List of MIT Mystery Hunts

The MIT Mystery Hunt is an annual puzzle hunt centered on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has been occurring since 1981. Average team size varies, but has grown along with the size and complexity of the hunt's content over time. The reward for a team completing the hunt first was originally a choice of several prizes presented by the organizer, but has since become a commemorative version of the final Coin, along with the job of organizing and writing the hunt for the next year. As such, winning teams are usually identical to the writing teams for the following year, although sometimes name and roster changes occur between winning and writing.

Hunts[edit | edit source]

Year Theme Plot Summary Writing Team/Individual Winning Team
2024 Greek Mythology and the Underworld To do TO DO The Team Formerly Known as the Team Formerly Known as the Team Formerly Known as the Team Formerly Known as the Team Formerly Known as the Team to Be Named Later Death & Mayhem
2023 The Museum of Interesting Things, The Puzzle Factory, and Puzzle-writing AIs To do TO DO teammate The Team Formerly Known as the Team Formerly Known as the Team Formerly Known as the Team Formerly Known as the Team Formerly Known as the Team to Be Named Later
2022 Superpowered Rats (Fakeout/Prologue),

Books and Book Genres

The prologue of the hunt sent teams searching for a group of super-intelligent rats that had gone missing on MIT campus. However, when the proper launch of the hunt came around, this was revealed to just be a story created by Palindrome when the starting location of the hunt's plot, the Hayden Library, was discovered to have vanished. Instead, a hole had opened up and a large cyclone had appeared over where the building once stood. Teams (after being sucked into the hole that had swallowed Hayden Library) had to assist the Ministry of Intertextual Transportation in discovering what had caused the disappearance and subsequent chaos in the realm known as "Bookspace". After finding out what happened, they discovered they needed help from Tock the Watchdog and his Tollbooth to return home, but due to the damages to something called the Plot Device, things weren't functioning properly. Teams had to rebuild the device, and then find a way to power the Tollbooth, as it didn't accept "real" currency, leading teams on a runaround within Bookspace to find a suitable coin to send them back home, where Palindrome was eagerly awaiting their return. Palindrome teammate
2021 Parallel Universe Teams attended the annual MYST Conference (Maturing Young Scientific Theories), focused on Expanding Realities (and You), and were informed by the assistants of the keynote speaker (Barbara Yew) of a new discovery in quantum mechanics: a parallel universe, complete with an alternate version of MIT known as the Perpendicular Institute of the World (⊥IW). Unfortunately, Yew didn't show up to the conference herself, but rather sent a video of herself from the alternate universe, announcing that strange things were occurring at ⊥IW, and that the portal back to MIT wasn't working. Teams had to start up the Projection Device and explore ⊥IW virtually, fixing any problems they came across and gathering JUICE to help the device run better. Eventually, the cause of the anomalies was discovered: matter that was sent from our dimension had become lost at ⊥IW. As teams worked to retrieve these items, the portal began to function once more, only for Yew's counterpart (Professor Hemlock) to step through. Together, the team used information from both Hemlock and Yew to figure out the location of the final piece of lost matter: a single coin Yew had used in one of ⊥IW's vending machines. ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈ PalindromeNot So Boston
2020 Theme Park After it's announced that Penny Park is going to be shut down due to low turnout and sales, teams are brought on to help generate Buzz by way of solving puzzles. Over the course of the hunt, teams discovered how the park was founded, and how Penny Miller came to be the owner. Eventually, after generating enough buzz, teams discover a secret area underneath the park, where a device could be found to generate buzz eternally, thereby saving the park's reputation for good. Left Out ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈
2019 Holidays Upon the christening of January 15th (the 100th anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood) as "Molasses Awareness Day", hunt organizers were informed that they had inadvertently manifested a new town in the legendary Holiday Forest. Whether through simply existing or through some other force, the town had begun flooding the nearby towns (and ultimately the rest of the forest) with molasses, leading teams to join the cleanup effort and help settle any disputes between neighbouring towns. Eventually, teams learned that the flooding was in fact a malicious act, perpetrated by the now-disgraced April Fool, who was pulling pranks throughout the towns in retaliation for relinquishing his position as New Year's Day. Teams continued to solve disturbances, and identify the pranks the Fool had pulled, and eventually convinced the Fool to help them plug the leak in Molasses Awareness Day Town. Setec Astronomy Left Out
2018 Health & Safety (Story, External), Inside Out As Miss Terry Hunter watched the introductory skit for the 2018 "Health and Safety Hunt", teams found themselves inside her brain as her emotions bickered over how to feel/react to the hunt and its theme. Ultimately, the five core emotions ran off, accidentally locking the door to the control room and ejecting Terry's core memories to her Islands of Personality, leaving her in a serious jam. Teams worked to get the emotions back into the control room and search the islands for the core memories, culminating in helping to steer Terry from the control room itself through the Health and Safety Hunt's final runaround. Death & Mayhem Life & Order Setec Astronomy
2017 Dungeons & Dragons When an MIT D&D session accidentally releases an evil sorcerer via a failed dice roll, the players (and teams) are sucked into the game itself. Teams were tasked with assisting the player characters in finding their players, completing quests, and defeating the evil Mystereo Cantos, culminating in a final battle in the Foreboding Fortress. Setec Astronomy Death & Mayhem
2016 Dogs (Fakeout), Inception Initially presented as a simple dog-themed hunt, teams eventually were informed by a man calling himself Lucky Dreamer that the hunt they were solving was just a dream. Teams learn that they're part of the Identity Corps, and are one of the organization's psychic strike teams, trained in extracting information from a target's subconsciousness. Unfortunately, during the course of an operation with an individual whose psyche teams were trapped in, their mental defences kicked in and damaged their memories. In order to escape, teams had to wake up other operatives who were also still asleep by activating various "kicks" to jolt them awake without damaging their memories. Luck, I Am Your Father Setec Astronomy
2015 Deep Sea Exploration Prior to the hunt, teams were sent invites to a mysterious expedition led by Dr. Nautilus. Upon arrival at the specified location, they were informed that Dr. Nautilus and her assistant Julie Verne were harnessing magnetonomic force, and in order to continue their experiments they needed a rare energy source known as a Nautilodestone. Verne had located a potential location for the Nautilodestones, but it was at an unknown location deep in the ocean, and required more tech and crew to reach (hence the team invites). Ensuring that they'd receive plenty of coin in compensation, teams set off into the deep blue sea. One Fish Two Fish Random Fish Blue Fish Luck, I Am Your Father
2014 Alice in Wonderland In the middle of the 33rd Annual Conference on Maturing Young Scientific Theories: Emerging Resolutions for Yielding Heuristic Unphysics using Noncomputation Techniques, teams were surprised by the appearance of the Cheshire Cat, having escaped from Wonderland to MIT in order to escape a beast that was terrorizing the land. Teams were informed that the Cat was not the only Wonderland denizen that had made the trip through one of many rabbit holes, and that help was desperately needed to stop the beast and return the escapees to their proper home. Alice ShruggedFormerly the entire text of Atlas Shrugged One Fish Two Fish Random Fish Blue Fish
2013 Bank Heist By recommendation, prior to the hunt Manic Sages decided (rather foolishly) to mortgage the hunt coin to a bank known as Enigma Valley Investment & Loan (E.V.I.L.). Inevitably, it turned out the bank had absolutely no plans to give the coin back at any point, so teams were contacted by Alyssa P. Hacker, rallying them to get the coin back by any means necessary. Teams organized a crack team of six people to help break into the bank and steal the coin back, albeit with some difficulty convincing them to do so. Eventually, after figuring out how to bypass the bank's security measures, the heist went into action to recover the oh-so-valuable Trillion Dollar Coin. Manic Sages The entire text of Atlas Shrugged
2012 The Producers Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom (now going by Max Borbonicus and Leo Bodley) concocted their best scheme since...well, their last scheme. Upping the stakes, they roped a bunch of teams in to help them put on not one, but six terrible musicals, bound to make lots of money but be absolute flops. However, in order to make sure the plan succeeds, teams needed to figure out how to really sell the garbage by both offending the audience in general and the select group of critics that have arrived to watch the shows. As expected, though, the plays are still hits, and in a final attempt to succeed in something, Max and Leo get teams to help construct a final, actually good musical. This inevitably bombs, of course, but with a few strings pulled, teams still manage to help the duo get that well-deserved Tony award. Codex Manic Sages
2011 Video Games The wedding of the decade between Mario and Princess Peach was interrupted by the kidnapping of the bride! Teams in attendance had to help Mario chase after his beloved, as she (in the clutches of Bowser) travelled between various video game settings, ultimately catching up with them at Aperture Science, where a final puzzle-filled showdown could occur. Metaphysical Plant Codex
2010 MITMH History and Alternative History Originally planned as a abnormally short hunt, lasting only one round, 2010's hunt hoped to be a celebration of the hunt's 30th anniversary. However, as teams neared the end, they encountered one of the hunt's archivists, Dr. Emit, had accidentally zapped the coin with his experimental History Ray, sending it back in time and causing massive ripple effects through history. One of the side effects of this was adding an additional 270 years of MIT Mystery Hunt History, all the way back to the groundbreaking of MIT in 1710. With the help of the archives, teams needed to discover what changes had been made through history, which would help them build a time jump detector and finally nab the coin when it jumped back to the present day. Beginner's Luck Metaphysical Plant
2009 Escape From Zyzzlvaria (Board Game) In the year 3009, the annual ZyzzlCon proceeds without a hitch, including the launch of the new Escape From Zyzzlvaria board game, and the introduction of special guests: Captain Blastoid and the crew of the Brass Rat! Unfortunately, everything goes haywire when all of MIT is transported thousands of light years away to Zyzzlvaria itself! In order to return to normal, teams split up to locate and rescue the new stranded Brass Rat crew, and use their combined might to find and activate the only thing that can send everyone back home: the Covertly Operational Inversion Node (C.O.I.N.). The Evil Midnight Bombers What Bomb At Midnight Beginner's Luck
2008 Murder Mystery The 2008 MIT Mystery Hunt seemed like it would go off without a hitch, but teams were quickly thrown for a loop when one of the writers, Otto Awkward, was murdered just before the hunt started! Not only that, but the coin is nowhere to be found! With two mysteries to solve, it's up to the teams to interview potential witnesses and suspects and figure out whodunit, and hopefully find the key evidence to put them away for good. Palindrome The Evil Midnight Bombers What Bomb At Midnight
2007 Hell and The Seven Deadly Sins In the middle of a complicated explanation of what seemed to be an abnormally long Mystery Hunt, teams were led astray by a mysterious individual named Michael Fauntleroy who promised a win after just 5 puzzles and a simple contract signature. Unfortunately, it turned out that Michael Fauntleroy was in fact the devil in disguise, and by signing the contract teams had sold their souls to M.F. Stopheles for a mere cent. In order to retrieve their souls, teams had to prove their capability for evil through several courses in evilness, as well as several tests of their ability to perform the seven deadly sins, culminating in a final confrontation with the devil; a battle for their very souls. The Evil Midnight Bombers What Bomb At Midnight PalindromeDr. Awkward
2006 Espionage (Genre) Teams of new recruits to the S.P.I.E.S. organization were shocked to discover that Professor Moriarty and his minions from the Evil Institute of Technology (E.I.T.) were launching a new evil plan for world domination. This time around, it was a weather-controlling device, which could be used to change all weather to ice and snow, except in zones of EIT's tropical real estate holdings, thereby making them the owners of the only warm place on the planet! In order to foil this plan, teams had to meet with S.P.I.E.S. agents across the globe to get information on E.I.T. and the weather machine, eventually gathering enough info to infiltrate Moriarty's lair and steal the most vital part of the weather machine. Physical Plant The Evil Midnight Bombers What Bomb At Midnight
2005 Superheroes Just as Normalville is getting ready for its Centennial Celebration, meteors begin falling from the sky. Tasked with the cleanup duty, teams begin discovering that the meteor shards have the ability to grant superpowers, reminiscent of a similar event that happened to the town's founders 100 years prior. Armed with new powers and eventually some enhancing uniforms, they can use these powers to find the source of the cosmic disturbance: a lone shard somewhere in the basement of the City Council Building. Setec Astronomy Physical Plant
2004 Time Bandits Teams join the Time Bandits in a quest around the world (and obviously through time) to gain fame, fortune, and ultimately defeat Evil. The French ArmadaFormerly Kappa Sig Setec Astronomy
2003 Murder Mystery (Fakeout), The Matrix Teams are brought on as new hires at Acmecorp, only to be rocked by the sudden murder of the CEO, N. Ron Adelphia. During the investigation, they're rocked once more by the revelation that they are, in reality, in the matrix, and are then instructed to find a way out through training and the exploration of the mysterious Facility R. ACME Kappa Sig
2002 Monopoly (Board Game) The bad news is that Rich Uncle Pennybags has passed away. The good news is that the inheritance includes his famous lucky coin. However, with the will stating that the inheritance will only go to the person who owns the most hotels, and Pennybags' evil nephew Alvin already owning seven, teams have to sort out a series of cryptic title and beaurocratic red tape in order to surpass Alvin and win the inheritance back. Setec Astronomy ACME
2001 Horror (Genre) On the 300th anniversary of the burning of a witch known as Agatha Winchester on the site where MIT's Lobby 7 was ultimately built, a supernatural disaster is prophesied to occur unless the bloodstone that contained Agatha's power was found. In order to do so, teams must figure out how to summon four beings, who explain how to locate the missing gemstone. Palindrome Setec Astronomy
2000 The Wizard of Oz Dorothy Gale, having once again been transported to a new locale (namely MIT), desperately needs help returning to Kansas. In order to do so, the Munchkin Information Processing Board (MIPB) creates the Tornado-Operated Object Levitator (T.O.O.L.) which should be capable of transporting Dorothy back home. However, the T.O.O.L. requires a special coin to operate, and with nobody in the MIPB remembering where they left it, it's up to the teams to use the MIPB's powerful computing system, the Wonderfully Intelligent Zenith of All Recovery Devices (W.I.Z.A.R.D.) to recover the coin. Complicating matters are the series of credentials required to access the system and put in place by Wendy the Insidiously Tyrannical Computer Hacker (W.I.T.C.H.), clues to which can be thankfully found in the form of puzzles. Setec Astronomy PalindromePAINTTTNIAP
1999 (Where In The World Is) Carmen Sandiego After learning that Carmen Sandiego and the members of V.I.L.E. had stolen the MIT IAP Mystery Hunt coin had been stolen right out from under ACME's nose, teams are brought on to round up the criminals (and Carmen) before they can do any more damage with their international crimes. ACME Setec Astronomy
1998 Coursework (Enigmatology Degree) Unknown Palindrome ACME
1997 Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (Fakeout), Elvis Presley Initially, teams were tasked with helping Beavis & Butthead (who had stolen Bill & Ted's phone booth time machine) locate some IHFTP (Industrial High-Fidelity Toilet Paper). However, it quickly became clear that almost all of the puzzles given to them were impossible. Separately, teams discovered the rest of the hunt was themed but had little in terms of actual plot relating to Elvis Presley. Mark Gottlieb PalindromeAinamania
1996 Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid After lightning strikes the Crab's Subjunc-TV unit, causing his extremely valuable "I Haven't Tolerance For Prices" coin to vanish, he calls for the teams to aid in the recovery effort. As Achilles and the Tortoise explore the now much more puzzling Subjunc-TV repair manual, teams use both it and the Subjunc-VCR tape to discover where the IHTFP coin has disappeared to. Richard Garfield, Skaff Elias, et al Chaos
1995 Clue/Cluedo Mr. Boddy, having come into the possession of the "Unlucky Coin of Eye Aitch Tee-Ef Pea, learns of his impending death at the hands of one of his friends. Teams are invited to his mansion along with these friends, and upon Mr. Boddy's death during this visit, it is revealed that (as heirs to the coin), the teams will have to both solve the murder, and the numerous clues to the coin's whereabouts Boddy has hidden throughout the mansion. Mark Gottlieb The Spanish Inquisition
1994 Cyberpunk (Genre) A mysterious secret society known as IHTFP (Internet Haven For Tender Preservation) exists in the futuristic setting of the 21st century, when cash is illegal. Due to a run-in with the cyber-cops, a member of the society known as H. Acker had to hide a piece of illegal currency on the MIT campus, leaving the teams to find it through a series of puzzles and encrypted messages. Eric Albert (and others) Unknown Team Led By Mark Gottlieb
1993 A Quest for the Holy Grail Unknown Unknown Team Led By Eric Albert
1992 Treasure Hunt Teams were tasked with the recovery of the treasure once belonging to Captain Red Herring, hidden somewhere on Mystery Island. [Stephen Rinehart?] Unknown
1991 Jan Maessen and Stephen Rinehart [Stephen Rinehart?]
1990 Unknown [Stephen Rinehart?]
1989 The Black Seven Unknown
1988 Eric Albert The Black Seven
1987 Unknown Unknown
1986 Unknown Unknown
1985 JIM and DKS Unknown
1984 Jean-Joseph Coté Unknown
1983 Brad Schaefer Holman Reactionary Army
1982 Brad Schaefer Unknown
1981 Brad Schaefer Unknown