Last Saturday, Perplex City took to the streets in a real-world event that involved both a ground team and an online team. Starting with a trail on an in-game site, players had to coordinate efforts to track the Third Power and obtain a highly valuable keyword. However, after collecting all of the puzzles and meeting back at a central location, players discovered that there was a mole within their group. To top it all off, the mole made a daring escape via helicopter (yes, HELICOPTER) and players were left with what must have been one of the most exciting ARG experiences in their lives. Matthew Turnbull, an active participant on the ground team, gave us permission to reprint his account of the day’s events:
“We all arrived at Clapham Common in a group of around 30-40 people (rough estimate) from forum regulars to some who came purely after reading the Metro ad yesterday. We were there at the designated time and after briefly wandering around aimlessly pointing at anything either purple, interesting, or simply there in the hunt for elusive kloos, a motor bike came past and dropped off a pack with one of the groups that had naturally formed. Inside this pack were three folders, two green and one purple. The green folders contained maps of the common with gridlines overlayed and markings where all the tasks were set. On the back were the instructions for what we had to do. Basically at each location would be a task that when solved would give a keyword that could be used with the codebook. The result of this could then be relayed to the online group so they could get the information on the rendezvous point.
The second folder contained a basic treasure trail which could be solved by starting at the given point and then continuing to go to place after place as denoted by the clues. There were enough of these for one each. Seeing that there were five tasks to be performed we split ourselves into roughly 5 groups and set about our tasks. The puzzles were as follows:
1. Radio Play
The group were to ring the phone number of the radio station advertised on the map sheet, where a recorded message instructed them to take several photos representing various images and then upload them to a flickr account online. The group managed this but unfortunately at first a couple of the photos weren’t sent properly leading them to falsely believe that the task was completed when unfortunately it wasn’t. Later on I believe this was rectified, and the keyword was given online as ETHER.
2. Cast Adrift
Upon reaching the small lake marked on the map the group discovered 3 objects floating around in it. After much discussion and debating over how to retrieve them, including some poor souls almost willing to sacrifice their dryness for the cause, they found the handy strings they were attached to which could be used to withdraw them from the water. Inside were square pieces of paper each divided into a 3×3 grid. There were 18 pieces altogether, 2 identical sets of nine. These were all maps of a wide expanse of water with named islands and boats in certain squares. The boats all had directions underneath to denote the paths they travelled from island to island (e.g. N SE W E S) with the goal being to use this info to arrange the grid correctly and find out which island was visited by all boats (assuming that the boat continues in said direction until an island is reached before changing direction to the next one, etc without going off the side) This puzzle got very close to being solved in the time limit but unfortunately the final answer was not deduced in the given time. Looks like it would’ve been GREEN though. CORRECTION: Actual answer to solved puzzle was GAUGE island.
3. Journeys End.
After following the trail on the sheet described above, the group soon successfully found the code book attached to a bench.
4. Boxed Delight.
The group endeavoured to go off and find this puzzle but unfortunately never actually did due to the marking on the map being a reasonable way off from where the actual items were located. Luckily one helpful soul 😛 from another group ‘discovered’ a large number of Sudoku puzzles contained in pairs in small plastic boxes taped onto numerous trees in a certain area. There were many duplicates but each puzzle basically had a circled space on the front to denote an important number and a musical note or two on the back, representing a rhythm with no actual notes applied. As far as I’m aware, the meaning behind this was not found during our time.
5. Buried Secrets
The final group (and one I set off with) arrived at a large patch of gravel and shortly found a trio of attache cases, one unlocked and two with combination locks. Inside the first was an uncompleted jigsaw, (well, two actually but they fitted together side-by-side) which when completed displayed an array of fish in 2×3 grids. Some were orange and some were purple. Taking this to mean binary we set about (with the help of some online people) decoding it to find the 12 numbers. It turned out that the third was the sum of the first two, the forth the sum of the second and third, etc. Adding the last two gave the 3 digit number which would open the second case (had it not already been cracked, as you may have read, by a particularly able helper 😉 ) Inside were another pair of jigsaws, leading to another 3 digit number (this time a sequences of primes) and the final set of jigsaws. These final ones gave: MATCH     . It looks like MATCH was the keyword but as far as I know the numbers remain confusing.
After a while we all regrouped with our findings only to gradually discover over the next half hour or so that the online team pretty much already had all the keywords after having been given them (pretty much) from the websites. At this point it becomes a tad confusing as the next step consisted of a rather long walk/run following directions given to Ollie via the online people. This eventually terminated in an alley next to a heliport where there were a series of posters in around 4 different designs with bizarre symbols on them and writing telling us to remain where we were and stay vigilant. Somebody standing on a bench then spotted that some people were walking out of the center towards the main doors and by the time I got back around to the main gates I was informed that two shady looking men had escorted one of us (or so i thought) onto the helicopter. After realising that he was in fact the mole sent by the 3P to keep tabs on our progress there was much booing, jeering and unspeakable hand gesturing towards him as he escaped in his shiny black helicopter (Yes it was really cool, despite being mildly irritating that the guy we’d spent the day with had played us all for fools) As a finale it was discovered that the mole had left behind his backpack, which he’d been carrying around all day and which contained many many packs of cards, lietmarks for all and a ‘thanks for coming along’ notice from MC along with a promise that the first round of drinks was on them.
Needless to say, we were happy to take them up on their offer, and a good time was had by all.”
Helicopters, moles, and team coordination — it sounds like Mind Candy is taking a few pages from a Robert Ludlum book and reworking them within the already interesting world of Sente and Perplex City. We’re eagerly anticipating what comes next.