It finally feels like October! I ran an event last week and my players were sweating by the end because it was a ridiculous 80 degrees outside. Now it’s 50 and drizzling. October is pretty much my favorite month, but it was hard to get excited when it still felt like August. So I’m a happy camper now, even though it means running errands in the rain.
The weather has me thinking about weather and puzzle hunts/other events. How do you plan for and deal with it as a designer and player, and what are ideal hunt conditions?
My first real puzzle hunt was DASH back in April, and it makes a pretty good case study for weather effects on experience. It was pretty chilly in D.C. that morning, which meant cold fingers (hard to write) and runny noses. By noon, the sun had come out and we actually started to shed a few layers. And by evening, it was full-on raining. Then on the other end of the spectrum is Post Hunt 2011, where we ran and sweat and I got sunburned.
As a player, it’s important to prepare for the weather so you have a good time.
For heat and sun:
- Wear sunscreen (even if it’s overcast!)
- Consider wearing a hat
- Wear light clothing, shorts
- Sunglasses are a must!
- Bring water and take breaks to consume it
- Seek out shade for solving
- Wear heavier clothing, coats, jackets
- Accessories like hats, scarves, and gloves (fingerless or something you can write with is best)
- Dress in layers in case you get too hot
- Bring tissues for runny noses
- If it’s really cold, those little packaged hand-warmers would probably be a great idea!
- Always be on the lookout for indoor places to warm up while you solve
- Umbrellas of course
- Water-repellent clothing, including shoes so you don’t run around in wet socks all day
- Maybe bring some towels for drying off, or an extra change of dry clothes if you have a long drive home after
- Maybe bring some kind of small tarp that you could put down to sit on when everything is covered in rain?
- Always be on the lookout for indoor places to dry off while you solve
- Protect your clues! Team BBSB went to Kinko’s and got their clues and map laminated when it was raining during the Great America Race, and then used a grease pencil to write. Brilliant idea, though I’d only recommend doing this to copies of the original clues since sometimes a clue might require burning, freezing, or submersion in water to reveal more. I’ve had some success putting standard-sized clue sheets into clear file protectors and using a dry-erase marker to write (though I don’t think I ever needed to write in the rain)
- Has anyone ever done a hunt in the snow?? I guess you’d just mostly do what you would do anyway for cold and rain.
As a designer, things get a little more stressful. I’ve only had to deal with this a little bit so far, so I don’t have much insight. For Jefferson’s Lost Invention, it was threatening to rain all day so I moved my actor from the park to a coffee shop (though it never did rain and I think he was able to hang out outside on a bench the whole time, much better). If you have an entire event designed and planned, it seems like there is only so much you can do if the weather decides not to cooperate. DASH did a really great job of wrangling up all the teams (we were among the last few teams out in the field, so we got to see this first-hand!) and guiding us to the ending location where we were able to play the rest of the game indoors. This works great for location-independent clues like DASH, but Ravenchase clues are all about being in the place and looking at the thing, so I think the adaptation is more about adjusting ending times or maybe giving out some free hints to move things along. If you can reasonably expect that it’s going to be miserably hot or cold, it’s probably a good idea to have some clues take players indoors for some respite.
I’d love to hear any great weather stories you have from puzzle hunts or other similar outdoor events. (Larry Hosken has a great one about tornado sirens and hail at the St. Louis DASH!), as well any tips and tricks you have.
And what’s your ideal puzzle hunting weather? I guess I’d have to say warm enough for shorts (but not hot), or pretty warm with a slight breeze (but not enough to blow papers around). Though I do love the crisp fall air and the atmosphere that lends, so maybe sweater weather would be nice as well! (Not that it matters, but if it were an all-indoors event, I’d say bring on the rain. I love the cozy feeling, and the way it’s kind of hard to tell the passage of time. And too gorgeous of a day might make you wish you were outside instead).
Perhaps I should migrate back to Austin for the winter and run some hunts there? =) They have the most lovely, mild winters there!