Capture-the-Flag With Stuff
A somewhat psychotic variation on a classic game
Original game by Andrew Plotkin
Revised by Tom Lotze
Stuff is a key concept in game design. Pong plus Stuff makes Arkanoid.
Risk plus Stuff makes Cosmic Encounter.
Rock-Scissors-Paper plus Stuff makes Magic: the Gathering.
Capture-the-Flag plus Stuff makes...
Capture-the-Flag With Stuff.
did it first. We stole it from them fair and square.
Herein are the rules.
Base rules (Everyone must understand these perfectly!)
- The goal of the game is to capture the opposing team's flag and
bring it to the main judge; once this is done, your team scores a point.
There will be a five-minute timeout while The Flag is hidden again. It
may enter the main judge's station by any means. During game time, you
may never touch your own flag or move it.
- The game space is divided into some number of team territories and
neutral space. (There may also be forbidden territory, which no player
may enter at all during the game.)
- You are within a team's territory if either foot touches or is
within that territory. If you tag an enemy (even
a nick), and both of you are in your territory, he is captured by you.
You must lead him to your jail at
reasonable speed; both players are considered out-of-game until they reach Jail. Once there,
the capturee must "enter jail" by touching either the Jail or a
prisoner already in jail. A captor may not make any more captures until
his capturee has entered jail. A prisoner must give up any
(non-concealable) stuff, if asked. (To his
captor or his captor's teammate.)
- If a free Enemy touches the glyph of Jail, or any person currently
in that Jail, he and the prisoner of his choice get to go back to their
territory. They must go directly and rapidly home, and are
until they reach their own territory (they have free
passage back to their territory).
- You must have on Team Identification and a watch at all times.
- Listen to the judges. This is an extremely difficult game to run,
and they are doing their best to be fair and have a fun game. Stay
calm, and listen to the judges. If you are going to try something
that is unclear in the rules, it would be a good idea to ask them
first. Listen to the judges.
Some of these may be useful later; however, you may skip them
for now if you wish.
- concealed/concealable: a player may hide a concealed item in any way
he wishes. Unlike most items, a captured player need not reveal that he
has such items, need not give them up if asked, and may use them while
- free passage: you must go directly to the place you have free
passage to, and are out-of-game until you arrive.
- one charge: An item with this attribute may only be used once; it
must then be recharged by touching it to any Glyph of Charging. If you
pass the item to a teammate, you should remember to say whether it is
charged or not. If the item passes to an enemy, it is automatically
- out-of-game: while a player is out-of-game, they may not affect or
be affected by anyone in-game. They may not capture or be captured,
stun or be stunned, drop items, pick up items, or any such thing.
- place: a glyph is placed by sticking it to a wall, floor, or
ceiling, and applying four pieces of masking tape (one to each corner--you
must push down on each corner to place the glyph) to affix it. Simply
pushing the glyph to the wall will not activate it.
- Stunning: A stunned player must sit down on the floor and wait until
the stun wears off. He is incapable of capturing or freeing anyone. He
may easily be captured according to the normal rules, in which case he is
unstunned and must get up to go to jail.
A player may not be stunned again if he is already
- A stunned player is not restrained from anything else; he may
- It is possible for a stunned player to stun someone (if they
have a Wand of Snoozing), so don't
wander too close.
- whap/whapping: please ask the judges for a demonstration.
The Stuff! (Players will want to know these!)
General item rules
Flags are large pieces of cloth or felt, 18 inches square.
Their magic is inherent; possession is all ten points of the Law.
- The Flag
- A flag, in the team color. This is the flag.
You may never touch or move directly or indirectly your own flag.
You must place the flag somewhere where it is visible and
accessible (i.e., no using the "Yukko" glyph on the only door in); judges should confirm that both team flags are properly placed before starting the game.
- Flag of Delusion
- A flag, in the team color.
The Flag of Delusion has no restrictions on placement.
It is identical to the real flag, except for a label in
one corner which says "Psych!" It is technically considered magic, but
has no effects other than fooling Enemies.
Wands: Wands are floppy two-foot lengths of foam rubber.
Affecting the target requires whapping him with the
wand. Wands may
not be thrown.
Wands must be worn in plain view
or held. Many have charges and a keyword. In all
must say the keyword when you use a wand.
- Blue (The Long Wand of the Law; "Gotcha!")
- The Bearer may consider this wand part of his body,
not, at whim. (ie, you can tag someone with it, using the keyword, but
if someone hits it
with a wand of snoozing you can say he never hit you.)
- Red (Wand of Vengeance; "Toast!")
- Hit an Enemy in his territory, and you capture
him back to your jail (as normal, with free passage).
- Notice that you are immediately out of the game and must take
prisoner back; no stopping to do anything else.
- Remember, this only works in the victim's territory;
it has no effect in your territory or neutral space.
- Green (Wand of Snoozing; "Stun!")
- Whap someone and say Stun! and that person is stunned
- White (Dispelling; "Dispel!")
- Whap any Magic Item (except a flag or jail),
"Dispel"; the item loses all magical properties for 1 minute. Whap a
person, say "Dispel", and all items they are carrying lose all magical
properties for 1 minute. One charge.
- Note that whapping is distinct
from touching. You can recharge an Anti-Magic Wand at a Glyph of
Charging, or nullify the Glyph, depending on whether you use the
- If two white Wands whap each other, both are nullified.
- A nullified item loses all magical properties; you may treat it as
a mundane piece of foam.
Exception: nullifying an
enemy Glyph does not give you the right to move it.
Potions: They are folded-over pieces of soft foam, with
colored tape. All potions have only one charge. All potions may be
concealed. You may use potions on
- Red (Bribe)
- When captured, you may immediately give this to your
captor in order to negate the capture; you have free
to your team's
- The captor has no choice but to accept the bribe (it's
- You may not nullify a bribe (it's red!)
- Notice that the bribe will always be charged, as it is always
handed over to an enemy when used.
- Blue (Truth Serum)
- If used on a person in jail, he must answer 6 yes/no
questions, lying no more than once. May answer Yes, No, or I don't
know. This potion may be used no more than once every fifteen minutes.
- White (Potion of Lubrication)
- When in jail, a prisoner may give this to someone on the team which has captured them (presumably the jail guard). They may then leave jail, bringing along one other prisoner with them. The two former prisoners get free return back to their home territory.
- The captor may ask for magical items first, in which case the prisoner must still give them all their (non-concealable) magic items.
- The captor has no choice but to accept the potion.
- Green (Jolt!)
- Person hit is unstunned. You may use this even if
Belts: Belts are long sashes of felt; five feet long and
five inches wide. (The ends will dangle.) Belts must be worn to be
effective. They must be worn/carried in plain view.
- Red (Belt of Twofer; "Twofer!")
- The wearer may capture two Enemies at a
time. After capturing someone, he may call out "Twofer!" Instead
of immediately taking the capturee to
jail, he may attempt to capture a second person. When the wearer
captures a second, he must go straight back to the first,
and then lead them both
- The first
must sit down
and wait; he is considered out-of-the game, although the capturer
- The first capturee need only wait one minute; after that, the
capture is void and he may leave.
- You may call "Twofer!" at any time while bringing a capturee to
- You may return to your
capturee without having captured a second, if you wish, but you may not
call "Twofer!" again until you have taken him to jail.
- Note that
the first capturee is
captured, not stunned.
- Green (Goombah's Belt of Humiliating Protection)
- The Wearer may carry no other magic items, including The
He is immune to capture, stunning, and generally all magic (except
Dispel), as long as he is jumping up
and down and loudly singing "Yankee Doodle" (or, optionally, the
"Super Mario Bros." theme). This protection may be shared by any
teammates if they are all holding hands with the wearer, and all jumping
up and down and singing along (they cannot carry other magic items
while doing so).
Glyphs: Glyphs are pieces of bright colored paper with words
them. You may not move or cover another team's glyph. Glyphs may be
placed on any surface, and generally work when
someone sees them.
- Take this literally! If it crosses your vision, and you
within the range, it affects you. No ducking back and saying
you. Next time, you'll know, but this time, they got you.
Contrariwise, if your eyes are closed or your head is averted, so that
it doesn't hit your retina (not even out of the corner of your eye) it
doesn't affect you.
- "Jail" (Glyph of Jail)
- See Jail rules. Cannot be moved by anyone or
touched by Defenders while prisoners are in jail. Must be placed
accessibly and visibly in the same way as The Flag.
- "Still Going" (Glyph of Charging)
- Any magic item touched to
this regains full charge. Unlike other glyphs, the Glyph of Charging
be used by anyone.
- It is still true that only the owning team may move
- "Gotcha" (Glyph of Entrancement)
- If you see an enemy Glyph of
Entrancement, and you are within ten feet of it, you are stunned.
The stun lasts ten minutes.
- "Thanks" (Glyph of the Net)
- Any Enemy who sees this and is within 10
must leave a magical item on it. He never has to leave The Flag there.
You may not pick up items left on an Enemy Glyph of the Net.
- "Yukko" (Glyph of the Disgusting Doorknob)
- If placed on a
door/window/elevator door/ etc, Enemies may not touch this door in any
If you understand everything thus far, you are ready to
play. You need read no further.
The rest are further notes on specific points that may be
unclear, as well as some suggestions for running the game.
- Jail Notes:
- The prisoners do not have to be incredibly visible (they can yell
for help at intervals, after all) though they ought not to have to go
through too many hurdles to get in/out of jail. They should also not be
- Prisoners may move around freely in jail, as long as they
all remain in constant contact with the Jail (either directly or through
a chain of other prisoners.)
- Prisoners are allowed to sing soulful tunes, should they
wish to. However, they should respect their captors' requests, lest
they have unruly prisoners of their own.
- You may not use any item while in jail (except for concealable
- A prisoner must give up any
(non-concealable) items he
possesses, if asked. (To his captor or his captor's teammate.)
- General item rules
- If you capture an Enemy item, it is automatically recharged;
Friendly Items are not. Uncharged Items do nothing.
- You may not use any item while in jail (except for concealable
- Magic items may be dropped or given away, but they may not be stolen
or yanked away from other people. A prisoner must give up any
(non-concealable) items he
possesses, if asked. (To his captor or his captor's
Notice that he must first be taken to jail.
Note that a stunned player is NOT required to give up
- The Belt of Humiliating Protection protects you against all the
capturing and stunning magic. You cannot use it after you're captured or
stunned to get free / wake up.
This means that it will protect you from the Glyph of Entrancement, but
only if you're using the Belt when you first see the Glyph (and continue
to use it as long as you see it and are in range.)
- The Belt is affected by the Dispel Wand, if the wearer is
a group is using the Belt, and any of them are hit, the Belt fails for
the whole group.
- Dispelling a Glyph of Entrancement wakes up everybody currently
stunned by it.
- Dispelling a Glyph of the Net allows anyone to pick up the magic
items piled there (since the Glyph is inactive.)
- The Jail glyph and Flag itself ought to be clearly
visible from at least one accessible entrance, where accessible and
visible count 'natural' hazards as well as glyphs.
- Defenders may
physically guard or block view of whatever they want, as long as no
defender actually touches the jail glyph (when prisoners are in jail) or
- If it is impossible for you to know something, don't worry about it.
- Six feet is assumed to be wider than anyone can spread their legs.
So no player can be in more than one team's territory at a time. Also
note that territory is a three-dimensional volume; you are still in a
territory if you jump up from the floor.
Organization and play
No two team territories may be directly adjacent; they must be
separated by at least six feet of neutral space.
Each team should get one of each type of flag and one of each type of
The remaining items should be rationed by team size; each team
should get one wand, potion, or belt per person. A ten-person team can
thus have one of each kind of item. (It's up to you whether duplicates are
permissable. I recommend not, since some items are more valuable than
This game is meant to be played indoors. Lurking in hallways, finding
unexpected things around corners, and putting glyphs on doors are all
integral parts of the strategy.
All this nonsense obviously takes a lot of familiarity with the rules.
It will probably take even more tolerance to play "at speed". Pay
attention to people; see what magic items they're carrying so you won't
be surprised if they seem to violate the rules.
At the beginning of the game, there is a twenty-minute timeout,
during which no player may enter enemy territory; this is so that Flags
and other magic items may be placed.
- For the sake of sanity, you should have a central room in neutral
territory where the head referee will preside. He can answer questions,
resolve disputes, and so on. The players wouldn't mind if there were
cold drinks there, either.
- If you have enough spare people, it is also helpful to have some
field referees who wander around and follow the action, so that
questions can be resolved
- A judge must be a person who readily commands respect for
calmness, wiseness, and impartiality. This is incredibly important.
- A judge can never raise his voice. Yelling at/near judges
should be especially discouraged.
- Wandering judges should make sure no glyphs or flags are placed
inappropriately. Upon discovering one isn't, have it moved. But no
- If someone calls for a judge, judges should try to respond. But
nobody can break any rules simply in order to obtain a judge.
- Play flows normally while a judge is present, even if he is
talking. If it is necessary that this not be the case, he may have
himself and whatever persons are appropriate come with him to a neutral
territory, discuss the matter out-of-the-game, and return either to jail
or to their own territory when he's done (Judge's discretion). For all
other players, play flows normally unless the judge says otherwise
(which should be avoided.)
- Make every reasonable effort to tell people about time limits
- Designed and written by Andrew Plotkin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Revised by Tom Lotze (email@example.com),
- with very good advice from Joel Pomerantz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Primary inspiration from The Rules of Moopsball, Gary Cohn.
- Wand of Vengeance inspired by Farslayer in Fred Saberhagan's
Books of Swords.
- Belt of Humiliating Protection inspired by the thought of otherwise
rational adults bouncing down a hallway singing at the top of their lungs.
See the original rules