ARG Player Unexpectedly Wins $2,200 Cash

by vpisteve

The "Search4e" Alternate Reality Game, sometimes known as "Second State" or "Where is Ed Sobian?" had a surprise for some of its players recently. Unbeknownst to some of the folks who were playing, there was real treasure waiting for some of them, including antique coins valued at over $2,200.

As the game seemingly completed its opening chapter this week, players were presented with a sort of virtual gate as part of the story, that was set to open at a specific time. A few of them got through to find some unexpected results on the other side.

Here's what happened, according to wbshaw, recipient of the most valuable of the unexpected prizes:

In case there is any important information to be gleaned, I've decided that full disclosure is important as to what has transpired with the coins since I got through the gate last Friday. I'll try to contain my enthusiasm and excitement for the duration of this narrative. But first, WOOOHOOO! I'm getting $2,200 in the mail from Second State.

Ahem, ok. First things first. If you've been following SS recently, You know that the gate opened four times last week. Each time, the first one Through got some kind of prize compliments of the PM's.

On Day 1, 8/26, we all fumbled around a site written entirely in Latin. At least two of us got through, but backed out before we hit the jackpot not realizing the screen we reached would forward to the vault after a time delay.

On Day 2, 8/28, we were a little more prepared, but still didn't know why we were trying to get through the gate. We knew that the spinning circles would do something after about 60 seconds, so our goal was to get back to the spinning circles and wait. Frankenpaula was first, clicked on a picture of a set of keys sitting on a book and received an email within moments on how to collect her prize (a set of antique keys). Oysterlass, an in-game character, immediately started posting messages on Yahoo offering cash for the keys. She bumped her offer up to $350 which I believe FP plans to accept upon receipt of the keys.

On Day 3, 8/29, the gate glitched and didn't open. A few people had saved the links to back doors (pages that followed with the login info) and tatter2323 made it through first and finds a page with picture of an old book. Tatter gets an email to call some number in California with a Special code to find out what he is getting. It turns out he will be receiving Celtic Druids by Godfrey Higgins from 1829. He said it was valued at $750. A quick check of verified the value of the book.

Not to be deprived of my swag, I setup links for all the pages I had previously found and decided to make my move on Day 4, 8/30. The gate opened at the appointed time and I was greeted with "la serie non e aperta"

WHAT??? That was the message that we received after someone reached the vault. I was afraid someone had somehow bypassed everything and found a direct link to the vault. The gate was still open, so I refreshed got that same message two more times and then suddenly I was looking at the login page. I followed the path we had mapped out on Wednesday and after staring at spinning circles for 60 seconds, I'm suddenly looking at a picture of a wooden box with some loose change sitting in it. The coins were an active link, so I clicked them and was dumped back to the main BIH page.

Within a minute, I had an email from brd@ Here is the Message:,
Please call Mr. xxxxx (212-582-2580) today between 2:30 and 3:30 EDT. Your code # is xxxxxx

I spent the next 90 minutes trying to find out what these coins were. Meanwhile, Oysterlass had offered me $1,000 on Yahoo for the coins. I googled the phone number and discovered that the number I was calling appeared to be a very large coin retailer in New York I scanned their previous auction catalogs and never found the coins.

Just before 3:30, I called my contact at Stacks and gave him my code. He was very surprised to hear from me. In fact, he told me that they've had these coins wrapped and waiting for a long time and wondered when I was going to call for them. I asked how long he had been holding the coins and was told they were purchased in August of 2001.

Mr. X then offered to describe the coins. I've already posted links, but to summarize, the most valuable coin is a shekel minted between 67 and 70 A.D. during the first Jewish revolt against Rome. The obverse has a chalice with a pearled rim while the reverse has a tree with three pomegranates. The coin has a retail appraisal of $2,950.

The second coin is a crusader coin from the 12th Century. It is somewhat unique in that it is the only coin from that era with a picture of a knight. You can see the knight's head covered in chainmail. On the other side is a Maltese (Templar) cross. The coin is from Antioch (now Syria). This coin is valued at about $50.

Both coins are apparently in excellent condition since the appraisals were above recent market prices I found for similar coins. Mr. X offered to send me the coins or the opportunity to sell the coins immediately for $2,200. I asked for the weekend to consider my decision.

Come Tuesday morning, OL has offered $2,000 in her new forum. I went ahead and called Mr. X. I asked him if he would buy the shekel and send me the crusader coin along with the payment. He agreed and the check and coin were shipped out today.

Presumably, these three items are rewards and not clues of any kind. I tried very hard to extract some information from Mr. X, but he either didn't Know anything or wouldn't tell me anything about the purchaser, transaction details, or any other specifics.

The fact that these coins have been waiting for over a year to reach this milestone indicates that the game we are playing has been in planning for a very long time. I suspect that what we have found so far is just the tip of the iceberg.

According to a source at True Crime Press, "Ed Sobian is still missing, and True Crime Press is still pouring countless resources into furthering the search. In fact, the search4e has begun and it continues. This latest is just one event in a process that is ongoing."

Details about the game and who is behind it are a bit sketchy at this point, but the authors have indicated that it will transpire over the course of an entire year. Plus, according to the above statement, it looks like there are many more surprises ahead. The trailhead for all of this is at