The Four Mysterious Objects Revealed…

September

05, 2007

by John Shedletsky


Archive

About a month ago, clockwork and I were messing around and creating new hats to accompany the big Builders Club release. Clockwork had the great idea of publishing a hat that was just a box, to see if anyone would buy it. For fun, we called it the Mysterious Object and tried to sell it for 50 tix. The idea was that the object would be a grab bag – people would buy it and then it would morph into something else later.

Crazy ideas always start simple. We went out for lunch, talked about the Mysterious Object and what a cool idea it was. When we came back, we decided to create two more. To make things extra mysterious, we decided to label our three mysterious boxes as I, II, and IV. The obvious question: where is box III? Very mysterious indeed.

When I came into work the next day, I was astounded by the number of mystery boxes we had sold. I realized that people loved the idea (who doesn’t love a good mystery?), and decided to give them a little bit more to chew on…

“Mysterious Objects Sighted!” proclaimed our August 10th News post. I figured that players who read the News section deserve to get a leg up over everyone else who was trying to solve our mystery. Therefore, posted 4 Haiku, providing reasonable hints for people trying to figure out what was in each box. These clues ranged from easy to hard.

Haiku #1 (easy)

Threaded fastener,

Twist around; face them! Hold fast –

Lest they be faster.

The first line totally gives it away. It’s a screw. I mean, how many objects can you think of that are “threaded fasteners”, “twist around” and hold things tight? The poem plays on the fact that the word “fast” has many different meanings.

Haiku #2 (medium)

Curdled, but dauntless

Struggle for your dignity

But beware of mice

Haiku 2 was slightly more difficult. Most people picked up on the words “curdled” and “mice”, concluding that this was a cheese hat. This makes sense since anyone wearing a cheese hat certainly must “struggle for their dignity”. Another popular guess was that this was a moon hat, since the moon is made of cheese.

Haiku #4 (hard)

Dios Achilleus:

One head among thousands when

Illium died in fire

The fourth poem didn’t give away the entire answer, and required some domain knowledge of the classics. People who figured it out either have taken college-level literature classes, or are good at googling for information.

Dios Achilleus is an ancient Greek epithet (it means “Godlike Achilles”) for Achilles. Illium is a name for the famous city of Troy. The haiku references the Iliad, the epic story of the sacking of Troy by a Greek army. Since all the mysterious objects are hats, some people were able to make the inference that this box must contain a Greek army helmet.

Since some people were having trouble with this one, I gave you guys a little tiny bit more help by wearing a shirt with a picture of a Hoplite on it for several days.

Mysterious Object III

Now all the riddles are neatly solved. Or so thought many people. In fact, the real game was just beginning…

Suggestively, there was a haiku #3, a poem which indicated that there might be a Mysterious Object III after all. Soon afterwards, some people started to discover there was a Mysterious Object III in the Recently Updated hats list, and, even more astounding, some people were finding it and it the box in their inventory!

Haiku #3 (impossible)

Void Star to zer0,

Foolishly dereferenced.

No call stack. All g0ne.

This poem talks about the taboo programming mistake of deferencing a null pointer (which causes a crash), but doesn’t give any real hints as to the nature of Mysterious Object #3.

The Quest

Thus began the quest for Mysterious Object III. The Mysterious Object blog post told users where to start looking: one of my old places, Sword Fights on the Heights.

In this level, people could find four different bricks that, when touched, would print one of the 4 haikus. If one opened the map in Roblox Studio and found the script for brick #3, there was a mysterious comment at the end of the code:

— Ah, the mysterious number three. Perhaps the most mysterious of all. The Garden of Proserpine. Dead dreams of days forsaken…

This may seem arcane, but people found this hint almost immediately and posted it on the forum. Googling for “The Garden of Proserpine” will quickly find the eponymous poem by Algernon Swinburne. This poem is about the Greek myth of Persephone (again with the Greek stuff…).

The huge leap of intuition that players had to make at this point in our little treasure hunt was to look for a user named “Swinburne” on ROBLOX. There were various helpful hints to this effect on my profile page, and in the description of Mysterious Object III.

Swinburne has a private friends-only place called “HERE, where the world is quiet” (the first line of “The Garden of Proserpine” – helpful if anyone tried searching on ROBLOX for it). Users who messaged Swinburne with their correct guesses for the contents of boxes I, II, and IV were made friends of Swinburne, then they could get into his place to finish the hunt.

Users who found Swinburne were told that the prize for finding Mysterious Object III would change depending on how many people found it. So anyone who got this far in the treasure hunt would no longer be willing to share information. It’s a personal quest from this point on.

Swinburne’s level is the Garden of Proserpine, a desolate piece of Underworld real estate. Hidden in the level are 4 spheres which correspond to specific lines of The Garden of Proserpine. You need to collect them all in the correct order, then make your way to the Greek temple in which Mysterious Object III is hidden. The lines of the poem are:

Dead dreams of days forsaken,
Blind buds that snows have shaken,
Wild leaves that winds have taken,
    Red strays of ruined springs.

1. Dead days of dreams forsaken

This orb is at the top of a forsaken tower in the middle of the map.

2. Blind buds that snows have shaken

This orb is hidden in the snow-ensconced wheat field. 

3. Wild leaves that winds have taken

This orb is located at the base of the largest tree in the forest. 

4. Red strays of ruined springs

This orb is located in the middle of a very dangerous ruined lake. 

The Temple

You can only gain entrance to the temple once you have collected all 4 orbs.

Victory!

People who solved the puzzle found a glowing box that told them to message Swinburne with the password “ALGERNON”. People who did this by August 16th were issued Mysterious Object III shortly thereafter. After that date, Swinburne stopped accepting friends requests because Mysterious Object III was for people who had solved some part of the mystery themselves, not people who had gotten the answer from others.

The Winners

To be honest, I didn’t expect anyone to be able to solve my very complex and arcane treasure hunt. However, no fewer than 14 people made it all the way to the end. They completed the puzzle in the following order:

  1. blXhd
  2. Koontay
  3. duck
  4. shanethe13
  5. Twila27
  6. Faust
  7. MetalMario
  8. Anaminus
  9. miked
  10. legofreak55
  11. lion
  12. intile
  13. GreenMachine
  14. MetalYoshi

All winners will have discovered at this point that there Mysterious Object III has become The Void Star Gift Box, and they will have in their inventory a fierce-looking crown known as The Void Star. It’s current market value is 20,000 tickets. The Void Star is on sale now; the Gift Box is intended as a momento for those who solved my fiendish riddles. There are only 14 in existance.

blXhd was rewarded a bonus of 1000 R$ for being the first person to solve the puzzle – and the only person to do it in less than 12 hours. Dude, that was really incredible; I have no idea how you did that. Salute!

The Swinburne level is now public and un-copy-locked, if anyone is curious to play through it, explore it, or dissect the scripts in it.

– Telamon