The Historian: Episode 1 Spoilers Thread

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If you'd prefer to read this post on Google Docs, here is a link:

SPOILER ALERT - if you still want to role play your obtained items or find out about them in character, do not read on. This thread contains spoilers for ALL of the meaningful loot items from the pirate treasure event.

Episode one saw a treasure chest wash up on the shores of Dead End and subsequently get looted. Milton Digler, a historian from the University of Michigan, raced to Dead End in order to secure the artifacts but was too late. The treasures were looted in an orgy of greed and left an angry Milton to stomp around town admonishing the masses in general, but never accusing anyone to their face. Save, of course, for one reporter whom Milton targeted with fliers for an article that had appeared in the Daily.

Before I get to the spoilers I’d like to share some things that were learned with this story. We tried some things that really hadn’t been done before in Dead End and there were some eye opening moments. First, people seemed to love the puzzle solving aspects on some of the items; more than we anticipated. If anything, the major feedback on them was that there should have been more steps and complexity to test problem solving. Second, people preferred immediate meet-ups once they obtained the items. We had thought people would trickle into the pawn shop or to see Milton, but there were early rushes to get together and unlock the various clues in large groups. Finally, screw realism. We made a decision to limit some of the more “important” items which required people working together and it made things difficult for some. Yes, the items are supposed to be “unique”, but next time we’ll seed twice as many as we think we need.

Read on to find out about the various items. Though somes items seemed to be garbage, nearly everything was a clue. Links will take you to completed descriptions for the items that had pairings. Text in ( ) is a sort of director’s commentary.

===”Major” items===
:Brooch with a Glass Gem:
If the old glass gem got inserted into the brooch it would shatter violently. This was one of the few truly garbage items.

:Key and Box:
The box was lined with a waterproofing bladder and contained a note stuck to a rotted animal heart. The whole setup was a vindictive jab at someone named Bonnie.

This item was important because if the Bonnie named in the letter was John Bonnie (which isn’t solidly provable with the items available) it would give legitimacy to some of the tales of Dead End’s founding. For those wanting to believe in the Dead End curse, Bonnie could also be the name of one of the Ender’s sisters. Note that the letter says “lying cheat” and not pirate and further says “burn in hell”; something witches were condemned to at the time. More, if the note was brought to Milton he would research the French name (Maurice Pierre Mercier) and find record of someone with that name as a mid-level officer of the French army. This would connect someone named Bonnie with the French provincial government, making the French integral to the founding of Dead End.
(The name Mercier was chosen because of its common use during many periods of French history. The involvement of the French is crucial because real world Michigan was first settled by the French. Settlement by other nations, or even by other nationalities, didn’t occur until sometime after.)

:Top and Bottom Map Halves:
The two pieces of map came together to reveal the location of a “treasure”. The puzzle referenced in-world landmarks to guide players to a cave where a second treasure box could be found. This second treasure had been looted long before players got there and is currently in use as a garbage bin.
(This was one of the most important pieces as it proved that the owner(s) of the box on the shore had truly been in Dead End at some point. How else could they have had maps that referenced the landscape and lead to something? While it doesn’t prove anything about Dead End’s founding directly, it provides irrefutable proof that the other loot items are legitimate.)

:A Sextant:
“This sextant seems unwieldy. It is clearly more decorative than useful. Engravings, seemingly done by the hand of a true craftsmen, cover the entire device. The most prominent engraving appears on the largest peg which holds the device together. This engraving is of a chess piece, a pawn, and accompanies the inscription “Infirma mundi elegit Deus”

Someone would probably place a high value on this item.”

This item was clearly meant to be special to the Pawns faction. There was prediction that the Pawn Shop would see traffic from this RP, but since it didn’t pan out that way I don’t believe the sextant ever made it to the shop. If brought to Milton, he would have revealed that the sextant was in an incorrect position for display and fixed it, allowing more inscription to be read. The implication was that a man named Bartolome owned or inscribed the sextant. This is a reference to Bartolome De Las Casas. An explorer turned missionary, Bartolome came to reject the subjugation of native tribes in South America around the 1400s. Its relevance here is that someone aboard the ship might have followed or respected Bartolome, giving some small degree of legitimacy to the notion that native tribes were integral to the founding of DE.
:A Roll of Parchment:
“This roll of parchment is so well preserved you would think it is a miracle. Unrolling the document reveals an official state deed of land, bearing what appear to be official stamps and signatures of the provincial French government. The document’s text is written in both English and French. It appears to state that whoever holds the deed is the rightful owner of a piece of land. The descriptions are thorough and complete and even include a hand drawn map outlining the location of the land in relation to a bluff and two rivers. The marked area covers the precise spot where the police station and Lulu’s bar stand today.

Congratulations. Now see what you can do about the infestation of current tenants.”

I was so bummed that this parchment didn’t result in court cases for attempted land grabs and all the drama that could have ensued from it. Historically, It provides direct proof that the French Provincial authorities knew about Dead End and governed it at least to the degree of laying claim to the land. In real life, Michigan was first settled by the French, so that fact had to become a part of this story in some concrete way. The context of the real life founding of Michigan, and the later abandonment of Michigan by the French, sets up additional historical references coming later in the story line. Stay tuned for those.

===”Minor” Items===
:A Necklace Chain:
Most everyone treated this as trash because the note card described it as an iron chain that had been painted gold. One player actually used it as the note card suggested; as a weapon against the other looters. The chain does have a slight historical significance. Ask the questions who and why anyone would paint an iron chain gold and there is instant suspicison that someone associated with the chest was attempting to scam someone. The sort of thing a pirate might do? Perhaps.

:A Small notebook:
This notebook was written in code. If brought to the Historian, he would have deciphered the code as it was a standard language of the day, think of it as a form of 1700’s pig latin. The book would have no significant value, though it would be a special treasure in the right hands. The notebook was actually the journal of a gay man and what survived to be deciphered talked about the dangers of being gay in a less than accepting time. Just a small setup for a dramatic scene.

:A Water Damaged Book:
Another item everyone thought was trash but provided a small counter to the rather heavy pirate evidence. Pirates weren’t known for keeping records or being well-read, so would it really logic that they’d have so many books?

To my knowledge, no one played out the mold infection that the book’s note card offered or used the book as an infection bomb/prank of their enemies.
(It was interesting how quick people were to judge their items as trash when someone from the past had thought to place them in a secure container. I thought that this fact would prompt people to believe most of the items had at least some value and seek to use them IC, but this was incorrect.)

:An old, rusty, flintlock pistol:
I’ll spare you all the legal disclaimers that came with the pistol and stick to the story:
“This ancient firearm would be antiquated technology even for the late 1700s. The barrel of the weapon appears to be ready to fall apart with a strong gust of wind and touching it causes oxidized iron to flake off. The wooden handle has the word “CURSED” carved into it as if its owner had named the device. Upon close inspection, the firearm is loaded and…. Holy crap the flint would work if it was given a day to dry out.

The pistol wasn’t named cursed, it was cursed. The owner carved that word into the handle after pissing off an Indian spirit guide to remind him that the weapon was cursed. No matter how well you aim it, no matter your expertise in firearms, the weapon malfunctions in some spectacular fashion that ONLY injures the person who fired the weapon. That’s what you get for messing around with native culture, white devil! All that remains of the pistol is the handle with the word "CURSED" carved into it.”
(No other item excited or worried me as much as this one. I wish someone would have used the pistol IC to its disastrous effects. I’m very interested to know how people would have felt about encountering this.)

April 8, 2016 at 10:15 am
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