Previously: The Snowman Ritual.
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Per Redditor u/ViciousKrimson, who posted this game to r/ThreeKings back in 2015, the Greedy Baron Game, also known as the Game of Greed, has seemingly existed for some time; u/ViciousKrimson noted that the person they learned the game from had “heard the bare-bones process and its background story from a tour guide” a few years prior. They were surprised to find that it didn’t seem to have been posted elsewhere on the internet yet, though, so they took it upon themself to do so. It’s been reposted, reinterpreted, and translated a few times since then, and, well… here we are.
There are a lot of holes in the game as written on Reddit (I’ve tried to fill in some of the gaps here), but the basic outline of it is similar to that of The Wall — you’re attempting to gather a number of specific items up before your invisible opponent does. In this case, the items are coins or other small objects of monetary value, and the opponent is a sort of supernatural robber baron.
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Historically, the term “robber baron” referred first to feudal landowners along the Rhine during the era of the Holy Roman Empire who imposed unreasonably high taxes and tolls without having been authorized to do so by anyone higher up the food chain — that is, they got super rich doing all sorts of illegal and unethical things. As the Motley Fool put it, “It is a term that combines the criminality of robbery with the low-level (and often seen as illegitimate) aristocratic title of baron.” In England, a similar sort of lawlessness occurred during the period known as The Anarchy — and in the United States, many industrial magnates of the 19th century earned the moniker for the way they exploited loopholes and used unethical business practices to amass great wealth.
It’s not totally clear which of these robber barons the titular Greedy Baron might be; heck, there’s no guarantee he’s any of them. He does, however, display the traits historically associated with all sorts of robber barons, so it’s safe to say that regardless, he shouldn’t be trifled with.
One of the more curious conditions for this game, by the way, is that it requires the front door to your home to be open for the duration of the whole thing. As such, you might want to take your location into account when deciding whether or not to play; whether the area experiences weather extremes, if it’s generally advisable to keep your door shut and locked at night, etc. might affect your decision to play.
Of course, it’s always safer not to play.
But if you must… play at your own risk.
- One principal.
- A large, shallow bowl or dish.
- Water — enough to fill the bowl or dish.
- A second bowl, paper cup, or other container — opaque. Do not use a container you can see through.
- Two pillows — optional, but recommended.
- Candles — at least four.
- Matches or a lighter.
- Coins or other small objects of monetary value — at least three, not more than 10. (See: Additional Notes.)
- “Symbols of scarcity” — one for each of the doorways in your immediate playing space. (See: Additional Notes.)
- Any materials required for your preferred method of cleansing a space. See here, here, and here for examples.
Making The Preparations:
- Begin at night.
- Gather your supplies, making doubly sure to have the correct number of symbols of scarcity for your playing space. (See: Additional Notes.)
- Remove any and all jewelry from both your person and your home. Store them somewhere off the premises. Similarly, remove any objects of visible wealth from your home — expensive works of art, valuable antiques, etc. — and store them somewhere off the premises, as well. (See: Additional Notes). The only objects of monetary value present within your home should be the objects or coins you have gathered specifically to play this game.
- Fill the large bowl or dish with water. Place it on the floor of the entryway of your home. If your home does not have an entryway, place it on the floor of the room into which your front door opens.
- Locate all of the doors to other rooms that open up into the entryway or first room of your home, including the front door. Open these doors — all of them. Turn out the lights in their corresponding rooms.
- Place one symbol of scarcity in the center of each of these doorways. Once you have placed them, do NOT move them.
- Close any other doors in your home that do NOT open up into the entryway or first room of your house. Before you close these doors, turn the lights out in their corresponding rooms. After you close these doors, lay a line of salt before the doorways.
- Turn out any other lights in your home that might still be on.
- Return to the entryway or first room of your home. Do not take the salt with you; leave it somewhere else in your home.
- Position the candles around the bowl of water. Light them.
- If using the pillows, place them on the floor on opposite sides of the bowl of water.
- Choose a pillow and take a seat on it. If you have opted not to use them, sit on the floor.
- Place the empty bowl, paper cup, or other container in front of you.
- Carefully drop the coins into the bowl of water, one by one. Count them silently as you do so; make certain you are positive about the number of coins present.
- Do not speak.
- Watch the surface of the water.
Playing The Game:
- Continue to observe the surface of the water. If it begins to ripple slightly, AND you detect a subtly drop in the temperature of your surroundings, you may proceed.
- NOTE: Do NOT proceed if any of the following occur: The temperature drops, but the water remains still; the water splashes violently; the candles extinguish themselves; you observe that one or more of the symbols of scarcity is no longer in the position in which you placed it. Should you observe any of these occurrences, do not continue the ritual; instead, proceed directly to Ending The Game.
- When the water begins to ripple, reach into it with one hand, pick up one coin, remove the coin from the water, and deposit it into your empty container. Do this as quickly as possible. Do not reach into the water with more than one hand at a time. Do not attempt to remove more than one coin at a time. Keep both your hands visible while you perform this action.
- Once you have deposited the coin into your empty container, repeat the process: Reach into the water with one hand, pick up one coin, remove the coin from the water, and deposit it into your second container.
- Repeat this process until all the coins have been removed from the bowl of water.
- NOTE: You may not be in possession of all of the coins at this point, even if the bowl of water is empty of them.
Ending The Game:
- When either all of the coins have been removed from the bowl of water, OR one or more of the conditions listed in Playing The Game, Step 1 have occurred, flip the bowl of water upside-down — water and all — and place it top-down on the floor.
- Extinguish the candles.
- Turn on the lights.
- Do NOT close the front door yet. Keep it open for now.
- Perform the following two checks: First, count the number of coins in your container. Second, check your symbols of scarcity.
- If you have the same number of coins as you did at the start of the game: Congratulations! You have bested the Baron. Enjoy your victory, but don’t gloat; the Baron doesn’t take kindly to ungracious winners.
- If you have fewer coins than you did at the start of the game: Perform your preferred cleansing method in the entryway or first room of your home immediately.
- If all your symbols of scarcity are still in place: Congratulations! Your home has escaped a ransacking at the Baron’s hands. Your belongings should all be present and accounted for.
- If any of your symbols of scarcity have moved or disappeared: Perform your preferred cleansing method in the rooms corresponding to the doorways with moved or missing objects immediately. Act quickly; if you’re too late, the Baron might take from you what he feels he is owed.
- After you have conducted these checks and performed any cleansing required, you may close the front door. Store your container of coins somewhere safe. Leave the salt and any remaining symbols of scarcity where they are until morning.
- No matter the outcome, be sure to cleanse the entryway or first room of your home the next day. Otherwise, he might instigate a rematch — whether or not you want to play again.
This game must be performed in your own home. Do not attempt to play it a home belonging to someone else. Do not attempt to play in a space that is not a home.
It is additionally recommended that players performing this game in their home do not cohabit with anyone else, although the game may still be played in households of more than one person. Should the game be played in a multi-person household, those NOT playing must stay out of the entryway or first room of the home for the duration of the game. Bystanders MAY NOT observe the proceedings.
Concerning the objects of monetary value:
- Acceptable objects include precious or semi-precious gemstones, precious metals, and coins, Most players find coins to be the most easily accessible option. These coins may be of any denomination or currency. Do not use banknotes or bills. Do not use counterfeit money. Do not use play money, subway or game tokens, or other forms of non-monetary currency.
- Do not use objects whose value is primarily sentimental.
- Absolutely do not use jewelry.
- The number of objects required is not fixed or exact; however, it is recommended that players use at least three, though no more than 10. Do not use four. Do not use 13.
Concerning the symbols of scarcity:
- Acceptable objects include items which are worn, broken, faulty, missing pieces, etc.; empty bottles, containers, wallets or other money-holders, etc.;
- The number of objects must match the number of doors which open up into the entryway or first room of your home.
Concerning the objects of visible wealth:
- You need not remove every item with a high monetary value from your home prior to beginning the game; you may leave many electronics, items of clothing, etc. where they are. It may be best to think of “objects of visible wealth” as objects that would have signified wealth specifically during the age of the robber-baron — hence the focus on works of art, décor, and so on. However, it still might be wise to remove anything of great value you do not wish to put at risk — high-end televisions, designer clothing or accessories, etc. — prior to beginning. You never know which of your belongings might strike the Baron’s fancy, after all.
Goals And Outcomes:
The goal of the game is to collect all the coins in the bowl of water and deposit them into your second container before the Baron collects any. If you have with fewer coins in your container at the conclusion of the game than there were in the bowl of water at the start, the Baron has managed to snatch one or more coins for himself. He will be sneaky about it; you won’t even know it’s happening until it’s already done. There are no failsafes to prevent him from doing so.
The optimal outcome, of course, sees the player collecting all of the coins, with all of the symbols of scarcity remaining undisturbed. Should this outcome be achieved, the player wins all. Interestingly, though, in the event that the optimal outcome is not achieved, some players believe that it is better to lose outright — that is, to allow the Baron to collect all the coins — than it is to miss just one or two coins. Should this outcome occur, it is likely that the Baron will attempt to goad the player into another round so as to give himself the chance to gather up the remaining coins. This might not seem so terrible, but the Baron can be… very persistent.
Should any of the symbols of scarcity be disturbed, stay vigilant over the following days and weeks. Even if you cleansed the space following the disturbance or disappearance of any of these items, there’s no guarantee that you got to it quickly enough — and if you dawdled too long, the Baron might just help himself to anything he feels entitled to.
Do NOT enact the Ending The Game procedure unless EITHER the coins have all been collected from the water OR one or more of the conditions listed in Playing The Game, Step 1 have occurred.
DO NOT CHEAT.
Cheating behaviors include, but are not limited to: Using a container that is not actually empty as your “empty” container; picking up more than one coin at a time; putting more than one hand in the bowl of water at a time; filling the bowl with salt water; deploying salt at any point in the game other than while Making The Preparations; hiding one hand behind your back or in your pocket; attempting to engage the Baron in conversation; and/or tampering with the coins in any way, shape, or form.
Should you cheat… well, let’s just say that if you were to suddenly find all of your belongings to have completely vanished?
You’d probably deserve it.
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[Photo via A_Different_Perspective/Pixabay]