Previously: Frequently Asked Questions, Vol. V.
It’s been a few months; time for an update, I think. A lot of folks have had some interesting questions about how these games and rituals might interact — e.g., what happens if you play a game that ends with you, say, needing to avoid mirrors, and then try to play a game that involves a lot of mirrors? Most of my answers to these sorts of questions are purely conjecture, I’m afraid — but it’s a fascinating line of thought. I’d love to hear any theories anyone else might have, as well, so do feel free to comment if you’ve got one.
Also, on a slightly unrelated note: Many thanks to all the post-wedding well-wishers! Your kind words are all very much appreciated.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
Can I do the rituals during the day?
I mean, you could go through the steps, but I think ultimately they’d just not work.
(I realize that these are a ll a little late, so they might not help if you played the game this year; if you’re planning on trying it next year, though, hopefully they’ll provide some useful information.)
What counts as an “outdoor location?” Does it have to be something like a park, or is a backyard or garden good enough?
Any outdoor location works, so yes, a backyard or garden is fine. Given that the instructions specify drawing a circle in the dirt, I would recommend being somewhere where there’s actually, y’know, dirt on the ground. (That is, it might not work if you just try to trace a circle on asphalt or a paved surface or something.)
If we’re asked for our address, should we give the address of the outdoor location, or of our home?
Your home. That’s where you get your mail delivered, right?
So, there’s no way to end or abort this game? Just running until whatever is chasing us catches up with us?
Correct. If you decide to start this game, make sure you really want to play it before you begin.
What happens if I turn the radio off?
I’m not completely sure, but I can think of a couple of possible outcomes. One would be that your good fortune simply halts; the rules specify that your good fortune will carry on as long as the radio is on, so if you turn it off, it’ll just stop. The second — and for what it’s worth, I think this is probably the most likely outcome — is that you rush yourself immediately to Step 1 of The Price.
The third, though, is admittedly the most intriguing to me: I don’t really know that the radio can be turned off.
Can I just change the batteries?
Well, I mean, you could — but I don’t think it’ll have the outcome you’re hoping for. Similarly to what might happen if you turn the radio off, I suspect that changing the batteries is effectively a shortcut to Step 1 of The Price: At best, it might be seen as you forfeiting your good fortune — and at worst, it might be seen as you trying to cheat.
No one likes a cheater.
Especially not whatever you’re messing with when you play these sorts of games.
Why do I have to run?
It all goes back to that rule about equals and opposites. So, you know how, with the radio playing, your luck will always be good? All that bad luck has to congregate somewhere. And once the radio isn’t around to protect you from it anymore… well, you do the math.
And how long do I have to keep running?
Don’t stop. Ever.
What if you play again and get a new radio next year? Can you keep it going?
I don’t think it would so much keep it going as compound the overall effect of the whole thing; as such, I wouldn’t recommend playing more than once.
And that’s assuming that you are able to play it again the next year, too. I’m not sure you will be.
If you don’t live alone, will the Man in the Fields go after other people in the house?
Yep. That’s why the preparation for the game instructs you to clear the yard and house of other people before you begin. Exposing people you know and/or care about to extreme danger without their consent is… uh… not a nice thing to do (to put it mildly).
Can you get a head start by closing some of the things in your home before you begin?
Nope. Something about The Invitation opens everything — so if you close it before you start, it’ll be open again by the time you finish The Invitation. You’ll just have to close it all again.
What happens if your neighbor looks at the scarecrow?
I, er… don’t know that they’ll be able to see it.
But if they can… probably nothing good.
Does the television have to be tuned to white noise?
You know, I’m actually not sure — that’s a good question. I don’t think it has to be, but you certainly could try it. In all the versions of this game I’ve found, the instructions only state that if the television starts displaying abnormal behavior, it’s considered a warning sign. Given that a television could display abnormal behavior in either situation — tuned to an actual channel or tuned to white noise — I assume it’ll work either way.
What happens if you don’t cut her loose and she follows you into your dreams? Is there any way to stop her?
If you fail to perform the “Kitta!’ command correctly, you’re sunk.
Do we have to prick our finger, or can we just cut a random part of our skin to draw blood?
As far as I know, there’s no reason the blood can’t come from somewhere other than your finger — but I wouldn’t recommend just slicing yourself open. I don’t practice Wicca, but it’s my understanding that blood magic should never use more than a drop or two. Pricking a finger is ideal for this reason; giving yourself a jab with a sterilized needle will only give you a couple of drops, so there’s no danger of accidentally spilling more than you need. (Using a ton of it won’t result in anything good.)
If you stay in the salt circle until 3:33am, you won’t win, but he won’t either. Is it a draw?
Something like that, yes.
Do your partners have to follow you to the public place?
Nope. They should just wait for you where you left them.
What happens if you’re in the building and you “Do not proceed?”
Stay put. You, uh… might be stuck for a while. You might try closing the door and repeating the previous step.
But I’ll be honest with you: This would not be a good situation to be in.
Can you abort this ritual halfway through if you change your mind?
I don’t think so. And, really this is a note for almost all of these games and rituals: Make damn sure you want to play it before you begin. Some of them have procedures that will allow you to abort the ritual; not all of them do, though. And even if you abort… well, you’ve been playing around with some powerful stuff. There’s no going back once you’ve dipped even a toe in.
What constitutes a “room?” Bathrooms? Walk-in closets? Attached garages?
Theoretically I suppose they could all count, although I wouldn’t recommend any of them. First off, the room has to be empty, so you’d have to take out everything you’ve got in any of those spaces and move them somewhere else. Additionally, the closet would be an enormous fire hazard (do you really want to be lighting a whole bunch of matches in relatively close quarters?); attached garages usually have a lot of windows (e.g. it would be a pain in the ass to cover them all up); and in the case of the bathroom, a) I’m not sure the room would be empty enough (things like the tub, sink, etc. would be… uh… difficult to remove from the room), and b) most bathrooms have mirrors in them, and I’m not sure it would be advisable to play this game with a mirror present in your hosting room. Mirrors have a habit of amplifying whatever you’re doing — adding one to the mix here might cause the game to become unpredictable, and therefore a lot more dangerous.
What if the match blows out suddenly after it lights?
This is conjecture on my part, but I think it might depend on whether or not you’re able to greet your guests before it blows out. If you are, then you can proceed as usual; if you’re not, though, then I would treat it as a match that failed to light.
What happens if the first match lights, the second match doesn’t, and the third match does?
Then you can proceed following the instructions for the third match having lit. You’re only in big trouble if it doesn’t — in that case, you’d want to run to the nearest light source and turn it on immediately.
Can I break the mirror with a hammer?
I don’t see why not.
Do you have to say her name out loud for it to work, or can you just say it in your head?
My understanding is that it has to be out loud.
Does the lipstick have to be in classic stick form? Or can it be a liquid lipstick or a cream?
I suspect probably any lipstick would work; the reason it’s a suggested item is because lipstick generally draws on mirrors really well. I wouldn’t recommend using a liquid lipstick, though (particularly a long-wearing matte one); it’ll be a more difficult to write with (you’ll have to keep dunking the applicator into the tube), and it might be harder to clean off the mirror once it’s dried.
What happens if someone goes into a room where the candle is lit, but they weren’t the one to light it?
I don’t think anyone who has done that has been in any condition to tell us what happened.
What happens if you lose?
Don’t. Just… don’t.
What happens if he visits you again, but you don’t invite him?
You’ll immediately want to begin with Step 1 of The Game (Run. Hide. Do it quickly and quietly), then play through to the end. You’ll have to stay vigilant, though; keep your ears open at all times. You never know when that rattling noise will announce his returning presence — and trust me: You don’t want to miss it when it happens.
Can you take a picture of the woman on the 5th floor so you know what she looks like?
I mean, you could try — but I’m not totally sure the picture would come out properly.
Shouldn’t we help this poor woman on the 5th floor to get out? What if she’s stuck there, too?
That’s what she wants you to think.
How long can you safely stay in the Other World?
It’s never safe.
What happens if you use a phone, tablet, or computer to play the song and it just buffers?
Honestly, I would just avoid putting yourself in this situation in the first place; too much could go wrong if you try to stream the music while you play. If you’re using a device like a phone, tablet, or computer to play the song, make sure you have the file downloaded and are able to play it offline.
What happens if I have to get something out of the closet after playing the game, but I don’t have anything to light it up?
The example given in the comment that asked this question was if, say, there’s a power outage and you don’t have any other sources of light available. Trouble is, though, the “don’t look in the closet if you can help it and especially not without any light” circumstance remains the case, regardless as to what else might be going on in your life at any given moment. So, I would say that unless it’s absolutely essential that you get something out of that closet, then wait until the power comes back on.
Or, ideally, don’t store anything you might need in that closet. Then you won’t have to go in it all. (Remember that whole thing where you need to be really, really sure you want to play these games before you start? Considering the consequences is part of that decision.)
Can you call the same person twice?
Theoretically, yes, although I wouldn’t do it too often.
Would calling the same person multiple times cause the spirit to gain power and possibly be able to break through?
I don’t think so, but again, I’d avoid playing this game enough times that this could become a possibility in the first place.
Could you use this to contact non-human beings, like dead pets?
I mean, you could try, but I suspect that most of our pets, however smart they were, would probably have a hard time picking up the phone.
Could doing the Hooded Man Ritual before this increase our chances of getting the number of a malevolent entity?
That’s an interesting thought. I don’t think so; the Hooded Man Ritual uses an actual telephone, whereas you make your own with the Shoebox Telephone game — a distinction which I suspect might matter a good deal.
I could always be wrong, though…
Can you use a room with more than four corners?
Nope. Four corners — no more, no less.
How many times should we do Main Event Step 4?
Until all the players have stood in each of the four corners once.
Can I play this game if I only have one eye?
That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure; you could try, but I don’t know whether it would work because of the way peripheral vision works. If you do give it a try, let me know how it goes for you — I’d be really interested to know the answer to this one.
Would I not be able to play this game if I played Daruma-san or a game where I could no longer look in mirrors?
Oooo, that’s another interesting one. My gut says you probably shouldn’t try any mirror-heavy games if you’ve previously played one that ends with you needing to avoid mirrors from here on out, but that’s just an educated guess. The same goes for games with a finishing condition requiring you to avoid being in dark places for too long.
[Photo via Tim Pierce/Flickr]