Kingdomon: You Must Acquire Them All!

Caroline has a theory that all games can be used to play Pokemon. Or more accurately, role-play in a Pokemon setting. So when Caroline, Marc, Al, and I sat down (virtually) to play some Kingdom earlier this year, I thought, yeah sure. I’m not as big of a Pokemon fan as soooome people at the table, but I thought it could work okay.

Little did I know that this would be the start of an epic saga, thanks to the new Kingdom Legacy rules. Over the last eight months we’ve played nearly 30 games, jumping across four different eras of our Kingdom (so far) and playing a huge cast of characters. And we’re not even close to calling it quits.

Our First Era: K-TWO, “I teach you and you’ll behave”

We didn’t start off planning to use the Legacy rules: I hadn’t even finished writing them yet. We just created a normal Kingdom with the intent to play a few sessions and then wrap up, as you do.

In our Pokemon-inspired but not-actually-Pokemon world, we decided our Kingdom would be the organization that runs the regional tournaments. And because some people at our (virtual) table really love a good pun, we decided to call the critters Kingdomon instead of Pokemon. And our organization is the Kingdomon Tournament World Organization, or K-TWO. Get it? K2? Again because certain players love a good pun. But never fear, dear reader: meta-puns and inside jokes aside, this is not a spoof or satire. Not even slightly. Our game, as it unfolds, is pretty darn serious.

There’s a line in the Pokemon theme song “You teach me and I’ll teach you”. But in our version the line was “I teach you and you’ll behave” (yes, we made our own reskinned theme song, with complete lyrics, once things got rolling). This idea turned out to be surprisingly prophetic, foreshadowing a central theme of our game, both in our relationships with the Kingdomon and with each other. It was a theme that echoed across our story.

In K-TWO, powerful new species of Kingdomon emerge and threaten the status quo of the entire tournament system, forcing us to grapple with some fundamental questions. What defines a “good” trainer? Is it winning at any cost, or is it how you treat your Kingdomon? Do we stick to the rules, even if that means we lose in the face of these powerful new Excelsiors and Phenomenon, or do we throw tradition aside and embrace *profit*? And would Intern Jake (Caroline) actually get more work done if he got that sweet Statrat he keeps asking for?

Kingdomon Spotsprint

You know what you get when you play with artists like Al Lukehart? Amazing drawings of their favorite Kingdomon, like the elusive Spotsprint.

By our third Crossroad it looked like we were headed towards a pretty catastrophic ending. Dangerous monsters on the outside, personal strife and scheming on the inside. Disaster seemed unavoidable, for both the Kingdom and our characters.

But then, at the very last moment, some scenes surprised us. As we role-played, characters unexpectedly opened up and remembered what they really cared about, like family and friends, or why they wanted to be trainers in the first place. It was a wonderfully bittersweet and personal turnaround.

All except one character, who kept her eye on the apocalyptic prize: while everyone else was getting in touch with their feelings and mending fences, dethroned PR Exec Kimi (Marc) turned her back on middle-management and embraced her inner cultist, mystically merging with a Phenomenon to transform herself into the new godlike ruler of *all* Kingdomon. She tamed the wild Excelsiors and Phenomenon that threatened the world but also supplanted trainers’ bonds to their Kingdomon, simultaneously saving but also effectively destroying our Kingdom.

It felt like a great and satisfying end point to the story of these characters. But we didn’t want to stop. If anything we were even more excited about the world we’d made and wanted to do more with it.

Hmmm, if only there was some way we could do that…

Next up: We leap into Legacy mode and decide whether to explore the past or the future of our Kingdom

    Ben Robbins | October 11th, 2020 | , , | leave a comment