Drinking Games to go with Myst and Riven

Alright, it’s late, I’m getting over a cold, and I’m bored.  This is going to depart from my normal subject matter on this blog. It is, after all, my blog, and some things just aren’t cut out for a long Facebook post. If you like neither puzzle adventure games nor drinking, then you may want to skip this. Otherwise, I love you because you’re an amazing person.

It’s not surprise to people that, if I have one primary fandom, it’s Myst. I am, have always been, and will always be a lifelong Myst fanboy. Alas, I’ve never yet made it to a Mysterium con, but I will one day before they die out. For those who don’t know, the Myst franchise, started by the always-trusty Cyan, Inc.,spans five single-player games, one MMO, and three novels, as well as a poorly-received (so I’ve heard) comic book series that didn’t last past the first issue. It’s a beautiful series, and it’s definitely had a significant effect on my beliefs and practice of the occult. In my opinion, Riven was the best game of the series, followed by Myst in quality; Exile (III) was good but felt too much like a game and not enough like an adventure, Revelation (IV) went far too much against the history and setting set up by Myst and Riven, and End of Ages (V) was just…sad for so many reasons. Then there’s Uru, the MMO, which is beautiful and amazing to play though, only parts of which require other people to help out; alas, it was far too detached from its time, and the caverns of D’ni feel way more desolated than the designers of the game intended it to be. Ah well, the games live on on their own.

Well, the problem is that these games don’t always have the best replay value. I mean, Myst has a shortcut that circumvents nearly the entire game, so long as you remember a specific time and a specific page number, for crying out loud; the other games actually require you to play through the game and unlock individual puzzles without any chance of a shortcut. Still, it’s good to play through the games once in a while, if only to relive those beautiful scenes and music and the familial drama of the house of Atrus. If you haven’t played the games or read the books, and I seriously question your existence as a human if you haven’t yet, I recommend the following sequence:

  1. Myst
  2. Myst: The Book of Atrus (novel #1)
  3. Riven
  4. Myst: The Book of Ti’ana (novel #2)
  5. Myst: The Book of D’ni (novel #3)
  6. (Optional) Myst III: Exile
  7. (Optional) Myst IV: Revelation
  8. Uru, specifically the free-to-play Myst Online: Uru Live (donate to keep the servers up!)
  9. (Optional) Myst V: End of Ages

Anyway, let’s focus on Myst and Riven, because obviously. You can get either for like US$5 off of Steam or GOG, maybe both plus several of the other Myst games for as much if you happen to get in on a sale. Seriously, there’s a reason that Myst and Riven are among the best-selling games of all times, and it’s not just because Myst was the game that popularized CD-ROMs for gaming. I strongly recommend you play through them at some point this winter, especially if you haven’t yet.  If you dislike the original HyperCard format of Myst, I might also recommend playing realMYST, which is the 3D version that Cyan originally wanted to use but didn’t have the technology for in 1993.  A corresponding realRIVEN was supposedly in the works, but is now being handled by fans at the Starry Expanse Project; donate there if you want to see this come to life one day!

Now, even if you haven’t played these games, let’s make them a little more infuriating.  (Sure, they say that Myst and Riven don’t encourage violent gaming? I’d like to see you play through them and not want to chuck things at the wall.)  So, how do we go about making them more infuriating and fun?  By adding alcohol, of course! I’m pro-drinking game, as many of my friends know, and it’s always fun to open up a bottle (or twelve) of beer or wine, maybe make a stiff cocktail (or seven) and drink with a purpose. To that end, get your friends together with the lure of free booze and play the Myst and Riven Drinking Game.  Now, the easy way to go about this drinking game would be “drink every time you get stuck”, but I don’t want to have to go ahead and schedule your funeral a week from now, so let’s make things a little easier on your liver and a little more fun.  Honestly, I don’t know why such a drinking game hasn’t been written before now (if there was, I wasn’t able to find it), but hopefully this will close a crucial gap in the Myst fandom.

MYST DRINKING GAME

Drink every time:

  • You have to unflip a switch, lever, or button because you flipped it earlier and had no idea what it was doing then but you do now.
  • You have to redo any puzzle to get out of an age.
  • You miss aligning the Tower Rotation on the right place.
  • You have to reset the Gears puzzle in the Clocktower.
  • You utter an expletive while trying to figure out the Gears puzzle in the clocktower.
  • You mess up the Constellation Pillar puzzle to raise the Ship.
  • You trip the breakers in powering up the Spaceship.
  • You have to go back to the Spaceship panel to listen to the proper notes because you’re tone-deaf.  (I would die from alcohol poisoning from this, personally.)
  • You miss the elevator of the Great Tree.
  • You have to reset the water flow in Channelwood Age to keep going.
  • You run out of light in the tunnels of Stoneship Age.
  • You press the wrong directional button on the Compass Rose.
  • You mess up the satellite dishes in the Selenitic Age.
  • You make a wrong turn in the Selenitic Age’s Cave Maze.
  • You enter in the wrong combination to the fireplace panel.
  • You see evidence of Sirrus’ megalomania or substance use.
  • You see evidence of Achenar’s megalomania or sadism.
  • You add in a new page to a book.

Finish your drink and start a new one:

  • Every time you have to resort to a walkthrough for advice on progressing through the game.
  • When you exit any of the four ages (not Myst or D’ni) for the first time.
  • If you figure out how to get the white page.  Immediately drink again if you go “Really?!”.
  • If you get the good ending.
  • If you get any bad ending.

RIVEN: THE SEQUEL TO MYST DRINKING GAME

Drink every time:

  • You see an explicit reference to the number 5. (Yes, this will keep you drunk most of the time.)
  • You have to unflip a switch, lever, or button because you flipped it earlier and had no idea what it was doing then but you do now.
  • You have to redo the fire marble puzzle input.
  • You miss the proper eye symbol on a fire dome.  (Good luck with Plateau Island!)
  • You read/hear Gehn make a D’ni-centered racial supremacist comment.
  • You open a door that was previously locked or barred.
  • You see at least one Moiety dagger.
  • You see an actual person in the age of Riven.
  • You mess up the animal pillar puzzle to get to the age of Tay.
  • You have to consult one of the journals in your inventory for a puzzle clue.
  • You summon Gehn with the button.
  • You feel persuaded at any point of what Gehn tells you.
  • You see Catherine ruefully walk in front of you.
  • The Rivenese village alarms go off.
  • A whark eats someone in the Rivenese school number game.

Finish your drink and start a new one:

  • Every time you have to resort to a walkthrough for advice on progressing through the game.
  • If the sunners swim away because you’re an asshole.
  • If the whark tries to kill you because you’re an asshole.
  • If you get poisoned and knocked out.
  • If you shit your pants when you get back to the Temple.
  • If you giggle at the mechanics of Gehn’s sink.
  • If you hear the giant steam-boom on top of the Great Dome.
  • If you free Catherine.
  • If you imprison Gehn.
  • If you get the good ending.
  • If you get any bad ending.

Everyone with you, including you, has to finish their drink:

Any other rules you’d like to suggest?  Share them in the comments!

Esoteric Dishwashing

Recently, I was asked to participate in an exorcism and cleansing of a house that had something nasty stuck inside it.  I won’t go into all the details, especially since it was a group effort between me and some of my colleagues, but it turned out rather well for the stuff we had done.  Long story short, the first thing we did was neutralize the demon (more properly, a shade of the dead that had twisted itself into a creature of hate and loathing) and trapped it.  With the major source of the astral ick isolated, we collectively went around the house, blasted away most of the negative energies in the place, introduced nice and pleasant energies, and sealed off the property by setting in place some protective charms around the property.  I did something similar to this for a few friends’ a while back, which operated on most of the same principles, but which didn’t have nearly as bad as an astral ick as this place did.

For my friends and I, the process of cleansing a house is a lot like doing dishes.  Imagine, dear reader, that you have some kind of cooking implement, like a large pot, that’s been sitting there for a while.  You used it once way back when and let it sit in the sink for god-knows-how-long, and it smells.  Not only that, but the leftover food in it has probably started to mold and attract roaches, making your kitchen a rather unsavory and unhygienic place to be.  Left for even longer, the situation only ever gets worse, and eventually you’re gonna have to take care of that.  Barring terrible cooking experiences, the easiest time to take of things is just after you finish them up, lest any residue or grime build up on itself.  Sometimes, you just don’t have the time to wash things, or sometimes things are just too bad to clean on one’s own.  In these cases, you need to actually work in several stages to get the pot to its original clean state: removing anything that’s causing the stink or grime or mold to get worse, scour the pan thoroughly, wash it and make it pretty again, then dry it and keep it dry until further use is needed.

Similarly, performing a thorough banishing or exorcism of a house, person, or place requires several steps:

  1. Blast out the causes of the ick.  It’s hard to take care of symptoms if the underlying cause isn’t fixed first.  If there’s any bad problem entity in the place, get rid of it, whether by entreating it to leave, asking higher powers to make it leave, or banishing/trapping it yourself.  Contain it, limit it, loosen its grip on the place, do what you need to to get this thing gone.  Depending on one’s method, this could be a short or long process, simple or complicated (as in anything else with magic).  This is like prying off the big chunks of food that’ve been molding and attracting bugs to the pan.
  2. Scour any residual ick.  Now that the thing that’s causing the influx of astral ick is dealt with, it’s time to clean up whatever’s left over.  Take some good banishing incense, belt out a license to depart for whatever’s there that shouldn’t be, light all the candles and turn on all the lights, and wipe out whatever darkness, defilement, impurity, filth, plague, curse, crossing, or whatever is left.  Get rid of it all.  It helps to actually clean the house in addition to cleansing it: sweep, vacuum, mop, dust, wipe, the whole nine yards.  Get rid of any and all dirt and grime, material and spiritual.  In dishwashing terms, after the big chunks are gone, it’s time to take a scouring pad or brush to the rest of the pan to get it all decent for actual cleaning.
  3. Cleanse, purify, and brighten the place.  Now that the place is cleared out, it’s time to make it pretty again.  Light some blessing, prosperity, happiness, or healing incense, bless the place with light, play some good music, tell some good jokes, laugh around the place, have a small low-key party for yourself.  Make your place livable and enjoyable again, now that the bad crap is out.  This would be when you take some pleasant dish soap and gently clean the pan with a sponge, making sure to cover it all in sanitizing, sweet-smelling, wholesome goodness.
  4. Seal in the purity and seal off the place.  Don’t let all your hard work go to waste by letting bad stuff in right away.  Now that your domain is clean and clear, keep it that way by erecting some defenses.  Stake out the corners of your property, ask for help from the spirits of the land or angels, set up shields and wards, anoint all points of entry with protective oil, and keep the place locked down from any incoming ick and open to any incoming shinies that are actually good for you.  After all, after you finish cleaning that nasty-ass pan, you carefully set it to dry and remain sanitized and keep it away from any other dirt and grime.

The process is simple, really, and implementing it could be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it and as the situation calls for it.  For example, my friends took care of blasting out the demonic presence and trapped it on their own, and all I could volunteer was my lil’ Solomonic triangle to make sure it was kept locked down.  To scour the place out, I lit a consecrated candle in each room of the house and went around the whole house with a censer filled with tear gas-like banishing incense (star anise, black pepper, habanero pepper, basil, asafoetida, dragon’s blood, etc.) while crying out “BEGONE, BEGONE ALL EVIL SPIRITS”.  Though it smelled terrible and made us all cough (even me, wearing a thick handkerchief on my face), it definitely cleared the place out of most of the residual gunk that had built up in the place.  To cleanse it after scouring the house, I went around with a bottle of blessing and cleansing water (lemon ammonia, holy oil, Florida water, peace water, champagne, etc.) with us all telling jokes, singing songs, and laughing about the place.  We afterward went out to a fire pit in the back yard and each threw a handful of blessing incense on it (frankincense, copal, rose, lavender, bergamot, vervain, allspice, nutmeg, olive leaf, bay leaf, etc.) and let the smoke waft all in and around the house.  We went around the house afterward and nailed in four large iron nails on the corners of the property, anointed with Fiery Wall of Protection oil and other materials and wrapped in warding and shielding signs, and linked them all together spiritually in the center of the property.  All in all, the process took maybe a little over an hour.  Smooth, solid, and fast work, all things considered.

The only thing we had no control over was, as ever, the human element.  Just like how dishes remain only as clean as you make them and only for as long as you let them, it’s up to the people who live at the house to keep it clean, pure, and safe.  The way we set up the wards, no bad stuff could enter their space so long as they didn’t let it in or start shit themselves.  If that’s done, the things they’ll cause will have as much access as they will to their space, not to mention their own emotions and troubles they have to deal with.  Still, with a bit of care and some minor consultation and advice, the human element isn’t hard to manage.  It’s like repeatedly finding a dish in the sink that your roommate uses constantly but always forgets to wash after using it; no matter how clean you make it and want it to stay, unless it’s actively kept clean, it won’t stay that way.

Maintaining purity is something that has to be actively done on multiple levels over time; it’s not just a one-time thing.  You don’t take a single shower in your life and be done with it; you don’t wash a single dish and expect it to remain clean forever; you don’t banish a place once and expect it to maintain purity forever.  It has to be kept up and protected, touching things up here and there, to make sure that nothing gets too out of hand. Working with a set of forces amenable to housekeeping like this is a good idea; the angels are always helpful, as are land spirits who are usually more than willing to keep their own turf happy and pleasing.  Maintaining your own purity and authority is a good idea, too, especially if you plan to be up against anything powerful and malevolent, since you may have to apply elbow grease of a pugnacious variety in order to get shit done.  Still, it’s better than living with roaches, leeches, or mold everywhere.