Have you ever heard of the Sandman?
No, not Neil Gaiman’s angsty comic.
No, not the weepy dude from Spider-man 3.
And, no, not the funny guy in the tutu who sprinkles you with dust until you fall asleep each night . . . What?
You don’t get a guy in a tutu every night?
Guess it’s time to change my locks.
The Sandman is a game kids and teens (and sometimes adults, no shame!) play at sleepovers.
It’s kind of like Bloody Mary or Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, only it’s less scary, involves less alcohol, and nothing supernatural is supposed to happen.
(Take that as a disclaimer in the event that one of your friends turns purple, explodes, is found in pieces in the ceiling fan . . . or all three.)
In essence, it’s a fun game to play to pass the time.
The game is also known as “Sandbags,” given that it’s supposed to leave your body feeling much heavier.
It’s basically mild psychological torture, so it’s best played during Halloween, a time when it’s actually fun to be afraid.
Other ideal times to play would include when you and your friends are camping in the woods at night, when you find yourself trapped in an elevator with a complete stranger, or during the routine amateur séance in a spooky graveyard.
I want to tell you how the game is played, and believe me, I will.
But first, a little. . . history.
Don’t sigh, don’t close the tab, and don’t roll your eyes, dang it! Keep scrolling, I implore.
This is good stuff.
The History of the Sandman
I said in the introduction that the Sandman is not the guy that sprinkles sand on you and makes you sleep, and that was . . . a lie.
The game Sandman is actually partially based on the mythical Sandman from European folktales.
Apparently, he would put sand or some kind of sparkly glitter in children’s eyes (sounds like a jerk to me) to bring them “good dreams.”
The Sandman eventually came to be known as a “night visitor” of children . . . Yeah.
A grown man breaking into people’s houses, drugging kids, and putting them to sleep. That doesn’t sound creepy at all.
There have also been variations of the Sandman where he is described as a carnivorous “bogeyman” who actually put kids to sleep so he could eat them.
In the Spanish tradition, he was used to frighten children with the idea that he would eat them alive if they were naughty.
Kinda like a reverse Santa Claus or the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth. … yikes.
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How to Play the Sandman
So, assuming you’ve patiently read this far into the article, I bet you’re wondering how the Sandman game is played.
Good question. I have the answer!
First of all, you need more than one person (duh!).
Ideally, you would need as few as two people but this game can be played with four or up to ten people participating as spectators.
It doesn’t matter as, in the end, you only need two people to fill the initial required roles.
So go grab Grandma or Uncle Pete the Drunk (or heck, grab the dazed bag lady at the bus stop, it doesn’t matter.
Just don’t kidnap anyone as people tend to press charges) and clear a space on the floor.
No matter how many people choose to participate, you will always need two: the person who is “It” (as in the target) and the person who is the Narrator.
For the purposes of this article, I will assume you, the reader, are the Narrator.
And obviously, the Narrator . . . narrates.
Your role is to tell the story that will cause the Sandman effect to happen to the person who is It.
Playing the Game
Now let’s play! Follow the steps below for a scary sleepover experience!
Have everyone sit in a circle. Have the victim . . . Er, I mean the “It” of the game lie down on their back in the middle of the circle. Everyone else should be facing the It.
Have the It close their eyes and relax. This can be done with a few moments of merely breathing in and out. The idea is to get the It’s mind in a state of relaxation so that they are open to suggestion, a little like hypnosis.
Now here’s your chance to test your storytelling skills.
Tell a gruesome story of how the target was brutally dismembered and make the story as horrifying as possible. (See? I said it was psychological torture.)
To help get the target in the right mindset, you may want to take things a step further by turning down the lights and closing the curtains against daylight.
The story you tell must be of a violent attack where the “It” is cut up and either killed or injured.
After the attack, their body parts were filled with sand.
Walk around the circle, and each time you describe a body part, lightly stroke it on the It.
For example, as you’re describing the dismemberment of an arm, lightly stroke the “It’s” arm.
Lastly, when the story is done, tell the “It” to stand up.
If the psychological trick worked, the “It” should have difficulty standing because their body will now feel heavy as sand. And if it didn’t work?
Well, not everyone’s a storyteller. Don’t quit your day job, kid.
An Example Story
For those who struggle to tell a good story, here’s a nice sample story to tell to get that Sandman effect in the It player.
The following is my version of a standard story passed around the internet, so it’s for public use (feel free to copy, adjust, and use it at parties):
There was once an old woman who lived across the street from your house. She would sit on her rocker all day and all night, staring at your front door. You would try to greet her, but she never responded, never blinked.
Then one day, you saw the old woman smile just as you heard the sound of a car approaching.
Before you could move, you heard a loud thunk, pain spread in a web across your body, and as you lay there crushed and bleeding, everything went black.
You awake sometime later in the old lady’s basement.
She is dragging you down the basement steps and then proceeds to dump you unceremoniously on a table.
She’s scary-strong for an old lady.
You begin to wonder if she’s even human.
You can’t move and your heart races as your eyes dart around the room.
You see shiny tools, implements, knives, bone saws.
This woman is about to butcher you, and there is no escape! You try to scream but nothing comes out.
You can’t move your mouth, your lips are glued together.
Then the old woman smiles at you, lifts a bone saw, and it beings.
She hacks you to pieces, your blood spattering her face, and she pauses to fill each newly severed limb with sand.
You lie there, a legless, armless corpse, wiggling helplessly, your mouth open in a silent scream.
But she just continues.
She fills your arm . . . She fills your leg . . . She cuts off your head and fills your neck . . .
Then the old lady stuffs you in a trash bag and drags you to her backyard, where she buries you.
And for some bizarre and unknown reason, you are still alive.
Still alive and filled with sand!
You watch with popping eyes from the bottom of your grave as she starts piling in dirt.
The last thing you hear as the dirt closes over is her high-pitched cackle.
Here are some more Scary Games to Play
If the story was successful in tricking the It’s mind into thinking they are a blob, then once the story is over, they will try to stand up and will fail.
They must continue to try standing up, however, and none of the spectators are allowed to help them.
The Narrator cannot help them either.
If it fails to stand, then they will be possessed by a demon forever!
Or so it’s believed.
Those in the paranormal community consider games like The Sandman and Bloody Mary to be “Cursed Games” which can have serious repercussions on a person’s spiritual wellbeing.
The belief is that Cursed Games allow demons and dark spirits through a tear in the veil, this tear having been opened by the playing of the game itself.
So in essence, playing games like this is believed to be toying with witchcraft!
Have you ever seen that scene in the movie The Craft where the teen witches play Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board?
Yeah. It’s like that but evil.
It’s the same way Ouija boards are believed to help evil spirits and entities cross over and possess people.
Cursed Games are believed to have the same effect.
Some paranormal enthusiasts even recommend protecting yourself when playing Cursed Games via a circle of salt or protective crystals.
My advice is to take all of this with a grain of salt. Most likely none of it is real, and it’s just your mind playing tricks on you.
But I’ll leave that up to you.