Rules of Play

Writing group exercise: Write the rules to an unnamed game.

  1. You must have nothing to lose. If you have parents, friends, a cute girlfriend, a nice apartment, a publishing contract, a starring role in a hit TV series, a Ferrari, or a baseball legacy to uphold, you must light a match and burn it all to the ground. You must have nothing to lose.
  2. As soon as you have nothing to lose, you will become attractive to the Others. This is the hard part of the game. You must wait it out. They will notice you. They may have already noticed you. They may have even been complicit in the act of personal arson undertaken in step one, but you didn’t recognize them for what they were. Be patient. Your eyes will be opened sooner than you think, and once they are, there will be no way to close them again.
  3. Accept your fate. When you recognize the Others, natural human disbelief will kick in. It doesn’t matter if you fight it or not. In the end, they’ll take you anyway. It would behoove you to accept the new paradigm before someone almost kills you.
  4. Arm yourself. If swords, armor, guns, or other traditionally useful weapons are at hand, make use of them. Stealing is allowed. If traditional weapons and armor are not readily available, find a heavy, blunt object with which you can defend yourself. Remember, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Anything could happen. Constant vigilance.
  5. Ask questions. Learn how the universe works as quickly as possible. Ask a captor, a guard, or a friendly talking animal guide. In the absence of companions to ask, try casting a spell. See if you can defy gravity, become invisible, or light something on fire. If so, you are probably in a magic-positive world. If not, hold onto that blunt object; others may still have access to magic that is beyond your understanding.
  6. The Others brought you here for a reason, but they probably won’t tell you what it is right away. However, the inhabitants of the other world are bound to know who you are and what you’re there for. You must discover your destiny without attracting unwanted attention. More travel will likely ensue as you begin your quest, so be sure to invest in good walking shoes early in the adventure.
  7. Amass allies. You’ll want someone who’s a good fighter, someone who can do magic, someone who can read the signs in nature, and someone who knows how to trap a rabbit and start a cook-fire, among others.
  8. Know your enemy. Not everyone in the other world will like you. There will probably be some guy living in a distant black tower who wants you dead. Be on the lookout for his spies and servants. Do not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to be captured by the man in the tower. If captured, do not attempt to parley. Do your best to escape. If this fails, rest assured that one of your allies will eventually show up and rescue you. It’s inevitable.
  9. The hero always wins.

Can you guess the game?


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