Treasure League: The Aztec Skull | Wrap-Up

This month took players back, back, and back — to three different decades, following the journals of expedition leaders searching for the lost Aztec city of Aztlan. Each struggled to unravel the mysteries of a jungle temple, human sacrifice, and lore about a fierce sect of jaguar warriors.

Ultimately, John Stegeman (you might remember him from last year's Getaway and Constellations rounds) discovered the hidden skull's location while pursuing a wildly different hunch than the clues had laid out. Watch the video above to see how he found the skull, or read on to learn how the clues were pointing you to Pearce Estate Park.

Also, stay tuned for a trailer for July's round, coming soon!


The Clues

While only 15 clues went out, they were building to the exact location of the golden skull in three ways. 

The Coordinates: First and foremost, each clue casually included a map coordinate that fell somewhere in Calgary. Plotted, these amount to no more than polka dots on the map. Connected, and they're a jumble of lines. However, if you were to group them by which expedition leader they belong to, and connect the dots, they draw the form of a jaguar on the map.

Usually, the winner's explanation of how they found the treasure would be validation of the key to unlocking a round's secret — and for players who hadn't worked things out yet, we find that's often important closure for puzzle-minded minds.  This month, the winner didn't pay much attention to the coordinates, mistaking them for actual constellations. Thankfully, a member of team library reached out the hour the win was announced, hoping his working theory wasn't correct.

 
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I'm including a screenshot of that exchange here to provide a dash of plausibility to the jaguar coordinates, but also to give him serious kudos for working things out by the midpoint as well. Nice work, the internet's @PanzerVaughn!

The Journals: In addition to the coordinates, the three-layer narration by the expedition leaders was dropping hints as to where the treasure could/would be found. Our winner took note of the ruins, the east, and 12 steps. That was enough to get him to the East, make him take notice of the ruins sculpture, and venture up 12 stairs to take a look. Uncannily early, but interrupting one hunch to explore should be considered great gameplay in anyone's books.

Other clues that had been dropped so far include the night sky (to prompt connecting the dots), the beast and each voice beginning a leg of the journey (to hint that the jaguar was being drawn from the feet, up), and that the warrior's chest had been "pierced" (Pearce Estate Park).

All in all, this round leaned deeply into immersive fiction compared to the previous two rounds, and most closely resembles last year's Far, Far, Away and Ghost Story rounds. Next month, you're in for something completely different. 

Treasure League: The Stolen Diamond | Wrap-Up

A heist. A stolen diamond. And a month of sassy letters from your imprisoned partner in crime. The May 2017 round of Treasure League: Lost Artifacts sent teams all over the city, trying to identify locations using two tightly cropped polaroid photos each day, sporadic information hidden in the text, plus a directional arrow that indicated the diamond was hidden N/E/S/W of that location.

As the month went on, the searchable grid narrowed, until May 22, when teams were reportedly starting to cluster in Mission, around Cliff Bungalow Park.  A few blocks over, long-time Treasure Leaguer (and infamous safari hat enthusiast) Brendan Nogue of Team Short Round was using a very specific strategy to finish out the game. Watch the video above to find out what that was.

If you're dying to find out where a specific photo clue was located, you can discuss your hunches and find out the answers from the rest of the League in this Facebook thread

And then, if you haven't already subscribed, sign up before month-end for June's round The Aztec Skull!

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Treasure League: The Templar Dagger | Wrap-Up

Congratulations to Team Library (Kari Brawn, Jeremy Thomas,  You might remember them as the winners of last year's Ghost Story round. They emerged on top after weeks of players scouring St. Patrick's Island for the hidden dagger, eventually finding it, in the cold rain, on April 24th. 

For winning the round, Team Library gets to keep their shiny new dagger — incur late fees at your peril, library patrons — and wins $300 cash. And of course, everlasting glory.

Hear Jeremy describe the round in his own words by watching the video above (this season, round winners are submitting their own wrap-up reports) or read on for an explanation of the ciphers, the clues, and the treasure's location.

 

HOW TO SOLVE THE CIPHERS

The round began on April 1, 2017 with a cryptic Clue #1 about four Templar knights on a secret mission.

Four knights fled in the dead of night
With treasure, under orders

Four knights set sail before the light
Bound for distant borders

Four knights on land enact their plan
To give their charge safe quarter

Four knights conceal the steps they took
With symbols of their Order

The next three clues each included jumbled text and a pair of black symbols.

Clue #2 was JSQKTNLTSBSGLNSR, with a moon and sun.

Clue #3 was ELVG OOS IPKQK NRO with a lamb and sun.

Clue #4 was HQA NTTQ KDKW NRRKAQ with a sun and moon.

Clue #5 returned to the story format, with a description of the first knight.

The first of the knights
Sir Simon, lacked height
But like his sigil, the sun
He was exceedingly bright

“It matters not, if you are large or little,
 a person’s true character is right in the middle.”

Clue #6 was a grid of symbols numbered 1-26, with a red sun symbol at the bottom. Using the hint in Clue #5, you can deduce that all of the 26 symbols has a 5-letter name, and that if you take the middle letter in each of those words, you get the alphabet out of order.

QTZHWGRYJSAVMXKOFUCBDEPNIL

Clues #7 through #11 were more ciphers, still with two symbols apiece and the appearance of lion symbol to go with the moon, sun, and lamb. Clue #12 introduced the second knight.

The second knight was William
A pale, nocturnal sort
On whom the others always counted
Because he never came up short

“The odds are in your favour
with numbers on your side,
but you can improve your chances,
if you first divide.”

That's a clue about how to solve the next day's Clue #13, which was a simple string of numbers, with a red moon symbol at the bottom.

5141322224121782176423111152026101819259316

If you add spaces, dividing the numbers so that 1 through 26 are all accounted for, and then swap in the letter that occupies that space in the alphabet, you'll get a second alphabet out of order.

ENMBVXLQHUGFDWAKOTZJRSYICP

At this point, you have alphabets for the sun and moon. Clues 2, 4, and 9 have those symbols at the bottom — and you can use the pair of alphabets to translate the messages in these clues. 

M: ENMBVXLQHUGFDWAKOTZJRSYICP
S: QTZHWGRYJSAVMXKOFUCBDEPNIL

If you go moon to sun, A means K, B means H, C means I, et cetera. So clue #2 can be translated like this:

JSQKTNLTSBSGLNSR => BE YOU TRUEHEARTED

And that's the entire trick to this round of Treasure League. Solve the four riddles/codes that give you the sun, moon, lamb, and lion alphabet orders, then use them in pairs to decode the rest of the messages. 

We invented this two-key cipher (we're calling it the Four Knight Cipher) to thwart players who might try plugging any of the encoded messages into an online solver. More ambitious players could use frequency analysis and gruelling trial and error to solve the messages by hand — and from there reverse engineer the four alphabets. One team did admit to coding their own piece of custom software to break the alphabets — but it's anyone's guess whether that was faster than the teams who slugged it out by trial and error.

 

HOW TO FOLLOW THE CLUES

Decoded, the clues lay out a simple, linear path you can follow directly to the dagger. 

BE YOU TRUEHEARTED
AND SEEK OUR PRIZE
BEGIN NEAR A VILLAGE => Start in the East Village
BY GEORGE CROSS OVER WATER => Cross the George King bridge
FOLLOW THE SOUTHERN PATH => Literally, take the the southern path.
GREEN LEFT AND BLUE RIGHT => Trees on your left, water on your right.
ON A HOLY MAN’S LAND => You should be on St. Patrick's Island.
WALK PAST A FOREST => Walk past the Gallery Forest signs.
STUMP TOWARDS VICTORY => Keep going (the stumps are a red herring)
LEAVE ALL STONES UNTURNED=> Ignore the 1000s of shore stones.
STEEL YOURSELF FOR WHAT’S AHEAD => Stand on steel, look across.
FIND WOOD OVER WATER => Cross the wooden bridge.
WHERE A PATH GOES LEFT GO RIGHT => Leave the path, walk on dirt. 
WALK TWENTY PACES =>  Again, literally, 20 paces. 
PROBE PEBBLED EARTH =>  Tap with a stick or pole to find the dagger.

To recap, if you started in the East Village and used George King bridge to reach St. Patrick's Island, you can take the southernmost path all the way to the cove.

Standing on the steel outlook at the railing, you'd be facing the dagger's hiding place ("steel yourself for what's ahead") on the opposite side of the cove.

Cross the wooden bridge to get there, then leave the path when it goes left.

Walking twenty paces on bare earth, you'll reach two sandy patches of earth.

The dagger was buried half an inch deep, at the base of a red bush.

The 25th clue would have read "BENEATH RED BRANCHES". But, 24 clues is all it took before our winners found the exact spot. 

How'd they make that final leap of logic? Well, after weeks of teams in that area, and more and more figuring out that the treasure must be buried, Team Library had the idea to borrow a metal detector.

Fair play? Absolutely. If teams are able to use Google's supercomputers and code their own cipher-breaking software, it would be silly to outlaw the use of a magnetic field. In 10 rounds of Treasure League to date, this is the only time a metal detector would have given any team an edge.

Bonus points for being resourceful!

The winners of Treasure League are...

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All month, members puzzled over the meanings of the constellations they were receiving and how they fit together. Many struck on the idea that each constellation represented a local landmark or neighbourhood, but fewer assembled their grids correctly. In the end, three teams found themselves racing against each other and sunset, scouring the vast Inglewood Wildlands for signs of the hidden chest.

Then, they all gave up and went home. September winner John Stegeman couldn't let it rest though, and brought his son along to search in the dark. They found the chest hidden under a footbridge on a main path, in the middle the field. Watch the video to hear it in their own words.

And that's the end of Treasure League's first season! We're working on a few new things for 2017, so stay tuned for new events and diversions!

Team Library has won Treasure League: Ghost Story!

We first met Team Library's Kari Brawn in March, when she introduced herself at a pub and told us she had assembled a team of librarians to join Treasure League that month. At the time, she had no idea that the March treasure chest was located literally beneath where she sits at the central library, behind some science fiction books on the fourth floor. 

She missed out on finding that chest by 1 hour, but 6 rounds later she and her team of book-lovers and historians are victorious. They're the winners of Treasure League: Ghost Story and the $500 prize. Watch the video to find out how Kari and teammate Jeremy Thomas made it to the banks of the Bow River and found the treasure chest hidden at the base of two entwined trees. 

The winners of Treasure League: Wanderlust are The Kilted Meeples!

This month's theme was Wanderlust, with our treasure hunters sifting through plane tickets, riddles, and puzzles themed to international locations on every continent. 

It ended with an actual footrace as teams descended on the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Soon, Andrew Stevenson and Peita Luiti of The Kilted Meeples had the treasure chest in hand, having pulled it from beneath the wooden walkway at one end of a footbridge.  For being quick-witted and fast on their feet, they're the winners of Treasure League: Wanderlust and its $500 cash prize!

Thanks to everyone who played! For the full scoop on how it all went down, watch the wrap up video below. Treasure League goes on a short hiatus in August but we'll be back with a new treasure hunt in September!

Treasure League's June Winners are The Booty Hunters!

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In June, the theme was Hocus Pocus, with Treasure League members facing a month of magic-themed clues on their way to the hidden treasure chest — a shiny purple number emblazoned with a white rabbit.

One team came out on top — quite literally on top of Nose Hill. Congratulations to Florence Tsang and Alexander Le and the other members of The Booty Hunters team for their victory. Florence unearthed the chest from the gravelly grave where it had been buried alive, securing her team's title as winners of Treasure League: Hocus Pocus and winners of its $500 cash prize!

Thanks to everyone who played! There were nearly a dozen treasure hunters on the hill around the time the chest was found! Here's a video that explains what all of the released clues meant and exactly where the chest was, plus an interview with the winners and more special guests.

The winner of Treasure League: Labyrinth is team Internet Explorer!

May's theme was Labyrinth, with Treasure League members marching fearlessly down what they hoped was the correct path to the hidden treasure chest. Every day they received two directions — one that would bring them closer to the prize and one that lead take them further astray.

In the end it was 5-person team Internet Explorer — Dan Ansley, Colin Boland, Maria Ansley, Thomas Craig, and Irene Ma who located the chest in a bed of daylilies at Reader Rock Garden. That means they're the winners of Treasure League: Labyrinth and its $500 cash prize!

Thanks to everyone who played! Here's a video that explains what all of the clues meant, and a chat with two of the winners that includes a surprise appearance by April's winning team.

Treasure League's April Winners are Dan Clark, Brendan Nogue, and Patrick Clark!

This month's theme was Secret Agent, with our treasure hunters following an evidence trail of bodies, photographs, bullets, receipts, airplane tickets, security logs, eyewitness accounts, and other forensic detritus to figure out who stole what from whom, when it could have been stashed, and where it could have been stashed.

In the end it was Brendan Nogue, Dan Clark, and Patrick Clark of team Short Round Enterprises who located the chest on the bank of Bow River, at the D69 stormwater outfall behind the Pumphouse Theatre. For following the clues and their hunches, they're the winners of Treasure League: Secret Agent and its $500 cash prize!

Thanks to everyone who played. A tell-all video explaining this month's clues AND another invitation to meet up at a local pub are on their way before the end of April.

Want to play in May? The theme is Treasure League: Labyrinth. Register your team before May 1st and you'll get a bonus clue!

Treasure League's March winners are Thomas Craig, Dan Ansley, and friends!

Three members of March's winning team: Thomas Craig, Dan Ansley, and Irene Ma.

Three members of March's winning team: Thomas Craig, Dan Ansley, and Irene Ma.

Treasure League members Thomas Craig and Dan Ansley have located the chest and claimed the March prize — with help from their better halves Irene Ma and Maria Ansley!

Where was it? Well, with apologies to the lovely team of treasure-hunting librarians we had the pleasure of meeting at Swan's Pub a couple of weeks ago, the chest was hidden... somewhere inside Calgary's Central Public Library

That place is absolutely FULL of treasure. 

Soon, we'll post what you're really looking forward to — a video showing you exactly where the chest was hidden and how the clues pointed the way. Plus, you'll learn something truly remarkable about this month's winners.

Thanks to everyone who played in March! Your enthusiasm and positivity are what make Treasure League great. Watch for your invite to a pub night this month.

And of course, we hope to see everyone grab a friend, a flashlight, a full canteen, and some monkey repellent, and join the hunt for April's treasure chest!

Treasure League's first $500 treasure chest has been found by Leslie O'Leary and friends

Treasure League's first winner, Leslie O'Leary, with two of her teammates on Scotsman's Hill where they found the Fire & Ice treasure chest.

Treasure League's first winner, Leslie O'Leary, with two of her teammates on Scotsman's Hill where they found the Fire & Ice treasure chest.

Every month, Treasure League hides a treasure chest somewhere in Calgary, then sends clues to its members to help them find it. The game launched at the beginning of February and its numbers have swelled to the hundreds. 

Twenty-one days after the first clue was sent, we're thrilled to announce that the first chest has been found by Leslie O'Leary and her coworkers at Enbridge. The team has been searching for the hidden treasure chest all month as a team-building exercise.

The theme of Treasure League changes with each round. February's was Fire & Ice, with Calgary-centric clues that had members puzzling over local history, and sending them off to explore hunches through Fort Calgary, Olympic Park, and the Stampede grounds. 

The clues led O'Leary and friends to the chest's February hiding spot, under a wooden stair, halfway up Scotsman's Hill. Following the instructions inside the chest, they contacted Treasure League creator Anders J. Svensson to claim their prize.

“Our first month went incredibly well,” says Svensson, who launched Treasure League to see if its simple, unusual premise could grow an audience and become self-sustaining.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive, people seem to really enjoy having a mystery to solve, and it's getting people out to explore the city. So let's do it again.”

The next round of Treasure League begins on March 1st and players can register for just $10 at treasureleague.com. Those who register before the month begins will get a special bonus clue to help them claim the next $500 prize.


Treasure League is a monthly game published by Jetpack Creative Industries. For more information, contact:

Anders J. Svensson
anders@jetpack.ca
403-837-5000

Treasure League in the News

What a week for Treasure League.

After an article ran in Avenue Magazine's newsletter, requests information and interviews started pouring in. And, as those interviews and articles went live, Treasure League's membership started to grow. 

We're going to have so much fun in February, and beyond.

Find links to the generous media coverage that made it happen on Jetpack's new Press page.

And... watch for a quick, unplanned cameo by the Terribly Interesting podcast during the Global News TV segment. I laughed for 10 solid minutes when I saw that eyepatch-wearing bunny on TV.

The Hunt Begins on February 1st

Does your life need a little more adventure? Do you enjoy puzzles, riddles, and exploring the city? Maybe you're possessed by the ghost of an old-timey private detective whose spirit won't rest until it solves one last fantastic mystery? 

If any of those sounds like you, join the Treasure League!

We're hiding an actual treasure chest somewhere in Calgary every month and then sending clues to our intrepid members so they can race to find it and claim the $500 prize for themselves. Throughout the month there will also be bonus clues available, plus opportunities to meet up and compare notes with other treasure hunters. 

The first treasure hunt begins on February 1, 2016. Be a pal and tell a friend! 

Terribly Interesting Returns

I produced 25 episodes of the Terribly Interesting podcast by the end of 2015, and there's more to come. The original plan was to do at least 100 — a nice round number — and it just happened to work out that I got busy after the first 25. 

In addition to the next 25, keep an ear out for a new series. Or three. Good chance things get out of control now that I've got a new space to record in. 

For now, help yourself to the first 25 episodes of Terribly Interesting.