Capture the Flag with Stuff

Activities Distractions People Propaganda
Carnegie Mellon KGB
Capture the Flag with Stuff

The Spring 2024 game is Friday, February 16th at 7:00pm in DH 2315.

A somewhat psychotic variation on a classic game
By Andrew Plotkin
Revised 2/7/2001 by Sean "Teki" Dobbs
Revised 11/14/2002 by David "dkitchin" Kitchin
Revised 3/10/2003, 11/7/2003, 3/25/2004, 11/19/2004, 3/24/2005, 3/30/2006 by Benjamin "Hey You" Gilbert
Revised 3/2008 by edanaher, csjackso, ddagradi, cmartens, jgg, csawyer, ehohenst, mglisson...
Revised 8/10/2008, 2/8/2009, 11/5/2009 by edanaher
Revised 2/20/2012 by tbroman, kharring, mjsulliv, eforney, aleibowi…
Revised 9/21/2014 by mwoolfor, jlareau, sguertin, egarbade, afrieder, ssharera, cmorey, bwachowi, jnemes...
Revised 11/4/2015, 2/8/2016 by briedel, egarbade, tparenti, mwoolfor, cmorey, eeb, jlareau, jpdoyle, sctoor
Revised 9/29/2016 by ssharera, briedel, egarbade, tparenti, mjmurphy, hfernand, jpdoyle, sctoor
Revised 2/16/2017 by briedel, mjmurphy
Revised 2/22/2022 by kmcarpen, spalsen, mwmccoy, jamesbyr, yicheng3, kdulla, kevinson, kgurusha
A partial change history of these rules lives on GitHub.
Classic rules may be found here.
A timer / scoreboard for the game lives here.

These rules are designed to be easier to read than the official rules, and should match them. However, in the case of discrepancy, the official rules govern.

Printable Version
The game is a competition between two teams, red and yellow, played in Doherty and Wean. One team is based in Doherty, and one in Wean. Each team has a number of flags hidden throughout its territory, and the other team tries to find these flags without being captured by the enemy defenders. However, the task is made much more interesting by the addition of stuff: wands, belts, and potions that affect the game in exciting ways.

Base Rules

Each player is on the yellow or the red team. Team membership is indicated by appropriately colored bands, which must be worn as armbands or headbands at all times.
Each team has a home territory, either Wean or Doherty. All other spaces (outside, Scott Hall, Newell Simon, etc.) are neutral. Certain areas (labs, clusters, any normally inaccessible or restricted areas) are forbidden territory: no player may enter these at any time during the game.
A player is in a team's territory if any part of their body is in the team's territory. If he is in neither team's territory, he is in neutral territory, and is not affected by Stuff. (The team territories should be at least ten feet apart, so no player may be in both territories simultaneously.)
If you touch an enemy when both of you are in your home territory, you may capture them. (Note that this is optional; make it clear whether or not you are capturing). You may then request any non-concealable items they are carrying, and they must give them to you. Further, if you know that they have concealable items (e.g., you just saw them use one) you may ask for those. If, however, you do not know that they have a concealable item, they need not give it up. They must also immediately drop any flags they were carrying.
You must then lead your captive directly to your team's jail at reasonable speed. They may not use magic items (except for the Ninja Potion) or move flags on their way to jail. You may not make any more captures until they have entered the jail by touching the Glyph of Jail (see below). At this point, they may again use magic items). If you are stunned before reaching jail, your prisoner is freed.


The jail is designated by the Glyph of Jail (see Glyphs, below). There is also an associated jailer's fedora; a player on the team owning the jail wearing this fedora assumes the role of Jailer. This role is transient; at any point, the jailer may give the fedora to a teammate (who then becomes jailer) or remove it (leaving the team without a jailer). Note that the lack of a jailer does not make the jail less functional; prisoners are still stuck there. You may not move the opposing team's fedora.
The prisoners must form one or more chains, with each player touching the Glyph of Jail either directly or through a chain of other prisoners. The jailer (if one exists) may relax this requirement. Typically, the jail is at the end of a corridor, and the prisoners are allowed to sit in the vicinity of the jail.
Every fifteen minutes, starting from the beginning of play, all prisoners are released from jail. They must return to their home territories at reasonable speed, by the most direct route. They are ethereal (may not use, drop, or pick up magic items, are not affected by magic items, may not capture, and may not be captured) until they return to their home territory. They must use jazz hands to signal that they are ethereal.
If you touch a prisoner in the other team's jail, and freeing them does not break the chain leading back to the Glyph of Jail, they are freed. You both become ethereal, and must return to your home territory as on a jailbreak (ethereal, with jazz hands).
The jailer (if one exists) also has a supply of Truth Serum. He may poke a prisoner in the shoulder with a pinky, making the prisoner an interrogation victim, and freeing any previous victim. The victim is now under the control of the jailer, and may not use magic items until freed from interrogation. The jailer may ask the prisoner up to six yes/no questions, and the victim may lie no more than once. They may answer "I don't know" if they really don't know, but then the question doesn't count against the six.
The questioning is finished when the victim answers the sixth question, if the jailer decides they are done, if the victim is freed, at jailbreak, if there is no jailer, or if the jailer leaves line of sight of the victim. At this point, the victim becomes ethereal and must return to their home territory as after a jailbreak (ethereal, with jazz hands).

Initial Setup and Game Completion

At the beginning of the game, there is a setup period of fifteen minutes. This time should be used for the placement of flags and glyphs, and distribution of magic items. No player may enter enemy territory during this period; they must remain in their own territories or neutral space. Magic items have no effect during this time.
The game ends after one hour, or when there remains only one team with uncaptured flags. The winner is the team with the greatest number of points; in the case of a tie, the winner is the tying team that reached its final point total first.

Additional Terms

  • Cooldown: This is a property of certain items. An item with cooldown may not be used again for one minute after its use.
  • Concealment: Potions may be concealed, meaning they need not be visible. All other game items must be visible at all times. A captive is not required to give up a concealed item unless their captor asks for it specifically and knows that she has the item. Potions cannot be used while concealed.
  • Dispelling: A dispelled item may not be used for its magical effects. Usually items are dispelled for one minute.
  • Field of View: The field of view is the extent of the observable world that is visible to the player at any given moment.
  • Line of Sight: A player is within line of sight of an item or event if they can rotate themself to bring it into their field of view.
  • Sacrificial: Red items are sacrificial. These items may only be used in enemy territory, must be dropped upon use, and may not be picked up or moved when in enemy territory.
  • See: A player sees an item or glyph if it passes within their field of view and they can recognize it.
  • Stun: A stunned player must sit on the floor in the territory in which they were stunned until the stun wears off. If they are captured while stunned, they become unstunned. A player may not be stunned again while stunned. Stunned players may not capture.
  • Key Words/Phrases: Some potions have a key word or phrase used to activate them. This phrase must be said entirely in the territory where the use occurs, and the action occurs upon completion of the phrase. You cannot use a key phrase without the intention of activating an item.
  • Knowledge: Knowing somebody had a potion is not the same as knowing they have it now. If they could have gotten rid of it, you don't know they have it.


As the name implies, the goal is to capture the opposing team's flags. These are large pieces of cloth or felt; each team has three or more of them. Before each game, a point value will be assigned to each flag. If you bring an enemy flag to the judge's room, your team gets the points for the flag.
During the initial setup time, flags must be placed, with placement supervised by a judge. They must be placed no more than six feet above the floor, with at least half the flag visible from every angle. There may be no more than one flag per hallway or corridor. If the flag is placed inside a container, there must be an obvious way to remove the flag in one smooth motion.
No flag may ever exist in an area with fewer than two exits, unless it is being carried. If a flag is dropped in an area with only one exit, a judge must move it the shortest possible distance to a valid location.
Any magic items a player is carrying are dispelled if they are carrying a flag, and remain dispelled for one minute after the player gives up the item or drops the flag.


Judges wear blue headbands, and are responsible for keeping the game running smoothly. The head judge is the final arbiter and scorekeeper, and should remain in the judges' room, Wean Hall 8427. An assistant head judge shall reside at each team's jail, and there are usually at least 2 roaming judges per team whose job is to resolve conflicts or perform other duties required of them.
Judges should attempt to resolve disputes fairly and find outcomes agreeable to both sides. In all cases, the judge's decision is final.


Glyphs are large sheets of paper or posterboard marked with a spell. Each glyph is colored with a team's color, and belongs to that team; it only affects members of the opposing team. The Glyphs are distinguished by a word printed on them.
The glyph must be taped to a wall or door in the team's territory, and may not be placed more than six feet off the ground or within ten feet of a flag. If a flag is dropped within ten feet of a glyph other than the Glyph of Jail, that glyph is dispelled for as long as the flag remains, and for one minute after.

Glyph of Jail ("Jail")

It functions as described above under "Jail", and may not be dispelled. It may also be used as a Glyph of Recharge by the team it belongs to.

Glyph of Recharge ("Still Going")

If a player has a discharged white magic item they may recharge it by holding it to a Glyph of Recharge (or their own Glyph of Jail) for ten seconds.

Glyph of Entrancement ("Gotcha")

If you see an enemy Glyph of Entrancement, you are stunned for one minute.

Glyph of the Disgusting Doorknob ("Yukko")

If an enemy Glyph of the Disgusting Doorknob is on the side of a door facing you, you may not open the door or prevent it from closing. If the Glyph is mounted on one of a set of doors, all doors are affected.
If a Glyph of the Disgusting Doorknob is mounted next to the buttons controlling an elevator, you may not push any of the buttons or prevent the elevator doors from closing.
Multiple Glyphs of the Disgusting Doorknob may not be used to trap enemy players in an area; every area must have at least one path to neutral space which enemy players can travel without running into this Glyph. Note that this path is directed; glyphs on the other side of the door do not matter to this path.

Glyph of Alarm ("Alarm")

If you see the Glyph of Alarm, you must shout or sing "Alarm" or a similar loud phrase as loudly as possible for one minute or until you are captured or return to neutral space.


Potions are small pieces of foam wrapped in colored tape which are concealable: you may hide them, and if captured, you do not need to give them up unless your captor knows you have them. They are not usable while concealed. They are distinguished by color.

Ninja Potion of Magic Smoke (Red, Sacrificial)

The Ninja Potion of Magic Smoke is sacrificial, so may only be used in enemy territory and must be dropped on use. Further, it may only be used by a captured player on the way to jail. He may throw this potion onto the ground and yell as loudly as possible "Poof, I am a Ninja!" All enemy players who hear this and are within line of sight of the user are stunned for 10 seconds. (This does include players in other territories; if you use this potion near the border between territories, enemy players in your home territory who are within line of sight are still stunned. Players in neutral territory, of course, are immune to stuff, so are unaffected.)

Potion of Wait... There's a Key at the Bottom of This (Green, Cooldown)

The Potion of Wait... There's a Key at the Bottom of This has cooldown, so you must wait a minute before reusing it. If you are stunned or a prisoner, you may use this potion by bonking yourself on the head, and using one of the keywords "Lolt", "Jube", or "Key". You are then free; you are unstunned or free from jail. If freed from jail, you do not get "free backs": you are merely a normal player standing in the middle of the enemy jail.
(For the curious, this is the combination or the two potions formerly known as "Jolt" and "Lube", which is where the unusual keywords come from.)

Potion of Mind Control (Blue)

This potion is activated by saying "Obey" while capturing an ememy player. The potion must then be handed to the captive. The captive must accept it and proceed directly to jail as if escorted by the captor. The captive is still a captive, but the captor becomes a normal player again. The captive must display the potion on the way to jail so as not to be confused with free players, and must take the most direct route to jail.
A player may also capture two enemy players at once when using this potion. Both captives are controlled by the potion and must stay together while going directly to jail, as above.


Wands are two-foot lengths of foam rubber, distinguished by color. They are used by whapping a person or glyph and shouting the appropriate keyword. Each use of the keyword invokes at most one wand on one subject.

Wand of Vengeance (Red, "Toast", Sacrificial)

This wand is sacrificial, so may only be used in enemy territory and must be dropped after use. If you whap an enemy player with this wand in the enemy's home territory, you capture them and you must lead them back to your jail as on a normal capture. However, you are both ethereal until you get into your home territory, at which point you become a normal captor/captive pair. Thus, you may not ask for their items, may not be stunned, etc., until you reach your home territory.

Wand of Stun (Green, "Stun", Cooldown)

Any player whapped with this wand is stunned for one minute.

Wand of Dispel (Blue, "Dispel", Cooldown)

If a player is whapped with the wand of dispel, all magic items they are carrying are dispelled for one minute. If two players simultaneously use this wand on each other, all items carried by both players are dispelled for one minute.
The wand may also be used on a glyph (other than the Glyph of Jail); it is then dispelled for one minute.


Belts are long sashes of cloth or felt, which must be tied around a player's waist to be active. A belt can be worn by at most one player, and a player can wear at most one belt. Belts are distinguished by color.

Andy Warhol's Belt of Pop Occultism (Red, Sacrificial)

Andy Warhol's Belt of Pop Occultism is sacrificial, so may only be used in enemy territory, and while it must be worn to use it, it must be dropped immediately after use. To use this belt, yell as loudly as possible, "Leroy Jenkins" or some phrase to be determined by the judges before the start of the game. The effect is to stun all enemy players within line of sight of the user for one minute.

Goombah's Belt of Humiliating Protection (Green)

This belt is activated by skipping and loudly singing "Yankee Doodle". While active, the wearer is immune to capture and stun. Any number of teammates may share the protection of this belt by holding hands with the wearer, either directly or through a chain of teammates, as long as all teammates in the chain are skipping and singing along.
If any player in the chain is dispelled, all items carried by all members of the chain are dispelled; it is as though all players were hit with the wand. In particular, Goombah's belt is dispelled.
This belt does not function in elevators.

Doc Arnold's Belt of Many Places at Once (Blue)

A captor wearing Doc Arnold's Belt may have up to three captives at once. They may capture multiple players at once. Once a capture has been made, the captor must escort their captive(s) to jail, but may capture new players on the way. On the way, they may also activate the belt (while in possesion of no more than two captives) with the key phrase "I'LL BE BACH." In this case, each captive must remain staionary, while the captor goes to find another captive. If the captor does not return within a minute, or leaves their captive's line of sight for 10 seconds, the captive(s) are freed and become normal players. If the captor fails to bring back a new captive they may not use the key phrase again, and must continue escorting their captives to jail. If this belt is dispelled all captives except the original first captive are freed.

White Magic Items (White)

White magic items can be used as if they were a magic item of the same type by invoking the keyword and action of the desired item. A white magic item must be charged for it to be used, and using a white magic item discharges it. If a white magic item touches the ground it becomes discharged. All white magic items can be recharged by holding them to a Glyph of Recharge (or one's own Glyph of Jail) for ten seconds. All restrictions (sacrificial, cooldown, etc.) of the chosen item apply to the white magic item upon use (e.g., a white magic item may only be used as a red magic item in enemy territory).


This is intended to be a friendly and fun game for all involved. This works much better if all players involved make an honest attempt to follow the rules. The following are additional rules to help make the game fun for all.


  • Do not physically impede or block other players, either with your body or with objects. This includes actions like preventing elevators from moving. Breakage of this rule is grounds to eject you from the game.
  • Do not change official timekeeping watches.
  • Do not fabricate or replicate game items.


Although lies and deceit are part of the game, there are several things you may not conceal, obfuscate, or lie about.
  • You may not lie about whether you're in the game.
  • You may not lie about which team you're on.
  • You may not lie about the status of the game. (For example, whether the game has started or ended.)
  • You may not lie about what non-concealable items you have.
  • You may not lie about cooldown or dispel status of items.
  • You may not lie about any player's status.
  • You may not make jazz hands unless you are ethereal.
  • You may not display a Potion of Mind Control openly in enemy territory unless you are a captive heading to jail.

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