The Let's Play Archive

The King's Dilemma

by That Italian Guy

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Original Thread: Game of Thrones Diplomacy - Let's Play The King's Dilemma



Hall of Rulers
Warning: this may contain spoilers for new readers!

In The King’s Dilemma, players become the representatives of various influential families (or “Houses”) and members of the King’s Council: imagine being part of the King's Council in Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire - cause this is probably one of the few cases where the elevator pitch is also a perfect match for the game itself.

Each round, we will draw a card from the Dilemma deck and experience the game story unfold. Each card is unique, and it will pose us a problem (or Dilemma) that the Council will have to solve on the King’s behalf. You will have to discuss, bargain, and make decisions that will shape the story of the game and determine the fate of the Kingdom of Ankist. Occasionally, your decisions will result in the addition of new cards to the deck (unlocking new events that will happen in the future as a consequence of your decisions); they will also create Legacies for your House, that will influence the way the people in the Kingdom sees you; or they will create new Agendas for your House.

You will have to keep the kingdom going while also seeking an advantage for your own House; this power struggle may lead the kingdom into war, famine, or riot, or it could generate wealth and well-being. It will depend on your choices! Each decision has consequences, though: what is good for the kingdom as a whole may be bad for your House. Will you act for the greater good, or will you think only of yourself?

The Campaign is split into games, that represents the reign of a single King; the Campaign, will last several "games" (15 on average) - it'll take decades or even generations for the Story to be over*. At the end of each game, you will score Agenda Points used to determine the winner of that game. Additionally, depending on how you ranked during the game and the circumstances that triggered the end of the game, no matter if you won or not, you will also score Prestige Points and/or Crave Points . Both are “endgame points” that will help you shape the ultimate fate of Ankist, and determine the overall winner of our Campaign.
*Hopefully, only in game :v:

NOTE: this is a strictly no spoiler LP, not even in tags! Also please try to refrain from any oblique reference to future events, if you have any previous knowledge :)

Content Disclaimer posted:

This game is set in a fictional and often cruel fantasy world. It was designed to put you in front of morally challenging situations and tough choices. Many of the dilemmas you will face involve ethical and moral choices related tosensitive topics that could upset your sensitivity, such as injustice, violence, slavery, and discrimination. The game will occasionally put you in front of the uncomfortable choice between what you think is right, and what is best for winning.

Personal note: I will add that this is in no way an edgy game and the comparison with Games of Thrones are mostly related to the political backstabbing and alt history setting than anything gruesome/offensive. That said, there are depictions of slavery, war and discrimination so if the topics are a total no go for your tastes, please be advised!

I don't want to read a long OP!
You can check out this video instead! Please note that we will use a different mechanic to vote for our Council decision, to better accomodate the asynchronous nature of a play by forum.

You are members of the Council, a governing body ruling in the name of the King located in Lybra, the capital city of the Kingdom of Ankist. You represent one of the twelve noble families who rule the Duchies and the Marks into which the kingdom is divided. Your main interest is obviously to make Ankist prosper; however, you are also trying to increase the power and the prestige of your own family over the others. The game campaign spans decades and generations, so you will assume the role of a different representative of your House each "game"—you won’t be the same person for the course of the full Campaign.

Basic Rules
Each game is played in rounds, with each round divided into several phases:
  1. Draw and Read a Card from the Dilemma Deck: the story for the current Dilemma is read and the potential outcomes for both Aye and Nay votes are made public - although there could be unexpected consequences!
  2. The Council Votes: each House bargains and express their public opinion on the matter; then a secret vote takes place. Each House can spend their Power Tokens to try and sway the King. During this phase, it is possible to bargain for favors or Coins to try and win the vote of other Houses.
  3. Dilemma Resolution: the motion is either Approved or Rejected, Power and Money pass hands and the consequences of the Dilemma are made public.
  4. Endgame check: if the Kingdom is too unstable or enough time has passed, it's time for a new King to take the reigns - the scores are tallied and a new "game" starts. During each "game" each House may have an Open and Hidden agenda, plus a series of Achiements specific to each house. The actions of each House during a "game" influence not only the fate of the Kingdom, but their endgame score as well.
NOTE: I'll try to explain the most basic rules in the OP; I'll keep several additional mechanics and rules for the relevant posts, once we run into them. This should give everyone a good understanding of the game while not being too monolythic. If you don't want to read too many rules, feel free to skip to the "Kingdom of Ankist" section - the true strenght of the game is in the way the simple mechanics simulate the stakes of an involving centuries long story that is directly affected by the players' actions.

1. Draw and Read a Card from the Dilemma Deck
Each Dilemma moves the Story of the Realm forward from a narrative and from a mechanical point of view. The most common effects are Positive or Negative outcomes for one of the Resources:

Beware! Not all consequences will be explicitly indicated in the AYE and NAY spaces on the front side of a Dilemma card. You should analyze the text of each Dilemma card carefully, to predict potential unexpected outcomes.

2. The Council Votes
Each player is encourage to express their opinion in the thread, but only the Sitting Council Member can cast their Houses vote. These are the options that can be expressed:
Vote Outcome: at the end of the vote, the decision (Aye or Nay) with the highest Power behind it wins; in case of a tie, the Moderator decides. The House on the winning side that has spent the most Power, becomes the Leader and gets to sign the outcome for the event. If multiple Houses on the winning side are tied for amount of Power spent, the ownership of the Leader token must be determined by the Moderator. NOTE: important decisions will often have a mechanical bonus for the House signing the outcome card, although not all of them do. The Leader also gets to sign the positive/negative Chronicle Sticker attached to the vote (more on this as soon as we'll encounter a card with a Chronicle sticker as part of its outcome).

Bargaining: during the Voting phase, Houses can freely bargain and make arrengements. It is not possible to directly trade Power Tokens or the Moderator or Leader role, but you can trade Coins for Favors. For example, you could ask another Councilmember to vote on your side, or even ask them to Pass instead of joining the vote. You could also “buy the right” to Sign something from the Leader, or you could pay the Moderator to break a tie in your favor. A public agreement supersede the secret vote if they are different.
- For an arrangement to be valid the proposal has to be formally declared by a Sitting Councilmember in the thread (start the sentence with a bolded "Proposal:") and formally accepted by another Sitting Councilmember (by quoting the Proposal and replying with a bolded "Accepted").
- If the reply has a counteroffer, the Proposal is not formally accepted (until the original party quotes the counteroffer and replies with a bolded "Accepted").
- It is only possible to trade Coins<>Favors and not Favors<>Favors - there would be no mechanical way to enforce an accord of that way in case of non compliance or disagreements on the terms; also Coins have a mechanical place in the game.
- Once a Proposal has been formally placed and Accepted, the accord is binding. By common practice, the payment of Coins is witheld until the agreement has been fulfilled, although this can be changed during negotiation.
- If two Houses are in disagreement on the way an accord has been fulfilled, the current Moderator will decide on the matter. Of course, the Moderator can be swayed...If the Moderator is part of one of the Houses in dispute, the King (me!) will decide. The King is notoriously weak willed, though, and will always side with the party offering the largest amount of Coins to influence him.

3. Dilemma Resolution
After the vote is over, we will need to resolve the current Dilemma:
Resources and Momentum: each Resource tends to continue going up when it is rising, or down when it is dropping. This means that it's easier for consecutive decisions that influence the same Resource in the same way (IE: multiple positive or negative outcomes) to have extra effect.
Stability: Whenever a Resource is moved, the Stability marker must also be moved up or down an equal number of spaces (including any additional spaces due to Momentum). If a Resource marker reaches either end of the Resource track, its movement stops, but the Stability marker must still be moved the full number of spaces.

4. Endgame check
The "game" can end in two ways:
  1. The King Abdicates: If the Stability marker reaches either end of the Stability Track when applying the outcome of a Dilemma card, the King abdicates and the end of the game is triggered. Further changes to Resources must still be applied, but the Stability marker does not move any more.
  2. The King is Dead: If the last Dilemma card was placed on the Time Counter space marked with a Skull, check if there is a Skull symbol on the central space of the back side of that Dilemma card AND/OR if it is the fifth card placed on that space. In either of those cases, the King is Dead, and the end of the game is triggered.
Scoring: we'll discuss the scoring system once the game has started. There are short term goals (Open and Hidden agendas, Majority of Power or Coin tokens, etc) that will score points at the end of the "game"; long term goals (Achievements and Alignment) that are House specific; and Campaign goals, tied to the Prestige/Crave and the REDACTED systems. The game itself doesn't really reveal the meaning of these "endgame points" until the Grand Finale - it is a highly experimental game, deeply tied to its narrative structure and - I think - perfect for a team based forum LP. In general, playing in accordance with your House's tenets will be rewarding from a story and mechanical point of view.

Ankist is one of the largest states in Lywik, but it’s not the only one. Ankist itself is the result of the union of many formerly independent kingdoms, conquered in wars or united by diplomacy, that were incorporated over the centuries as Duchies or Marks. The north and the south of Ankist have uncertain borders: the unclaimed borderlands are full of raiders, cutthroats, and dangerous nomadic tribes.
The structure of the kingdom is feudal. The Duchies and the Marks are managed by their ruling Houses, represented by the players; these families are all loyal to the king of Ankist, but also have counts and barons that are loyal to them. The Houses are responsible for rallying the army, gathering taxes, and generally administering their territory in the name of the King. The King is personally assisted by the Chamberlain, who will deal with the Council about several general matters. The Council can also rely on the Royal Treasurer, who is charged with monitoring the finances and dealing with the economy of the kingdom.

The Great Houses
These are the twelve noble families who rule the Duchies and the Marks into which the kingdom is divided. Players will be able to pick a name for their Noble Family, once we have selected which ones we want to keep in this LP. We can only pick 5 out of 12, and we will divide players according to their preferences (more on this below).

The selection of these 5 Houses will have a deep influence in the way the LP and the Kingdom of Ankist develop, since each House has some long term Achievements and Alignment bonuses that will shape their actions during the game.

Compact version:

Signup is still open - and will remain open for the rest of the game - but it's limited to these 5 Houses (thanks to megane for the awesome banners!):

House Pinchay, Dukes of Gamam

House Gambol, Dukes of Solad

House Cyfoeth, Dukes of Coden

House Daucus, Dukes of Olwyn

House Lethe, Dukes of Natar

If you would like to play, please post itt and select the House you would like to be part of and two backups. I'll try to keep people split according to their preferences, but I'll rely on the backup if we don't get more or less equal numbers. Unless you end up taking (temporarily) one of the more time consuming roles, basic participation has really no time commitment requirements, so everyone can sign up to be a horrible noble member of one of the Great Houses. House preference is going to be on a first come, first served basis!

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