This history is hopefully reasonably accurate, but woefully incomplete. Any more information (especially about the non-CMU games) would be appreciated.

Carnegie Mellon

According to the story passed down through the years, Capture the Flag with Stuff was created for the sole purpose of convincing (relatively) grown college students skipping through the very serious academic buildings of CMU while singing at the tops of their lungs. Thus, the Goombah Belt was born. Other belts, potions, and wands were created, and the game was begun.

The original rules differed significantly even from the modern "classic" rules; many, many tweaks were added to make the game more fun. Some changes attempted to remove "fortressing": originally, with only a single flag in a relatively narrow corridor, it was possible to build an unassailable defense. One fix was to add multiple flags. Another was to add the (now seemingly inexplicable) rule that the Wand of Stun must not only touch the Glyph of Recharging, but also the floor. This prevented simply going back and forth between the glyph and the onrushing enemies, stunning them as quickly as they came up.

Over the years, the game grew dramatically. In the beginning, there were a few members of the KGB, and before- and during- game meetings were held in a classroom. Some years later, the meetings were moved to lecture halls. Games regularly had over a hundred people, and the rules continued to be tweaked.

Then, in the Fall of 2007, Randall Munroe came to speak at CMU, on the very night of that semester's Capture the Flag with Stuff game. Ed Ryan (a former president of the KGB) publicly invited him to play, and this led to by far the largest game ever played, with over 250 people. Discussion on how to adapt the game to its ever-growing size resulted in several new ideas. And thus, Capture the Flag with Stuff Version Too Point Eau was born.

Two Point Eau was designed to fit the larger group. For example, the Belt of Chastity was removed. It prevented its wearer from being captured by the opposite sex, a tremendous advantage when the number of women playing the game was in the single digits. With over a hundred players and a reasonable gender balance, this belt was no longer very helpful, and so was axed. And while not a written rule, the amount of stuff was increased by roughly an order of magnitude; rather than having ten to fifteen pieces of stuff per team, enough was used so that nearly everybody could have something.

And that brings us to the present day at CMU. But that's not the whole story; while the game may have begun there, it has spread...


There were rumors that the game had been played at Harvard... and it turned out to be true. It would be great if someone could explain how this game started...

A game was played in the San Francisco bay area in the fall of 2009 (instigated by former members of the KGB at CMU.

Most impressively, the game made its way across the Atlantic, as the following e-mail describes:

Dear KGB,

While looking around this summer for activities for the members of Glasgow University Science Fiction and Fantasy Society (known as Io, for reasons), I happened upon the CMU KGB website, and the rules of the game of Capture the Flag with Stuff, which I promptly decided to steal. However, I thought that you might be interested to know something of our experiences playing the game, which took place yesterday evening, Wednesday the last of September.

The venue was the two main quads of the University, which are connected by gothic cloisters some ten metres in diameter. I was aware that playing outside would cause problems; in particular the Glyph of the Disgusting Doorknob was absolutely useless for both teams. I wracked my brain trying to think of an indoor venue that would allow us to run around and wreak general havoc within, but none could be found. Playing after nightfall, albeit in well-lit surroundings, also made things interesting. Telling blue Stuff from green Stuff was a particular challenge.

In spite of the above circumstances, the ten players we managed to gather seemed to have fun, with play closing after an hour with a score of 3-0 to the yellow team.

You may, therefore, be pleased to know that the game has invaded Scotland, and I definitely intend to run it again, probably in a better location.

With my regards,

Josy Shewell Brockway
Games Convenor
Society of Io

Copyright © The Carnegie Mellon KGB.