The Rules of Vampire Tag


Vampire Tag (aka Vamp Tag) is a variation on the classic game of tag. It must be played at night, on a large wooden playground. One of the basic rules of the game is that you have to stay on the wood. Anyone who touches the ground is stunned for 10 seconds. You need a minimum of five players in order to play. When the game begins, there is one vampire whose job is to tag the other players, thereby making them vampires. The humans have to find weapons, stakes and crosses, in order to fend off the supernatural fiends. The cross keeps vampires at bay, and when the creatures are staked they turn back into humans. The game ends when everyone is either all humans or all vampires. Sound like fun? Trust me, you'll love it. But, there's just a little more to it...

I. The Basics.

As I said before, the game must be played at night on large wooden playground. The more tunnels and towers and bridges, the better. Try to pick a place that isn't too close to houses, because if you get too loud people tend to call the police and usually these playgrounds are on school property and if you're a dick to the cops they could arrest you for trespassing.

Anyone who is under the influence of any drug whatsoever should not be allowed to play. There's two reasons for the this: 1. If the cops come and see that you're drunk and/or high they will not be nice, and 2. You're going to be running around in the dark on a structure that was designed for individuals much smaller than you. If you're messed up, the chance of injury skyrockets.

You need a minimum of five people to play, the more the merrier. With less than five, it won't really work. Trust me on that one.

You must stay on the wood. If you touch the ground you are stunned for ten seconds. You cannot move during this time and you must count "one one thousand, two one thousand..." and so on out loud. When you are done counting you are free to move. A stunned player can be tagged. You do not want to be stunned. If you just touch the ground while walking along, or if you trip and fall onto the ground, just say your count and continue. If you touch the ground when trying to jump from one piece of wood to another, if you are within a reasonable distance from your target, meaning it's within arm's reach, you may step onto that piece, say your count, and continue from there. If you do not land within arm's reach, you must go back to where you came from, say your count, and continue from there.

There is a minimum of physical contact. This is not a contact sport. In order for a vampire to tag a human, he has to touch them with one hand around the shoulder or neck, kind of like the Vulcan nerve pinch that Spock does on Star Trek. Of course, you're not actually pinching, just touching. A minimum of pressure should be used. When a vampire tags a human, they become a vampire and they must howl loud enough for the other players to hear, but not loud enough to bring the cops. There is no actual biting.

For a human to tag a vampire, they must touch him with a stake on the chest or the back. Obviously you do not want to use real stakes for this. A stake is usually made out of some kind of cardboard tubing with a cushion of some sort taped to one end so that you couldn't possibly hurt anyone with it. When a vampire is successfully staked, they turn back into a human and say, "Thank you kind sir."

At the beginning of the night, everyone gets a number which they must remember the whole night. This comes in handy when you think the game might be over and you want to be sure. If you're a vampire, and you're pretty sure everyone else is too, then you can call a vampire count. If number one is vampire then he is to say his number out loud so that all the players can hear it. Then if number two is a vampire they'll say their number, and so on. The count goes in order, and if someone doesn't say their number then the count stops. If this happens, then you know there's at least one more human left. After they're tagged, you can call the count again. If a count goes through all the way to the end, then the game is over because that means everyone is the same status. Only humans can call human counts, and only vampires can call vampire counts. Only humans will count off during human counts and only vampires will count off during vampire counts. In other words, do not lie about your mortal/immortal status. Clear?

Before the game begins, everyone draws a card to see what they will begin as. These cards can be regular playing cards, Magic cards, or anything else. Just make sure that they are all the same except for one, which should be markedly different. This different card, usually the ace of spades is a good choice, will be the vampire card. The other cards, which should all be similar to avoid confusion, are the human cards. You will only need one card for each person that is playing. Before the game the cards are shuffled and everyone draws one, looks at it, and puts it back face down so that no one else sees what they got. The purpose of this is to conceal the identity of the vampire.

After everyone has seen their cards they can take their place on the field. After a minute or so, the person who dealt the cards should say, "The game's afoot," or, "Game on," or something that clearly means "Start the game, you freaks!" The same person can do this all the time if you want, but another way to do it would be to have number one deal and call the first game, number two do the second game, and so on. When the game has been called, the fun begins...

II. Humans.

Chances are that you will begin the game as a human. After the cards have been drawn, the best strategy for a human is to find a weapon. You see, before the game started, everyone faced away from the field and the weapons were tossed over the players' shoulders out into random positions on the field. You cannot touch the weapons before the game begins, but you can hover above them and pick them up as soon as you hear the game called.

In a typical game there are two stakes and one cross. In a particularly large game, over 10 players, you might want use more. Try get evenly matched games. Neither humans nor vampires should win too easily. As stated before, the weapons should be made of cardboard tubing with padding secured by some kind of reflective tape. The tape is there so you'll be able to find them at the end of the night with a flashlight. The weapons are designed so there is no way anyone could possibly be harmed with them.

The weapons are the sole property of the humans: vampires cannot touch the weapons. This does not just mean that they can't use them, it means they can't kick them around or hide them or screw with them in any way. So, if you are the clever human who grabbed the weapon at the beginning of the game and you see someone else coming towards you, what you should do is hold it out and say, "Touch this." If they do, you know they are human. If they do not, it means they are either a vampire or a very stupid human. Touching the weapons like this is called the human handshake.

The Stake: In order to successfully stake someone, you must touch them with the padded end of the stake in the front or back somewhere above the waist and below the neck. The sides do not count. The head does not count. Legs, arms, or shoulders do not count. Front or back of the torso only.

The stake only has one charge. Once you stake someone you must say, "Stake up," and toss the stake over your shoulder into a random place on the field. If you are on the edge of the field, don't toss it out. Throw it so it stays in, just don't watch it. Do not chase the stake after you toss it. This is considered Very Bad Form.

Important: vampires cannot reach around the stake. They cannot get a human if the human has a stake and is facing them. Of course, if a vamp sneaks up behind the wielder of the stake, they can get him.

When a vampire is staked, they change back into a human. When this happens they should say, "Thank you kind sir." When anyone is turned, whether it be human to vamp or vamp to human, they get 10 free seconds where they are nothing. During this time they can run across the ground without being stunned. This is so that they can get out of a sticky situation. Once you start playing, you'll see why this is important.

What happens when a human is staked, you say? In this unfortunate circumstance, the human becomes a ghost. Always give players a chance to touch the stake because being a ghost sucks. You cannot touch the weapons or affect the game in any way. You are out. The only good thing about being a ghost is that you can walk over the ground without being stunned and follow the person who ghosted you and "haunt" them. You can reveal their location to the other players, etc. Ghosts count off as both a human and a vampire. Whatever count is called, you must count! There is no way to be un-ghosted short of starting a new game.

The Cross: The cross has two powers. The first is that vampires cannot approach it. They don't have to move back if you approach them with it, but they cannot move towards you. This applies to all vampires who are generally in front of you in your range of sight. If there's one coming in from the side, he is not affected. If one is sneaking up behind you, you're really screwed.

The cross also has a charge, which can be used by invoking it. To invoke the cross, the wielder of the weapon must say, "Flee evil hellspawn!" or something similar. When the cross is invoked, all vampires in the wielder's range of sight must run away for 10 seconds, or to the other end of the field, whichever comes first. A vampire cannot be forced to run outside of the field. A vampire can, however, be forced to run into a human ready to stake him. Once the cross has been invoked, the invoker must say, "Cross up," and toss it, just like the stake. Remember, chasing weapons is Very Bad Form.

The two weapon rule: humans are, by nature, uncoordinated. If they are holding two weapons, they can't use either of them. One has to be dropped, passed off to someone, or tossed away before the other one can be used. A human who holds out the cross while keeping a stake in their back pocket is toast. The cross will not work until they remove the stake from their person and drop it.

III. Vampires.

The vampire's job is to make other vampires. They way this is done is by touching the victim's shoulder the way I described above (Vulcan nerve pinch.) Whenever two vampires tag each other at the same time like this, it's called the vampire handshake. Always give the handshake. You could catch quite a few humans who are trying to play it cool and sneak past you.

There is absolutely no biting allowed. We are just pretending to be vampires, OK?

As stated before, the vampires cannot touch the weapons. At all. Ever. The vampire cannot reach around the stake. They are defenseless when confronted by a human with a stake, except for the three special vampire powers. Each of the following powers may only be used once per incarnation as a vampire. Example: you are the first, or "head", vampire. You have used each of your powers once. They are gone. You get staked and turned back to human. Five minutes later you get tagged by another vamp. You are considered a new vampire, and you now have all three powers back.

Power 1 (Bat): Bat allows a vampire to run across the ground without being stunned. To use the power properly, the vamp must point at a piece of wood he wants to run to, say "Bat," and run in a straight line to the first piece of wood that lies the in direction he pointed. The vamp may not jump a piece of wood in his path and keep going to the next one, he must stop at the very next piece of wood. Also, the vampire may not change course in mid-run. If he does this, he is stunned and must count the 10-second penalty. This power is useful for surprising prey who think they are safe. Show them the folly of their ways.

Power 2 (Snatch): Snatch, also called Grab, is another way to tag someone and make them a vampire. To successfully use Snatch, the vamp must grab a human's wrist, arm, ankle, or side and say "Snatch," or "Grab" while they have a hold of the person. Take care not to hurt or trip anyone while attempting this. Remember, minimal contact. You don't have to keep hanging on, just grab, say the word, and let go. Do not Snatch necks, breasts, or crotches. That's just rude. When a person has been Snatched, they turn into a vampire and must howl.

Power 3 (Mesmerize): Undoubtedly, this power is the cause of the vast majority of arguments that have erupted during my experience playing this game. Basically, Mesmerize allows a vamp to give a short command to a human and the human must follow it, unless it causes or will cause direct harm. "Stake yourself" will not work. "Freeze" will not work. "Throw it," "drop it," "run away," or "stake him/her" are all valid commands. In ideal circumstances, the power would only work when eye contact is made. Since we are playing in the dark, the power will work when a human's uncovered face is visible to the vampire, and that face is looking in the direction of the vampire. It does not matter if the human is not looking at the vampire, and the brim of a hat will not block the power. The only way to prevent being affected by this power is to keep your arm up in front of your eyes. Do not actually cover your eyes, just keep your arm up. The vampire can keep trying to use this power until they have successfully influenced a human. In other words, saying "Throw it," to a player holding no weapons does not use up the power. Remember, the vampire only has each power once, so don't forget what you've used and what you haven't.

IV. The End.

When you think the game is over, call a count. Remember, only humans can call human counts, and only vampires can call vampire counts. Ghosts, and players who are sitting out a game, always count off. The counts should not be used as tools to see who's left. They are to make sure the game is really over.

Everyone always wins. Usually. You see, there is one way to get an individual victory. If the last human or vampire hides so well that everyone agrees to give up looking for them, they achieve Sunrise. The night is over. They made it. This is much, much harder to get than you might think. Try it if you don't believe me.

This is a team game. Do not try to be the best. Overly-competitive people are an absolute nightmare to play with. You should not care whether you're human or vampire. Just play the game, and don't get hurt. Never play when it's snowy, wet, or slippery. If someone gets hurt, call a Time Out and stop the game until they're OK. If someone gets confused and needs clarification of the rules, call a Time Out and decide what ruling best keeps in the spirit of the game and having fun.

If there is an argument, stay where you are until it is settled. I can't stress this enough. As soon as everyone comes over to see what's going on, the parties involved both say, "Fine!" and walk away, leaving everyone in a big clusterfuck. Don't let it happen to you. If you are involved in an argument, instead of screwing up everyone else's game just switch places with the other person and continue, giving each other the customary 10 seconds free time for a change of status.

If the police come, be polite. Explain that you are just playing a game. Show them that you have no alcohol or drugs, and they'll usually just ask you to leave. When this happens, pick up your stuff and leave. Do not screw around. Do not pass go. Do not hide from the cops. They hate that.

I know there's a lot of rules here. Following them to the letter is not what's important. Feel free to modify them if it will make things more fun. Just stay true to the spirit of the game. And that's it, except for one optional rule.

Hightower: A Hightower must be called at the beginning of a game before the cards are dealt. It takes two to Hightower. The two players who want to Hightower draw their cards to find out what they are, and then go stand together, preferably on top of a high structure on the field, face each other, and put their hands together raised up to form an upside-down "V." When the game is called, if one is the head vampire, the other automatically becomes a vampire and must howl. If neither is the vampire, nothing happens and you both look like jerks.

Feel free to distribute this file, give it as a Christmas gift, whatever. I, the author of this document, will not be held responsible for what you do with this information. I am not advocating or condoning any illegal activities. Your life is your own. Don't blame me if you fuck up.

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