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God-King Review

April 26, 2012
Filed as a Game Design entry


Daneil Cruz Chan has written a new roleplaying game called God-King that I checked out. The book starts with the Legend of Otugari, the lost island that was split apart from a continent by an immeasurable earthquake. The magical land had been ruled by a benevolent God-king but after the seperation the people quarreled who was closer to the God-king. The God-king became upset with his subjects that he took off his mask and withered away. The game picks up with a group of five adventurers trying to discover the mystical land of Otugari. god-king

I love a game that has a rich background - something to let my imagination race. This story peaked my interest and now I want to play one of these adventurers.

During character creation each player assumes one of the roles in the party. The Scholar, the Warrior, the Mystic, the Navigator, and the Healer. There is also a Narrator who acts as the GM and resolves conflicts during the game. Another part of character creation is assigning Truths to each character. Using a stack of 52 playing cards each player draws one and uses a chart to determine which truth they will be seeking during the game. These truths must be kept secret and revealed during play. This step reminds me of Burning Wheel beliefs a bit - the underlying motive behind the character's actions. Each character is going on the journey not only to seek out Otugari but also for themselves!


This is a storytelling game where a simple mechanic is used to determine the outcome of a conflict. Daniel has designed a card based mechanic to deal with conflicts. This could range from combat to arguements to doing a difficult task. Using a five card hand the player and narrator compare the number of colored cards in their hands that match the appropriate conflict (red for mental conflicts, black for physical). The hand with the most same colored cards wins. There are also ways to alter other players hands to help them but you have to describe how you are helping them. I like this aspect in rpgs because it develops the story and anyone can become part of the action. There is also a rule that you can't keep redoing the same conflict over and over again to get a different result. Once a conflict has been resolved the characters must continue on. They can try to do the conflict again once something in the story has changed. I like this rule in rpgs because you have to figure out a new solution to what you are doing if the conflict doesn't go the way you planned. art


In the book Daniel has outlined ways for the Narrator to prepare for play and how to create a collaborative story. This game takes about 2 hours to play but can also be the length of a convention game (4 hours). This game hits a bunch of sweet spots for me just from reading over it. I like the setting and the simple play mechanics. Character creation looks like it takes only a small chunk of time and an entire game can be played in one session. The game pulls from a lot of other storytelling games and reminds me of games such as Burning Wheel, Fiasco, The Mountain Witch and others. I'd love to see this game in play to see how everything works out. I want to find this lost civilization!!

You can check out Daniel's games on his website and you can download the 40 page pdf version of the God King here.