21. Plague

This game is for adults and teenagers only. It can be very disturbing for little ones and should not be attempted on children with an overactive imagination. Although I wrote the entry before the onset of Covid-19, clearly during a global pandemic is an unsuitable time to play Plague unless your family has a huge dose of salt, and gallows humour.

Do not play this game with younger children, if there is bereavement in the family. The type of child that sees monsters under the bed may be gifted with a wonderful imagination-protect them from this game. My children are of that type and even now they struggle with Dr Who. I mean anyone aged up to 12 should probably not be exposed to this game.

The point of plague is to stage a piece of theatre, to create an atmosphere so to speak.  The atmosphere in question is decidedly spooky, murky and even terrifying. The participants must be able to savour and co-create the atmosphere whilst at the same time knowing it is not real and will go away shortly. That is why Plague should Never be played with young children, they simply don’t have the ability to remove themselves from a virtual reality like that.

The game is played in a darkened room. We use a real log fire which we have in winter so there is a faint light source, but it is better if there is none. Plague is best played with 6 or more players and may be suitable for a teenagers sleep-over. Or students. Anyone but small or medium sized children.

Anyway, the game is played as follows: everyone is given a card at random with one card denoting the person with ‘plague’. This person keeps their role of having plague quiet. If you don’t have cards  you can make and choose several  small crumpled up pieces of paper from a hat (or fist). Write a P on one piece of paper to denote the person with plague.

The idea is to wander round the darkened room bumping into each other. Now the creepy atmosphere can be exacerbated by slow stomping footsteps or wandering away from other players. When you bump into another player both players whisper ‘hello’ to each other in as quiet a whisper as possible.

The person with plague is allowed to whisper ‘hello, plague’ or ‘hello’ depending on how the mood takes them, but only when they bump into another player. If they whisper ‘hello’ to start with it usually get the atmosphere going.

When the player with plague whispers ‘hello plague’ to another player the player who they whispered it to must die. The pretend dying is one of the best things about this game. Players can either choose to die quietly, in which case they just fall on the floor and watch the rest of the game, or they can die in a long drawn out dying scene which can be totally hilarious. This normally involves choking, gagging, falling to the floor and convulsing before finally dying.So again please check the taste o-meter- this game was funny before Lockdown, but now the grim reality of death tolls every evening has descended, it may not be so amusing.

The best thing about plague is that the point is to create a mini-drama. If there are enough players then you can play a version where the aim of the game is to spot the person with plague before there are only two people left in the room. In this sense it is similar to Wink Wink Murder.

The person with plague tries to get away with it. In this case there should be a short time- lag between being killed and dying (time for plague virus to take effect). Otherwise the killer is obvious. However, as we normally only have four players we have played this just as a mini-theatre exercise with no winners or losers.

In this game there can be several rounds giving all people a chance to be the plague carrier. But remember- only suitable for older participants with a very strong constitution!