The Midnight Game is supposedly a pagan ritual used to punish those who violate the rules of the faith that it belongs too. However, recently it seems that some have taken to performing the ritual as a game, usually to disastrous end.
The ritual is performed by writing your full name at exactly midnight and placing a drop of blood on the paper your name is written on. You then place this before a wooden door, and top the paper with a lit candle. You must then knock on the door 22 times before the stroke of 12:0. After this, open the door, blow out your candle, close the door, and relight the candle. The opening of the door allows the Midnight Man into your home. Once he is inside, you will need the candle to protect you from him.
You are now playing the Midnight Game. You must wander your home until 3:33AM, at which point the Midnight Man will leave, and the game is over. If at any point your candle goes out, it is because the Midnight Man is near. You have 10 seconds to relight it before he strikes. If you fail to do so, your only hope is to find or create a circle of salt, which will keep him at bay. If you are forced to use the salt circle, it is imperative that you stay there until the end of the game. even if you manage to relight your candle while inside the circle, using the circle is constitutes a loss of the game. The salt circle is for your own protection.
If you happen to lose the game, either by breaking a rule or by being caught by the Midnight Man, he will show you horrific visions before tearing you apart. Other ways to lose the game include using any sort of artificial light, including electric lights of any kind or a lighter. Attempting to sleep during the course of the game or attempting to make direct contact with or provoke the Midnight Man also result in failure, and almost certain death.
The only way to safely lose the game is to use the salt circle method. Any other failure will result in the Midnight Man ending your life horrifically. Assuming for some reason that the Midnight Man doesn't claim you immediately following an unsafe loss, he will most certainly be watching and will come back for you later.
Using the "Midnight Game" in Your Game:
The Midnight Game is supposedly a ritual, and I think it best to keep with that spirit. I think it interesting to use this as the original idea, which is a punishment. The players violate some obscure belief of a strange people they are visiting, and as justice for their crimes, they must perform the ritual and survive the night. This works well for a fantasy genre game. If you want to run something more modern, consider just keeping the game in it's standard form: Some silly game that people play, with dire consequences.
As far as handling loss, I wouldn't bother with statting the midnight man or anything like that. The rules for the game are there, and everyone gets a fair chance at them. It really isn't about combat. However, it might be worth deciding ahead of time on some sort of chance based system to determine whether the candle can be relit, as well as some system to mark the passage of time. That said, using real time would actually be pretty neat too. Since the Midnight Game takes 3 hours and 33 minutes to play, this is within reason for a gaming session in itself. A map of the location of the "game" would also be very helpful here, since it is useful for tracking the players' hiding places as well as the location of the Midnight Man, both of which are essential knowledge for running the game.
Also, for the GMs out there, be prepared ahead of time to narrate some gory deaths and horrific visions. Terrible visions are brought on by the Midnight Man when he catches you, and his preferred method of killing is by ripping out organs one by one, so do with that what you will. The Midnight Game relies a lot on suspense, but unless the players win, that is going to culminate in gruesome death and other horrific description, which might be upsetting to some, but is fairly essential to the myth, and I feel that omitting that in favor of a more "fade to black" death would do a disservice to the themes intended.
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- Draconick, Digital and Dice Contributor
I, Nick “Draconick” Johnson, am a writer and roleplaying enthusiast with over ten years of experience in various tabletop roleplaying games both as a player and as a GM. I am also somewhat involved in other forms of tabletop gaming such as wargaming, board games, and card games. It is my hope that by creating and maintaining this website that I can share my unique take on all things within our hobby and to foster a community of like-minded individuals.