Kingdom of Seasons Megagame Report (AKA 'A Tune of Sun and Snow')

This megagame report is written by Rob Grayston, who was Assistant Game Control at the recent run of Kingdom of Seasons in Glasgow, UK.

If Rob’s report has inspired you, sign up to be a Control player at any of the megagames listed in our global calendar.

The traditional megagamer’s pose (Photo by: Rob Grayston)

The traditional megagamer’s pose (Photo by: Rob Grayston)

The northern winds blew harshly down across the desolate Vladmor (HA! HA! HA!) moors, isolated knots of downtrodden muck farmers shivering into their rags for as far as the eerie mists would permit you to see.

And then the penguin trader with the funny hat waddles up, and asks if you’d like to buy a sexy new galleon, only one careful prior owner. Right, so that’s how this is going to go…

I was lucky enough to be asked to help as Assistant Game Control at Seumas Bates’ excellent Kingdom of Seasons game in Glasgow. This meant I was next in line for decision-making processes in Seumas’ absence, and essentially painted a big target on my back for all players and other control to throw their questions at me, and to help firefight difficult situations for other control across the game.

Throughout the day I got to facilitate people formulate some devilish ‘wizard wheezes’, help new players ease themselves into the chaos of a megagame, and for more time than I was comfortable with I ended up voicing a small statue of a queen which had been animated with “Fell Maggickes”.

In the chaos of a game things can become confused and so my narrative may be a little off, but after the initial turn or two of people familiarising themselves with rules, things seemed to run quite smoothly – which means players can really get into the serious business of trying to screw each other over in the most devious manner possible. In this particular game, several players were already aware that there were secret factions at play, and there were rumours flying around of a cabal of vampires, most probably in the non-stereotyped and totally not-evil realm of Vladmor. I did nothing to combat this, as every time I mentioned the name Vladmor I followed it with three Sesame Street Count-style laughs.*

A resident of the totally not-evil realm of Vladmor?

A resident of the totally not-evil realm of Vladmor?

I was mostly lurking around the central game map, which was home to the Imperio human factions but had occasional visits from dwarves, orcs, and fierce northern human tribesmen – to say nothing of the Ottoman-themed penguin-people merchants! (They’re called Pengali and I <3 them).

One of the great things about being control is helping to facilitate players’ actions from fairly mundane movement, to a pretty cataclysmic spell that opens a 30-mile long canyon in the earth and swallows armies whole, as well as the nefarious plots and diabolical schemes of several players which included targeted assassinations against the recently-elected empress, heists in the Royal College’s stash of artefacts, and the foundation of a new university which boasted the Imperial Steward (and therefore a Big Deal) as one of its lecturers.

It’s player-driven wizard wheezes like this which I love to see in games, where someone comes up with an idea and it’s control’s job to give them some guidelines for making it happen – and it’s very satisfying when the players go away and strive to make these plans a reality. Although I didn’t help with its construction, it was fun to see the Fire Temple get built (although I may have helped with the Act of Goddess which saw it frozen over by a magical frost), and then subsequently find out how it was freed again through a diabolical ritual which involved sacrificing a captured phoenix.

Phoenix or Pontifrax? You decide. (Photo by: Rob Grayston)

Phoenix or Pontifrax? You decide. (Photo by: Rob Grayston)

I’m not going to bore you with any discussion on game mechanics as that’s not really why I come to megagames, but I will say there was one mechanic I absolutely loved in this game which I was somewhat dubious of beforehand. As a long-time roleplayer I’m well used to character sheets in games, but it’s not something I’ve ever seen in megagames until this one. And y’know what? They seemed to work far better than I expected, to the point I will totally steal them for a future game and not credit Seumas AT ALL.

When you have a game with multiple components, it really helped to have a central repository for them, which required just a single glance to get assorted information straight away. That’s not to say that people didn’t still end up with the megagame standard of pockets full of resources, but… it seemed to happen less. Character sheets in a megagame get a thumbs-up from me.

Character sheets in a megagame! (Photo by: Rob Grayston)

Character sheets in a megagame! (Photo by: Rob Grayston)

So where was I? Oh yeah, my fellow control were a top bunch whether it was first-time megagamer Rob (not just first time control, he’d never been to a megagame full stop and dived straight into the deep end!), super-enthusiastic Ricardo whose willingness to make players’ crazy schemes happen was a joy to behold, and stoic but unsung Kenny who did a sterling job of gathering resources for players each turn.

It was also fantastic to see such a great diversity among the players, with near parity between men/women, and a few non-binary attendees too. It makes me proud to see such an inclusive environment for geeks just wanting to do their high fantasy thang, and maybe summon an apocalyptic deity which personifies one of the seasons in its most extreme and deadly form.

OK so I’m a couple of weeks late with this after action report now (since the game I’ve been on a megagame design retreat AND played Johan Olofsson’s Event Horizon megagame!) and the episode of Queer Eye my partner’s watching is too distracting, so let’s wrap this up.

The goddesses both got free at some point, there was a daemon who tried to become a deity, a unicorn nutted Summer so hard she was banished for millennia, and everyone went back home for tea and medals. Now to plan when I can run Kingdom of Seasons somewhere ‘down South’ in England…

In conclusion -

  • Being control and enabling people to have a great time is very rewarding

  • Character sheets work in a megagame

  • It’s possible to have an inclusive megagame environment

  • Some people have really upped the costume game, amazing stuff!

  • You don’t need to know the details, but I’ve now had my first jagerbomb AND Irn Bru in one night at the after-game party, and it really did feel like a welcoming community gathering. I’ve met some wonderful new people I seriously hope to see at a future game.

*This is 100% fine as control are totally allowed to stoke paranoia. It’s part of The Deal when you sign up as control, don’t check it just take my word for it, I’m lovely.

Sounds like Rob had a blast as Assistant Game Control at Kingdom of Seasons. Have you controlled for a megagame or do you aspire to? Let us know in our Facebook group now!

Chris Brown