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Class 2 - Where Do You Begin

"It's always best to start at the beginning." - Glinda the Good Witch (The Wizard of Oz)

"Start at the beginning"

"Yes, and when you get to the end, stop." - The March Hare and the Mad Hatter (Alice in Wonderland)

Who could argue with such wisdom?

In the past, when I've been hired by clients to set up a Quest, it's typically not until the actual event that they truly understand what it is that they've paid for. No amount of photographs or slide presentations can fully illustrate a Quest because we're talking about an experience. If I've done my job well, the participants forget that what they are going through isn't real…they get absorbed into the world I create and find that it's a LOT of fun!
So…what IS a Quest? Well, the best definition I can provide at the onset is this:

Quest: noun. A fabricated experience designed for the sole purpose of providing someone with an as true to life adventure as possible within the constraints of the theme and resources. This is constructed and executed using any number of tools including (but not limited to) live characters, mail and email, phone calls, storylines and physical activities.
"So it's like a treasure hunt?"

Well, that depends on whether or not you WANT it to be a treasure hunt. One of the very first steps in creating a Quest for someone else is that you must come up with the goal for the participant(s). Will they be searching for pirate's treasure? Trying to recover a lost Aztec idol? Those sound like a lot of fun…but let's think beyond that for moment…Why not have them break someone out of jail? Or maybe hunt down an actual vampire?


In a Quest, I attempt to create an adventure through recreating a theme, that's usually, but not always, historical. For example, if I were designing a pirate quest, I would put the teams smack dab in the middle of an actual pirate town with stage props, lighting, sound effects and live characters walking around. The players would need to actually place themselves mentally in that environment in order to move along in their adventure. By speaking to different characters, they would learn as a team of some great adventure just waiting to be undertaken. Perhaps they would hear of a woman who had been kidnapped, or of a treasure that is waiting to be found. No matter the goal, the teams would actually move throughout the physical world I have created (however elaborate due to budget, or sometimes lack thereof).

"I don't know…this sounds a lot like one of those Live Role Playing games where everyone gets in costume and pretends…"

Although Live Role Playing can be a blast for those that enjoy that game format and experience, Quests are very different in two major ways. The most significant difference is that the experience requires the participant(s) to be THEMSELVES. True, you could absolutely set up a Quest within a Live Role Playing game campaign (for allof you LARPers reading this) where the participants are experiencing the adventure within character. However, one could argue that Quests are just as much fun, if not more, to play as YOURSELF. It's a REAL test to see if YOU have what it takes to be a spy, archeological adventurer, etc.

The second major difference is that the entire experience is fully designed and scripted from beginning to end…but NOT for the person ON the Quest. The illusion is that the adventure is organically happening. The careful, behind the scenes planning allow for elaborate storylines, narrow escapes and intricate plots connected to real problem solving that you just can't accomplish if everyone was 'improvising as they went along.'

As I describe details for designing a Quest, I'll be referring to two different large scale Quests that we designed through my adventure company Quest Experiences: The Search for the Holy Grail and Nosferatu.

In a quest we designed for Halloween, entitled Nosferatu, the guests traveled through the streets of Crimson Hollow, a fictitious Transylvanian town we imagined. They literally ran from vampires as they searched for the town's few survivors in hopes of learning how to overcome Luther, the Head Vampire. They met a priest in a church, collected some bones from an old graveyard, and even plucked some fur off of a sleeping werewolf!

In In Search of the Holy Grail, guests worked together to reclaim the infamous chalice for Camelot. They traveled throughout my own English countryside facing wizards, knights, and even King Arthur himself as they raced against time to be the first team to recover the Holy Grail.

One might guess that these were all for children's parties, right? Wrong. In fact, 90% of the quests produced through Quest Experiences have been EXCLUSIVELY for adults (18-60 years old).

So, how do you get started?

Indulge me for a minute. I promise it will not hurt, much. I want you to remember a time (usually after reading a great book or seeing an exciting movie) when you wished you could have been one of the characters. Have you always wanted to be a knight and rescue a princess from a dragon? Perhaps steal secret foreign plans to avoid a third world war? Ever want to be Indiana Jones or perhaps a Jedi Knight in Star Wars?

I will wait while you do this.


Okay, do you have your character? Good. If not, well lie and tell me you do. Chances are that if you felt inspired to be that character, then others have as well and the movie makers and/or writers did his/her job. Through your Quests, you are going to give your guest(s) an opportunity to live out an exciting adventure. How are you going to do that? I'm glad you asked.

Continue the course with Class 3: Themes and Storylines.