Do have any secret wishes? Something you want, more than anything in the world? Are you willing to… pay a certain price for it? If your answer to all — all — of those questions is yes, then these paranormal ritual games that grant wishes might be worth trying for you.
Again, though: There’s always a price to pay — especially when it comes to getting the thing that you most desire. And with some of these games, the price might be a bit… high. Too high, perhaps.
Only you can decide whether such a price would be worth it.
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Breaking the fourth wall for a moment, it’s worth noting that most of the ritual games in this list are less folklore or urban legend and more pieces of internet-based fiction. This isn’t an uncommon quality for ritual games to have; as both creepypasta as a form and ritual pastas as a subgenre have evolved, the stories have gotten more elaborate and, therefore, have moved from the “playable game” realm into the straight-up short fiction arena. But it’s especially true with ritual games focused on wishes.
I’m entirely sure why that is. Maybe it’s because our deepest wishes reflect something essential about each of us back at ourselves. They help us understand ourselves better — for better, or for worse.
In any event, here are 16 such ritual games you might play, divided into a few categories based on the nature of the game itself. As always, play at your own risk.
Wishes aren’t cheap, so it’s perhaps no surprise that in many cases, you must earn the right to be granted your wish. These kinds of games often involve a supernatural competition of sorts: First, you must summon your opponent; then, you must triumph over them in a match or contest; and then — and only then — will you receive your prize in the form of a wish or desire granted to you by some magical means.
These games are not easy, and their opponents are not kind to losers.
Are you willing to challenge them, knowing that you might not win?
If you’re at all acquainted with ritual games as a whole, Dry Bones will look fairly familiar to you: It combines a mirror game, a summoning ritual, and a supernatural hide-and-seek competition into one eerie package, with the prize for surviving the night being a wish made during the summoning portion of the event.
There are stipulations as to what you’re allowed to wish for, though: It must be realistically attainable (so, you can’t wish to sprout wings and gain the ability to fly like a bird), and you should avoid making a wish that would bring harm to someone else. Regarding the second stipulation: You could make such a wish, if you were that kind of person (don’t be that kind of person) — but you’ll have to pay the price for it. And that price? Well… you may not survive it. Let’s leave it at that.
A Reddit creation, the original version of Dry Bones was posted to the r/NoSleep sub by u/yomomma56 during the summer of 2013. At the time I originally covered the game here at TGIMM — 2016 — u/yomomma56 was still active; now, though, some years on, they’ve vanished from the site, with their last post dated 2018.
They’re probably fine, though. They didn’t, y’know, have to pay some sort of debt for a poorly made wish. Right?
The Dice Game
Dice have been around since antiquity — at least since the Bronze Age, but possibly even longer. The ritual game known as the Dice Game, however, is much newer; it, like many such games, originated on Reddit, this time in an r/Creepypasta post courtesy of u/WanderingRiverdog dated 2016. What makes it fun, though, is the fact that it sounds like something that could be ancient, just like dice themselves.
In this game, your wish is made in the form of a wager — because, at its heart, the Dice Game is a gambling game. As with Dry Bones, though, there are rules regarding the wishes you can make. The first two rules are the same as those in Dry Bones: The wish you wager for when playing the Dice Game cannot be impossible, nor should your wish bring harm to someone else. There are a couple of additions here, though: Your wish also may not destroy anything (or anyone, for that matter), and you may not wager a wish you don’t actually want to come true.
Generally speaking, you… really shouldn’t try to game the system when you’re playing any kind of ritual game. Especially don’t try it when you’re facing off with some sort of otherworldly opponent, though. It’s… not going to go well for you.
The Ritual Of The Gambler
If the name of this one rings a bell, there might be a reason for that: I previously included it in TGIMM’s roundup of ritual games to play for luck and good fortune. How did the Ritual of the Gambler end up in both lists? Because it depends on how you play it, of course.
The prize for this one, you see — for a game successfully played against your non-corporeal opponent, and won — could be information or knowledge… if that’s what you want it to be. Because really, the prize for this one is what you want most in the world — that is, it’s a wish. Your wish might be for luck. Or it might be for something else. The important thing is that it’s something you’d like to attain — and what is a wish but a desire for something you currently lack? Material; ephemeral; it’s all one to the Gambler.
As I previously noted, the Ritual of the Gambler — which is very different from the Gambler’s Game — arrived on the internet in 2018, when it was posted to the Creepypasta Wikia by user Steven XXXBXXX Hawin. It sees you writing your wish down before you begin, then essentially flipping a coin to see if it’ll be granted or not
There’s more to it, though, of course. There always is. And in this case, the price of losing may not be one you’re willing to pay. Not if you like your freedom.
One Step Ahead
I’ll be honest: One Step Ahead seems like a lot of trouble to go to for a wish. The competition is steep, especially for a game where, when it comes to the wish you’re granted for winning, simpler is better. But hey, if you feel like summoning an angry lady ghost and spending all night running from her in a multi-story building so you can, I don’t know, find a $20 bill in your coat pocket the next time you put it on, then, hey, have at.
The true origins of One Step Ahead are a bit murky. Its biggest splash came on — surprise! — Reddit in 2017, when it landed on the r/ThreeKings sub after being posted by Redditor u/IkerRivercast. However, IkerRivercast said that they’d originally heard about it some 10 years earlier, in 2007 or 2008. They thought they might have read about it online somewhere, but they didn’t really remember. But — because yes, there’s another “but” — this may or may not be true; it could be, but it’s also possible that IkerRivercast could have made up this backstory, and possibly even the ritual itself.
Anyway. All of this is to say that it’s best to be careful when dealing with rituals of an uncertain origin. They may not turn out the way you think.
I tend to think of Lights Out as a version of the Candles Game: Your goal is to travel from room to room in a playing space with at least eight rooms, turning the lights in each room either on or off, depending on which player you are.
It’s true that there’s less fire involved in Lights Out than the Candles Game, although it’s no less dangerous. In fact, it might even be more dangerous — which is, perhaps, why the game cannot be played in any of the forms in which it exists on the internet.
A key piece of information has been omitted, you see: The incantation used to begin the ritual. Because, yes, your opponent in Lights Out is not of this plane of existence and must be summoned for you to play.
Again: Why go to this much trouble for a wish? Only you can answer that for yourself.
Note, though, that my assessment of Lights Out is that it’s a Made-Up Game — that is, one that’s an invention of an individual author (in this case, Redditor u/EdmontoRaptor, posting to r/ThreeKings in 2017), rather than based on any longstanding folklore or superstition. You can’t really play it; it’s fiction — a piece of storytelling. The form, however, positions it as something much more immediate to the reader than a standard first- or third-person narrative typically would, which I find interesting.
I guess you could always try playing it, though. Just… know that there’s no telling what will happen if you get the incantation wrong, which you’re certain to do.
Good news for those who aren’t feeling daring enough — or, depending on how you look at it, foolish enough — to challenge an opponent like the ones in the previous section’s games: There are also a number of games you might play to earn the right to a wish which can be undertaken alone. Make no mistake, though — they’re no safer than the others. Not all enemies are tangible, after all. Especially not the ones inside your own mind.
Feel like going for a drive? Why not make a wish while you do? If you find the right road while you’re driving, and you have a wish or a desire in mind when you turn down it, you might ultimately get that wish. The drive you’ll make in 11 Miles, however, is not an easy one. It might only be 11 miles… but those miles will seem much, much longer to you than they actually are.
Assuming you’re able to find the road in the first place, of course.
Alas, 11 Miles is another one of those games you can’t really play; indeed, it began life within a story — a creepypasta by Richard Southard writing under the name Emeryy in 2013. The original story is only viewable via the Wayback Machine these days, having been deleted from the Creepypasta Wikia at its author’s request… but the rules of the game have taken on a life of their own and survive to this day in various forms scattered across the internet.
Some legends are like that, you know?
The Nesting Doll Game
If you’ve got a set or two of matryoshka dolls lying around, you might give the Nesting Doll Game a shot; if you play it right — and if you’ve got good visual memory or recall — you might be able to earn yourself the right to a wish granted. If something goes wrong, though, you may end up with bad luck for a full year instead… or worse.
What could be worse isn’t described. But given that the Redditor who originally posted it to r/NoSleep, u/kukla-ne-plach, in 2016 followed this detail up with simply, “I’m sorry,” it’s… probably not great.
It’s probably not something from which you’ll recover, either.
The Nesting Doll Game — also known as Уда́чная матрешка, or “Lucky Nesting Doll” — may be a piece of folklore passed around by kids a la Bloody Mary, as u/kukla-ne-plach noted in their post, or it may be a Reddit-specific creation; like many of the games from the Three Kings era of the site, the truth of this one remains unverifiable. It’s a quieter ritual than some of the others on this list, though, so if you’re looking for something a little less wild than something like Dry Bones, this one may fit the bill.
The Salt Magic Ritual
Finally! A game that can actually be played! Whether or not it works remains to be seen, but yes, the Salt Magic Ritual is one ritual game you could realistically try out. It requires only minimal supplies. It does not require a cast of thousands. And — perhaps most importantly — you have some control over how things go, if you’re smart about how you play it.
The gameplay is simple: You make a wish; you write it down; you wrap up a bunch of salt in the paper; you burn the salt and the paper; and then you dispose of everything by — oddly — flushing it down a toilet. But the key with the Salt Magic Ritual is that you have to phrase your wish in a certain way: You’re meant to describe things the way they are, not the way you wish they were. Furthermore, specificity is key; if your statement is too general, you might end up with a “solution” for it that isn’t all its cracked up to be.
Called shiomajinai (塩まじない) in the original Japanese, the Salt Magic Ritual dates back a little further than the Reddit-centric games on this list: The oldest version of it I’ve been able to find was posted to 2ch, now 5ch, in 2007. This is also the era in which notorious rituals like the Elevator Game began circulating the same forums, by the way, so I suppose we might consider 2ch’s 2007-2008 period not unlike Reddit’s Three Kings era.
The Wishing Well Ritual
If you grew up in certain regions of the world, or you’re familiar with the folklore of certain areas or cultures, you probably know about the tradition of the wishing well: If you toss a coin down a well and make a wish, you might — if you’re lucky — lives to see your wish come true. The Wishing Well Ritual takes that idea and dials it up to 11, so to speak: There’s a lot more you’ll need to do in order to play than toss a coin
to your Witcher into a well and wish, but the process might be worth your while.
Just don’t tell anyone what you wished for. If you do, it’ll go a lot worse for you than your wish simply not coming true.
Or at least, that would all be the case if this one were more than just a story. But that’s what it is, like so many of the other rituals on this list: It was first brought to life in 2020 on r/NoSleep by u/A_Vespertine, who also publishes indie horror under the name The Vesper’s Bell and writes SCP Foundation and Backrooms Extended Lore content under the name DrChandra. It’s a great story, though, and puts a fun spin on a lot of the tropes and themes common in wishing well lore. For the curious, the full title of the story is “Have You Ever Made A Wish In A Wishing Well?”
Vesper’s Creepypasta Wikia page is a good place to start for more of their work, if you want to check it out.
The Copper Wishes Ritual
Don’t have a wishing well nearby? The Copper Wishes Ritual might get the job done instead. All you need is a body of running water for this one — preferably a stream or brook — and a couple of copper objects. Your wish here is phrased as a request, by the way, so you’d do well to remember precisely what it is — that is, it’s not a demand, and you are not necessarily entitled to it.
Be kind. Don’t be greedy. Good words to live by, whether or not you plan to play this game.
The Copper Wishes Ritual is a bit more recent in terms of its online likfe than a lot of the others we’re looking at here; it was posted to r/ThreeKings by u/HalfAPickle in October of 2021. This user stated that they’d heard it “a while back” in the northern regions of Minnesota, but there’s no way of knowing whether “a while back” is, say, six months or a dozen years — or even whether the statement is true.
Still, though. Worth a shot, perhaps. If you try it, do let us all know whether it worked for you.
The Three Wishes Ritual
If the Wishing Well Ritual is the most complicated “let’s wish make wishes on coins” game, and the Copper Wishes Ritual is the middle ground, the Three Wishes Ritual, which was posted to r/ThreeKings in 2018 by u/DaiyuSamal, is the simplest of all: You gather three coins, you make one wish on each, and then you go to as wide open a space as you can find and throw the coins as far away from yourself as possible. Then, you walk away.
Although this ritual is both easier and safer than either of the other two, it also has many more limitations. You get three wishes — no more, no less — and only in specific areas of focus: Love, Health, and Money. You make one wish per coin, and you cannot wish for anything else.
Sometimes, simple is best, you know?
How To Open The Demon Gate/The Train Game
Another one that straddles some lines when it comes to the type of game it truly is, this Japanese ritual — known alternately as How To Open The Demon Gate, How To Go To Another World Using A Train, or, as I generally think of it, the Train Game — might open a portal to a hellish dimension. It might transport you to that hellish dimension. Or — as becomes clear only in the final steps of the game — it might grant you a wish.
Maybe it does all three.
I wouldn’t know, unfortunately, as I’ve not been able to play it; it can only be performed in one specific city: Tokyo. I am fortunate enough to have traveled to Japan, and to have spent some time in Tokyo during that trip — but it’s been a few years since then, and I wasn’t aware of this game’s existence at the time I was there. Then again, I’m not sure I would have wanted to dedicate a full day to the activity, anyway; the Train Game involves visiting five stations (well, four, with a second visit to one of them to round it out) on different lines within the Tokyo rapid transit system, making a ton of transfers, and periodically getting out to go hunt for piles of salt hidden around the stations — not a quick or speedy experience.
An interesting one, perhaps, though. If I’m ever able to go back, maybe I’ll have to set some time aside for it.
For what it’s worth, this game has been circulating for a while; like the Salt Magic Ritual, it’s from the 2007-2008 era of 2ch that gave us so many of the ritual games that have become part of the internet urban legend landscape in the years since.
Now, it’s true that a number of the others games on this list also involve summoning something or someone as part of the game. What sets the games in this section apart from those ones, though, is that here, you’re not summoning an opponent to face off against; you’re basically asking someone to come visit you, and then gently inquiring about whether they’d be willing to do you a favor while they’re there. You don’t necessarily have to win some kind of competition against them in order to win a prize.
Note, though, that your guests aren’t obligated to actually do that favor for you; they might choose not to.
You can ask, but you can’t make them say yes — and you’d best respect their answer if they decline.
Gnome Gnome Come
Similarly to the Nesting Doll Game, Gnome Gnome Come is said to be Russian in origin — but unlike the Nesting Doll Game, I can confirm that it is, in fact, a documented piece of folklore, not just something made up for Reddit (although a version was posted over there in 2014, too). Indeed, kids have been playing it at least since 1998, according stories about it collected in the online folklore archive of Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod.
I say “it,” but really, I should be talking about “them”: There are numerous gnome-summoning games that sort of all exist under the Gnome Gnome Come umbrella. The one that’s most relevant to our interests here is the one that summons the Gnome of Desire; as his name might suggest, he’ll grant you a wish — the thing you most desire — as long as he accepts your offering of sweets or candy. He might choose not to, though, so be warned that playing this game doesn’t guarantee success.
It’s pretty forgiving, though, so you can always try playing again later if you like. Just make sure you bring enough people along for the ride; you need at least three players for this one.
Looking for a good old fashioned mirror ritual? Something along the lines of Bloody Mary, but with a bit more heft — and an actual purpose beyond giving yourself a supernatural jump scare? Lady Spades might be right up your proverbial alley. It’s relatively easy to play, too, all things considered: All you need are a few simple supplies — a candle, a deck of playing cards, a red marker or lipstick, a mirror — and, of course, a wish. If you summon the titular Lady Spades correctly, she might, it’s said, appear in the mirror; she might even grant you your wish.
She might not, though — and if she doesn’t, you might not come out so well in the end. Tread carefully.
A few variations of Lady Spades used to float around the internet: A single-player version on r/ThreeKings; a multiplayer version on the Creepypasta Wikia; an alternate multiplayer version on r/Creepypasta posted under the Russian name Dama Pika; and, I’d argue, another version posted on Creepypasta.com and r/ThreeKings under a sort of corrupted name — Deeky Dama, which sounds to me suspiciously like Dama Pika (or, more accurately, like something you might misremember Dama Pika as if you didn’t speak Russian). Most of these versions seem to have been deleted or otherwise erased over the years, though. If you’re lucky, you might be able to view them via the Wayback Machine… but hey, at least we’ve still got our versions here at TGIMM and in Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, right?
The Halloween Mirror Ritual
As the name might imply, you’ll have to wait for the right time to play the Halloween Mirror Ritual; it can only be performed on Oct. 31. Additionally, it’s worth noting that it’s not necessarily a wish-granting game — but it can be. If you play it a certain way, that is.
There’s a lot you have to get right with this one. The details always matter, of course, but with this one, there are just so. Many of them. It might be a mirror ritual, but it’s not a simple one; there’s an element of hide-and-seek here, too, and candles, and gold, and much, much more. But if you do the whole thing correctly, you’ll summon a… correspondent of sorts. And once he’s arrived, you can ask him anything you like — even to grant you a wish.
Like I said: If you play it a certain way, it’ll get the job done.
Or at least, it would if it actually worked. It’s an internet creation, I believe; I’ve traced it back to 2014, although it’s probably a little older, with its original sources simply scrubbed from the English language internet by the time I managed to catch wind of it. It’s a fun story, though—fun to imagine doing.
You could always try, though. You never know, after all, right?
A Ritual For Dinner
If you’re feeling really ambitious, there’s this one. Called A Ritual For Dinner, it’s definitely a story, not a how-to — but it’s entertaining as hell to read, and an excellent example of how to use a specific form (guidebook) to serve a very different function (storytelling).
Written by Creepypasta Wikia user Tewahway and published in February of 2022, it’s sort of like the Dumb Supper Ritual on steroids. Both rituals involve making a meal and having a dinner party of sorts in order to share it with some otherworldly guests — but whereas the Dumb Supper Ritual is rather forgiving and meant to be a joyous occasion, the Ritual For Dinner is stricter, more exacting, and a heck of a lot more dangerous.
These rules apply to the wish you might end up having granted by the end of the game, too. Your wish — referred to as a favor — must be directed at the correct guest, and must be in line with how successful your ethereal dinner party was (that is, don’t ask for the world if you only just squeaked by on hosting duties).
The odds of success, by the way, are… not particularly high.
Just, y’know… FYI.
So: There we are. 16 ways to make all your wildest dreams come true.
Ask yourself one more time: Is it worth it?
If it is, then go ahead.
Make a wish.
Just make sure you’re prepared for the consequences.
Follow The Ghost In My Machine on Twitter @GhostMachine13 and on Facebook @TheGhostInMyMachine. And for more games, don’t forget to check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available now from Chronicle Books!