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Proving my cred to the Geekmasons - a birthday adventure
Merran Furness
Australia
Canberra
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In June this year I turned 40. I was challenged one month prior by the Geekmasons to demonstrate my worthiness to become an initiate.

This list is significantly tardy, but my final reward just arrived which has spurred me on blush

Many thanks and all my love to:

Terry Furness
Australia
Monash
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Romana Peckham
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They were put to exceptionally good use by the Geekmasons and rose to the challenge admirably..

To put it more simply - I have never felt so loved in my whole life.

I hope you enjoy reading my adventure half as much as I enjoyed experiencing it
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1. Board Game: The Hobbit Adventure Boardgame [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:10535]
Merran Furness
Australia
Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
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On the 31st of May I received an email from the Geekmasons - for some reason I missed it (until reminded - see next post) blush

It read:

Greetings Merran,
Solve the riddle and provide the answer.
Should you prove worthy, more will be revealed


The image to the left is what was attached to the email.

Once I realised I quickly responded with the answer...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
time

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2. Board Game: Nature Keeps You Guessing [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Merran Furness
Australia
Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
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1 June 2011

I received the missive below... as you can see I hadn't responded to the first yet - but after this subtle kick in the rear I got going ...


Merran,

We have been tasked with testing your Geek Cred as you approach your 40th birthday. Your tardy response to our initial communication has some of us concerned, though we are sure you will respond to your initial challenge soon.

You will face numerous tests and trials over the next 4 weeks. Perform well, and you will be rewarded. Fail, and you will wonder what those rewards may have been...

Your initial challenges will center on your new love of boardgames.

Identify the games from the provided pictures. The knowledge you gain will be valuable for later trials.
An easy one to start with...

Good luck.

The Geek Masons



Attached was the image to the left.

Ooh Ooh an easy one to start

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Agricola of course
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3. Board Game: A Knight's Tale [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
Merran Furness
Australia
Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
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2 Jun 2011


Dear Merran,

An encouraging start. A little more challenging this time.

Geek Masons


I knew I'd seen this chap before, but couldn't place him. Oh well what else can a girl do - but play a hunch and search the image gallery - Thank God for BGG

I got it right

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Shadows over Camelot


but not before I received the next day's message...
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4. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Accessory [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:3843] [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:75]
Merran Furness
Australia
Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
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3 Jun 2011

Surely we haven't stumped you already??

Another to keep you busy.

Geekmasons


Now this was tough. Could it be the plague marker from Rattus? I was sure I had seen this guy - but goodness it was hard... eventually I found it

Spoiler (click to reveal)
It's the Robber from Settlers of Catan


Not bad for a game I had played once 6months previously!

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5. Board Game: The New Game of Virtue Rewarded and Vice Punished [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Merran Furness
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4 Jun 2011

Merran,

You are performing well. To review your responses to date.

1. Time - Correct. A fitting start to a quest that will end with you turning 40.
2. Agricola - Correct. It would have been a short quest if you'd failed at this hurdle.
3. Shadows over Camelot - Correct. More challenging yet well within expected knowledge.
4. Settlers of Catan - Correct. A classic that everyone should know.

Your next clue will require intelligent use of available resources. There is a good chance you won't have played this game.

Good Luck

The Geekmasons.


This turned out to be easier because I had a clue - I had probably never played this game. Zooming in on the image revealed the word 'Confessorium'; typing this into google returned a link to the following game on BGG

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Mystery of the Abbey


I believe I responded to the Geekmasons with my answer within 10minutes. It was my last opportunity to be a complete smartarse
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6. Board Game: Reward [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Merran Furness
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Canberra
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Well... we are both surprised and a little impressed. It seems your board game cred may in fact be geekworthy...

You have one final board game test (for now...)

There is a small reward associated with the initial board game trials.. it has been secreted within a location you are familiar with by an agent of ours.

We have provided all the information you require to locate it in previous clues.

Good luck.


5th June

Have you managed to identify the information that will help find your first reward yet? Remember, a geekmason should be of good Character.


mmm Character... I had a farmer, a knight, a monk and a robber...

Help! With a bit of guidance I was able to identify

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Carcassonne


Hidden in the insert was a small parcel which when opened revealed:




Yay my first present - a green meeple keyring... Now there is no disputing my status as green queen
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7. Board Game: Loaded Questions: Pop Culture [Average Rating:6.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.84 Unranked]
Merran Furness
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Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
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Well Merran, welcome to phase 2.

Your first clue will help you discern a location that contains the next clue. We figured after the Carcassonne clue that you must enjoy these

Enjoy.

Geekmasons



6th June

I received an email which contained the following image



It could only be one thing:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
BUFFY The Vampire Slayer


I ran to check the cases of the seasons that we had borrowed... nothing

I was beginning to doubt my answer when I received another email from the Geekmasons which contained a note which read:

Geekmasons ♥ Joss Whedon

and the following file:



The clue could only mean Season 6 - which was at Tezza's house... by this time it was late and I would have to wait until after game night the following evening to check... patience has never been a virtue of mine but I had no choice...

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8. Board Game: Clue Master Detective [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:2195]
Merran Furness
Australia
Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
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After games on Tues night – we went back to Tezza’s – where I raced to the DVD collection… sure enough the next clue was inside the case of season 6… it was a phone number…

It looked familiar so I punched it into my phone – and sure enough it was my eldest little geek’s (ELG)** mobile number (he lives interstate with his father)… but I couldn’t ring at 11pm… (although it was tempting)

The next morning I rang him as he was walking to school. The conversation went as follows:

ELG: Good Morning Mother
Me: Good morning small boy, I’ve received a clue from the GeekMasons with this phone number on it
ELG: Oh crap – I don’t remember it at this hour of the morning…
(insert minor conniption on my part)
Me: WHAT???
ELG: well it’s morning and I’m a teenager – my brain doesn’t kick in until at least 10… ring me later.
Me – OMG – you are soooo getting disciplined for failure to perform your duties as requested by the Masons…
ELG: Chuckles… love you mum chat later…
Hangs up.

An entire day of wondering (and smiling at the efforts of others and anticipation) followed.
Conversation that afternoon:

ELG: Hi Mum - I suppose you want your clue now
Me (with great restraint): yes please
ELG: well... I'm supposed to sing it to you but I can't remember the tune - but the phrase is: It's raining Leprosy and Acid
I hope that means something to you...

Boy did it - it's a line from a song by Jason Webley

The man is a modern poet - Excerpt here:




I raced home and checked the CD - inside was this amazing poem:

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9. Board Game: The Phantom of the Opera Mystery Game [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Merran Furness
Australia
Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
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The poem was evocative, making me think of either Hunchback of Notre Dame or Phantom of the Opera.... I checked the cases of both DVDs and sure enough I found the next clue:



For context - we recently underwent a change program at work, the implementation of which I was quite scathing about - we called it the penguin program and despite my angst - I have to support and endorse it.... hence the horrible change penguin moniker (damn masons - they're stalking me ninja)

Working out my pseudonym was fun and turned out to be the password to the mail box... in the mail was this cool story


mmm this could mean either:

this

or

this

I checked the first... no go - where to find the 2nd (it's Princess' game so somewhere in the teenagers room - I'm not that brave!)

After about 15minutes she found the game...

Inside was the next clue:



I tore around the house like a woman possessed (I'm sure Tezza will verify )

Tucked in the back of the linen press I spied a bookmark - very nice! Attached to it was the following note:




Ooh ooh excitement abounds.... (and I have 6 bookcases)...

Tucked up in amongst my Terry Pratchett books was a parcel with the now very familiar geekmason logo attached. Inside was an autographed copy of this book



Wow - more than 2 weeks before my birthday & I had already received 2 wonderful gifts! Feeling exceptionally spoilt at this point (not least the effort that had gone into getting me here)!!

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Merran Furness
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9 June 2011


Well Merran,

Your performance to date has been that impressive that you have come to the attention of the inner council.

It seems they have taken a personal interest and have requested a couple of days to review your progress.

Of course... that doesn't mean things will get easier...

Enjoy your break.. while it lasts.

Geekmasons.


Yay we were off to BorderCon in Albury for 3 days of gaming with friends and I wouldn't have to worry about being away from my email - just in case I received another challenge...

or so I thought

I walked into the room to be greeted by the sign on the left...

Item 4 on the geeklist explains the adventure further.

My reward this time was this expansion

We've played this game a lot with family - and the expansion adds some new elements to what is quite a light game.

My highlight of the Con was playing my first 18xx game - and Winning cool

I emailed the Geekmasons asking for a copy of the files (so much work went into their creation) and received the following missive:

Dear Merran,

We're glad to hear that you enjoyed both the challenge and the reward. We were impressed by the knowledge of Australian Geeks, and the spirit the puzzle was completed in. Patty and Neil represented us well, I'm sure they were thanked on our behalf.

We've attached images of all the puzzle sheets used in the contest. You may use these as you see fit. Let us know if you have any need of the originals (they are quite large though so may not be easily mailed).

You're message has given us ideas.... stay tuned for your next challenge.

Regards

GeekMasons


Shortly after I received the following - to which the geeklist is my response

Dear Merran,

We are pleased that you intend to immortalise your trials through the publication of a geeklist and would like to help. What better way than to give you some practice.

Your next challenge is to create a geeklist detailing your experiences at Bordercon. We'd like to see coverage of games played (your impressions, gaming partners, funny stories etc..), people you met, opinions on the event as a whole, and any special events.

You have until COB Sunday to publish the list. We will consider your geeklist a success if it garners at least 20 thumbs. (hint: publish considering US time zones to get best response).

Good Luck,
Geekmasons.


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11. Board Game: Drum Roll [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1183]
Merran Furness
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While all this was happening we were continuing our lives with Terry & Princess declining any knowledge of what was happening.

Terry had however (unbeknownst to me) been busy contacting some favourite podcasters... We were happily playing a game one night listening to

Michael Fox
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of Little Metal Dog Show fame

When suddenly I hear my name and a happy birthday (Episode 23, 27:57) WOW!!!

Then while travelling (I do the majority of podcast listening in the car) I got birthday wishes from

Ryan Sturm
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Pit Crew avaialble now! The Expanse coming in October!
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(Ludology Episode 11, 1:15 before the end) Where Geoff offered that not singing would be a good present...

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Dicetower (Episode 214, 30sec before end) where Eric does sing happy birthday...

and then this:



A personalised podcast from:

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It doesn't get any better than this! I am one very, very, very, exceptionally, spoilt (and loved) woman!


**Edit Michael & the LMDS crew also sent me a birthday card
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12. Board Game: Final Frontier [Average Rating:6.21 Unranked]
Merran Furness
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27 June 2011

Merran,

The inner circle has devised a final test. Pass and you will be appropriately rewarded.

Good Luck.
Geekmasons


Attached to the email was a find-a-word (I can't upload because there is no game to link it to

I spent a large portion of the day completing it while pretending to pay attention in meetings whistle

The left over words were:

Nicholas Cage
National Treasure
Theriomorph

WTF???

Once again google to the rescue... National Treasure is a movie starring Nicholas Cage and Theriomorph: possessing or depicted in the form of a beast - often used to describe lycanthropes or werewolves.

Where to from here???

Terry helped me out by setting up the DVD player to watch the movie. While he was doing that I received another email:

4-19-8
306-2-7
56-5-6
103-9-2
221-5-1
384-25-7
13-26-7
140-4-4
306-19-8
8-22-1


Again with the WTF!

We settled in to watch the movie. Part way through the numbers became clear..
Spoiler (click to reveal)
It's an Ottendorf Cipher. You start with an agreed text. The first number represents the page number; the second represents the line and the third represents the word


I had one of those 'aha' moments. The book was 'Fool Moon' book 2 of the The Dresden Files. I had recently been reading them ...

The decoded message read:

Happy Birthday you should look behind your bed side table

again with the Ooh Ooh

I ran and looked - there was a manila folder - inside was a picture of 1830 wow





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13. Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:177] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
Merran Furness
Australia
Canberra
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Unsure if this was a clue or taunt I emailed the Geekmasons:

Dear Geek Masons,

Thank you! I found the picture of 1830.. Is it another clue? Pls advise the next action you would like me to take.

Kind regards

Merran

and received the following response:

Dear Merran,

We are very pleased to say that you have passed your final test.

1830 is your reward for your performance across the trials, including your most recent test.

1830 is still not available within Australia so it has been preordered and will be delivered to Terry as soon as it is available.

We would be happy if you would consider joining our ranks, at the rank of initiate.

Congratulations and Happy Birthday.

Kind Regards

Geekmasons



It arrived yesterday!!!! It's now punched and bagged and I can't wait to play!

So my birthday adventure is finally over - I've been warned not to expect this every year ;0

No fear - this has been the most awesome birthday ever!
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