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Gamesters of Triskelion

My orignal plan, when designing the Octamaze puzzle, was that it would serve double duty, being both my gift to everyone at Gathering for Gardner 8 and something to torture the interns with at the 2008 Microsoft Intern Puzzleday. Sadly, though, it became quite clear during initial playtesting that Octamaze would be too difficult for the intern event. (I was willing to make the mathematicians, puzzlers, and magicians at G4G8 work harder...)

Still, I thought I could at least reuse the primary mechanical idea of Octamaze, and so I started from there when designing the Gamesters of Triskelion puzzle; I did, though, make that part a bit easier. The 2008 Puzzleday theme, for those of you who didn't recognize it immediately from the title, was Space, including many science-fiction references. I was put in mind of the Gamesters of Triskelion episode from the original Star Trek series by the triangular shape of the pieces from Octamaze, and somehow it occurred to me to check whether or not "triskelion" was actually a normal English word. As it happens, it is: a triskelion is a (sometimes quite literally) three-legged motif from heraldry and graphic design. I particularly liked some of the more modern interpretations of the motif, so I incorporated one into the etching on the pieces.

Gamesters of Triskelion is the third in my series of multi-stage puzzles, where solving one stage of the puzzle creates another puzzle for you to solve, on through some number of stages until you reach a single-word or short-phrase final answer. I'm having a lot of fun designing such puzzles, so you can expect the series to continue for quite a while.

Unlike most of my puzzles, this one comes with some "flavor text", not essential to solving the puzzle, but perhaps helpful:

Captain's log, stardate 3211.9: We are leaving starsystem M-24 Alpha, having convinced the three disembodied Providers, the one-time Gamesters of Triskelion, to help their former gladiators to form a new, free civilization. This should end the deadly gambling in their obsessively triangular fighting arena.

As we left orbit, the Providers transported a small octahedron onto the bridge, along with an engraved tablet (three sided, of course) in what appears to be their language. During transport, the faces of the octahedron detached from one another, so now we have eight triangular pieces.

Spock believes it will be straightforward to reassemble them since, he says, they can only fit together in one way. He is more puzzled about the meaning of the etchings on the faces, and how they might relate to the tablet, but assumes that this will become clear once the octahedron is back together.

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