The Test of the Mind
Order of the Stick comic
Comic no. 327
Date published 26 June 2006.
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Haley thinks outside the box to solve a classic logic puzzle.

Cast Edit

Transcript Edit

Panel 1

The party approaches two men, one red, one green. They stand in front of a signpost with signs pointing "Right" and "Left".
Roy: Huh, looks like a fork in the road.
Elan: Better than a spoon or knife in the road! Ha ha ha!
Roy: Truly, you wit has never been equaled. Surpassed, often, but never equaled.

Panel 2

Roy: Hey there! Green guy and red guy! Which of these paths leads to the Oracle?
Red guard: Left.
Green guard: No, right.

Panel 3

Red guard: No, it doesn't.
Green guard: Oh, you're such a liar!
Red guard: You're the liar!
Elan: Hey Roy, check out this sign!

Panel 4
One of the two paths before you leads to the Oracle; the other leads to certain doom. The guards can tell you which path is safe, but beware! One guard always tells the truth, but the other guard always lies!

Panel 5

Roy: Well I guess that's the last nail in the coffin for the hope that these Tests would be even remotely original...
Vaarsuvius: Allow me Sir Greenhilt.

Panel 6

Vaarsuvius: This puzzle provides us with a logical conundrum, the solution to which is not immediately apparent.
Vaarsuvius: Thus, it clearly falls to me to deduce an answer to this situation.

Panel 7

Vaarsuvius: If we ask the guard who spews only falsehoods, and he gives us a response, we must perforce disregard it. But, with no easy means of ascertaining which guard is the deceitful one, we have but our own mental acuity with which to solve—

Panel 8

Haley shoots the Red headed guard in the foot, "TWANG! thunk."
Red guard: AAARGH!!

Panel 9

Red guard: Oh gods!
Red guard: She shot me! You crazy bitch, I can't believe you shot me!
Green guard: She absolutely did not shoot you, and I completely expected it!
Roy: Well, huh. I guess the red one tells the truth.

Panel 10

Belkar: That was awesome.
Vaarsuvius: You would probably have disassembled Rubik's Cube as well.
Haley gives Vaarsuvius a raspberry, "thhbbbppt!"
Vaarsuvius: Gordium called—they have a knot that you may want to take a look at.
Green guard: Wow, you didn't screw that up.
Red guard: Shut up and help me.
Green guard: Don't bite me.

Trivia Edit

  • The Test of the Mind here is the "Fork in the Road" variation of the famous Knights and Knaves type of logic puzzle. The puzzle itself has been presented in various forms for decades, but is more well known in pop culture for having appeared in the 1975 Dr. Who serial Pyramids of Mars, featuring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, as well as in the 1986 Jim Henson fantasy film Labyrinth, starring David Bowie.
  • The Gordian Knot is a legend of ancient Phrygian Gordium in which Alexander the Great solves an intractable problem in an "outside the box" manner quite similar to the way Haley solves this logic puzzle: by using force where intellect is expected.
  • Rubik's Cube can also be solved by "brute force" if one simply disassembles it and reassembles it in the solved position.
  • This is the first appearance of the Oracle's Guards.

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