OgreCave

Never mind the sudoku, here’s Perplex City

January 23rd, 2006: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Never mind the sudoku, here’s Perplex City

So I’m all set up in Portland now, and I was thinking about posting my final what-to-do-in-D&D-4th post today. But I’m not going to, for two reasons. The first is that it boils down to a single sentence, “add no rules,” and the second is that, seriously, when games like Shab-al-Hiri Roach, Shock:, and apocalypse girl are on the horizon, I just don’t really care so much what happens to D&D. But I will tell you about a product I’ve been loving lately, totally despite my usual interests (very much like the Forge games), which for some reason I haven’t posted about before: Perplex City puzzle cards.

These gorgeously designed and lavishly printed jobbies, larger than an index card and packaged six to a pack, present you with puzzles ranging in difficulty (and rarity) from totally unchallenging (but maybe conversation-starting) to Nobel Prize level (mathematics’ unsolved Riemann hypothesis is a card – but others amongst the highest rarity/difficulty level have in fact been solved). The art’s great, the variety’s great, and the setting – a sort of urban Narnia where all the cell phones are awesome and all the society-party invitations have bizarre logic riddles to cull the weak – is charming as all get out. Once you have the answer to a card’s puzzle, scratch off the scratch-off stuff for the code to enter on the website for Perplex Points; if that doesn’t scratch your itch for competition, whoever finds a certain little McGuffin called the Cube will win $200,000.

What makes this doubly interesting, even to those of you who’d just as soon kick a cat as solve a puzzle, is that the search for the Cube will tie in, inevitably, to the website(s) and their associated characters. That’s right, folks, it’s an alternate reality game, which is essentially an elaborate online LARP (as I’ve noted here). Our podcast listeners will recall last year’s Last Call Poker being a fave of mine. I wish I could say that the writing in the ARG component of PXC were more engaging, but there’ve been some super-exciting live events in London, and I’d say things will start popping up in the US over the next year as well. (Starting with an event in NYC on February 15!)

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