Previously: Frequently Asked Questions, Vol. II.
It’s been a while since we’ve done an FAQ for the Most Dangerous Games, so now seems as good a time as any for another installment. As always, each of these questions came either from readers or from my search analytics; also as always, I’m not an expert in the occult or anything, so the answers seen here are all based on whatever I’ve been able to dig up in my research or my own best guesses (sometimes both).
I’m going to break the fourth wall for a moment here: Remember, most of these games aren’t actually real; they’re urban legends for the digital age, thought up by some creative individuals and meant primarily to spook and entertain. They’re stories. As such, any questions you might have about the specifics of what happens if you don’t follow the rules? Well, I’ve always maintained that, when it comes to horror, what we don’t see is always much scarier than what we do see. Odds are that whatever your own imagination can come up with is far more frightening than whatever someone else can — because whatever you think up is specific to you. Good horror, I think, paints in broad enough strokes that any individual can take what’s there and run with it, coming up with a highly personalized experience no one else will have. Ever. As such, even though you might want to ask all of those “but what happens if…” questions… you probably don’t actually want to know the answers. It’s better to leave the door open to possibility.
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Besides, not knowing what comes next is one of the most basic fears we have. What’s more frightening than the unknown?
What happens if you use a photo that doesn’t meet the three requirements?
It probably just won’t work. You know how a batch of cookies won’t come out quite right if you leave out one of the key ingredients while you’re baking them? The same thing goes for the requirements for any given game.
What happens after the Stranger has left with your gift and the person’s name?
Your environment will return to normal, although don’t forget to complete the follow-up steps after the Stranger has gone (wipe the word from the door, lock it, blow out the candles, wait until sunrise to unlock the door, and burn the photograph).
If I correctly complete the ritual, can I do it again?
You always can try it again; whether you should, though, is something entirely different. I wouldn’t — and that goes for most of these types of games. Unless the instructions explicitly state that it’s okay to give it another shot, I’d consider most of these games a one-time experience.
In this case, I’m not sure the Stranger would take kindly to being asked for favors on the regular.
Is it okay to play this game if there are other people asleep in the house?
Unless the instructions state that it’s okay to play with other people in the house, I wouldn’t. Typically just being in the presence of a ritual being conducted automatically involves someone in it, and it’s kind of a dick move to expose someone to this kind of stuff without their go-ahead. If they get caught in the crossfire, so to speak, it’s on you — and I wouldn’t want something like that weighing on my conscience.
What happens if I dial the wrong number? Do I have to restart?
You’d probably have to restart, yes. You can’t really hail a cab if you don’t actually call the cab company.
What happens if you get caught?
What does the Apex look like?
I don’t know whether anyone who’s seen it has ever been in a position to describe it. See also: Don’t get caught.
Are candles required?
Yep. See above, re: leaving out a key ingredient from whatever recipe you’re trying to make.
What’s the purpose of the candles?
Partially to set the mood; partially to encourage the meditative state required to make the game work; and, if you believe in magic, partially to add a little boost to the proceedings. Candle meditation is an actual thing — some people find it easier to let go of their thoughts when they’re focusing on a physical object, rather than a mantra, and candles are a useful anchor. Candle magic, meanwhile (which I don’t practice, by the way — I’m just putting it out there for people who might be interested), also uses candles as a focus point, usually in conjunction with a specific color in order to achieve specific goals.
As for why you can’t just use a flashlight? This is conjecture on my part, but if the candles have to do with magic — well, electricity is a modern invention, and technology and magic don’t always get along terribly well.
Is it possible to use protective objects during this ritual?
Possible? Sure; whether or not they’ll do anything, though, remains to be seen, since the instructions don’t list them as a requirement. But if having one around helps to keep you grounded, then by all means, hang onto it while you play the game.
If you play Doors of Your Mind again, do you encounter the same corridor as the one before or a new one?
I think that depends on the state of your mind each time. If you’re at a similar place in life as the first time in terms of how you view, think about, and process the world, the corridor will likely be the same; if you’re not, it’ll probably be different. Remember, the corridor is basically a representation of your own mind, so whatever’s going on in your brain will be reflected in how the corridor looks — and vice versa.
Can you create several salt circles before the game, then run to the closest one as needed?
I wouldn’t. The idea of creating a salt circle around yourself is to build a protective wall; in this case, the wall is meant to stand between you and the Midnight Man. Laying out a bunch of salt circles in advance, then trying to run into them, would functionally be the same thing as building a bunch of actual walls, then running headlong into them — either you’d do a lot of damage to yourself, or you’ll just knock the walls down. In either case, the protective power of pre-drawn circles would be useless; either you’ll be stuck outside of them with the Midnight Man snapping at your heels, or you’ll have blasted holes through them, thereby allowing the Midnight Man to follow you right inside.
You can apparently cut a door through any salt circle using something called an athame, but if you’re trying to save yourself from the Midnight Man, I don’t think you’ll have time to cut the door, get through it, and close it before he gets to you.
What about an uninvolved observer — will it work if someone follows you around who’s in the house, but not playing the game?
There are no uninvolved observers. If you’re in the house, you’re in the game — whether you like it or not.
If you have someone else with you while you play this game, will they get possessed?
Probably not, although it might not be incredibly safe for other people to be around while you play.
For what it’s worth, I’ve heard tell of a multi-person version of this one (which I suppose makes it less “one-man hide and seek” and more “hide and seek with a ghost”) that involves each person having their own cup of salt water and their own hiding place; I believe each person also has to be “It” before the doll is, but beyond that, I’m not totally sure what the rules are.
What will you see in the mirror? Please give details.
I doubt any two people have ever seen the same thing in the mirror; it’s a highly personal experience. Besides, doesn’t giving away all the details take the fun out of the story?
What happens if you provoke whatever you see in the mirror?
Probably nothing good.
What happens if you go over the time?
Don’t. That’s what your partner is for — to make sure that doesn’t happen.
What happens if you fall asleep?
At best, the ritual just won’t work; at worst… I’m not sure you’d want to find out. It’s not usually a good idea to begin a ritual and leave it unfinished.
What happens if I look back?
I wouldn’t. There’s a reason this game also goes by the name “Don’t Look Back.”
[Photo via Tim Pierce/Flickr]