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Class 5 - Building the Adventure

Once you have your skeleton (theme and storyline), it is time to put flesh on it: the tasks and obstacles your guests must overcome to achieve their goal. Simply imagine a movie that would epitomize your theme. What would absolutely HAVE to be present in the movie to make it true to the theme (or the movie itself, if you chose a specific movie as your theme)?

In Nosferatu, my brother and I made a list of things we felt the guests must experience to walk away from the event with the solid feeling that they had just experienced an adventure battling vampires. We came up with the following:

Meeting a Head Vampire (one that controls the others)
Defeating this Head Vampire as the climax
Meeting a character that has been bitten by a vampire
Exploring a graveyard
Consulting a priest
Visiting Transylvania
Being chased by vampires
Discovering a cure for vampire transformation
Translating some Latin text.

You need to create a list like this with your theme. Notice I did not use nouns, but verbs. I never mentioned blood, fangs, or bats. These are not actions, although they are great for building the mood. The actions are what will lead your guests on their mission.


To further illustrate, in Nosferatu we needed to come up with an overall experience wherein our guests could live out all the above-mentioned actions (as many as we could, that is). We set up the warehouse (we were hired by a Sam's Club) like a small town in Transylvania (equipped with road signs, the works). Certain parts were sectioned off with black tarp. We explained that each team of four would have to enter this 'small town', complete three thoroughly explained tasks, confront the head vampire in his lair, and then return to the dining area. We told them that vampires had plagued the town for decades and the only survivors left in town are in hiding. The three tasks were to find out the following:

1. How to keep from falling under the hypnotic spell of the Head Vampire (Luther).
2. How to steal the power away from Luther
3. How to escape from his lair once you have done the above.

Sure enough, there were characters in town that knew the above information, but they were difficult to find and did not readily talk without a favor or two being performed for them. For instance, one female character had been bitten by a vampire and laid sick in bed. The doctor, a character I had stationed with the sick person volunteer, said he needed certain items to make a serum in order to combat the vampire transformation. This same girl was inside Luther's lair when she was bitten and somehow escaped through a secret exit. She agreed to tell the team where the secret exit was if they would gather the items on her list (one of the items called for exploring a graveyard - remember from our list of actions?).

As you lay out your actions, you want a balance between those that the teams are specifically told to do (i.e. find Luther's lair, discover a secret exit) with ones that they discover on their own as they work through their mission (i.e. retrieving the items for the sick girl). This creates a feeling of self-accomplishment as they use their problem solving skills to move ahead in the adventure. You see, as I initiated the Quest, I told them that they had to enter the town and that they had three goals…how they achieved those goals was up to them. Now, you can probably guess that there was only one way to find out certain information, but it was not perceived this way by the teams. It was up to the team to find the woman. They were the ones that thought of befriending her. They were the ones that found out that Luther himself had bitten her and that she had been in his lair. Their questions led to her asking them the favor. They earned the information. Make sense?

Do your best to make sure that you have a strong variety in the activities you choose. For instance, with the pirate theme, it might get monotonous if your actions were finding a map, finding a cannonball, and then finding the treasure. Instead, maybe have them gamble with a pirate, steal some deeds from a colonist, and then hire a crew to sail for an island. Get the idea?

Continue the course with
Class 6: The Climax.