Your Kingdom’s Legacy

I sent out the June update of the Kingdom playtest a few weeks ago. The vast majority is the same as the previous version, except for the Touchstone changes I already talked about and some clarified language. But tucked in the back is a brand new thing that I’ve been keeping under wraps: Kingdom Legacy.

Legacy is an optional mode that expands your Kingdom into an entire history of your community. Instead of just exploring your Kingdom as it is now, these rules let you build the past and future of your institution and then jump back and forth and play in all those different eras. Sure your fabled school is wizardry is lovely and prestigious now, but how was it founded? And what happens when magic is outlawed and sorcerers are hounded from civilized lands? You can make those eras and play to find out. It brings some Microscope’y goodness into your game, but instead of just “now play some Microscope” it takes the core principles but applies them in ways that are a better fit for Kingdom.

You build each era much like a separate game of Kingdom, with its own cast of characters and Crossroads that unfold. But each time you finish a Crossroad or Crisis, you take a step back and decide whether there is a new era you should add to your Kingdom’s history to flesh out the story more, then you pick any of the eras to jump back in and continue play. Rinse, repeat.

You might never play in some of the eras you create. And that’s fine. But even if you spent your whole game playing in one era, just like a normal Kingdom game, merely creating other eras and declaring what the Kingdom was/will be like changes how you see the story. If you know that in the future your rebellion does overthrow the government but gets bogged down in its own temptations, that’s going to change the way you see everything that happens as you valiantly fight for freedom. Knowing the past or future adds delicious layers to your thinking. It puts everything that happens in a richer context.

GMless story games are notorious for being one-shot or just a few sessions long. You don’t see a lot of long-form campaign play. Before now, I think the longest GMless game I ever played was seven sessions. Compare that to our current Kingdom Legacy game, where we just played our 18th game with no sign of stopping. We had no plans to play this long but this story has got its hooks in us. Is that because of this new Legacy structure? Yes, absolutely. The first era of our Kingdom was great and had a lovely stopping point and normally that would have been the whole game, but because of the Legacy rules we kept building and now we just leaped into our third era of play.

Am I calling it Kingdom Legacy as a riff on Risk Legacy, Pandemic Legacy, or all the other “single session board games turned into campaign games”? Yep, exactly. Much like Microscope, you really could just keep exploring all the different phases of one Kingdom and never end your game. When the story in one era comes to a nice dramatic conclusion, that’s awesome, you just explore another part of the Kingdom’s history.

It’s also fascinating to see how the dynamics between the players change every time we start a new era and make a whole new batch of characters. Last time you and I were political rivals plotting each others’ downfall, but in this era our new characters are sweethearts just trying to make their love last! Sure having different character relationships with the same player happens when you play multiple games, but it feels special here because all these characters are part of the same larger story. We’re having fun taking turns wearing different hats.

    Ben Robbins | July 19th, 2020 | , | leave a comment