Themed Thursdays rolls off your tongue better than Themed Tuesdays, but I didn’t feel like waiting to make the post. Once a week, I want to post ideas and themes for hypothetical rooms. Escape rooms have gotten so popular now and people have ideas, but no venue to express them! So I’ll post ideas I have, or bring in suggestions from other reviewers, or if a reader wants to submit anything they can email me at EscapistTO@gmail.com . What woud you want to see out there?
Am I worried about people ‘stealing’ ideas? Not really! I’m not making an escape room business. If any business is inspired by anything I (or others) write and decides to up their game, so much the better.
What are the rules for this? Anything within common-sense reason is fair game. If you had a prison break theme and you wanted to hire a muscular gentleman in an orange jumpsuit to pump iron and glare menacingly at players, I would give you points for being immersive – but that doesn’t seem very practical. I don’t think its a good idea to write out and design a whole room filled with puzzles, but writing the premise and your thought process behind it might be cool.
On to my fictional room! Some people think of theme and story just as window-dressing to the puzzles. When I think about theme and design, I want theme to dictate design. I think my appreciation for this concept comes from playing boardgames. I don’t like it when theme could have been replaced just as easily with anything else. Two out of three vampire rooms I have done have included lasers. I’m not here to rag on these places, but what about vampires scream LASERS? So my very first Themed Thursday post will be on what I would try to do with vampires!
I like the Vampire theme because vampires already have a time-based component in them in their lore. They can’t survive direct sunlight; The natural theme and story would be that players have to survive for 60 minutes before daybreak, but this narrative does the very opposite of building tension.
Instead, the story of my fictional room will be that players are trapped in a room as the sun is setting. It’s dark out and vampires are trying to break into your home. As dusk approaches (60 minutes away), the vampires grow in strength until they will ultimately overwhelm your defenses! Your job is to secure your house and stay alive.. (Yes, this is more or less Fright Night)
I’ve got the story and the theme. How do I match this with mechanics?
1) I would setup the lighting to get dimmer as the game went on. It isn’t perfect, but it simulates the sunset and the ensuing dusk. It might also be interesting twist to setup puzzles that actually require an abscence of light, making them time-activated.
2) As the game goes on, the sound effects will match. It will start out as rustling, move onto animal growling, and graduate into full blown banging on all the walls. Playing with growling and loud banging all around you will be logistically difficult, which leads me the next point.
3) Players have to defend their home. It wouldn’t be practical to give them wooden boards and nails, so they will defend themselves with relics. I’d prefer to use crucifixes, but that might offend people, so other relics might be more appropriate. When you unlock a relic and put it on a wall, it will electronically turn off the sound effects and banging for that respective wall.
4) Win or lose, I will put in the same ending. The lights will turn completely off, and the banging will simultaneously come to a sudden halt. A dark hooded mannequin will drop out of a compartment in the ceiling while the room is still pitch black. Lights turn back on full force.
Hopefully screaming ensues. If you’re building tension for an hour, I’d want it to end with a exclamation mark rather than a period.
That’s my premise! I think it would be exciting. I think building tension slowly is more effective in building an immersive room than jump-scares.
What kind of room would you want to see out there?