Mage Test

Your village felt sick, and the mage is your only hope of survival. But will he deem you worthy to survive? Game about improvisation, cooperation, spontaneous expression, speaking in front of public, socio-political ethical choices.

type: game
purpose: role play experience, cooperation, improvisation, self-expression, public speaking, socio-political ethical choices (relationship to authorities, stereotypes)
no. of players: max 6 + active audience unlimited
time: 60 min
prep time: 0
materials: chairs for people
RPG: yes


  • Players receive a role – a job they will be presenting in a game (butcher, hunter, warrior, merchant, and medic – can be changed)
  • Players are seated in a line, active audience (presenting mages apprentices) in front of them in a semi-circle. 
  • Players get 2 minutes to close their eyes and imagine what life they are living. 


  • Mage (facilitator) summarizes a story:

There is a deadly plague exterminating the village. Sick players went to a mighty mage to ask for help. Mage admits he could cure them, but he is not willing to help anybody. To prove they deserve his help, they have to be honest and allow him to see what are they alike. Then, they are instructed  to tell something about themselves to mage. One by one, as they choose. No player should talk more then 1, max 2 minutes. 

  • After every speech, Mage will turn to active audience and ask them for opinion:

“Do you think I should help this man?” 

  • Active audience shows thumbs up or down. 
  • The truth is their voting has no effect. Mage evaluate the speech based on following principle:

Play needs to mention something of their good side and deed, but also their weak side, and imperfection or failure to pass.  

  • If both conditions are fulfilled, player is immediately healed by Mage. The player remain seated on a chair, and silent, until the game is over. 
  • Every player has 3 attempts. Game is over, when all are healed, or all attempts are wasted. 

For facilitators:

  • Mage can heal anybody. It should not be fight in between players. 
  • If no player succeeds in the first attempt,  you can provide a hint: “So far you have mentioned only your big deeds. I feel I know only half of you.”
  • If players still don’t follow, you might ask players, or audience guiding questions: 
    • “Why do you think the player x didn’t pass the test?”
    • “What do you think I want to hear from you?”
  • If players starts to discuss what is right or wrong answer, let them cooperate. If somebody from the active audience intervene, put them in line from the role of a Mage (not as a facilitator).
  • It depends on the people present in what way they choose to play, and they will accept it. If activity results in a conflict, it is a result anyway, and should be reflected upon at the end of a game. 

Inspiration for reflection:

  • what do you think Mage wanted to hear? 
  • How did you feel when you talked about your imperfections and mistakes? 
  • How did you feel when audience was judging you? 
  • What made you (audience) vote as you voted? 
  • Did you experiences any ethic dilemma during your voting, and if so, how did you think about it? 
  • How did audience felt when you saw your vote has no value? 
  • Did you feel comfortable while voting? 

In the end, the Maage summarize the meaning of game: 

“We all are human beings. Everyone has strong and weak sides,, everyone makes  mistakes. It was my condition: to admit it.”

Topics that were coming up during our reflection:

  • Who deserves to live, and who doesn’t
    • It wasn’t a competition, everyone could be cured. Why audience was sentencing some to death by their rejection then? What was your measure for who deserves to live and who should be left alone to succumb to sickness? 
    • To deserve to live meant to fulfill mages condition. What a contrast when somebody admits killing animal or human but still deserved to live. 
  • Power of individual, listening to authorities
    • Audience had no power to influence the result. Mage was doing decisions. Nobody rebelled though, and everyone followed his instructions, and kept voting, despite knowing it make no sense.