Hi there! I’m Chris! But I go by “The Architect!” (Started off as a joke and now it’s on my business card)

I have a business called Constructed Adventures. People hire me to build out seemingly serendipitous perfect days and wild treasure/Scavenger hunts for special occasions.


For the past 7 holiday seasons, I signed up for the Reddit Secret Santa holiday exchange (RIP) and flew out to their location to send my giftee on an adventure. Here they are:

2021 - The Arbiter of Benevolence

2020 - The Tavern Restored

2019 - The Queen of the Norse

2018 - The Archer Princess and the Cactus pin

2017 - The Wolf and the Owl go Bird Hunting

2016 - The Great Sock Adventure

2015 - The Royal Scotsman

Let me inspire and help you to build a fun Adventure for a loved one. I can also steer you in the right direction to make sure you avoid many of the common mistakes. If you hop over to my subreddit r/ConstructedAdventures you can see some of the awesome Adventures that others have created! There’s also a great Discord community dedicated to the puzzly side of things! (Not all Adventures need puzzles, but they can certainly add some depth!)

Here is my starting guide to building an Adventure

That aside, I'm an open book! Feel free to ask me about business, travel, awesome moments, big mishaps, and anything in between!

EDIT: I should have mentioned that if you're hoping to build an Adventure for a loved one, Give me the parameters you're working with in a comment and I'll see if I can't give you Advice/ideas!

EDIT 2: I'll get to every single question. I just like to be thorough. If I haven't answered yet, never fear!

EDIT 3: I was serious when I said i'd answer every question! Keep em coming!

EDIT 4: ok guys and gals. Going to give my brain a break for a bit and go take a walk. I'll be back in a bit to answer any more questions!


EDIT 6: Ok everyone. It's been 12 and a half hours. It's been a blast! I'm going to go shut my brain off for a while. I'll hop back on tomorrow and answer other questions! Cheers!

EDIT 7: Back on! Answering any questions that popped up over night!

Comments: 393 • Responses: 102  • Date: 

funkboxing295 karma

If you could partner with a space tourism company and create a lunar\martian treasure hunt with unlimited budget, what would the big treasure at the end be?

squeakysqueakysqueak323 karma

Holy shit what an awesome question.

Here's the tricky thing I occasionally run into with bigger budgets. What do you do for someone who already has anything they want? If you can get to space, you can pretty much have any treasure. With all that said, I think I'd want to make the treasure some kind of gag. The real excitement is going into space. Hard to top that!

But going to space and then finding some base on mars with an elaborate chest containing a Smirnoff ice or something would be just so incredibly stupid that you can't help but laugh. (fun fact, I have been hired to do the most elaborate icing of all time. Took all day, all around the city to open a locked chest and ended with a giant bottle and a surprise party)

I'm going to give the best answer I can and then circle back once I've had more time to think about it.

EDIT: Circling back around to try to come up with another answer. one idea is to create a game where They find rare/valuable artifacts from different parts of the earth. They have all the locations but must communicate with teams on the ground to locate them. However, there would HAVE to be something that only the space ship could see. Maybe put a super powerful telescope on board.

funkboxing135 karma

lol- Smirnoff ice is a great answer. Would be fun to work that into a storyline where some advanced civilization identifies Smirnoff as humanities greatest achievement and sets up some elaborate contest to find the most capable humans, but their reward is just Smirnoff.

Alternatively a good treasure would be the number 42 scrawled on a post-it note and\or the phrase "We Apologize for the Inconvenience"

squeakysqueakysqueak92 karma

ok your answer is WAY better than mine.

Tying in Hitchhiker's guide is brilliance.

I also love your smirnoff idea. however it's never overtly stated until the very very ends

CthulubeFlavorcube38 karma

Straight up just a clown in a box. Like....a really cheap one. With a note that says "Now the real quest begins. How do you plan on making it back?" Cue giant firework that looks like their spacecraft that takes off in the distance and explodes.

squeakysqueakysqueak24 karma

lololol perfect. You're hired!

ausmidnight7 karma

Thats interesting. Reminds me of One Piece, the kind of the pirates reaches the fabled “One Piece” treasure, and the only thing they show is him and his crew laughing once they see it. It’d be funny to see an astronaut spend years training and all that effort to find a pokemon card or a mug. And the hilarity that would ensue.

squeakysqueakysqueak48 karma

When I consult with clients who build these for loved ones, I always tell them "The ending doesn't have to be climactic, but it does need to be meaningful"

I had one woman who sent her husband on a really great Adventure all around the city. It ended with him getting to an Air B&B. She was waiting, and she had a copy of the movie "Interstellar."

As it turns out, he saw it liked it, and it had been kind of an inside joke that he was always pestering her to watch it.

5 years and one grand adventure later, she finally agreed to watch it with him.

Those kinds of endings are fantastic IMO

PAdogooder3 karma

This is very good. I like the way you think.

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Thanks friend!

I appreciate you!

SpruceSpunk167 karma

This is amazing!! I had no idea you existed! I love creating treasure hunts for my friends I can’t wait to be inspired by you! Do you need an apprentice?

squeakysqueakysqueak207 karma

DUUUUUUUUDE YOU would fit in so well in the Constructed Adventures communities!

I would LOVE to read a recap of your hunts on my subreddit.

Real talk, if you're ever interested in trying to turn it into a business. I'm happy to hop on a call and steer you in the right direction. I've worked with quite a few folks who are working to start similar business.

either way, you'll fit great in the community!

SpruceSpunk89 karma

They are nothing compared to what you do. Mostly just walking ones around the city we live in using lots of rhyming riddles, jigsaws, maps and our friends popping out a long the way. The treasure is almost always a bar at the end! I’m so excited to read about what you do and am joining alllll the communities. I feel so inspired it’s amazing :D I’m deffo gonna be more ballsy and ask people in shops /bars / restaurants to help out by holding onto clues (usually I text/am with them). Do you find people are generally happy to be clue givers?

squeakysqueakysqueak161 karma

Don't you DARE sell yourself short!

We all start somewhere and from the sound of it, you've created some amazing moments! I strongly recommend getting more ballsy, more often than not it'll work great and you'll create an awesome memory.

I'll never forget the first time I went to a restaurant to ask them to take part. I was SO NERVOUS. As I was explaining what I was hoping to do, I saw a smile start to creep across the face of the manager. They love it!

I would say the VAST majority of people you talk to would love to be on the inside of one of these. It's really fun!

SpruceSpunk38 karma

Thank you so much! I’m currently in the midsts of planning one for a friends birthday and am gonna really go for it, she’s gonna love it. Thank you again for being so kind and inspiring :)

squeakysqueakysqueak25 karma

Can't wait to hear how it goes!

Smart-Plantain-4699124 karma

Are your family members really suspicious when they open gifts from you?

squeakysqueakysqueak243 karma

God I love this question.

Yes and no. As a rule, I always try to give people something they want.

But I can give you a great example. I have a twin brother. In February 2021 for our birthday, we "agreed" to not give each other gifts.

Anyway, his birthday rolled around and he met up with a friend to draw in their sketch books in the park (He's a professional artist). His friend walks up and gives him an envelope with this message plus more instructions.

He spent the whole day being taken to different outdoor socially distanced locations (Pandemic was still raging) where one of his artist friends was waiting with a beer. They hung out, the friend drew a portrait of my brother, and somewhere in the picture was instructions to find the next location. It all ended with him getting home and I'd put together a video of 30 second clips of all his friends and family from afar wishing him happy birthday.

He was both parts elated and pissed that he didnt get me a gift.

worth it.

EDIT: Formatted and added more to the story

Amriorda51 karma

This is wholesome and funny as fuck.

squeakysqueakysqueak54 karma

Yeah it was really fun to try to put together. I managed to do it remotely. Thanks to his girlfriend and great group of friends. Everyone did a spectacular job!

andygates232388 karma

Do you do anything for regular people, or is this fancy holiday planning for the super rich?

squeakysqueakysqueak201 karma

This is the ultimate paradox that I grapple with.

For the most part, super rich people are kinda miserable to work with. They're picky and NEVER impressed with anything (At least from my experience)

However, bigger budgets make it easier to work!

My sweet spot is "Normal person who has a huge occasion (marriage proposal, decade birthday, etc) and has saved.

I always try to work with clients to keep the budget down. In many cities, I have a friend I can stay with or I borrow a car.

Happy to elaborate!

usedatomictoaster70 karma

Do you play the Indiana Jones theme song when you travel?

squeakysqueakysqueak116 karma

It's pretty much on rotation everywhere I go.

Jokes aside, Adventure days are crazy hectic and stressful. But I always listen to the same song before each Adventure and the same song after:

My pregame hype song - "The Trooper" by Iron Maiden

My Post Adventure song - "Victorious" by Panic! At the Disco

Podo1320 karma

Great pregame hype song choice. The intro riff gets me fucking pumped every time.

squeakysqueakysqueak21 karma


I was listening to it right before I started the AMA. It helped to turn my nervousness into excitement! That song slaps.

Podo135 karma

For sure. That and The Fallen Angel are also what I use to get amped. They both work every time.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

Oh snap I'm listening to it now. It's a banger.

ItsBinissTime4 karma

Mine is Spy Break - Propeller Heads. It makes me feel like I can run up a wall.

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

This song reminds me of how incredible The Matrix was.

and how bad the new version is....

ItsBinissTime4 karma

I once read a story about the director on Tombstone confessing to Kurt Russel that he had no idea what he was doing. So Russel stepped in and did all the away from camera director's work, and kept it a secret for as long as he could.

I'm convinced that someday we'll hear that The Matrix was really made by someone else, behind the scenes, since none of the sequels seem to be made by anyone capable of making the first one.

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

I like how the beginning of the new matrix was basically them saying to the audience " We're sorry. We have to make this because Warner bros is forcing us to"

Sums it up nicely

Blips-n-Chitz64 karma

What is the most memorable reaction you've received when trying to explain to someone what you do?

squeakysqueakysqueak136 karma

Such a fun question!

Reactions range far and wide. Most people are pretty hyped about it and have a billion questions.

Some people think it's silly (Can't blame them. What I do is pretty weird)

One time i had someone who loved the idea so much, they kept introducing me to other people and saying "ASK HIM WHAT HE DOES FOR A LIVING!" And then they would awkwardly ask and i would awkwardly respond. That continued for a while.

OVK-Kumquat47 karma

the best reaction was hands down

"Get out of our country"

Blips-n-Chitz29 karma

Ah yes, the Canadian Scandal

squeakysqueakysqueak47 karma

Lol yes. that time i got deported from Canada.

WILDLY stressful at the time. Pretty funny now.

AlcaDotS3 karma

Where would I read more about this?

squeakysqueakysqueak13 karma

Lol about me getting deported?

I recently did an interview on the Reality Escape Podcast and talked about it at the Very end. Its more boring than it sounds.

In short, I took a job in canada and didn't get a work visa. Turns out I was on the absolute razors edge of acceptability. In my effort to explain what I do, I told them I'm "kinda like a wedding planner" and they assumed that my client could have just hired a canadian.

AlcaDotS5 karma

Owwww, that sounds unfortunate. I'll check out the podcast!

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

Its a great podcast. They interviewed NPH. I had a wonderful time with them

OVK-Kumquat49 karma

What are some of the best ways to balance fun and difficulty?

squeakysqueakysqueak94 karma

My absolute golden rule ESPECIALLY for your first adventure is to err on the side of making things too clear and too easy vs tricky/vague.

This goes triple if there is a ticking clock on the day (proposal, surprise party, etc)

One of my favorite tricks is to overtly tell players where to go, then have them figure out what to do once they arrive while they're in transit. This cuts down on the time and fills up the empty travel space with an activity.

Normally I like to keep players moving forward at all times. But you can take stationary periods as a way to ramp up challenge (They need to spend 45 minutes eating anyway)

aphra249 karma

I’ve been following you for a while now and when people ask me what my dream job is, I say yours!

Q: Is there a totally wild, totally epic, totally “this is crazy, but I think I could do it” adventure/idea you’ve got that you’re saving for the right client? Or do you find that most clients are a bit wild themselves and you’re able to play/create/dream big with them?

squeakysqueakysqueak74 karma

Hey there!

You can totally do what I do! There's PLENTY of space for everyone! I've actually worked with a few people to launch similar businesses. Message me if you're interested and I'm happy to hop on a chat with you to give you all the lessons I've learned.

I definitely have a few "bucket list" ideas for the business. But as you said, it depends on a three big parameters:

  1. Client
  2. Budget
  3. Accessibility

I'v always wanted to give a player plane tickets and then have them intercepted mid-flight with something they need to figure out before they land. IT WOULD BE SOOOOO COOL

There are a lot of hurdles with this. Namely laws and regulations. I would really really really want permission from the airline and the flight staff to be aware. As you could imagine, if an air marshal sees a random passenger handing an envelope/package off to another customer could raise suspicion.

aphra230 karma

Yoooo I LOVE that idea. If you wanna pull this off on a future Canadian adventure, I have connections who could get you chats with higher-ups at two airlines!

I’ll definitely reach out to pick your brain. Thanks for the kind offer!

squeakysqueakysqueak51 karma

Fun Fact: I got deported from Canada!

Turns out their work Visa laws are VERY strict and I learned a BIG lesson. I would love to have someone in Canada that I can refer people to!

Sammy5141545 karma

I’m thinking of making an adventure in a box that could be sold to parents and kids. Would buying items from other businesses (like Masterlock, or something handmade from a smaller business) and putting them in there get me into trouble, from a business standpoint? I’m crafty but I don’t know how to make locks and cryptexes yet.

Also, do you have a favorite puzzle/adventure you’ve ever engineered? If so, why was it your favorite?

squeakysqueakysqueak49 karma

Ohhhhhh this is a good question that might be a little out of my depth.

My thought is that you should be just fine. There are plenty of people that buy stuff in bulk and then resell it at a markup. Whats the difference with you including it in a prebuilt game?

Strongly recommend looking a wholesaling in bulk! Keep in touch about your game! There are some amazing people creating the boxed puzzle games!

Backslash201743 karma

How do you know when to give someone help to solve a puzzle, and do you build hints into them?

I proposed to my girlfriend via a cryptex that had its combination in a fill in the blank quiz, but my quiz backfired because she guessed the answers wrong. My (thankfully placed) backup hint was in a tear-off label on the box that had a QR code for a recorded message that gave her the right numbers, but she didn't find that until I pointed it out to her.

And also... do you have a mailing list for accomplices in various cities, or do you bring a crew with you when you do this for people?

squeakysqueakysqueak57 karma

Oooo yeah this is the biggest problem I see from creators. We ALWAYS make the puzzles too hard.

To us, we've been thinking about the moment for so long that we start to assume that everything is too easy. We've worked it out in our heads over and over and now we're worried they'll get it too quickly or it wont be fun.

I always try to make things easier rather than hard. In my opinion, the true star of the show for the player is "Not knowing what's happening next"

I do have a list you can sign up on! Its the google form at the top of this page (I'd link the form but I already had a post removed here for linking a google doc. I think It's not allowed). When I'm traveling somewhere, I look at that list and find anyone in the area and reach out to see if they want to help! I pay of course.

Backslash201724 karma

I had a couple of accomplices to help walk me through it -- they helped a good deal to simplify the whole process, and one of them recorded the emergency solution behind the QR code.

I had that experience of her not having fun! "We" had had the quiz all afternoon while doing a car rallye, but I didn't hand her the cryptex until the very end when we'd turned in our scoresheets. "Oh no, another puzzle?" she said, sounding tired, and I was worried I'd ruined the moment.

But then she solved the cryptex with the suspiciously personal answer, and popped it open, and ... she didn't notice the ring was in the top half. And then when I pointed it out, she realized what was happening, and I had my speech ready....

So the key here is less about solving the puzzle and more about sending them on to the next station. Got it.

Also, after checking out the link... you and your company were my inspiration for the proposal -- I recognize the site from an article I read awhile back. :) Thank you for doing what you do! I am signing up to help out!

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

Oh no way! So happy I could inspire!

Backslash201710 karma

Among other things, I'm an Amazing Race fan, thanks to my mom. So this sort of puzzle event appeals to my adventuring spirit. And I had been thinking about hiring you to work on my proposal -- but then the pandemic hit and all the plans went out the window. So you might get a call for a future anniversary if nothing else... :)

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma


The pandemic SUCKED.

regardless of whether or not you want to hire me, stay in touch! I would love to see what you create next!

Backslash20176 karma

Hah, that's a part of why I signed up to help you out -- I want to see what -you- do next and maybe be a part of it. ;)

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

where are you located? These are the places I'm going in the next year so far:

  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Philadelphia PA
  • Oakland, CA
  • Redondo Beach, CA
  • Knoxville, TN
  • NYC, NY
  • Seattle, WA
  • St. Augustine, FL
  • Some tropical country with a beach (haven't decided yet)
  • Scotland (could still change. Its a year out)

ChrispyK36 karma

When digging a hole to bury my pirate treasure, how deep should I dig? I don't want the weather to wash away the topsoil and expose my chest, but my back isn't what it used to be, and I can't dig all day.

squeakysqueakysqueak56 karma

The first question you need to ask yourself is "How much do i hate the person who will be doing the hunt?"

If the answer is "A lot" then you;re better off hiring an excavator.

Also, maybe you're starting a new gardening project and need to dig up your backyard. Just bury it deep and give your kids super vague hints as to it's whereabouts.

Lanxy23 karma

shit, this reminds me of at least two time capsules me and my friends/boyscouts burried somewhere! I have no chance of finding them anymore, damn!

squeakysqueakysqueak16 karma

Time to bury some new ones!!

BreachyJoe31 karma

A bear fights a shark. The water is deep enough for the shark to swim freely, but shallow enough for the bear to maneouvre well.

Who wins?

squeakysqueakysqueak49 karma

Asking the real questions.

So much of it depends on the type of bear and shark.

But let's say for sake of argument its a grizzly and great white. same size.

I believe it would be an epic battle. Sharky would get the first shot in. Going for the leg of FuzzyWuzzy. He might get a bite or two in before FuzzyWuzzy dug his claws and teeth in. Once FuzzyWuzzy takes off a fin, sharky can't maneuver anymore. Even if FuzzyWuzzy loses a limb, he can still manuver. Apparently bears can survive without a limb.

I say the bear wins


paramedic-tim13 karma

Bear would definitely win. He has the high ground advantage

Blips-n-Chitz6 karma

Asking the real questions over here.

squeakysqueakysqueak10 karma

Right? So much better than the 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck question

Alwayslookin4shrooms29 karma

Do the people you get to play along and help provide clues usually volunteer their time and efforts or are they compensated for their efforts?

squeakysqueakysqueak72 karma

Everyone gets paid. Even when they try to refuse.

I charge a flat rate for my Adventures and then there is a budget that covers the cost of everyone else.

I usually pay $20-$25/hr for people to help. I also compensate for milage if they drive.

It's important that people get paid a good amount of money for many reasons:

  1. Its the right thing to do
  2. If i have someone helping me, they're a lynchpin in the Adventure day. I want them motivated. Not only is it fun but they get paid well

NearSightedGiraffe7 karma

Very late to the party- but how do you find people to work for you in cities you don't usually work in?

squeakysqueakysqueak14 karma

Never too late!

I have a form on my website. Fill it out and if I'm in your area I might reach out!

I also have a group I call The Agency. The Agency is made up of some of the most active Adventure builders and puzzlemakers in my community. I bring them in when working on big projects or need extra input with a consultation client! They also Occasionally write blog posts! Their work is paid of course!

ariegert23 karma

Has anything ever gone horribly horribly wrong mid-adventure and if so, what did you do??

squeakysqueakysqueak34 karma


When I concult with clients who are building one of their own, I always tell them:

It's not "will something go wrong", it's "when will it go wrong"

There are just so many moving pieces and variables: Alcohol, player error, design error on my part, weather, traffic, etc.

The goal is to be prepared. To be flexible.

I'll never forget Adventure no. 17: The Margarita Madness. As the name states, there was alcohol involved. One thing I didn't factor in was that the main players were all military and oftentimes military members use their IDs to get into bars. Turns out it was a particularly busy Saturday in San Diego and the 2nd bar wouldn't let my player in. God that was stressful. I basically had to rebuild the Adventure as it was going. Luckily they had a great time so all's well that ends well. Now every time I run an adventure where players might drink, ID is always on "don't forget" list they get when the Adventure begins.

dusty-element21 karma

This is so cool! Do you pick a different theme for each adventure??

squeakysqueakysqueak25 karma

Hey there! Thanks for the softball!

Each one is different. Not to say I've never recycled a theme (Putting a secret message on the back of the declaration of Independence is too fun to only do once) but I like to make them with two big factors in mind:

  1. The player. This is an act of extrememe thoughtfulness. I want to make sure the player likes the day.
  2. The location. As you could imagine, its much harder to do a sunken treasure gambit in the middle of Kansas

punmaster200015 karma

Oh, I don't know about the Kansas difficulty - if you made the sunken treasure look like rock, and used reptilian themed clues and artifacts, you could play it off as a sunken treasure from when Kansas was covered by a sea... back when there were dinosaurs.

squeakysqueakysqueak14 karma

You're hired!

Can you make the dinosaur thing happen for me?

punmaster20007 karma

LOL - not sure if you're serious - but I could probably come up with a set of clues, suggestions on how to do different aspects of it, but there are two difficulties that I'm faced with.

1 - I have little to no experience in making props

2 - I live in the unfriendly/friendly confines of Canada, so not in the Kansas area at all.

That being said - feel free to PM me if you want further discussions on it

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

I was just messing around but I would LOVE to see what you could put together!

tfcfool21 karma

What's the most remote location you've ever been for an adventure?

squeakysqueakysqueak42 karma

OH man remote locations make things TRICKY! Usually poor wifi and lack of concrete landmarks can make things go sideways in a heartbeat!

I sent a woman and her husband snowshoeing in the Mountains outside Reno and it did NOT go well! Turns out there were two parallel paths with the same name. They went down the other path and went VERY far out.

I also sent a gentleman scuba diving a shipwreck for treasure. That is remote in it's own way!

Happy to elaborate on either!

noodleandstrudel6 karma

I mean …. How can we not ask for an elaboration on these stories!?! Elaboration please!

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

Well the scuba was wild. I hired a team to go down and place a chest for him to find. Then they picked him up and boated him out to the wreck. They went down with him (I did NOT want to leave anything to chance with something so risky)

The snowshoe one was cool took! They had to follow the roses and then the woman had to shoot a bag of sand with her bow and arrow (She was an archer and was told to bring them) The bag was counterbalancing a chest in a net.

SweetLittleFox19 karma

I was just thinking about you the other day and wondering how you had been doing with things! I guess I got my answer.

Last summer, we built, painted, cooked and executed a faerie themed puzzle hunt and escape room in my friends’ basement and backyard as a 40th birthday party. It was a lot of fun, but now we’re planning on a sequel for New Years. Our friends have expressed a desire to do an undersea theme loosely based around the board games Abyss and Tidal Blades, and I’d love to just get your take on suggestions for thematic puzzles and things we could do in a basement and fairly generously sized backyard (note- it will be winter and in the midwest for the latter)? (Bonus, if you have any easily executable menu suggestions, I’m already starting to plan.)

squeakysqueakysqueak23 karma

What the WHAT?!?! That looks AMAZING! Please go post a recap of your faerie themed hunt/room in r/Constructedadventures so i can Gild the shit out of it. That looks AMAZING!!

One thing i ALWAYS tell people to use in any kind of aquatic themed Adventure is Hydrophobic spray. You can make a stencil of anything and then spray the stencil down on sidewalk and then your players can pour water on it. It lasts for like 3 months. I use it all the time.

One of my colleagues wrote a fun blog post about other fun ways to use water. Hope that helps!

Once again, PLEASE recap your last event in the subreddit!

Security_Chief_Odo18 karma

Being the time of year, what would your suggestions be for an Easter themed scavenger hunt? Seems like the 'we hide eggs, kids find them' is getting a bit trite for the older kids.

  • Not asking for a paid consultation or work :P

squeakysqueakysqueak25 karma

GREAT question!

This whole AMA is free consultation. Happy to help. If you wanted to shake things up, you could have the eggs be just the beginning. You could follow this formula I use a lot for in home hunts.

If you don't feel Like watching it, I'll give a quick recap of how the day will go:

Step 1: players find eggs. You can either have cryptic clues or just hide them. It is easter after all! Inside each egg is a piece of a clue. You could use an addition subtraction cipher like I did but if you're kids are on the younger side, you can always have pieces of a map that you've cut up.

Step 2: They put together the map and then you give them a vellum paper overlay (with extra drawings/arrows) and/or instructions on where you look on the map!

If you want to take it a step further, you can always give them a compass and have them take different steps and locations.

Let me know if this is the kind of directions you're going in. What's the age range of the kids?

Security_Chief_Odo6 karma

Thanks! Was more of a general question, not anything specific for me.

squeakysqueakysqueak10 karma

Well thank you for the fun question! Easter, valentines day, and the holidays are always prime opportunities for a small hunt.

cascarhome17 karma

I just wanted to pop in and say that Chris helped me propose to my now-wife and he was nothing short of amazing. Everything was thrown into chaos as our plans had to change dramatically due to the pandemic, and he was gracious enough to take on some extra duties I didn't feel confident in doing, and he was willing to drive an hour and a half to meet me halfway in a fast food parking lot to exchange puzzles and other materials to make the day go smoothly.

I really can't say anything negative about the whole experience from planning through execution, and we have a whole boatload of souvenirs to remember the day. If you're considering something like this, I can't recommend him enough.

Thank you Chris!

Since I need a question (and this has probably been asked by now) - since we did our adventure right at the beginning of the pandemic, did you have to permanently alter your business model in light of the difficulties of the pandemic?

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

Oh hey there!

That was SUCH a wild time. You were so much fun to work with and I'll never forget driving all the way up to meet you with envelopes and a journal and chess board and everything! It's one of the few times I've ever built an Adventure but didn't run it.

YOU WERE BRILLIANT! And congratulations on the Marriage as well!

The Pandemic changed quite a bit for me. Beforehand, I was making 95% of my revenue with live events. Since then I've been working to create a lot of little streams. I have an online shop, I do WAY more consulting, I even make a little money with Amazon Affiliates.

I'm back to doing live events but I'm doing less and focusing my time on finding a balance!

Hyliac16 karma

Hey Chris, long time fan of your work! Thanks for doing this AmA, I have a couple questions for you if you're still answering:

Have you tried creating an adventure in another medium like D&D or video games? I'm in the process of putting together an adventure that people can play together but I'd love suggestions how to direct people to the next clue or area in game without it being too obvious or on rails.

How do you keep people interested/engaged and wanting to complete the adventure if you suspect they may get bored when challenged or stuck?

How many puzzles/riddles would you suggest for a typical adventure, amongst clues to new locations? What's your approach when you suspect they may need hints to solve certain legd but you're not there to provide them?

squeakysqueakysqueak29 karma

Love. These. QUESTIONS!

Here we go!

Have you tried creating an adventure in another medium like D&D or video games?

I have not but I'm absolutely in love with the Idea. Unsurprisingly I love D&D and Videogames. If you like podcasts, you can probably get a TONNNNN of inspiration from Escape this podcast. They do a great great job of creating an audio escape room. I know Dani will draw, map everything out in a notebook to stay organized. Also she'll usually start with a "small" room to teach players how it works before they get to the meat.

How do you keep people interested/engaged and wanting to complete the adventure if you suspect they may get bored when challenged or stuck?

For me, it's super super super important to always have the players progressing. I usually err on the side of making it simple/easy and I love to keep players moving from location to location. I build out a hint system that can be implemented if needed and always have extra envelopes in case extra information needs to be delivered in a way that feels like it was supposed to happen

How many puzzles/riddles would you suggest for a typical adventure, amongst clues to new locations? What's your approach when you suspect they may need hints to solve certain legd but you're not there to provide them?

I would focus less on how many puzzles and focus more on how long you want the Adventure to be. I recommend 4-8 hours (6 is the sweet spot) then lock down your locations and THEN figure out how you're going to propel them forward (Puzzles/tasks/riddles)

When I run an Adventure, I have a GPS tracker on the players and 99% of the time I have eyes on the player so there is always someone there. There are times where the client who hired me is also on the Adventure so I can always give them a hint and then they look like a genius. It keeps it fun for the client but preserves the magic for the player!

Hope that helps! Happy to elaborate on anything!

Hyliac7 karma

Thanks so much for the detailed response!

I love the point about thinking about timing the adventure. Do you typically allocate a portion of the adventure to "onboard" them (let's say the first hour of a 4 hour adventure) or do you typically have players just dive right in, making things a bit easier for them at the start?

For the hint system, do you give hints based on time (they've spent 30 mins on this leg and aren't getting anywhere), by request (players ask for a hint/additional hints), or a combination of both? I find this is always my biggest challenge, as I feel that I need to give hints when things are taking too long, but I don't want to trivialize the section for the sake of time and make it unrewarding for players by giving them the answer or an obvious clue.

Also as an aside I'd highly suggest if you're into D&D that you consider trying to plan out an in-game adventure. I know I'd certainly pay for a scavenger hunt/amazing race style module in the world of D&D using player skills, traps, and etc!

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

Do you typically allocate a portion of the adventure to "onboard" them (let's say the first hour of a 4 hour adventure) or do you typically have players just dive right in, making things a bit easier for them at the start?

I'd much rather have players just dive in and have the beginning of the Adventure be easy/learning instead of an official onboard. It's more fun that way!

For the hint system, do you give hints based on time (they've spent 30 mins on this leg and aren't getting anywhere), by request (players ask for a hint/additional hints), or a combination of both?

The absolute name of the game for me is time. It is SO MUCH EASIER to slow players down rather than speed them up. To that end, I always add in at least 1-2 steps that can be completely removed if needed (to help course correct without making the player feel inferior) to that end, I know what time I want them to be moving on, and then can give help if the time comes

Zestyclose-Court-26513 karma

What's the best place that you've traveled to for your job? Also u ever been to india?

squeakysqueakysqueak22 karma

It's a straight up tie between Barcelona and Kauai, HI.

Barcelona was stuffed FULL of opportunities for an Adventure. So much beautiful Architecture and twisting winding little alleys with awesome shops and restaurants.

Kauai is a jungle paradise. So many beautiful hikes and great snokel Spots.

I would KILL to go to India! I bet there are so many great places to check out

Zestyclose-Court-2657 karma

oh yeah, Kauai is gorgeous. Hawaii overall is like that too. You should go to india sometime, some really beautiful spots there.

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

What part of India do you recommend?

any cities in particular?

Zestyclose-Court-2658 karma

Yeah, there are many beautiful cities, if you want urban India, check out Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai, but if you want scenery there are excellent scenic forests in Munnar, Kerala, and Ladakh in the north. Lots of cultural aspects throughout as well. These adventures that you create would be well in demand in India as well.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

Scenic forests and scenery sounds like so much fun. When I travel, i prefer to go to the smaller cities and towns. Less touristy.

Zestyclose-Court-2653 karma

Oh yeah, many of those in India as well. Def check it out. Cool to hear that you love traveling, same. Big fan.

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

Traveling is the BEST! I'm dying to go across the Atlantic again!

zoeGodPixXL13 karma

Could you please explain the cost of doing this and what a paycheck for you looks like.

Also are there anything that is strictly off limits for you in this line of work?

squeakysqueakysqueak46 karma

I'm amazed it took this long to get this question! Here's the breakdown:

I charge a flat rate for the event. It's my profit. Then we figure out the Adventure Budget on top of that.

My flat rate changes based on how booked out I am (Supply and demand, baby) But right now it's $3,000 for an individual event and $3,500 for a "Big group game" (Lots of people split into teams all running around).

After that, the Adventure budget varies WILDLY. Most budgets fall between $6,000-$10,00 total (Including my flat rate)The adventure budget contains everything from my travel & lodging to the cost of the meal when the players go to a restaurant on the Adventure and the server says "Order whatever you want, everything has been covered"

I always do my best to work with clients to keep the budget down. Some cities are much less expensive to travel to and stay in. Heck, if I have a friend who lives in the city, I'll see if i can stay with them. Now the budget can be lower!

Once the Adventure is over, I just bill the client what the cost was. It makes me really happy when i can create an awesome time and then go way underbudget! Sometimes I'll have an $8,000 budget and the final bill ends up being $6,500. Feels good.

Bottom line: An Adventure doesn't have to be high budget to be fun, however bigger budgets can allow for cool stuff.

To answer your second questionL The one thing i don't mess around with is horror tropes. I like my Adventures to be fun a lighthearted. Plus I'm getting all the info about my player from their friends/spouse. How bad would it be if they're like "Oh yeah he would LOVE to be kidnapped in a scary fashion" and then we try to pull it off and he freaks out! No thanks!

sj071411 karma

How did you start/have any recommendations on how someone can do something like this? It just seems kind of overwhelming ha ha

squeakysqueakysqueak24 karma

Sometimes I feel like a lotto ticket winner telling people to buy lotto tickets.

I got started when my Reddit Secret Santa giftee posted his Adventure and it hit the front page of Reddit. I'd had a friend tell me i should start a business so I had a barebones (Brand new, ipsum lorem still in the paragraphs) website. It got linked and I was off to the races.

I work with quite a few people who are hoping to start a similar buisness! There is PLENTY of space for everyone!

My recommendation is as follows: Come up with a name for your biz, grab the social media handles, and then start making Adventures. I recommend doing it for friends and family. This way you can get great photos/documentation, and feedback. Then start putting yourself out into the community! I did a lot of Adventures At cost in the beginning as I was still getting better. Then before you know it, you'll start hearing from strangers.

DM me if you'd like some guidance. I mentor a lot of people hoping to do this!

sj071410 karma

I am not sure if I would want to a business like, but I would love to do this as a surprise gift for my best friend!

squeakysqueakysqueak13 karma

I always tell people to start here:

This is my step by step guide.

Take this formula and the you can start adding in little ideas and gambits. If you head over to r/Constructedadventures you can read about other Adventures that people created and get ideas!

beets_or_turnips10 karma

What are some of the pitfalls or dead-ends you've had to learn to avoid in designing adventures? Beginner mistakes you made that you know better than to try again?

squeakysqueakysqueak13 karma


I think back to my early Adventures and cringe at some of the mistakes I made. It's sheer luck that some of them didn't go belly up. However, those mistakes helped me craft a set of rules that I love to impart to anyone trying to do what I do.

My Golden rule is Elegant Simplicity. Use this as your grounding guideline. Whenever you're trying to make a decision about what to do, always go with the simpler option. It'll be easier for you and oftentimes much more enjoyable for the player.

The biggest pitfall that literally EVERYONE goes through is that they get up their own ass with complexity because they're worried it wont be fun enough. Then they create an Adventure that has zero flexibility so when something goes wrong, they can't pivot.

Something very close with complexity is difficulty. There is a really well known puzzlemaker named Errol in the puzzlehunt space. I love his golden rule. In a nutshell:

"I don't even have to look at your puzzle and I'll already tell you it's too difficult"

By the time the Adventure starts, you've looked at every puzzle so many times that you'll worry it's too easy and wont be fun. I'm here to tell you that you want to make it too easy.

If your first hunt is somehow too easy, your player will finish it and feel like a champion! They'll get the dopamine hits of all their success and be ready for another. You can make the next one harder. However if the first one is too hard, your player might be turned off from it forever.

That and when you're going to do a grand romantic gesture, use fake candles. way less risk!

beets_or_turnips7 karma

Awesome! I've done a couple adventures for my wife, one at a local park and one in a museum. Seeing your post has inspired me to start planning the next one! I'll think about posting reports on your sub too. Thanks for doing this!

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

You HAVE to!

I can't wait to hear about it!

PropaneUrethra9 karma

For the location that took the longest to get to, what was it like? Do you speak any other languages to aid with these trips?

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

I wish! I can barely speak english!


The only other language I am somewhat capable in speaking is spanish. When i go to a county where english is not the main language, I'll always hire someone to help translate (and show me around too).

I have enough trouble conveying what I'm trying to do in english. Imagine the challenge in a langue that's foreign.

All that said, when i'm traveling to another country (whether its for work or fun) I always try to crash course the language to try to meet with the locals half way. I don't want to be that ignorant American who goes to another country and expects locals to speak my language

PlayerTwoEntersYou9 karma

So “Midnight Madness”? Is that the source for your nickname?

I loved the early 80s and all of the scavenger hunt movies that were made.

squeakysqueakysqueak12 karma

Midnight Madness is so awesome!

One of my colleagues works on the Yearly Midnight Madness Event in the UK

To answer your question, I got it from "How I met Your Mother." The main character was an architect and I really liked the elaborate things Barney Stinson would try to do (Especially his proposal)

Lanxy8 karma

I‘m a huge fan and you inspired me to do several treasurehuntings for my wife already!

whats a hiding place in a house or flat that is easily overlooked? I need a new place to hide the easter chocolate from my wife :)

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

You could always start looking into hollowed out objects!

you can find a whole Myriad of hollow books, lighbulbs, potted plant pots, and such online. Past that i would tape it on the top/underside of a clothes drawer!

Or are you hoping she finds the chocolate...?

Lanxy6 karma

haha, yes I am! I even hope she shares some with me tbh. awesome thank you very much! I‘ll try the taping I think. I actually cut my own hollow books in the past, but it‘s no quick work :-D

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

oh god it takes FOREVER! I always recommend just buying one. You can always look on etsy too. That's a task i'd rather pay someone to do

Idontrememberalot8 karma

When did you start these quests? From a young age or when much older?

squeakysqueakysqueak13 karma

It all came from my mom. She always sent me on fun little rhyming hunts through the house for easter and christamas morning.

My mom is my inspiration. She's the absolute best.

After that, when I got an office job after college, I was always the guy putting googly eyes on photos and trying to make life interesting. I finally found a way to get paid for it!

SweetDove7 karma

Hey! I was just referencing you the other day.

What tips do you have for an adventure in a more rural area?

(think turn left at the barbed wire fence)

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

oh man rural Adventures are tricky because you lose out on a LOT of landmarks and most things are spread out really far apart.

The easy tip is give is to make sure you give clear instructions (If something is 15 miles away, tell them). Here's a great formula that I use all the time.

  1. Give them an area to travel to (Could be a building, park, gps coordinates)
  2. Give them something trickier to find/solve once they arrive.

One great gambit I used for my last adventure was pictures. (If you go on my IG it's Adventure 88 in my highlights).

I had my players find a polaroid picture and then go to the location where it was taken. If you're rural i recommend a more high def photo (polaroid can be notoriously blurry).

You can have this mechanic run through the whole adventure! Players must find the location in a photo then maybe on the back of the photo there is instructions, etc.

Hope that helps!

SweetDove11 karma

firstly, AHH you responded to me!!!

secondly, those are amazing ideas!. I promise I wont hide any clues on any cows (without their cowsent)

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

You deserve this award for an absolute banger of a pun you just rattled off

SweetDove3 karma

Ha! Thank you! I knew my witty cow puns would win me awards some day.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

I found it very mooving

-badgerbadgerbadger-7 karma

What was your biggest fuck up (or thing that happened beyond your control that messed things up)?

squeakysqueakysqueak20 karma

Great question!

Probably my biggest fuck up was overlooking a small but very important detail about a player: She doesn't drive.

I had an Adventure for a couple who just wanted a fun day (I don't do these kinds anymore, I always need there to be a purpose) Anyway, since they both were WELL aware of what's going on, I was racking my brain to come up with surprise. I interviewed each of them individually and came up with the idea to split them up. Husband loved Scuba, Wife loved dogs.

My plan was to send the husband scuba diving a shipwreck for a treasure chest and then send the wife on a quest to different parks to meet and play with dogs who were waiting for her! Ending with a professional dog trainer and his adorable Aussie to do tricks at a dog beach.

My problem was is your myriad of back and forth emails (this got pushed back a year because of the pandemic) that I just missed that detail. Anyway, he goes off to dive the wreck and she starts walking a mile down the road to the first location. I'm waiting at the first stop and just CAN'T figure out why she's taking so long. Anyway long story short, it really pushed the WHOLE Adventure back and it was stressful to try to get them back on track.

I learned many lessons that day. Now I have my client fill out and update my very in depth survey multiple times before the event!

SupRspi6 karma


Our family recently did our first escape room and then a murder mystery night with friends. We had great fun with both, but the murder mystery brought up some questions for me.

Even though it was two families, who have been friends for a long time, we had some hiccups - mostly related to how outgoing people are. (And exacerbated by the fact that we were all "in character")

How do you encourage players who might be more introverted to get out of their shell and ask people around them for clues etc - or do you always have them hand delivered so they don't have to ask?

I imagine in a long multi-hour adventure (especially if lubricated with alcohol) that more naturally introverted people might get more outgoing when they realize it's helped solve past problems.

This whole AmA has got me thinking about how I could run an adventure for friends/family that starts with going for brunch or lunch or something and getting them started with a puzzle that involves the staff (small town, I know most of the restaurant owners etc already) but I'd be worried that they would completely overlook the idea that "bystanders" could be involved, or that they'd be too shy to start asking even if they got it. Does that all make sense?

Also - your previous answers to parents about egg hunts have been super helpful to me - I was just thinking about how I could make it more magical for my teenagers than just having hidden eggs - so thank you!

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

Such a great question! I love this kind of nuance. You're grappling with two things:

  1. What your players want.
  2. What is traditionally fun.

You know them better than I do. it could be like a roller coaster situation. You're super nervous before you get on, and then after, you want to do it again! But also, there is absolutely noting wrong with creating a more introvert-centric Event.

Before sending a contract, I have my clients fill out a pretty in depth survey. It has everything from Phobias and allergies to "On a scale of the movie Hitch to the Movie National Treasure, how do you want this to feel." Other questions it has regards intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation and introvert extrovert.

If you do want to get them out of their shells a little bit, I would go gradually. Also, hiring an actor (even from local improv) who is going to doggedly stick to their role could help too.

Hope that helps! I would LOVE to hear about the events you create!

dawtcalm6 karma

I have a brother Nicholas whom I haven't seen in a while; one of those guys that has only focused on work and is way too stressed out imho. He has never really dealt with the childhood trauma of our father dying tragically. Can you help me convince him to jump off a roof of a hotel to a ballroom several stories below into a surprise birthday party? Money is no object!

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

I got you fam. Just let me grab my terrifying clown doll and I'll be right there

frenchdresses5 karma

I'm an elementary school teacher and would love some ideas to plan an adventure for my grade level for our end of year party.

I guess my main question is... How do you deal with large groups (like we have 125 students in my grade), or is that just not feasible? How do you make sure everyone feels like they participated and had fun, and have you ever worked with kids before/any tips?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Oh man 125 Elementary school students must be pure chaos.

With big group games, i always put my players in groups but working as a team can be tricky for young kids.

My recommendation would be to create something that you can have small groups work through one at a time. Then you can be more hands on about everything.

When I build events for kids, I always make it task based. I love using compasses and maps. You can also use the Photo mechanic.

Happy to help you try to figure something out but 125 Kids is a LOT

Liam_Neesons_Oscar5 karma

What is the longest you've spent planning out and setting up an adventure?

Side question, how consistently do people bring up the movie The Game when they hear what you do?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

That's a tricky question to answer. Once a potential client reaches out and we start chatting, the gears start turning. However, I always have a few Adventures that will happen before theirs.

I'll kind of work passively on each Adventure when inspiration strikes, however the next upcoming event always takes precedent. I run two Adventures a month tops. MOST of the heavy lifting happens in the two weeks prior to the event.

I always like to say what I do is kinds like the game, scaled back, not creepy.

Fun fact: It is really hard to look up a "The Game" gif on giphy

WhatWasWhatAbout5 karma

Any tips for creating a hunt for younger kids?

squeakysqueakysqueak19 karma


It's so fun building fun days for younger kids. What makes it even more fun is how often they'll turn right back around and build something for you in return. With younger kids I recommend make it a little bit more "Task" based. You don't need crazy puzzles, you can use magic tricks!

Here is a GREAT game mechanic for kids: The "Lost item" gambit.

Step one. Find a bunch of items that CLEARLY belong in a certain place. Think: Spoon, toothbrush, mail, etc. First have them find the spoon on the table with a note that says "Help! I'm lost! Please return me to my home! When your child puts the spoon back, there is a toothbrush in the silverware drawer with the same note. Your child can then go from point to point returning lost items. Its easy for you to set up and fun. Plus you can ratchet up the difficulty later if you want!

another idea is to use photos. I love taking close up photos on my phone and then having players trying to figure out what it's a picture of! Then they get to that location and there is another envelope with another photo!

Past that I love using blacklights and maps! You could draw a map of your house or yard and send them to a location where they find a blacklight flashlight. Once they shine the light on the map, there is new information to the prize!

Hopefully this helps! Let me know if you have any questions!

srt7nc4 karma

Any ideas for Easter egg hunt for children?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

I'm going to copy paste another comment I made about easter.

Quick Caveat, Whats the age range of the kids?

In a vacuum, You could follow this formula I use a lot for in home hunts.
If you don't feel Like watching it, I'll give a quick recap of how the day will go:
Step 1: players find eggs. You can either have cryptic clues or just hide them. It is easter after all! Inside each egg is a piece of a clue. You could use an addition subtraction cipher like I did but if you're kids are on the younger side, you can always have pieces of a map that you've cut up.
Step 2: They put together the map and then you give them a vellum paper overlay (with extra drawings/arrows) and/or instructions on where you look on the map!
If you want to take it a step further, you can always give them a compass and have them take different steps and locations.
Let me know if this is the kind of directions you're going in.

srt7nc2 karma

8 and 4. Thank you for the reply

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

Ooooo that's tricky. If you have the bandwidth, I like to split them up on their separate tracks. Otherwise the 8 year old might just steamroll the 4 year old. I love giving players separate tasks (each can find half the map). I would begin with the same clues, just make the 8yo's clues a little more vague. Here's another idea (Though you'll probably want to accompany the 4yo to help you:

Each child is on a separate track. However they're on walkie talkies. At each stop they each have the instructions for the other. It becomes a communication game. for example: 8yo is outside in the front yard. 4yo is upstairs and finds an envelope. Now 4yo needs to read the envelope to their sibling (or describe what's drawn). Maybe it's the mailbox. In the mailbox is another envelope, but it has instructions for the 4yo. This is a fun way to split them up but have them work together!

Let me know how you feel about that!

SupRspi4 karma

I'm reading through this AMA that I found randomly and loving it and this super clever suggestion comes up. Having three kids all a couple years apart has almost always ended up with us having to tell the eldest that she can't just steamroll her sister's fun finding eggs - but that dampens her fun too! I literally can't upvote this comment enough!

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

YESSSSS! Let me know how it goes!

I used to work with kids and it can be so tricky balancing any kind of game when there is an age difference!

Outofbounds204 karma

Honestly this is just amazing, I never imagined anyone could make a real job out of this! I used to run treasure hunts for my family on special occasions (Christmas/hallowe’en) and it was honestly so much fun! Now I try and do them for my toddlers. So my question is, do you have any toddler hunt tips? Wish I could do this full time!

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

Thank you for such kind words! I would LOVE to hear about the hunts you made for your family. People post recaps all the time on r/Constructedadventures and yours would be great!

Here is a GREAT game mechanic for kids: The "Lost item" gambit.
Step one. Find a bunch of items that CLEARLY belong in a certain place. Think: Spoon, toothbrush, mail, etc. First have them find the spoon on the table with a note that says "Help! I'm lost! Please return me to my home! When your child puts the spoon back, there is a toothbrush in the silverware drawer with the same note. Your child can then go from point to point returning lost items. Its easy for you to set up and fun. Plus you can ratchet up the difficulty later if you want!

KingPellinore4 karma

How similar is this experience to Geocaching?

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

There are definitely parallels but I’ve always had frustrations with geochaching because you never really know if you’re dumb or because someone moved it, etc.

This is much more tailored to the player. Everything is timed out, it’s on a specific day, I’m running things behind the scenes, I lowjack the player with a gps tracker, etc.

On top of that. Some of the events I do aren’t puzzly or immersive at all! It’s just all the sexy sexy logistics of an all day event!

SpiderMcLurk3 karma

Did Consumer Recreation Services take it too far with Nicholas Van Orton?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Not far enough if you ask me

Counciltuckian3 karma

Have you ever done one where you won't be around for the outcome or even know when it will happen? My friends with little kids have a large property with a pond. Next time we visit I am thinking I'll leave an old message in a bottle near the edge of the pond. A treasure map of course. I have a buried treasure destination in mind on the property already but looking for ideas and a number of puzzles to get them there.

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

I love that idea!

The only time i build a hunt and then leave it to be found is in someone's home (usually as a "Thank you for letting me stay for a week) With the full scale adventures, I always want to be there to fix something if needed.

With your Adventure, Nature/weather is going to be a big factor. Definitely get a bunch of Watertight containers (You could test out using bottles and recorking them)

I would have everything run through a map. You could make a big map of the property and each new piece/puzzle can interact with it.

Depending ont the size of the pond, you could put a bouey in the middle with a rope and weigh another container down.

You should absolutely have something up in a birdhouse and they need to get some kind of hook on a stick to get it down!

CaptainMacMillan3 karma

When are we getting Cones of Dunshire II?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

The The Winds of Tremorrah will be punishingly Intricate

Merry_Pippins3 karma

Omg, I love that you do this, so fun! I was a single mom for many years and I would try to stretch gift occasions by building them into a treasure hunt with prizes at each leg, usually 3 stops with the fourth as the "big" prize (and it blew my kids mind every time, which is hilarious but sweet). I've also done a handful for corporate events, but those are (obviously) more complex and the adults don't always buy into it. What is your favorite age range for your scavenger hunts and do you prefer searches for groups or individuals?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

OOOOOO You'll fit in so well in the Subreddit and Discord Channel!

I would love to hear about the Adventures you've created.

Age is funny. I like to say I'm a 36 year old kid. With that said , it's really fun to build Adventures for kids. Their brains are wired to problem solve (Unlike us adults who are better at automation ) Kids tend to sprint to the next stops and that brings me so much joy, although I have seen Adults get excited and run off and I love that too!

The big group games are a nice fun challenge, but my passion lies with individual hunts. It just feels so good to really blow someone away. You can't pull off the same magic in big group games.

Individual hunts usually end in a proposal or party. They're an act of extreme thoughtfulness. It's fun to pour everything in can into creating something mind blowing

Thanks for the question! Hope you join the community!

Rick_the_Rose3 karma

Are you a Batman villain?

bighanksoda3 karma

Here's my situation: I am currently in Shanghai locked down in a tiny apartment with my wife, her non English speaking parents and a toddler. We are bored. So very bored. I would like to do something for my wife because she spends most of her time trying to source food for us.

Like I said, we are confined to our apartment and limited to what is already inside it. Any suggestions?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Try this one!

In short, it's a treausre hunt that only uses photos. You can work to take some really close up or unique pictures at fun angles. Each photo leads to another.

It's great becuse it breaks through the language barrier!

Let me know if that's the style you're looking for and I'll see if i can think of anything else!

Another thing you can do if you have a bunch of yarn is to create a spiderweb! you can create a fun obstacle course. Trying to get through without touching the yarn!

Sorry about your current situation. I'm assuming it's covid related with much of the country locking down.

TwistedColon3 karma

I've seen treasure hunts go sideways when businesses are involved. The goal in a particular hunt was to find a small box that had the next clue inside it. Ended up having people searching around the store and about 4 people digging around in the bushes out front. It was found 4 hours earlier but no one realized it.

How can this be done differently that includes local businesses? Tried setting something up but couldn't come up with a solution. Idea was to have businesses get more foot traffic, thus investing in prizes and overall set up.

Thanks for doing this :-)

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

Yeah things can get tricky with businesses. things change when its an individual hunt vs a large treasure hunt with lots of different parties all kinda running around at different stages.

With an individual hunt it's easy. I'm going to lock everything down beforehand, and then show up right before they arrive, tip the host/hostess and reaffirm that they know whats up. then duck out right before the players arrive.

With a large group game, everything needs to be MUCH safer/tighter. If you have the budget/bandwidth, you could have people stationed OR hire a runner to constantly go check locations. That or you can have something framed on the wall or behind the counter. This can be a crucial step that doesn't make your players dig through everything.

I also recommend making this step clear. It does everyone a favor. They can go into the business, check out what they need and you can leave the guessing parts to when they're out in a park!

Sherlocksensei3 karma

Are you going to move to any of the new secret Santa communities? (givin’ gifts etc)

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

Not any time in the near future.

I absolutely adored the 10 years I spent participating in Secret Santa (The first three were just regular gift exchanging before my life completely changed)

As you could imagine, flying out (or flying my giftee in) and building a full Adventure is pretty expensive and very stressful right before the holiday season. I would like to take some years to just enjoy the holiday season with my friends and family.

Maybe in the future though!

Nevadadrifter3 karma

Every October, I participate in a local treasure hunt, published both online and in our local newspaper. One clue is provided each day, typically centered around an interesting person or place in Nevada state history. Back in 2013, I was the first hunter to locate the hidden medallion and claim the cash prize. It it still probably among the top 10 most favorite memories of my life to date. There's just something that I find thrilling about working against everyone else to decipher/decrypt/solve riddles and tie them to a singular geographic location.

When a good clue is written in a clever enough manner, it can have multiple possible facets and interpretations, pointing to multiple different places. I don't quite know how to put it into words, but when you're certain you have solved a specific clue, something typically just "clicks." in your mind.

I have always wondered how the hunt organizers feel, watching clues that have been meticulously curated and crafter by the puzzle master be grossly misinterpreted by participants, particularly when it becomes clear that users have shared information with one another, and the majority of people (or at least the majority who are openly discussing the clue in an open public forum) seem to be headed down the wrong path. In my experience, there are usually several quiet users who have correctly solved the clue and are (wisely) choosing not to discuss their solution amongst other hunters.

So what do you do when everyone seems stuck or lost? Do you congratulate yourself on writing a fiendishly difficult clue, or do you feel like maybe you made the clue a little too difficult and have sympathy for the folks headed down what will ultimately turn out to be a dead end path?

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

Firstly, Congratulations on your win! That is truly impressive work!

There is a fantastic book called "puzzlecraft." In the forward, Peter Sagal makes this incredible comment:

"A game is an activity where, if fairly constructed, two sides given the same advantages will have a roughly equal chance to win. A puzzle is an activity where, if fairly constructed, one side will have all the advantages, except that the disadvantaged side is expected to win."

If I create some devilishly difficult puzzle that everyone gets wrong, then I have failed as a designer. I would rather err on the side of making things too clear rather than too difficult and I'm not a fan of red herrings.

When I build these days, my goal is to create moments. Just like the one you had with your victory. However, I believe I can still create those moments while also giving smaller moments to the parties who don't come in first.

I can tell you what, getting an answer wrong really sucks. What's worse than that is getting an answer wrong, heading 20 minutes in the wrong direction and completely losing all chance of recovery. I like my hunts close!

Great question!

Phanes72 karma

Important Question 1: The movie The Game, is it the best movie ever or do you look at it as a movie for posers?

Important Question 2: Is Rabbits your favorite podcast?

Normal Question: Do you ever come across situations where people are kind of "meh" about the adventure and how do you handle it?

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

Important Answer1: I haven't actually seen the game. I know the entire plot, i've just never sat down to watch

Important Answer 2: I had never heard of Rabbits but YOUD BETTER BELIEVE ITS IN THE QUEUE NOW! I'll get started as soon as i finish this week's episode of The Adventure Zone.

Normal Answer: Nope! However I'm pretty picky about who I take as a client and every once in a while I'll turn down an Adventure because this is clearly something that the player wouldn't like. I've had to straight up fight with clients who want things done a certain way when I know that their spouse won't like it.

One time I had a gentleman hire me to run an Adventure for his wife's birthday. He said "My wife loves museums and art and culture so I want a MUSEUM HEIST THEMED ADVENTURE."

I was suspicious.

I got a hold of her friends who said "No, that's what he wants. She would like Whimsy, brunch, friends." I ended up crafting an Adventure based on their favorite book (The Jitterbug perfume) that involved Actors playing modern day versions of the characters and her friends popping in and out throughout the day!

Phanes73 karma

Important Answer1: I haven't actually seen the game. I know the entire plot, i've just never sat down to watch

I... Don't know how to respond to this.

If you are in the pacific north west let me know, I'll invite you over for a watch.

Important Answer 2: I had never heard of Rabbits but YOUD BETTER BELIEVE ITS IN THE QUEUE NOW! I'll get started as soon as i finish this week's episode of The Adventure Zone.

I found the book first (same name) which I also highly recommend. I am only about 4 episodes in but enjoying it so far.

Normal Answer: Nope! However I'm pretty picky about who I take as a client and every once in a while I'll turn down an Adventure because this is clearly something that the player wouldn't like...

Ya, I love puzzles, scavenger hunts, and such but I don't know anyone who share the interest.

Did one for my wife way back when we were dating, it was just one clue leads you to the next but they were hidden all over (in Target, in a book store, in a parking garage, etc.) and it ended with the code to get into a speakeasy themed bar.

I had a blast but she was pretty much "that was sweet".

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

Well there is a big community of people who love building and solving hunts of all kinds! Join us in the Subdreddit and Discord channel.

I'd love to read a recap of the Adventure you made for your wife!

Phanes72 karma

Joined the subreddit a while back, great stuff.

The adventure for my wife was over 13 years ago so I don't remember it well enough to recap :-)

Love what you do though, keep inspiring people!

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

You bet! Glad to have you!

diszensus2 karma

Hi there

I was contemplating during Easter egg hunt to have kids find an egg that contains a map that leads to small treasure box that contains another map that leads to big egg w/ squishmallows. But how to really fill that out with just house and yard. Maybe incorporate riddles or something? Any suggestions?


squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

oh I love it!

Why not have all the eggs contain pieces of a map. Then the map can lead to a blacklight. Shine the light on the map and now there's new information. You can then send them from point to point (make sure these locations are very hard to find but have explicit instructions)

In the end, you can have the prize in some locked place (Like the trunk of your car) and the whole adventure is about finding the key!

Happy to add more ideas but I think this is a perfect start!

spider_842 karma

Is your favourite move The game with Michael Douglas?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

National Treasure! Both of em.

I also love Amélie!

Aggradocious2 karma

Have you considered becoming a super villain?

Brancher2 karma

What is your opinion of Forrest Fenn's treasure hunt?

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

I don't like it.

It's either terrible or lazy design. At worst I'm not sure the treasure existed (or he ended it prematurely because people died while hunting for it.

I will say I understand where he's coming from. If I was going to hide a million dollars, it would be VERY important to me that it's not found immediately. His way to do that was to make it so stupidly vague that people just went into the mountains and walked around. That's a lazy way to make things difficult.

I've been slowly yet surely working on something similar and I can tell you I plan on going about it in a VERY different way. I want it to ramp in difficulty but have HUNDREDS of stops. All over the world. It's a way to encourage people to travel and explore. And I sure as hell wont make it so vague that people wander out into the wilderness and are never seen again.

Sorry about the rant!

hopgud12344321nz2 karma

Did you ever make one for a movie or get consulted for one?

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

I do! Unfortunately I can’t talk about anything in that realm because there’s always an NDA but I love consulting.

My goal is always to have it created without the benefit of “movie magic”

There is SOOOOOOOO much coincidence in moves and it drives me crazy

hopgud12344321nz2 karma

So what's the general advice when creating a treasure hunt/puzzle you give to writers/directors for movies? (Btw NDA on treasure hunt, sounds Indiana Jones to me which is filming rn if I'm correct)

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

A lot of what I bring is general ideas/gambits that can work within the narrative that they're trying to build. Sometimes they just need one idea and everything works. Other times its a full saga from the ground up!

CrownJackal2 karma

What happens if you forget a planned stop or somehow skip a clue?

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

Love this question.

I try to be as meticulous as possible when building. There is a pretty elaborate spreadsheet that has times, locations, who's there, details.

The night before, I wax seal all the envelopes and have a little symbol on the back right corner with a key. I take pictures of all the notes before they get sealed.

even then, sometimes things don't go how I planned! I always carry an "oh shit" bag with all sorts of supplies, including extra envelopes with their name already handlettered on the front that's been wax sealed and exacto'd open. This gives me the flexibility to write something new and lick it shut (It'll still look good)

I also hire at least one extra person to be kind of a flex runner just in case something needs to be delivered or picked up, etc)

Hope that answers the question!

CrownJackal2 karma

That definitely answers my question!

If I ever planned something like this for my friends, I would probably forget like half of what I planned. Which would make it even more fun because I'd probably be just as surprised by what I planned as my friends would be.

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Fun but also stressful! If you ever plan something for friends, keep it simple! Saves you a bunch of frustrations and your friends will still have a blast

MainMosaicMan2 karma

Did the Miami Tropic Hunt, back in the early 2000s and the ending was so ridiculously clever! After completing all the "fundamental" puzzles to advance, about 20% of the participants ended up at the entrance to 'Barnacle Bills State Park'. There, a group of volunteers were asking the same question; "Where's your Ears?" (At the beginning of the event, everyone has a list of 1000 words that are numbered, they print in the Sunday Herald. One of them was "Pasturize"!) If you whispered that word into the volunteers ear, they would give you a ticket and let you in the Park. Less than 2 or 3 people passed when we did. Place was a boontown. On the little ticket, it said; VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Only participants that knew THAT word, were allowed in the park. (It's 5 Acres and was closed to the public for the Hunt, btw) So, while wandering around looking for the next Clue, this guy comes screaming up on a private Boat, runs up on the sand, jumps out and goes into the Bathrooms that were cordoned off with construction tape saying WARNING KEEP OUT!. Well, on the toilet paper in the 1st stall was the Winning Ticket and a huge sign YOU JUST WON THE MIAMI HERALD TROPIC HUNT! (Get it? "Void Where Prohibited?) Came with a trip to Greece and a shitload of prizes. Now, this guy (a Dentist if I remember) created two trains of thought on this outcome. The first; They skipped a very important step of the game by having "Team Members" with Walkie Talkies, giving real time info and he never HAD a ticket that said VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. (Possibly one of his team did but THEY weren't the ones that found it.) He merely skirted that part and folks were upset. The 2nd, was that from the start, the Herald encouraged people & families to participate! Make teams! Work together! Be creative! Do it with your Office, your classmates bla bla. Great concept as they really are a blast, not to mention all the Vending opportunities. These folks embraced ALL that! They were creative, clever, they worked together and dammit, they WON! What are your thoughts on this?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

God is just LOVE these things. I'ts so cool seeing the brilliance from other creators.

It was wild to see all the big ARGs that came out in the 90s and 2000s like Cicada, YearZero, and Ilovebees.

An interesting problem that designers run into is the same issue that plagues companies that make fighting games like Street fighter:

You want to make this for as many people as possible, but in order to do that, you can't make it too complex. But if you make it too simplistic, some heavyweight team who placed top 5 in the MIT Mystery hunt will come in and absolutely dumpster the jones family on their saturday outing.

Sorry if i'm going off on a little tangent but it applies!

Also, "void where prohibited" is WILDLY clever but to me it's one of those things that like 99.9% wouldn't get unless they're told. In this case it's kinda the point, right? big prize means it HAS to be difficult.