The Wizardry of Shadow Hats

Forgotten Runes Shadow Hats on Bitcoin Ordinals performed a "Ritual" to inscribe 666 Shadows. Let's dive into how we did it!

The Wizardry of Shadow Hats

At long last, Forgotten Runes are launching the Shadow Hats collection on Bitcoin Ordinals. This isn't just an artistic masterpiece, it's also a technical achievement. Let's take a look under the hood(ed figures).

The "Shadows" are 666 inscriptions that originate from 10 "Shadow Hats" that appeared on Bitcoin sub 1k. These Shadows have a lot going on underneath the surface and they were brought into existence from a mysterious event we call:

"The Ritual"


When ordinals first launched in January 2023, only a few people noticed when 10 mysterious figures appeared on-chain, all in the first 1,000 inscriptions! Who inscribed these figures? What was their purpose?

These 10 "Shadow Hats" would soon participate in a ritual to summon 666 Shadows onto Bitcoin.

Let's get less fantasy and more technical

Connecting the Narrative to the Technical

When the Forgotten Runes team approached us at OrdinalHub, they knew they wanted to produce 666 inscriptions on Bitcoin that tie in with the Forgotten Runes fantasy world. They already had 10 "Shadows" inscribed very early on (indicative of how forward-thinking these guys are) and wanted to see how they could play a role in telling the story of the overall collection.

These discussions & brainstorming sessions happened back in August 2023, before the ord client had an officially recognized spec for Parent-Child (the dominant "provenance" standard). Provenance is a general term that means we can prove that Inscription B originates from Inscription A or other types of information. So the conventional parent-child mechanism wasn't on the table at the time. However there are many ways we can connect inscriptions to each other. Perhaps there is actually a more creative way to do this.

Psifour and I became friends playing Dungeon & Dragons years before he got back into Bitcoin and I discovered ordinals. In many tabletop games like D&D, there are variations of the spell "Summoning Circle". In a Summoning Circle, a wizard or group of wizards perform a ritual that summon beings: animals, spirits, fey beasts. They draw a magical circle on the ground, do their magic shit, and the summoned beings pop out.

What if we created a Summoning Circle on Bitcoin?
Magic Circles | Magic circle, Summoning circle, Spell circle
Example of a Summoning Circle, notice all the Runes embedded throughout

Network Graph

We landed on simulating a Summoning Circle by creating a "network graph" of addresses. A network graph shows connections between entities or nodes in a network. A simple network graph might look like below:

Pyvis: Visualize Interactive Network Graphs in Python | by Khuyen Tran |  Towards Data Science

You can make a network graph look however you want, including looking like a circle. We could send the 10 original Shadow Hats to 10 different addresses and create a circular network graph, or more specifically a "Decagram". We can link these Shadow Hats together in a network by sending transactions between them.

We began preparing, setting the stage with some transactions to place the Shadow Hats in their corresponding locations:

(Click for transaction link)

Once the Shadow Hats are arranged & properly mapped together, we now have a "Summoning Circle" drawn on Bitcoin. Each Shadow Hat has it's own address from which to participate in The Ritual.

The Ritual

We then began to inscribe the 666 Shadows from the network-graph-summoning-circle.

If you look at the Shadows, you'll notice each one has a "head" that looks similar to one of the Shadow Hats. You can see that all 666 Shadows have a body that corresponds to one of the Shadow Hats.

Each Shadow inscription was generated from the address that corresponds to it's Shadow Hat. So if you have a "Bear" shadow, it originated from the "Shadow Bear" Shadow Hat. Each Shadow came into being with this mechanic, performed 666 times.

The ritual took place on August 28, 2023, around blocks #805,000+. 666 Shadows were inscribed and now live forever on the Bitcoin blockchain.

The 666 numerology

The Ritual wasn't just special because of the Summoning Circle – there are several other mechanics underneath the Shadows as well.

First, all Shadows are inscribed on satoshis originating from Block 666. We were able to procure a large chunk of sats from Block 666, one of the oldest blocks dating back to just days after Bitcoin started, on January 15. For sat notation theorists, you'll also notice that the "degree notation" lines up beautifully as Block 666 is also the 666th block of that Difficulty Adjustment.

All of the Sat Numbers the Shadows are inscribed on end in the 66X range. We were able to procure such a large amount of Block 666 sats that we could split them into ranges where the sat at the first offset (the sat that the inscription is associated with) ends in the suffixes 662, 663, 664 & 665. The Sprite Sheet and the Assembly Script inscriptions both end in 666 sats.

ALSO! The "padding" or "size" of the UTXO of each Shadow is 666 satoshis. This is an impermanent added flair, but we did it because we could. It's also near the Segwit dust limit of 546, so this incurs minimal extra cost and is fun to do.

(click for transaction link)

Dynamic Assembly

The Shadows aren't simple JPEGs either. They are dynamically assembled gifs from a .js file & a sprite sheet. Last summer (and still to this day) there aren't many projects which utilize this inscription assembly method. It dramatically saves on space, fees, and adds some interesting dynamism to the collection overall.

The assembly script inscription below:

Final thoughts

Projects & teams like Forgotten Runes Shadow Hats present an incredible opportunity to unite the creative and the technical. We have barely scratched the surface for cool things we can do on Bitcoin and with inscriptions. If you would like to talk about how OrdinalHub/Luxor can help you bring your project to life, reach out to us!

This was a marathon of an inscription project and also one of Psifour & I's personal career highlights in Ordinals. Congratulations to the entire OrdinalHub team and especially to the Forgotten Runes team!