Content of the article: "Make an escape room for your players."
Thought I’d share something I’ve done for my players in the past that many really enjoyed. As a disclaimer, you should know your group and your game to decide if this is useful and if it’s something they’d enjoy.
If you’ve never been to an escape room, the basic idea is that there are clues hidden around the room that will eventually, if the puzzles are solved, enable you to escape. Each clue will lead to the next in some manner—it may open a box with the next clue, it may have a message written on it, etc.
So, in my last campaign, there was a quirky and strange wizard type in a secluded tower who would periodically offer the PCs to solve puzzles for rewards because he’s a quirky and strange wizard type and sometimes that’s what they do. In reality, it was a way for the players to get to enjoy puzzles if that’s what they wanted to do without the obligation of having to solve them to advance the story.
At the time we were playing in a garage with all the typical garage stuff lining the walls. I’d taken pictures of the various items surreptitiously and constructed clues that would lead them to some of the things throughout the room where new puzzles and answers were waiting. The players slowly accumulated four digits to open the lock on the chest containing their reward.
My players really enjoyed it and still talk about it from time to time over two years later. It’s been brought up that they’d like to do it again but we’ve since moved into our host’s kitchen and I just don’t want to send people rifling through his stuff looking for clues.
For this to work your players will have to suspend the desire for realism for a bit and forget about game mechanics. My players weren’t rolling perception checks or investigation checks, they were moving around the real world environment and using their own perception and intellectual faculties regardless of character stats. You may incorporate a mechanic to allow them to get hints based on rolls a limited number of times or (like escapes rooms do) simply give them a limited number of hints that they can request. When it was all done it was just said that they’d solved his puzzle and been rewarded because it didn’t matter what the puzzle was and we weren’t going to say that the characters were magically teleported to a 21st century garage on Earth.
If anyone has questions or suggestions about execution, let me know. I’d truly enjoy hearing how it goes if any of you try this out.
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