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.
Nice kid, that one who calls himself “Red.” Not something you ever thought you’d be saying about a vampire, but then, a few weeks ago you didn’t know you’d ever say anything about a vampire in real life. It’s just another sign of how strange things have gotten lately, that this toothy teenager with the eponymous shock of hair ignites a protective streak in you, fangs and immortality notwithstanding.
You met him in the close and quiet aisles of Conliffe, the antiques shop you’ve come to frequent when you’re looking for magical artifacts, or another clue from Rhys’ notebook of anomalies. While the proprietor eirself is a bit off-putting, Red is the opposite: sweet and welcoming and a little too open.
He tells you, if you ask, about how he was changed at the young age he now finds himself at for eternity. Some kind of joke, apparently: something an older, crueler man thought it would be cute to do the kid he was supposed to have taken under his wing. Red tells it without a trace of anger; it was a long time ago, but you feel it, just a bit, on his behalf. It’s the way he looks down when telling it, smiling slightly in that way that tells you it hurt him, but he doesn’t yet know you well enough to show how much.
You can’t help but wonder, too, whether one can ever truly get over something that happened to them at a young age, when they never get to leave that age.
In spite of all this, Red’s sunny disposition seems entirely genuine. He loves his work, loves his boss, and makes the best of every situation. Maybe, you think, getting to be a sweet young thing forever isn’t the worst thing that could happen to a person.
Definitely not the worst thing. You’ve seen many worse things in the past while.
But still you wonder. Who he was before. Where else he might have ended up. What he’ll do if Rhys decides to move on, what he might get mixed up in. Whether wisdom comes with age even for those who don’t age. Whether his pluckiness and cheer are truly evergreen.
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!
Her name follows you through your day, like a song you can’t get out of your head.
You first see her playing in the middle of the city square, her lute and lilting voice somehow the only things you hear in spite of the noise and bustle. Her eyes meet yours for a moment, and that brief look plays in your head over and over, a lightning-like jolt that whites over your vision for a second, warming your scalp, then spreading through your body like warm honey.
It is profoundly distracting, if not entirely disagreeable.
You see her again in the Cosmic Coffee, a surprisingly tiny figure with black hair swept away from her striking, pale-brown face, showcasing those hypnotic eyes which, you realized even from afar in Hamilton Square, are purple.
She sees you, recognizes you. She speaks with you for a while, drinks a coffee redolent with cinnamon. Her voice reaches up inside you, and you fear it might pull something out onto the coffeehouse floor.
But before you can get to know her further, she is called away, her phone as much a tether to her as to ordinarily mortals like yourself. She’s made no secret, either in her manner or her conversation, of the fact that she is no such creature.
When next you see her, it will be too close. When next you see her, she will change you. And once you’ve changed, once she links you, forever, to the long chain of blood that leads back further than you can even comprehend, everything will have changed.
Including your ever having met her.
When you awake, weak and starving for something you’ve never before craved, your memory of how you got there will dissipate. Perhaps there was a woman…but no. Gone.
Her name escapes you, the syllables fading like a song you can’t quite place.
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.