The Verne Club
|The Verne Club|
|Uncovering the mystery of the Verne Club.|
|Creator||The Cabrera Brothers Company|
Most of the information on this wiki page was taken from the official timeline, written by the creators.
The Verne Club (also known as The Society of Extraordinary Readers ARG), is an ARG made by The Cabrera Brothers Company for their Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, Free Bundle Magazine. The ARG is centered around lore from several writers of the weird and fantastic genre, including H.P. Lovecraft, Jules Verne, and Robert E. Howard. The official home page for the ARG can be found here.
Currently, the primary solving hub for this ARG is the Free Bundle Magazine community, who have a Discord server here.
Discussions about the Verne Club began with a series of Reddit posts by a user named "Wepemnofret," later revealed to be a hacker named Bishop. The hacker posted mainly in the Occult and History subs on Reddit, as he tried to find information about a picture he allegedly encountered during a job in someone's server depicting a human sacrifice of some sort. Many people began speculating in the comments section about Bishop's story's veracity since there was no proof of the photo, other than Bishop's accounts and paranoid ramblings about being followed ever since he saw it.
At one point, the hacker briefly mentioned a Reddit user told him about The Verne Club, a secret society of librarians, writers, and people in the publishing business who might help. Suggestions were made that the community may have an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) on its hands until some people in the comments area began providing actual proof that the Verne Club was real. After all the speculation, /r/Hannacrash (CrashOverride) decided to create a post on the /r/ARG sub on Reddit to ask if The Verne Club was an actual Secret Society or an Alternate Reality Game.
Community members started combing for clues on all the subs Bishop had posted in and concluded that The Verne Club was an ARG by Free Bundle Magazine. Once players confirmed it was a game, the magazine launched its official website and agreed to let HannCrash create and maintain the official Discord server.
Human Sacrifice Photo
On July 13th, 2021, wepemnofret shared a post to the "Paranormal Encounters" and the "Supernatural Encounters" subs on Reddit claiming to have come across a photograph depicting a ritualistic human sacrifice dating from 50 years ago during a "system intrusion."
The next day, Bishop posted on the History sub on Reddit, asking for information about "magic and rituals in pre-Columbian civilizations in South America."
Bishop updated his post on July 16, 2021, mentioning he planned to meet a retired Spanish historian. The man had contacted him through a private message, claiming to have a book with an illustration depicting a ritual similar to the one he mentioned in his posts.
On July 19, Bishop makes a post on the OccultConspiracy sub on Reddit, searching information about the lost journals of Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, a french writer and occultist. In the post, he mentions he is **traveling abroad** (presumably, to meet the Spanish historian.)
The Verne Club
Only days after posting about Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, Bishop asks information about "The Verne Club" on the OccultConspiracy sub on Reddit.
The same day, someone discovers discovered the web Verne Club's website:
The website mentions that all books the society owns are "kept under strict surveillance" and that their mission is "not to suppress or withhold knowledge, but to contain it from disruptive individuals."
Going to the address https://theverne.club/keepers reveals a secret section accessible only to members of the secret society, or "keepers," as they call themselves. The login prompt can only be found when clicking on a hidden link at the bottom of the website's homepage.
During the beginning stages of the ARG, when speculations of whether The Verne Club actually existed or not were still happening, players discovered that the following list of Reddit users might have been in-game characters created to promote the game:
- Randolphfish posted on the Occult sub on Reddit claiming his ex-roomate was a member of The Verne Club. He hasn’t posted or commented on Reddit since July 21, 2021.
- Franciswhiskeyjar made one of his first comments on Reddit claiming that “My mother said her grandfather's brother (great-uncle?) was a member of the Verne Society.” And had “a booklet in a drawer somewhere with their silly handshakes.” He made a separate Reddit post on July 20, 2021 showing the following book page. He has not posted or commented on Reddit since July 20, 2021.
- Momento358mori presented himself as a Freemason and said that The Verne Club might be an old Swedish Rite group of Masons.
Although the identity of some of these Reddit users remains in question, others were confirmed to be actual ARG players and not in-game characters (most notably, r/lemondecro_ss,who discovered the drop-off near Lovecraft's grave and is a relatively active member of the ARG's Discord server.
Writers and the Occult
A new Reddit post by Bishop titled [TIL] Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, french occultist and author, and Victor Hugo (THE Victor Hugo) might have been pals in a secret society sheds light on The Verne Club.
The following writers are mentioned in the thread:
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: the father of Sherlock Holmes wrote _The History of Spiritualism (1924)_, maintained fairies were real. He was also known during his last days for frequent spiritist circles.
- H.P. Lovecraft: his marriage to Aleister Crowley's ex-girlfriend, Sonia Greene, and his work association with Harry Houdini (a known Freemason)
- Arthur Llewellyn Jones: Welsh author and mystic. He was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
- Antonin Artaud: Dramatist, theatre director, and film actor. He was into the occult, alchemy, and cabala.
- William S. Burroughs: American writer, he was into the occult. He wrote Naked Lunch, Junky, The Wild Boys, Queer, and many others. He became interested in black magic after traveling to South America.
- Victor Hugo: French poet. During his political exile in the channel Islands, he dedicated much of his time attempting to communicate with spirits. He was friends with Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, a French occultist and author.
Bishop's Video Messages
On July 15, 2021, Bishop began posting on Twitter under an account with the same username as his Reddit profile: @wepemnofret. The account, which also used the same avatar as the Reddit account, was created in May 2021 and is believed to have been stolen from an unknown member of the Society of Extraordinary Readers by Bishop, since the l33tscript message in the account profile reads:
Which players translated to:
In some of his tweets, Bishop boasted about successfully having hacked The Verne Club's website. Specifically, he said to have found thousands of "uid" (Unique Identifiers) of encrypted data he could not retrieve before the server "kicked him out." In his tweets, Bishop also mentioned that he would no longer attempt to gain access to the server's "keepers area," as remaining in one place for too long was _increasingly dangerous for him in his current situation_. While most Bishop tweets contained videos messages encoded in Base64 with directions to those playing the ARG, others were in plain English and included pictures of the so-called "creeps" that were following him anywhere he went, even abroad.
When asked for more information about Shane C. Mitchell, Bishop answered with a video message:
Players decoded the message to:
The King in Yellow
On August 14, 2021, Bishop twitted the following: "Here's your damn proof", along with a video message encrypted in morse code.
The decoded message yielded TINYURL/KINGPROOF, leading players to a photo of a page from an unknown copy of The King in Yellow. When players examined the photo's EXIF data, they found it read ``Artist: Jorge Munoz``. Players deduced the name belonged to the ex-historian from Spain Bishop spoke about on his posts.
Players also noted that "The King in Yellow" could also be referencing Hastur (The Unspeakable One, also known as "Him Who Is Not to be Named", "Assatur", "Xastur", "H'aaztre", or "Kaiwan"), an entity from the "Cthulhu Mythos" of American writer H.P. Lovecraft.