A few years ago, my friends and I took part in a weekly themed activity night. Each week for three years, we’d set out one night a week where we’d all get together for a few hours of fun.

Theme Nights were budget-friendly affairs, designed to offer a mix of food, games and entertainment and most importantly, a break from the real world. Every week, the themes would rotate, sometimes taking the form of simple topics (Film Night, Quiz Night etc) and sometimes being a little more elaborate (Deal or No Deal Night, The Crystal Maze Night etc).

Over the course of five special posts, I’m going to talk about some of our Theme Nights, explaining what they were all about, with a few photos (captured at the time) to illustrate the events.

Today’s Theme Night is…

Batman: Escape from Arkham Night (which originally took place on 15th July 2015)

 Escape from Arkham Night 1

Now, before I begin, it should of course be noted that I don’t work for DC Entertainment and that the type of game I set out below can be applied to any other subject – not just Batman. This was a fan-made game inspired by a love for the Batman mythology and was/is in no way endorsed by Warner Bros. or DC Comics/DC Entertainment. The game was merely played at home, for fun and nothing more.

So…

This was one of our more elaborate theme nights, which required a fair bit of preparation. However, once the basics of the night were worked out, it was a fairly straight forward theme to execute and a heck of a lot of fun.

The crux of this night centred around a game (lasting around 90 minutes). The object of the game was to work through a series of mini-challenges, a treasure hunt and a final puzzle.

The game provided the main entertainment for the Batman-themed night, but to add to the occasion there was a bit of Batman-related food and decorations (a Batman-themed cake etc) thrown in for good measure.

Escape from Arkham Night 3

So, how did the game work?

The premise of the game: The Riddler had escaped from Arkham Asylum. Batman and the Bat-family were out of town on a case, so it was up to the Police Department (i.e. two teams of players) to track down the Riddler. In order to find him, players had to complete a series of tasks that would eventually lead one team to the missing inmate.

Players were divided up into two teams, with one non-player (me) taking on the role of the host. I introduced the game and played a video. The video set out the scenario – the Riddler’s escape from Arkham Asylum.

Escape from Arkham Night 2

In the fan-made video, players were introduced to various Arkham inmates as they investigated the case. As the video continued, inmates appeared on screen all adding input.

Round 1 – The mini-challenges: Each inmate set a game round which was effectively a mini-challenge. The challenges were simple activities which related to the villain (a fears and phobias quiz round for the Scarecrow etc). Players took part in the rounds in order to win points.

Each round was worth 5 points. Once all of the rounds had been played, the team with the most points had their points converted into time – 5 points equalled 5 seconds. The time was then used to give the leading team a head-start in the next round, which was effectively a treasure hunt.

Round 2 – The hunt: The video explained that in order for players to find the missing inmate, they had to search out clues left by other inmates. These clues took the form of objects.

Prior to playing the game, I had hidden these objects around the building. The teams were then set loose to find the clues, with the leading team granted their head-start.

Escape from Arkham Night 4

Round 3 – The case file: Once both teams had returned from the hunt with their clues, I presented the final piece of the game – the case files. Each case file contained a sheet of paper with a partially filled in location name.

Players then found letters hidden on the back of the clues they had acquired. These letters were required to fill in the blanks on the Riddler’s location.

Escape from Arkham Night 5

The winner: The winner of the game was the first team to fill in the letters and successfully work out the final location.

How the game was created:

The game was played using a short home-made video, as well as a series of print-out puzzles/challenges and some carefully placed clues which were hidden around the building.

For the mini-challenges, I created some really simple games that took about 5-10 minutes to complete. These mini-challenges were word searches, Q&A sessions, puzzles etc that could be printed out on sheets of paper. The sheets were handed out at the appropriate point in the video (as indicated when inmates set the challenges).

For the ‘clue hunt’ I created a collection of clues (either objects or cardboard cut outs) and I placed a letter on the back of each clue. The letters matched up with the missing letters on the case file. Once all the clues were assigned their letters, the clues were hidden around my apartment block.

For the case file, I simply set out a folder with a sheet of paper inside. The piece of paper had part of the final location written on it, with gaps to be filled in by players. In the example used earlier, the final location was Gotham State University. As you could see in the photo, some of the letters were filled in, some were left blank for the players to complete.

OK, OK, there was quite a lot to explain, but I promise once I had my head around the basic premise of the game it was pretty easy to set up and present. Honest.

As mentioned at the start of this (very) long post, this was a fan-made game and one of the more elaborate Theme Nights we ever took part in. The four remaining posts in this series – which will be coming up shortly – will be more straightforward.

I hope you feel inspired.

Alex