Physical Steganography
Describes a lost will/deed/key/etc. crucial to the plot that is hidden inside an object of art.
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(permanent link) added: 2014-07-19 14:29:47 sponsor: Dark_Awesome edited by: jormis29 (last reply: 2014-07-28 14:04:53)

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Steganography, as defined by The Other Wiki on this article, is the art of concealing a message, image, or file within another message, image, or file. The "physical" part comes in when said secret message is not so much coded into an image as it is literally stuffed inside.

Although this trope can apply to many situations, there are a few criteria that all must be met in order to be considered an example:

  1. The item hidden must be, in the case of video games, more important than the average loot obtained from breaking objects, like in-game currency.

  2. The item must be hidden inside a work of art. Ordinary objects don't count, however anything that is meant for decoration does, like clay pots for instance.

  3. The item must be hidden inside a work of art, not behind or under, usually (but not always) to the point where it is necessary to break the artwork open.

This is very common in certain video games, especially those that have the player destroying old, valuable artifacts on a daily basis to begin with. The most common form elsewhere is valuable legal papers or maps hidden in a picture's frame, and has even been used in real life, apparently as far back as the 1700s.

Usually involves Rewarding Vandalism, and (in video games) some aspects of Die, Chair! Die!. Always Check Behind the Chair may lead to discovering said object, though is neither necessary to do so nor directly involved with Artfully Hidden.

Examples of Artfully Hidden:

Anime & Manga
  • In one episode of the Trigun anime, the deed to an oasis is hidden in the picture frame of a crayon drawing.

Film
  • The Golden Voyage of Sinbad: After Prince Koura animates the statue of Kali, Haroun destroys it by knocking it off the top of a raised area and shattering it. In its broken remains is the third golden tablet, which both Sinbad and Koura need to complete their missions.
  • In Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights, the key to Maid Marian's chastity belt was found when Robin's locket broke.

Literature
  • Sherlock Holmes: "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" reveals that the treasure is hidden in a bust of Napoleon Bonaparte; but the criminal doesn't know which one.

Live-Action TV
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon needs a USB drive he has hidden in a puzzle box in his room and calls Penny on the phone to get it for him. He tries to explain in detail to her how to open the box. She asks if the box is valuable; when Sheldon says it isn't, she just breaks it.
  • In Breaking Bad, Walt and Jesse's stunt in which they park a giant magnet outside of a police evidence room succeeds in wiping out incriminating evidence. It also knocks over a framed picture, revealing a piece of paper behind the picture, which reveals information on a lot of Gus Fring's hidden money.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Who Mourns for Morn?" a painting is broken over Quark's head, and the painting is then shown to have contained a hidden chip which gives access to a security box of Morn's.

Video Games

In fact, every puzzle game where smashing pots is an option will undoubtedly have this, and even some that aren't puzzle games.
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