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.
- The Apex
- Bed of Sorrow
- The Candles Game
- Channel Infinity
- The Closet Game
- The Corner Game
- 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 Hooded Man Ritual
- The Hosting Game
- Hyakumonagatari Kaidankai, or the Game of 100 Ghost Stories
- Lady Spades
- The Man in the Fields Ritual
- The Midnight Game
- Musical Chairs Alone
- One-Man Hide and Seek
- The Raven Man
- The Shoebox Telephone
- A Small Radio
- The Staircase Ritual
- The Stranger Ritual
- The Three Kings
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 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.
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.)
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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 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.
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?
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…
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.
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.
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 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 (rememberTroxler’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.