More Potter……Pottermore

I’ve been having fun dabbling about Pottermore, an interactive  site by J. K. Rowling with a lot of material not in the seven Harry Potter books (backgrounds on characters, details, settings…), activities and experiences, and eventually sales of ebooks and audiobooks of the series.  A nice addition to complement the books.

Registration for the beta release began on 31 July  (the birthday of both Rowling and Harry Potter) for the first one million fans to complete “The Magical Quill” challenge and register. Registration was originally intended to open to all in October 2011, but now the beta period has been extended and the new opening date hasn’t been announced.  The Magical Quill challenge continued for 7 days,  each day there was a clue corresponding to a certain book in the series; with Day 1 corresponding to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Day 2 corresponding with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and so on.   We had to solve the  clue, and submit the answer to be directed to a webpage to search for the quill.  Once you found one, you were in.  Here are the clues:

  • Book 1:   How many owls are on the Eeylops Owl Emporium sign? Multiply by 49.
  • Book 2:  What is the number of the chapter in which Professor McGonagall cancels the Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff? Multiply this number by 42.
  • Book 3:  In the Gryffindor versus Slytherin Quidditch match, in Harry’s third year, how many points is Gryffindor leading by before Harry catches the Golden Snitch? Multiply this number by 35.
  • Book 4:  How many students take part in the Triwizard Tournament during Harry’s fourth year? Multiply this number by 28.
  • Book 5:  What is the house number of the Headquarters for The Order of the Phoenix in Grimmauld Place? Multiply this number by 21.
  • Book 6:  How many chapters are there in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? Multiply this number by 14.
  • Book 7:  How many Deathly Hallows are there? Multiply this number by 7.

The clues appeared at a different hour each day, to allow people in different time zones to participate fairly.  I kept missing the deadline, either my work computer blocked the clue site, or it wouldn’t work on the iPhone, or I was asleep…finally, I got it on the last day!  They sent me my congratulations email, and I was in!

Part of the registration was receiving a username.  For child safety, no personal details are allowed, the site provided 5 choices and we had to choose one.  Mine is PurpleRune149.  (How did they know purple is my colour???)    Then, from 15 August to 27 September, emails were sent out to allow us to enter the site.  They had to let in only a few at a time, so that the site wouldn’t crash from one million testers joining at once.  Even so, there have been a few bugs and down time.  But it’s being improved all the time, which is, of course, the purpose of beta testing!

What do we do at Pottermore?  We follow the books (well, so far just the first book) chapter by chapter, through “moments” in which there is interesting new material (some of which has to be unlocked), or items and coins to find and collect – I’ve found 11 Chocolate Frog cards … you also have to buy school supplies in all the different shops in Diagon Alley (after you’ve visited your vault at Gringott’s, of course), and once you’re sorted into your house by the Sorting Hat anything you collect can earn you House points.  Notifications come by owl, naturally.

My wand – wands choose you after a series of questions – is pine wood with a Unicorn core, 10 inches, quite bendy.  (Each of these characteristics has its significance, which is fully explained by Rowling on the site.)   The Sorting Hat also bases its decision on a series of questions… and I was sorted into HufflePuff!   I was quite taken aback, since I’ve always fancied myself a Gryffindor sorta person.  But never mind, badgers are cool, our common room is awesome, and besides, Cedric was a Hufflepuff, and so was Tonks.   We’re behind in the House Cup (shown by the gem hourglasses in the Great Hall), but morale is still high.  I understand some folks were quite disappointed to be sorted to HufflePuff, and simply closed their accounts.  Their loss.

The best way to earn House points, besides finding items along the way, is brewing potions and winning wizard duels.   There have been some glitches with the duels, dueling has been down for most of the beta period so far, although one can still practice spells.  Potions are fun, and not so easy!  The potion can fail by adding the wrong amount of an ingredient, leaving it to brew for too long, not keeping the temperature within the range, crushing things too finely or not finely enough and causing the cauldron to explode.  (Ahem…in my practice runs I melted quite a few cauldrons….but I finally got the knack of it.)

Of course, there is quite a bit of chatter about Pottermore over in the Harry Potter group on Ravelry, and we’ve been friending each other on Pottermore according to our usernames.  (You can see where your friends are in the chapters, how many House points they’ve earned, etc…)

There’s also a whole bunch of behind the scenes info and announcements over in the official Pottermore blog.  And the blog can be followed on Twitter as another way to stay informed.

The site will be down for a few days beginning tomorrow, to make technical changes and upgrades based on beta feedback.    I hope that more books will be available to explore soon, I’ve gone through the first book a couple of times already!  And I hope that with the upgrades, registration will be open to everyone quickly.

If you’re already on Pottermore, send me a friend request!  And if you’re not (yet),  hope to see you there soon!

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