The Noble Game of the Voyages extraordinaires is a game that was played in 1997 and 1998 by members of the Jules Verne Forum. It was based on the Noble Game of the United States as devised by Jules Verne in his novel Le Testament d’un excentrique (The Will of an Eccentric).

Le Testament d’un excentrique
Le Testament d’un excentrique

The testament

On 3 April 1897, one of the citizens of Chicago, Illinois, was buried. The deceased was William J. Hypperbone, millionaire and member of the Excentric Club. Without a doubt, until then, no member of this club had been marked by notable eccentricities. William J. Hypperbone had no more than his colleagues exceeded the banalities of existence. But what had failed to happen during his lifetime, would, by his last will, happen after his death.

While alive, William J. Hypperbone had had a great passion for the Noble Game of Goose, which he had introduced in the Excentric Club. Well, this is what he had thought of in honour of his country: by arranging the fifty States of the Union in squares, one after another, and repeating one of them, Illinois, fourteen times, he had obtained a map composed of sixty-three squares, identical to that of the Noble Game of Goose, which had become by this fact the Noble Game of the United States of America.

Six contestants had been assigned by lot from the population of Chicago, and the caprice of the dice would direct them over the surface of the Union. The winner of the game would be the heir of the fortune of William J. Hypperbone, estimated at sixty million dollars. He who obtained the second place would receive the sum made up by the thousand dollar primes paid during the game.

The “Six”

The first participant in the famous match Hypperbone was the young painter Max Réal, who was accompanied by his servant Tommy. The second contestant was the boxer Tom Crabbe, dragged along with his agent John Milner, who had less muscles, but more brains than the boxer. Further, there was Hermann Titbury with his wife, a rich and avaricious couple; and Harris T. Kymbale, a reporter of the Tribune, who travelled alone. The fifth contestant was Miss Lissy Wag, accompanied by her friend Jovita Foley, a vivid and joyful girl. The sixth contestant, commodore Hodge Urrican, was a rough person, just like his companion Turk. Finally, a seventh player, chosen by William J. Hypperbone, had been added to the “Six”. He played under the initials X K Z, and would remain unknown unless he would win the match.

These seven persons then would run across the territory of the United States. Whereas some regretted each detour, each delay, each dime they spent, others enjoyed the splendid nature, or the adventures they met. Harris T. Kymbale had the occasion to write quite some articles for the Tribune, and Max Réal could paint magnificent views, like the National Park of Yellowstone. Hermann Titbury only felt miserable, every time he lost money. The players sometimes met each other, and there were romantic encounters, as well as collisions between rivals.

The dice were capricious indeed. The players had to wait in the Prison, or in the Hotel, after having paid double or triple fines. They jumped to square 53 at the first turn, or advanced by two points only. One had to visit Death Valley, California, and to start again; another had to go from Suspension Bridge at the Niagara Falls to New Mexico within the two weeks. In short, it was a match with lots of adventures, and much to see. And after all these tribulations, the end is even more unexpected than one might imagine.

The Six
The “Six”

The Noble Game of the Voyages extraordinaires

It is this story that Jules Verne’s novel Le Testament d’un excentrique (The Will of an Eccentric) is about. The adventures of the contestants give Jules Verne the possibility to describe various regions of the United States, to mention many facts, to picture many impressions.

On 3 April 1997, exactly a hundred years after the day that The Will of an eccentric begins, I had an idea. This is what I have thought of in honour of my favourite writer: by arranging the sixty-two Voyages extraordinaires in squares, one after another, I have obtained the map of the Noble Game of the Voyages extraordinaires.

Now it was up to the contestants to run across this impressive collection of novels, following the dice, according to the rules. As they jumped from novel to novel, they were sent on a trip across the World Wide Web in search of answers to questions related to the novel they landed on.

Two rounds of the Noble Game of the Voyages extraordinaires were played: a first round in 1997 and a second round in 1998.

Note

I maintain these pages on my website as they were at the time of playing, even though many of the links in this section are now outdated.