A subreddit for cryptic (UK style) crosswords.
Siren Root is a mod I recently had the pleasure of playing during a one off campaign for a character and I have to say, it is probably the best custom dungeon I’ve ever played in Skyrim. When we and 4 other aquatic experienced adventurers are hired to retrieve a flower from lake honrich, we fall victim to a cave collapse as we are grabbing the flower. We find ourselves lost in an ayleid ruin and quickly find ourselves in danger from supernatural forces. We must find a way to get out of the ruins with our allies but must be careful of our choices along the way because there are consequences to the story and gameplay.
The dungeon itself is broken up in several different interior cells and is set up much like many DND style dungeon delves. The dungeon is also filled with some of the most engaging and creative traps and hazards I’ve seen, utilizing timer based speed puzzles and underwater labyrinths to really sell you on the danger you’re in. Besides all of that, the custom assets are all beautiful, the layout is complex and every room and corner feels fleshed out and like it has a purpose. The characters and the story are just as fantastic as the level design, joining you on your adventure will be a confident imperial sailor, an Argonian alchemist with mysterious past, a Motherly Breton Wizard and a Maomer Rouge, all of these characters had the perfect balance of cartoonish and serious personalities, these are a great example of how you can build a 3D NPC.
The story is masterclass for elder scrolls dungeons, Simple but elegant, what starts off as a fetch quest turns to us being trapped and having to find a way out which then turns to us being hunted by an evil spirit which then turns into us having to defeat it with our allies yet that climax has several different outcomes depending on the choices made with your team and earlier on when you encounter the siren spirit.
The gameplay is perfect, they incorporated climbing mechanics which really made this feel unique, the puzzles were all very engaging and most of them difficult. Bring a ton of waterbreathing potions however because some of the underwater sections are quite long and are meant to be completed by the time your start getting drowning damage anyway. There are also some really neat looking cutscenes that were done for this that made this slightly more epic and the segments of controlling other characters for their puzzles was done well too.
The only things I can pick apart at are the enemies, not even close to a big deal but I wish they weren’t just generic skeletons with ancient Nord weapons, even just giving them elven weapons would have made the undead more immersive, ideally though, making a AE version of this replacing the skeletons with Wights from the Cause would be fantastic. But if this is the worst thing I can think of to say for this Mod, that should be your clue on how truly special I found it to be.
All in All, Fantastic mod, I expect it to be considered one of the GOAT for Skyrim mods. 10/10
First Chapter Chapter Fifteen
“Thank you, Ms. President, and Mr. Secretary-General. It’s my privilege to come and speak to everyone present during such a momentous time in human history. One which, I hope, will lead to a brighter future for us all…”
US President Correa’s boilerplate beginning flowed out as she scanned the room. Behind her rostrum sat a larger dais tiled with green marble, behind which sat the UN President, Secretary-General, and Under-Secretary-General. Two huge screens flanked the dais, and those screens now showed Correa’s face as she continued.
“…and we are committed to our country’s pledge to finding a peaceful and just way for Coalition technology to be incorporated worldwide, and to not attempt any reverse-engineering of our own. Make no mistake; we do not do this out of any sense of altruism or fairness, as pleasant as that may sound. We will hold this pledge sacred for the simple reason that, if the United States were
to attempt such efforts the rest of the world would, without a doubt, find out. That, of course, would lead to a great instability.”
‘Great instability’ was diplomatic-speak for ‘the rest of the world then gangs up on the USA and then everything goes to hell’.
“I know there has already been a great deal of debate in this august hall as to the best way to proceed forward, in a fair and impartial manner. We believe that we have found what one might call a ‘trial run’ which will allow us to work out such matters.”
The general murmuring from the many semi-circular rows of desks in front of her increased.
“To begin with, during the first weeks after first contact we wanted to make sure our guests from the Coalition would not starve to death. Much like humanity’s own ships during the Age of Sail, Coalition exploration vessels store enough provisions for years…but such provisions never last. They have very advanced recycling, but mostly for water and even that is only a stop-gap measure. It is unknown even at this time as to how long it will take to repair the Exultant Finger of Rithro
, and we did not want to risk the crew running out of food.
“Therefore, we undertook an emergency effort to have their ship’s medic examine various Earth foods to determine their compatibility with our guests’ varied biochemistries. I am pleased to report that there are quite a few Earth foodstuffs which are indeed compatible, although there are some specific items which act as allergens amongst some of the Coalition species. During these efforts, we did learn a bit about how their alien biochemistries work…information which has been duly published and is now openly available. We also began to get glimpses of something wonderful, and asked the Coalition crew for more details. They supplied us with some general ideas of what their medical technology can accomplish; I must emphasize that we do not possess any knowledge of how they can perform such miracles.”
Now the murmuring got quite a bit higher, but not quite to the point where they’d have to call for order.
“Yes, I use the word ‘miracles’ advisedly. For example, take Captain Sadaf. You have all seen her, and how she moves like a person in the prime of their life. Now. What if I told you that she is a little over four hundred years old?”
The murmuring died down into a shocked silence.
“Her species, the auhn, is no more long-lived than we are…but they are able to regenerate and remove the effects of aging. I hope the esteemed ambassadors can see what I am driving at. I propose that we set up a research institute, international in scope, to be placed at a neutral location which is still to be determined. The purpose of that institute will be to study and adapt Coalition medical technology for use in humans.”
Now the murmuring started again; she hoped they were actually listening instead of hatching side-deals with each other.
“You all have families and friends. I’m sure you have at least one family member, one good friend, who died of some horrible and unnecessary
affliction. Think of what this means to the world, to us. It is also an excellent way to determine the inevitable issues and frictions which will arise from such a concerted international effort, and that, in turn, will inform our efforts in mutual reverse-engineering of other Coalition technology.
“I know this is, in many ways, a frightening time. Change can be frightening. But I am convinced that you will all know the right way forward, and that you will all see the need for us to unite in this matter, even if others may not be so clear-cut. I thank you for the opportunity to speak.”
As she stepped away from the rostrum, the UN President cleared his throat.
“We will now begin the debate on Madame President Correa’s proposal. Paper copies, with specifics of the proposal, are now being distributed to you all. We’ll now begin the debate period…yes, the gentleman from Portugal…?”
Correa’s Chief of Staff was a shorter, tubby man with an olive complexion by the name of Pablo Rosas. He and Correa sat in a White House conference room, staring at a big screen which now showed the results of the UN vote. “Well, I suppose that went about as well as we could expect,” said Rosas.
“Yep. I was surprised they even agreed with our asking them to kick in some money.”
Rosas chuckled. “Keep in mind that all of this new medical tech will be available for anyone patent-free. Should be air-tight legally, since nobody here on Earth invented it; we’re merely adapting it. I think that was the sweetener we needed to get it passed.”
The president gave a brief nod, then tapped a few keys on the controls in front of her. The screen now showed a world map. “Now we just have to figure out where to put the damn thing without everyone getting butt-mad about it.”
“Hmm.” Rosas laced his fingers over his substantial gut as he regarded the map. “Someplace not ‘the usual’, then.”
Correa growled in frustration. “I keep thinking Switzerland, but I know there’s gonna be a lot of shit flung about that it’s too European-centric. Taiwan would be great; they’ve got both a good tech base and excellent transport infrastructure.”
“But way too controversial, for obvious reasons,” replied Rosas. “Japan?”
“China will, again, kick up a fuss. Huh. New Zealand?”
“That might work. They tend to be more neutral…but then again some might say they’re in too close with Australia, and that this whole effort is too Western-centric.” His eyes flicked back to north on the map. He was about to move his gaze elsewhere, but then he paused. “What about Iceland?”
“Iceland?” Correa almost scoffed, then looked more thoughtfully at the map. “Okay, they’re a NATO member which is a minus. But they tend to remain mostly neutral, which is a plus. Decent transportation infrastructure…don’t we have a naval air base there?”
“I think so, let me check…” Rosas tapped at his phone. “Hey, Jack? What can you tell me about any US naval air bases in Iceland? Just the highlights.” After a couple of minutes, he responded with a curt, “Okay, that’s enough, thanks.”
He put his phone away. “We kinda-sorta have one, at a place called Keflavik. The base there used to be a lot bigger during the Cold War. Then we shut it down after the Soviets were no longer a going concern. Iceland uses it now, and they allow us to fly submarine-search aircraft out of there, but a few years ago they nixed the DOD’s request to rebuild it into a more permanent base.”
“That does work in their favor. It makes for better optics if they’re known for keeping NATO at arm’s length.”
Rosas sat up. “Think the UN will go for it?”
“We can only try. I’ll have our ambassador in Reykjavik make some discreet inquiries, let’s see if they’d be okay with our proposing them as a candidate.”
The Chief of Staff smiled. “If it goes through, this institute will be pumping well north of a billion dollars per year into their economy. That should make it more than ‘okay’.
Agent Cécile Savoie sat in a secure-location breakroom, silently grumbling as she held an as-yet un-drunk mug of coffee in her hands. As the agent-in-charge of the security detail during the Camp David incident, she’d been put on administrative leave, right alongside every other agent who’d been there. But it wasn’t like she had much down time; the inquiry board into that incident now summoned her damn near every other day for yet another round of tedious questioning.
“Hey,” said Hanson as he strolled in, looking just as sour as she felt.
She looked up in surprise. “Hey yourself. I thought you were assigned to the alien detail.”
“I was,” he said as he seated himself across the circular table from her. “Guess being in Alabama when the shitshow went down wasn’t far enough away to be completely out of suspicion. I just finished running my own gauntlet. But the rumor is, I’m getting it easy compared to everyone who was at Camp David, including the special forces people. Especially you.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty much a colonoscopy every day,” she muttered. “Going over the timeline, where I was at which times, who I had direct line of sight on, who I was in radio contact with.” She finally sipped her coffee.
Hanson’s sour expression deepened. “Do you really think it was one of us?”
She sighed. “It has to be. My gut tells me that there’s more than one mole and I told the inquiry board as much. The fuckers who got in knew too much about our patrol patterns, where everyone was, when they’d have a clear shot at an infil. That means someone with access to our methods and comms, and as to the latter we don’t use CB radios.”
The other agent leaned back. “Fuck. I wish I knew why any of us would do that. We’re supposed to be quiet professionals, not frothing radicals.”
Savoie turned the mug in her hands. “Not to tell tales out of school but, through the whisper network, they’ve been leaning hard on the captured dudes from the attack. Apparently one of their main ‘objections’,” and here she made some one-handed air quotes, “is that they think the whole Breaker thing is a ruse. It’s all smoke and mirrors, so that we’ll beg the Coalition to come and save us. And then…well, it gets vague after that but I guess they claim that at best we’ll get turned into the galactic equivalent of a Native American reservation. Worst case, we all get harvested for our precious bodily fluids.”
Hanson stared at her for a moment in disbelief. “That is, if you will forgive the uncouth term, utterly retarded. For chrissake, the Hubble got some beautiful shots of their ship once they’d spun that shield around to reveal it to us. I mean, I’m no spacecraft expert but even I could tell it had gotten the shit pounded out of it.”
She responded with a shrug. “Hey, Flat Earthers are still a thing.”
“Flat Earthers don’t stage FUCKING mortar attacks in our nation’s capital,” snapped Hanson. Then he subsided and spoke more softly. “Sorry, I shouldn’t be so on edge. This whole thing just pisses me off.”
“Join the club,” said Savoie as she sipped more coffee. “I just don’t get it, though.”
Hanson made a gentle ‘continue’ wave of his hand.
She leaned forward. “Okay. Our comrades in the CIA managed to identify the four who made it into the compound. They were all mercenaries, each with at least ten or fifteen years of experience in kicking ass around some of the worst hot spots in the world. Syria, Burma, bunch of places in Africa. One of ‘em even turned out to be ex-Wagner group.”
“Okay?” It was a leading single-word question, but not an unkind one.
“So why was the rest of the attack made up of nothing but a bunch of goddamn shit-kickers? And that includes the aborted attempt in Decatur. I’ve seen the files of those we rounded up in the Camp David attack. They were all low-life idiots just banging around, maybe they might have once held a gun in their lives. Hell, from what I’ve heard, the shootings that triggered the alarm at Camp David were an accident; those intruders were supposed to sneak around
that patrol, not kill them. They all had the same top-of-the-line kit, so we know whoever is behind this has deep pockets. Why not hire an entire bunch of competent people instead of doing it onesy-twoseys?”
“It is a puzzle.” Hanson got up and set a styrofoam cup of water into the nearby microwave. As the cup turned within its electromagnetic prison, he leaned against the nearby counter and pondered her question. “Maybe the team in the woods was intended just as a distraction?”
“That’s what I thought at first, but then I reconsidered. I mean, what if the four who went in failed? You’d still need a proper backup plan. Same thing with the Decatur bunch. By the way, did they ever catch them?”
Hanson let out a dark chuckle. “Decatur PD found a pile of vests and rifles, hastily wiped down. They were able to pull a few partial prints off of ‘em. My guess is they’ve fled to the proverbial four winds, hoping to lay low for the rest of their lives. We’ll nab ‘em eventually.”
The microwave dinged and he retrieved his hot water, then pulled a tea bag out of his jacket pocket as he re-seated himself.
Savoie smiled. “I never figured you for a tea guy.”
He unwrapped the bag and with a bit of ceremony dunked it into his cup. “Well, I used to be a coffee guy, but my gut doesn’t agree with the acidity.”
“We do have tea here, you know.” She pointed to the storage bins behind him.
“Yeah, but it’s cheap-ass stuff. The brand I like is expensive, but worth it…” Hanson’s eyes widened as he trailed off.
She raised an eyebrow. “Hanson? Do you smell burnt toast?”
“They couldn’t afford it,” he said in a near-whisper.
Savoie was about to tell him to stop being overly dramatic, then she realized he might be on to something and that she didn’t dare distract him. “Keep talking.”
He leaned forward, his forearms on the table. “Okay. Imagine you’re a hard-bitten mercenary. You’ve been in the literal shit, in every nasty conflict anyone cares to name. Somehow, someone finds you and comes to you. They say ‘hey, these aliens are bad news, do you want to kill them?’ Even if you, as the hypothetical mercenary, are down with the cause…”
“From what the intruders were yelling, they were,” said Savoie.
“Yeah but even then, our mystery financier is asking you to infil and exfil out of one of the most heavily guarded pieces of real estate on the planet. Oh, and kill a bunch of special-forces-maybe and aliens-definitely in between. What do you do then?”
She replied with a grim smile. “If I’m that mercenary, then I ask for a metric fuck-ton of money. And there were four of them, they would have all done the same. Hell, they must have been doing collective bargaining.”
Hanson dunked his tea bag as he thought it through. “Okay, so our mystery mastermind has a lot of money, but not billions on hand to hire a literal army of hard cases. Huh. So those other dipshits might indeed have been a distraction.”
“Maybe. They must have also spent quite a bit on the mortar attack. That wasn’t made by some hobbyist in their bedroom, they knew what they were doing. Given that nobody saw them set up the launcher or leave, they were more pro.” Savoie hoped that the FBI’s efforts to track the various mortar components turned up something soon. Thus far, those efforts were bogged down; as it turned out, quite a few companies had ordered the identified components, and tracking the subsequent second-hand purchases was time-consuming.
“And those mortar-making pros would be more expensive.” Hanson sipped a bit of tea. “Did they ever get anything off of the launcher itself?”
“Sadly, no. Turns out the whole damned thing was homemade, constructed out of tubing and other off-the-shelf components. It was also wiped down thoroughly, no prints. Like I said, pros.”
“But limited in resources,” said Hanson. “Which explains one of the things that’s bugged me
. Namely, that our OPFOR didn’t use some proper artillery. If they have a couple of moles in the Secret Service, then it should be easy to recruit and pay some military dudes to slip ‘em some gear and alter the logs. They could stow a howitzer inside a semi-tractor-trailer. You could park that thing anywhere up to 25 miles away. Use a single 155mm Excalibur GPS-guided munition, boom. That would have pretty much obliterated the stage and everyone on it. Then you just re-stow the howitzer and toodle off all innocent-like, right when everyone is freaking the hell out.”
“So they couldn’t afford that type of arty strike,” she said. “Or they simply didn’t have the contacts to pull that off. Hmm. I wonder if our moles are getting paid at all?”
Hanson resumed his thousand-yard stare. “The mortar attack must have been planned first. The other two attacks feel much more like rush jobs.”
“Eh? Oh, I get it. Sadaf’s speech was known well in advance. It was going to be one of her first big public appearances since the initial presidential speech. They were broadcasting it online to the world. Having her get turned into chunky red salsa, in real time, would be one helluva statement. So that’s what they focused on.” She drank a bit more coffee, and now it was time for her eyes to widen. “Our mole or moles didn’t arrive at Camp David until after
Sadaf’s speech was announced.”
“That…oh, yeah, that makes sense. Originally the mortar attack is the OPFORs’ only focus, but yet somehow they’ve suborned one or two Secret Service agents and they have ‘em in their back pocket. Then one, or better yet both, of the moles gets assigned to the Camp David detail, and they realize that now that they have a golden opportunity to get at the other aliens as well. So they go off and hire four pros for the actual attack inside, plus a bunch of chucklefucks to act as a distraction, because that’s all they can afford since the four pros are asking for some serious money.”
Savoie leaned forward. “When did Chao and Grakosh leave Camp David?”
“It was, ah, three? No, four days after we got everyone settled, both the aliens and the special forces types.”
“Okay, so then
the OPFOR gets word, courtesy of our moles, that one of the aliens is now heading to Alabama. But now they’re stretched so thin that they can’t afford anything other than to hire another bunch of dipshits to make a run at them and hope for the best.”
“And then the second bunch lets the FNG drive.”
They both laughed, but that humor settled down as they both thought through the chain of inference.
“It is pretty thin,” said Savoie at last. “There’s a lot of assumptions in there.”
“Yeah. But I do like the idea of our moles getting assigned at the last minute.”
She rubbed her forehead. “We had a bunch of new people come in when they decided to stow the Rithro crew there. Seven, no eight in all.”
“It’s a place to start,” said Hanson. He finished his tea. “C’mon, let’s see if we can get a meeting with the inquiry board.”
A little while later and not very far away, three people sat in a well-lit but otherwise deadly dull room. At least the chairs were somewhat comfortable. Matt and Martinez sat at two chairs against one wall, while across from them McCoy sat sprawled sideways on another with a foul look on her face. She glowered at the far beige-painted wall. “This completely sucks. Why can’t we have our phones? I could at least play some mahjong.”
“This is a secure location, Corporal,” replied Matt. “Ixnay on the onephays.”
Martinez’s leg jittered. “How long are we gonna sit here? They said they’d call us in, like, an hour ago!”
“Dunno, it’s some kind of last-minute interview thing,” replied Matt with Zen-like calm.
The corporal looked over at Matt. “I don’t get you, man.”
Matt grinned. “Nobody gets me. I’m like the wind, baby!”
“That’s not…I mean, I watched you open up a dude like he was a bag of fuckin’ Doritos using nothing but a fuckin’ knife. Now you’re being all Caine from ‘Kung Fu’.”
“It’s good to know that the classics are still appreciated,” said Matt.
Martinez pointed at him. “If you start calling me ‘Grasshopper’ I will
McCoy turned her glare to the ceiling. “Maybe it’s a psychological test. They want to see if we crack under pressure and start yakking secrets.”
“I mean, I’m sure they’re recording us right now,” replied Matt. “But it’s merely as a precaution. I am also five-nines certain that none of us are suspects. We weren’t integrated into the compound’s overall security, and thus it would be unlikely that we could have let our four attackers in.”
“Not to mention, we were the ones to kill ‘em,” added Martinez. “Well, except for the one that Takh took care of.”
“Yep. This is…I won’t call it a formality, but the board just wants to know where you were and what you saw. Walk them through your personal timelines, understand? Tell them only what you know. If you don’t know something, then say so.”
McCoy turned herself around so that she now sprawled the other way. “This whole bullshit just bugs me. Takh and the others are off with a bunch of strangers and I…I mean, we aren't there to help protect them.”
Matt and Martinez shared a meaningful glance. “From what I heard, Takh is quite capable of taking care of himself,” said the latter with a grin. “You told me he pitched that one dude across the room like he was throwing a softball.”
For once, the petite corporal looked a bit flustered. “Yeah, but, I mean, what if some other potential bad guy gets the drop on him with a gun? I don’t like not being there. I just wanna know that he’s okay. I should be there, just to make sure.”
The smaller man snapped his fingers in the face of the taller, who sighed and took out his wallet. With great ceremony, Matt pulled out a five-dollar bill and placed it upon the now-upraised palm of Martinez.
“Told ya,” said Martinez with a grin.
She sat up and glared at them both. “That doesn’t mean anything! Takh is a good guy!”
“Nobody said he wasn’t,” replied Matt as he stowed his wallet. “He is indeed a good guy.”
“Yeah, seriously, we’re glad you two hooked up,” added Martinez. “Takh’s solid. Hell, I’d let him date my sister.”
“I. Am. Not. Hooked Up. With ANYONE.” McCoy now looked furious enough to chew nails.
Martinez stroked his chin. “Kissing might be a problem, though.”
Matt performed a similar chin-stroking action. “Hmm, indeed, Corporal, I do believe it might be a serious issue. One has all of those mandibles to contend with.” He hooked his fingers next to his mouth in an approximation of an udhyr’s face. “Still, I think that, with enough will and effort, one could figure it out. Like the man said, life finds a way.”
“But how much tongue is he packing?” posed Martinez. “You know what the man also says. Big dude, big tongue. Could make things more interesting, all around.”
The woman did not look amused. “Martinez, Toke? You are now both officially gigantic flatulating assholes.”
“C’mon, McCoy!” protested Martinez. “Think of it this way. A few years from now, let’s say we filthy humans are now part of the Coalition and I’m at some meet ‘n greet, and I just so happen to spy me an oh-so-very-fiiine udhyr mamacita from across the room. Now, I wanna do my bit for my species and approach her, and get some good old inter-species cultural interaction going on. But there’s all sorts of questions. How do I compliment her without insulting her culture? How am I supposed to get in good with her? How do the mechanics work? How do the various bits line up? We need details! You’re at the tip of the spear, we all need good intel!”
McCoy slumped back into her seat. “Over seven hundred billion Dimmadollars of defense spending, and yet somehow I wind up stuck in a room with you two fuckos…oh, by the way, Toke
,” she added, pointing a finger at Matt, “why the hell can you and Sarge never go back to Okinawa?”
“Nice distraction, McCoy,” said Martinez. “My guess is some sort of wet-work shit.”
Matt just smiled. “Oh for fuck’s sake, I don’t kill everyone
I meet. I was a Second LT at the time, managed to somehow leapfrog my way into officer ranks all the way from enlisted. Anyways, the Okinawa affair was merely a case of, well, one particular case of rye whiskey. The good sergeant…was he a sergeant then? Oh yeah, we had done some other stuff I can’t tell you about in someplace I can’t tell you where, and we were celebrating Shaw getting his third stripe. We’d got ahold of the previously-mentioned case of whiskey and then we began toasting to each other’s good health. We did a lot of toasting. Quite
a lot of toasting. As you can imagine, the toasting went on and on until we, um, well we did some unwise things. It started out with us sparring-for-fun with each other in public and escalated from there. No locals were harmed, and nothing we did was hella illegal, or I would’ve never made Captain. Buuut the local government would definitely throw a shitfit if me or, God forbid, both of us set foot back on the island.” He chuckled. “Hell, the Okinawan customs people probably still have both of our pictures taped up inside their booths with a big old sign saying ‘DO NOT ADMIT THIS PERSON, YOU FOOL’ written above them.”
“What did you do?” asked Martinez. His eyes were big and soulful, like a kid asking for yet one more story before bedtime.
Matt shrugged. “I mean, I don’t remember much for obvious reasons. I’m almost sure we didn’t piss on any monuments, that would have definitely been cause for a serious demotion. We did do a number on some shrubbery, that I do remember. We decided it needed to be trimmed back, and so we did so. Using our bare hands. Seemed like a good idea at the time.”
A fearsome light came into McCoy’s eyes. “Martinez, do you know what this means?”
He looked at her all uncertain. “Um, Toke and Sarge have cast-iron livers?”
“No, you fool. Blackmail material
Matt pointed back at her. “Hey, now, I told you that in confidence. Besides, Shaw has a lot more to contend with right now.”
The reminder of the sergeant’s current crippled state brought the elevated atmosphere of the room back down. McCoy nodded as her smile faded. “Right. Hey, did you see the Prez’s speech at the UN?”
“Yep,” said Matt. “From what I’ve read, the political wrangling after it seems pretty tame compared to the usual.”
Martinez snorted. “No shit. Did either of you see the laundry list of shit that we might be able to do? Anti-aging, limb regrowth, cancer treatments which work well and which don’t
half-kill the patient…hell, maybe even Alzheimer’s could be in our rear-view mirror. The grand high muckity-mucks are falling all over themselves to get that out into the world, for themselves if nobody else.”
“You’re way too cynical, Martinez,” said Matt.
“Oh fuck off. What if…okay, I know this sounds like a cheesy sci-fi concept, but what if they hoard all of the good shit for themselves and we peons get just the crumbs?”
Matt lapsed back into his meditative demeanor. “In that case, my dear corporal, you or I or McCoy or someone like us will show those hypothetical elites that, while they are indeed long-lived, they are not in fact immortal.”
The trio fell into silence for a few minutes. Then Martinez leaned over towards Matt. “Ah, a little birdie told me you were involved in questioning the prisoners we nabbed at Camp David.”
“I merely facilitated certain conversations,” replied Matt.
Martinez sighed. “What the fuck does that mean?”
“Ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies…Corporal.”
McCoy let out a growl. “Well, I
heard these terrorist assholes are saying that the Breakers aren’t real, that it’s all fake videos from the Coalition.”
“Just to play devil’s advocate,” said Matt, “our AI image and video generation is already getting to the point where, soon, we puny humans could manufacture such evidence.”
“What?” Martinez looked as if he was about to launch himself at Matt.
Matt held up a calming hand. “I’m not saying it is
fake. The Hubble pics are damned convincing.”
Martinez hiked up one foot to place it on his seat, then rested his chin on his knee. “Fuck. I guess it didn’t convince everyone.” He mused for a few moments. “Wait. What if we made it even more convincing?”
“How?” asked Matt.
“We send some humans up to the Rithro
. Two or three at least. The boats can still make it up to the ship, right?”
For once Matt looked uncertain. “I think so? Dunno how many times they can come and go without recharging, we’ll have to ask ‘em.”
“Right, so we set up an even better publicity stunt than the Hubble pics. Choose a few people, from all over the world. We have ‘em travel up to the Rithro
, take pics and video up close showing the damage. Even take ‘em inside the ship and get a full tour, maybe…if the crew is okay with that, of course.”
“Huh.” Matt sat back and pondered the idea. “That’s a really good idea, Martinez. I guess you aren’t as dumb as you look.”
The corporal responded with a slight smile at the verbal jab. “We’d need to choose the right people, though.”
“They’d have to be trustworthy…or at least someone that the entire world will consider trustworthy,” said Matt.
“Well known,” added McCoy. She no longer looked vengeful. “With recognizable faces and voices, and then they can go on all the talk shows after and say that, yes indeed, I got a tour of the ship and it is indeed quite banged up.”
Martinez stared at the far wall. “Some kind of celebrity? Heh. You think Tom Cruise would be up for it?”
Matt laughed. “That beautiful maniac? Hell, he’d insist on shooting an entire movie up there, with at least one action scene where he’s hanging off of the outside of the ship.”
They all smiled at the resulting mental image.
“Chao could work,” said McCoy into the silence. “She’s kind of a celebrity now. After all, she was the first human to come into contact with aliens, eh?” She gave Matt a big and very un-subtle wink.
To skirt the rather…unconventional methods used to achieve a positive First Contact, Matt’s role had been very much demoted in the official story. Now every recounting of the tale included a bit of ‘…oh, and there was also another person who stumbled across our brave woman in the midst of her attempts at informational exchange with the aliens…” His exact identity was also not published, under the screen of ‘he wishes to remain anonymous’.
“Oh bite me, McCoy, it’s fun,” replied Matt. He waggled his eyebrows. “Besides, I work better in the shadows!” He threw his forearm across his face like a half-assed Count Dracula trying to hide behind his cape.
Then he dropped his arm. “Yeah, Chao would be good as a current social-media darling. Of course, she might not want that. She strikes me as more of the wallflower type, for the most part.”
“We need more people,” said Martinez, as he stared at the floor. “Chao might be good on her own, but she’s got that motor-mouth talking thing when you get her going. It’s one or the other. Either she’s trying to shrink into a corner and take up as little space as possible, or suddenly you’re getting pulled into another corner for a doctoral dissertation on how minimal-energy transfer-orbits work.”
Matt pondered for a moment. “Wait, when did she do that? I never sat through one of those lectures.”
Martinez looked away and…well, Matt hoped that their supposed overlords were indeed recording this particular moment in time because the hard-bitten Hispanic special-forces corporal actually blushed
McCoy, of course, realized a golden opportunity for payback and immediately pounced. “Why, Corporal
Martinez,” she purred. “Doooo tell us. When did Chao Me Chu, heh, pull
you into a corner? Hmmm?”
“She’s…she’s just real nice, that’s all,” replied Martinez. “I asked her a couple of questions, and she answered them. That’s all. We both love classic sci-fi, like Asimov and shit. I guess we bonded over that.”
Matt cleared his throat. “Aaaaand may I remind you two and
everyone listening in that we have all been cooped up nuts-to-butts for awhile? Don’t mistake familiarity for romantic bullshit.” He pointed over at Martinez. “But you. If you can follow at least half of what she talks about, then you are absolutely without-a-single-fucking-doubt wasted
as a corporal, even if you’re in a low-drag high-speed outfit like this. You hear me?”
“Um, yes sir.” It was the first time in McCoy’s memory that anyone had addressed Matt as befitting his perhaps-former rank.
“Good. You get your ass into college, somehow. You’re a smart guy, you’ll figure all that shit out. And as for Chao? Just give it room to breathe. Let her know you’re interested, but don’t press the matter.”
“Let her know?” For once Martinez looked completely lost. “How do I…” he trailed off. “I mean, I like her…and yeah, I mean I like her in that
way, but she’s so damn smart and pretty and I’m just some dipshit meathead.”
“Hey, don’t sell yourself short,” said Matt. “You’re our
McCoy’s vengeful smile faded. “Martinez…no, Luca.”
Martinez looked up in surprise at her use of his first name.
She continued. “Just talk to her. Neither of you have any clue as to what ‘normal’ social interactions look like. In your case, it’s because you’ve been a soldier for all of your adult life. In her case, it’s because she’s, well, because she’s Chao. So just walk up to her and be straightforward. Trust me, it’ll be like a breath of fresh air for her to not have to navigate social cues. Just say something like ‘Hey, I really like you, do you like me and do you want to go get a coffee sometime’? Start with that. Chao’s good people, the worst thing she’ll do is say no. She won’t yell at you or talk shit about you online. Buuuut, some sixth sense is telling me she won’t say no to getting some coffee with ya.”
Matt smiled. “McCoy, I think you might have a calling after you leave the military.”
She snorted. “Oh yeah, I’ll hang up my match-making shingle on the internet and start raking in the big bucks. Martinez is right, though. If we try to do a publicity stunt up at the Rithro
, then we’ll need somebody alongside Chao to win the world over. Somebody well-known, but preferably someone not in the traditional Western pop-culture sphere. That’ll make it more palatable…”
Her voice trailed off and she stared into space. The two men now looked at each other in genuine concern until she spoke again a few moments later.
“Guys? I think I just had the best idea ever.”
I am interested in holding a long-time-frame game (think 2 months, or more) that can be played between the employee/teams in my workplace. I am imagining something like a linear puzzle-progression game, with each puzzle needing multiple steps or multiple gathered-pieces being brought together to solve, and the solution of the puzzle pointing to the location of the first clues in the next puzzle. To promote and foster team-work the puzzles should be the type that needs the contributions of multiple people to solve. The puzzle clues could be spread around our multi-floored building, or even spread around our town. I would also like to ensure that my position as the game-master remains a secret until the game is won.
Has anyone ever heard of a game like this? Are there any existing game products available that would meet my requirements, or even come close? Has anyone been involved in a game like this?
My gma got a lot worse very, very fast. It was likely a mini stroke that doctors ignored. Right before it hit she was still herself, a person with indomitable personality and cool and specific interests which we shared. Hiking, perfume and makeup, crosswords and sudoku, trying new foods and learning about new technology. When I visited we wandered together, we did makeup together, we solved puzzles, shared celebrity gossip, I showed her how to use smartphone etc. When I was away I could look at online stores and find a perfume or bronzer that she would like and smile knowing that she'll like it when I'll bring it to her. I always grabbed a celebrity mag or a crossword for her when I visited. We had our little inside jokes over the phone and topics and memories we'd always come back to.
Now she's in a hospital and she doesn't remember her own name and how to swallow food, and there's so little I can do to connect, I can just be there and try to show I love her. She'll smile and clap when I give her a kiss on the forehead, but that's about it. She has no idea who I am except that I'm a friendly face. It's absolutely brutal how little I can now show her, bring her, interest her in. I can bring gifts but she won't even look at crosswords, she was never without red lipstick but now that doesn't mean anything either as she doesn't remember how to groom herself, even wash herself, even go to the loo for petes sake. I realize that sounds very trivial but I'm just trying to express how much it took from the person she used to be. It hurts, and I can't always be there to sit with her and hold her hand and make her smile because I've got work and a shit ton of other responsibilities. Before, I could always call her and she'd always tell me something new, and she'd always joke and I'd play along. Grandma, I miss the old you so much.
Here’s a collection of clues from S2 ep1-6 to help support a new theory.
((Heads up! I had to split posts several times since the first was way too long for me do so. I’m sorry!!))
But first! Let’s cover some groundwork from S1, which led to my analyses of S2.
Based on the cave drawings, we learn the place could be an entirely different world. By nature, cave drawings are meant to communicate the history and origins of a civilization, and by trope, they’re further meant to explain the source of the major conflict the characters are facing in the present.
Here’s looking at GOT’s White Walker origin story and Raised By Wolves’s Sol and Serpent as both shows used the same device. In From, we see its Natives travel by river to a place where they encountered an ancient evil—the symbol Jade sees is drawn, as well as a giant red entity. It’s safe to assume they are one in the same.
The symbol may be the creature’s mechanism to invoke change as we see white stick figure drawings transform into red stick figures, which highly allude to the monsters who torment the town. A monster did confirm they were made that way.
The lighthouse Boyd and Sara see implies the strange land is by water which supports the cave drawing. In general, the lighthouse’s purpose is to aid in navigation to either stay away, danger beware and to come this way—all pertaining to the paradox of the town. Lastly, the painting of an Adam and Eve-esque couple with a creature terrifyingly towering over them strongly supports the different world concept—that’s where they’re From.
So here’s my theory—
There are TWO forces at work on the town.
An advanced civilization operates the town as a fear farm (think Maze Runner) in order to defeat the ancient evil who thrives off fear (think Pennywise creature) which plagues the real world “outside” of the town.
The monsters, being a product of their creator, have a simple duty to satiate their creator’s need to feed on fear, whereas the civilization takes advantage of this—Like a cage with a snare trap function, the town is designed to psychologically house people (think Wandavision) to keep them alive and comfortable “for the most part” (electricity, running water, food) in order to continue harvesting their fear by trapping people in with monsters and manipulating them like Boyd, ultimately producing a hero serum—the “worm” blood, which killed the Smiley monster.
“They” need to continue this cycle to keep eradicating monsters in the real world and to keep the ancient evil at bay from attacking their own society.
Now since From is also a sci fi show, we can make things extra by adding a time element. The world may not even be alien. It could take place so, so far into the future, Earth is no longer what it is. In order to retrieve “stock,” “They” must resort to the past by plucking people from different timelines to accommodate the ancient evil’s cyclical appetite by starting fresh with a new batch of people. The glass bottles hanging from the tree also support this due to the collection of random years.
We can go even crazier and say the ancient evil is a consequence of a causal loop where the future event created the past event which in turn creates the future event—I know, mindfuck —which is why this society uses and sacrifices people from humanity’s past in order to justify the agenda as it’s for the common good of humanity—or what’s left of it.
This is why the title is intentionally ambiguous, besides matching the ambiguity of the show, but because from does reference so many things regarding the plot.
Also, the beginning credits song hints at the people’s fate being sealed and in general, there is no future to see because humanity's future is way too bleak: “Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que sera sera.” What a paradox since this song sounds so carefree.
Now let’s look back at a few S1 tea. We know the MCs all experienced major life changes, both good and bad, before getting trapped: Kenny and Tian-Chen managing the dad’s dementia, Kristi was about to enter medical school, Boyd has Parkinson’s, the Matthews lost their baby, Jade just sold his software company, etc. For the most part, they’re all holding onto heavy emotions.
As if the trap “They” created only catches certain people based on their emotional standing in order to produce more favorable fear outputs. So in a sense, the people are chosen.
In episode Book 74, when Father Kahtri found Sara, she said:
“Because... they told me things, things they couldn't know (“They” chose her, of course they know about her.) They told me those two cars were coming and to stand out near the edge of town and I would see. (“They” planned to do this).
They said it happened before, that two cars came on the same day and EVERYONE died. Heavily alludes it’s a cycle.
They said it was because of the people in the cars, (Jim the mechanical engineer and Jade the software developer were chosen) but if... if I did what they said, that we'd be safe, we'd get to go home.”
For as long as Victor has been there, he’s NEVER seen two cars arrive at the same time, let alone have an accident—an important detail—perhaps the element needed to spark the next chain of events, which also prompted “Them” to manipulate Sara to carry out murder plots—the youngest and most vulnerable of them all. It’s like a formula must be followed.
In an exchange between Jim and Tabitha about the same bracelet she found from her past (psychological trigger either to drive behavior or cause more emotional stress), Tabitha said, “I was so afraid I ruined it, but then, when I gave it to you, you said, "Accidents--"
Jim: "Accidents are the best part." Yes. Why? Ah, because it makes it one of a kind. Call back to their accident with Jade. Adding Jim and Jade together at the same time adds a unique element to the cycle.
With all that being said, there’s too much sleeping and dreaming clues to ignore, which is why I’m hoping it’s more metaphoric like what transpired in Wandavision and not a Matrix or 1899 simulation since that would take away so many supernatural elements—like I want those sick kids to be actual ghosts haunting Tabitha on a land actually inhabited by things we always thought were myth. But then again, I can see “Them” copy the real world of monsters into this simulation in order to get the best results. Contradictory, there are also many Is this real? This is real. references which does imply everything the characters are experiencing is in fact directly happening to them. Agh! The paradox kills me!
Whew! Now that that’s covered, let’s unpack what we’ve seen in S2 so far that supports my reasoning rant above. Here’s the most important details in order, along with brief scene captions for clarity.
Edit: please see multiple posts of the breakdown.
So I didn't get to watch the livestream earlier but am checking it out now. I thought that I would create a new thread to talk about some of the things talked about or revealed during this livestream to give it a more focused place of discussion. I am not all the way through yet but will edit it more as I get to it.
--The Brute is now known as The Bruiser. The obvious connection here is Isaac wanting to move away from Inox being the "dumb savage" stereotype and this name plays into the original character without being demeaning.
--There was a definite goal to "smooth out campaign difficulty" -- earlier campaign is easier than GH1, late campaign is harder than GH2, and there's a new optional difficulty mechanic to use as well if you want to.
--Envelope X puzzle has been reworked and will be incorporated into/merged with the Town Records book. Everything for the puzzles, including clues, rewards, etc will be fully included in the box.
--All enemies that were in Frosthaven that are also in Gloomhaven are unchanged between the two games. There is a goal for cross-compatibility both here and moving forward. However, enemies that were not in Frosthaven such as the Living Corpses, may have slight changes. We see here that the Living Corpses generate earth on a turn, for example.
--Scenario complexity has been a big point of debate as people start playing in Frosthaven. Drew/Gripeaway talks about how the goal was to both create a little bit more variety than GH1 but keep the complexity level overall. For example, the scenario they played was a "Kill All Enemies" scenario with one small twist -- if a figure was poisoned, they got to add +1 to all their attacks. (The scenario featured Giant Vipers and poison traps) Drew said this is a good example of a GH2 scenario -- "Kill All Enemies" but with a small twist. (I hope this brings some people back who have been frustrated by all the big purple rules boxes and survival type scenarios in FH.)
--Dennis/Themris is most excited about the Cthulu class, he thinks it's really interesting (side note -- I do too, it's great) and hopes people really like it.
--Funny side note: They kind of really struggle/get wrecked in the first room as Gripe put it on +1 difficulty without the others knowing and Isaac just kind of gets wrecked for the first hour.
--Ward is back from FH to make it an "evergreen condition". "It's hard to design a variety of support abilities" so Gripe says having another positive condition is helpful with that. (The new condition I'm not sure has been revealed yet but it's a positive condition)
--There is a new monster in the game! Room 2 of the test has a horde of Living Bones and Living Corpses, along with the new monster in the game...(Chaos Demons are also in GH2 and weren't in GH1)...The Crystal Rot (Spelling? This is the first I've heard this, in playtesting it was called a Lich). It is a ranged damage dealing monster that sort of serves as a Skeleton Lord to support nearby undead. It has a passive ability to gives nearby Living Bones, Spirits, and Corpses advantage on their attacks. It is an undead Orchid, hence the "Crystal" part of the name I'd suppose.
--The final boss has been redone, and it is no longer just a one scenario thing. Many of the bosses have been tweaked/redone.
--The Spellweaver card Emberfrost generates fire on top and ice on the bottom and each half is non-loss. It's the only non-loss element generation at level 1, so fire/ice are kept as a bit of a premium and it encourages you to use some losses to trigger other bonuses as the losses DO generate the elements you want, for the most part. Of course as you level up...
--The Stamina Potion is a prosperity 1 item that allows you to recover one level 1 card and is unrecoverable.
--Drew/Gripeaway uses the new Cragheart card Earthen Bulwark quite a bit, which is sort of a downgraded version of a certain Level 4 GH1 Cragheart card that is quite famous, and gives Crag some more flexible ranged obstacle creation at level 1. In terms of Cragheart, Themris talks about how they wanted to bring up the melee stuff that Cragheart has and give more support to melee abilities while keeping the ranged stuff great as it originally was.
--They talk about scenario 72 and having internal discussions about whether having a scenario of that "magnitude" is a positive for the game, etc. In the end the new 72 is a more reasonable version of the scenario that they think is still quite challenging but not quite what it was. Themris jumps in to say that there will still be many other challenges to find if you want to.
--Isaac: "I'm going to exhaust before Spellweaver uses Reviving Ether" LOL
--Just want to make a sidenote that the presentation here is just so casual and relaxed and they're teasing each other and having fun and it's so night and day to the more formal and awkward announcement video deal. I think putting people in their natural environments and letting them just talk and play the game and converse is a good way to present the product.
--Isaac talks more about the Bruiser name change -- he roughly says that the name Brute can be used to put down specific groups of people in an othering sense, unintelligent, only there for physical traits. Felt it was better to elevate the Bruiser so he's not just a big dumb guy. He's there to bruise people but he's got other things going for him too.
--This Bruiser definitely has movement as a theme, not only with Balanced Measure with a better initiative but also with two jump 3 non-loss actions at level 1, Skewer bottom boosted to move 7, Grab and Go still move 4, Overwhelming Assault bottom being move 4, and so on.
--Drew says it's much harder to design simpler classes that are interesting than more complex classes. They talk about the Spellweaver having a mechanic that plays off of loss cards (an example card being move 3, the next time you play a loss card this turn generate any element) and being happy where it ended up even though it took more redesign work than any other class.
--Remember the Living Corpse #91 card where they just move and hurt themselves? It has a "consume earth to attack +0" on it now.
--Dennis talks about Unstable Upheaval now having a move 3 on the bottom instead of being a double loss card, in order for it to be more new player friendly. Gripe talks about War Hammer not being at prosperity 1 anymore and that was part of the power of the card. So the joke of that card being a move 2 at 13 is now actually a move 3. But once you use the loss you lose the great initiative so it's a good tension as they are so slow other than that one.
--Somebody asks about Feedback Loop bottom and keeping the muddle text in. Isaac: "Nobody ever uses it for that muddle text...but you kept it in, right?" Lol. Drew talks about why they kept it in even though it rarely matters. Dennis mentions the muddle technically mattering now more because negative conditions might matter to you more since you don't always just have TMW up 100% of the time.
--Drew says Mindthief is a level 3 complexity, all other starters are 1s or 2s.
--It seems that Gripe being Gripe, Drew knows everything he has drawn out of his modifier deck, how many positives vs negatives, at all times without looking.
--After exhausting Isaac sets his mini on the table to slowly roll around all over the place as he waits for them to finish. This is the content you came here for. Isaac says the most nerd thing ever: "This is what happens in a frictionless environment".
Drew talks about the small changes to Impaling Eruption. He calls it an iconic card, but also one of the more frequently misunderstood cards. While balance and fun wise there were no problems with the card they wanted to improve ease of play, especially on a starter class. Dennis: "The first time I used Impaling Eruption I hit 7 targets with it". The new card is a set melee AOE matter with an attack 3 and immobilize, generating earth. It's a unique matter that is sort of meant to be like an earthquake fissure.
Isaac talks about solo scenarios returning, reworked, but an add on as before.
Forceful Storm's loss action did not make the cut for Crag due to the amount of hard CC it provided. HOWEVER, they later show the new X-card Petrify, which is Attack 4 range 3, tri-hex pattern, and create an obstacle in any featureless hex of a target you kill, create earth, 1 xp.
Retirement time in GH is meant to be slightly shorter than FH due to length of the campaign.
They are asked if Crag actually has a decision to make at level 4 now. Drew shows GH2 Crag level 4 spoiler>! Kinetic Assault which on top is move 1 attack 4, all allies and enemies adjacent to the target suffer 1 damage non-loss on top; on bottom it is move 3, ward self, retaliate 3 range 3, 2xp loss card. He says this was boosted and Rock Slide nerfed just a bit so it's a much closer call now.!<
Circles is quite different but will play how you'd think it should play. "The hand size has changed dramatically, though". Isaac drops another very small spoiler about Circles, asking "it's all loss summons still, right?"
"We really tried to lean into the Bruiser's theme of forced movement, so we buffed the pushes here and there"
--"This is all designed to work together (discussing character nerfs vs monster nerfs, everything being balanced) Drew gives an example of Cultists in GH1 could just chain summon due to it being a reshuffle. GH1 could deal with this because there was so much stun. They changed the ability in GH2 where the summon ability now stuns themselves and works with classes not having as much crowd control. So the design works together in harmony.
--With the exceptions of a few small things I.E Drifter's loot perk, Frosthaven and GH2 classes should be fully compatible, interchangeable, etc.
--Isaac says lots more info to come by June 20th on the actual campaign page. He praises Drew and Dennis for being far better players than him.
That's it, thanks for reading.
Hello, is there a way to view/access older Universal Crossword puzzles? I'm specifically looking for most of June 2021 (as I've only got one of those puzzles saved) but a way to view them in general would be lovely
I literally came so far without looking the internet all, found all chests solved all secrets bla bla but when the game reached the "d-pad"/"arrow keys" stuff it literally ruined my game. I tought literal hours how to move on and continue the game and i actually went to obelisk for like 4 or 5th times. it turned out that i should have follow the pattern and press arrows to get that next page magicly. I said "wow cool, it's a pity i didn't see that". But I was sad honestly. I don't know why but i was very proud of myself that i came to the end without getting help from internet... Then i went to the gathering place that shown in the instructions and guess what! I stucked again! I couldn't figure out how to do searching spell and it took a solid 30 minutes for me to try arrows again. Ah man, i guess the game will move on with the arrows from now...
But my struggle didn't end there because it tuned out that the searching spell only shows you the location of "puzzle". Hey, What puzzle? I tought searching spell shows you the fairy! I literally didn't know what to do at that moment, i was doing spell and spell was sending me to a location. I tried to throw bombs to that location to unlock a secret passage, i tried to make my special beam stuff on that (you got what i am talking about) but no. GAME LITERALLY SAID NOTHING ABOUT A PUZZLE. WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH THAT HUH? DO YOU REALLY WANT ME TO GO INTERNET AND LEARN EVERYSHIT FROM THERE? I know that thee others were my fault but this wasn't. There is literally nothing neither on the book or the game
And I did, i went to Internet again. i tried to learn what should I do next without learning too much. The first result, IGN, said "fairy puzzles could be a pattern on the wall" and believe me or not, it came to my mind to try that pattern on the wall before but i didn't do it because it was too long and blocked by rocks. Nevermind, i tried to copy the pattern and pressed that fucking arrows again. I couldn't do it... Suddenly and magicly, all the knowledge came to my mind! (i looked the arrow pattern from IGN)
The game was 10/10, but this shits dropped it to 8/10 for me. Fairy puzzles are stupid, hard and boring. Some of them are actually fun but going to the places that i went for a million time again is not. I don't know what did creators think while they were doing this arrow key puzzles but this is a bad game design, very bad game design. At least they could tell us more about and give more clues (actual clues) about what should we do
They like to crossword (and wordsearch) together. Amy good apps that could allow them to do it together on an app?
Needs to be easy to navigate
Bonus for Indian themed puzzles (Bollywood/India History).
Hey guys, I'm making my first scavenger hunt for a youth group and part of my theme involves them using their phones to find clues. the scavenger hunt starts with them receiving a QR code that has the coordinates to the first clue.
I'm wondering if there are any online resources that have a backend I could input my own clues into, e.g. A QR code leads to a word search you need to solve in order for it to give you your next clue, or something along those lines. Essentially some sort of puzzle on their phones that will give them the next clue when they solve it.
If you're going to use in-game puzzles: make sure that they are player-character puzzles and not player puzzles.
Let's start with the problem: most in-game puzzles need to be worked out by the players. These puzzles play like a videogame in which the player (or players) work out the correct combination, interpret the information, or unravel the clues in order to solve the puzzle. They often rely on the players' own ingeniousness, intellect, insight, and memory. And if the players can't figure it out, neither do their characters.
Instead, if you're going to use puzzle encounters, the encounter should focus on the player characters' skills, abilities, and in-game resources. An in-game intellect puzzle should be more readily solvable by a character with +5 Intelligence than one with -1 Intelligence, regardless of the player's own capacity.
Let's consider a very basic example of an NPC who offers a reward for solving this riddle: "I have teeth but cannot bite, I open doors with a twist of might." The solution is "key." But it should be irrelevant if the players themselves know that it's a key. And inviting the players to say, "key" is potentially out of character. Instead, this should be an Intelligence check with a really low DC.
This also enables you to have puzzles that none of your players could solve [but] the player characters might. Because a successful check provides them the solution. For example, you might write a very difficult riddle like "Born from fire, tempered in strife, wielded by heroes to cheat death's knife." The players might not even know it. That's fine. But the player character overcoming a DC of 20 could know that the solution was "Phoenix Feather."
This dynamic plays out in all kinds of in-game puzzles in which the players themselves are expected to be the conduits of information, logic or knowledge. But the players aren't their characters. And the players' ability to solve puzzles should have absolutely no impact on their characters' ability to do the same in-game.