Bring Home the Beacon

From Ludocity
Bring Home the Beacon
Designer: Albert Kong and Lily Cheng
Year: 2004
Players: 10-50
Stuff required:
Crew required: start point crew
Preparation: materials, location scouting
Time required: 20-25m
Place required: 2-3 blocks squared
Activities: Running, chasing, hiding, sneaking.
This is a playable game - it's finished, tested and ready to play.
This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)

As the darkness rapidly approaches, you and your clan of Lightbringers must do anything you can to secure as much light as possible for yourselves. However, you will be competing with other clans. Run, steal, and hide to collect the most light before the time runs out.

Space requirements

Large (multiple block) area with some twists and turns and a few places to hide. Expand for more players. There should be a clear “central area” that is well defined physically to serve as a central drop/safe zone.

Ideally, the play space is fairly to very dense with people. The fewer people, the more obstacles you want in the space. Ideally, play at night.

Notes from past games:

In CO&P NYC 2014, we used the area surrounded by Adams Street and Pearl Street on the east and west, Plymouth St and Front St on the north and south. Intersections beyond are off limits. All parts of the streets were available, but no going through doorways.

Because of the high volume of players, we ended up playing with 8 teams of 5 players each. The games seemed to go well, but there was a manic franticness to the game which was very fun, and in some ways, sort of scary. Organizers were worried because people were darting into traffic and climbing structures to get away from being tagged. Please carefully consider these potentialities if running the game!

A smaller game that takes place in a very crowded public space (like a big market, or university campus, or tourist-laden downtown area) also works very well, although it becomes much harder. This version is different though, will be played with more stealth, and probably is best during the day without lights.

One addition I might add in the future is marking players with glowstick bracelets, for example, to indicate team allegiance.

Player requirements

Minimum players: 9 players in 3 teams.

Maximum players: Depends on materials available. Teams should be limited to 5 or 6 players. 4-5 teams is probably ideal (eg, 25-30 players is good). Adjust the space if adding more players.

Players should be fit, capable of running, although running is not necessarily required. All ages allowed depending on the play space. Phones with texting capability is a plus, for communication with teammates.



  • Small, visible bags as there are teams, equal to number of teams
  • Approximately baseball sized points, equal to [1.5x (number of players) + 3x (number of teams)]


  • Butterfly nets
  • Light colored easter eggs
  • LEDs to put inside the easter eggs
  • Stopwatches for all teams
  • Optional team markers like armbands



Before the end of the game, collect the most “lights” into your “lightkeeper” bag. Collect them from The Glow or steal them from other teams bags.


Total game time is 20 minutes. Events occur throughout the time limit.

  • 0-5m: Players are released into the playspace. No tagging or stealing is allowed. All players must leave safe zone.
  • 5m: Play is active. Tagging and stealing are allowed. The Glow is bright, first light drop occurs.
  • 15m: The Glow is dim, second light drop occurs.
  • 20m: The Glow has receded, Lightkeepers close their bags, game is over. Return to center.


Lightkeepers are responsible for holding the Lantern (bag) in which lights/points are deposited. They may not enter the safe zone at any point during the game. They may not pick up lights, only collect them from lightbringers. Lanterns must be held in the hand and not covered by anything (although they can be held behind the back, etc). Lightbringers can switch to being Lightkeepers.

Lightbringers find, steal, and bring lights back to the Lightkeepers. If unburdened by light, they may tag other team players. They may enter the safezone to collect from The Glow. They may collect 2 lights from The Glow per visit, and hold up to 2 lights at a time. Lights must be held in the hand, exposed to the air (or they suffocate in clothing, etc).


Only Lightbringers who have no lights on hand may tag.

  • If they tag a Lightkeeper, they may take 2 lights.
  • If they tag a Lightbringer, they may take 1 light.
  • A tagged Lightkeeper has 5 counts (out loud) of invulnerability to retagging.
  • A tagged Lightbringer has 5 counts (out loud) of stun.


Points may not be deposited after the end of the time limit. The only points that count are the ones in the Lightkeeper Lantern. Points in bringers' hands do not count. The team with the most lights in their lantern at the end of the game wins.


  • Lights may not be dropped.
  • Once a light is picked up, it can be transferred from player to player (into Lantern, pass to teammate, or stolen from opponent).
  • If a lightbringer with no lights is tagged, nothing happens, game continues.
  • No tagging is allowed in the safe zone (out of respect for The Glow).
  • Timers should be synced at game start. Master clock is The Glow.
  • Running is allowed.

Handout Copy

As the Darkness approaches and the Glow grows faint, your clan of Lightbringers must collect as much light in your Lantern as you can, before the Glow extinguishes.

The game will occur in the space surrounded by Adam, Pearl, Plymouth, and Front Streets. Areas beyond the intersection are out of bounds. Do not enter buildings. The safe zone is between the green lights, under the Archway.

Lightkeepers hold the Lantern. Hide to avoid enemy lightbringers! Lightbringers may carry up to 2 lights, collected from The Glow or by tagging enemy players.

Lightbringers may tag enemies only if they have no lights.

  • A tagged lightbringer relinquishes 1 light, then is frozen for a count of 5.
  • A tagged lightkeeper relinquishes 2 lights, then is invulnerable for a count of 5.

Lights and lanterns must be held in the hand, not covered by clothing, etc. At the end of the game, only lights deposited in lanterns are counted. [On the side, have a graphic that shows the timing structure]

Explaining the game

When explaining the game, we have found that, if players are completely uninitiated, it is very important to describe the game in an efficient but clearly organized manner. We used some variation of the following, after splitting up teams and handing each team one lantern:

“Bring Home the Beacon is a large street game sort of like capture the flag, but without territories. Each team gets one lantern [point at the net that you’re carrying, full of lights]; the goal of the game is to get as many lights [pick up one of the lights] into your team’s lantern as you can before the time is up. One person must be holding the lantern at all times--you can’t hide it or put it down.

There are two ways to get lights: either get them from The Glow [ie, the central location], where there is a limited supply, or get them by tagging other teams. You can only tag if you are not carrying any lights. If you tag the Lightkeeper [ie lantern holder], you can get 2 of their lights, but then they are invulnerable for 5 seconds. If you tag a Lightbringer [eg person holding lights in their hands], you can take 1 light, and you also freeze them for 5 seconds.

You can hold a maximum of one light per hand; keep them in your hands, and do not hide them in pockets, etc. Once you have a light, you can only get rid of it by putting it in your lantern or passing it to a teammate (or lose it by getting tagged).

The game lasts for 20 minutes. For the first 5 minutes, there is no tagging; disperse and strategize with your team! 5 minutes in, [number of lights approx equal to number of players] will be released at The Glow. 15 minutes in, half again that many will be released. After 20 minutes, the game is over; if lights are not in your lantern at that point, they do not count. Return to The Glow for scoring!

Okay, everyone get your timers ready--especially the Lightkeepers. Ready? Go!”

It’s still pretty longwinded, but the structure helps. Start with the purpose, explain the mechanic of how to advance, talk about details, talk about timing.


Bring Home the Beacon was created by Albert Kong and Lily Cheng in 2014. It was playtested over several iterations in San Francisco, CA, and presented as a night game at Come Out & Play NYC in July 2014.