Previously: Frequently Asked Questions, Vol. IV.
Time for another round of frequently asked questions! This time, we’ve got a lot of one shots for individual games; the one exception is The Man in the Fields Ritual, which attracted rather a large amount of queries. As I mentioned I’d start doing in the last FAQ volume, I’ve purposefully avoided answering any questions of the “what happens if I do this thing that expressly goes against the rules of the game?” variety; the reason why is laid out clearly here. However, there were a lot of interesting thoughts this time round about most of the games, so well done there, everyone.
I’ll also be adding these questions to the master FAQ as time allows.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What happens when she catches you?
You don’t want to know.
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.
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 match immediately.
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.
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?
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.
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.
[Photo via Tim Pierce/Flickr]