Yesterday my guild in WoW held a fairly creative twist on a real world classic: hide and seek.

The original concept one of our officers had was just that – play hide and seek. Over mumble, multiple guildmates helped refine the idea until we ended up with a fairly entertaining spin. One brave volunteer put himself up to be “it” and the rest of us made Alliance toons in our guild’s Alliance alt-guild and then hid. He then had to turn nameplates off and go a-hunting for us. In Stormwind. As a Hordie. We made things interesting by offering bounties on his head for any screencaps of people killing him, plus we all hung out in mumble and taunted him. Around a dozen or so people turned up to this event, which is a good turnout for the end of expansion lulls. Even better, we were able to capitalize on the mood and roll the group of participants into an eventual “For the Horde!” raid.

I always am a big fan of creative events like this. For me, not everything we do in a game needs to be based solely in the mechanics the devs have given us to play with – sure, raids and battlegrounds are fun, but most games also feature an expansive world and lots of little details which can be used to create a fun event. Back when I played MUDs, I loved to setup scavenger hunts and quizzes for people, sending them to obscure locations, or making them bring back items, or, for one Halloween, setting up a whole murder-mystery trail of clues for other players to solve.

Pyramid o’ dragons.

Sometimes the most amusing events aren’t even anything in particular. For example, after one very successful ICC achievement run, everyone started busting out the dragons they’d finally earned. Somehow that evolved into us forming a hovering pyramid of Bloodbathed Frostbrood Vanquishers…which eventually turned into a parade around Ogrimmar…with more and more people who owned that mount joining in. We probably had at least 40 or more people doing the conga around Garrosh’s building by the end of it, and none of us could stop giggling the entire time.

Here are some fun event ideas I’ve seen in various games over the years. Most can be adapted to a variety of games.

  • Scavenger hunts: send participants out to find items or places or follow a trail of clues.
    • Some games let you bury items to hide treasure, while others may let you leave letters or signs around to provide clues. For follow-the-trail games, I like to leave messages/words/numbers on each clue which players should take note of. At the end, ask them a riddle or question which ensures they actually saw every clue and didn’t jump over a few links in the trail.
    • For finding items, you can have players find rare objects, speed-race to bring back common items, or encourage creativity. In one roleplay-based MUD, I had players bring back their interpretation of various concepts. The guild I was leading was a militant order of death knights, so the concepts included abstract things open to interpretation like “pain,” “strength” and “power.” This type of roleplay-based event can easily transition into more extended roleplay and also reinforce important tenets of your organization. It can also lead to amusing results, like the guy who brought back the LITERAL DEAD BODY of a slain enemy character as an example of “weakness.”
    • For location-finding, you can do things like making a list of riddles or clues which refer to various places in the game. Either have players race to get to each location you call out, then verify they are there, or give an entire list and let players find them over an extended length of time. Screenshots, in-game letters or posts on guild forums with the answers can all work as possible submission methods.
  • Tournaments: pitting your organization against each other (or against an enemy organization) in a formal, tiered schedule of fights can be exciting and fun, especially if there are rewards at stake. You can also usually wave something unique before the participants as a prize, like the right to bear a custom title or a creative work posted publicly about their prowess in battle. Many games have “official” avenues for combat which you can utilize for these games, such as duels, arenas or wargames.
    • Tournaments can run the gamut from simple to complex. The most basic is simply a duel-fest held one evening, inviting everyone to come practice against each other. You can get far more elaborate, however, with bracketed fights and even team compositions. You will need to consider if one fight will decide the winner or if players/teams can do best out of 3, etc. Also be prepared to address ties and stand-offs.
      • Round-robin: In round robin tournaments, everyone fights everyone. This means a series of fights, with the opponents rotating. Whoever wins the majority of the battles wins the tournament. A round-robin tournament is usually considered more “fair” as one bad fight won’t kill your chances of winning, but they are much more time intensive to organize and run.
      • Elimination: For an elimination tournament, when you lose the battle, you are out of the running. The winners of each fight then face each other, until two players/teams are facing off for the final victory. When setting up brackets, you can either seed the matches or use random determination to decide who will fight each other. For seeded matches, you can either pit low-ranked people against high-ranked for quick victories and a fast-paced tournament, or put equal-skilled people against each other.
      • Free-for-all: The easiest to organize, the grand melee style battle just tosses everyone into the arena at once (for WoW, think Gurubashi/Feralas/Outlands arenas) and whoever is left standing wins. Be aware that players may form alliances, so plan ahead for if you want to allow that or not.
    • In online games, it can sometimes be difficult for all participants to overlap in playing times, so bear this in mind when designing your tournament. Consider who would sign up, what hours they play, if they would all be able to fight each other, etc.
    • Creative and silly variations can also make for a fun and unique event: drunken battles where players have to drink IG booze until they can barely stand, gearless fights/naked duels, novelty-items-only for weapons, tag-team combat, high-low teams where one high-level player is teamed up with (and must protect) a low-level player, etc.

Any duel is better as fishing-pole wielding pirates.

  • Fun Runs: These are especially popular in MMOs. The basic concept is that you have a pack of people moving together. You can make this a race, a relay contest, a raiding party, a group achievement hunt for holiday events, or merely a virtual pub crawl. Encourage players to dress up fun, act silly and consider awarding prizes for outfits, vehicles, drinking songs, etc. For races, one fun spin is have players race as newbie alts, putting the entire focus on their skills at avoiding hungry monsters (and corpse running).

And of COURSE, one of them is wearing a dress. Of course.

  • Costume Contests/Masked Balls: Have players show off their best outfits. For roleplay games, this can be extra special and made into a masquerade ball, with things like in-game refreshments and entertainment adding to the event. Award prizes for various costume themes (funny, impressive, scary, creative, couples, etc).

So Santa and a cultist walked into a bar…

  • Quizzes: Many players like learning in-game lore (or real life trivia). Holding a quiz can be a fun way for people to compete to prove their wit (plus some of the answers you will get will be hilarious). There are add-ons available for this or, if you’re ambitious, you can code an automated one. When I played MUDs, I wrote a zscript system to run trivia for my party while we were grinding xp, and it was always fun to fire that up. For a roleplay-based event, you can hold it in a tavern, call it a pub quiz night and encourage drinking and emoting between questions and score tallying.
  • Group PvE: Give the usual raiding and dungeoning a spin by running themed PvE content. Instead of just blasting through the content on max-level, top-geared characters, play around with things for a bit of a challenge (and a laugh). Hold naked dungeon runs or play strip dungeon where everyone has to take off a piece of gear after each boss. Roll newbies and do something silly like Orcish Army Knife’s dungeon challenge. Try running raids or dungeons with the weirdest compositions you can think of. Basically just mix things up to breathe new life into old content.