Introduction: Escape Room
We built this room as part of our Halloween party. The goal was to make everything without much investing into something we didn't have at home. It must be equally challenging for school age kids and their parents. It had to be creepy enough, but not too scary for younger children. And, obviously, we were entertaining a bunch of smarty pants.
The ideal space for such a room was a tiny washroom in our basement. It had no windows, could fit a team of three players and would sustain some extra holes drilled for locks here and there.
Step 1: Main Lock
To lock the room, we used an old bike word combination lock with a 4 letter combination. The setup allowed us to lock the players from outside and to have that lock accessible to them from the inside through a narrow opening.
Step 2: Inside the Room
We hang an old shower curtain and painted 'Brain' with red spray paint on it. Just for fun, because the word itself didn't help much in decoding the locks.
On the walls, we had three photo frames where we replaced the photos for three similar images of the same guy. The only difference between them was a sign language letter the guy was signing. A money box with three digits combination lock. A cork board with keys and hints.
Step 3: American Sign Language Lettering
We photoshopped Alan Turing for that purpose and placed some info about the guy on the cork board for educational purposes.
Step 4: Cork Board
Starting top left corner:
A vintage photo of a military officer keying Morse code.
A Greek guy saying 'That's a piece of pie, baby' as a hint for the money box lock.
An info on Alan Turing. Not a hint to anything.
An American Sign Language alphabet. The image was googled and downloaded from the internet.
A Braille Alphabet, also googled, downloaded and printed out.
A vintage poster containing a key word for the 5 letters combination lock on the top cabinet.
An ASCII Code alphabet googled and printed. To make the task harder, you may replace it with simple instruction how to find the right binary numbers for a needed letter for those who knows the binary system.
A handwritten message about the slashed zero that was used by first programmers. That's - combined with the b/w poster, three Turing portraits on the wall and the ASL alphabet - a hint for the top cabinet lock.
An ad saying 'Two for one' and an unlocked 3 digits combination lock with actually 241 combination on it, does not lead anywhere.
Step 5: Money Box
Contains a key for the bottom cabinet under the sink, a flash light, some blank paper and a couple of pencils.
Step 6: Bottom Cabinet
Contains a recordable toy with a Morse code lettering of the main door lock. It sounds the recording every time you press on it. For the recording, we used an online Morse code translator, the word written as a string of separate five letters and the speed set for 25 wpm - to make it readable for complete beginners. There also was a Morse code alphabet downloaded from the internet, another flashlight, a couple of pencils and some extra pieces of paper.
Step 7: Top Cabinet
Contains a bottle of glow-in-the-dark paint where the label was replaced with a phrase that can be used as a hint for the main door lock. The phrase is written in Braille on masking tape, we used a hole puncher. There is an extra night light and a handwritten message in binary code saying 'Read the Morse code' - also, a hint for the main lock.
Step 8: Lights Off
The bathroom lights were disabled. The players started in the darkness using one set of 'spy goggles' with built-in blue flashlight. Step by step, they discover more flashlights.
Step 9: Timing
We didn't mention it before, but there is also a clock on the wall visible with very little light in the room. The players are always aware of the time. They have one hour to crack all the codes and locks. You check on them every 15 minutes. If they are stuck, you may help with a little extra hint. All our teams managed to unlock themselves before the deadline.
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.
what age is it for
We had four groups of players. Kids 8-10, kids 8-13, young adults and academics (university profs). All players had fun, younger kids used more hints, young adults used more time, and the fastest cracker was a 13 y.o. air cadet who literally knew Morse code by heart.