It took me a while to carve it on the living room wall, but I think it was worth it.
Did you put her up to this?
Would I do such a thing? Well, yes, but in this case I didn’t. I went out for my Saturday morning parkrun, and while I was away one of my daughters had created an escape game in our living room. It was a very sweet attempt involving a clue sheet with a list of descriptions of things to search for, with the first letter of each item forming the word “book”. The clue sheet then said that I had to find a greeny-blue instance of that object and inside that was a post-it note with the final location of the “key”. It was fun, but when she said that she wanted to create one for Mrs. Logic, I offered to help her a bit.
First step was to talk about theming. Strangely, this wasn’t something she’d considered with her original puzzle. In fact, she really didn’t seem to get the point of it at all. Note to self – don’t let her go on the Facebook Escape Room Enthusiasts group… We chatted about what things she might like to use and we came up with the idea of an Egyptian theme. She loves reading about Egypt, already has some hieroglyph stamps, and we’d brought back a statue of Horus and an urn from a previous (pre-children!) trip to Egypt (What’s an Egyptian Urn? I don’t know – about 20 Shekels an hour?). Plenty of props to work with. Oh, and a borescope! In the end we settled for a secret chamber in Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Next, I tried to get her to design how she wanted the game to work – did she want all the puzzles presented at the start and solvable immediately, or did she want each puzzle to lead her on to the next one? She was quite keen on linear to begin with (I think because it was much easier for her to visualise), but eventually we decided Mrs Logic would prefer it if the game was a little bit more open.
Next up we had to work out what surprises we wanted to uncover. We didn’t have much to work with, so, in a pretty big break from the theming, we pulled out my Breakout EDU padlocks and set to work creating some puzzles to go with our lock types.
We couldn’t very well expect the intrepid explorer to discover modern technology or clues in a sealed off chamber over 2000 years old, so… Finally, we got a canvas bag in which to put the clue sheets and the borescope (big thanks to my regular escaping friends for that birthday present!).
Outside the room
Obviously we started with a health and safety briefing, and explanation of how the game worked and, of course, the scene setting. Mrs Logic was greeted by the witty and friendly hosts at the door, before being given one of the best briefings she’s ever experienced that undoubtedly made shivers run down her spine.
A long time ago, in 1922, an archaeologist named Howard Carter was working in the Valley of the Kings searching for lost tombs. After searching for several years, he was given a final chance by his patron, Lord Carnarvon, to find something important before his funding would be cut. Fortuitously, he stumbled upon a tomb in November of that year that would eventually be found, three months later, to contain the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun.
And that, as far as the public knows, is the story of Tutankhamun’s tomb, BUT there is a closely guarded secret known only to the Carter family, and now you, that has been handed down through the generations for almost a hundred years. Howard Carter discovered a secret chamber within Tutankhamun’s tomb that contained a treasure chest full of jewels. Hoping to make himself wealthy beyond dream, he kept this find a secret, planning to return at a future date when the tomb was unguarded, but never managed it. To prevent anyone else taking the treasures before he returned, he fashioned a number of locks on to the secret entrance and covered it with a large slab of limestone.
No one every spotted the limestone, so the treasure is still there. You’ve managed to evade security, break into the tomb, and slide the slab aside. You now have an hour before the next patrol passes to get hold of whatever treasures you can find and make your escape. Good luck!
Inside the room
Warning: the following paragraphs contain spoilers to the game.
Opening the bag, Mrs Logic found the borescope and a couple of folded pieces of paper. The papers included a list of Egyptian gods and the following clues:
- To find the route into the tomb, look to the sky and read the ashes of Tutankhamun’s ancestors.
- When Howard Carter locked his tomb, he wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t forget the code. He chose a memorable date – the year he found the Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus.
- The God of War can see how to proceed – follow his lead.
The first puzzle led to an Egyptian urn, well above safe reaching height (as dictated by the initial health and safety briefing). With the borescope, it was possible to look inside the urn and see a three digit code which gave access to the first “treasure chest”. Inside were two more clues:
- A message from Osiris written in hieroglyphics.
- A map of the tomb showing a route to the final treasures.
Howard had found Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, but didn’t reach the sarcophagus for another year, so the code was 1923. Horus, the god of War, was strategically placed looking across the room – and when you looked in that direction you saw a key hanging from the wall. Osiris was listed as the god of DEATH, which unlocked a word padlock and finally the map of the tomb gave you a route which unlocked the directional lock.
And so the treasure chest was unlocked, and jewels of much value spilled forth, along with an obligatory key to unlock the door. OK, it was cut out from card, but then we were using it to unlock a door without a lock, at the end of an adventure that didn’t need a locked door to make sense. I might have complained, but it rarely stops escape room owners, so I let her off…
A 15 minute escape with only a couple of clues and significant help with the directional padlock. Not bad for a solo effort, and, I believe, a new record!
The theming was OK, considering it was put together in our living room with what was lying around. The clue about the year of discovery required some external knowledge (or careful listening), but I let Mrs Logic off with some Googling. Making it 1923 rather than 1922 was mean, but also meant that a little jiggling of the padlock opened it, which gave the impression of a bad padlock rather than a cunning clue. Sigh. My fault entirely – we wrote the clue for 1922, then realised it was technically 1923…
The main thing is, though, everyone had fun.