This post originally ran in March 2013. Spoilers follow for the season-four finale of Game of Thrones.
On this week's season-four finale of Game of Thrones, Bran and friends encountered a group of long-buried skeletonlike creatures, which they fought off (mostly — sorry, Jojen!) before being saved by a bomb-throwing Child of the Forest. Those creatures were wights. You don't want to mess with wights. It's why Jon Snow urged Stannis to burn the dead. Here is a step-by-step guide for surviving one of the biggest threats facing Westeros.
1. Make sure you’re dealing with a White Walker (and not your garden-variety wight).*
*White Walkers are supernatural beings typically seen riding dead horses, mammoths, or ice-spiders. They have white hands and speak in screams. Wights are humans killed by White Walkers and serve as their minions. They have rotting flesh and are clumsy.
2. If dealing with a wight, set it on fire. If no flame can be found, hack off its limbs with a sharp weapon. This may not always kill them, but it’ll debilitate them long enough for you to seek safety behind the Wall.
3. If facing a White Walker, obtain a dragonglass dagger. Deposits of dragonglass (also known as obsidian) can be found on the island of Dragonstone or the port city of Asshai.
4. Stab. Any White Walker flesh that comes in contact with dragonglass will smoke and melt away into a puddle. But beware: White Walkers are quick and have weapons of sharpened crystal. If they kill you, you might come back a wight.
This piece originally appeared in the April 1 issue of New York Magazine.