Around 1983? Two years later, not having ever seen this, I built a game highly similar in layout and overview to this. It was very, very cool.
I. went. into. the. wrong. damn. business.
My parents and ‘advisors’ told me I was too introspective and needed to get out more - ignoring the fact that I didn’t need to, as everyone at school - but everyone, cool kids, nerds, girls, boys - were coming to me to play my games.
Kids - never, ever, listen to your parents.
The paintings are enchanting regardless of the secrets they hold, or maybe thanks to them.
How do we know only two keys have been found? wouldn’t a more accurate statement be “only two gems have been claimed” ? if the books were not very popular, is it possible someone dug up a key and just said, “oh, look… a ceramic key… how odd” ??
Probably not, given how unlikely it is for someone to just stumble upon it digging up their lawn, especially given that the boxes and keys are ceramic, and therefore invisible to metal detectors.
Is it just me, or does the woman on the topmost image look like Vladimir Putin? o.O
Brilliant! As soon as I saw the title I thought of Masquerade - I knew there were copycats, but this sounds awesome - thanks for sharing!
Damn. You discovered the main secret.
So sad that the series was never finished, although as a child I couldn’t make any sense of these games.
The Secret! I loved that book, and re-read it until it nearly fell apart.
I was a big fan of the mythical creatures in the main section of the book, and the creative puppets and illustrations of each one.
I must have stared at those poems and paintings for hours trying to figure out what it all meant, and how to find the treasures. Around about the time I was trying to figure that out, I heard about the solution to Masquerade, and how complicated it was.
That, coupled with the fact that only two of The Secret’s treasures were ever found leads me to believe the solutions to these puzzles are even more arcane, personal to Preiss or random.
However, I would love to revisit these and I look forward to hearing more about your quest to solve the puzzles. Maybe it could lead to the book being reissued. I know I’d love a fresh copy!
I very vaguely recall there being something similar to this, only it was a movie instead of a book. I think it was also from the 1980s. Anyone know what I’m talking about?
Surprisingly, that’s not it. I remember the one I’m thinking of was more fantasy-themed. Unfortunately, that’s about all I can remember about it.
It would be interesting if the article included the pictures and solution of the two that have been found. Can any one post a link to them?
Oh man I loved this book. Not for the puzzles, but for the rest of it - the bulk of the book was a guide to modern faries, elves, and goblins, with lovely illustrations by JJP, some great soft sculpture, and I think a few other artists? It’s a long time ago and my copy is long gone.
The puzzle, whatever. I looked at the poems briefly and didn’t really get into trying to decrypt them.
I can’t decide if I want to read up on decades-old theories or not. And now it feels weird to speculate on things that may have been obvious to others 30 years ago.
Metagaming Concepts, which turned out some great games but is best known now as the place where Steve Jackson cut his game designing teeth, produced two solitaire adventures for its The Fantasy Trip game which tied into real-world treasure hunts. One was about a Silver Dragon (it was found); the other, a Gold Unicorn.
The Gold Unicorn was never found, even though several treasure-hunters agree on its likely location. There is speculation that Metagaming founder Howard Thompson retrieved the treasure on his own after the company shut down. (Thompson more or less disappeared, although some of his designs were published by Avalon Hill. Who collected the royalty checks? Big mystery.)
Here is the cask 5 Solution (Grant Park, Chicago):
and cask 4 (Cleveland Cultural Gardens):
Just before you launch into the legal proceedings and divorce your parents, it may be worth finding out who backed and built that game, and exactly how sweet its all turned out for them. They may not be living quite as large on the back of that thing as you imagine.
Edit: Just re-read this bit:
but everyone, cool kids, nerds, girls, boys - were coming to me to play my games.
OK maybe your parents sucked.