Cars vs Clouds: A Tale of Two Kingdoms

In the far future, the world is a blasted hellscape. Car-tribes prowl the wastelands, feuding for turf and pride. But far above the dust and blood floats a city of splendor, a jewel in the sky whose citizens lounge in lush gardens and drink and sing and love, thinking nothing of the suffering of those below…

We decided to try an experiment in our long-running Witches Kingdom Legacy game. I know what you’re thinking: “An experiment?? You??? No way!!!” Because you know how much we love experiments.

Our experiment: Instead of making one Kingdom in our new era, we made two different communities and then played them both simultaneously.

The two Kingdoms were very different paths our witch bloodlines took: in one they went totally Mad Max wasteland-warriors, using their witch-blood to power their monster-machines. And in the other they had withdrawn entirely from the doomed earth and hidden themselves in a floating cloud city and also apparently used less hyphenation. Both groups are the descendants of our same tribes from ages ago. Non-witch humans seem to have died out entirely, though we don’t know why or what caused the apocalypse, though I’m guessing the two are related. Play to find out!

Having decided to do a pair of Kingdoms, the sensible thing would be to play a Crossroad in one Kingdom, then jump to the other for the next Crossroad, right? Nope. That’s not how we roll. We made both entire Kingdoms, threats, characters, locations and all, then went ahead and declared Crossroads for both. Then every turn we switched Kingdoms. So one scene in cloud city, then one scene Mad Max’ing it up.

(Because we had an even number of players, at the end of every full loop we played two scenes in a row in the same Kingdom. If we didn’t it, each player would only ever frame scenes in one Kingdom, never the other, which would be no good.)

We’re playing online, so we keep all our notes in one shared doc for each Kingdom. But for this experiment, instead of making two documents, we made a giant two column table and put the two kingdoms side-by-side. There’s a lot of scrolling down, but seeing all the characters and issues side-by-side really seems to reinforce the contrasts in our story and highlight the simultaneity.

Did It Work?

The ultimate question for any experiment: did it work? Was it fun? Would you do it again?

Yes on all counts. We’ve finished one Crossroad in each Kingdom and we just jumped back in and made a second for each. The stories are hot hot hot. We discussed whether to switch to the more ordinary model of sticking to one Kingdom for a whole Crossroad instead of alternating scenes (because hey, you gotta check in and make sure things are working for everyone) but we agreed that jumping back and forth made it even more fun, since the whole theme was the contrast between these communities.

The tones of the day-to-day lives in the two Kingdoms could not have been more different, which sounds like it could have been a problem but I think made it easier: there was zero chance you would mix up what was happening in the two, or which characters belonged where.

I think we initially anticipated a big conflict between the savage road warriors and the lotus eating cloud dwellers, but so far they have had no interaction, which has been even better. We’re seeing each confront their own problems, and the contrast of those problems feels like it’s just setting the pot simmering for if and when they meet. Checkov’s cloud city, hanging on the mantleplace.

So if you’ve got the chance, I highly recommend giving double kingdoms a try, either as a standalone thing or as part of a legacy game. Just remember not to let the road-rage consume you and fuse your body with your car, turning you into a werewolf-car-berserker prowling the wastelands and terrorizing friend or foe alike. And beware baleful comets hanging in the sky, lest they turn out to be the returning star-dragon come to prove everything you knew a lie and herald an end to the world as you know it.

Yeah, watch out for both of those.

    Ben Robbins | February 4th, 2023 | , , , , | leave a comment