Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Cogworts School of Tinkering and Mechanomagic Builds A Better Mousetrap 2013

The brave members of the Qeynos Fire Brigade*

Cogworts School of Tinkering and Mechanomagic Builds A Better Mousetrap, 2013

The explosion rattled the windows of every building along the block. Thick clouds of smoke belched forth from the burning establishment.

Faintly through the raging flames, the words “Cogworts School of Tinkering and Mechanomagic” glowed cherry red on an indium sign. The words “Dormitory 2” seemed to be slowly melting off.

Down the block, the members of the Qeynos Fire Brigade threw on their gear and headed to the correct address without discussion. Apparently, this was a common occurrence. The members of the hydromancy team began conjuring water as soon as they were in range.

Soon, sweat poured down their foreheads and soot stained their garments. They panted for air as they battled the uncommonly powerful blaze. One by one, they exhausted their powers, falling to the ground.

Hours later, the last ember flickered and died. Nothing was left of the second dormitory, or the two dormitories to either side of it.

A white-haired gnome peeked around a lamppost, his receding hairline standing up in tufts.

“Oh dear, oh my. Poor lads! My lasses! Everyone made it out fine, just a bit of property loss this time around, and the insurance assures me the premium hikes will not be too bad. Thank you so much for your prompt response! If you have any need of our services, the members of the Cogworts School will be happy to assist you in any way!”

The entirety of the Qeynos Fire Brigade--brave men and women, one and all--winced and cowered away from the tiny gnome, before taking a collective breath and straightening. The Captain stepped forward and bowed politely.

“Professor Cogworts, thank you, but we have no need of your assistance.” Her voice was raspy from the smoke. “However, you’ll have to find new accommodations for your students until such time as your dormitories can be rebuilt.”

“No fear, no fear! The kind gentleman over at the Lion’s Mane said that we can rent out the rooms there for a miniscule fee. Very miniscule. Just a few thousand platinum, plus we have to promise to get rid of the rat infestation he’s been having. His current rat traps haven’t been working. Nothing seems to work. But it’s not a problem at all! We’re gnomes! We'll figure it out!

“Oh, and we can’t disturb the other guests. Not that we would, oh no! The students would just be studying and doing a little bit--a very minor bit--of tinkering homework in their rooms, you understand. Most of their work happens at the school, in the classrooms, under teacher supervision, of course! Nothing like this EVER happens!” He waved his hands energetically at the smoldering remains of the three buildings.

The Qeynos Fire Brigade valiantly restrained themselves from rolling their eyes. This was the third such call they’d had this month alone. The others had been minor in comparison to this, but still! Even their sole gnomish member sighed and shook her head.

Professor Fulbright Bartholomew Cogworts the Third raised his voice. “ALL RIGHT!” he bellowed, voice much too loud for his minute frame. “STUDENTS! Pack your bags, if you have any left! Line up and march yourselves over to the Lion’s Mane!”

Gnomes of all ages began popping out of the shrubs and from behind nearby homes. They were soot stained and smelled strongly of grease and smoke. It was a wonder none of them had gone up from sheer proximity to the heat, if the smell of oil coming off of some of them was an indication of how greased up they were!

Most had nothing in their hands. A few carried a favorite cog. All had determined expressions on their faces.

It was time for them to build a better mousetrap.



Open to any Everquest II player. Must make a gnomish character on the Antonia Bayle server to participate. If you do not have room on your normal account or are from another server, a free account is an acceptable alternative.


Contest runs from Thursday, August 8th at 12:01 AM PST - Saturday, August 17 at 11:59 PM PST.

August 8th: Contestants must submit their item lists to Jazabelle via PM on the SOE Message Boards before 11:59 PM PST.

August 9 - 10: Items will be obtained and created by Homes and Tomes.

August 11: At 12:01 AM PST, contestants will receive trustee on the home they are to decorate, and will receive an IN-GAME mail with the address. All addresses will be located within the Lion’s Mane in South Qeynos, and will be the two (2) room inn rooms.

August 17: At 11:59 PM PST, contestants will lose trustee status on the homes they are decorating, and judging will begin.

August 18 - 20: Judging will run from Sunday, August 18 at 12:01 AM PST - Tuesday, August 20 at 11:59 PM PST.

August 21: Winners will be announced on Wednesday, August 21 before 11:59 PM PST.

Each contestant must submit a private message to Jazabelle on the Everquest II message boards.

Each private message must include:

  1. The contestant’s Antonia Bayle gnomish character’s full name
  2. The contestant’s main character
  3. The contestant’s main character’s server

  • All materials will be supplied to the contestants.
  • All materials must be either Tinkerfest craftables, holiday craftables except Frostfell, or common craftables.
  • Each contestant will be provided a budget of 20 platinum to be spent as they wish on rares for rare furniture or dungeon looted furniture for their home.
  • All contestants will be provided with a crafted housing expander (+100 house items) for a total of 300 item count on their home.

  • Each home must contain at least five (5) unique mousetraps built in the Rube Goldberg style
  • Each mousetrap must have a book explaining the steps to its process. Books will be provided, and will not count against contestants’ platinum allotment. 
  • Each mousetrap must have at least five (5) steps. (Example: The cheese is placed on the pressure plate. When the mouse steps on the pressure plate to eat the cheese, the thermagauge pressuredongle is triggered, which in turn spins the cog that presses the unilateral unwinder. This causes the chains holding the parrot cagerator to unwind, releasing the parrot, which eats the crackers. The crackers are keeping a weight balanced. When the weight is no longer even, the scale tips, and the mouse cagerator is lowered, caging the mouse.) The more detail to your explanation, the better! 
  • Each home must have, in addition to the five (5) mousetraps, at least two (2) other Rube Goldberg machines fit for dorm life. (Think a Norrathian style gnomish toaster, a Norrathian style gnomish Ramen maker, a Norrathian style automated quill inker for homework...) 
  • Each of the two other machines must also have five (5) steps from start to finished product. 


All eligible entries will be judged by a committee from Homes and Tomes. Judging will be based on the following criteria: one fourth (1/4) complexity of machines; one fourth (1/4) criteria (fulfillment of); one fourth (1/4) creativity; one fourth (1/4) catching of mice (machine functionality). Individual results will not be released.


The decorator with the most gnomish entry from all eligible entries will win the Cogworts School of Tinkering and Mechanomagic Grand Prize, with four (4) runner-up prizes given to the players whose entries are ranked #2 - #5.

One (1) Grand Prize: A fully decorated home of the contestant’s choice, decorated and designed by members of Homes and Tomes, and one (1) commemorative player written book with a copy of the contestant’s machine submissions.

If the winning contestant is on another server, the contestant is responsible for obtaining all materials on the manifest list, so that a member of Homes and Tomes may travel to their server and load the home’s layout for the contestant.

Four (4) Runner-Up Prizes: One (1) commemorative player written book with a copy of the contestant’s machine submissions and either one (1) Tinkerer’s Shop Essentials or one (1) Tinkerer’s Bedroom Essentials. If the contestant is on another server, the contestant is responsible for obtaining a blank notebook so that their machine submissions may be copied over into it. Alternatively, they may choose to copy the machine submissions over themselves.


All homes will have screenshots posted at the Homes and Tomes Event Forums at

A copy of the machine description books will be placed in the Norrathian Research Library, and will be provided to each of the judges in a commemorative player written book.

Any and all unspecified expenses/costs in conjunction with participation in this Contest and/or acceptance or use of a prize are a winner’s sole responsibility. In the event that a prize item is unavailable for any reason, the Cogworts School of Tinkering and Mechanomagic Build A Better Mousetrap 2013 committee reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to substitute an item of equal/greater value. Prize must be accepted as awarded and is non-transferable. No coin substitutions. Winners will have thirty (30) days to claim their prizes from the character submitted to Jazabelle as their main character. Designing of the Grand Prize will be an open palette with moderate input of the homeowner for the Homes and Tomes decorators to work from.


Winners will be contacted via in-game mail, private messaged to the contestant, and announced on the original contest thread on or before Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Sponsor will save the layout of the Grand Prize for at least sixty (60) days, and encourages the winning contestant to also save the original layout.


If/when the owner of the Grand Prize opts to publish the home on the Housing Leaderboards, the dedication player written book must be kept in a clearly visible location and if/when it reaches the Hall of Fame must donate the Housing Award to the Homes and Tomes guild hall to be showcased.

If the owner of Grand Prize is on a server other than Antonia Bayle, Homes and Tomes shall publish the Antonia Bayle version of the home under the name “Tinkerfest Home for <Contestant’s Name>” and shall place the trophy in Homes and Tomes’ guild hall to be showcased.


Jazabelle Wra’Eth and Homes and Tomes of Antonia Bayle.

*Many thanks to Anjana Icebloom, Lowgan Alv'Torea, Havanli, Narrel Blaze, Sanaki, Tajar, Talaeren, Taizhar, and Viorna Clematis for your help in modeling for this image; Darkzephyr Vierus, Kurogo Battousai, and Zhadowsee Dragonbane for your help proofreading the introduction and rules; the members of Homes and Tomes for your help putting this contest together.