Previously: Frequently Asked Questions, Vol. XIV.
Well, here we are: Volume 15 of the Most Dangerous Games’ Frequently Asked Questions feature. As always, questions are drawn from the comments sections for each individual game; also as always, the answers below are just my best guesses based on research and general knowledge about the topic, not necessarily the be-all, end-all answers to each question; and also as always, I’ll add everything in this post to the Master FAQ as soon as I can.
Interestingly, there were a few questions this time round about whether you can “accidentally” start specific games or rituals. I did answer a bunch of these questions individually, but generally speaking, unless we’re talking about a game like Tomino’s Hell, it’s pretty difficult to start a game accidentally. Most games have very specific conditions that must be met before the game can begin — which means that if you fail to meet any of those conditions, then the game will not commence. As such, if one of the conditions required for a game to commence includes, say, going to sleep and waking up at specific times, simply going to sleep or waking up at those times isn’t necessarily enough to start the game: You have to go to sleep and wake up at those times in addition to performing all the other necessary preparations in order for the game to start.
I also think intention matters. In most cases, you have to really want to play these games in order for them to work. If you’re insufficiently dedicated, they may not work — so if you don’t even plan to start them, then you’re not just insufficiently dedicated; you don’t have anything close to the motivation required to get them off the ground.
There are, however, exceptions. One, I’ve already mentioned; some games are simple enough that you can play them without knowing that you’re playing them. With Tomino’s Hell, for example, all that’s required to play is that you read the poem out loud. If you read it out loud without knowing that by doing so, you’re playing the game, you’re still, y’know, playing the game. Generally, the instructions for any given game will tip you off about whether its conditions are loose enough to begin playing it by accident.
It’s also possible that, by playing a single game repeatedly, it might become easier for you to start it when you don’t mean to. It depends on the game, of course — but consider that a reason not to play any one of these games too many times… or to play these games too frequently in general.
More answers to other pressing questions below:
Can this game affect other people who are in the building, but not necessarily the room, where you’ve chosen to play?
Folks in other rooms should be fine. Heck, folks in the room you’re playing in should be fine. It’s fine to play with more than one person or with bystanders; additionally, this game is generally safer than something like, say, the Midnight Game. Just make sure that no one else will attempt to use the pack of cards you used to play the game after you’re done.
Can you use a homemade deck of cards?
You can try. Your results might be unpredictable, though. Also, make sure that you’re okay with potentially destroying the deck when you’re done; that’s still the best way to make sure no one will ever use the deck for anything else again afterwards.
Is there any possible chance of playing this game by accident? For example, if your mind keeps going to the vision of the staircase and you descending it? Or do you have to be completely calm, collected, prepared, and intending to play the game before beginning or even starting?
The preparation for this one before you even get as far as envisioning the staircase is pretty extensive, so my sense is that it would be difficult to accidentally start playing. The implication is that you can’t just imagine a staircase and go; you need to be in the right frame of mind and existing somewhere in the right conditions in order to even begin the journey, let alone take it fully.
However, it’s also possible that the more times you play the game, the easier it might become to start it by accident when you don’t mean to — kind of like how, the more practiced you get at something, the easier it becomes for you to do almost without thinking. Just, y’know… something to keep in mind.
Can I set my alarm for earlier than 12 hours from the start of the game?
You can, but the alarm clock is meant to be your safeguard in case you don’t wake up naturally before 12 hours are up. As such, I don’t really know that there’s much to be gained from doing so.
I noticed a lot of people in comments mentioned seeing a black dog, or a black shape, or hearing a dog barking after playing the game or being unable to leave. I know that a black dog can represent a spirit or a demon, but I find it interesting that it’s a dog in particular. Any theories as to why a dog?
Good question! I’m just spitballing here, but given that Sara Sarita is believed to be Mexican in origin, I think it’s worth noting that dogs feature prominently in Mesoamerican folklore and mythology — typically as figures associated with death. In Aztec mythology, for example, Xolotl — Quetzalcoatl’s twin sibling — was the god of both lightning and death; he’s often depicted as a huge, monstrous dog, or else a dog-headed human. The Dog of Xolotol, meanwhile, was said to have been created by Xolotol for two purposes, according to NatGeo: Both to “guard the living” and to “guide the souls of the dead through the dangers of Mictlán, the Underworld.” Additionally, Mesoamerican burial sites have been found time and time again to contain not just human remains, but also those of dogs — suggesting, again, that dogs were believed to have served as guides for recently-departed souls newly arrived in the Underworld.
It’s perhaps a bit ominous that black dogs seem to be associated with the Sara Sarita game, according to so many accounts of those who have played. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that playing the game is to invite death, but, well… it’s… something.
Can you bring any items into the room with you to help pass the time? For example, a drawing pad, or book of some sort? It might be boring just to sit there with nothing to do other than listen to the ticks of the clock.
Nope — no additional items are permitted. The point of the game is to listen to the clock; if you’re not going to do that, then you may as well not play. It won’t work if you’re not focused solely on the clock.
Can you take food or water into the room with you?
Nope. Eat a good meal before starting. Water is permissible, though; it’d be dangerous to go that long without it.
What if I play in a room with no windows but with things in it like — maybe a living room set up in a basement? Do I have to take out the stuff or can I leave it?
You can leave it. This one doesn’t require the room to be completely emptied before it begins. Indeed, having a living room set-up in your chosen room might be useful; it’ll give you somewhere comfortable to sit for the 24 hours over while you’ll be playing the game. Just make sure that you don’t place your candle near anything flammable, for safety reasons.
What happens if you sleep during the hours you aren’t necessarily supposed to be sleeping? Is that okay, or will it affect the rest of the ritual?
My sense is that, if you fall asleep during the ritual at any point when you’re not supposed to be sleeping, the whole thing will just fail.
I also suspect, though, that it might be… uh… difficult to sleep, under the circumstances. After hour three, I think you’ll be, at best, too occupied by everything else that’s going on to fall asleep. At worst, you’ll probably be in too much pain or anguish, emotionally or otherwise, to fall asleep.
Do the pencils have to be unsharpened when you begin playing?
Nope, they can be sharpened; they just have to be the same length. The “don’t sharpen them” rule only applies at the end of the game.
What happens if you sharpen the pencils after you’re done playing with them?
Don’t. Just don’t. You don’t want to find out.
What if you accidentally drop the pencils while playing?
Unclear. No result is specified in the rules, so possibly nothing. Just to be safe, though, it might be worth ending the game and trying again another time.
Can you accidentally initiate the ritual? If, say, you go to sleep at 8pm and wake up at 11:40pm naturally?
I don’t believe you can. If you don’t prepare the game room before going to sleep, if you don’t put the blindfold on when you wake up, and if you don’t go to your prepared room and take your seat after waking, then the game won’t begin. Generally speaking, Most Dangerous Games can only begin if a certain set of requirements are met first — so if you don’t meet them, the game won’t begin.
What if you chose to leave the elevator, but never get back on?
…Enjoy your new life in the Otherworld, I guess? You can’t come home if you don’t get back on.
I’m assuming that this would be cheating, but if you wanted to create a lane for yourself and your opponent (so he couldn’t interfere with you during the race), could you make the bloodlines ahead of time, then rest for a day or so and race him after you’ve recovered?
That’s a good question — I’m actually not sure. My gut says no; I think it has to be fresh blood in order to work. But I suppose you could always try and see what happens.
Can you use someone else’s blood for this game?
Nope. If a game specifies that you draw and use your own blood, you must draw and use your own blood. At best, using someone else’s blood will cause the ritual to fail; at worst, though, you could be putting the person whose blood you used in terrible danger. (You might also be at additional risk yourself — if you try to game the system by using blood other than your own, whatever or whoever you’re trying to summon might not be too happy with you.)
If ritual fails, can I keep my wager, or do I have to leave it?
You can keep it. If the race doesn’t begin, the wager isn’t in effect. If you want to be extra safe, you could leave it where you placed it until daylight and pick it up after the sun has risen.
Should we use fresh chicken bones for the ritual, or can we use bones from fried chicken or such?
Bones from fried chicken should work — no need to, uh, slaughter a chicken immediately before you begin. My impulse was to use bones from a rotisserie chicken. Just make sure you clean them adequately before beginning.
If we lock the room we use to hide, is it considered cheating/will it anger the entity summoned?
I understand the impulse to do so, but I don’t know that there’s much to be gained from the locking the room. First, it’ll be a dead giveaway to him that that’s where you’re hiding. And second, I… don’t think locks will keep him out.
What if you fall asleep while he’s hunting you?
Depends how you sleep. If you’re generally a quiet sleeper and don’t thrash around too much, then you may stay hidden enough for him not to find you. But if you snore, or if you tend to move around a lot, or if you sleepwalk, then he’s probably going to find you, either due to the noise you’re making or because he managed to catch sight of you.
Bear in mind, too, though, that even if you’re a quiet sleeper, he might still find you — and if you’re asleep when he does, you’ve got virtually no hope of escaping.
Do you have to hide in the dark room, or can you hide anywhere in the building?
Do NOT hide in the dark room — hide elsewhere. (This is specified in the rules—your hiding place should NOT be inside the dark room.
Can I play this game outside?
I… don’t actually think that will work. The opening and the closing of the window is important; you can’t really do that if you’re outside.
Does the coin have to actually, physically change hands, or can I spend it on a gum ball machine or self-check-out kiosk or something similar?
A vending machine or kiosk would probably be okay, but to be perfectly honest, I think it might be preferable to spend it in such a way that it physically changes hands. There’s something about the coin passing from one person to another that has a certain sort of power to it that simply dropping it in a vending machine does not.
What happens if we somehow lose the coin?
While playing, or after finishing? I’ll admit I’m not totally sure how you’d lose it while playing; unless it flies off the board and vanishes out of sight, it doesn’t seem likely to happen with this one. It’s not like Sara Sarita, where you’re tossing the coin every time you ask a question; your eyes and fingers should stay on the coin and the board the entire time.
If, however, you do manage to lose it while playing, I imagine the result wouldn’t be too dissimilar from what might happen if you lose it afterwards, before you manage to spend it: Bad.
You must keep your fingers on the coin during the entire game, and you must spend the coin when you’re done playing.
What about if you start the game and never finish, but move somewhere else?
He doesn’t give up that easily.
If you start this game, you must finish it — win or lose. And if you do something expressly against the rules while you play, then he’s pretty much guaranteed to win.
Don’t let him win.
If you play with more than one player, can the players talk to each other during the game?
I mean, you could, but I wouldn’t. If you talk to each other, you’ll be making noise — noise he could hear and use to track you and find you. Additionally, you’ll probably have an easier time hiding if you split up; to talk to each other, you’d have to travel and/or hide together the entire time. (Using cell phones or walkie-talkies isn’t advisable. The only outcomes of using them are negative: At best, they just won’t work; worse, using them will create noise the Midnight Man can use to track you; and at the absolute worst, they’ll count as using flashlights due to the additional light they throw out — and using flashlights is expressly prohibited.)
Does the candle have to be a specific color?
Nope, it can be any color. It might be worth experimenting with candle color based on the colors’ meanings, though.
Can I use a flameless candle?
Probably not. The burning flame is important; an LED light just isn’t the same.
How does one acknowledge the head of the table without speaking?
There are any number of ways one might do this, but a simple nod of the head or a bow should suffice.
How are you meant to eat with the chairs facing away from the table?
A lot of the “do it backwards” instructions for this game are actually open to interpretation. If the chair is facing away from the table, you sit on it normally, grab your plate from the table once you’ve been served, put it in your lap, and eat that way, that could count as eating backwards. Or, if the chair is facing away from the table, you sit on the chair backwards — that is, so that you’re still facing the table, even if the chair isn’t — and you wat with your plate on the table that way, that could count, too.
Would you need to buy dice, or could you make them yourself?
You probably use homemade dice, but there’s an element of risk in doing so. There’s a greater chance they might accidentally be weighted in favor of one side, simply due to the fact that handmade items typically have more irregularities in them than mass-produced, machine-made items. If you’re confident in your ability to make a pair of dice that isn’t unevenly weighted or irregular in a way that could be construed as rigging the game, then go ahead. Otherwise, though, it might be safer to use a pair of standard, store-bought dice.
Do you have to imagine the people that are there with you, or do they just appear?
Unclear. My understanding that they should just appear — they’re manifesting on their own; you aren’t manifesting them — but that’s mostly conjecture.
It says the mirror “may be a fixture of the room.” Does that I can only use a mirror that’s a fixture of the room, or is any type of mirror usable?
You can use any type of mirror. It may be a fixture of the room, like a bathroom mirror that’s affixed to the wall; however, it doesn’t have to be a fixture of the room.
What happens if you open your eyes during The Prelude?
At best, the summoning will fail. At worst, something terrible will befall you. Keep ‘em shut.
Can I still perform this ritual if I myself have wronged someone even just once?
Nope. You cannot have wronged anyone. The ritual will backfire if you have—that is, your own fortunes will decline, while your enemies’ will rise.
What do you mean by “you yourself do not need to be outside”? Can I be on a balcony?
Yes, that’s fine. You just need to be very high up, with access to the open air. The example given in the Additional Notes section of the game is being on the top floor of a building with the window open; a balcony is similarly A-OK.
Can I do this in the building I live in?
If it’s very tall and the highest point allows you access to the open air, yep.
What’s the clock for?
Timing. It has to be near or precisely midnight in order for the ritual to work. (This is noted in the “Preparation” section.)
What if the place you are going back to isn’t your home, but you are staying over there temporarily? Is that your “home” for the time being?
Can you drive home or do you have to walk?
You can drive. You can walk. You can use public transportation, as long as you don’t have to speak to anyone to use it. You can get home however you like, as long as you neither look back nor speak as you do so.
After the game, does it mean that nobody can be alone in that room again, or is it just the player who has to be careful?
Just the player, I believe. Although if you’re bringing someone else in afterwards, it wouldn’t hurt to warn them.
Can you take another object with you to the other world?
I don’t believe so. You could always try falling asleep with the object you wish to take with you held in your hand, but I wouldn’t necessarily count on it working.
What if I tried to take my phone with me — would I be able to call one of my friends from the other world?
Again, I wouldn’t count on it working. Even if you managed to take your phone with you, there’s no guarantee that phones work the same way in the world in which you ended up, or that the phone would be able to call another world. You might just end up calling whoever has your friend’s number in your new world, rather than your original world. Or your phone might not be able to complete a call in your world. Or your phone might just not work, period, in your new world.
[Photo via Tim Pierce/Flickr, available under a CC BY 2.0 Creative Commons license]