Previously: Frequently Ask Questions, Vol. I.
A surprising number of questions about all these Most Dangerous Games have found their way into the comments section since the last FAQ I posted, so now seemed like a good time for another one. Again, I’m by no means an expert, and these aren’t be-all, end-all answers; they’re my best guesses, based on what we know about the games themselves and what we know about rituals in general. Speaking of, I’ve also added a “General” category to cover a few of the questions that address overarching themes that carry through from game to game.
Got something else you want answered? Leave it in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
Why is 6am always the safe hour?
It’s generally believed that it’s harder for anything… shall we say, not of our world to cross over to it during the daylight hours. The sun has typically either risen or is in the process of rising by six o’clock in the morning — although you might want to wait a little longer if you play any of these games in the dead of winter. On the winter solstice, for example, it’s not unusual for the sun to rise around 7:30.
When you finish or abort a game, are you safe for good?
Not necessarily. Remember, most of these rituals involve inviting dangerous things into your home — and once they’ve been invited in, it’s really hard to get them to leave, even if you complete or abort the game (this, I suspect, is also why some games should never be played more than once). The Midnight Man is probably the best example of a guest who likes to stick around, even after his game has been completed; the same is true of Daruma-San.
The safest thing, of course, is just not to play any of them.
…But then, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t get at least a tiny bit of a thrill from the danger.
What happens if you ignore any red flags?
You don’t want to know.
Should I write my full name, or just my first name or a nickname?
Most of the games that require the use of a name stipulate the full name — first, middle if you have one, and surname, a la the Midnight Game — so I imagine you’ll get a better result using the whole thing, rather than just your first name or a nickname. Be careful, though — names have power, and detailing your full name requires you to relinquish your hold over it. Whatever you give that power to? Let’s just say it may not have the best of intentions.
Why do I need a power object and why must it be connected to the person I’m talking to?
It’ll help the call go through and keep the connection clear. Think of it like the phone number for whomever you’re trying to ring — not placing an object with some sort of meaning for them in the box is kind of like picking up the regular phone, punching in random numbers, and hope you get a hold of the person you meant to call.
What happens if I call someone who doesn’t speak my language?
Then you probably won’t be able to understand them. It’s a telephone, not a translation service.
Why can’t I use a staircase with more than 16 steps?
Mostly because doing so would take a ridiculously long amount of time. Remember, you’re performing this ritual uninterrupted, and you have to devote an hour to each step. 16 steps means 16 hours — which also means not eating, drinking, using the restroom, or taking care of any of your other basic needs during that time.
What happens if you don’t remove or destroy the objects?
These sorts of games often leave out the details of what happens if you fail to take care of an essential step. It’s a storytelling device; what our imaginations dream up to fill in the blanks is often much more frightening than any definitive answer could be.
That said, though, I can offer this thought without killing too much of the fun: Should you decide to abort the ritual, removing and destroying the objects must necessarily be done. Failing to do so will likely cause the abortion not to work — which means you’ll be stuck in a home with an unfinished ritual and something nasty creeping around. Needless to say, this is not an advisable situation in which to put yourself and anyone else who lives with you.
What happens if someone who’s not the young woman gets on the elevator?
I’m pretty sure that will just cause the ritual not to work. I’d abort the whole thing and head back down to the lobby; you can always try again later. If you’re worried that the new passenger might be the young woman in disguise — which isn’t something I’ve heard of happening, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything — err on the side of caution by averting your gaze.
How am I supposed to tell if whoever got on the elevator is the young woman without looking at her?
That’s what your peripheral vision is for. Elevators are generally pretty small, so you should be able to spot enough details about the new passenger from the corner of your eye to be able to tell whether it’s a young woman or not; just avoid looking directly at whoever it is. The important thing is not to make eye contact.
What happens if no one gets on at the fifth floor?
Remember, it’s not a given that the young woman will show up; if she does, it’ll be on the fifth floor, but she won’t necessarily put in an appearance. Count yourself lucky if no one gets on then — it’s one less thing you have to worry about.
What if you use a mirror that’s already mounted to the wall? Do I just put my face up as close as I can to it in order to anoint it with my breath?
It’s not advisable to use a wall-mounted mirror; remember, you have to smash the thing as part of the ritual, and a huge looking glass that’s stuck fast to the wall is a lot harder to break than a small hand mirror. If you must use a wall-mounted mirror, though, then yes, just get your face as close to it as possible. Breathing on it in this manner should still cause it to fog up.
What happens if someone in the room doesn’t breathe on the mirror?
Then they’re not actively participating the ritual. They’re a bystander only, so they’ll neither suffer the consequences nor reap the benefits.
I tried to create the black mark on the mirror with a flame and the mirror broke on its own. What happens now?
That’s not a terribly good sign; it sounds like your bad luck has already begun before you’ve even completed the first act. Since there’s no way to abort this ritual, you’ll have to see it through to the end anyway — but be extra vigilant throughout the night. The stakes were already high, but a mirror that breaks on its own may raise them even higher.
What if I have rooms in my house that don’t have actual doors (just an archway or entryway)?
Another commenter suggested hanging a sheet over the doorframe, which sounds like a pretty good solution to me. Just make sure whoever places the candles for you keeps the ones in rooms like this away from the doorway — the last thing you want is a breeze wafting the sheet into a lit candle.
What if you fall asleep during the game?
Don’t. Just… don’t.
What’s the point of this game?
It’s kind of open-ended, but I think it functions similarly to hypnosis or meditation. You might learn something… but bear in mind that it might be knowledge you were better off not possessing.
Are the beings in the mirrors psychological or spiritual?
I think they’re psychological, since so much of what happens during this one comes from your own subconscious — but that’s just me. It might be different for you.
Why do I have to perform a cleansing ritual before and after the game?
Should you attempt any of these games, it’s a good idea to perform cleansing rituals as a matter of course — even if they’re not included in the instructions. When performed after the completion of a game, they’re a way to keep whatever you may have invited in — intentionally or unintentionally (sometimes opening the door to one guest allows a gatecrasher entrance, as well) — at bay. And as for why you need to perform one at the beginning of this particular one? I like to think of it as clearing the way for what’s to come. It’s a lot easier to walk along a path that’s been swept clean than it is to travel one that’s full of brush and brambles.
What are you meant to see during the cab ride?
That depends entirely on you.
[Photo: Tim Pierce/Flickr]