I am sure you must have heard some short introduction before entering the escape room, but this is much more than that. If you want to plan a party at home, you need to have a complete story with start, middle and the final goal. Because, believe me, however good your execution part is, the puzzles and surroundings will never be at par with the professional escape rooms. But don’t lose heart. This will be as much fun in planning as well as playing.
The following points need to be kept in mind while writing your story.
- Who will be playing the game? Tweens, teens or adults. Plan your story keeping the audience in mind. 8 year olds would not want to enter a bank vault to find some important documents. Pirates or dinosaurs would be more appealing to them.
- Length of the game? It should not be more than 45-60 min as the puzzles become repetitive and frustrating and the kids get bored.
- Overall flavour of the story? Let your imagination go wild. Try to remember any sci-fi or horror movie which appealed to you. If this is your first DIY game, keep the story simple. More complexity means more points of confusion. Kids will enjoy ‘saving the world’ and adults enjoy ‘hacking the computer to steal files’ kind of themes. You can just use some stickers to convert a pole into a lightsaber.
- Decide a goal . Without a goal, kids won’t know what they are trying to get. It will lose the essence of escaping the room. ‘Solve the murder’, ‘find the ruby’, ‘escape from time’, ‘break into a bank vault’ etc etc.
- What catastrophe can happen if you don’t win? “Can’t repair the time machine? Get trapped in the past’ or ‘Failed to find the secret plans? Get shot by the bandits’ or ‘did not find the treasure? Don’t worry the pirates will find that for you’ and so on. Got the message?
- Identity of the players. The players can be themselves or you can give them an identity. Like they can be archeologists, detectives, scientists, spies, fairies etc.
- Identify the basic building blocks. This forms the middle of the story which will be converted to puzzles later. There can be 3-4 middle tasks. The task will be identified as follows
In order to [accomplish this]
- [do this] this will be a puzzle or a physical activity
- [do this]
- And [do this]
You can check out my escape story to understand this point.
- Choose real world objects to put in room. For example in ‘Lost in time’ I had 2 rooms. One room had future (robots, time machine, cars, laser maze, locks) and other room had past (dinosaurs, animals, volcano, bonfire etc.).
- Attach these objects to puzzles directly. And YAY!! You have finalised your story.
Don’t worry, you can edit your story line as you go along with your puzzle.
Now, here are some ideas which you can take forward along with your imagination.
GO WILD BABY..
It was just another weekend, when you got a message from a friend . His scientist uncle had created a time machine and wanted you all to see it. You got excited and went to his place. You sat in the machine and started pressing the buttons. But little did you know that the time machine had not been tested yet.You all are now stranded in the future. The robots are alive and think that you are a danger to them. You just have ONE HOUR to repair the machine and get back home safe in the year 2020. Failed? Prepare yourselves to be a slave to these robots FOREVER.
2. Zombie Holiday
Your school planned a trip. You begged your parents to go with your classmates. “It will be the holiday of a lifetime” you pleaded. Your parents caved in. You and your classmates went to the hotel all happy and beaming. But there is something strange about this hotel. It is dark and all the curtains are drawn down. The receptionist seemed strange. You have seen the look somewhere. Oh no!! You remember the movie Zombie apocalypse. Now you have to save yourself and your friends and climb down this 12 storey building. Or else….
3. Evil Kenevil’s Plan
You are a well known detective and people hire you to solve murder mysteries. But one day you get a call from the president. This is unexpected! There are some secret government files which went missing. And fingers are being pointed to the super villain Evil Kenevil. Now you must break into his secret lair, destroy his evil plan, rescue the files before the alarm rings and whatever is lurking behind the door, gets in. All the best.
4. Civil War
You believed in the Government. You believed in democracy. So you enrolled to work for the Prime Minister. But, one day you come across a file labeled World Antimatter Rebellion (W.A.R). Is it possible that the government is trying to remove half the population? You must stop this. Break into their secure facility, retrieve this antimatter and blow away their lab. Unless you want to be one of those getting removed. Come on! Revolt!!
5. Hijacked !!
You are going to your friend’s place for Diwali. On a plane. But little did you know, there are some anti national elements on board. The person sitting beside you has a gun concealed in his pocket. You can’t scream! The airhostess is in the cabin with the pilot. You have very little time to go to the pilot and inform them. Or find some parachutes and jump out.
6. Frankenstein’s Little Brother
You are a scientist. A budding scientist. And you want to work with one of the masterminds.. Dr. Frankenstein himself. So you write to him requesting to make you his apprentice. And you get a reply confirming his yes. You are over the moon. But when you reach there..you find out that you have been hired as his younger brother’s teacher. The doctor you so wanted to meet is nowhere to be seen. To make matters worse, you have noticed a huge terrifying creature lurking in the garden. Now you have to race against time to protect young Frankenstein before something terrible befalls him.
7. Prison Escape
The last heist went bad. Real bad. You don’t know which of your friends tattled to the police. Now you are in an underground cell with no food, no water and no window. There is no one to listen to your side of the story. You hear a gunshot and a scream. Now you have just one hour to escape from this prison before someone comes looking for you. Break out or get broken!!
8. Virus Vampire
Do you have any superpower? No? Don’t worry.. This virus doesn’t need physical combat. You just need great teamwork and good brainwork. A hacker named ‘Virus vampire’ has put a virus in the world’s greatest economy software. Can your crew of coders hack into his computer and stop the virus before it’s too late?
You are out on a stroll with your pet dog ‘Comet’. Comet sees an ice cream van and starts running after it. You run after him holding his leash and flying in the air.
You turn around the corner and you can’t see comet. Not even the ice cream van. Vanished ? or kidnapped.. ? you remember this morning’s news about some pet snatcher group roaming freely. It’s up to you to follow the clues and rescue comet or else you won’t see your pet again.
10. Library mystery
You frequent a neighbourhood library. The librarian there adores you and you also like her. One day after school, you go to the library and find the library in a mess. The librarian is nowhere to be seen. All the books are on the wrong shelves. The catalog table is in a mess. You start rearranging them. Wait.. is there some kind of message in this mess? You have to race against time to find out what it is and rescue Mrs. Pal.
11. Find your hotel
You and your friends make a plan to visit scotland. One of your friends is a gamer and he plans a live game. So he tells you all to meet at the destination. But he doesn’t tell you the hotel name. Nobody’s phone is working. The one who reaches the hotel first by finding the clues in the emails you exchanged in your group, will stay in the hotel at the expense of the person who reaches last? Are you willing to pay for somebody else’s leisure?
12. Birthday conundrum
You are a working person. But you decided to throw a birthday party for your friend at your home. Despite being overloaded with work. You plan a meticulous treasure hunt just like ‘pirates of carribean’ theme. The party begins. Your friend cuts his/her cake. Suddenly light goes out. You start the generator. But your friend is gone. You see a car whizzing away outside. Now you have to run.. For your friend’s life.
13. Disney studio
You have been in love with disney movies since you were 2 years old. So you were over the moon when you received 5 free tickets to visit disneyland in New York for a week. You called your friends and reached there. But something feels strange. Mickey’s eyes are blood red. Donald is not quacking. Cinderella and Woody from Toy Story are nowhere to be seen. What is happening. You have to find out and quick.. Before this whole park comes to a halt.
You started playing a board game with your friends. This board game is called “jungala’. But as soon as you started playing, you got sucked into the forest shown on the cover of Jungala. What is happening? This is a vicious forest full of snakes, elephants, tigers and what not. Now you have to form a great team and complete the game to get out alive or else be the food to one of the animals.
This is the year 4210 A.D. The machines are alive and are showing human-like emotions. Initially humans and machines lived at peace but now, it seems like they are getting jealous of humans and want to destroy them. You have to go to the epicentre of a robot factory and destroy the artificial intelligence from the core. Or get destroyed yourself.
If all this planning is too much for you, you can simply search and buy escape room kits online. The only drawback is they are all on printed cardboard and cant be used as props. But then again, that’s what’s imagination is for.
Good luck.. Have a blast.