“It’s like a cross between War of the Worlds and a scavenger hunt,” explained the game master, web designer and Ruby resident Lance Meyer of the non-cyber, non-pencil-and-paper role-playing game Egregore, which he is running. “It happens in real time, in your real life, adding a new layer beneath your normal existence as you travel around the Kingston area finding clues and meeting other people to solve the mysteries of the secret war. But don’t worry; there is no real war. It is only a game. We promise.”
There is currently no cost to the game — the point is whimsy, community and enjoyment. Prospective gamers would go to the game’s website (Kingstonrenfair.com/egregore) and choose characters, which don’t necessarily have to be gender-specific, and choose two professions for the character from the list. They name their own characters, and if they later decide they don’t like their characters, they are free to retire him/her and assume a new one.
The website issues clues on Friday afternoons in the form of riddles. Solving the riddle correctly leads you to a “node,” which is a written symbol cleverly hidden anywhere throughout Kingston or Esopus. Last year’s nodes brought gamers to Wiltwyck Cemetery, the cul de sac at end of West Chestnut Street at an overlook, nearby the traffic circle’s caboose, Kingston Plaza, above the falls in Hurley and elsewhere. The player photographs the node and uploads it to the website to get extra abilities for their characters; for example the ability to vote in the game. The game is open to ages 16 and older.
Though it bears a resemblance to role-playing classic Dungeons & Dragons and the numerous imitators D&D has spawned over the years, Egregore is far less restrictive, and offers more rewards. “I have been running games since I was 12 of various types,” said Meyer. “I was throwing theme parties, and I would have party with 20 people there with a theme like Alice in Wonderland, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Victorian mysteries … and so I did a lot of them and learned how to make games and rewards. What was put into Egregore came from many, many years of doing that.”
Meyer also wrote role playing games such as Zombie Cataclysm at zombiecataclysm.com, and another game called Horror Movie Heroes, which was accepted by Goodman Games but hasn’t been published yet.
One may dedicate however much time they want to the game, which usually runs a season of two and a half to three months before resetting a new game several weeks later, and they need not collect all the nodes or tokens to make it to the final confrontation. Some players choose to dress up for the final confrontation (which does not include actual sword-fighting or other forms of physical combat), and others wear street clothes. Last season’s final conflict was staged at a stone circle under the full moon outside of the Kings Mall.
Last season, gamers collected tiny, pewter statues called “Sleepers” as part of their missives. Of 18 players, 12 made it to the final confrontation. This season, they will be collecting “Hellcoins,” and there will be even more storyline, promised Meyer. There are four meetings which all players may attend, if they find out about them in time.
If you play, you should prepare for a battle, as Meyer warns that some professions don’t like other professions and will fight in the event they meet up together in search of the same node or “Hellcoin.” (Battles are resolved in a non-violent method, Meyer said.)
So that you don’t have to go it alone, you can either start or join a faction, which is a group of characters working on the same clues together and sharing information. However, be warned: there are professions who hate one another so badly that they cannot be in the same faction, such as a priest cannot be in the same faction as a necromancer, who is pure evil, explained Meyers. One faction had a scout who would go out and scour the grounds to look for the node ahead of the group, and report back his findings.
“[Egregore] is good for people who work 9-5 come home, take care of the kids or watch TV and don’t have much going on in their lives like a hobby,” said Meyer. “It’s a whole second world. Instead of watching SuperNatural, you can be in it.”
Leland Truxell, 21, of Lake Katrine played Arawn Incarnate, an evil villain in last season’s test run. “The point of Egregore is that it’s a puzzle game. I was an evil character and so I was given minions and I was attempting to solve a puzzle before the good guys solved the puzzle,” said Truxell. “It would give me more power if I solved the puzzle so it was worth it.”
Truxell said the riddles are not exactly fortune cookie-simple; they are complex, challenging (albeit not impossible) and require brain power. He added that the locations of the nodes or diminutive-sized tokens are also general and not exact, and require searching in many instances.
Truxell said that the appeal is two-fold: fantasy-play and socialization. “I’m a fantasy lover,” said Truxell. “I like riddles and solving puzzles, but I really like the addition of a fantasy setting where you can be a vampire, witch, knight or zombie. I know everybody [in the game]. If people in Kingston decided to pick it up, it would be a good social interaction for them.”
The next game starts in the first week of August and will run until the middle of October. Visit the group’s website — Kingstonrenfair.com/egregore — for more information.