The Princess and the Pirate

Adventure / Comedy (more)

29 November 2004

Thar Be Treasure, Arrr

About a month ago, I hosted a small treasure hunt at the Roundhouse as part of our annual Halloween Party. For anyone interested in solving the hunt, here's all the pertinent information.


It is the autumn of 1758. I have been dispatched by the Queen to recover the treasure stolen by the blackhearted pirate, Captain Shallows. It was reported that he had been captured by an officer of the Queen's Navy, Sir Richard Galbraith, some months ago. Galbraith, haughty by nature and made only more so by his victory over the pirate, chained Shallows to his own anchor and forced him to drag Galbraith, riding atop the captain's helm wheel at the other end of the anchor chain, to the garrison of a nearby (though not TOO nearby) village. Though weary from this degrading transport, Shallows remained ferocious, and none of Galbraith's men dared approach him, so they affixed the anchor chain to a post near the edge of the woods adjacent to the garrison. They fired the helm wheel to provide heat and light for the pirate, lest he die and relieve the officer of his prized captive. The next morning, the officer and his men were found dead, and the treasure missing from the garrison.

When I arrived yesterday, having been dispatched to discover the whereabouts of Galbraith and his crew, I found the anchor and post still chained to the rotting, curiously shirtless, corpse of Captain Shallows (I presume) some distance into the woods. The locals swear that his ghost haunts the forest, and though they have discovered peculiar messages affixed to certain trees, they refuse to have anything to do with it. As travelers, then, I ask you to assist me, the Queen's envoy, in recovery of her majesty's gold.


1) The participants split themselves into three teams of two, two, and three members. About 2/3 of the way through, the two 2-member teams joined, so ultimately we had a 4-member team and a 3-member team.

2) The clues were each inked onto a portion of a shirt that had been ripped into 24 pieces. These scraps were then nailed to trees and slightly obscured using leaves, twigs, and the like. The first task of the participants was to locate (sort of Easter egg style) and (presumably) record the clues. The participants were not told exactly how many clues comprised the full set, though they were given a general idea ("probably a couple dozen or so").

3) To begin with, each participant was granted one of the local coins, called a Latin. Two additional coins could be earned by each participant for completion of a Fencing Challenge (lunging with a foil and hooking a piece of wood pierced with a 1" diameter hole) and a Flintlock Challenge (target shooting with a rubberband gun). The barmaid (played by the inimitable Princess, "Acting! Thank you!") filled you in on the locals' collective supposition regarding any particular answer when you crossed her palm with a Latin. Also, equipment rentals (shovel, compass, captain's telescope) cost two coins, one of which was merely a deposit.

4) I intended the hunt to have a 3-hour solution time, which included locating the clues hidden in the forest, physical challenges, solution of the clues, and digging up the treasure. The 4-member team managed to recover the treasure in just over three hours, but they did not notify the other team until they were about to start digging, about 15 minutes later. The winning team, however, had not hit the correct solution straight away, and I had several new holes in my back yard to show for it.

5) I had the great pleasure of witnessing, first-hand, the "ah-ha!" moment of both teams, when the solution finally hit them. Very gratifying.



If you have any questions or comments about this puzzle, please feel free to email me via jdroscha at direcway dot com. Note that there is no "t" in direcway.