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Protect the flock! From JP and Hachette!

The Storyteller of the ARG.

Rules for Elena's operation:
--I picture her as being intelligent and a bit more mature than someone her age (otherwise, why would her parents let her go to Germany alone?).
--New to the site (but not to NING, her school _____?_____ club uses a NING site).
--She hasn't read the MR series (in fact, her understanding of the
series comes from Wikipedia) but because she googled Itex and the MR
series came up, she came to MDW hoping that the people there could makes
sense of the documents.
--She talks seriously (sane fan-ish, no emotions until we're halfway
through, and she 'knows' the site better) because these documents are a
serious matter.
--She doesn't comment on opinion-based stuff, but occasionally she may show up on another thread saying "Oh, that's what that document meant!"
--Replies to all friend requests, but never to any comments or PMs.
--She should be able to field the occasional question "Where did you
find this stuff? Did you read MR? What did you do in Germany?" but
shouldn't reply to things that mess with the point, "This is fake. Are
you JP? Show us a picture of the actual document!"
--She should NEVER get openly hostile at anyone else.
--Should bring up an occasional part of her real life. As the story hits its final week, this will include her getting ill.
--Should never comment if other people try to forge their own documents.
--Doesn't chat.
--Asks the occasional question about the site when brought up, but only
if it's as part of an explanation, not an insult or argument against
someone else. "At least you aren't a squee."
"What's a squee?" "Well..."

Backstory:
- Elena is related to ter Borcht through her mother Alice, who is his younger sister. There's also a middle child Otto, whom Elena is familiar with from childhood visits to his home near Berlin.
-- Otto has a family, while Roland does not. Otto's children, Elena's cousins, are about her age.

- Alice has never spoken much about her side of the family, but after
Elena graduated high school, Otto wrote and invited Elena to come visit
her cousins before she started college that fall.
-- This is where it gets fuzzy... Elena happens to meet her other uncle,
they talk a little, mostly she has a nice summer with her family.

- Elena comes back to America, starts college, yada yada. However,
around Christmas she receives a package labeled "DO NOT OPEN" (possibly
in German), care of her mother. The return address is in Lendeheim,
where she knows her Uncle Roland lives.
-- Possibly after persuasion -- the thread might begin as "so I have a
mysterious box, should I open it?" -- Elena opens the box, which is full
of folders, cassette tapes, and all kinds of junk.

If anyone has any questions or reccomendations, feel free to post them.

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Replies to This Discussion

As to real life: boyfriend drama, student life, visiting family for holidays, local weather, internet disasters...

As to the name: lazy anglophones may write it Mueller, but Elena herself will probably spell it with an umlaut. >.> This is up for debate, though, since umlauts = fuck that, most of the time.

...uh, as to real life background I wrote out a quick summary while not sleeping a few nights ago; you want?
Absolutely.
Got distracted by downloading files.

- Elena is related to ter Borcht through her mother Alice, who is his younger sister. There's also a middle child Otto, whom Elena is familiar with from childhood visits to his home near Berlin.
-- Otto has a family, while Roland does not. Otto's children, Elena's cousins, are about her age.

- Alice has never spoken much about her side of the family, but after Elena graduated high school, Otto wrote and invited Elena to come visit her cousins before she started college that fall.
-- This is where it gets fuzzy... Elena happens to meet her other uncle, they talk a little, mostly she has a nice summer with her family.

- Elena comes back to America, starts college, yada yada. However, around Christmas she receives a package labeled "DO NOT OPEN" (possibly in German), care of her mother. The return address is in Lendeheim, where she knows her Uncle Roland lives.
-- Possibly after persuasion -- the thread might begin as "so I have a mysterious box, should I open it?" -- Elena opens the box, which is full of folders, cassette tapes, and all kinds of junk.

- Natch, the stuff in the box is the documents she scans.

- However, at the very bottom of the box is a cheap little wooden box, which is full of dust when Elena opens it -- dust and a few small trinkets: maybe a watch or a locket, or a small photograph. She puts these aside.
-- After opening this box, Elena begins to get sick with some alarming symptoms: maybe she coughs blood, or develops scaly patches of skin.
--- Elena looks at the items in the small box, which seem to be family heirlooms, not special of themselves. However, she turns over the photograph (or opens the locket or something) and finds a message, perhaps in German, apologizing to her and advising that she immediately go to an address in Canada and ask for Hans... "use my name only if absolutely necessary", that sort of thing.

- Elena worsens slightly, but eventually decides to visit the Canadian address. This is literally her last post, after which she disappears and does not respond to any contact attempts.

...went more into plot at the end, for which I apologize, but there you have it.
Makes sense all the way up through her opening the small box. But:

1) Part of an ARG is audience engagement. It would be fun if we gave them a puzzle towards each weekend to work out that would give her access to more files. Answers, naturally, would be from the books, something that Elena (and the site users) would have access to, and something ter Borcht would know that Elena could easily get her hands on.

2) Similarly, onset of symptoms should be really slow, as in just feeling woozy the first week, getting a cold the second week, symptoms worsen over the third week, then start to explode to a freak-out point up to the climax.

3) The final message should be in English, for the reader's sake.

4) The box, or a later info dump, should include the means to allow Elena to get safely to Canada. ter Borcht would think of everything.
1. Agreed -- I'm not sure how to put that into practice, though.

2 and 3: Absolutely.

4. Maybe a hidden bottom to the box which contains, say, sufficient money to get a plane ticket to Canada?
1) My first thought was e-mail auto-responses, but the mods blocked that recently by terming putting up e-mail addresses as bannable. Therefore I figure that the next best thing is that ter Borcht leave a trail of online sites that Elena finds that are unlockable by solving a riddle posted on the site. Elena can just post a screenshot of the password and riddle thing, and once she opens the site, she'll find that ter Borcht has already gone through some of the trouble of scanning/recording things for her. This way the people know what's happening, but we aren't actually asking them to do anything other than solve a riddle.

4) Sounds good.
1. We could probably circumvent that by having the email address be a simple puzzle or something in a posted document. Sounds good, as long as Elena never gives up the address to the site (since I doubt we're actually going to code and host the sites).
Again, take a broken-off screenshot of Mozilla or IE that misses the URL line, and then copy-paste something into the screen area.
I can do anything like that. My best area of photoshopping/editing would be screenshots.
Re: last name, if she's living in America it's most likely it won't still use the umlaut.

Also, I'm sure we have it somewhere, but why did she go to Germany by herself? Was it a school trip, or something?
Maybe her mum had something she needed to do that summer? And with Otto's invite to visit - hey, why not?
On invitation, I assume.

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