Here, you’ll find collected all the questions featured in the various volumes of “The Most Dangerous Games: Frequently Asked Questions” published on The Ghost In My Machine — that is, selected questions and possible answers for questions regarding the kinds of games you really shouldn’t play. The FAQs don’t feature every that has ever been posted in the comments on TGIMM; furthermore, the answers provided shouldn’t be considered the be-all, end-all responses. Basically, they’re the questions that interest me the most, paired with my best guesses based on research and general knowledge — so take whatever you read here with a considerably large grain of salt.
This master FAQ is ordered alphabetically by game, plus a section addressing general questions. Clicking on a game’s title in the Index provided will bring you directly to that game’s section. Additionally, each game’s section includes a link to the instructions for how to play it. If a game TGIMM has covered isn’t present here, it means that I haven’t gotten around to answering any questions about it yet — but I probably will soon.
And as always… play at your own risk.
- 11 Miles
- The Apex
- The Answer Man
- Bed of Sorrow
- The Candles Game
- Channel Infinity
- Charlotte’s Web
- The Closet Game
- The Corner Game
- The Dark Music Ritual
- The Dark Reflection Ritual
- Daruma-san, or The Bath Game
- The Dead Poet’s Game
- The Doors of Your Mind
- Dry Bones
- Elevator to Another World
- The Gambler’s Game
- The Hooded Man Ritual
- The Hosting Game
- Hyakumonagatari Kaidankai, or the Game of 100 Ghost Stories
- Japanese New Year Ritual
- Lady Spades
- The Little Finger Game
- The Man in the Fields Ritual
- The Midnight Game
- Musical Chairs Alone
- One-Man Hide and Seek
- The Picture Game
- The Playing Card Game
- The Raven Man
- The Red Book Game
- The Shoebox Telephone
- A Small Radio
- The Staircase Ritual
- The Stranger Ritual
- The Telephone Game
- The Three Kings
- The White Kimono Game
Why is 6am always the safe hour?
It’s generally believed that it’s harder for anything… shall we say, not of our world to cross over to it during the daylight hours. The sun has typically either risen or is in the process of rising by six o’clock in the morning — although you might want to wait a little longer if you play any of these games in the dead of winter. On the winter solstice, for example, it’s not unusual for the sun to rise around 7:30.
When you finish or abort a game, are you safe for good?
Not necessarily. Remember, most of these rituals involve inviting dangerous things into your home — and once they’ve been invited in, it’s really hard to get them to leave, even if you complete or abort the game (this, I suspect, is also why some games should never be played more than once). The Midnight Man is probably the best example of a guest who likes to stick around, even after his game has been completed; the same is true of Daruma-San.
The safest thing, of course, is just not to play any of them.
…But then, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t get at least a tiny bit of a thrill from the danger.
What happens if you ignore any red flags?
You don’t want to know.
I left my candle in the closet in a shoebox. Should I worry?
This one is from an old edition of “Search Terms from the Black Lagoon.” At the time, I’d wondered if maybe it was pertaining to the Shoebox Telephone game; it would seem to make a certain amount of sense if that were the case, given that Shoebox Telephone is the only ritual we’ve covered here that specifically involves a shoebox. No candles are used in any part of the ritual, though, so perhaps I made the wrong assumption about which game to which it might have referred.
Games that involve candles include (but definitely are not limited to) the Midnight Game, the Candles Game, Hyakumonagatari Kaidankai, the Dark Reflection Ritual, and the Staircase Ritual. None of them call for the destruction of the candles used once they’re completed, so you should be fine; however, if it makes you feel better, go ahead and dispose of them.
What happens if I do [thing]? Please give details.
Nope — that would spoil the fun. Remember, most of these games aren’t actually real; they’re urban legends for the digital age, thought up by some creative individuals and meant primarily to spook and entertain. They’re stories. And I’ve always maintained that, when it comes to horror, what we don’t see is always much scarier than what we do see. Odds are that whatever your own imagination can come up with is far more frightening than whatever someone else can — because whatever you think up is specific to you. Good horror, I think, paints in broad enough strokes that any individual can take what’s there and run with it, coming up with a highly personalized experience no one else will have. Ever. As such, even though you might want to ask all of those “but what happens if…” questions… you probably don’t actually want to know the answers. It’s better to leave the door open to possibility.
Besides, not knowing what comes next is one of the most basic fears we have. What’s more frightening than the unknown?
What happens if I do [thing that goes completely against the rules of the game]?
Honestly, these kinds of questions baffle me. The rules exist for a reason; it’s my understanding that they’re as much about keeping you, the player or players, safe as they are about making the ritual work, so I don’t really get why you’d want to willfully ignore them. At best, not following the rules will simply cause the ritual to fail (which is boring); at worst… well, you don’t want to know what happens at worst. Whatever it is, it’s bad. Really, really bad. Never-ever-recovering-from-it bad.
Can I play [game that only specifies one player] with a partner?
No. Unless the rules stipulate that multiple people are either permissible or necessary, assume you’ll be playing alone. Bringing a partner will at best— again — simply cause the ritual not to work, and at worst, cause something terrible and irreparable to occur.
What does the salt do? It’s mentioned in many rituals.
Creating a circle of salt is typically a way of forming a protective barrier between you and… something else. The tricky thing, of course, is whether or not you’ve created a safe zone for yourself… or a trap.
With games that ask for your full name — if you’ve given yourself a new name because you didn’t like yours, would it be safer to use the name your parents gave you, or the name you gave yourself?
This question is actually a little complicated, mostly because it depends what you want to get out of the ritual. My answer is imperfect, as it’s going largely off of conjecture, but for what it’s worth, here’s my two cents:
My understanding is that when games ask for your name, it should be your true name — whatever that means for you. For a lot of people, that’s probably their given name, but for others, it may not be. However, when you ask whether it would be safer to use one name over another… well, this is where what you want to get out of the ritual comes into play. If you want the ritual to work, use your true name. If you want to stay safe, use a different name. Not using your true name will likely cause the ritual simply to not work — for example, for The Midnight Game, using a name other than your true one will cause the summoning to fail, which means the entire rest of the game won’t actually happen — so if, in your heart of hearts, you actually do not want to put yourself in the kind of danger these games invite, then by all means, use a different name. You get the thrill of having tried it, but without the danger of actually having to survive all the scary stuff.
Then again, it’s also possible that using a name other than your true name won’t just cause the ritual not to work; it’s possible that it could actually anger whatever you’re trying to summon. I don’t really know, and honestly, I’m not really willing to find out. If anyone else feels like tempting fate, though, by all means, give it a shot and report back — if you’re able.
Am I playing these games too often?
I mean, I wouldn’t recommend playing them with great frequency. After all, you’re opening yourself up to some of the nastier things in the universe every time you do; the more frequently you do that, and the more nasty things you expose yourself to, the more vulnerable you’re likely to become. That said, though, as long as you’re not doing them every day or every week, you’re probably going to be fine.
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.
What do I do if I want to do a ritual that calls for an object of power protection, but I don’t have an object I think will work for it?
Don’t do the ritual. Seriously. Proceeding without a power or protection object when it’s specifically stated one is required would be like bungee jumping without a cord.
What if two or more groups or individuals call upon the same entity from the same game at the exact same time in different locations?
You know all those stipulations in the rules for various games that note how you can tell if a ritual has failed? This might be one of the reasons why — the entity in question might be occupied elsewhere.
That’s just conjecture, though. Honestly, we don’t really know.
Is there any way to “force abort” any game? Like, if you’re in too deep and get cold feet?
Sometimes the rules for specific games provide information on what to do if you encounter a red flag or an indication that you shouldn’t proceed; however, it’s not recommended that you abandon any ritual midway through if you can help it, and certainly not if it’s just because you got part of the way through and decided you didn’t want to finish it. Make damn sure that you want to play a game through to completion before you begin — because even if you manage to close out a game after encountering a red flag, doing so has a habit of letting some things… linger.
Re: “It’s curious to me that so many ghost stories center around technology. From EVPs to spirit photography, it’s frequently said that otherworldly beings find it easier to communicate through technological means.” – Introduction to the Telephone Game
This is a very interesting thought! But what about the rituals that warn against incorporating technology where it doesn’t seem to belong (e.g., using a rotary/landline telephone in The Hooded Man Ritual instead of a cordless or cellular; not streaming music during Musical Chairs Alone; using a flashlight during The Midnight Game; using a digital picture in The Stranger Ritual; etc.)? Is it the case that certain rituals just require different things, or can be interrupted by certain technologies? Or does it depend on the type of spirit being contacted? Or something else entirely?
Good point! I think it’s likely a combination of certain rituals requiring different things, of technology being capable of interrupting certain rituals, and the preferences of certain spirits or types of spirits. Think of it as if you were attempting to communicate with an earthly being, as opposed to a noncorporeal one: You know how some people would rather text or email than actual talk on the phone? Same deal. Everyone’s got their preferences. My sense is that those in the Otherworld, the beyond, etc. do, as well.
What if the thing I wish for is a person? Does that count as a non-material desire?
I’m assuming that wishing for a person means that you hope to have some kind of relationship with that person, not that you want to physically possess them (because that would be really, really not okay; people are not for owning) — in which case, yes, that counts as a non-material desire. You won’t find the person literally in the trunk of your car; instead, return to your life back home and wait. The relationship will manifest eventually, in whatever form you wished for it to be.
Could I use a motorcycle instead of a car?
You could, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a wide variety of reasons: You’re likely to suffer more from the cold than you would with a car; it’s easier for other things or beings to interfere with you physically; it’ll be harder to keep your balance during the 11th mile; and so on and so forth. You’re safer using a vehicle that’s a little more enclosed — something that gives you a bit of a barrier between yourself and everything you’ll encounter along the drive.
Can I use a lighter instead of a match?
Nope. Matches only for this one.
Can we play this game in broad daylight with all windows open and sunlight coming in?
Yep. The rules say you can begin at any time and in any place, so broad daylight is fine.
Can there be other people around in the place where this ritual is taking place?
Yep. Again, anytime and anyplace are fine; there are also no instructions to clear the area of anyone who’s not playing, so other folks can be around.
What happens if more than one participant has their call answered?
I don’t think this is likely to happen. There’s a reason this game is called “The Answer Man,” not “The Answer Men.”
Would there ever be a chance that the Answer Man hangs up on you, not vice versa?
His goal is to keep you on the line, so I think it’s highly, highly unlikely that he would ever hang up on you unless you’ve reached the end of the game.
What if he asks us a question we don’t know the answer to?
Make your best guess and hope you’re right.
Is “I don’t know” an acceptable answer if it’s the truth?
That’s a good question; I’m actually not totally sure. I suspect, though, that it’s not. According to the rules, answers must be honest, truthful, and correct — and while answering “I don’t know” might be honest and truthful, in most circumstances, it isn’t correct. Two of three isn’t enough; your answers need to have all three qualities.
Can you play with fewer than 10 participants?
Nope. 10 are required.
What if the you feel the tingling sensation on your entire head?
Then you can probably expect to lose your head at some point in the future. The price of failure is steep.
Instead of destroying the phone, can we just destroy or remove the SIM card or battery?
Destroy the entire phone. (That’s why burner phones are recommended.)
What happens if you get caught?
What does the Apex look like?
I don’t know whether anyone who’s seen it has ever been in a position to describe it. See also: Don’t get caught.
Do you have to run the whole time?
I don’t think you have to treat it like you’re running a marathon, but it’s probably best if you keep moving. Don’t linger in one place too long or you’ll risk getting caught.
What if you die from something other than the Apex?
Then… you’re dead. There’s no coming back from that, even if the Apex had nothing to do with it. Sorry.
Would it be better to have more people?
That’s… a complicated question. I mean, on one level, the bigger the Herd, the more people the Apex will have to hunt, which means that your individual chances of survival might increase (if the Apex is occupied by tons of other people, it might be easier for you to slip by unnoticed). However, it’s often much easier to hunt a bigger Herd than a smaller one — they’re just generally much more visible, as well as likely to make much more noise — so it might not give you quite the edge you were hoping for. Plus, a bigger Herd means you’ll likely be responsible for the deaths of more people — people whom, presumably, you care about — especially if you choose the incorrect answer to the ranger’s question.
Would you be able to live with yourself if you did that?
Can I play with a partner?
No. See: General.
What if you enter but leave the door open?
Then it won’t work. You either have to close the door and proceed, or leave. There’s no in between.
What if I have rooms in my house that don’t have actual doors (just an archway or entryway)?
Another commenter suggested hanging a sheet over the doorframe, which sounds like a pretty good solution to me. Just make sure whoever places the candles for you keeps the ones in rooms like this away from the doorway — the last thing you want is a breeze wafting the sheet into a lit candle.
What if you fall asleep during the game?
Don’t. Just… don’t.
So I can’t have someone with me for emotional support?
Nope. See: General. Unless a game specifies that multiple players may or must be present, assume you have to do it alone or it won’t work. If your partner sticks around after the candles have been placed, it’s setting both of you up for failure.
Why the ceiling? What would happen if I faced the floor or somewhere with my eyes closed?
This is an educated guess on my part, but I think your eyes have to be open, while also refraining from looking around the room (remember, a lot of the… uh… creatures involved in these games do unfortunate things when you make eye contact with them. See also: The Girl from the Gap). Hence, the ceiling.
What is the object of the game?
To make it through unscathed. Think of it like a badge of honor. You can go ahead and make yourself an “I survived the Candles Game and all I got was this stupid T-shirt” shirt if it makes you feel better.
What do I do about rooms within other rooms?
The rules stipulate that a candle should be placed in every room in the house, so if there’s a room within another room, both rooms should have their own candles.
What if I finish the game and knock on the door to my bedroom, but I hear noises?
Don’t enter it. Seriously, don’t.
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. (There are a lot of things one really shouldn’t do during this one, including losing.)
I know I can’t ask my partner to tell me where the candles are, but can I ask them to place them in extremely easy hiding places (i.e just leave them in the middle of the floor)?
I kind of think that classifies as cheating. They’re not exactly hidden if they’re all just sitting out in the middle of the floor, are they? Plus, I suspect that your having told them what to do with the candles betrays the fact that you have prior knowledge about the candles’ locations.
If I have any candles sitting around my house as decoration that are not part of the game, should I remove them?
I would. Better to limit the candles in your house at the time of the game only to those being used to play. It’ll avoid a lot of confusion and/or additional unnecessary danger.
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.
I have a seven-year-old sister. If I tried this with her, do you think Charlotte would be happier because she’s the same age or what?
I… wouldn’t bring a kid into this one. Or into any games or rituals, for that matter. None of them are safe — not even the ones that seem less dangerous than the others — so I can’t in good conscience recommend that children be included among the participants. Consenting adults is one thing; children, especially very small ones, is something else.
What happens if you look at a mirror?
You know, I’m not actually sure. Good question. Personally, I would be careful about bringing a mirror into a ritual that doesn’t specifically call for one; they can be powerful objects, and they might cause some unpredictable and unfortunate side effects.
What happens if you fail to light the match on time?
Don’t let this happen. Just… don’t.
How long are you supposed to wait after you’ve spoken in the dark?
A minute or two will probably do it, although again, if you hear whispers, light the matchimmediately.
If I light the match in time, do I have to wait for the voices to lessen before I leave the closet?
My sense is that if you light the match in time, the voices will cease pretty quickly; if you don’t, though… well, an unlit match will be the least of your worries.
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 I use a lighter instead of a match?
Nope. Matches only for this one.
Why can’t you wrap your hands around the person’s neck? Will it simulate them choking on a rope and then dying?
It’s just a basic, common sense safety precaution. Don’t wrap your hands around someone’s neck; you might actually strangle them by accident.
What if you see a color besides the ones listed?
I actually think that’s pretty unlikely; gradations in shades will still mostly fall under one of the overall color categories listed. Teal might be blue or green, for example — go with whichever color it leans toward the most. The only exception might be pink, but even that, I might file under red; historically, pink was considered to be light red (so, Donut in Red vs. Blue was actually correct about his uniform color).
But hey, if you’d rather believe that you’re immortal, go for it. Just know that immortality probably not all it’s cracked up to be.
Is there a required start time?
Not an exact one, although it’s probably best played at night. You’ll have a hard time making the game room dark if it’s broad daylight out, and the ritual won’t work unless the room is dark.
What if there is something else in the room, like a cockroach?
There shouldn’t be. Remember that whole thing where you need to clear the building of anything living besides the players before the game begins? Do that. Again, at best, an additional creature will cause the ritual simply not to work, and at worst, it will cause catastrophic failure. See: General.
What if the speaker disappears?
You’re probably kind of… uh… screwed. If the Speaker disappears while the lights are off, and another player notices and turns the lights on, hopefully the Speaker will reappear, enabling you to enact the completion procedure; if not, though… I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
What if the missing person reappears, but there’s no additional figure?
Then there’s no ghost or spirit present. Congratulations! Your probably all safe.
Can more than one person disappear at a time?
Theoretically, although I don’t know whether more than one disappearance at a time has actually been known to happen.
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.
I don’t get the position of things. Are you inside the sheltered room or not? Is the flute inside or outside?
Here, I made a rough diagram that may help. The whole picture is the sheltered room (walls delineated with a thick, black border); everything else takes place within it:
Note, though, that your hiding place doesn’t necessarily have to be inside the same room as the door/instrument set-up — if you’re performing the ritual in a house, for example, you could go hide in another room in the house if you wanted.
If I wanted the spirit to play an instrument that requires both the fingers and mouth to play (i.e. a recorder or an ocarina)? Would I have to prick both my lips and a finger?
That’s an interesting question — I’m not actually sure. You might do both just to be thorough, or you could try with one or the other and see what happens. I suspect one would only be able to answer this question accurately through trial and error, although I suppose even that might not be foolproof (that is, it’s possible that what works for one person might not work for another).
Why is it necessary not to go between the instrument and the door?
A commenter put it best: “Well, it’s never a good idea to stand between an entity and its way out.”
When you say “hiding spot,” do you mean anywhere out of sight of the instrument, or an actual hiding spot, such as a closet or under a bed?
The more hidden the hiding spot, the better. There’s no point hiding if you’re just out in the open, is there?
When we play the instrument for 10 seconds, how do you NOT show off?
Play something incredibly simple, without embellishment — the kinds of things people tend to learn when they’re first starting to learn an instrument would be a good choice (“Hot Cross Buns,” “Chopsticks,” that kind of thing). This is especially important if you’re proficient in the instrument — don’t add any little flourishes or play something overly complicated.
Would drums work for the instrument of choice?
I don’t see why not.
When it says “do not play music in that location again,” does it just mean not play like an instrument, or don’t play music at all, including like music from an MP3 player?
As I mentioned earlier, I think it’s usually better to err on the side of caution, so I would recommend not playing music at all in that location again, even if it’s a recording. If you’re the sort that likes to tempt fate, you might feel differently… but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
It says that if the instrument is broken to play it. What if the instrument is too broken to be played?
Find a way to play it.
You don’t want to know what happens if you don’t.
Can your hiding spot be outside?
I don’t think so; that’s more like leaving the premises than hiding. Plus, you probably won’t be able to hear the music if you’re outside.
Can you carry a paper with the instructions into the hiding spot?
That should be fine.
Can you show a friend or family member the recording?
If you performed the first coda, sure; if you performed the second coda, nope. Also, reminder: No matter which coda you performed, don’t upload the recording to the internet.
Would the results vary if I use an instrument I have deep emotional ties to, as opposed to buying a new one?
I’m not actually sure. You could always try it and find out.
Should the instrument be tuned up before beginning the ritual?
I mean, probably. It’ll be a much more pleasant experience for everyone/everything involved if it is.
What if you use a mirror that’s already mounted to the wall? Do I just put my face up as close as I can to it in order to anoint it with my breath?
It’s not advisable to use a wall-mounted mirror; remember, you have to smash the thing as part of the ritual, and a huge looking glass that’s stuck fast to the wall is a lot harder to break than a small hand mirror. If you must use a wall-mounted mirror, though, then yes, just get your face as close to it as possible. Breathing on it in this manner should still cause it to fog up.
What happens if someone in the room doesn’t breathe on the mirror?
Then they’re not actively participating the ritual. They’re a bystander only, so they’ll neither suffer the consequences nor reap the benefits.
I tried to create the black mark on the mirror with a flame and the mirror broke on its own. What happens now?
That’s not a terribly good sign; it sounds like your bad luck has already begun before you’ve even completed the first act. Since there’s no way to abort this ritual, you’ll have to see it through to the end anyway — but be extra vigilant throughout the night. The stakes were already high, but a mirror that breaks on its own may raise them even higher.
If you had a group of, say, 50 people, would every player get a smaller or minimal amount of bad luck?
Yep; that’s why large groups are recommended for this. However, if you all make it through the ritual in one piece, each person will also likely earn a smaller or minimal amount of good luck as a prize. Making it low risk also makes it low reward.
Can I break the mirror with a hammer?
I don’t see why not.
Could I break the mirror, then stay all night in my room reading a book or watching Netflix? Not much bad things can happen if I just stay on my bed… right?
I wouldn’t recommend doing this. If you stay in one spot all night, it’ll be really easy for bad luck to find you. Your room may not be as safe as you think.
Can the bad luck affect people you care about or other people around you?
Not unless they’ve participated directly in the game — or unless they would be negatively impacted by what happens to you as a result of your bad luck.
What happens when she catches you?
You don’t want to know.
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.
What if your bathtub is not in a bathroom? My bathtub is in a basement separate from my bathroom. Does that matter?
I mean, honestly, I’d argue that any room with a bathtub in it is a bathroom, even if the room doesn’t also contain a toilet, a sink, etc. (It’s a room in which you bathe, right? Ergo, it’s a bathroom.) As long as there’s a door you can close somewhere in the vicinity — that is, as long as the bathtub is in a space such that you can get out of the tub, drain it, leave the area, and close a door behind you when you leave — then it’s a bathroom, and it will work for this game.
Will a combination bath/shower work? It has both the tub faucet and the shower faucet and it has tub walls.
Yep, that should be fine. Most homes these days have those kinds of tubs, anyway. If it’s a bathtub with a faucet, it’ll work.
Why can’t you just wake up the next morning and do the “kitta” command then?
She might not be close enough for it to work. Remember, you have to have her in your gaze in order for the command to work — but, as the rules state, it’s likely that when you turn to look you’ll see nothing. She’ll only occasionally be visible; she’s very good at being sneaky. You have to catch her in the act in order for the command to succeed.
What if the presence refuses to start a match with me?
Then the ritual has failed — I’d stop pressing it and try again later. You can’t force someone to play who doesn’t want to, even if that someone isn’t human.
What’s the reward for winning and the cost of losing?
Not all games have a prize, but everything has a price. There’s a key to the price of this one in that phrase you’re not supposed to say.
If I am Player B and decide to blow out a candle, what happens?
Don’t do that. That’s cheating. Player A won’t take kindly to you stealing their turn.
Are there any “loopholes” in answering each question?
I’ll quote the rules back at you here: “You must answer each question truthfully; however, you do not have to answer each question freely or completely. Guard your secrets, for giving them up could result in disaster.”
Do with that what you will. I would imagine your interpretation of that stipulation would affect the outcome of the game quite substantially.
Would it be possible to play this game with a non-alcoholic beverage (like water or juice or something)?
I mean, you could try, but it might not work (and, indeed, might result in making the other player kind of angry). The requirements ask for wine; water and juice aren’t wine.
Can I lead myself through the ritual? (i.e., can I do it without a partner?)
I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll have no failsafes if you do it alone — and no one to pull you back to reality if you get lost in there.
Are candles required?
Yep. See: General.
What’s the purpose of the candles?
Partially to set the mood; partially to encourage the meditative state required to make the game work; and, if you believe in magic, partially to add a little boost to the proceedings. Candle meditation is an actual thing — some people find it easier to let go of their thoughts when they’re focusing on a physical object, rather than a mantra, and candles are a useful anchor. Candle magic, meanwhile (which I don’t practice, by the way — I’m just putting it out there for people who might be interested), also uses candles as a focus point, usually in conjunction with a specific color in order to achieve specific goals.
As for why you can’t just use a flashlight? This is conjecture on my part, but if the candles have to do with magic — well, electricity is a modern invention, and technology and magic don’t always get along terribly well.
Is it possible to use protective objects during this ritual?
Possible? Sure; whether or not they’ll do anything, though, remains to be seen, since the instructions don’t list them as a requirement. But if having one around helps to keep you grounded, then by all means, hang onto it while you play the game.
If you play Doors of Your Mind again, do you encounter the same corridor as the one before or a new one?
I think that depends on the state of your mind each time. If you’re at a similar place in life as the first time in terms of how you view, think about, and process the world, the corridor will likely be the same; if you’re not, it’ll probably be different. Remember, the corridor is basically a representation of your own mind, so whatever’s going on in your brain will be reflected in how the corridor looks — and vice versa.
Does the room have to be completely silent?
Since this is a low stakes game, it probably doesn’t have to be; however, you may find it hard to concentrate (and therefore difficult to actually get the game to work) if there’s excess noise.
Can you hear your partner’s voice once you’re in there?
Yes, although exactly how your mind filters it and presents it to you might be a little different than what you’re expecting. It’ll vary from person to person — it might sound like a booming voiceover for some; for others, you might not hear a voice at all, but rather see visual cues drawn from whatever your partner is saying; and for still others, it might be something entirely different. Remember, though, your partner is responsible for guiding you out, so however they choose to do that, there will be some sort of communication going on.
Can anyone give me a list of things to look out for?
Unfortunately not. No one else knows what it’s like inside your head but you, so the only person who could provide any sort of list for things to look out for would be you yourself.
How long are we supposed to rub the person’s temples and/or how long does it take them to be considered “ready”?
As long as they need. Don’t rush it. You’ll know when the time is right.
Can there be multiple people in the room with you while you play this or guide someone else?
As long as they’re quiet, I don’t see why not. Since this game has relatively low stakes, I suspect that observers would be fine, as long as they don’t interfere or do anything to draw attention to themselves while it’s in progress.
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.
Is using salt appropriate for this ritual?
Hypothetically, I suppose you could (quietly!) draw a circle of salt around yourself when you hide; although I’ve never seen salt included in any versions of the instructions, it might add some extra protection. I wouldn’t rely on it to keep you totally safe, though.
Would a wish for someone else’s well-being be considered “steep?” Say, wishing for a partner to stop drinking or for a close relative to be as happy as possible?
The only kinds of wishes you’ll want to stay away from are those that wish harm on another person. These examples both seem to be about helping others (how lovely!), so I think they’ll probably be fine.
Does he search for you while you’re hiding?
If you have to leave your house, will you be able to? Will he try to chase or follow you?
I’m taking “will you be able to” to mean something like, “will he try to stop you?” — to which I believe the answer is, he might try to impede your escape, so seriously, get out of there as quickly as possible. He shouldn’t be able to follow you once you’ve gotten out the door.
When returning to the room at 3 a.m., can you do so normally, or do you have to avoid getting caught until you recite the phrase?
You’re not safe until you complete The Farewell. Tread carefully until the ritual has been closed.
Can I wish for love from my crush?
You can, although I wouldn’t recommend it. Would you be content knowing that the only reason the object of your affection loved you is because you basically forced them to do so?
What’s a good hiding place?
That depends on your specific location. Only you know your space well enough to be able to determine what its best hiding places are. Generally, though, I’d recommend going for the last place anyone would think to look for you.
Does the hiding place have to be in a different room than the biggest room in my house?
Not necessarily, although it’s recommended. He knows the rules, too, so he’ll know that you spent the waiting period in the biggest room in your house — which means that’ll be the first place he’ll look.
How do you find an elevator with no one on it or getting on it except for the lady?
That’s up to you. Be resourceful.
What if you want to do it with two or more people?
My guess is it probably won’t work. I don’t know whether anything negative will happen; at best, though, I suspect that the elevator will just function as it normally would (no strange passengers getting on or off, no trips to anywhere else, etc.). It might be interesting to try doing it simultaneously with someone else in a building that has more than one elevator — each of you picks an elevator, you begin at the same time, and hopefully reconvene in the building’s lobby at the end of — but I can’t vouch for the safety of this possible variation.
What happens if you talk to the woman?
I’m not sure anyone has ever done this and been in a position to report back afterwards.
What happens if someone who’s not the young woman gets on the elevator?
I’m pretty sure that will just cause the ritual not to work. I’d abort the whole thing and head back down to the lobby; you can always try again later. If you’re worried that the new passenger might be the young woman in disguise — which isn’t something I’ve heard of happening, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything — err on the side of caution by averting your gaze.
How am I supposed to tell if whoever got on the elevator is the young woman without looking at her?
That’s what your peripheral vision is for. Elevators are generally pretty small, so you should be able to spot enough details about the new passenger from the corner of your eye to be able to tell whether it’s a young woman or not; just avoid looking directly at whoever it is. The important thing is not to make eye contact.
What happens if no one gets on at the fifth floor?
Remember, it’s not a given that the young women will show up; if she does, it’ll be on the fifth floor, but she won’t necessarily put in an appearance. Count yourself lucky if no one gets on then — it’s one less thing you have to worry about.
Can you play in a see-through elevator?
I don’t see why not.
Does time run the same speed in the Other World as it does here?
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 do I do if the elevator stops at a different floor in the middle of the steps — say, floor three — and people get on? Is the game finished then? Do I need to do anything special?
I think that just means that the ritual didn’t work. You’ll have to abandon ship, so to speak, and try again later.
What if you don’t cancel the ascension on the way back?
Then you won’t get home. You might, in fact, get stuck in the Other World. Do yourself a favor and cancel the ascension in time.
Can I play UNO with him?
You can try; I’m not sure whether it will work, though, as UNO requires a specific type of deck, rather than the standard 52-card, four-suit deck. If you don’t feel a slight chill in the air after starting the game by saying the words, “Let’s play,” however, then you’ve got your answer: Do not proceed.
Why do I have to perform a cleansing ritual before and after the game?
Should you attempt any of these games, it’s a good idea to perform cleansing rituals as a matter of course — even if they’re not included in the instructions. When performed after the completion of a game, they’re a way to keep whatever you may have invited in — intentionally or unintentionally (sometimes opening the door to one guest allows a gatecrasher entrance, as well) — at bay. And as for why you need to perform one at the beginning of this particular one? I like to think of it as clearing the way for what’s to come. It’s a lot easier to walk along a path that’s been swept clean than it is to travel one that’s full of brush and brambles.
What are you meant to see during the cab ride?
That depends entirely on you.
Is it okay to play this game if there are other people asleep in the house?
Unless the instructions state that it’s okay to play with other people in the house, I wouldn’t (see: General). Typically just being in the presence of a ritual being conducted automatically involves someone in it, and it’s kind of a dick move to expose someone to this kind of stuff without their go-ahead. If they get caught in the crossfire, so to speak, it’s on you — and I wouldn’t want something like that weighing on my conscience.
What happens if I dial the wrong number? Do I have to restart?
You’d probably have to restart, yes. You can’t really hail a cab if you don’t actually call the cab company.
Can I ask the Hooded Man questions?
I wouldn’t. That’s not what he’s there for.
Should I write my full name, or just my first name or a nickname?
Most of the games that require the use of a name stipulate the full name — first, middle if you have one, and surname, a la the Midnight Game — so I imagine you’ll get a better result using the whole thing, rather than just your first name or a nickname. Be careful, though — names have power, and detailing your full name requires you to relinquish your hold over it. Whatever you give that power to? Let’s just say it may not have the best of intentions.
What happens if I look back?
I wouldn’t. There’s a reason this game also goes by the name “Don’t Look Back.”
Is there any reward for this?
Nope. The winning condition for these games doesn’t necessarily mean you get a prize.
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.
What do you do if none of the matches light up with the first strike?
That’s actually explicitly stated: “You have uninvited guests. Do NOT look back. Do NOT turn around. Do NOT pause to close the door. Run as quickly as you can to the nearest light source and turn it on.” I advise you do as the rules say.
When do they leave? Do they ever leave?
If the ritual has been performed correctly, your guests will leave when the gathering is over. If the matches fail to light… well, I wouldn’t be so sure.
What happens if you fall asleep?
At best, the ritual just won’t work; at worst… I’m not sure you’d want to find out. It’s not usually a good idea to begin a ritual and leave it unfinished.
Can you start a friendly conversation with the Wise One while he’s eating?
Nope. The rules stipulate not to break eye contact, not to scream, not to run away, and not to speak. Let him eat in peace, or suffer the consequences.
What happens if you ask him a question and he doesn’t give you an answer? Do you abort the ritual, or does he just kill you?
I actually don’t think this is likely to happen. Look at the summoning as a contract of sorts: If you’ve held up your end of the bargain, he’s bound by the contract you’ve forged to answer your question.
Of course, if you break eye contact while you’re asking him, then you’ve broken the contract yourself — which means that he no longer has to hold up his end, either.
Can you blink, or is that considered breaking eye contact?
Eye contact isn’t necessarily the same thing as staring, so I think blinking is fine. Just don’t turn your gaze away.
In the event that you have to break the mirror, will you also have seven years’ bad luck?
That depends on whether or not you believe in that particular superstition.
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.
Do you think she’d grant a wish for a specific person to fall in love with me?
The reader who asked this question elaborated in their comment that the person they have in mind is already in a relationship with someone else; “Basically, the only way I’ll get a chance with them is if magic is involved,” the reader wrote.
Here’s how I responded on the original post:
“I mean, you COULD… but would you really want to be in a relationship with someone who only loves you because you manipulated them into it by magical means? That takes away their agency and free will — which doesn’t quite sit right. It’s not real love; it’s forced love, which isn’t really love at all.
“I’d recommend letting whoever it is go and looking elsewhere, especially since they’re already in a relationship with someone else. I know it’s hard, but you deserve someone who loves you both deeply and honestly of their own free will. Everyone does.”
The short version is this: You could, and it would probably work — but I’d think really hard about the implications of what it would mean for the resulting relationship before going through with it. (The same goes for any other game with a winning condition that results in a wish granted — 11 Miles, etc.)
Do I have to read the story out loud for it to work?
Nope — the rules only require that you read it in some way, shape, or form.
What if I answer “no” to her question?
Don’t do that.
When I finish, do I have to sleep in my safe room?
Sounds like a good idea.
So If I don’t win… does that mean I won’t wake up in the morning?
In the house I’m living in right now, we have a split-up backyard; we have one small court pretty much surrounded by our house, and then behind that, there’s the garden. The Man in the Fields should “spawn” behind me in the garden, right?
Admittedly I’m having a little trouble understanding this particular setup, but I believe he would probably spawn behind you in the garden, yes. If the court is surrounded by the house, it’s not quite the same thing as a backyard or back garden (and I mean “garden” in the British sense here); the garden you’re referring to would likely function as the “field” here.
I think, at least. Without a picture, I can’t say for sure, so tread carefully.
Can you “cheat” by playing the game in an empty house?
I mean, sure, but what’s the point of doing that?
What if there are things in your backyard or garden that can be opened? Do I have to close those, too?
Nope — just the stuff inside your house.
Say there’s a giant box and a small box within. Do I have to close both?
Do I have to close books or apps on my phone?
Should I close my mouth and eyes when I’m done?
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.
What happens if you forget to close something outside of your safe room?
Then you’ve failed to complete the task at hand — and given him an opening to get inside your house.
You don’t want to let him inside your house.
It’s not going to end well.
What will happen if I burn the paper that has my blood and name on it?
This one first popped up in a Search Terms from the Black Lagoon post, but now seems like a good time to revisit it. As far as I know, burning the paper used to summon the Midnight Man isn’t a step that’s included in any of the versions of the rules out there; as such, I can only answer this one based on speculation. If you burn the paper after the conclusion of the game, it’s possible that it might function as a purification ritual — kind of like the way you’d burn the paper cup at the end of performing the Shoebox Telephone ritual or burn the doll after finishing One-Man Hide and Seek. Again, don’t take this as gospel — I’m definitely extrapolating here from what I know about how fire functions in other rituals — but burning the paper and scattering the ashes afterwards might help keep the Midnight Man at bay (remember, just because you successfully finished the game without getting caught doesn’t mean the Midnight Man is gone for good).
However, if you burn the paper while actively playing the Midnight Game?… Well, let’s just say that I’d avoid putting yourself in this position at all, if I were you. I get the feeling it might just piss the Midnight Man off. You don’t want that. Trust me.
Will a lighter used to light the candle anger the Midnight Man?
Nope. You should be fine.
Can you create several salt circles before the game, then run to the closest one as needed?
I wouldn’t. The idea of creating a salt circle around yourself is to build a protective wall; in this case, the wall is meant to stand between you and the Midnight Man. Laying out a bunch of salt circles in advance, then trying to run into them, would functionally be the same thing as building a bunch of actual walls, then running headlong into them — either you’d do a lot of damage to yourself, or you’ll just knock the walls down. In either case, the protective power of pre-drawn circles would be useless; either you’ll be stuck outside of them with the Midnight Man snapping at your heels, or you’ll have blasted holes through them, thereby allowing the Midnight Man to follow you right inside.
You can apparently cut a door through any salt circle using something called an athame, but if you’re trying to save yourself from the Midnight Man, I don’t think you’ll have time to cut the door, get through it, and close it before he gets to you.
What about an uninvolved observer — will it work if someone follows you around who’s in the house, but not playing the game?
There are no uninvolved observers. If you’re in the house, you’re in the game — whether you like it or not.
What if there are people sleeping in the house who aren’t playing the game?
Oh, good gravy, don’t do that to them. You’ll put them all in terrible danger. See: General.
If I fill hula hoops with salt beforehand, could I throw one over my head and be considered safe?
Ooo, good question. Theoretically I suppose it might work, although you’d have to make sure that the hula hoop was packed completely full. If there’s a break at all anywhere in the line of salt within the hoop, that leaves the Midnight Man an opening to come in.
What does the Midnight Man look like?
I don’t know that anyone who’s seen him has been in any condition to say.
I have a wooden front door, but there’s a window taking up half of it. Does that still count, or must it be entirely wooden?
You know, I’m not actually sure. I suspect that probably an all-wood door is preferable, but you can always give it a shot and see if it works.
What if someone walks through the wooden door I choose while I’m playing the game?
Probably nothing good, although I can’t say for sure. If you know of someone who likes to spring surprise visits on you, I would tell them ahead of time whatever you need to in order to ensure they don’t do that on the night you’re planning to play, whether that’s telling them you’re out of town or just telling them that that’s not a good night for company.
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.
What if you sleep inside the salt circle mid-game?
To be fair, it’s an interesting question; staying inside the salt circle should keep you relatively safe; however, it’s also stated in the instructions that going to sleep in the middle of the game is to be avoided. What happens when those two rules come together? It’s possible that sleeping inside the salt circle will protect you while you snooze… however, you also run the risk of being caught off your guard. What if you roll over in your sleep and disturb the circle?
Or, worse — what if the Midnight Man tampers with it while you’re not paying attention?
What if I live in an apartment complex? Will the game continue past the part of the building that I live in? I don’t want to endanger the rest of the building.
Good question — although unfortunately I’m not sure I can answer it with any sort of certainty. It’s possible that the “borders” of the playing space, so to speak, would be determined by the walls of your apartment; if you only call your specific unit “home,” then that might be what matters here. However, it’s equally possible that the Midnight Man might consider the entire building fair game as a playing space. The rules don’t specify that the game must be played in your home, after all; all it requires is a building. If you’re worried about the other residents of your building, then I’d err on the side of caution and avoid playing this one in your apartment.
Do I have to use regular salt or can I use Epsom salts?
I don’t think Epsom salts would work. They’ve got a different chemical makeup; sea salt and table salt are made up of sodium and chloride, while Epsom salts are made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. These differences matter.
What if you make a circle of both salt and pepper?
That would just dilute the salt, making it much less likely to protect you. Don’t do it. This isn’t a cooking experiment.
Can you use older blood? For example, blood you gathered a week ago?
Nope. The blood has to be fresh, and it has to be drawn during the ritual itself.
What happens if you turn the lights on and blow out your candles before 3:33am?
Don’t do it. That’s a surefire way to get caught by the Midnight Man.
What happens if you are not able to relight your candle in 10 seconds and you are not able to create a salt circle?
You lose. He wins. I’m sorry.
If you are successful at creating the salt circle, what happens if you leave the circle before 3:33am?
If you leave the safety of the circle before 3:33am, he’ll almost certainly catch you… which means you lose.
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.
If you have someone else with you while you play this game, will they get possessed?
Probably not, although it might not be incredibly safe for other people to be around while you play.
For what it’s worth, I’ve heard tell of a multi-person version of this one (which I suppose makes it less “one-man hide and seek” and more “hide and seek with a ghost”) that involves each person having their own cup of salt water and their own hiding place; I believe each person also has to be “It” before the doll is, but beyond that, I’m not totally sure what the rules are.
What happens if you turn the lights on before the game is over?
Do you really want to make it any easier for the doll to find you? Because that is exactly what turning on the lights will do.
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.
Do the mirrors have to be placed inside the rope circle, or outside of it?
Outside, I believe. From the inside out, the arrangement should be as follows: Drinking glass; rope circle; mirrors; participants.
What if you forget to take the Jokers out of the deck?
At best, the whole thing just won’t work; since the answers to the questions are dependent on suit, and Jokers are not one of the four standard suits, then you’ll just end up with a lot of nonsense.
Of course, I suppose it’s possible that the presence of the Jokers might be attractive to spirits with a mischievous streak… although they’re likely to wreak all kinds of havoc if summoned.
Why is the First Principal the only one to say “Goodbye” at the end of the ritual?
The First Principal is essentially functioning as a medium. This means that they’re the primary means of opening and closing the lines of communication with the spirit or spirits. It’s mostly a convenience; it can get confusing if there’s more than one person managing the bookends of the ritual.
Should I burn the deck of cards when I’m done with the ritual?
You can if you want. That’ll certainly prevent the deck of cards from being used for anything else ever again.
Can I rip the cards apart and throw them away?
Yep, that would work, too.
For the single-player version, can you have a friend present?
Nope. That’s why it’s called the single-player version. See: General.
Can the Raven Man answer questions about the future?
Probably; if you ask him for information, he’ll give it to you, and I assume knowledge of the future is included under that umbrella. I just wouldn’t count on him being particularly clear about it — he’s likely to obfuscate things somewhat.
What happens if you disrespect the Raven Man?
Do you really want to piss him off? Seriously?
Can I play this game alone?
The rules state that at least two participants are required, so if you tried with only one, I don’t think it would work.
What happens if not everyone gets permission to enter or leave the game?
Keep asking until everyone has permission. You don’t want to know what happens if you try to enter or leave the game without it.
What happens if the prepared book only contains the word “yes?” Will that change whether the ritual succeeds?
Well, the book shouldn’t really be prepared; chosen, yes, but not prepared. I also imagine that, if you wanted to use a book that had only the word “yes” in it, you’d likely have to make that book yourself specifically so you could use it for this purpose (do you know of a book that’s actually in print that consists of nothing but the word “yes?” I sure as heck don’t, but maybe that’s just me) — and honestly, that sounds a little like cheating to me. I wouldn’t do it; trying to stack the deck in your favor during these kinds of games usually ends up hurting you more than it helps.
When you ask for permission or an answer to a question from the spirits, you have to keep your eyes closed. Do the other participants have to keep their eyes closed, too?
I don’t think they do, actually. The rules don’t specify that anyone other than the person doing the asking has to keep their eyes closed, so I think it’s probably safe for others to keep their eyes open. The same is true if someone else is asking for permission or for an answer to a question — if you’re not doing the asking, I think you can keep your eyes open.
What if the book I want to use has a red cover and is mostly just words, but also has a small design at the beginning of each chapter that matches the overall theme of the story? Could it still be used, or should I find another book to use in its place?
Find another book. There should be absolutely NO images of any kind in the book, including small designs at the beginnings of chapters.
What if where we place our finger in the book is an empty spot?
That would fall under the heading of a “negative or nonsensical answer.” Try again.
If you never get permission to enter the game and decide to just give up, do you need to ask permission to leave the game?
Nope. If you never entered the game in the first place, there’s no need to ask permission to leave it.
How close a connection do I need to have to the person I try to contact?
This question came up in an r/ThreeKings thread; the Redditor who posed it was curious about whether s/he could try to contact someone they’d never met, like a dead author. I’m not sure there’s a definitive answer, although I suspect that you’re more likely to complete the ritual successfully if you’re trying to contact someone you know or knew. First off, there’s no guarantee that someone like Shakespeare would want to call some stranger back via astral telephone; second off, there’s a much higher probability of dialing a wrong number if you lack a firm connection to the person you’re trying to reach. My two cents? Sure, you can try, but consider it for the advanced Shoebox Telephone player only. Beginners should probably stick with someone to whom they are or were close.
Why do I need a power object and why must it be connected to the person I’m talking to?
It’ll help the call go through and keep the connection clear. Think of it like the phone number for whomever you’re trying to ring — not placing an object with some sort of meaning for them in the box is kind of like picking up the regular phone, punching in random numbers, and hoping you get a hold of the person you meant to call.
What happens if I call someone who doesn’t speak my language?
Then you probably won’t be able to understand them. It’s a telephone, not a translation service.
Could you contact Rocky Balboa with this?
Given that Rocky Balboa is a fictional character, I’m going to go with no.
(And for the curious, yes, this question is actually sitting in my moderation queue. Hi there, trolls; how are you today?)
If you mis-dialed someone and they acted like the person you wanted to talk to, how would you know?
That would depend on two things: How well you knew the person you meant to call, and how well-calibrated your own personal bullshit detector is. If you’re generally not great at being able to tell when someone is lying, you might not be able to tell a faker from the real thing.
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…
Does the person need to be dead? Could the person be alive?
My understanding is that the person should be dead; however, I suppose it’s always possible that you could dial the consciousness of someone living. If they reply, it might be the auditory equivalent of astral projection or something.
What if you don’t know if the person is alive or not? Does that make calling a wrong number more likely?
This is is conjecture on my part, but I’d say yes. The more you know about a person — the clearer you can hold them in your mind while making the call — the better. Think about it like dialing an actual phone number: If you think you know someone’s number, but you’re not totally sure you do, you’d expect there to be a higher chance of dialing a wrong number if you actually tried to call them, right? Same deal here.
Also, here’s your reminder NOT to dial a wrong number under ANY circumstances.
Does the person you’re calling being a blood relation increase the likelihood of dialing the right number?
For some people, maybe, but for others, perhaps not. I believe a call is more likely to be successful if you dial someone to whom you were close; not everyone is close to their blood relations. If what you mean here is “family,” then I think it depends on whether you’re the kind of person who considers your family to be only the people related to you by blood, or whether you consider your family to be the people you choose to be, regardless of whether they’re a blood relation.
If I can’t turn the lights on, then how will I know if the paper cup is knocked over or the shoebox is open? If I have to try to feel it with my hands, won’t touching the open shoebox result in something bad?
Unless your room is absolutely pitch black, with literally no light p0llution coming in from anywhere (unlikely — a total blackout is extraordinarily difficult to engineer), you’ll probably be able to see enough to tell if something is off. If your room really is that dark, then feel with your hands… carefully.
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.
When I get the package, can I just abort the ritual, leave the package unopened, and get free stuff from it?
You won’t really be getting free stuff — if you don’t open the package or continue with the ritual, you don’t get to reap the rewards. But yes, I would imagine that if you get the package, but don’t actually put the batteries in the radio, you’d effectively abort the ritual.
That said, though, it’s not usually a good idea to leave a ritual unfinished.
What happens if I do not turn the radio on after receiving the package?
Honestly, you may as well not have started the ritual; that’s the whole point of the thing, after all. But again, I’d be wary of starting something you don’t intend to finish.
Why can’t I use a staircase with more than 16 steps?
Mostly because doing so would take a ridiculously long amount of time. Remember, you’re performing this ritual uninterrupted, and you have to devote an hour to each step. 16 steps means 16 hours — which also means not eating, drinking, using the restroom, or taking care of any of your other basic needs during that time.
What happens if you don’t remove or destroy the objects?
These sorts of games often leave out the details of what happens if you fail to take care of an essential step. It’s a storytelling device; what our imaginations dream up to fill in the blanks is often much more frightening than any definitive answer could be.
That said, though, I can offer this thought without killing too much of the fun: Should you decide to abort the ritual, removing and destroying the objects must necessarily be done. Failing to do so will likely cause the abortion not to work — which means you’ll be stuck in a home with an unfinished ritual and something nasty creeping around. Needless to say, this is not an advisable situation in which to put yourself and anyone else who lives with you.
In The Main Event, Step 8, what does it mean by tearing the picture of your home but not letting it fall to pieces? Do you just make tears in the picture while leaving it whole as opposed to tearing it up?
Yep — think of it as tearing notches in the photo, rather than tearing pieces off the photo.
What happens if you use a photo that doesn’t meet the three requirements?
It probably just won’t work. You know how a batch of cookies won’t come out quite right if you leave out one of the key ingredients while you’re baking them? The same thing goes for the requirements for any given game or ritual.
What happens after the Stranger has left with your gift and the person’s name?
Your environment will return to normal, although don’t forget to complete the follow-up steps after the Stranger has gone (wipe the word from the door, lock it, blow out the candles, wait until sunrise to unlock the door, and burn the photograph).
If I correctly complete the ritual, can I do it again?
You always can try it again; whether you should, though, is something entirely different. I wouldn’t — and that goes for most of these types of games. Unless the instructions explicitly state that it’s okay to give it another shot, I’d consider most of these games a one-time experience.
In this case, I’m not sure the Stranger would take kindly to being asked for favors on the regular.
Do you have to stay awake the whole night?
Unless the instructions for any given game specify that you should go to sleep, it’s probably safest to stay awake; that way you’ll be cognizant of anything that might happen in the space around you before the safe time rolls around. That said, though, as long as you stay in the room with the door closed after the Stranger departs, you’ll probably be more or less okay, even if you fall asleep.
So it’s like a spiritual hitman?
Kind of, yeah.
How long will it take to hear the three knocks?
If the knocks are forthcoming, they might not happen instantly, but they’ll occur in short order. You won’t be waiting for an hour for them or anything.
How will I know if the gift is not approved?
What do you do if the door doesn’t have a lock?
Don’t perform the ritual. The rules stipulate that the door must have a lock, so if your door doesn’t have one, at best, it won’t work, and at worst… well, let’s just say the lock is there for a reason.
When should you burn the picture? Do you have to wait until morning, or can you burn it right after blowing out the candles and wiping the name?
I think you have to wait until sunrise; I’ve always found the burning of the photograph to be the very last step, after locking the door, blowing out the candles, wiping the name, and waiting until the sun is up to unlock the door again.
Could you use a digital picture of the person? If so, would you just have to delete the photo or would you have to burn the device it’s on?
I wouldn’t. Technology poking its head where it shouldn’t be has a tendency to muck up the works somewhat. Plus, the ritual is very specific in stating that the photograph itselfmust be destroyed by fire — so I don’t think deleting it will work (that ignores the fire instruction), nor do I think that burning the device would work (you’re burning the device, not the photo). The details matter.
Do I have to dial the number manually, or can I put it in my contacts list or on speed dial?
Interesting question. You could try, although it may not work; my sense is that manually dialing is preferable, largely because I think it comes down to intention. In order to make successful contact, you typically have to really want to make contact — and taking the time and making the effort to manually dial really underlines your intention. Just hitting speed dial might be a little too easy, you know?
What happens if you don’t hang up hang up immediately for Condition D? Can you talk to the spirit?
Nope. That’s not what this ritual is for. If you want to talk to someone, try the Shoebox Telephone or the Answer Man.
For what it’s worth, my sense is that leaving the line open might invite something into your home that you really don’t want there.
What if I have to leave my home and I have pets?
Take them with you. The safest thing, though, would probably be to make sure they’re out of the house before you begin the ritual — have them spend the night with a friend or another trusted pet sitter. Besides the fact that you’ll have to gather them up and transport them elsewhere in the event of a red flag occurring, they also might affect the ritual itself. What if your dog starts scratching at the door to your throne room while you’re in the middle of the ritual? What if your cat wanders into the throne room while you’re sleeping? The unpredictability caused by the presence of a pet might cause some undesirable (and possibly dangerous) results.
What actually happens if you stay in the house?
Nothing good, although I think it varies from person to person.
What happens if you look directly at or in the mirrors?
According to FableForge, there’s “some risk of psychological trauma” if you face either of the mirrors directly at any point during the ritual. Weird shit happens when you look into mirrors in the dark; given that a lot of what happens during the Three Kings ritual stems from what’s already going on in your own brain and/or subconscious, you could end up seeing something that seriously fucks with your head (remember Troxler’s Fading and the Caputo Effect?). Wrote FableForge on r/ThreeKings:
“I’ve seen people who saw crazy surreal stuff and were able to forget it after a while, and I’ve also seen people who simply saw themselves but with a certain wrong facial expression, and could never get over it…. I suspect that facing a mirror implies agreeing with its premise, to the point where the anthropomorphized expression takes over and dominates over all other options. It’s not ‘possession’ precisely, since after all it’s just a side of yourself taking over, but it’s still not something I’d like to go through if I could help it.”
Interestingly, though, FableForge also noted that one of the people who helped them develop the original set of instructions held that the biggest risk isn’t facing one of the mirrors — it’s turning your back to the other one.
Where should your partner be when you’re in the throne?
Your partner should remain in your home for the duration of the game (until 4:34am) — but they should NOT be in the throne room with you. They can hang out pretty much anywhere else in your home while you’re completing the main event, but you’ll probably want them to stay within shouting distance of the throne room. If you encounter any red flags before starting the main event, make sure your partner (and anyone who might be in the house with you) vacates the premises along with you. It’ll be safe to return at 6am.
What’s the point of this game?
It’s kind of open-ended, but I think it functions similarly to hypnosis or meditation. You might learn something… but bear in mind that it might be knowledge you were better off not possessing.
Are the beings in the mirrors psychological or spiritual?
I think they’re psychological, since so much of what happens during this one comes from your own subconscious — but that’s just me. It might be different for you.
What will you see in the mirror? Please give details.
I doubt any two people have ever seen the same thing in the mirror; it’s a highly personal experience. Besides, doesn’t giving away all the details take the fun out of the story?
What happens if you provoke whatever you see in the mirror?
Probably nothing good.
What happens if you go over the time?
Don’t. That’s what your partner is for — to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Can you put a circle of salt around the throne chair to protect yourself just in case?
You can, although honestly, I’m not totally sure it’ll do what you intend it to do. After all, nothing is literally coming after you; it’s all in the mirrors, and in your mind. A salt circle around you in the physical world can’t really protect you from what’s going on inside your own head — and indeed, it might actually trap you in there.
What is your partner supposed to do with the bucket of water and the mug?
Take mug, submerge in bucket, fill with water, splash in face.
(It sounds much cooler if you’re left to figure it out for yourself, but there it is spelled out in case you need it.)
What if I decided to use a Bible as my power object? Would that upset any entities?
It’d probably be fine; I doubt it would cause any upset. Again, we’re mostly dealing with what’s going on in your own head, not a literal devil.
What do you mean, “if your body is suddenly moved, the fan will blow out the candle, ending the game”?
Pretty much exactly what it says. The extinguishing of the candle closes the ritual; if you’ve set the fan up correctly, and your body is moved out of the path of the breeze, the fan will blow out the candle and close the ritual.
This is true whether or not your body has moved of its own volition.
What if you don’t want to wait all the way until 4:34 in the morning? Can you have your friend end the game?
Nope. If you start the ritual, you have to play it through to completion, even if it doesn’t seem like anything is happening. There’s no half-assing it when it comes to these sorts of games; leaving a ritual open and unfinished is a recipe for disaster.
If you day to stay until 4:34 and the game is ended, do you have to leave your house and return at 6?
Nope; that’s only the case if you notice any of the red flags between waking up at 3:30 and sitting in the throne at 3:33. If you play successfully until 4:34 and close the ritual, there’s no need to vacate the premises.
What do the queen and the fool represent?
That depends on who the king is.
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.
What happens if the candle goes out in the middle of the entity answering your question?
That would end the game… although honestly, I’d be a little worried about what exactly blew the candle out, if it wasn’t you or the fan.
How does your partner know if something is wrong or you didn’t do something right?
That’s what the final three steps are for: If, at 4:34am, they call out your name and you don’t answer, they’re meant to call your cell phone; then, if you don’t answer your cell phone, then they’re meant to go into the room and use the mug and bucket of water. Those are their cues to pay attention to; they mean you’ve been rendered unable to close out the ritual yourself.
What happens if the mirrors on the chair fall over before or during the ritual?
That’s… probably not a good sign. If it happens before you come back at 3:30am to take your throne, then I wouldn’t proceed. If it happens while you’re on the throne? I would find a way to blow out the candle and end the ritual.
If your partner had to come into the room to end the ritual, should they also avoid looking into the mirrors?
Probably. That seems like the safest choice.
What would happen if you purposely broke the mirrors? Say, combined this ritual with the Dark Reflection Ritual?
I wouldn’t recommend it. Three Kings and the Dark Reflection Ritual are both high-risk games, so I feel like it would be really unsafe to combine the two of them.
What if you can’t wake up?
I mean, there’s a ghost stalking you in your dreams. What do you think will happen if she catches you? Nothing good, that’s for sure.