Back in August, we did our first run of the Susurrus puzzle, a light alternate reality game which led players into the interlocked conspiracies that characterize the world of Susurrus: Season of Tides. (Above are two proud puzzle-solvers.)
This weekend, at Intercon, we’ll be running it as a kind of light hallway larp. However, we’re also inviting folks to play along at home.
Want to join us? Go to each of the three links below to begin. Find the clues that lead you deeper into the puzzle, and the game itself will guide you to the next steps.
It’s a strange, sparking ball, full of the kind of darkness that feels like it has light just inside it. It’s warm in your hand, alive with an electric energy.
The UmbraSpheres are strange little artifacts, and none of the species leadership seem to know where they came from. But you can fill them with Glimmer, and when you have enough, you will have in your hands a rare type of currency indeed.
Between the recent total solar eclipse – when it seems these things were created by some rogue Mage or other – and the coming Autumnal Equinox on September 22, you can visit Estzi at the Farm if you’re a werewolf, Philippa at the University if you’re a mage, or Narendra at Choudary and Bloodworth if you’re a vampire. Each of them will tell you about these strange orbs, and the friendly competition that has arisen among the three species: whoever collects the most Glimmer-filled orbs will be able to build a new place of power for their kind.
Should you accept the challenge, you will take one of the Spheres with you – and join others of your kind to secure that Well for the future.
Glimmer – in case you forgot the old lady’s lesson from the beginning of the game – is a kind of magical currency, a luminescent essence that clings to all things and beings who are threaded through with magic. Collect it by going about your business in the city – exploring, taking on quests, furthering your story. Add the Glimmer you find to your Sphere until you have 126 inside it; then, return it to your leadership.
If you haven’t started playing yet, don’t worry! Simply create an account and begin! Once you have gone through your transformation and gotten acquainted with how your species operates, return to Your Home, where you’ll find a message waiting that will kick off the competition.
We’ll see you on September 22, when we’ll find out who will take the prize!
He’s the second thing you see when you open your eyes.
The first is a welter of scribbling on the wall beside you, a visual cacophony of symbols, hashes and curves. You try not to look at it for too long, as it starts to move and shape itself into new meanings if you stare for more than a few seconds.
You don’t remember doing that, but you’re fairly sure you did that.
You shut your eyes for a moment, then open them in a different direction. Your eyes fall on a young man, mostly gangles, slouched into a too-small school desk. He sits up, eyes widening behind chunky glasses, the thick tome he was holding in one slender hand lowering to the desk with a soft *plomp*.
“You’re awake,” he says, eyebrows peaked in concern. The word seems to reverberate, meanings breathing in and out.
“Yes,” you manage, “I think I am.”
He’s young, just college-age, and a student here at the University, where you’ve been brought for safekeeping after your “episode” last night. Turns out his transformation into a mage wasn’t much different from yours: sudden, destabilizing. But his was accidental: he already knew about mages and magic when a student’s work in the Alphabet got transmitted to him through uncareful, curious eyes. Yours was unexpected, for sure…but you’re fairly certain it was intentional. The question of “why” will have to wait.
Jared might not be the first person you imagine when you think “mage” or “wizard,” but given all that’s happened lately, it’s not all that surprising that a young poet, obsessed with language and understanding the deep nature of things, would find joy in being a mage. It helps him write, he says, and he shows you how a certain kind of focus can reveal every detail about a situation in a fraction of a second. Counting grains of sand may be a waste of time, but with this power, you don’t have to: the total understanding of how many grains there are, what colors and shapes, what they’re made of, where they were born – it all comes to you at once like a wave hitting your mind. The sensation – a kind of purity of knowledge that flares white behind your eyes – is something like erotic.
It’s all a bit much, frankly. But Jared, at least for now, will be your guide. It will have to do.
The fallout shelter sign is old, and those who don’t know better aren’t even sure it’s pointing to anything real. The clarification, “IN BASEMENT,” was clearly pasted on after the fact, and doesn’t help much with the sign’s credibility. What would we need it for anyway, most modern city-dwellers think, and some are too young to even remember a time when such signs hung over the populous like the distant, flashbulb promise of a mushroom cloud.
But the Awakened Ones remember.
Nobody walking the world with awakened senses can pass by this sort of sign, rare as they are nowadays, without at least a frisson. Of hunger, of hate. Of knowledge deeper than anyone should have. Many of the vampires have been around for long enough that the signs represent just one tick in a long list of historic human crises: war, famine, plague, death, the Ice Age, the fall of Rome. Oceans rise, empires fall, as the modern poet says. The Cold War provided unique opportunities, though, for feeding: paranoia has a piquant flavor, though too much leads to indigestion of the worst sort. The madness of crowds, stuffed scared into a shelter, made for easy meals, if bitter ones.
The newly awakened ones, for the most part, have shared enough memories that they, too, feel the shadow of the bomb, taste the tinny onrush of fear, and shudder, heading quickly away toward their bars and brothels and amusement parks, seeking brighter, non-canned food. Contrary to the popular mythology, most vampires get a lot more enjoyment – and nourishment – out of people who are not facing down their own deaths.
As for the werewolves, they have no use for the places. Underground bunkers, walls thick enough to keep out radiation, no sunlight or green growing things or even rocks that might once have been kissed by rain? No thanks. To the wolf-kin, these places are as close as things get to anathema: symbols of the human capacity to rampantly destroy the natural world. Passing these signs, they sniff the horror of it all, high and old and sweat-stained, and hurry on.
The mages, though. These places carry a resonance, a potent reminder, a truth that must not go unstudied. The Truth of Survival informs a great many mystical organizations, and underlies, in some way, every human endeavor from the creation of fire to the creation of the Internet. And the iconography? Five seconds’ thought will show it’s impossible mages didn’t develop it, encoding it with specialized wards and equally specialized lures, imbuing the symbol with all the terror – and associated promise of safety – that it still holds.
Only now…nobody’s sure what they’re using the shelters for. We #followthesigns, and we wait.