Red Ribbon Society Red Ribbon Society

2012 Activities

Minnesota Historical Society Library Curriculum

The Minnesota Historical Society asked us to develop an educational and fun mystery game for teens that would be held at libraries around Minnesota in 2012. The events at the libraries were open to the public and staffed through the Minnesota Historical Society, not run by Red Ribbon Society members.

We created a non-Steam Century game set in 1893 in the fictitious town of Riverbridge, MN, where players had to get a milling machine working again to demonstrate at the 1893 World’s Fair and uncover a possible saboteur. They learned the basics of alternating current and direct current electricity and the basis of our electrical transmission system used today. That knowledge was used to correctly configure a device we built that represented the electrical grid and milling machine as part of the solution to the mystery. They also learned about Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, and through pre-created characters each player pretended to be they learned about life in the 1890s.

Players try to get the milling machine running again by correctly wiring the electric power from the generator to the machine.
Players try to get the milling machine running again by correctly wiring the electric power from the generator to the machine.
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

MarsCon Convention, March 9-11

MarsCon is a medium-sized general science fiction and fantasy convention held in the Twin Cities each year since 1999.

Our Steam Century mystery game for MarsCon focused on Native American myth. An archeological artifact was stolen from a fundraising exhibit by the University of Kaposia Department of Antiquities. The artifact, a box, was opened by the thief which unwittingly released a wendigo spirit. The wendigo spirit “possessed” cast members and used them to kill others. Players learned about the Native American myth and its origins while collecting objects to drive the spirit back into the box.

Also during the convention we presented the discussion panel Diversity in Steampunk, talking about racial, gender, and cultural issues in the steampunk genre with comparisons to actual history.

We also sponsored the Steampunk Scavenger Hunt and ran the Steampunk Craft Hour.

What If? Alternate History Teen and Family Day, April 21

The Minnesota Historical Society also asked us to develop a mystery game that we would run during a special event open to the public at the Minnesota History Center. Attendees listened to presentations, bought from vendors, did hands-on crafts, watched movies, listened to a band, and played our mystery game.

We created a Steam Century game set in 1893 in which the World’s Fair was held in Kaposia. A scientist had been killed just before the Fair opened and he would have demonstrated his new invention allowing writing on a paper to be reproduced on another, blank sheet. His former partner, who took his research and stole his wife, developed a similar device, but couldn’t get it working in time. Who killed the scientist? Was it his former partner, his ex-wife, or their financier? They all stood to lose. The game used the real historical rivalry between Tesla and Edison and the development of alternating current electrical transmission as the backdrop for the story and devices. (This was not the same game as the library curriculum.)

Read the in-game newspaper.

CONvergence Convention, July 5-8

CONvergence is a large general science fiction and fantasy convention held in the Twin Cities each year since 1999.

For CONvergence, the Steam Century mystery took place on an airship traveling with members of business, government, and the public who were to testify at hearings about the expansion of drilling and refining activities in what is northern Saskatchewan. A government scientist was murdered during the flight and players discovered the environmental impacts of drilling and refining, business and governmental corruption involving black market sales of helium to foreign powers, and the cover up of another murder of someone who witnessed the illegal transport of helium to the Russians.

Like at MarsCon, we held a Diversity in Steampunk panel, the Steampunk Scavenger Hunt, and the Steampunk Craft Hour. Our Craft Hour this year introduced helium balloons for people to make airships.

Read the in-game newspaper.

St. Paul Library, October 6

The St. Paul Public Library asked us to do a mystery game at the St. Anthony Park Library, open to the public and free, and geared towards teens.

A botanist was murdered just before the Duckwalth Botany and Glass Flower Library was to be closed down. Had he solved a decades old puzzle in the library and been killed for it? Players found clues hidden in books around the library and then used library resources to answer questions needed to figure out the puzzle and identify the culprit.

Read the in-game newspaper.

A player talks to Sarah for information needed to solve the mystery.
Two young investigators work to piece together the clues.

Back to Activities

2013 Activities

2014 Activities

2015 Activities

2016 Activities