Let's Play: Trinity by Brian Moriarty

At this point, just to make it even sadder, the bird woman’s description changes from “An aged woman is selling crumbs nearby.” to “A forgotten woman, too aged to run, is sitting nearby.”

If you’re at Inverness Terrace, you’ll see the boy run off, and if you’re at The Wabe any message mentioning other people in the park will be shortened. There’s a lot of attention to detail.

Fun fact: While I haven’t looked much at the pre-release versions in @zarf 's Obsessively Complete Infocom Collection, I did notice that there is an additional puzzle in the Trinity beta versions. Where you’d expect The Wabe to be, instead there is…

Sleepy Glen

Beams of sunlight filtering through the overhanging trees make this an especially relaxing spot. Paths wander off in many directions across the glen, and a cunningly woven bower opens southeast into the surrounding thicket.

A soft breeze whispers soothingly through the trees.

>EXAMINE BOWER
The gnarled tendrils of the bower are woven in the form of a narrow archway. It leads southeast, into the surrounding thicket.

The sun-dappled grass and song of wild birds are so restful. This would be a wonderful place to sleep.

>WAIT
Time passes.

Yawn. The distant hum of insects is making you quite drowsy.

>WAIT
Time passes.

Warm, furry bunnies are snuggling around you. It’s getting hard to keep your eyes open.

>WAIT
Time passes.

Overcome by your tranquil surroundings, you sink into a lush bed of grass and drift into a deep, dreamless sleep. Not even the blare of air raid sirens is enough to wake you, and you never feel the touch of nuclear fire…

Death

You are dead.

Ok, let’s not do that again! Instead.

>SE
Your head brushes against the roof of the bower as you pass underneath.

Your drowsiness fades as you leave the sleepy glen.

Bower’s End

This end of the bower is so thickly woven, it’s difficult to see. But a bright little clearing, surrounded by a high spiked fence, is close at hand. A wrought iron gate is the only entrance.

>OPEN GATE
You pull and shake the wrought iron gate for a few moments, but to no avail. The latch is locked.

>PUT CREDIT CARD IN LATCH
You cunningly slip the credit card into the antique latch. With a gentle click, the wrought iron gate swings open.

[Your score just went up by 1 point. The total is now 1 out of 60.]

>SE
In The Wabe

You’re in a tiny circular clearing, barely twenty feet across, circumscribed by a high spiked fence and completely hidden from the outside world by the surrounding thicket. The only way out is through a wrought iron gate.

A shaft of golden sunlight falls across the face of a handsome antique sundial, erected at the exact center of the clearing.

After that, I assume it’s pretty much the same?

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So now we’re in a sort of hub area, filled with those giant toadstools. Here’s as much of it as I’ve mapped so far.

The rooms in blue have toadstools in them, and the ones in parentheses I’m assuming have to be there for symmetry, but I can’t reach them yet. I’ve specifically avoided going up from the Arboretum or the Bottom of Stairs; I want to map the ground level before I explore vertically at all.

The next update will start going through this. But first, are there any areas of this map that you’re particularly curious about?

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I’m most curious about the crater and surrounding areas, and the herb garden. All of them sound interesting, though.

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As a reminder, this is where we left off:

You step out of the white door.

Meadow

You’ve discovered a golden meadow, bordered on every side by a dense forest. The air is filled with dragonflies, and the wood echoes with the cry of mourning doves.

The door you just stepped from opens into a toadstool of impossible size. Its broad crown towers over your head like a fleshy umbrella.

A triangular shadow inches across the ground. Its sharp point is sweeping across the toadstool.

The shadow creeps away from the toadstool, and the door in the stem swings shut with a faint creak. You stare in wonder as the door shimmers and fades from view.

We just stepped out of a door in a giant toadstool, which disappeared behind us. Since the crown looks like an umbrella, I’m going to imagine this as a classic fly agaric:

fly agaric

Though given the symbolism of the game, maybe it’s meant to be a death cap instead:

death cap

Some sort of Amanita, at any rate. Big enough that there is—or, was—a door in the stalk. We’re now in a sort of “hub” area that connects all the rest of the game together, and I’m going to be exploring it a bit at a time. You’ll want to keep the map from the last post on hand; since this place is big and open, it’s really easy to get lost without it!

For now, though, there’s only one way to go…

>n
You ascend the gentle hill.

The West Side

Summit

The hill you’ve climbed lies at the southwest edge of a vast wilderness. Towering forests are broken by long tracts of wasteland, rugged plateaus and marshes shrouded in perpetual mist. A brooding sun fills the distant valleys with a sad, dusty light the color of antique brass.

A giant triangle, thousands of feet high, rises above the eastern treetops. Its vertex casts a long shadow across the wood.

As your eyes sweep the landscape, you notice more of the giant toadstools. There must be hundreds of them. Some sprout in clusters, others grow in solitude among the trees. Their numbers increase dramatically as your gaze moves westward, until the forest is choked with pale domes.

Ah, pale domes. So I think they are death caps. (Perhaps representing something else that takes the shape of a mushroom?) Everything in this area is a bit surreal, and it’s generally called “the Wabe”, because it’s laid out like a giant sundial—from here we can see the gnomon in the middle.

But I am curious why there are so many toadstools on the western side. The sun moves from east to west, which means the shadow on a sundial moves from west to east. So shouldn’t this be the earlier part of the Wabe?

Side note, I love “a sad, dusty light the color of antique brass”.

A glare lights up the sky! You look up just in time to see a meteor streak overhead.

Ooh! Make a wish!

Two turns later, this happens:

The meteor disappears below the horizon.

You feel the ground shudder, and hear a roar like thunder. Then everything is quiet.

Let’s go find that! …once we finish exploring.

South Bog

The ground is damp and squishy underfoot, especially along the stream that wanders west and southeast between the black trees.

A splintered log lies rotting in the mist at your feet. Its edges flicker with the eerie phosphorescence of decay.

>take log
The log crumbles into a heap of damp corruption when you try to move it. Only a big splinter of wood remains.

The splinter continues to flicker with the eerie phosphorescence of decay, and gives us one point when we take it. I think this is going to be our light source.

Waterfall

A curtain of water tumbles off the western cliffs into a deep, rocky pool. From there, a mountain stream wanders off into the forest. Footpaths follow the stream east, past a giant toadstool. The white door in its stem is closed.

A flight of stone steps has been hewn into the face of the north cliff.

“The white door in its stem is closed”, just taking for granted that there’s a white door in its stem. Because why wouldn’t there be?

>x toadstool
The toadstool must be at least twelve feet from base to crown. A closed white door is set into its fleshy stem.

>x door
The closed white door is of stately residential design.

As is proper for giant toadstools.

You carefully ascend the stone steps.

Cemetery

Gloomy statues lie toppled among the tombstones, their broken limbs and heads scattered like the carnage of a ghastly battle.

A granite crypt lies across the ground. Beyond it rises the mound of an ancient barrow. A black tunnel leads north, into the barrow.

Sudden drops fall away on every side but south, where a flight of stone steps descends the cliff.

>x crypt
The granite crypt must be hundreds of years old. It’s sealed shut with a heavy lid.

A name is engraved across the bottom of the crypt.

>read it
The name on the crypt is WABEWALKER.

Our predecessor here!

>open it
Beads of sweat stand out on your forehead as you strain against the lid. But it’ll take more leverage than you’ve got to budge it.

Leverage, hm? “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the Earth.” - Archimedes, allegedly. Keep an eye out for long pieces of metal.

Barrow

The splinter’s ghostly flicker does little to dispel the gloom of this subterranean passage. Craggy walls bend away to the north and south.

A small hole is visible in the wall.

A clatter breaks the silence! You turn, and watch helplessly as a spiked door crashes down across the south exit.

Something just moved.

You peer uneasily beyond the pool of light around the splinter. Nothing. Then, as your eyes adjust, you descry a vaguely human outline crouched against the tunnel wall.

“Barrow wight,” remarks a voice in your ear.

The barrow wight studies you with its red eye.

And that sounds like we just made the game unwinnable. Time to undo!

Next up: the south side! (And also hopefully some sketches, since I want to try to illustrate this LP.)

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I’m arbitrarily dividing the Wabe into four sections for the sake of a comprehensible LP, since it’s a big open area without any real chokepoints or bottlenecks to anchor your sense of direction. You’ll want to keep the map open while reading this!

The South Side

Forest Clearing

It must have taken centuries to cultivate the magnificent hedge rising before you. The tightly woven arborvitaes stretch eastward through the forest like a green wall, thirty feet high.

A barren hilltop is visible to the west. Many footpaths wander off between the trees.

Arborvitae (literally “tree of life”) is an alternate name for the thuja tree. Normally they’re nice little symmetrical conifers, used for decoration:

small thujas

But if you let them grow for centuries, well…

big thuja!

So imagine these, woven into a wall! There’s no chance of getting through this, so let’s go along it.

Trellises

A fortresslike wall of arborvitaes stretches east and west through the forest. The only breach is an identical pair of arched trellises.

A mountain stream trickles between the trees. Paths wander from its banks in many directions.

I choose to believe the trees are growing around the trellises like that gap in the photo above.

Arborvitaes

Barely eighteen inches separate the thick walls of arborvitae that tower on either side. They form an uncomfortably narrow corridor that bends sharply to the east and northeast.

That’s a very strange way for a path to bend.

Arboretum

A spectacular pergola of arborvitaes arches over your head like a great green Ferris wheel. Its tangled surfaces are peculiarly twisted, making it difficult to tell where the inside ends and the outside begins.

Steep, leafy tunnels curve up into the pergola to the north and south. Other paths lead east and west, into the surrounding hedge.

An abstract sparkling sculpture stands between the tunnels. The words Felix Klein 1849-1925 are inscribed on the base.

Oh, wow.

>x sculpture
The sparkling sculpture looks like a crystalline bottle, eight feet high, with a polished surface that twists in impossible curves. It’s hard to tell where the outside of the sculpture ends and the inside begins.

The words Felix Klein 1849-1925 are inscribed on the base.

So this would be a Klein bottle:

Klein bottle

It’s basically the three-dimensional version of the Möbius strip: a three-dimensional surface twisted through four dimensions so that it only has one side. (It looks like it has to cut through itself, but that’s because we’re seeing it in three dimensions: if you draw a flat picture of a Möbius strip, you’ll see its edges seem to cross over too.)

As one mathematician put it:

A mathematician named Klein
Thought the Möbius band was divine.
Said he: “If you glue
The edges of two,
You’ll get a weird bottle like mine.”

I’m guessing the pergola is also a Klein bottle, maybe in one of the other “immersions” (ways of projecting a four-dimensional object down into three-dimensional space), like this one.

immersion of a Klein bottle

I think that would make a very nice pergola.

We could go north or south into it, but I’m avoiding anything vertical until I’ve mapped out the whole horizontal area. So the only other way to go is east, which takes us to another Arborvitaes room that’s the exact mirror of the last one. Which means the last room to explore in the south section is:

Bottom of Stairs

The triangular structure before you must be thousands of feet high. It divides the sky like a razor, casting a stern, precise shadow over the surrounding landscape.

A narrow stairway climbs north, up the hypotenuse of the triangle. Footpaths converge on the stair from every direction.

Aha! This must be the base of the gnomon! Which I’m also ignoring for the moment, until I’m done with horizontal exploration. Because that looks quite vertical, and thousands of feet worth of stairs is going to be exhausting.

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Remember that mountain stream, that’s flowed from the waterfall along the Trellises? Let’s see where it goes!

The East Side

The Bend

An exhausted stream trickles into a river that bends to the south and east. The opposite shore is veiled behind a thick mist.

Paths meander off in many directions from the river’s edge.

Trying south first.

The River

You’re on a lifeless strip of sand beside a great river. The water is unnaturally dark and still; ribbons of mist coil across its surface like ghostly fingers, obscuring what lies beyond.

Footpaths wander north, west and northwest. Turning south, you see a magnificent hedge growing in an unbroken wall to the river’s edge.

As you peer across the river you notice a lone vessel gliding out of the fog.

A lone vessel?

If we wait around for a few minutes, we can learn more about this vessel:

The oarsman guides his dory to a soundless landing.

A puff of wind ripples the water.

Eddies of sand swirl across the shore and coalesce into ghostly figures of dust and vapor. Before you can think or move, you find yourself amid a gathering of human shades, pale and gaunt, silent as death.

The ghostly shades begin to converge on the dory. One by one, they step into the vessel, hand the oarsman a silver coin, and take a seat.

The last of the shades seats itself in the crowded dory.

With practiced skill, the oarsman pushes his crowded dory away from the shore.

You watch as the dory and its passengers glide across the river, vanishing at last into obscurity.

It seems this is not just a river, but the River.

And based on the layout of the map, I’m guessing one of our final puzzles will be crossing it. South from the eastern bank there should be a mushroom, and once you’ve crossed the River Styx, how do you escalate your puzzles any further?

What about the eastern branch?

Moor

Tall, solemn cattails line the banks of a great river that flows eastward across the silent moor. A dense fog on the water obscures your view of the opposite shore.

A pair of giant toadstools is growing among the cattails. The larger one has a closed white door set into the stem.

Two toadstools? But only one door…

Crater’s Edge

The forest around you is bent and splintered, as if a mighty fist had smashed through the branches. Sooty fumes hang in the air; the earth is dark with ashes and rubble.

The eastern path ends at the lip of a deep crater, forty or fifty feet across.

Oh hey! I can guess what made this crater!

If you find the remains of a shooting star, do you get a second wish?

You climb down into the crater.

Crater

A dark cloud of smoke fills the air with an acrid, smoldering stench. Blackened rubble covers the sides and bottom of the crater.

A glowing lump of metal lies half-buried at your feet.

You can feel the gnomon pulling towards the lump of metal.

Dibs!

>get metal
You recklessly burn your fingers on the hot metal. Ouch!

Owwwww. Apparently it’s not glowing because it’s magic, it’s glowing because it’s really really hot.

But also, it seems to be a magnet. We’ll have to find some way to cool it down; I’m sure a magnet is useful somewhere!

Now, for the home stretch!

The North Side

Under Cliff

Smooth walls of rock vault straight up and then lean inward, forming a natural roof that partially hides the sky. Trails lead out from under the cliff in many directions.

A swarm of bees has staked out this formation for itself by building an enormous hive under the arch. The faint buzzing sound from the hive is magnified by the cliff’s acoustics into a loud, frightening drone.

Not even gonna try to steal that hive. Not without proper beekeeping garb.

Chasm’s Brink

The chasm at your feet is striped with colorful layers of rock. Narrow paths twist northeast and northwest, uneasily close to the edge. Other trails lead off into the forest.

To the north, a rocky mesa towers like a golf tee from the depths of the chasm. Only thirty feet separate you from its flattened summit.

An oak tree stands at the chasm’s brink.

A soap bubble appears high overhead. It hovers for a moment before it bursts with a flabby pop.

Again based on the map layout, I’m guessing there’s a toadstool over on the mesa. And I’m also guessing we’re going to have to fell that oak tree to make a bridge! But probably not with our bare hands.

North Bog

A thick, suffocating miasma lingers among the trees; the black earth is squishy with corruption. You can hear dripping liquids and other moist sounds close by.

Paths wander off in many directions. High rock walls curve away to the north and southwest.

A dark shadow creeps eastward across the ground.

A big Venus flytrap is growing nearby. Its crimson jaws are wide open, exposing a cavity that gleams with sweet-smelling ichor.

Speaking of the gnomon, it seems to be keeping good time.

Promontory

This crag of rock juts out over the surrounding chasm, ending at an abrupt drop several hundred feet deep. Rugged trails wind south and southeast.

A rather large boy sits nearby, listening to a pair of headphones and idly blowing soap bubbles. There’s a dish full of soapy water by his side.

The boy dips the bubble wand in the dish and swishes it around.

I recognize this boy!

>x boy
The boy measures approximately forty feet from head to toe, and probably weighs several tons. He’s wearing a pair of stereo headphones.

The boy pulls the bubble wand out of the dish, puts it to his lips and blows a big soap bubble.

Oh. So that’s what “rather large” means.

I also have no idea what he’s meant to symbolize. Anyone want to take a guess?

Back around to the other side of the mesa:

Bluff

A spectacular crop of toadstools extends far and wide across the valley below. Narrow trails curve southeast and southwest, away from the edge of the bluff.

To the east stands a little cottage, nestled in a shady copse. The front door is closed.

Cottage?

>e
The front door is closed.

Oh right. Early games.

>open door
You open the front door.

>e
Cottage

An iron cauldron, brown with the crust of years, squats in the middle of this tiny chamber. Coils of steam writhe from its depths, filling the air with a greasy stench that makes your nose wrinkle. Luckily, the front door is wide open. Another door leading east is closed.

A crudely drawn map hangs upon the wall.

The biggest book you’ve ever seen lies open on a pedestal in the corner.

There’s a birdcage here. Inside the birdcage you see a magpie.

The magpie blinks at you.

A witch’s cottage, no less! I’m specifically trying not to get into any puzzles until I finish exploring, so let’s try the back door first.

Herb Garden

A tall fence protects the neat rows of herbs from predators. The only exit is the open back door of the cottage, leading west.

Another giant toadstool has taken root in a patch of thyme. The white door in its stem is closed.

A pile of refuse lies in the corner.

Okay, I know I’m avoiding puzzles, but when you see a pile of refuse you just gotta SEARCH it.

>x pile
It’s just a dry heap of discarded stalks and dirt.

>search pile
You find nothing in the pile except a rotten clove of garlic.

>x garlic
The clove of garlic is at least a year old.

Yay!

And I think that’s the first phase of our exploration done. Next time, we check out the Pergola and the Gnomon, and start actually trying to solve some puzzles!

03.txt (22.3 KB)

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This one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc6F47Z6PI4

I assumed it was a sarcastic reference to “Little Boy”, another nuclear bomb attack in history.

You didn’t, but it’s better to save first.

I know what the toadstools represent! Should I ruin it or not?

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Herb Garden

A tall fence protects the neat rows of herbs from predators. The only exit is the open back door of the cottage, leading west.

Another giant toadstool has taken root in a patch of thyme.

A pile of refuse lies in the corner.

>PICK THYME

Better not. There isn’t much thyme left.

I love the way the wordplay adds to the game’s atmosphere.

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I’m assuming the mushroom clouds from nuclear explosions, but I’m actually not sure that’s right, because there are so many more of them in the west (which is the earlier side of a sundial).

HA! Hadn’t seen that one but I love it.

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The only thing is the mushrooms appear directly where the explosion landed (in the prologue, “the missile is hanging directly above the door”. It also happens in all the areas).

I thought the map was supposed to be a representation of the world: they represent where nuclear bomb explosions have occurred across the map (Greenwich time, I guess? Could also be some other one).

Oh, and if you think about the symmetrical map of the hub, it looks like a toadstool, but could be a explosion.

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I replayed this recently, and I think the west is the later side of this sundial! Kind of weird, I suppose, but chronologically west is later.

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It might actually be a clue for that upcoming puzzle, in that case!

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When I visited London for the first time in ‘02 (benefitting from a post 9/11 travel package discount) I remembered the description of the Albert Memorial from playing Trinity 15 years earlier, and that was the monument I MOST looked forward to seeing when I arrived.

I loved it. I don’t think the description in Trinity was fair at all.

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If so, he’s 4 times larger (in size) than its referent (PICK UP is probably not an option here). Perhaps a sign of his/its outsize influence on the world?

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This is what they look like on the back of the box, but I don’t know how much say Brian Moriarty had in that. (Image taken from MobyGames, since it’s almost certainly better looking than if I photographed mine.)

image

If we go with the mushrooms as nuclear explosions there have been quite a lot of them in the western part of the US, but that may be over-thinking it. Anyway, here’s a time-lapse of nuclear tests that I always found to be both fascinating and frightening:

(Who would have thought that staring at almost 15 minutes of beeps and boops could be so captivating.)

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This adds to my point:

A lot more explosions as you look west. Obviously, this is only when you see the map from East Asian meridians. But maybe that’s what you are looking at - is it from the old woman/little girl’s perspective?

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In the northern hemisphere, gnomons should point north. If the gnomon is east of the Summit (as suggested by the giant triangle rising above the eastern treetops), then this suggests that east on the map is north geographically. (This could get confusing. Also, I’m assuming this isn’t meant to be set in the southern hemisphere because so far no geographical locations that are in Earth’s southern hemisphere have been mentioned).

The fact that the shadow of the gnomon is in the meadow, south-west of the triangle’s point, indicates you’re in mid-afternoon. Possibly even the time you left Hyde Park.

However, if this is a timeline of nuclear blasts, the past would be in the east and the future in the west. Remember at the very beginning, we had sharp words between superpowers, tanks and reports of satellite blackouts? What if we also had nuclear tests - then or in the previous 10 years that were after Trinity’s release - which our lower-upper-class protagonist did not deign to notice in case it spoilt his continental breakfast? That would explain the profusion of mushrooms in the starting meadow (which I’m taking on this hypothesis to reflect the “present” year of 1996 and the preceding decade). Any mushrooms north of this would be after the game ends (at least on this hypothesis) and so we definitely wouldn’t see them on a real-life timeline either. Only the parts south, south-east and east would reflect the timeline that both we and Trinity know.

If there are relatively few mushrooms in the south, and more in the east, with larger ones appearing while progressing (perhaps representing the number who were known to have died as a result of particular bombs), that could support the hypothesis.

None of this is mutually exclusive with the geographical perspective hypothesis.

Edit: sundials are hemispherically-orientated, as alluded to in the first paragraph. This makes it possible that only the northern hemisphere was meant to be represented on this map, if this is a geographical perspective map. At this point, it could work orientated from Japan (if it’s number of tests) or Greenwich (if it’s tonnage).

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I believe the gnomon is rising up to the north from Base of Stairs, which is east (or rather east-north-east) of the Summit, so couldn’t map north still be the same as geographic north? It’s pointing north, but it’s located east of the Summit, since it’s a really really huge sundial.

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OK, that makes sense. In that case, the large number of mushrooms so far encountered are in the south-west of whatever’s being mapped.

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