Unrest in Idrinor (UII) was the Society’s second MegaGame, a medieval-fantasy political simulation set in the fictional realm of Idrinor. The game was homebrewed by Patrick Doyle and run in May 2014. The game involved 54 people (including two camera operators) and played out across 12 half hour Turns.
The premise of UUI saw a fractured realm, once united under a single banner now split in eight different factions, facing imminent threat by a previously unheard of military force from across the oceans. The players were tasked with juggling diplomacy, resource management, war and provincial/team principles and goals. Over a dozen small city states across the realm also had an impact on the game, run by the Moderators, while a small team of ‘scribes’ set about recording the events of the game and pumping other players for information. These five were later revealed to be the Gods of Idrinor and, upon their reveal, were given great power over the realms and their inhabitants.
The main game area, before and after the Turn 1 bell rang
On the day we had 54 participants all up:
- 8 Moderators
- 2 Camera Operators
- 5 Scribes/Gods
- 7 Imperial Players
- 32 Provincial Players
The Provincial players were split into 8 teams, each representing one of the independent Provinces in the Realm of Idrinor. Each of these Provinces had their own flavour, principles and abilities:
- Anua, the seafarers;
- Azmont, the settlers;
- Ezren, the preachers;
- Jeycahn, the miners;
- Karlees, the merchants;
- Revani, the farmers;
- Varlsuh, the warriors; and
- Vargul, the trouble makers
Each of these Provincial teams had 4 players who filled a specific role within the governance structure. These were:
- Leaders – responsible for resource management and allocation, collation of information from their team mates, and overall decision making.
- Aristocrats – responsible for monitoring, creating and upholding diplomatic relations with other teams, as well as representing their team on the Council.
- Warlord – responsible for management of resources allocated to war, training and the internal security of the Province.
- High Mage – advisor to the Leader and wielder of powerful magic, the role of the Mage was to compliment the actions of their team mates whenever possible and to also manage covert operations and intelligence gathering.
Working aside from these Provinces was the largest team in the game, known only as The Imperials. Later these players were discovered to hail from a foreign landed known as United Arvaria, and their presence in Idrinor was one of expansionism. While their goal was to claim certain strategic points in Idrinor, to pave the way for a larger scale invasion, the actions of the Imperial inquisition were not necessarily hostile form the beginning. Players were given the option to approach the Provinces however they please – unfortunately, negotiations with certain personalities in Idrinor early on led to a constant war and land struggle throughout the 3 year campaign.
The Imperial team had 7 players – a Leader, 2 Diplomats, 2 Warriors and 2 Warlocks. These roles roughly mirrored those of the Provincial teams, though their utilisation as team assets in the game varied a lot. The Imperials were there to deceive and to get what they wanted by any means, while the Provinces each had specific principles to abide by.
During all this chaos, another team stayed quiet in the shadows of the realm. The Scribes of the Ages, a team of 5 players who spent much of their time behind closed doors, were on the scene to record the history of Idrinor. These players floated around the game area with their ‘all access’ passes and interviewed different people from different teams, trying to grasp the big picture of what was happening in the world.
It would later be revealed, in Turn 9 (4.5 hours into the 6 hour game), that these 5 players were, in fact, the all powerful deities of Idrinor.
On the day, the game area was split between three rooms and had a number of major locations. Players had rules which defined who could go where, and who couldn’t, and it quickly became evident how important information sharing and collation would be.
The player maps of Idrinor, used for strategy and planning
Learning from our first game, many players had come prepared – there were phones pinging at all times as group chats, phone calls and twitter feeds were used to help monitor the realm and keep in touch with team mates and allies. On the game day a number of teams came prepared with Twitter accounts setup for their team, allowing a very biased, yet entertaining recap of the day through tweets.
The main areas of the game included:
- The ‘Realm’ – The main area of the game, this room contained a personal table for each Provincial team to use as their base (including the Imperials), a makeshift HQ for the moderators, a couple of small tables to be used for impromptu meetings. This is also where the majority of major events and happenings were announced.
- The War Table – On the opposite side of the play area in the second room was the War Table. This was a live map of the realm of Idrinor which was accessed once per turn by the Warlords and Warriors. It recorded movement of military units, territory ownership, and major events such as the location of disease and natural disasters.
- The Council – Sitting alongside the War Table was the large discussion area utilised each Turn by the Council. It was here the Aristocrats, and eventually Imperial Diplomats (until they were executed), would meet each Turn to discuss the overall management of the realm.
- The Scribes Room – A small hideaway not far from the War Table and Council chambers, the Scribes spent much of their time in here debated the ethics of the realm and utilising their godly powers to punish and reward the Provinces of Idrinor for their actions.
Our second MegaGame, Unrest in Idrinor was played out on Saturday 9 May, 2015. We had a full complement of 54 people on hand for the game, with only one or two last minute cancellations being easily substituted. It was a good sign to have all roles filled and all players enthusiastic and ready to go on the morning.
Learning from the past, the Mod team had setup the gaming areas the day before. Morning of the game, we were ready to go – all we needed were 40-something players. It didn’t take long for people to start showing up, despite the recommended start time, and everyone was immediately thrown in the surge of excitement and adrenaline as the clock ticked down and we started reviewing some of the great costumes people had brought along.
Once a brief tour of the gaming area was done, the pre-game briefing began. The scene – of an independent Idrinor and the newly arrived Imperials – was set, and three major issues of note were raised with the players:
- These was a new plague outbreak in the south, encompassing a number of small city-states, and a call for aid in dealing with this fast spreading sickness had been made;
- A small, yet very vocal, religious group had made a name for itself on the eastern island. Centred in the lowland of Anua, these people were spreading the word of supposed new gods and speaking foul of the old ones who had ‘forsaken’ Idrinor; and
- Reports from all over, from villagers and soldiers and workers alike, of foul beasts in the mountains of Idrinor were spreading. People were fearful and many were reluctant to go about their normal duties in the rockier regions of Idrinor.
With these three matters up for discussion (immediately confronted at the Council), the game bell rang and Turn 1 began. From here, as is tradition with MegaGames, the narrative of Idrinor becomes a blur.
“Unrest in Idrinor meant a lot of things for our little community; it was our second MegaGame, it was our largest game to date, and it was a turning point for the Society. Leading up to and following the game, the Society has grown and received some tremendous support. I have no doubt that the experimentation of MegaGaming in Western Sydney is now over, having successfully paved the way for a full on community and ongoing hobby.
Idrinor itself was a challenge – the premise of the game, aside from the world and the story, had always been to experiment with more combat. Conflict, inside and outside the sphere of direct politics, was something players had asked for following our first game, The Third Kind, in which little military action had taken place.
Creating a MegaGame with more in depth military actions was an interesting experience, and based on the experience of the Mods and the feedback from our players, it was mostly a success.
I’ve learned more and more about designing these games from the Unrest in Idrinor process, specifically how playtesting can and can’t be applied to certain mechanics, and feel confident that our future games (specifically the upcoming Brave New World) will only be improved by this experience.”
– Patrick Doyle
Photos from TTK, November 2014