Also Known As:
Get Tracking, Round the Houses, Square Dance, Tricky Trail, Word Snake
There are numerous variations of pathfinder, but its most straightforward form involves finding a list of words on a path through a wordsearch-style grid. The puzzle can be made more challenging by omitting the list, but only if the theme and its examples are suitable. A trail of American states would be easy enough to find, whether listed or not. An unlisted trail of American towns and cities would only be reasonable if restricted to high-profile places. In a more general theme, such as Christmas, solvers won't necessarily know the exact form of the words they're seeking. If they've found SANTA, should they now be looking for a new item or CLAUS? Could PRESENT be PRESENTS? A certain amount of ambiguity may enhance the puzzle, but inconsistency will spoil it.
The position of words on the path is also important. While it is desirable to have places on the path where solvers must look a few letters ahead to be sure of the correct direction, it should not be possible to stray onto a point further along the path, missing out a section on the way. So it is preferable to have the start of only one listed item adjacent to the end letter of any other item on the path.
As with standard wordsearches, offensive words can appear in the grid if not checked. They may also be harder to spot, as a checker is less likely to be looking along straight lines in the grid.
Pathfinder variations include trails of un-themed words that are clued rather than listed. To compensate for the lack of theme, the words on these trails usually overlap by one or more letters, to give solvers a little extra help.