Previously: The Telephone Game.
One Step Ahead is a hide-and-seek game similar to the Midnight Game, the Man in the Fields, and Dry Bones, with some Otherworld elements like those seen in the Elevator Game, the Hooded Man Ritual, and Channel Infinity thrown in. On the scale of Most Dangerous Games to No, Really, These Games Are So Dangerous, You Guys, it ranks pretty highly; although death is never referred to as a consequence for losing, it’s worth remembering that there are some fates that are, in fact, worse than death.
I’m not sure how old this one is; Redditor IkerRivercast, who posted it to the r/ThreeKings subreddit in the spring of 2017, noted that they’d first heard about it around 2007 or 2008, likely on the internet. What’s interesting to me about that is that 8 Feet Tall also made her online debut around 2008 — and although it’s not clear whether or not the entity in One Step Ahead is 8 Feet Tall, the timing is enough to make me wonder.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
As always, play at your own risk.
- At least one principal.
- A building with at least five floors and a stairwell running continuously from the bottom floor to the top.
- A bladed object.
- Red cloth, enough to wrap around the bladed object, plus some extra.
- A timekeeping device. Analog is recommended.
- A wish or desire. Simpler is better.
- Begin at night.
- Wrap your bladed object in the red cloth. When the wrapping is complete, cut a scrap from the excess cloth. This scrap should be several inches in length, or roughly the size of your palm.
- Take both the wrapped blade and the scrap of cloth with to your chosen building.
- Enter the building’s stairwell at the bottom floor. Place the wrapped blade here.
- Go to the top of the stairwell. If there is roof access, do not exit to the roof; remain indoors.
- Wait until shortly before midnight.
- If there are people in the stairwell who are NOT players, do NOT proceed. Wait until they exit the stairwell. If they do not exit the stairwell, abort the game.
- Just before the clock ticks over to midnight, hold your wish in your mind and hold the scrap of red cloth in your hand. Speak the following words: “I wish to play with you. I offer this to you, your tool to use. Know I do not play in vain, but seek a fitting boon from you for my trouble. If you agree to that condition, and see that all else is in order, then come now, for I am ready for your challenge.”
- Repeat “I am ready for your challenge” 11 more times. The final repetition should occur at the stroke of midnight.
The Main Event:
- If the Prelude is successful, all the doors in the building will unlock, and all non-players will disappear. NOTE: This does not mean the building is empty. You are in Her world now. She thanks you for the gift you left for Her at the bottom of the stairwell.
- If the doors do not unlock and non-players are present, the Prelude was unsuccessful. She does not wish to play at this moment. Perform a cleansing ritual and try again another time.
- Begin moving through the building. Keep the scrap of red cloth with you. Do not let Her catch you. (For definition, re: “being caught,” see Additional Notes.)
- If She finds you, run. Stay ahead of Her. Hide. Do not let Her catch you.
- If you successfully evade Her, wait until She leaves and exit your hiding place. Begin moving through the building again.
- Do not remain in one place too long.
- Continue moving through the building until 4am.
- At 4am, go to the top of the stairwell.
- Hold the scrap of red cloth. Speak the following words: “I have no proven the worth of my skills. On your honor and mine, I shall now return whence I came, and lay claim to my quarry.”
- Exit the stairwell.
- Exit the building.
- Go home.
- Wait. Good things come to those who wait.
- In a reasonable amount of time, you will receive your wish or desire.
This game may be played with more than one principal; however, know that Her abilities will scale accordingly: For each additional player, She will be stronger, She will be faster, and Her senses will be sharper. In order for Her to win the game, She will need to catch all the players on the field. In order for you to win the game, you still need to survive until 4am. It is possible to win the game without all players surviving until 4am.
It is NOT recommended that this game be played with three or more players.
Although the building chosen for the game is only required to have five floors, taller buildings with more floors are recommended. It is also recommended that you choose a building you know intimately. The stairwell in the building should be indoors (e.g., do not use an exterior fire escape), and should ideally be enclosed (avoid if possible large, ornate staircases in wide open spaces).
“Being caught” is defined by two occurrences: She finds you, and She stabs you with the bladed object with which you so kindly provided Her. If BOTH of these things do not happen, She has NOT caught you. If you are cornered, you may fight back; however, it is not recommended that the fight be prolonged. Do what you need to in order to get away, and then run.
Elevators may be used during the course of the game; however, use them wisely. They can just as easily trap you as help you escape.
Do not fall asleep during the game.
Avoid windows during the game.
Do NOT leave the building or look outside it during the game. Anything in the building must abide by Her rules. Anything outside the building is under no such obligation.
Do not cheat. Cheating behaviors include, but are not limited to:
- Bringing salt.
- Bringing sage.
- Bringing a power object.
- Using a blunt blade.
- Using a blade which has been tampered with in any way.
- Bringing an additional weapon for yourself.
- Communicating with people outside the game.
- Leaving the building.
If your attempt to end the game is unsuccessful, She thinks you cheated.
Let’s hope She’s wrong. Because if you did…
…She won’t be happy.
She won’t be happy at all.
[Photo via faith4mer/Pixabay]