Previously: Frequently Asked Questions, Vol. XVII.
Now that we’ve wrapped up the Halloween season, let’s ask ourselves some questions — and, more importantly, let’s try to find some answers to those questions once we’ve asked them. Here we go — it’s the 18th volume of TGIMM’s Most Dangerous Games FAQ, seeking to solve your queries about all those games we probably shouldn’t be playing. I’ll add what’s here to the Master FAQ as soon as I can.
This time round, we’ve got a bunch of one-offs for older games, and then a few newer entries people had a lot of questions about — namely, the Shuffle Game, the Wager Game, the Kissing Chair Game, and the Black God Ritual/Kurokami’s Technique. As always, the answers I’ve attempted to find for you here merely represent my best efforts; they’re not the be-all, end-all, and I am neither all-knowing nor infallible. When it comes to these kinds of games, you’ve got to use your own judgment about which risks are acceptable to you and which ones are not — but know, too, that if things go pear-shaped, that’s all on you.
You’re the one who dared to play the game, after all.
There’s a reason I always remind you, Gentle Readers, that you play at your own risk.
In most rituals that require blood, the instructions say to use a pin to draw the blood. Are you allowed to use a blade, like a razor or a knife? Or is the pin significant?
It might vary from case to case, but the pin is likely significant. From a practical standpoint, pins are easily acquired and easily sterilized. (Always sterilize your pin before you prick yourself with it.) Furthermore, in most cases where it’s specified that you should use a pin, you need only a drop of blood to perform the ritual — an amount which is easily provided by the pin.
But there’s also this: Using a razor, knife, or other blade is likely to spill more blood than just a drop — much more. It is not generally advisable to use more blood than the single drop specified in the instructions of any given ritual; it might have some… unexpected consequences. And not necessarily good ones.
Rituals where it is permissible to use blades or other sharp objects beyond pins usually state as such in the instructions. Should you choose to use a blade where only a pin is specified, however… well, that’s on you. You’re the one who will have to deal with the consequences.
Can you use a translated version of the story (i.e. the same story, but in a language other than English)?
Probably! The language for this one isn’t as particular as it is in some other rituals. As long as the details (and, possibly, the rhythm and rhyme) of the story are the same, you can likely tell it in whatever language is most comfortable for you.
Does the alcohol have to be a drinkable kind of alcohol, or can it be something like rubbing alcohol?
Unfortunately, it does have to be drinkable. It’s specified as a beverage, and rubbing alcohol isn’t a beverage. If you’re not of legal drinking age in your country and therefore unable to acquire an alcoholic beverage legally, you’ll want to skip this one until you’re old enough to do so.
How would our time-keeping device indicate that the gathering is over?
Remember, when you sent the invitation in The Invitation: Step 6, you wrote down on the piece of paper, “You are invited! A gathering, hosted by [Your Name]. Takes place from [the current time] to [an hour from the current time]. Bring your friends!” The gathering lasts no more than an hour, and you yourself specify precisely when that hour occurs. You’ll just have to keep an eye on the clock; when an hour passes from the time you told your guests the gathering begin — or, put another way, when the time-keeping device indicates the time you told them the gathering would end — then it’s time to wrap things up.
When the match has burned such that I can no longer hold it, do I blow it out, or do I flick it in the air?
Extinguish it completely; then drop it on the ground. Make sure the match is no longer burning before you drop it. How you extinguish it is up to you; if blowing on it is your preferred method, then do that. Again, just make sure it is out COMPLETELY before you drop it. It’s a fire hazard, so take common sense precautions to guard against it. You might want to think about keeping a fire extinguisher nearby while you play, for example.
My friend disappeared three years ago. We were just friends online, so I don’t know anything about him; all I know for sure is that he suddenly disappeared without a trace. I don’t know the email or other accounts, either. Can I ask what happened to him through this ritual?
Sure. I can’t promise the answer will be super clear, but you could absolutely ask this question through the Shuffle Game.
However, I’m curious, Dear Reader, whether you meant to post this question on the Shuffle Game’s page, or on, say, the Letter Ritual’s page. Given the details you’ve provided in your question, it sounds like you may have meant to ask about it in relation to that ritual — and if that’s the case, then no, I don’t think you’d be able to use the Letter Ritual to find your friend. You would need both their full name and a physical address of the last place you saw them in order to perform this ritual; since you don’t have access to either of those pieces of information, though, it would be unlikely to work.
Does your shuffle number have to be greater than one? The number I have more significance with is one, and since it’s implied that the shuffle number has to be greater than one, do I have to choose another number that has significance to me? Or can I just stick with one, unless there’s some consequence behind that?
Most sources explicitly state that you’ll have best results using a shuffle number that’s greater than one, but less than 10. You can try using a number outside those parameters, but your results may not be as reliable.
If you cannot conceive of using any other number but one, or you try using one as your shuffle number and find the ritual ineffectual, you may wish to try one of the variations laid out in the Possible Variations section — perhaps the “Contacting A Specific Spirit Or Entity” variation or the “Indicator Song” method.
Is there a way to terminate the ritual? Like if you ask the “forbidden” question and then decide you don’t want the consequences, or if you decide that you don’t want to play anymore during the ritual?
There’s no need to terminate, halt, or stop the ritual mid-stream; if you decide you’re finished playing, simply allow the song that’s currently playing to finish, then press “stop” or turn the music player off. (This procedure is detailed in Asking Your Questions, Step 11.)
However, if you ask the one question you should not ever ask — there’s no coming back from that. You can’t just do the thing, and then decide you don’t want to deal with the consequences; the consequences are yours to deal with whether you like it or not, because you chose to do the thing.
If you’re not prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions, do not ask this question. (See: What Not To Ask.)
Can this ritual work for TVs or cellphones?
Possibly! If your phone is capable of playing music, absolutely. (See: Additional Notes for information about acceptable devices, music libraries, etc.) As for television, I’m not sure; as far as I know, TVs don’t usually have a “shuffle channels” mode, which is typically a key component of performing this ritual. You could always try and just manually flip through channels, though, I suppose; just be prepared for the possibility that it might not work.
For what it’s worth, Netflix has been testing some shuffle options for a while now; if the service does end up implementing one as a full feature — or if you have access to the test — you can always see how this game works using TV shows and movies instead of music.
What do you do if your device isn’t working?
Find a new device or a different option. You can’t play this one without a working music player.
How dangerous is this game?
Not very, comparatively speaking. However, some might argue that there’s always at least a little bit of danger when you reach out to forces beyond… all this. Use your judgment. Don’t do anything unnecessarily rash.
Does the creature represent yourself — the you that’s deep down inside?
Maybe. Maybe not, though. Tread carefully, regardless.
My door doesn’t have a lock. So what can I do to my door instead of locking it?
If the door to bathroom you plan to use doesn’t have a lock, either install one (something simple, like this, should get the job done), or find a different room to use. The door must lock — no exceptions.
Do you teleport to the cottage, or is it that you are stuck in your mind and when you open your eyes you are still in your imagination?
Either. Both. It’s up to you to decide how you interpret the situation.
Does everyone have to imagine the same details? If all participants imagined a different cottage each, then, which of the imagined cottages would be their destination?
Who knows? All of them, maybe. Consider this: How do I know that the shade I think of when I think of the color blue is the shade you think of when you think of the color blue? They’re both blue, regardless.
Now, instead of the color blue, think of a cottage. The cottage I think of and the cottage you think of may not be the same thing, but they are both still, for all intents and purposes, the cottage.
It’s possible for all of them to exist at the same time.
It’s possible for all of you to exist in all of them at the same time.
What matters is your perception of the space, and being in that space with each other.
Some advice: Don’t overthink it. It doesn’t all need to make sense. It just needs to be.
Is it possible to forget you have played the game after you travelled?
Unknown. My sense from those who commented in the original sources for this one is that you retain your knowledge and memories when you travel — but I suppose it’s always possible that something might… go wrong at some point.
Is it like a rewind, or can I use it to revisit happy memories?
It’s like a rewind — that is, you go back and do the time over. If you want to relive happy memories entirely — in a very literal sense — then yes, it can be used for that purpose; however, you’ll also have to relive everything between then and when you performed the ritual again, too. You can’t just go back, revisit those memories, and then return to what was the present for you when you actually performed the ritual.
Wait, what version of ‘you’ ends up in the past? Is this like a Doctor Who situation where you’re in your current body and a younger version of you is around, or is this more of a Peggy Sue Got Married situation where current-you “possesses” younger-you’s body? The fact that you can’t use the ritual to travel to before you were born implies the latter, but I’m not quite sure.
Unclear. I also suspect it’s the latter, but only those who have performed the ritual successfully know.
Can we bring items from our present time back into the past? Such as, say, a printed copy of this ritual, or a hard disk containing past school projects, or a phone of this time?
Also unclear. I’m skeptical that it would work. After all, it isn’t specified that your physical body is being plucked out of the present and dropped back in the past; in fact, it seems more likely to be that your present consciousness is deposited into the body of your past self — that is, if you don’t physically travel in time, then any objects you might want to transport back with you won’t travel, either. Again, though, only those who have performed the ritual successfully could possibly know.
If you even manage to find stuff that you can easily “carry,” can you bring stuff/items in the real world? And if you do, will there be consequences/bad luck or something?
The wording of this question is a little vague; I’m unclear whether you’re asking if you can bring things from the “real” world with you into the elevator when you start playing, or whether you can bring things you find in the Otherworld (if you choose to get off the elevator at the 10th floor) back with you to the “real” world. (“Real” world, in this case, means your original reality.) If it’s the former, then, I mean, yes, you can bring whatever you have on your person with you when you begin. If it’s the latter, I… wouldn’t recommend bringing anything back with you from the Otherworld. There won’t necessarily be consequences… but there might be. After all, you’ve purposefully upset the balance — you’ve brought something that should be in one world to a world where it shouldn’t be. That’s probably not going to end well — for you, or for anyone else.
Could you, hypothetically speaking, play with a Braille deck of cards — for example if you’re blind and have no other way to play? Seems like your opponent wouldn’t like you bringing a reader with you.
That should work! As long as it’s got 52 French-suited cards in it, a Braille deck should be fine to play with. You’re probably correct that your opponent wouldn’t like you bringing a reader with you, although perhaps they might make allowances in the name of accessibility.
Do we say the wager out loud? Or just in our mind?
Say it out loud. Make sure that what you’re wagering is perfectly clear.
Your opponent, however, may make their wager known in… other ways. Pay attention.
If the deck runs out of cards, how on earth do you end the game if part of the ending procedure is turning the undealt cards face up? Are you just stuck?
From the Additional Notes section: “If you play long enough that the deck runs out of cards to deal, you may, if desired, gather up the discard pile, shuffle it, and continue dealing from it. However, this is NOT RECOMMENDED and should be avoided if at all possible.”
So, you can keep going — but don’t let it get to the point where you have to reshuffle the discard pile to keep going if you can help it.
How long do you have to keep running if your opponent has the queen?
As long as it takes.
If Participant 2 chooses the Other over Participant 1, can Participant 2 perform this ritual again with the Other as Participant 1 and swap them out for another Other?
I mean, Participant 2 could try — but the Other is unlike to agree to becoming a Participant. The ritual will not work if either Participant forces the other to perform it; both parties must consent before beginning.
I have a question concerning putting the red candle outside the front door rule. I live in an apartment and outside my door, the lights are on in the hallways, 24/7, blazingly bright. So, would it be a massive problem for me if I did any of the front door activities, considering the quiet room is supposed to be as dark as possible? I mean, once I open the door the light pierces through. Is this going to ruin (not to mention having a lit candle in the hallway in the first place – fire hazard and all) the ritual from the get-go or am I okay this early on in the game?
I think you should be able to adapt this one for apartment dwelling fairly easily. After all, even the front doors of many single-family dwellings are likely to let some light in when they’re open (street lights, neighbors, etc.). You’ll just want to try to minimize the amount of light that gets in — specifically the amount of light that gets into the room of the apartment you’ve chosen as your playing space — as much as you can.
My suggestion for doing so would be to use the room furthest away from your front door as possible as the quiet room — that is, if your apartment’s door opens to, say, a living room or common area, use a bedroom or a bathroom as the quiet room. If you live in a one-room studio apartment or similar situation, try using the bathroom — or maybe just try situating the kissing chair setup in the corner of your studio that’s the most shielded from the light spilling in from the front door.
Just make sure that you’re being safe with the lit candles! If the only available space for you to use as the quiet room is too small for you to have lit candles around safely, then you may need to skip this one.
Okay, so you’re not supposed to touch your guest — but what if they touch you?
They won’t. Not if you refrain from touching them, as well. Don’t touch them and they won’t touch you. If you touch them, though, all bets are off.
If the ritual fails and I need to turn on every light in my house, but not open any doors, what do I do about the lights/light switches that are behind the doors?
Note that, while making the preparations for the game, nowhere does it say to open or close any doors to rooms or closets in your house; the only door that is of consequence is your front door. So, the doors to the rooms should still be open, while the doors to the closet will likely be closed (unless you leave your closet doors open all the time as a matter of habit).
Sources for this game state not to open any doors or windows, should you achieve a failure condition — so, knowing this, and knowing what the likely stated of the doors in your home are after you finish making the preparations, we can interpret this rule to mean: Turn on all the lights in the rooms of your home; your ability to do so should not be impeded, as the doors to the rooms of your home will be open. However, do not open any other doors in your home — doors to closets or other storage areas, the front door, any back doors or doors to garages if you have them, etc. — at this time. If your closets have lights in them, you need not turn them on, so long as you leave the doors closed.
Also, remember that you are not to open any windows at this point, either.
Is asking your guest how they’re doing as your first question wise? After all, asking how someone is doing is respectful and polite, right?
At best, I suppose it’s neutral; inquiring after someone’s well-being is often viewed as polite, but under certain circumstances, it can also be invasive. It’s also not quite the kind of question this game deals with, and there isn’t much to be gained from asking it. You can always try leading with it and seeing what happens, though; your demeanor will help distinguish a polite inquiry from an invasive one. Your guest may still decline to respond, though, so be prepared to accept whatever answer they give you — even if it’s a non-answer.
Can you throw the mirror out of the window instead of smashing it?
No. You must destroy the mirror as described, leave it in the room until after the sun has risen, return during daylight, and dispose of it as far away as possible.
Throwing it out the window is insufficient.
It might even allow something to… escape.
Can I use a Polaroid camera?
Nope; it has to be digital. DSLR cameras are only digital. As is pointed out in the Additional Notes section, you can try adapting the ritual to use a smartphone’s camera capabilities — but it’s not recommended that you do so for the reasons identified.
Is it okay if my camera has flash?
Good question; unfortunately, though, none of the sources I’ve found for this one have anything to say regarding the flash. Because the instructions from all these sources are very specific about setting the shutter speed such that it can operate under low-light conditions, my sense is that you’re meant to leave the flash turned off. Further supporting this idea is the fact that any pictures you take while the flash is on will likely be hard to examine. (The flash will reflect back at you through the mirror.) So, my sense is that the camera can be equipped with flash, as most modern cameras are; however, you should turn the flash function off before beginning to play.
Again, though, there’s nothing explicitly noted about the flash either way in the sources for this game. You could always try it both ways — once with the flash on, once with it off — and see which one yields the best results. Know, though, that it’s gamble no matter what you do.
What happens if you play it in some abandoned building and not your home?
I mean, that’s… probably the safest way to do this whole thing. You won’t have to worry about going back in that room again afterwards if it’s in a building you don’t plan on ever returning to.
In all situations, the box shouldn’t be opened, and it should never leave your home. But what if something else happened to it outside your own control, like it washed away in a flood or a tornado blew it away and it was lost?
You’re… probably out of luck, then.
Is it recommended to burn the cloth immediately after the occult twin vanishes? Can I burn it a day later?
Sooner is usually better than later; I’d burn it as soon after your occult twin vanishes as possible.
So I’m a pre-everything trans woman. What would happen if I wished for a biologically female body and lost? The opposite of that would be giving me a biologically male body which I already have. Is it a no loss situation, or will he find something?
Good question. I’m not entirely sure, but I’ll try to answer this one as well and as sensitively as I can. If any trans/nonbinary people who have played this game and made similar wagers want to chime in here, by all means, please do. (Here’s a link to the question in the comments.)
With regards to the opposite of the wager: There are a few possibilities I can think of that might count as the opposite of this one (for example, suddenly having no body at all, however that might manifest), so my sense is that your opponent would, in fact, “find something” to take as his prize, as you put it — or at least have something in mind which otherwise operates as a prize for him, whether or not there’s any actual “taking.” The tricky thing is that you might not know exactly how he plans to collect his prize until he’s already done it. (This is true of many kinds of wagers; some have obvious opposites, but others have numerous possibilities. Your opponent is also quite devious, so know, too, that what he chooses to claim as his prize may not be what you think he will.)
It’s also possible that it might be necessary to specify the manner in which the transition you’re wagering for would occur in order for this wager to be considered valid within the rules and structure of the game. This is largely due to the whole “the wager cannot be impossible” stipulation: You likely wouldn’t be able to wager a magical, snap-your-fingers-and-voila!-it-is-done! transition; however, if you were to wager access to and funding to cover gender confirmation surgeries and procedures, that would probably be an acceptable wager to make in your opponent’s eyes.
(As a side note, lots of people have posed questions along the lines of, “Can I wish for the ability to fly?” or “Can I wish for functional wings?” That’s obviously not the same thing as what you’re asking here, but for what it’s worth, people who wish to be able to fly like superheroes or to have, say, functional bird wings instantly added to their bodies likely wouldn’t be making an acceptable wager, as far as their opponent is concerned. If they asked for, say, a private plane and all the resources they’d need to run it, however, that would likely be considered acceptable.)
This question is pretty far above my paygrade, though, so take my answer with a grain of salt. Also, I feel obligated at this point to remind readers that, although the general rule for TGIMM is to suspend your disbelief while you’re here, the games presented within the Most Dangerous Games section are usually fiction or folklore, rather than fact. For actual, solid, real-life support for trans and nonbinary folks and folx, here are a few resources that can offer much more than TGIMM can; I am, after all, just a rando on the internet.
- The Trans Lifeline offers peer support, as well as tons of resources, including microgrants that provide funds to trans and nonbinary people to update and correct names and gender markers on identifying legal documents.
- The Trevor Project offers support for trans and nonbinary young people in crisis; additionally, the organization’s TrevorSpace platform connects and provides a virtual community for trans and nonbinary people under the age of 25.
- The Tribe offers mental health support and resources for LGBTQ+ people.
- And the National Center for Transgender Equality has a big ol’ list of additional resources for trans and nonbinary people, covering everything from legal and medical help to assistance with nutrition and housing.
Support The Ghost In My Machine on Patreon for behind-the-scenes access and bonus content. You can also follow on Twitter @GhostMachine13 and on Facebook @TheGhostInMyMachine. And don’t forget to check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available now from Chronicle Books!
[Photo via Tim Pierce/Flickr, available under a CC BY 2.0 Creative Commons license]