Running a homebrew game with my players, I wanted to give them a secret opportunity to gain superpowers. I created an entire binder with custom super abilities tailored to each of their archetypes, and additional special abilities available to all characters. The binder itself took quite some time to make but there was a chance that none of the players were ever going ‘unlock’ the ability to use them.
The reason for this was because a Djinn was between the superpowers and the players. Early on in my campaign I introduced a menacing Djinn who was contractually obligated to give the players these powers, but he didn’t want to. He was ordered to come meet the players and tell them his name, which would force him to do their bidding. The Djinn didn’t want that but he was still obligated to fulfill his contract. He was also so otherworldly that often times he broke the 4th wall in gaming (something to be done very delicately, but this was meant to be a clue for my players) You see the Djinn gave the “players” his name, not the characters. And he did so in a real-life miniature ARG I created.
It started off with a QR Code on the [character sheet](https://i.imgur.com/UbZj66N.jpg). The Code was put onto an “ID badge” for the sheet (the game was SCP themed) and therefore many of the players didn’t think to actually scan the code. Upon scanning the code, it would take them to [this](https://imgur.com/ttrQ14c) image, which if the QR code was inverted and scanned, it would lead to [this](http://zombiekeech.wixsite.com/monarchtechnologies) website. The website had a series of clues that would lead them to using a secret message decoder on one of the first images I posed in the games facebook group. This would then lead them to our local library and to a dewey decimal code, and a page number. If the correct book was located and the correct page turned to, another QR code would be found, which would lead to another website with a message. The message gave X and Y coordinates, and a Minecraft server. Upon reaching those coordinates (which had no obvious landmarks) and digging down, it would lead to a cave with a sign that had another clue, which led to another minecraft location, and another clue, to another location and a final clue. Figuring out this would lead you to [this](http://zombiekeech.wixsite.com/submarine) website, which gave a clue for that someone had to drive to our local Quiznos restaurant, and go to the mens bathroom. Once there they would find the passcode written on the bathroom wall to access a video. The video would tell the players to go into the basement of the house we roleplayed at and find a special light. (it was a blacklight) the blacklight then needed to be used on a specific PC’s character sheet in order to read the name of the Djinn.
After much cooperation and about 2 weeks, my players finished the puzzle and called the Djinn by his name “Dantalion”
I then pulled out the binder and my players could use all of these mysterious “soul points” they’ve been accumulating throughout the adventure and purchased custom abilities to use the rest of the campaign. Surprisingly, the entire ARG took way more time to think up than to actually create, and they said working together in their freetime felt like a mini adventure. I was so relieved that all my hard work was not overlooked. Thank you for scanning that QR code and getting the ball rolling. This could have been a very different story.
edit: This was back in 2016, and I almost forgot the [base map I did in planner 3D](https://planner5d.com/view/?key=098f01c2bff4a36adde7114f12f90f9c). One of the QR codes is [hidden in one of the rooms](https://i.imgur.com/PEEKRC4.jpg) if you go into 3D mode. This program is pretty sweet for making modern day structures that the players are going to be involved in.