Residents of Missouri will know it’s collection of rivers and state parks, and the number of impressive universities scattered across the state. What’s less well known, is what else hides inside the State’s borders. The fictional kingdom of Taltigore spans across nearly all of Missouri, made up of smaller groups of people engaging in the fantasy game of Amtgard, a national live-action role-playing phenomenon.

William Wright, along with several family members and friends, started the local Amtgard chapter, called a park, in 2015, after years of playing different versions of the game. The name draws from Norse mythology, but the game derives from classic tabletop fantasy adventures such as Dungeons and Dragons. The game takes these themes and brings a little bit of fantasy to reality for local residents.

“I like to bring people in with the hook that it’s a little like Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), but with live action,” Wright said. “In DnD, you sit there and eat chips and drink soda—out here, you have to put in a little bit of sweat.”

According to Wright, the rules and themes are inspired by the tabletop games, but have a new complexity when you take into account that the players are physically moving around and engaging each other with their weapons.

“It gets you out there,” he said. “You get to have a good time.”

Players take on one of several fantasy classes, choosing to be warriors, wizards or something else entirely. Based on their choices, players can wield swords or cast spells in the form of colored balls to hinder the opposing team. When someone is hit in the arm or leg, they become unable to use that limb, and a certain amount of hits causes that player to be removed from the battle.

“It’s different,” Wright said. “There’s no dice to roll, there’s no rock-paper-scissors. It’s skill.”

Players engage in a variety of scenarios within the game, ranging from capture-the-flag style matches to full quests with a written storyline. For those who don’t feel like wearing armor and getting in the way of a charging player who’s waving a giant foam sword, Wright said there are other ways to be involved in the game..

“There’s more than just the fighting,” Wright said. “We have people who are interested only in coming out doing crafting.”

There are competitions where parks such as Wright’s get together to play different styles of war games, and alongside these games is a spot specifically set aside to honor the arts and sciences. Players can enter any sort of craft they are able to make, so if someone has a personal skill of any sort, they can bring into the game and earn titles and rewards in the system.

“It’s a way of earning recognition,” Wright said. “You can write a story, sing a song, you can brew beer.” Wright explained one member of their park won a recent competition using a home-brew beer.

“We try to be inclusive for everybody,” he said. “Not everyone wants to get out and fight, but they still want to be involved.” Some members of the park are even learning to be blacksmiths, and enter their creations.

“Whatever you can think of, you can do it. Whatever gets you excited, we can get you involved,” Wright said. “We offer all kinds of opportunities for people to find something fun.”

The park Wright helped found in 2015 is known as the Seven Rivers Forge. Their symbol, an anvil and gear below blue stripes, is meant to represent Missouri’s rivers and their home in Rolla, under the shadow of a university known for innovation and engineering. During the week, The Seven Rivers Forge players can be found working alongside a similar group on campus, sharing members and helping to teach and encourage new members.

“We try to support new players and help them out with understanding. If you come out on the field…it’s okay, we’ve got you,” Wright said. He added he wants to encourage new people to come out and find a way to enjoy the game and get involved.

“The people make it fun,” he said. “We are all a bunch of nerds and geeks. Everybody brings something new to the table…you’ll meet a lot of people doing this and make lots of friends across the country.”

The group holds many of their get togethers at Ben Juar Park, and anyone interesting in joining can contact the group through their Facebook page, Amtgard: Barony of Seven Rivers Forge.