I’m not sure how popular megagames are around the world but I know there have been a few in the UK and I’m sure that there have been some in America. If you’re not familiar with the concept the idea is basically to take a roleplaying game and watch it explode into a massive, frenetic ball of chaos. The guys behind the Southampton megagame, Zane, Barry, and Martin, have run a few games previously, their most notable being Watch the Skies, which was about an alien invasion. I think about 300 players took part, divided into teams of countries and the aliens. I would highly recommend watching it here and here as the great reviewers at Shut Up & Sit Down chronicled their experience.
I’ve mentioned it before but I’m involved in a company called Board in the City, my managing director got in touch with the guys and offered our help in running the game. There were forty people playing, most of them trying to bring about the end of the world. These teams were split into arcane, political, and scientific organisations and were opposed by a Global Response Organisation. Also present were a few media outlets, reporting on the outbreaks of plots happening across the globe.
Now I had a rough night and only had about three hours sleep so I wasn’t really prepared for anything that required cognitive ability. I ended up being paymaster and helping out with a few admin duties, and I’m glad that we were there to help with the load because there were so many things to keep track of that it would have been easy for things to descend into complete anarchy.
But everyone took to their roles well and while I’m sure there was plenty of stress to be dished out, it seemed like all the players had a lot of fun. I’m not going to go in depth into the rules here, but basically the hall was split into different sections. The mastermind came up with plots and then sent out minions to get them resources in order to carry the plot through. The players could go around as they pleased and make deals with the other teams, basically like a massive role-playing game, and control were the DMs.
Obviously with these games it’s impossible to playtest them, so we had to adjust things on the fly and from our point of view we only met these guys a week ago so we weren’t complete gurus on the rules, but once we got through the first couple of rounds things ran pretty smoothly. The whole thing took about six hours and at the end there was a wrap-up where everyone got to speak about the plots they were trying to complete and the stories they were printing etc. It’s amazing at the grand narrative arc these players concocted amongst themselves, and I’m pleased that I can say I was a part of it.
Zane, Barry, and Martin did a tremendous job in coming up with the game and if you have the chance to participate in a megagame then I strongly urge you to do it. I don’t know if we’ll be helping out or not next time but if not I’m going to see if I can play because it looked like being in the game was something special.