Alien Abduction

Alien Abduction banner
Release Date: 
Sunday, February 15, 2004
Play Duration (new players): 
Play Duration (experienced): 
Minimum number of players: 
Maximum number of players: 
Minimum Age: 

by Jonathan Leistiko and Sharon Cichelli


Being abducted by aliens wasn’t so bad at first. The transport beam was sparkly and kind of tingly, and their tinny voices sounded like cute little cartoon characters. Then the encounter turned sour… You can’t remember the rest of the experience clearly, but you still experience flashbacks: Bright lights, glinting scalpels, searing flesh, Barbra Streisand movies, and ruby gouts of blood. You’re never sure what’ll set them off, but they’re distressing and inconvenient; you can feel yourself getting thin around the edges.

It’s time to figure out what the aliens put in your brain, confront it, and get it out of there. Remember, today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Ready? Good. Let’s start by getting out of bed…


To figure out what your abduction-induced phobias are, have them treated, and regain your sanity.

You Need

Alien abduction requires no paper or props, just dark nights on lonely moonlit roads, and victims.

Setting Up

Choose one player to be the Abductee. All other players are the Aliens.

If you’re an Alien, secretly choose a phobia for the Abductee.

A tip for the Aliens: Try to pick phobias that would reasonably be caused by the kind of bizarre experimentation that you would subject an alien abductee to. Fears of needles, probes, electricity, glasses (big eyes), strangers… Phobias in this vein are great choices. Of course, you can justify almost any phobia as an experimental side effect if you try hard enough. Just try to keep it reasonable.


Let’s assume you’re the Abductee. The game starts the morning after your abduction. You wake up in your bed; your memory is fuzzy, but you’re sure that something unusual happened last night. Tell the Aliens what you’re doing, starting with waking up. If you normally get out of bed, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, and shower, describe that to the Aliens. Try to provide as much detail as possible, and provide additional information if the Aliens ask for it. Continue narrating your day until an Alien interrupts you.

If you’re lucky, you’ll make it to the end of your day unscathed. What’s far more likely is that one of the Aliens will interrupt you, explaining that you can’t do what you just tried to do. This is because the action you took conflicts with the phobia that Alien picked for you. Your goal is to figure out as many phobias as possible, so you should change your action to either avoid triggering that phobia again (If you just can’t figure it out), or to trigger that phobia in such a specific way as to determine the exact nature of that phobia.

Once you think you’ve figured out a phobia, let everyone know. Make a statement like, “I’m going to go and get my fear of standing on one foot treated,” or, “I’m going to confront my fear of traffic cones.” Any Aliens who picked that phobia must let you know, and that phobia no longer affects your behavior. The number of times you seek treatment for a phobia may not exceed twice the number of Alien players.

The game ends when you make it back home to your bed, or if you use your last opportunity to guess a phobia.


Alien Abduction is a new spin on Twenty Questions, so there really isn’t a winner or a loser.

If you need criteria for win/loss, count every phobia correctly guessed on the first try as a point for the Abductee. Count every phobia that was triggered, but not successfuly guessed as a point for the Aliens. Count every phobia that was never triggered as a point for the Abductee. The side with the most points wins.

Check out the Losing Your Marbles variant, below, for an alternate way to keep score.


Losing Your Marbles: If you’re the Abductee, you start the game with about 10 marbles for every Alien playing. Every time you trigger a phobia, you lose a marble. If you lose all of your marbles, you’ve gone nuts and the Aliens win.

Origin and Credits

02/13/2004: I don’t remember exactly when… Oh, that’s right. Sharon and I thought of this game while sitting on a well-lit sun porch at a bed and breakfast near Fredricksburg. (We went there for Sharon’s birthday.) I remember this as being more Sharon’s idea than mine. Ben Gibbs thought of having the Abductee make phobia guesses “in character.” Haven’t really played it yet, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work out okay.

Editor’s note: “Losing your marbles” is a terrible pun. Sheesh.