A Weekend With The Black Watchmen ARG

The world is overflowing with mysteries and conspiracy; some are visible to all, but others are less obvious, hidden beneath a layer of secrecy, lies and the occult. If you go deep enough down the rabbit hole you are bound to discover some disturbing things – things almost too plausible to be true. Blood rituals, human sacrifice and experimentation are mainstays of the silver screen, there’s no way that they could be taking place beneath our very noses, or could they? There are agents worldwide investigating these disturbing reports and this weekend I joined them to get to the bottom of some shadowy people and their dealings. This is how I became a member of The Black Watchmen.

I initially mistook The Black Watchmen as just a game, but it is much more than that. I am now part of a secret reconnaissance cell partaking in undercover investigations. My basic training involved learning to crack codes – binary, hexadecimal and rot13 enciphered messages – a cinch given my degree in computer science, but things soon became more difficult. My fellow agents and I were tasked with investigating the disappearance of an antique collector – and that’s when things took a decidedly more sinister turn. The case files we were given, drafted by the first agent on the scene, consisted of nothing but seemingly innocuous images of books, dolls, crucifixes and bottles. The keen-eyed among us were able to identify a rot13 enciphered code in one of the images, which we were then able to decipher manually. The code pointed towards a pastebin link with details of an antique script called “Folio 13″, the kind a collector would love to have in their collection, but how did it tie in with his disappearance?

A Google search for “folio 13″ and “Cipher MMS” lead me down a rabbit hole of religion, conspiracy, secret societies and the occult. I was suddenly in over my head, reading up on ancient Jewish sects and Pope John Paul’s teachings – certainly nothing that could be attributed to the disappearance. I was over thinking things, going way too deep and missing an answer that was right in front of me. The organisation that penned the document wanted it back and was willing to go to any lengths to get it.

As the case was solved I gave myself a pat on the back and put my feet up, but my respite didn’t last long. The agency had heard word that a clinic tied to rumours of human experimentation had reopened its doors and I had been asked to investigate its staff members for any signs of illegal activity. By cross-referencing each staff member’s employment history I was soon able to establish a link between them and illegal human experiments – all those years of Google-fu were finally becoming useful.

black watchmen email arg

With a link established it was tie to go deeper and find out exactly what was going on at the clinic. An undercover team was dispatched after closure to bug the building for remote monitoring. And then silence. The agency ceased contact until Sunday when all agents abruptly received an email informing us that the alert level had been “raised to 3″. With urgency we made our way to our usual channels of communication (IRC) and began to converse about what could be happening, and there it was. In our game clients was an image coded in braille.

The image was surprisingly complex, containing not only the braille code, but a map that could be uncovered by applying various filters, and behind that were words which turned out to be street names. Some very intelligent deciphering later we had uncovered a restaurant in Portland called “The Fried Onion”.  Initial reconnaissance of the location yielded no results, but now as the restaurant opens for business, we have agents on route for a face to face with forces unknown.

Now we wait.