In Kingdom, players take on the roles of the movers and shakers in a community facing a crisis, whether it be a village fending off an Orc incursion, a corporation resisting a hostile takeover, a starship lost in space, a platoon of soldiers trapped behind enemy lines, or a city whose mayor is on an unbelievable bender.
Once we’ve decided on a Kingdom that’s interesting to everyone, we create characters who have a stake in the Kingdom’s wellbeing and a chance at affecting it. Depending on the role you adopt, you can have Power and boss the Kingdom around, have Perspective and and predict the future, or be a touchstone and decide what the people think of all this nonsense. Then we play out the politicking, dramatic revelations, back-room dealing and general excitement of finding out what happens to our Kingdom as it hurtles towards the crisis we set for it.
It promises to be an interesting time.
Our Kingdom was set on a space station at one of Earth’s Lagrange Points (which we actually put in the wrong place–but we got the other details right!). Drawing heavily on some of the more Marxist 20th century science fiction, we had to deal with the harsh environment, oppressive bosses from Corporate back on Earth, and a drug problem with the station’s youth. Our cast of characters included the station’s Chief Technical Officer, the Magistrate, the technician in charge of life support, the Quartermaster, and some punk kid who ended up leading a violent revolution.
The Crossroads facing the Kingdom was an piece of anti-drug policy. Lines were quickly drawn between players in favour (’cause spaaaaace!) and those against. The rules never explicitly account for alliances, gathering support, making preparations, and the like. Nevertheless, we found ourselves doing so; the struggle for power is a story that each of us is familiar with, and we slipped into playing it out effortlessly. Reading the rulebook, one gets an inkling of the tension, the assay and riposte that we came to at the climax, but it was much more vivid than expected in our game.
The setting was fairly vivid (at least in this player’s experience). Making a Kingdom together is a good opportunity to get everyone invested at the outset, and the book stresses how important this is. Though the rules are fairly simple (though the large number of special cases that need dealing with might tip the scales against “elegant”), they’re more of a scaffold than the actual game you’re playing.
All in all, HIGS recommends. This game was expected to be good, but we were surprised at just how engaging it was.