…Like what we used to do in Scouting?

compass-metalicoExactly! For those of you who did Scouting as a youth, you will remember them fondly. You were given a set of directions, a compass, and a map to follow that led you to find a point that had some sort of treasure. It was always fun, even if you did a huge traverse that took an entire afternoon and got tired while doing it. The reward for finding the treasure was always worth it.

Have you ever thought of doing that as part of a game session?

Break out of your shell.

Let’s face it – sometimes you want to try something different. Sometimes you ask your players to try different classes or races than they usually play. Why don’t you try something different in the GM’s seat?

Normally you run the games in your world of choice with your system of choice. At a store, in your dining room, a friend’s basement, or someplace that is the norm for your group.

How often do you make a change in what you are doing as the GM, DM, or referee? Yes, you decided to step up your game and now use voices, and make an effort to keep the ones you have started to use straight. When was the last time you really shook things up and tried something off the wall different?

Why not try a Treasure Hunt?

Geocaching is similar…

joede-location-symbolGeocaching is the activity of hunting for and finding hidden objects at particular GPS coordinates. This is a lot easier than the old way of orienteering with a map and compass. After all, you have coordinates within 20’ of a point of interest and you do not have to go through a bunch of other points most of the time unless it is a progressive geocache.

I like geocaching as well, don’t get me wrong. If you have not done it before you should try it. But if you want to do this with your group in a fantasy setting, it really does not work well. After all, they won’t have GPS (unless it’s a modern or science fiction setting) so it wouldn’t make sense in the game world.

Let’s hear more about this idea.

Here’s the idea. Make a treasure map. Give it to your players. Let them go on an actual treasure hunt in the real world.

I am completely serious about this.

I did this and my players had a blast. They were looking for a treasure in the game and I wanted to do something really different. It was going to be a beautiful evening according to the weather channel and apps on my phone. When it was time to put my plan in motion, I set out to make the pirate treasure map. I wanted it simple enough they wouldn’t even need a compass. All they needed was directions from North and the starting point.

Keeping on the correct course was part of the charm, so I kept it simple using the cardinal points: North, East, South, and West. Some directions were directly between, such as Northwest and Southeast. The fun steps were with directions a little less specific, like West by Northwest which is between West and Northwest and higher than Northwest by West. I did not give too many of those as I wanted to make it fun and a bit of a challenge, but not so difficult that it would be impossible to do.

160303_scrollThe rest was all in paces. I know my pace is a metre, which is practically a yard for those of you stuck on Imperial measurements.

I gave them a quick map directions course so they understood how to properly read a map. Then I gave them a pace test to understand distances better without a measuring chain. I had one that was 100m/300’ but I really did not believe they would need it. I was trying to keep this as authentic as possible.

I started them off at a light standard. They knew which way was North. All they needed now was another pace test to know their distances. They were off to the races and it led them from symbol to symbol, from tree to tree, signposts, shrubs, and to bollards. Now they were at the edge of a park and they found the last clue on the bollard that had the final symbol on their treasure map.

I gave them the twists now. They found the additional treasure map once they found the final symbol that was on the bollard. I then asked them if anyone brought shovels? The looks on their faces were priceless.

Two of the players were going to be late this session so it worked out well. They went back for the shovels and let the other players start the treasure hunt. They put the others on the right track and let them go and find the right locations for each point.

I had symbols at each location so it was not as difficult as it sounds. One was a symbol of a sun for example. I used a keychain with a sun logo and had it hanging in a tree. I used cracks in sidewalks and on the street even that were clear enough to give a symbol. It was just as if a pirate had made this treasure map.

Once at the final destination of the first map the first group laughed and showed the second group the second map. It led them to 5 more points and I told them they did not need to use the shovel once they found the last point. The mosquitos were starting to come out so they grabbed the treasure sheet and we went back to my house. Everyone had a blast!

Final thoughts

You and your group can have as much fun too. All you need to do is shake things up a bit.

So this post is a challenge one. The last one was about getting out to a convention. This one is a quest challenge. Set up the players to find a pirate treasure map. Make a treasure map. Get them out and enjoy the wonderful summer weather while we have it. The treasure hunt may take place in Autumn, but that is still pretty decent weather.

Then plan for another treasure hunt next summer that is longer, and maybe more difficult! Maybe the next one gets them to a mine, or a forest where they need to look for some rare spell component, or to find another treasure.

Clear skies fellow GM’s and players – until next time!

Keith R. Byers, A.Sc.T., Esq.

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