Thought to be lost forever, a dusty copy of the fabled The Conjurer's Almanaq, the definitive guide to the conjuring arts by The Great Qdini, was recently discovered hidden in a magic shop.
If you desire the secrets of the universe, THIS book is what you’re looking for — it IS, quite literally, the only resource you will ever need to lead A rich life of magic and power. Straight from the steel-TRAP mind of The Great Qdini, you’ll learn how to create potions, cast spells, DO all sorts of tricks, and even harness the power of the Earth itself. You will NOT believe how much power you will have after you’ve READ this sine qua non of the conjuring arts.
We are proud to be producing this special facsimile edition so that you, too, can learn these lost arts. This Almanaq covers all the important topics:
STOP! If you’ve started reading the Almanaq, then it’s too late. You’re already trapped in this book.
A long time ago, The Great Qdini was a grandmaster of the conjuring arts, beloved and revered by many. But in his quest for knowledge, he ventured too far. He thought he could master the black arts as well, but they got the best of him and he has now been lost to us forever. To make matters worse, he put a spell on his Almanaq, his groundbreaking contribution to the world of conjuring. And now you have been ensnared in his trap and may be doomed to live out your days within the confines of these very pages.
But there is hope for you. I was the first victim! I, too, was trapped, but I was able to get out.
My secret weapon was that I had learned The Great Qdini’s true name years ago. Even he didn’t know that I knew it. That will be your key to defeating his spell. It has been a supreme challenge to reveal this information to you without being detected. I have carefully modified parts of this Almanaq to place a puzzle in every chapter. They’re hidden, so you’ll have to find them before you can solve them.
The Conjurer's Almanaq: Escape This Book is an escape room in book form, a companion to the highly-rated The Librarian's Almanaq, the first book of its kind. This new Almanaq combines elements of an escape room with elements of a puzzlehunt in a 240-page puzzle book.
Just like in an escape room, you'll have to find the puzzles hidden in the book—we're not going to just hand you a crossword or sudoku. Some puzzles are in plain sight while others will be harder to uncover. Some puzzles may lead to other puzzles. And, like in a puzzlehunt, you'll combine puzzles together in one or more metapuzzles to learn how to escape from the book.
Like most escape rooms, the Almanaq is designed to be solved by anybody, not just puzzle experts. We want you to escape! You'll only need your brain and your wits to solve the puzzles, but there's nothing that says you can't phone a friend or search for assistance on the internet (though we have heard that cell service is spotty inside books). Like an escape room, you're not actually trapped inside the book — as far as we know.
This is a spoiler-free campaign. Nothing we tell you will ruin the experience of solving for you.
Because of that, it's a bit hard to show you what the book is going to look like, but we think these pictures will give you a decent idea. Here are mockups of the books (left to right: hardcover, softcover, future mass market):
Here are a couple of pages from the book:
Here are some pages torn out of The Librarian's Almanaq, the first puzzle book from Almanaq.
And this picture shows parts of some color puzzles from a mini puzzle book created by Roy.
You can solve the book solo if you want, but it's also great for a group of 2 or 3 people. You don't need to write in the book or tear out any pages or cut out anything to solve it. You do not need a live duck to solve any puzzles.
This campaign is for a special Kickstarter edition of The Conjurer's Almanaq: Escape This Book. We've designed it as a thing of beauty that you'll be happy to own long after you've finished solving. We're producing two versions, a softcover and a premium hardcover.
The Kickstarter Edition adds color to most of the puzzles and illustrations and is printed on premium 80-pound white paper. The softcover has a full-color heavy gloss cover while the premium hardcover has a vegetarian-friendly faux leather cover with a foil-embossed title and an attached ribbon marker.
Appropriately, we've set this campaign to close on National Puzzle Day, January 29th, at 11:59 PM Pacific Time.
Shortly after the campaign closes, we'll send out the Application to join The Seven to whet your appetite for what's to come.
The mass market edition of the The Conjurer's Almanaq will be very nice, but it won't be nearly as cool as the Kickstarter Edition. It will be a black-and-white trade paperback, without the special features and stretch goals. It will be released at least a month after the Kickstarter Edition, so Kickstarter backers get to escape from the book first.
We hear you, and we have two options for you.
First, after you back this project, check out the first update, which is for backers only. It contains links to download certificates you can print off to give as a placeholder gift until the actual books arrive.
Second, there's The Librarian's Almanaq, which you can buy from Amazon or your local bookseller. Some bookstores, such as The Elliott Bay Book Company here in Seattle, do keep it in stock. Get more info at www.almanaq.com. If you're not in a hurry, see below for getting it as an add-on.
As the quantity of books we print goes up, per-copy printing costs will come down, which will give us the opportunity to make the book better for everyone. We promise:
- Every stretch goal applies to every Kickstarter Edition copy at no additional charge, and will not be included in the mass market edition.
- Every stretch goal means more or better puzzles for the Kickstarter Edition. We're not going to have stretch goals to unlock things you can pay more for. Stretch goal puzzles will make the book cooler and enhance your experience but will not be required to escape from the book.
With that in mind, here are our initial stretch goals:
The first bonus puzzle is a special two-page fold-out map of the book. What? You think books don't need maps as if they're dungeons you might be trapped in? Well, you might have noticed that this book is different, and our first stretch goal will unlock its map. Solve the map puzzle and you'll learn ... (sorry, that would be telling)
We're surrounding the book with a second bonus puzzle by adding custom designed end sheets for the hardcover and inside front and back cover printing for the softcover (the puzzle content will be the same). Printed end sheets always lend a little bit of elegance to a book, while the softcover's inside cover printing is an unusual element that provides a very nice effect.
Only those skilled in the conjuring arts will be able to uncover the third bonus puzzle on the dust jacket for the hardcover and in a matching brochure for the softcover (the puzzle content will be the same). The dust jacket/brochure will be for a different book, a boring-sounding book that nobody will want to read. For the hardcover, the dust jacket will let you hide The Conjurer's Almanaq from prying eyes. For the softcover, you can hand people interested in the Almanaq the brochure to distract them and keep them from getting trapped. The last thing you want is a friend trapped inside your book!
Alongside The Conjurer's Almanaq in the magic shop was a handwritten journal that contained the meeting minutes of The Seven, the long-rumored secret society of conjurers bent on world domination, proving their existence for the first time. We'd love to produce a facsimile copy of the minutes for all to see, but the book was far too damaged for that to be possible. However, we were able to piece together enough of the minutes that we are able to produce, for the first time ever, an accurate history of The Seven. Befitting its importance, the history will be placed in an entirely new bonus section at the end of the book and printed on contrasting paper. While we think you'll find the history fascinating, we suspect some people will be more interested in the puzzles hidden within.
When The Great Qdini vanished, he left behind the typical props of a conjurer, plus one unusual item — an envelope labeled "The Morgue" full of seemingly unrelated newspaper clippings. Why did he save these particular clippings? Nobody knows! Maybe you'll be the one to figure it out!
This stretch goal unlocks an appendix of guest puzzles for the Kickstarter Edition, filled with intriguing puzzles by some wonderful friends from the puzzle constructor community. Each puzzle is presented as a facsimile of a clipping from a newspaper (you know, those things we had before we had the web). You'll find articles, ads, classifieds, maybe an advice column or some comics. This stretch goal unlocks the first four puzzles in the appendix; successive stretch goals will add additional puzzles.
The first group of constructors is:
Brendan Emmett Quigley, a professional puzzle maker for more than two decades, has had thousands of puzzles published in every major market, including more than 175 in The New York Times and more than 1000 on his own web site, brendanemmettquigley.com. His puzzles have been mentioned on episodes of The Colbert Report, Jeopardy!, and Sunday Night Football, yet they have neglected to mention his participation in the Boston Typewriter Orchestra.
David Steinberg published his first crossword in The New York Times when he was 14. Since then, more than 400 of his puzzles have appeared there and elsewhere. He also edits a weekly crossword for The Orange County Register and is the author of two books, Chromatics (published in Puzzazz) and Juicy Crosswords from The Orange County Register. In his spare time, David attends Stanford University.
Gaby Weidling is an escape room designer and puzzle creator currently designing rooms for Epic Team Adventures. She was the developer on the puzzle novel The Maze of Games and worked on the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and Apocrypha, as well as puzzles and events for The Seattle Symphony, Gen Con, PAX, Microsoft, and Cards Against Humanity. She might be found in a funny hat.
Kenny Young has been writing puzzles since 1996. Most of his work has been for the Microsoft Puzzlehunt, which he has helped to host seven times and helped to win six times. He has also written puzzles for all eighteen Microsoft Intern Puzzledays, several smaller events, and has helped run two instances of The Game. In his spare time, he tries to convince waiters and waitresses that yes, he really does want his food that spicy.
Alexandra Fiona Dixon won the grand prize in a national treasure hunt sponsored by Forbes Magazine in 1999; this experience inspired her to start a business producing public, private and corporate puzzle hunts, which she has been doing now for almost 20 years. Her team "Four Peat's Sake" are the three-time defending champions in the Masters division of the San Francisco Chinese New Year's Treasure Hunt. If you are reading this after February 24th, you can check how accurate the team name was!
Mark L. Gottlieb is a Magic: The Gathering Design Manager at Wizards of the Coast. His puzzles have appeared in The New York Times, GAMES magazine, Wired, Technology Review, and the World Puzzle Championships. He’s a four-time winner of the MIT Mystery Hunt. He wrote his MIT undergraduate thesis on puzzlecraft. He’s worshipped as a god by a sect of hyperintelligent wombats.
Patrick Merrell has been creating puzzles professionally for more than 35 years. He’s the author of 90 puzzle books, 86 New York Times crosswords (20 Sundays), more than 1,000 puzzles for People, as well as puzzles for Scientific American, Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and MAD magazine. He’s also a prolific illustrator, cartoonist, graphic designer, and writer. www.patrickmerrell.com
Thomas Snyder, founder and chief puzzlemaster at Grandmaster Puzzles, is a seven-time winner of the US Puzzle Championship and three-time winner of the World Sudoku Championship. He's a prolific creator of fantastic sudoku and other logic puzzles. Away from puzzles, he is the Head of Computational Biology at Verily Life Sciences.
Bruce Leban has run many puzzle events, including co-founding Microsoft Puzzlehunt and Puzzleday. He's the author of Jumping 2 Conclusions and the Three-in-a-Row Sudoku book series. He is a current member of and a puzzle editor for the National Puzzlers' League and an emeritus member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
Cathy Saxton has been creating puzzles for decades, and began sharing them outside her family a few years ago with a set for Puzzled Pint. That was such fun that she did it again, and also wrote puzzles for DASH and Microsoft Intern Puzzleday. She is often inspired to create puzzles by events like a solar eclipse cruise or Pi Day. Many of her puzzles can be found on her web site. Most recently, Cathy has been coordinating puzzle development for DASH.
Ken Jennings is a 74-time Jeopardy! champion, whose 2011 loss on the quiz show to IBM's Watson supercomputer tragically doomed the human race to an eventual takeover by computer overlords. He is the author of twelve books, most recently Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture (May 2018) and co-hosts the podcast Omnibus.
Tanis O'Connor began her game and puzzle career at a young age, when she devoured the pages of GAMES Magazine with her grandmother (it turns out puzzles taste better than paper). She's designed and run four MIT Mystery Hunts, developed rules and edited content for Dungeons and Dragons with Wizards of the Coast, played an evil corporation in a national hunt for escaped organ renters, and edited The Maze of Games puzzle novel. Tanis currently does freelance game design and game and puzzle editing.
Pavel Curtis has created many, many puzzles in two distinct areas — physical puzzles made out of wood and plastic, and pencil-and-paper logic puzzles (particularly the Adalogical Ænigmas series). You can find many of his puzzles for sale on his Pavel’s Puzzles web site. Outside of puzzles, Pavel is known for creating the online world LambdaMOO.
Richard Garfield is the inventor of the trading card game, and the designer of Magic: The Gathering, RoboRally, King of Tokyo, and many other games. His most recent games are Bunny Kingdom and SpyNet. A great-great-grandson of US President James A. Garfield, he was inducted into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame in 1999.
Tyler Hinman is a sporadic but talented puzzlemaker and a five-time champion of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. His first win, which was chronicled in the documentary Wordplay, was in 2005 at age 20; he remains the competition's youngest-ever winner. When not puzzling, he programs brain games for Lumosity, hosts pub quizzes, yells at his favorite sports teams, and blasts Scandinavian rock music.
Wei-Hwa Huang has had more than 100 puzzles published in The New York Times, but less than 1% have been crosswords; he’s the only crossword author with that distinction. He is also the only World Puzzle Champion and World Escape Room Championship participant to have designed a board game ranked among the top 100 on BoardGameGeek. That we know of.
Erin Rhode was the director of the 2014 MIT Mystery Hunt. Her puzzles have appeared in The New York Times, American Values Club Crossword, and Crosswords LA; she has created puzzle events for the Cambridge Science Festival, Steve and Kate's Camp, the University of Michigan Women's Glee Club, and many private events (including a wedding!). When not puzzling, she curls and plays piano, ukulele, clarinet, and guitar.
Kristy McGowan has been writing puzzles for more than 20 years, with puzzles in GAMES magazine, Paddler Magazine, reəct, Highlights for Children, Dig, Major League Baseball For Kids and many other children's magazines. She also creates puzzlehunts, teambuilding events, board games, apps, and escape room puzzles. Kristy has written puzzle books for Highlights, Puzzler's Guides and Rand McNally, which are found online, in National Parks' bookstores, and in finer gas stations nationwide.
Lai Van Duc Thinh has invented dozens of different types of clever and original logic puzzles. His elegant puzzles feature short, easy to understand rules with the possibility of a wide range of complexity and difficulty levels for solvers. Thinh’s logic puzzles currently appear in The New York Times on Sundays; more puzzles are forthcoming in the Puzzazz app.
David Kwong is both a stage magician and a puzzle creator. He merged those two "nerdy obsessions" in a well-received TED Talk coordinated with a New York Times crossword. As a magic, illusion, and puzzle consultant, his work has appeared in Now You See Me, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and NBC's Blindspot, among others. His most recent work has been with ABC's Deception, premiering March 11th. David's magic is so amazing we think he might be a conjurer, not just a magician.
We want to keep this campaign as simple as possible, so we're only having two add-ons.
Additional copies — You can pledge for multiple copies together, which will save on shipping costs. See the Fine Print below for details on how to do this, including shipping costs.
The Librarian's Almanaq by Roy Leban — You can add $19 to your pledge for a copy of The Librarian's Almanaq. This is recommended for US backers only. See the Fine Print below for details and shipping costs.
The Librarian's Almanaq is a great intro to the genre, but you'll have to tear out pages to solve it. Some people get a bit squeamish about that. If you're one of those people, we won't mind if you get two copies. Also note that the puzzles in The Librarian's Almanaq are a bit more tilted to native English speakers than those in The Conjurer's Almanaq. Get more info at www.almanaq.com.
Add-on copies of The Librarian's Almanaq will ship with your copy of The Conjurer's Almanaq.
The higher reward tiers include the opportunity to get a limited edition physical puzzle created by Roy Leban. What's in the box? We're not telling. We'll be revealing the puzzle design publicly after all Kickstarter backers have received their puzzles. The other physical puzzles in the photograph were all designed by Roy and give you some idea of the range of physical puzzles that Roy has created.
For custom puzzles, Roy will interview you in order to create a puzzle that fits you perfectly. Custom puzzles that Roy has created have been used for special occasions such as a 50th anniversary, an 80th birthday, and even a marriage proposal.
You know how a lot of Kickstarters have that way-out-there $9,999 reward? Well, we've got one of those, too, and it's way out there. So far out there, in fact, that it will be in your house.
We'll bring supplies, materials, props, and, of course, puzzles, to run a unique, custom escape room experience in your house anywhere in the United States. We'll work with you to plan the theme so it fits you, but we'll keep all the actual details secret so you don't get spoiled. And it's not just for you. It's for you and up to 10 of your friends. You can all escape together or we can split your group up into two teams and compare times.
After you've all escaped, each of your friends will get their own premium hardcover copy of the Kickstarter Edition, which will be signed to them right then and there.
To top it all off, we're saving hardcover premium #1 for you.
Roy Leban, creator of The Librarian’s Almanaq, is a lifelong puzzle constructor with thousands of puzzles and dozens of books to his credit. His puzzles have appeared in the New York Times, GAMES, and a multitude of other newspapers, books, and collections around the world. He edited The Year of Puzzles and numerous other puzzle books and collections. He also co-founded Microsoft Puzzlehunt and has created numerous physical puzzles and games. Between puzzles, Roy founded puzzle technology company Puzzazz (check out their fantastic iOS app). Earlier in his software career, he built groundbreaking products in desktop productivity, web publishing, early tablet computers, and interactive education, shipping more than 30 products over the years.
Emily Dietrich wrote her first poems when she was six and has gone on to become a novelist, poet, and essayist. She is the author of Holding True, a novel about a group of civil rights activists from the ’60s to today, and the story author of The Year of Puzzles. Her previous publications include The Case of the Missing Mask and Other Stories (a book of puzzle mystery stories), as well as pieces in Ms. Magazine, Historic Women of Michigan, SeattleWoman, Seattle’s Child, and elsewhere. Emily is a Green Griffin.
We like patronizing local businesses when we can, so we are proud to have selected an excellent local printer here in Washington State, Gorham Printing. We visited them and the work they are doing is fantastic. Their team has been a pleasure to work with so far.
The first thing we saw when we visited them put a smile on our face — a LittleFreeLibrary right next to their front door.
- January 29 (National Puzzle Day) — Campaign for Kickstarter Edition ends
- January and February — Finish test solving
- February 28 — Final drafts go out for test solving
- March 1 — Application to join The Seven available
- March 30 — Test solving complete
- April 15 — Final manuscript delivered to printer
- June 30 — Book printing complete
- July 13 (International Puzzle Day) — All books shipped
- August — Non-book rewards completed
What happened to the answers that were here? We ran into Kickstarter's length limits, so we moved the questions and answers to Kickstarter's official FAQ section (click on the FAQ link below the video). The shipping information stayed here, in the next section.
NOTE: We are doing some research to see if we can improve shipping costs, particularly for international backers.
What if I want more than one copy or both a hardcover and a softcover? You can add on any copy in the same tier or lower. For example, if you pledge for a hardcover, you could add a second one, a signed softcover, and a softcover, but not a personalized hardcover. You can also add The Librarian's Almanaq to any tier. We'll get your details in the post-campaign survey. See the next question for shipping costs.
How much is shipping? You can determine your shipping charge by using the following table, then read below for how to add on your shipping.
For shipping within the United States, Kickstarter will automatically apply the correct base shipping charge for 1 book. Increase your pledge as appropriate for any additional books.
If you're outside the United States, it's a bit more complicated. After we started the campaign, we managed to figure out how to lower international shipping charges, but Kickstarter doesn't let us change them. So ... choose a shipping destination of Antarctica instead of your actual destination. It has a shipping charge of $0. Don't worry, we'll get your real address later. Then, add onto your pledge the shipping amount from the table above.
Note: If you have already pledged, you should edit your pledge rather than canceling your pledge and pledging again. Click the green Manage your pledge button at the top of the campaign page, then the blue Change your pledge button on the next page.
International backers who want The Librarian's Almanaq may want to get it from a supplier such as Amazon or a local bookstore rather than adding it on to the campaign, because shipping will be less.
Can you provide some examples? We're glad you asked. Here are a number of scenarios:
Why is US shipping so high? We want your books to arrive in pristine condition, so we're shipping in boxes instead of envelopes.
Why is international shipping so high? Because international shipping is expensive ☹ Even after figuring out how to reduce costs, it's still high. You can reduce your shipping costs by getting together and pledging together with other people who live near you. Note that you may also have to pay VAT and customs duties to destinations outside the US.
Thanks to Keith Jackson, Bruce Leban, Elan Lee, Sean Molley, Mike Selinker, Dana Young, and Kenny Young for feedback on the campaign.
Thanks to Darryl Beckman and The Magic Shop at Pike Place Market in Seattle, who let us shoot some of our video. Thanks to Molly Proffer at Proffer Productions for assistance with our video.
Risks and challenges
We're doing everything we can to minimize risks. The book is mostly written and partly tested. We've worked all the printing details out with a great local printer, gotten the information we need on shipping, and mapped out an overall schedule.
We have kept this campaign simple, so there won't be anything that will distract us from finishing the book and getting it in your hands. Additional items such as physical puzzles will be completed after the book has been finished and shipped to backers.
Although this is Almanaq's first campaign, it's not our first experience with Kickstarter. Roy ran the successful campaign for Puzzazz's Year of Puzzles. Lessons learned from that campaign have been applied here in keeping our campaign simple, in planning our entire timeline, and in allowing time in our schedule for unanticipated problems.
Roy has managed the development and release of more than 100 puzzle ebooks at Puzzazz, plus dozens of software products at both large and small companies, including 6 major releases of the Puzzazz app.
Still, every project has risks. Here are ours:
• Finishing the book could take longer than we've planned for.
• Test solving of the book and revising it in response to feedback could take longer than we've planned for.
• Printing the book could run into problems and/or take longer than we've planned for.
• If the project is hugely successful, we could need to rent a temporary space in which to process (and sign!) all the books, so that could take time we haven't planned for. This is a problem we'd love to have!
• We could have shipping delays from the printer to us (one reason why we like using a local printer).
• We could have shipping delays from us to our backers, particularly international, where packages can take up to 3 weeks.
• The Great Qdini could find out what we're doing and try to stop us.
If the Kickstarter Edition is delayed, the black-and-white mass market edition will be pushed back too. We want you to have Kickstarter Edition copies in your hands well before the mass market edition is available.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (41 days)