I've planned to assemble a summary about this event, but Iselin's cooperative group play seeking thread was the final incentive
So, this year's Samhain, the ARG-ish community investigation event.
it surely wasn't perfect, you can find on the forum a couple complaining threads about datamining, about the over-use of RNG, the lag, a couple bugs, the rated world bosses, etc. FC said they will design the next similar event with those feedbacks in mind.
Imo the community investigation part and the fun itself was mostly unaffected by the issues, but that's just my opinion, others think they were left out of the investigation part and couldn't contribute enough, except by simply killing the bosses)
This Halloween TSW tried something different, not just adding a new story like previous years, instead they've added a large community event, similar to the pre-launch ARGs, just in-game. In the spirit of this, all info we had till the launch was a few vague hints about a rider and that the end will be a game-wide reward both in TSW and in Hide&Shriek. Even the launch itself only added a short extra: a Book appeared in Agartha.
So there it started, the Book had 4 short stanzas, not really cryptic, telling that all 4 zones will be visited by the rider. (which turned out not the headless rider, more like the Revelations one, or four (in one) - read the lore
Shortly the rider was found, but was passive, not interactable, just stood there in a circle of candles and after a while he moved over to other zones. At the same time, while zones were seeked over after the rider, other oddities were found, according to the Book (portals in Solomon Island, hulks in Egypt, etc) with unique mechanics to deal with them. And, when dealt, a wisp appeared and levitated towards the rider, lighting a candle.
Turned out, when "clearing" a whole zone, and all candles are lit, the rider summons a manifestation according to the zone (Solomon was War, Egypt the Pestilence, Trans is Death and Kaidan for Famine), all with different mechanics and fighting style.
So, this was the first stage, community gathered the rider's position in each zone, the 10 locations in every zone which needed to dealt with for the summon to start (there was even a script assembled, and maps posted fairly soon), and when Rider arrived somewhere, players rushed there, closed the portals / killed hulks / spectre couples / werewolves, then beat the world boss for the loot.
But, right after the first boss kill it became clear, that there must be more, since you get the achievement to participate in a Manifestation defeat, but right below that there was an achievement on the list, for an Empowered
, and beyond that there were drops during the process like Essences, Effigies, and the world bosses occasionally dropped a unique item called Worn photo. So started the next phase, the chase for empowering the bosses.
Photos were shared on the web, their locations seeked in the game (some were pretty tough to find http://imgur.com/a/b0m2x
), it was discovered that photos are a bit different than the actual location, they have some extra items or scratches, which led to the discovery of the roman numbers on them. By this time there were several theories already flying around, on the empowering, but then Funcom tweeted (https://twitter.com/TheSecretWorld/status/792005135551660032/photo/1
) the hints, because apparently there was a bug so we couldn't get those hints in-game.
The tweet was no puzzle at all by that time, it was more like a step-by-step manual... so not long after that the first empowered boss was summoned, which resulted the second phase - and for most, the final one, since by mechanic it was the "end" activity, after that there was only investigation.
So, second stage, rider approaches, players rush there, one group scatters and help with the candles, an another group splits into defined numbers (by the roman numbers) and go to the photo locations for worshipping, plus one dedicated player stands next to the rider with the essence and the effigy to boost his summoning into an empowered manifestation - all of these coordinated via chat. Then beating the empowered boss for even more loot
(empowered boss had a couple tougher mechanics than the normal version in each zone)
And, that could've been a nice close for the event: two stages, world bosses to summon by the community, with everything for that also revealed by their collective effort - except there were loose ends still. No promised game-wide reward showed up, for example. No answer to the "spirit" of some (not all) defeated empowered bosses, which was only visible by dead players around (was mentioned in the Book, when you checked it under the influence of the Essence, more (hidden) lines appeared between the stanzas - not sure who was the first to discover it). Besides that, empowered bosses also had rare drops, Torn scraps.
So, an another info gathering started, players posted their Torn scrap drops, some tried to follow the Wisp (it was fast, needed several attempt and lots of effort to follow it all the way).
Eventually the posted scraps started to form pictures, and it was also discovered that the Wisps are flying to a "summoner" place. It was logical to test it, but needed quite some coordination (Torn scraps were unique and bound, so you couldn't just pass them around, you had to gather the actual people who looted them), but a group managed to do it. When in their zone an empowered boss was beaten, and his spirit / wisp was arrived where they waited, they used their Torn scraps in the correct layout - which resulted a new hint. (http://i.imgur.com/m0SagD6.png
was quite clear right away (Ibaraki's instance), but the how
("choir of the righteous") took a bit more to crack. Turned out when there's 5 Templars in the group (the righteous ones
), the stone appears.