First thing I need to say is, there are a _lot_ of variations on these rules. I'll list some of the variations I've played with, and anyone is free to /msg me or add a WU with other ideas. It's that kind of game.
Capture the opposing team's flag, an object of seemingly little worth but whose possessor controls the fate of the universe. Of course, your opponent thinks it's your flag that has the aforementioned properties.
- Divide your group of people (no less than eight total or it gets sucky fast, like playing tag with two people) into two approximately equal teams.
- Each team gets a "flag", which can be anything from a shirt or hat to two bandannas to a particular oddly-shaped piece of wood. Cloth works best, as you can ball it up and heave it into the lower branches of a tree, where it will catch on half-a-dozen small twigs and leaves and be nearly impossible to retrieve from the ground.
There is a lot of ambiguity on this one point: to hide the flags or not to hide. Some people insist that having the teams hide their flags is an integral part of CTF, requiring many "scouting" trips made by the swiftest of foot on the team, whereas others feel that the game should have more of an "achieving a military goal" feel to it -- capturing a strategic point, as it were.
- Each team finds a large tree, rock, closet, smallish building, etc. (depending on where you're playing. Getting the run of an office building (either legally or otherwise) can make for an excellent game for kids. Once I chose a trash can for my team's jail. Empty, clean, but a trash can nontheless. Heh.) This is their jail.
(you understand, of course, that these are extremely flexible under RL circumstances and must be clearly stated at the beginning of the game)
- Playing area:
Usually a front yard or a grassy area in a park or field, although playing in a forest can get very interesting as well. The area is divided into two sides, with a clear centre line. (When I set up a game in someone's yard, I dragged the hose across the yard's centre, pulling it tight and straight.)
In a park or other large open space, use two trees or other landmarks; people don't dance right up against the centre as much when there's 50+ feet of it and it's a fuzzy grey imaginary line.
The centre divides the line into the territories of Team A and Team B (or one and two, shirts and skins, shirts and skirts, what have you) and if anyone is tagged while on the wrong territory they are in "jail".
somewhere deep within each team's territory is a jail: a place that POWs from the opposite team go. Usually a tree is chosen for jail, although it can be pretty much any solid (read: heavy, if not actually "bolted down") object with a decent-sized circumference. When you, (say you're playing on A team) tag a B team member (we'll call him "The Hapless Bob") while both of you are on A's territory (read: both feet over the centre line), they immediately have to go to jail. You may escort them, but rules say they *have* to go immediately. Once there, they are to have some body part in contact with the jail at all times; this may be a hand, a foot, a tongue -- doesn't matter as long as it's noticeably touching the jail.
This is another reason for teammates to venture across the boundary, besides "scouting" and going for the flag: when The Hapless Bob is tagged and sent to jail, then his teammates might want him back. To retrieve him, a B team member must run across A territory without being tagged themselves; once they reach jail and The Hapless Bob, they tag Bob and both of them then get a "free walk back": they both immediately run/walk back across the centre line without going for the flag. If two teammates, i.e. The Hapless Bob and A Slow Sue, are in jail at the same time and someone (Speedy Gonzales) makes it across the line to them, Speedy can only "tag in" one person.
Incidentally, you don't have to free all of your teammates from jail to win; I played a game once where I (Speedy Gonzales) feinted a jailbreak but instead got the flag and returned, at which point _both_ teams went after me with the intent of pounding my speedy little brains out.
- Capturing the flag:
The single most important bit of the game. Let's say The Hapless Bob decides he wants to try and become The Hero Bob. He runs across the centre line, dodging A-team (pun intended) players on intercept courses. Arriving at the flag's tree, he bunches his leg muscles beneath him and snags the flag with one mighty leap. Has he earned everlasting fame and honor by winning the game for his team? no. He must still return, unscathed, to his own side. He is then allowed to perform a victory dance, whoop, holler, moon the opposing team, etc.; he has won.
You must understand, I had a LOT more about variations, rough-and-tumble version, etc., but I cut from Word, closed aforementioned program, then copied something else. I was fortunate that I had this much in the E2 Scratch Pad. Please add WU's with variations that you've played, especially if you've ever played with the elusive Electricity Jail rule.