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The Sigils of Sunnyside

Background

Every year, my sister and her friends put on a wonderful campout party in the yard in front of my studio. It is a relaxing chance to hang out with some of my favorite people. It has also become an opportunity to subject local friends to whatever sort of silly fixations I have. One of those fixations is "puzzle hunts", constructed adventures that play out a bit like an inside-out escape room. Individuals or groups work through a sequence of puzzles, riddles, and challenges, all themed to help them solve one larger puzzle for a prize. After a few lucky opportunities to participate in puzzle hunts of various scales, I've dreamed of designing my own.

Last year, I tested the waters with a simple easter-egg style hunt. I hid laser-cut "lucky fairies" around the property, and asked my friends to help guide them home. It was a huge hit, with friends mentioning it fondly throughout the year. That gave me the confidence to step it up, so this year I debuted my first puzzle hunt: The Sigils of Sunnyside. While this is written specifically for the property here (which we often call Sunnyside), it could be adapted to almost any location with a few tweaks. If you feel so inspired, be my guest. The following is a full breakdown of the adventure.

Call To Adventure

The adventure was teased with a few Dall-E generated gnome pictures hinting at something magical, posted to the event coordination page. But the adventure didn't really kick off until campers arrive. It is customary at these parties to wear name tags, so I delivered each guest an envelope containing their tags. Inside, they also found a letter from a gnome named Grimbol.

Three nametags and a letter from Grimbol asking for help.

The letter reads:

Salutations, towering friend!

I am
Grimbol, an arcanologist from Abagrettan, the capital of the western Gnomish provinces. For many years, our city has heard legend from traveling birds and pixies of a special bend along the Clay River where magical creatures of all kinds gather. They call it Sunnyside. Hidden in a forest full of coyotes and owls, far beyond the reach of humble gnomes.

Last year, I detected a strange pattern of
laser fractal space magic originating from this area, so I got council approval to come investigate. I had supplies to survive, plans to handle the dangers along the way, and all the best equipment to use when I arrived. The only thing I wasn’t prepared for, was for the place to be so big!

My maps were clearly drawn to the wrong scale. This isn’t a goblin sized grotto, this is a fully established human settlement! And yet, the magic is gathering here. I can feel it in the air. This must be Sunnyside, a place so magical even the humans know it! If you’re willing to help me learn about this place, please come find me. I’m sure there will be something precious for us to discover.

I plan to start my exploration at the
peculiar, tiny tree. It looks small, but it feels.. old. I suspect there’s more there. I’ll be wearing a red hat.

-Grimbol

P.S. In case it’s been a while since you had a gnome visitor, I’d like to remind you that I can’t move while you’re watching me. If you find me stiff as stone, there’s no need to call a medic, or accidentally put me in a dishwasher. Thanks!

The Peculiar Tiny Tree

On the property is a wonderfully characterful Japanese Maple tree. Every guest quickly knew exactly where to head. When they arrived, a garden gnome with a red hat sits stationary next to a treasure chest full of scrolls. Each player took a scroll with more instructions from Grimbol.

Players find a gnome next to a treasure chest of scrolls.

The scroll reads:

You found me! Well, not really me. This is just a statue I borrowed from a kind human here. But it's remarkable how much he looks like me! I mean, other than that nose.

I was right about this tree, it has soaked up the magic here for decades. I took a mana sample, and analyzed it in my field lab in the garage.

I discovered four sigils that seem to be key to the magic here. I transcribed their shapes, but I don’t know what they represent. Keep your eyes peeled the sigils have to be hiding somewhere.

Four mysterious sigils to be decoded.

Once you find one, look carefully in the area around it. There’s bound to be some kind of clue, hint, or pattern that explains the meaning of the sigils. They should translate to simple words of no more than 7 letters.

While you translate the runes, I'll figure out how to activate them from my lab in the garage. My tools are very sensitive, so it is important that you do not disturb them while I’m working.

Once you know the translations, show this completed report to the laser fractal space wizard.

-Grimbol

P.S. I tried a human dish last night. The wizard called it pizza, what a delight! He insisted there wasn't any magic in it, but I'm not convinced. Those fires he summoned cooked it quicker than a pixie pie! If you get a chance to try one, ask about the wizard sauce.

The First Sigil

Players encountered the sigils in various orders as they wandered the property. The top most sigil, the circle with extending lines one each side, was found under the yellow canopy set up over the pizza oven. If needed, I hinted to players that Grimbol was detecting a "yellow tint" around that sigil.

A riddle describes the first sigil.

The riddle reads:

With a tent, you can try

to keep a <sigil> safe and dry.

But in the dark, when cover's far,

Look up! <sigil> is full of stars!

Some players quickly identified the translation, and helped more puzzled players with hints like "focus more on the second half first", and "what's up above us?" Eventually, all players reached the solution: "space".

The Second Sigil

A similar sign hung on the fence of the garden presented another puzzle for the players.

A fill-in-the-blank puzzle reveals the second translation.

This puzzle asks players to fill in the blanks of four words related to gardening. This puzzle was the easiest, it seems, I didn't have to provide any hints to any of the players for this. Filling in the answers, "Light, Air, Soil, Water", and then reading the highlighted column reveals the translation for a second sigil, "grow".

The Third Sigil

We are blessed to have several accessible trees here. I hung clue signs on six of them, each presenting a slight variation on the same shared riddle.

One of six similar signs decorating trees in the area.

The riddle reads:

I'm the sixth of six sisters, we share truths and guard secrets.

We honor the same code, but I'm 3 in the sequence.

If you order is nicely, in this wisdom find our truth:

The letters make the forest but the meaning is in the roots.

Each "sister" had a different number "in the sequence". Once players found all six trees, they could order them (by the order of the sisters) and get the coded sequence 40, 12, 23, 25, 44, 3. It took most players a while here to identify that the bolded line at the bottom was "the sequence". Quite a few players treated the whole verse as the sequence, but when that produced gibberish they sometimes went off track looking for other sources. But a few were clever enough to get it, and a little light hinting about "bold secrets" helped the rest put it together.

The Fourth Sigil

The cleverest readers may have already spotted the fourth sigil. It appears on the name tags I handed out to each guest in the beginning. I hoped that seeing the sigil around each of their friends' names, and the number of spaces given for the translation would give players enough to guess the words "Friends". What I underestimated was how many perfectly suitable answers had the same number of letters. "People", "Nametag", "Pronoun" and "Sticker" were all great guesses that I had to excuse away. While people did delight in the moment they realized they were already wearing a magic sigil, I really needed one more hint layer helping guide players. Without it, I had to just verbally guide them to a more specific word.

Once a player had translations for all four sigils, they returned to me to progress to the next step.

The Final Mantra

When they approached me, I told them I had an update from Grimbol for them, another rolled scroll. This scroll read:

Great work translating the runes. The only way to know if they are accurate is to try to activate them. I've figured out the format of a mantra that should do the trick. This feels like human magic, so it will probably be best if you speak the completed mantra somewhere quiet, and see if any magic happens. You might need the laser fractal space wizard nearby to help you detect any magic.

The final mantra diagram

If nothing happens, double-check your translations, maybe try similar words. I'll be watching my readouts in the lab for any strange activity.

In retrospect, I should have included this diagram in the scroll recovered from the chest under the tree. The structure of the mantra would serve as another hint layer as players decoded the runes. Instead, they approached me with the answers, and I awkwardly handed them another scroll that asked them to restate their answers. (Even worse, I mistyped and swapped the places of two sigils, requiring an in-person correction. Oh well, live and learn!) Nonetheless, players were excited to decode the mantra into the heartwarming final answer: "Sunnyside is a space in nature where friends can grow."

Ideally, saying these words would cause a magical display of flashing lights or something of that sort, but I didn't wind up with time to design one. Instead, I magically produced a new black envelope, matching the one they started the adventure with. Inside is a final letter and a prize. The letter reads:

WOW! All my sensors started going wild. You invoked the mantra! The sigils describe the fundamental magic that makes this such a wonderful place. I'm going to continue to watch my sensors in case more of your friends figure out how to activate the magic. Even though we know the answer now, please don't spoil the fun of discovery for them.

I transmuted a small bit of sunnyside magic into a charm that I think is roughly sized for a human. Please keep it as a token of my gratitude. Thank you for your help, and for being a part of the magic here at Sunnyside.

-Grimbol

Arcanologist, and now, friend.

The trinket is a laser-cut piece of holographic acrylic, about 2" wide, with a mounting loop so it can be used as a pendant or individual earring. The design is an amalgamation of the four sigils players translated during the adventure.

The Sigil of Sunnyside, the prize for completing the adventure.

Conclusion

In total, about 90% of the players who received a Call to Adventure opted to participate. Of that group of about 16 players, all of them completed the full adventure. It was truly a wonderful moment to stand at the party and see scattered groups hunting for clues and sharing progress with each other. "Where's your nametag?" they'd ask each other, as a soft hint. "Have you found the fourth sister?" I'd hear, echoing around the campsite periodically. I think most players reached the end in about 2 to 3 hours, but they had more than a day, and many groups took breaks and came back to it later. The prizes were a hit, with several players finding means to wear them during the party as a badge of accomplishment. If I were to host this particular adventure again, I'd want to rework how the "Friends" sigil puzzle is presented, and maybe make the "Grow" puzzle a bit more challenging.

The reactions have been very encouraging, including "I was welcomed with a puzzle, this was great", "I had so much fun", and "You know you have to do more of these, right?" Well, I agree. Look forward to more puzzle adventures as I develop this peculiar blend of skills.

The Sigils of Sunnyside

Background

Every year, my sister and her friends put on a wonderful campout party in the yard in front of my studio. It is a relaxing chance to hang out with some of my favorite people. It has also become an opportunity to subject local friends to whatever sort of silly fixations I have. One of those fixations is "puzzle hunts", constructed adventures that play out a bit like an inside-out escape room. Individuals or groups work through a sequence of puzzles, riddles, and challenges, all themed to help them solve one larger puzzle for a prize. After a few lucky opportunities to participate in puzzle hunts of various scales, I've dreamed of designing my own.

Last year, I tested the waters with a simple easter-egg style hunt. I hid laser-cut "lucky fairies" around the property, and asked my friends to help guide them home. It was a huge hit, with friends mentioning it fondly throughout the year. That gave me the confidence to step it up, so this year I debuted my first puzzle hunt: The Sigils of Sunnyside. While this is written specifically for the property here (which we often call Sunnyside), it could be adapted to almost any location with a few tweaks. If you feel so inspired, be my guest. The following is a full breakdown of the adventure.

Call To Adventure

The adventure was teased with a few Dall-E generated gnome pictures hinting at something magical, posted to the event coordination page. But the adventure didn't really kick off until campers arrive. It is customary at these parties to wear name tags, so I delivered each guest an envelope containing their tags. Inside, they also found a letter from a gnome named Grimbol.

Three nametags and a letter from Grimbol asking for help.

The letter reads:

Salutations, towering friend!

I am
Grimbol, an arcanologist from Abagrettan, the capital of the western Gnomish provinces. For many years, our city has heard legend from traveling birds and pixies of a special bend along the Clay River where magical creatures of all kinds gather. They call it Sunnyside. Hidden in a forest full of coyotes and owls, far beyond the reach of humble gnomes.

Last year, I detected a strange pattern of
laser fractal space magic originating from this area, so I got council approval to come investigate. I had supplies to survive, plans to handle the dangers along the way, and all the best equipment to use when I arrived. The only thing I wasn’t prepared for, was for the place to be so big!

My maps were clearly drawn to the wrong scale. This isn’t a goblin sized grotto, this is a fully established human settlement! And yet, the magic is gathering here. I can feel it in the air. This must be Sunnyside, a place so magical even the humans know it! If you’re willing to help me learn about this place, please come find me. I’m sure there will be something precious for us to discover.

I plan to start my exploration at the
peculiar, tiny tree. It looks small, but it feels.. old. I suspect there’s more there. I’ll be wearing a red hat.

-Grimbol

P.S. In case it’s been a while since you had a gnome visitor, I’d like to remind you that I can’t move while you’re watching me. If you find me stiff as stone, there’s no need to call a medic, or accidentally put me in a dishwasher. Thanks!

The Peculiar Tiny Tree

On the property is a wonderfully characterful Japanese Maple tree. Every guest quickly knew exactly where to head. When they arrived, a garden gnome with a red hat sits stationary next to a treasure chest full of scrolls. Each player took a scroll with more instructions from Grimbol.

Players find a gnome next to a treasure chest of scrolls.

The scroll reads:

You found me! Well, not really me. This is just a statue I borrowed from a kind human here. But it's remarkable how much he looks like me! I mean, other than that nose.

I was right about this tree, it has soaked up the magic here for decades. I took a mana sample, and analyzed it in my field lab in the garage.

I discovered four sigils that seem to be key to the magic here. I transcribed their shapes, but I don’t know what they represent. Keep your eyes peeled the sigils have to be hiding somewhere.

Four mysterious sigils to be decoded.

Once you find one, look carefully in the area around it. There’s bound to be some kind of clue, hint, or pattern that explains the meaning of the sigils. They should translate to simple words of no more than 7 letters.

While you translate the runes, I'll figure out how to activate them from my lab in the garage. My tools are very sensitive, so it is important that you do not disturb them while I’m working.

Once you know the translations, show this completed report to the laser fractal space wizard.

-Grimbol

P.S. I tried a human dish last night. The wizard called it pizza, what a delight! He insisted there wasn't any magic in it, but I'm not convinced. Those fires he summoned cooked it quicker than a pixie pie! If you get a chance to try one, ask about the wizard sauce.

The First Sigil

Players encountered the sigils in various orders as they wandered the property. The top most sigil, the circle with extending lines one each side, was found under the yellow canopy set up over the pizza oven. If needed, I hinted to players that Grimbol was detecting a "yellow tint" around that sigil.

A riddle describes the first sigil.

The riddle reads:

With a tent, you can try

to keep a <sigil> safe and dry.

But in the dark, when cover's far,

Look up! <sigil> is full of stars!

Some players quickly identified the translation, and helped more puzzled players with hints like "focus more on the second half first", and "what's up above us?" Eventually, all players reached the solution: "space".

The Second Sigil

A similar sign hung on the fence of the garden presented another puzzle for the players.

A fill-in-the-blank puzzle reveals the second translation.

This puzzle asks players to fill in the blanks of four words related to gardening. This puzzle was the easiest, it seems, I didn't have to provide any hints to any of the players for this. Filling in the answers, "Light, Air, Soil, Water", and then reading the highlighted column reveals the translation for a second sigil, "grow".

The Third Sigil

We are blessed to have several accessible trees here. I hung clue signs on six of them, each presenting a slight variation on the same shared riddle.

One of six similar signs decorating trees in the area.

The riddle reads:

I'm the sixth of six sisters, we share truths and guard secrets.

We honor the same code, but I'm 3 in the sequence.

If you order is nicely, in this wisdom find our truth:

The letters make the forest but the meaning is in the roots.

Each "sister" had a different number "in the sequence". Once players found all six trees, they could order them (by the order of the sisters) and get the coded sequence 40, 12, 23, 25, 44, 3. It took most players a while here to identify that the bolded line at the bottom was "the sequence". Quite a few players treated the whole verse as the sequence, but when that produced gibberish they sometimes went off track looking for other sources. But a few were clever enough to get it, and a little light hinting about "bold secrets" helped the rest put it together.

The Fourth Sigil

The cleverest readers may have already spotted the fourth sigil. It appears on the name tags I handed out to each guest in the beginning. I hoped that seeing the sigil around each of their friends' names, and the number of spaces given for the translation would give players enough to guess the words "Friends". What I underestimated was how many perfectly suitable answers had the same number of letters. "People", "Nametag", "Pronoun" and "Sticker" were all great guesses that I had to excuse away. While people did delight in the moment they realized they were already wearing a magic sigil, I really needed one more hint layer helping guide players. Without it, I had to just verbally guide them to a more specific word.

Once a player had translations for all four sigils, they returned to me to progress to the next step.

The Final Mantra

When they approached me, I told them I had an update from Grimbol for them, another rolled scroll. This scroll read:

Great work translating the runes. The only way to know if they are accurate is to try to activate them. I've figured out the format of a mantra that should do the trick. This feels like human magic, so it will probably be best if you speak the completed mantra somewhere quiet, and see if any magic happens. You might need the laser fractal space wizard nearby to help you detect any magic.

The final mantra diagram

If nothing happens, double-check your translations, maybe try similar words. I'll be watching my readouts in the lab for any strange activity.

In retrospect, I should have included this diagram in the scroll recovered from the chest under the tree. The structure of the mantra would serve as another hint layer as players decoded the runes. Instead, they approached me with the answers, and I awkwardly handed them another scroll that asked them to restate their answers. (Even worse, I mistyped and swapped the places of two sigils, requiring an in-person correction. Oh well, live and learn!) Nonetheless, players were excited to decode the mantra into the heartwarming final answer: "Sunnyside is a space in nature where friends can grow."

Ideally, saying these words would cause a magical display of flashing lights or something of that sort, but I didn't wind up with time to design one. Instead, I magically produced a new black envelope, matching the one they started the adventure with. Inside is a final letter and a prize. The letter reads:

WOW! All my sensors started going wild. You invoked the mantra! The sigils describe the fundamental magic that makes this such a wonderful place. I'm going to continue to watch my sensors in case more of your friends figure out how to activate the magic. Even though we know the answer now, please don't spoil the fun of discovery for them.

I transmuted a small bit of sunnyside magic into a charm that I think is roughly sized for a human. Please keep it as a token of my gratitude. Thank you for your help, and for being a part of the magic here at Sunnyside.

-Grimbol

Arcanologist, and now, friend.

The trinket is a laser-cut piece of holographic acrylic, about 2" wide, with a mounting loop so it can be used as a pendant or individual earring. The design is an amalgamation of the four sigils players translated during the adventure.

The Sigil of Sunnyside, the prize for completing the adventure.

Conclusion

In total, about 90% of the players who received a Call to Adventure opted to participate. Of that group of about 16 players, all of them completed the full adventure. It was truly a wonderful moment to stand at the party and see scattered groups hunting for clues and sharing progress with each other. "Where's your nametag?" they'd ask each other, as a soft hint. "Have you found the fourth sister?" I'd hear, echoing around the campsite periodically. I think most players reached the end in about 2 to 3 hours, but they had more than a day, and many groups took breaks and came back to it later. The prizes were a hit, with several players finding means to wear them during the party as a badge of accomplishment. If I were to host this particular adventure again, I'd want to rework how the "Friends" sigil puzzle is presented, and maybe make the "Grow" puzzle a bit more challenging.

The reactions have been very encouraging, including "I was welcomed with a puzzle, this was great", "I had so much fun", and "You know you have to do more of these, right?" Well, I agree. Look forward to more puzzle adventures as I develop this peculiar blend of skills.

Background

Every year, my sister and her friends put on a wonderful campout party in the yard in front of my studio. It is a relaxing chance to hang out with some of my favorite people. It has also become an opportunity to subject local friends to whatever sort of silly fixations I have. One of those fixations is "puzzle hunts", constructed adventures that play out a bit like an inside-out escape room. Individuals or groups work through a sequence of puzzles, riddles, and challenges, all themed to help them solve one larger puzzle for a prize. After a few lucky opportunities to participate in puzzle hunts of various scales, I've dreamed of designing my own.

Last year, I tested the waters with a simple easter-egg style hunt. I hid laser-cut "lucky fairies" around the property, and asked my friends to help guide them home. It was a huge hit, with friends mentioning it fondly throughout the year. That gave me the confidence to step it up, so this year I debuted my first puzzle hunt: The Sigils of Sunnyside. While this is written specifically for the property here (which we often call Sunnyside), it could be adapted to almost any location with a few tweaks. If you feel so inspired, be my guest. The following is a full breakdown of the adventure.

Call To Adventure

The adventure was teased with a few Dall-E generated gnome pictures hinting at something magical, posted to the event coordination page. But the adventure didn't really kick off until campers arrive. It is customary at these parties to wear name tags, so I delivered each guest an envelope containing their tags. Inside, they also found a letter from a gnome named Grimbol.

Three nametags and a letter from Grimbol asking for help.

The letter reads:

Salutations, towering friend!

I am
Grimbol, an arcanologist from Abagrettan, the capital of the western Gnomish provinces. For many years, our city has heard legend from traveling birds and pixies of a special bend along the Clay River where magical creatures of all kinds gather. They call it Sunnyside. Hidden in a forest full of coyotes and owls, far beyond the reach of humble gnomes.

Last year, I detected a strange pattern of
laser fractal space magic originating from this area, so I got council approval to come investigate. I had supplies to survive, plans to handle the dangers along the way, and all the best equipment to use when I arrived. The only thing I wasn’t prepared for, was for the place to be so big!

My maps were clearly drawn to the wrong scale. This isn’t a goblin sized grotto, this is a fully established human settlement! And yet, the magic is gathering here. I can feel it in the air. This must be Sunnyside, a place so magical even the humans know it! If you’re willing to help me learn about this place, please come find me. I’m sure there will be something precious for us to discover.

I plan to start my exploration at the
peculiar, tiny tree. It looks small, but it feels.. old. I suspect there’s more there. I’ll be wearing a red hat.

-Grimbol

P.S. In case it’s been a while since you had a gnome visitor, I’d like to remind you that I can’t move while you’re watching me. If you find me stiff as stone, there’s no need to call a medic, or accidentally put me in a dishwasher. Thanks!

The Peculiar Tiny Tree

On the property is a wonderfully characterful Japanese Maple tree. Every guest quickly knew exactly where to head. When they arrived, a garden gnome with a red hat sits stationary next to a treasure chest full of scrolls. Each player took a scroll with more instructions from Grimbol.

Players find a gnome next to a treasure chest of scrolls.

The scroll reads:

You found me! Well, not really me. This is just a statue I borrowed from a kind human here. But it's remarkable how much he looks like me! I mean, other than that nose.

I was right about this tree, it has soaked up the magic here for decades. I took a mana sample, and analyzed it in my field lab in the garage.

I discovered four sigils that seem to be key to the magic here. I transcribed their shapes, but I don’t know what they represent. Keep your eyes peeled the sigils have to be hiding somewhere.

Four mysterious sigils to be decoded.

Once you find one, look carefully in the area around it. There’s bound to be some kind of clue, hint, or pattern that explains the meaning of the sigils. They should translate to simple words of no more than 7 letters.

While you translate the runes, I'll figure out how to activate them from my lab in the garage. My tools are very sensitive, so it is important that you do not disturb them while I’m working.

Once you know the translations, show this completed report to the laser fractal space wizard.

-Grimbol

P.S. I tried a human dish last night. The wizard called it pizza, what a delight! He insisted there wasn't any magic in it, but I'm not convinced. Those fires he summoned cooked it quicker than a pixie pie! If you get a chance to try one, ask about the wizard sauce.

The First Sigil

Players encountered the sigils in various orders as they wandered the property. The top most sigil, the circle with extending lines one each side, was found under the yellow canopy set up over the pizza oven. If needed, I hinted to players that Grimbol was detecting a "yellow tint" around that sigil.

A riddle describes the first sigil.

The riddle reads:

With a tent, you can try

to keep a <sigil> safe and dry.

But in the dark, when cover's far,

Look up! <sigil> is full of stars!

Some players quickly identified the translation, and helped more puzzled players with hints like "focus more on the second half first", and "what's up above us?" Eventually, all players reached the solution: "space".

The Second Sigil

A similar sign hung on the fence of the garden presented another puzzle for the players.

A fill-in-the-blank puzzle reveals the second translation.

This puzzle asks players to fill in the blanks of four words related to gardening. This puzzle was the easiest, it seems, I didn't have to provide any hints to any of the players for this. Filling in the answers, "Light, Air, Soil, Water", and then reading the highlighted column reveals the translation for a second sigil, "grow".

The Third Sigil

We are blessed to have several accessible trees here. I hung clue signs on six of them, each presenting a slight variation on the same shared riddle.

One of six similar signs decorating trees in the area.

The riddle reads:

I'm the sixth of six sisters, we share truths and guard secrets.

We honor the same code, but I'm 3 in the sequence.

If you order is nicely, in this wisdom find our truth:

The letters make the forest but the meaning is in the roots.

Each "sister" had a different number "in the sequence". Once players found all six trees, they could order them (by the order of the sisters) and get the coded sequence 40, 12, 23, 25, 44, 3. It took most players a while here to identify that the bolded line at the bottom was "the sequence". Quite a few players treated the whole verse as the sequence, but when that produced gibberish they sometimes went off track looking for other sources. But a few were clever enough to get it, and a little light hinting about "bold secrets" helped the rest put it together.

The Fourth Sigil

The cleverest readers may have already spotted the fourth sigil. It appears on the name tags I handed out to each guest in the beginning. I hoped that seeing the sigil around each of their friends' names, and the number of spaces given for the translation would give players enough to guess the words "Friends". What I underestimated was how many perfectly suitable answers had the same number of letters. "People", "Nametag", "Pronoun" and "Sticker" were all great guesses that I had to excuse away. While people did delight in the moment they realized they were already wearing a magic sigil, I really needed one more hint layer helping guide players. Without it, I had to just verbally guide them to a more specific word.

Once a player had translations for all four sigils, they returned to me to progress to the next step.

The Final Mantra

When they approached me, I told them I had an update from Grimbol for them, another rolled scroll. This scroll read:

Great work translating the runes. The only way to know if they are accurate is to try to activate them. I've figured out the format of a mantra that should do the trick. This feels like human magic, so it will probably be best if you speak the completed mantra somewhere quiet, and see if any magic happens. You might need the laser fractal space wizard nearby to help you detect any magic.

The final mantra diagram

If nothing happens, double-check your translations, maybe try similar words. I'll be watching my readouts in the lab for any strange activity.

In retrospect, I should have included this diagram in the scroll recovered from the chest under the tree. The structure of the mantra would serve as another hint layer as players decoded the runes. Instead, they approached me with the answers, and I awkwardly handed them another scroll that asked them to restate their answers. (Even worse, I mistyped and swapped the places of two sigils, requiring an in-person correction. Oh well, live and learn!) Nonetheless, players were excited to decode the mantra into the heartwarming final answer: "Sunnyside is a space in nature where friends can grow."

Ideally, saying these words would cause a magical display of flashing lights or something of that sort, but I didn't wind up with time to design one. Instead, I magically produced a new black envelope, matching the one they started the adventure with. Inside is a final letter and a prize. The letter reads:

WOW! All my sensors started going wild. You invoked the mantra! The sigils describe the fundamental magic that makes this such a wonderful place. I'm going to continue to watch my sensors in case more of your friends figure out how to activate the magic. Even though we know the answer now, please don't spoil the fun of discovery for them.

I transmuted a small bit of sunnyside magic into a charm that I think is roughly sized for a human. Please keep it as a token of my gratitude. Thank you for your help, and for being a part of the magic here at Sunnyside.

-Grimbol

Arcanologist, and now, friend.

The trinket is a laser-cut piece of holographic acrylic, about 2" wide, with a mounting loop so it can be used as a pendant or individual earring. The design is an amalgamation of the four sigils players translated during the adventure.

The Sigil of Sunnyside, the prize for completing the adventure.

Conclusion

In total, about 90% of the players who received a Call to Adventure opted to participate. Of that group of about 16 players, all of them completed the full adventure. It was truly a wonderful moment to stand at the party and see scattered groups hunting for clues and sharing progress with each other. "Where's your nametag?" they'd ask each other, as a soft hint. "Have you found the fourth sister?" I'd hear, echoing around the campsite periodically. I think most players reached the end in about 2 to 3 hours, but they had more than a day, and many groups took breaks and came back to it later. The prizes were a hit, with several players finding means to wear them during the party as a badge of accomplishment. If I were to host this particular adventure again, I'd want to rework how the "Friends" sigil puzzle is presented, and maybe make the "Grow" puzzle a bit more challenging.

The reactions have been very encouraging, including "I was welcomed with a puzzle, this was great", "I had so much fun", and "You know you have to do more of these, right?" Well, I agree. Look forward to more puzzle adventures as I develop this peculiar blend of skills.