The King is Dead

Tonight we played a session of The King is Dead by Vincent & Meguey Baker in which our characters compete for control of the kingdom of Banteave after the death of Eyvard III of House Dillestone. Our characters are courageous and devout Prince Micah of House Oake, long-standing loyal supporters of the crown, and the tall, good-hearted Clan-Prince Aiden of House Antyre, the wild barbarian clans who once ruled Banteave.

Three pictures of the game The King is Dead, one with the box closed, one with it open and the game materials inside, and a third of all the game materials spread out on a table.
Image from Lumpley Games on

Our story starts with news of House Antyre having raided the ships of the foreign House Luneste en route to Banteave, a fact that Micah and Aiden discuss at a Dillestone festival. In the conversation, Aiden casually mentions that one of the Antyre elders is ill and, in the context of a possible future rule, that Antyre rewards loyalty. Later, the two have a heated disagreement regarding whose people get access to the sacred lake for worship on the Autumnal equinox. After exchanging insults and exhortations, Micah leads the worshippers of the New Gods to the lakeside for their ritual and the hierophants of the Old Gods march away disgruntled. After this dispute, antagonism between the two houses escalates, with Oake continuing to publicly back Dillestone but secretly reaching out to House Sandoreale about taking the throne. But when an Antyrean priestess invokes the Blood-goddess of Vengeance, a war breaks out between the two Houses.

During the war, the Treaty Hall at Farran is ransacked by Antyre warriors as they bivouack inside until the Oake forces can retake and rescue the now ruined Hall. While Oake archers are overrun at the high passes of Ashendarrow and a company of heavy horse soldiers led by an Oaken daughter go down in valiant defeat in the rocky foothills, the Untamed warriors led by the great Clan Chief are destroyed by two companies of disciplined knights but valiant barbarians successfully defend the Stones of Trurall where the three Blood-goddesses sleep. In the end, Oake has the advantage when the sides sue for peace, and Aiden and Micah reunite while the chiefs and generals divvy up the spoils. They talk of the future and whether having a baby upon the throne can possibly last, they reminisce about the last time they saw each other, and they commiserate on the horrors of war. Aiden never mentions the dispute that set the houses on this destructive path.

The two great houses come to terms that set Prince Aiden upon the throne of Banteave and once he is crowned at Crag Ayl, he is joined by Dillestone and Oake on a procession to the capital. Sandoreale are forced to support the alliance while Luneste are excluded entirely, their trade routes having been given to House Oake as payment for supporting the Antyrean claim and serving the new crown. Aiden shows his respect to Oake by making Aiden the captain of the Crownwall, who guard the King’s person and keep the crown safe.