The Quest for the Castle Treasure

This post is part of a series on the magical treasure hunt.

This is the longest of the three quests and cannot be completed without the treasures from the other two quests. More than the other quests, this quest relies on collecting, combining, and using items.

And finally, the Denoument.

Quest for the Murderer: conclusion

“The dark entity left its mark on the haunt of its thrall. Cast the light of a black flame upon the castle map.”

Your treasure hunters should now know the identity of the murderer because when a black light is shined upon the map, his/her haunt bears the name of the specter.

Knowing the name of the specter, they can calculate its gematria value (see Quest for the Murderer pt. 6) and open the first lock on the chest.

Knowing the identity of the murderer, the treasure hunters know whose charms (see Quest for the Murderer part 7) hold the digits to the second lock on the chest.

What’s inside? Why, the heart of the murderer of course. This quest is complete. The jar containing the heart will be used in the Quest for the Castle Treasure. (See also how to make a blood message.)

Quest for the Murderer pt. 8: the chantry

Using Athanor’s key, the treasure hunters can access the rearmost part of the chantry (they need to be able to access part of the chantry at least before this point in order to collect Freya’s charms). A few seconds after opening the door, disembodied speech greets them.

In the chantry, the treasure hunters find Freya’s remains. With her bones is her prayer book.

In order to make use of it, the treasure hunters must have collected the metal bones from the quest for the treasure. The painted hand on its surface, plus the holes which match the holes on the cutten stone from the quest for the treasure, should indicate that the players need to press the metal bones into the appointed holes. Doing so causes a message to appear.

Building the prayer book

You can build the prayer book without much trouble or expense. You’ll need:

  • an old cigar box
  • 9 V battery
  • insulated wire
  • aluminum foil
  • aluminum can
  • a plate of white LEDs ($1-$3)
  • a small sheet of glass ($1)
  • a glass cutter ($1.50)
  • hot glue & glue gun
  • electric drill
  • jigsaw
  • a sheet of celluloid transparency
  • laser printer

The exterior is just an old cigar box. Cut out a section on the front cover for your message to appear.

The message is going to be written on the celluloid transparency. First, run it through a printer and print a solid black box over the entirety of it. Then cut three pieces approximately the size of the hole you made in your prayer book’s front cover. Then use a hard tool (I used the edge of a screwdriver blade) to scratch your message into one of the three pieces of printed celluloid. You should not have to scratch hard; just use a smooth writing motion. Make sure, though, that you are scratching onto the side that has been printed, the side with the toner. Stack your three pieces of celluloid atop one another with the one bearing the message on the bottom and the message itself facing up toward the other two pieces. This should make the message unreadable except when backlit.

Use the glass cutter (available at any hardware store or craft store) to cut your sheet of glass (buy a picture frame from a dollar store or a thrift store). You want one piece of glass that will fit exactly into the hole you cut in your cigar box and one piece that is a bit larger than the hole. Use hot glue to fix the smaller glass piece into the hole in the cigar box. Sandwich your three transparencies between the two pieces of glass (on the inside of the cigar box) and glue the larger piece of glass in place.

For a few bucks, you can get a small plate of 30-or-so bright white LEDs designed for an automobile dome light. It’s designed to run on 12 V but I hooked mine up to a 9 V battery and was satisfied with the amount of light it gave me. Glue the LEDs in place inside your cigar box, lined up behind your glass and transparencies.

Glue your 9 V battery in place inside the cigar box. If you’re in need of a connection to snap over the terminals of the 9 V battery (so that you can wire it to the LEDs), just rip open a used 9 V battery and pull the top off. It will snap over your terminals perfectly.

Don’t complete the circuit between your LEDs and your battery. Instead, drill a hole and cut a gouge in the front cover of your prayer book to accommodate the metal bones from the Quest for the Castle Treasure. Your circuit should connect via the to protuberances from the metal bones. The aluminum can can be cut to make a nice spring which you can fix to the underside of the front cover, but don’t rely on it to conduct electricity because aluminum cans are coated in a resistant polymer which prevents soft drinks from decomposing the can. Coat your springs in aluminum foil for conductivity.

Close up the cigar box; paint the exterior; and you have a prayer book.

Disembodied voices

The audio track is extracted from the game assets for VTM Bloodlines. Two speakers were set up in the back of the chantry, one at the near end and the other at the far end. A stereo fade was implemented so that the unseen source of the voice could appear to move from one location to the other.

A pair of metal brackets were mounted to the door and wall to provide electrical contacts. When the door is opened, they brush past each other and trigger the playback.

The hidden message

The hidden message in the prayer book reads, ‘The dark entity left its mark on the haunt of its thrall. Cast the light of a black flame upon the castle map.

It may not be convenient for your treasure hunters to step out and pick up a blacklight; in such case, they can use the light which Athanor referenced in his latest diary entry.

Shining a blacklight on the castle map reveals not only the identity of the murderer but also the name of the specter. On the library (Aleister’s haunt) use a blacklight marker to write Hebrew characters whose gematria value adds up to the combination of the second lock on your chest for this quest.

The players should now have enough information to open the murderer chest.

Quest for the Murderer pt. 7: beneath the blossom

[Excerpt from Athanor’s journal:]

I have determined to undertake the hunt for the others’ charms.

I ween I have an advantage in unlocking the secrets of these treasures: I observe that charmed items — mine, at least —phosphoresce, but so faintly that I suppose I should never have noticed it if not for my close attention to the behaviours of divers substances.

As the moon is at its fullness now, I think I may as well postpone the hunt at least ten days. The emblems’ faint glow is not discernible except in the blackest of conditions. I have a lamp that will excite the charms’ glow, secreted over the chimney shelf in the salon. Nevertheless, it is quite small to be relied upon for a castle-wide search. Perhaps by causing every light to burn and then plunging the castle into darkness, I can find a number of the charms more quickly. Perhaps.

I scarcely worry of Freya noticing me intruding upon her chantry, for she becomes so engrossed in her pursuits that she is quite aloof. Only, she has taken to locking herself in, paranoid that Chiara’s killer has designs on her as well. She might be proven correct.

Whatever comes of that, I credit myself with the skill to fashion a key for the chantry door. I should have it ready before the new moon.

[In Helmold’s hand:]

He grips it aye. E’en in his left hand. But do I dare brave the grotto? Not tonight.

Glowing charms

This is the last bit of information given about the spellcaster’s charms, so it’s time to explain them in full.

The charms are small pieces of paper printed on one side with the mascot of the owner and a numeral. The printed side of each charm is turned to the wall and affixed with sticky wall tack. The paper I used matches our wall colour pretty well. The visible side of each charm is painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. A studious search should turn up every one of the charms, but in case some remain not found, their phosphorescent character should make this task entirely attainable.

Christmas Eve this year (2011) falls on the new moon. The absence of moonlight makes a significant difference in hunting for the glow of the magic charms; you might be surprised at how much. The light of a full moon would impair the treasure hunters’ ability to perceive the phosphorescence in many parts of our house. When staging your own treasure hunt, evaluate the phase of the moon, the strength of your window blinds, and the likelihood of overcast nights.

I first tried ProGlow’s paint, which dries invisible and glows green, but it is a terrible product. It requires intense UV light to elicit a glow; the glow is very weak; and it is completely spotty: it looks as though I only shook glow-in-the-dark glitter over the paper — that’s no exaggeration. Adding injury to insult, the price is obscene: about $3 for ½ ounce.

Much better is Rust-oleum’s glow-in-the-dark paint, and for $6.50, you get 14 times as much as ProGlow’s. The only thing you might find detracting is that this paint doesn’t dry quite clear; a slight, mucus-coloured tinge remains.

Glow-in-the-dark paint requires UV light to excite it. Incandescent and fluorescent lights actually do produce a little bit of this invisible light. Fluorescent lights put out much more of it than do incandescent ones. Be mindful when placing your charms to place them where a good deal of electric light will fall on them.

If your treasure hunters leave all the house lights burning for 1 to 10 min., then plunge the house/room into darkness, they should see the faint glow of the charms.

It should be apparent to the treasure hunters that the only charms they need at this point are those of the murderer (whose identity will be revealed in the next step). When they know who the murderer is, they can use the numbers printed on three charms to open one of the combination locks on the chest for this quest.

No, the message doesn’t tell them in which order the numbers are to be applied to the lock, but there are only six possible permutations to attempt.

Key to the chantry

Athanor’s remains lie down in the grotto. The treasure hunters should have happened upon Athanor’s body during the quest for the altar. I put his body together with some PVC pipe, packing paper, a bedsheet, and several small bags of fake spiderwebs. I picked up a styrofoam head at the after-Halloween sale at Spirit Halloween store. For skeletal body parts, I recommend skeleton-factory.com or shopanatomical.com

The key to the chantry (the rearmost part of the chantry, actually) is in Athanor’s hand. On to the next location