King for a Day by Jim Pinto is a generic role playing game supplement published by post world games. This is a sandbox setting in a low magic world with an edge of Lovecraftian horror to it.
The supplement is available in PDF and print on demand softcover standard colour book from RPGNow. The PDF has a normal price of $18.98, but was purchased at an offer price of $14.23; the softcover colour print on demand book costs $30.99, or $35.98 for both the PDF and softcover. The PDF purchase comes with four PDFs. Three of these are variants on the main PDF; two have a single page displayed at a time, with one being at a lower resolution, and the third is a lower resolution with two pages showing at a time. The single page version has 312 pages. The fourth PDF contains various handouts and maps for the campaign. The latter is also available as a separate purchase. King for a Day is, according to the author, inspired by the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition supplement Night Below: An Underdark Campaign by Carl Sargent.
The PDF has a greyscale cover and some black and white illustrations inside. One page is the cover, there is a blank page inside the cover, two pages containing the front matter and Contents, two pages of colour adverts and a single page at the end.
King for a Day is the first, brief, chapter, which covers how to use the book and also gives brief overviews of the chapters.
Credit: jim pintoThe next chapter, Adventure Setting, covers the general world setting, described as being an Anglo-Saxon shire, around 800AD. The tone of the setting, magic, religion and resources are all covered, as are superstitions and fears, how to pace the adventure, a stat called "Trust" which is, as it sounds, trust, and its level will affect how a non-player character responds to the players. Pacing and starting the adventure are also covered.
World Environment covers faith, culture, superstition, the world, laws, titles, seasons and weather
Chapter 4, Psychological Horror, describes various tools for imparting the sense of horror that the adventure-campaign is supposed to instil.
Social Interaction deals how players will deal with NPCs. There are six main methods of interacting and trying to get an NPC to do what is wanted, how to resolve the interaction, and the effects that reputation, trust and fear will have.
Brycshire covers the shire itself, describing all the major and minor locations and giving an overview of the landscape and environment. Most of the locations would be considered minor in other settings; the largest settlement has only 75 people. The economics and currency are covered, and the effect that copper mining has on both the environment and the economy. The history of the shire, and how players can get there are also detailed. There are also details on how the various locations interact with the various storylines, NPCs present, and additional expansion options.
Dramatis Persona is the largest single chapter of the book, taking up almost a third of it, and details the various non-player characters and factions that players will come across. As this is a generic supplement, the various NPCs lack statistics. Instead, they are divided into three categories, Minor, Important and Vital, with some traits suggesting areas where they will be good, or bad, and some general information on how these could be integrated into a game system, with the actual abilities of the NPCs being dependent on how powerful the players are.
As well as that, the NPCs also have, when appropriate, details on what storylines they are tied into, and alternate options and background information, which can be used to expand.
Chapter 8, Storylines, is all the different storylines that have been referred to throughout the text. These are the individual adventures that make up the overarching story, and are classed as Minor, Important and Vital. Storylines can also cause other storylines to be triggered, and there is a section giving an overview of all the stories, before they are described in detail. There are 40 different storylines in all. Finally, the chapter covers how to choose the storylines - it's suggested that they aren't all played - and how to run them.
The final chapter, The Finale, has suggestions on how to run the end of the campaign, including a sample, followed by the Designer Notes.
This is a 32 page PDF, one page of which is the cover. This PDF contains a roster of non-player characters, including some organisations, their location and a blank area to put their status. There is a glossary of terms - the setting is described as being an Anglo-Saxon shire, and uses many Anglo-Saxon words for things, which aren't the same as English words. There are maps of some buildings, the area of Brycshire, underground tunnels and urban areas. There are several handouts for players and the symbols of various organisations.
King for a Day in Review
The PDF is very extensively bookmarked. There are a handful of black and white illustrations throughout the text. The maps referred to in the text are in the separate Handouts and Maps PDF, some of which are in colour. There are a number of odd symbols throughout the book, whose meaning is covered. These are used to show the different options, expansion possibilities, NPCs and include something called "Storyline Triggers" which show what can cause an storyline to start. Much of the supplement is written, deliberately, in a conversational tone; fortunately, this works pretty well.
This is not a purely linear series of events and adventures, as you might find in such as a Pathfinder Adventure Path like Rise of the Runelords. Instead, this is a sandbox campaign with an open world setting with many different stories, even if many of them are interlinked, such as might be found in some video games like Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series.
The setting is low magic, and there are quite a few background details provided, including various Anglo-Saxon terms and what they mean. These terms play a significant role in how Brycshire runs, and probably wouldn't do too well being removed, unless they were replaced by something with a similar meaning.
King for a Day is quite a complicated adventure to run, because it isn't a simple adventure, but rather an interlocking and somewhat interdependent series of adventures which build up to a finale. The supplement will need reading through at least several times before attempting to GM it, and notes made as appropriate. The entity behind the campaign as a whole is a Lovecraftian being, although the particular entity isn't mentioned by name. It can probably be guessed, though, by those with a knowledge of Lovecraft's work.
As this is a generic supplement, although it was probably aimed at AD&D 2nd Edition given the fact that it was inspired by the AD&D 2nd Edition supplement Night Below, there are no NPC or monster stats. There are quite a few of these, especially the NPCs, so it could easily take quite some time to create them. There are a lot of NPCs who play some role in the campaign and who and are covered in the Dramatis Personae; described as being about 200 out of a total population of only 1,000. There are more NPCs mentioned by name, and basically who they are, but not otherwise discussed, that may also possibly need stats creating for them at some point. The monsters will probably be easier as the majority of them are orcs, goblins and gnolls, which are fairly standard.
This is not going to be easy to run, or set up, but it has the potential to be rewarding if done right. Quite a lot of preparation will be needed on the GM's part, otherwise it won't work at all. There are a lot of NPCs and stories to keep track of; one suggestion would be to use index cards and write each NPC's details on, and perhaps the various storylines as well. There are tables in the Maps and Handouts PDF for keeping track of what happened to NPCs and their current status, but other information on them will likely need to be written down somewhere as well.
As mentioned, running King for a Day will require quite a bit of preparation on the part of a GM, and it probably won't be suited for every group, especially those with a preference for a high magic setting, and it may work better with other systems than those based on the Dungeons & Dragons game, but it is certainly one of the more interesting campaigns around.