Welcome to the first installment of Diary of Death. This series will take a thematic approach to narrating a campaign of the board game Kingdom Death: Monster. If you’d like to know more about the game, you can watch our interview with the game’s creator, Adam Poots, and if you’d like to see how the monster showdowns play out, you can check out our gameplay demo from GenCon 2015.
The last moment of peace Resolve knew were the few heartbeats after he’d awoken.
He rubbed at the dried ink covering his eyes. Glancing around himself, into the seemingly endless darkness broken only by the soft glow of nearby lanterns, he noticed others like him, awakening, sleepily rubbing ink from their eyes just as he had. He locked eyes with a nearby woman who opened her mouth as if to speak to him. The warmth of her blood was almost soothing as it sprayed from her mouth across his chest.
Struggling to comprehend, a savage roar broke his reverie. A lion with human hands tore the woman’s head from her body and stroked her hair for a moment before tossing it to the side, like so much rubbish, to bounce across the ground of carved stone faces into the darkness. The monster
turned towards another of the newly awakened who cowered in abject terror at the monster’s regard.
He desperately tore at the ground, breaking away a sharp shard of stone, determined to live, to defend himself, to avenge the woman. He had no words, so he roared a desperate, guttural challenge to the beast.
Emboldened by his example, others stood—two women and one man, each with a stone in hand—to face the beast. They would be no easy prey.
The lion lunged towards the man who Resolve would come to know as Pain and raked its human hand-like claws across his chest. In an act of desperation, Pain threw his stone shard at the lion, severing one of the beast’s Strange Hands. Pain treasured what he believed would be his last living moment, his chest swelling with pride and his body filling with an ephemeral strength.
Without hesitation, both women, who would later take the names Surly and Mercy, lunged for the lion. Surly’s frightened lunge missed the lion completely, while Mercy managed to strike the lion’s tail ineffectually.
Instinctively, the lion lunged forward, grabbing both Pain and Resolve and dragged them across the rough, cold stone faces in an attempt to isolate them from the women. Leaving both men in a heap upon the ground, it leaped back towards Surly, attempting to take her head off with a Powerful Swat that she just managed to avoid.
Pain and Resolve managed to untangle themselves from each other and regain their feet as Surly and Mercy struck back at the lion. Surly, fueled by adrenaline and fear, stabbed the lion directly in the great Beast’s Brow, striking the lion hard enough to cross its eyes momentarily and impair its vision.
Pain charged the beast, but the wily lion anticipated his attack and spun, slashing him across the waist and legs as Resolve stepped into its range and landed a damaging blow to the beast’s shoulder.
Enraged, the lion reached its all too human hand towards Resolve, missing the mark by mere inches.
Taking advantage of the shift in the lion’s focus, Mercy stepped behind the terrifying beast, attempting to wound the lion from its blind spot. Exercising blinding reflexes, the lion struck at Mercy in nearly the same instant, clawing her waist.
Determined to save Mercy, Resolve tore at the lion’s belly, causing it to vomit chunks of partially digested bone all over him.
Ducking beneath a haphazard swing of the lion’s claw, Mercy drove her sharpened stone directly into the exposed testicles of the lion, severing them from its body completely. Before Pain and Surly could manage to do damage of any significance, the lion turned its gaze upon Mercy. The incredible hate and rage contained in the inhuman face of the lion focused entirely on Mercy. It would not suffer her to live after the incredible wound she had inflicted to its body and to its pride.
Ignoring the other survivors, the lion charged at Mercy, taking her arm in its jaws.
Resolve couldn’t reach her in time and, in desperation, threw his stone at the lion, shattering ribs and weakening it slightly as it continued to savage Mercy, heavily injuring her head and waist.
Mercy, incredibly, managed to regain her feet, yet flailed ineffectually at the infuriated lion.
Pain roared his rage and charged directly at the great beast, using his newfound inner strength to punch directly through the lion’s soft belly, killing it instantly.
Barely able to comprehend the horror they’d just lived through, the four survivors gathered together over the lion’s lifeless body and began to tear at it with a savage fury, ripping it to shreds. Their rage satisfied, Resolve looked up
to find 6 other men and women had awakened and stood trembling in the darkness.
Gathering what was left of the lion’s corpse, Resolve pointed to the horizon and began to head towards a soft glow, barely noticeable in the distance, followed by Pain, Surly, Mercy and the others.
Arriving at the glow, the survivors found an enormous pile of lanterns, which gave off a comforting light. Stepping forward, Resolve turned his back to the Lantern Hoard to utter a single word, “Forlorn.”
Following his example, the other survivors slowly found words as well. With Resolve’s guidance they began to developed a Language while working together to make a home for themselves in the light of Lantern Hoard, endeavoring to exist in this land of persistent darkness.
Resolve slowly began to understand the world around them, coming to the realization that the terrifying and monstrous sounds coming from the ever present darkness around this home he’d named Forlorn would not soon dissipate. He explained to the others the need to not only survive, but to fight back. They could either hunt the monsters of this world, or cower in fear until the monsters came for them.
Under Resolve’s guidance, the other survivors struggled mightily, endeavoring to create an Organ Grinder, a Skinnery, and a Bone Smith in order to put the salvaged lion resources to use. They would turn the beast’s own body against others of its kind.
As resources ran low, a man whom the others had taken to calling Calm stepped forward, volunteering to lead a hunt against another of the mighty lions. Pain, Mercy, and Surly were quick to join him, and together, with the few crude weapons and scraps of armor that they’d fashioned, they set out to follow the trail of one of the great beasts, determined to fight back, to fight for safety, to strike back at this Kingdom Death.