantly smaller, but still open ended. If a puzzle is also a task based puzzle, this is extremely unfair because working through potential answers could take up considerable time.

Trial & Error – A puzzle that requires you to try multiple answers with no clue identifying which answer is the correct one.

Red Herring – A clue or puzzle purposefully inserted to lead the player away from solving the room.

Obfuscation – Hiding a needle in a haystack. The purpose of obfuscation is to hide the answer, not to search through the clutter. A good example would be finding a key word amongst a stack of books. It is laborious to try every word in all the books when a clue will pinpoint the correct word to use.

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