Kingdomon: Launching Into Legacy

Last day of the Kickstarter, so of course it’s time to take a break from prepping the advance release for backers to talk more about our Pokemon-inspired Kingdom Legacy campaign. Catch up on part 1 first.

Our game ends and we sit basking in the afterglow. “Soooooo,” I drawl with false casualness, “if you guys are up for it, we could keep exploring our world with this new thing I’ve been working on…”

Legacy had never been tried before. This was raw alpha playtest. But brave gamers are brave souls, so when I described the new Kingdom Legacy rules, Al, Caroline, and Marc were all in. Because they know fortune favors the bold.

In a nutshell, Legacy lets you play the same Kingdom at different points in its history so you see how your community evolves over time. Plus it’s got that sweet Microscope-y goodness in that you don’t have to play in chronological order: you can jump back and explore the past just as easily as the future.

We already had our starting point, the K-TWO organization that managed Kingdomon tournaments, so the next step would be to make two more eras.

First we decide we want some cyberpunk future, where young rebels use Kingdomon to fight authority. Light cycles, neon skyscrapers, thought-police, the works. Our last game ended with the Kingdomon bowing before their new Empurress (yeah, she merged with a cat-Kingdomon — sorry, the puns aren’t over yet!), so for this new era we decided to double-down and go completely God-Emperor of Dune: it is hundreds of years later and the immortal Empurress has reshaped society. She has hidden the Kingdomon away from human eyes, so much so that the vast majority of people don’t even know Kingdomon exist. People just go about their lives in the sprawling metropolis that has risen where K-TWO once stood. But our rebel underground knows the truth and have a few liberated Kingdomon on our side. We’re going to take the Empurress down and bring Kingdomon back to the world! Go Team Defiant!

But that’s not the Kingdom era we decide to play (at least not until muuuuch later). Instead we go in the exact opposite direction and dive back to the very dawn of human/Kingdomon relations…

Our Second Era: Kin Je’do, In Harmony with Nature

One of the ideas that I always thought made Pokemon more interesting than the average pocket-monster brand is that, in the Pokemon world, there are no other animals: the Pokemon are the animals. To study them is to study nature. It’s a bold design choice with a lot of implications.

Our world used the same principle: there are only humans and Kingdomon. And since Kingdomon and our relationship to them was central to the concept of our game, every time we made a new era of our history we would ask ourselves, okay, what’s different (or the same) about the human/Kingdomon dynamic now? If K-TWO was the era when we trained Kingdomon to fight in tournaments, we decided this was the era when we tried to live in harmony with Kingdomon. They were friends, not servants.

Centuries before the K-TWO’s Cloud Arena loomed over the countryside, these mountains and bamboo forests were practically untouched wilderness, teeming with wild Kingdomon. And in that peaceful splendor sat Kin Je’do, a community of scholars dedicated to understanding the Kingdomon and finding harmony between humanity and nature. Kin Je’do scholars meditate by the same springs that the elite trainers of K-TWO hold sacred far, far in the future (and yep, the Sacred Springs was a location in our first game and lots of other eras that followed).

And I say Kingdomon but I should say Je’do, because we decide that in ancient times that’s what they were called: Je’do. The Kin part of our name stands for “kinship”, so the future word “kingdomon” is really derived from this place. Kin Je’do => Kingdo => Kingdomon. It’s the ancient seat of Je’do lore that paves the way for all the Kingdomon science and training in the future, the great great great great (great) grandparent of K-TWO.

This is super olden days. No cars or telephones, just swords and robes and calligraphy scrolls. But there are no swords in Kin Je’do, because it’s truly a beautiful, peaceful academic commune…

But of course the second we make Threats, we unwittingly lay the seeds of our own destruction. We decide one of the things we’re worried about is a distant Warlord who is trying to harness Je’do as beasts of labor and war. Very distant! But who do you think winds up smack in the middle of Crossroads one, two, and three? Go on, take a wild guess.

Each Crossroad brings the Warlord one step closer. First we’re just deciding whether to (politely) turn away a visiting scholar secretly in his pay, who might be trying to learn our Je’do secrets. Then it’s whether we hand over the massive crystal we find that might be a key to controlling Je’do. Until finally — inevitably — the question becomes: do we use the Je’do to fight. Because now the Warlord’s army is on our doorstep, having marched towards us game after game, conquering all the lands in between.

Yep that’s right, do we do the very thing we were afraid the Warlord was going to do and exploit our lovely nature friends in order to fight him off? Talk about becoming what you hate. Not to mention that the idea of sending the Je’do into battle foreshadows our entire future culture of tournament combat. Is this when it all starts?

The bad news is, we do it. We send the Je’do into battle. But we still lose. The Warlord’s banners fly over conquered Kin Je’do.

But not before we see the biggest Je’do ever, a magnificent nature-kaiju like something straight out of Princess Mononoke. But as weary old Elspa, the teahouse matron (and Touchstone), sadly reflects as she is led away in chains, we failed the Je’do and proved ourselves unworthy, which is why their mightiest did not save us. We did not deserve them…

Next up: “Yeah that Kingdomon sure is swell, but who are you taking to the prom?!?”, or “At least we’ll all get high schools named after us.”

    Ben Robbins | October 13th, 2020 | , , , | leave a comment