Follow TV Tropes


Tabletop Game / Kingdom Death

Go To
And that's just the base game

"Somewhere in the place of stone faces, nameless men stand together. They have nothing but a need to survive and a lantern to light their struggle."

A horror universe created by Adam Poots found here. It is a hellish universe cloaked in utter darkness, where humans find themselves at the bottom of a vast, monstrous food chain. There's a very good chance that most humans will find themselves brutally murdered, devoured whole, or just plain dead for other reasons. Originally set to be released as a tabletop game of notable heroes fighting for the survival of the human race, it has since expanded into a line of miniatures, a boss rush Tabletop Game featuring normal humans, and a potential hero style RPG. Known particularly for a set of monsters that could be called nightmare fuel, found here, here, and here.

Originally a series of boutique collectors' miniatures, Kingdom Death: Monster launched its Kickstarter campaign on November 2012 with a goal of $35,000 and a release date targeted at November 2013. It was funded on January 2013 after having raised over $2 million which, at the time of its funding, made it the most funded tabletop game on the site. The game vastly increased in size and scope after having reached all its stretch goals, leading to a delay in the project. The new release date was in Q3 2014 where it was again delayed. Poots has provided steady updates on the project's progress. The base game was finally released to Kickstarter backers at the end of Q3 2015. The expansions started shipping out in Q1 2016.


In November 2016, a second Kickstarter for the 1.5 version of the game was launched. It smashed the funding level of the first campaign within hours, and at the end of its first day had amassed more than double that amount, over $4 million. It ended in early January 2017 and was the most funded game Kickstarter of all time until it was overtaken by Frosthaven in May 2020, and at the time the fourth overall with over $12 million.

The game itself has been described to be a boss game where players kill bosses for resources to make weapons and gear to fight bigger monsters. This mechanic makes it similar to Dark Souls or Monster Hunter.


Kingdom Death: Monster contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The Lantern Festival expansion, as the original idea behind it would have taken the scope and power level of the game too far for Poots' taste, turning settlements into towns and pitting survivors against two Physical God Humanoid Abominations (the King and its master, the Scribe). Word of God is that the miniatures intended for it will be reused in one or more unspecified future projects. The King has since been confirmed to be part of the Gambler's Chest expansion.
  • Action Survivor: The survivors if they last until the endgame. Which most do not.
  • Alluring Anglerfish: Gorm has a bioluminescent lure. Spidicules uses a human torso (which sometimes is still alive) as a lure.
  • Amazon Brigade: The order of White Speakers is exclusively composed of badass spellcasting warriors who happen to be women. There used to be male White Speakers but... it ended badly.
  • Ambiguously Human: The Man Hunter seems like he could be somewhat human, although his power, size and toughness call this into question. Subverted by most other questionably human characters, usually being revealed as monstrous (for example, the Satan twins' true form, the Ivory Dragon, which is clearly an homage to the works of Dante Alighieri, Hieronymus Bosch and Francisco de Goya), or more rarely all too human (the Saviors' eldritch powers are too much for a mere mortal's frame, and as such are consumed by them, prematurely aging them and ultimately destroying them long before their time, even by Kingdom Death standards).
  • Ancient Order of Protectors: The order of the Twilight Knights guard what precious little history humanity has managed to gather. White Speakers may also qualify. The Black Knights tried to become this but ultimately failed.
  • Animalistic Abomination: Most non-humanoid monsters have the superficial look of one or more real-life beasts, going from "mostly the same, but with a few disturbing traits" (the White Lion's humanlike front paws and sharklike teeth, the Screaming Antelope's human-toothed maw running down its torso) to "even Hieronymus Bosch would wonder what the hell's wrong with whoever thought this up" (the Gorm's and Frogdog's... everything). Of course, they tend to have true natures and abilities that are far removed from any Earth equivalents...
  • Antifrustration Features: One of the few generous aspect of the game is that equipment and items are not lost unless they have the 'Irreplaceable' keyword or it is broken in some way. No matter how gruesomely your survivors were killed, whatever they took with them is returned to the settlement.
  • Anyone Can Die: The survivors usually do not survive for very long.
  • Artificial Stupidity: For whatever reason, few monsters will attack the survivors' settlement, despite the fact that humans are regarded so low on the food chain that other creatures have taken their form to fool more powerful creatures that they're harmless. Justified: the base of a settlement is a Lantern Hoard, which is the cocoon of the Watcher, one of the most powerful creatures in the game. Its presence keeps other monsters away.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: There are a lot of monsters that are barely larger than the survivors. Then there are monsters that absolutely dwarf them.
  • Badass Abnormal: The Saviours. They are born with magical powers that prevent them from leading normal lives. Almost all die young. But they're also supernaturally equipped to deal with all the monsters in the setting.
  • Badass Normal: The survivors. It's kind of a requirement if one's reaction to a gigantic Lion with a human face and a huge tentacle for a chin is to hunt it down and kill it. Twilight Knights also qualify; humans with little else than a magic sword and cape out to save humanity.
  • Beast with a Human Face: The Gorm, Lion God, and Spidicules. The Phoenix has one inside its bird-like mouth, while the Dragon King has one inside its chest. The upcoming expansions Frogdog, Nightmare Ram and Screaming God also have human(ish) faces on animalistic bodies. In all cases this makes the monsters more creepy/horrifying.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The monster Spidicules is a cross between a spider, a human, and an anglerfish. The Dung Beetle Knight evolved a humanoid form as camouflage of sorts, but is still an insect-like monster (its "armor" is actually its chitinous carapace) that stands taller than a human adult. And then there's the upcoming Oblivion Mosquito...
  • The Blacksmith: The creature known as the Forge God, and likely its Forge Priest servant(s).
    • The recently introduced Cyclops Knight is one as well; if the vast queue of prospective clients stretching to the horizon outside his workshop is any indication, he may even be an Ultimate Blacksmith.A few hunt events allow the survivors to meet him, and each time they have a chance to sacrifice something in exchange for powerful steel weapons or the devastating Thunder Maul.
  • Blessed with Suck / Cursed with Awesome: The Saviors are gifted with incredible powers, but those same powers come at the cost of a drastically reduced lifespan as they prematurely age decades at a time, until they simply cease to be.
    • Whoever is stuck with the Kingsmen's Dying Curse is condemned to slowly and horrifically transform into one, body part by body part... But until the process is complete, the survivor gets a boost to his defenses on more and more of their body.
    • Some mental disorders (or the right combination of disorders) can give advantages that balance or surpass their drawbacks.
  • Body Horror: The monsters have all sorts of human appendages sticking out of them at arbitrary angles. Several horrific effects can also be inflicted on survivors, like the Spidicules turning them into its new lure, or being afflicted by Cancer Pigeons.
  • Boss Game: The goal is to kill monsters to make armor and weapons to secure humanity's survival. The problem is that the monsters aren't exactly tiny or easy. Even the easiest one, the White Lion, can very quickly turn a survivor into a bag of bones.
  • Breast Plate: Almost every single one of the female armors. Averted by the Green Knight Armor.
  • The Butcher: A nemesis enemy who Was Once a Man, but is now driven to slaughter anyone it comes across.
  • Cast from Hit Points: One of the unique game mechanics for Monster. The monster's attack deck is also its hp deck and player attacks remove its cards from the game (monster attacks just put cards in a discard pile that is shuffled when the deck is empty). Once it runs out of cards, the monster is dead. Careful manipulation by the players can make sure the most dangerous attacks are taken out first.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": The Screaming Antelope kind of looks like an antelope, if one disregards the gigantic maw on its belly and the numerous human hands protruding from its flesh.
    • The Frog-Dog is very obviously neither.
  • Cats Are Mean: The White Lion and the Lion God.
  • Cherry Tapping: There are rules for unarmed combat, with fists and teeth being an always available weapon that any living survivor can use. Definitely a case of Magikarp Power, as unarmed mastery gives everyone in the settlement nigh-immunity to knockdown, its luck bonus makes it invaluable to certain crit builds and many fighting arts and at least one armor set provide bonuses to it.
  • The Chosen One: Saviours are born with all sorts of powers that one wouldn't find in a normal human. They tend to live short violent lives, age quicker, and burn out.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: A game for 1-6 players. Most videos released show 4 survivors in a hunting party.
  • Common Place Rare: Founding Stones are mediocre melee weapons that possess an exceptional ability of being a one-off throwing weapon with an automatic hit and critical damage with unlimited range. This makes them invaluable for being able to reliably trigger critical effects, remove powerful AI cards, or even instantly kill a target under the right circumstances. Each of the starting survivors comes equipped with one, and you will be hard pressed to find more. And yes, what we're talking about are random stones that splintered from the ground.
  • The Corruption: Killing a Kingsman turns one of the survivors' body into the armor of a Kingsman, complete with graphic description and picture.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: On top of the Crapsack Death World filled with monstrous, madness-inducing horrors where humans are literally at the bottom of the food chain, the fluff hints at one or several unknowable, unkillable entities who created the world and everything in it for completely unknown reasons. Even managing to defeat the endgame Final Boss of a given campaign is likely to be a Pyrrhic Victory at best. In fact, even the monsters themselves, despite usually being some shade of Eldritch Abomination, aren't immune to being hit by this, the intelligent ones especially - the Dragon King, for example, is the Last of Its Kind, and explicitely angsts over this and the fear of ultimately being forgotten, showing it to be as insignificant as the human chattel it lords over.
  • Crapsack World: The setting is bleak. Humans are born into a world of darkness with no history, culture, or in some cases freedom. They're regularly used as food and chattel slaves to a number of monstrous creatures. Even if they do survive the monsters, there's usually only insanity waiting. On top of all of this, there's a mechanic that can make the settlement starve. Even the monsters aren't immune to the bleakness, as described in Cosmic Horror Story above.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted. Survivors and monsters have unique hit locations that can cause any number of different effects on gameplay if damaged.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Eaten Alive, cooked alive, butchered by armored men, Swallowed Whole, burnt alive and then driven into exile. There's probably a smaller list of mundane ways to die.
  • Death World: The "world" is a seemingly endless plane of stone faces, shrouded in darkness that is only pierced by the light of the lanterns. Within the darkness, creatures lurk that consider humans the lowest part of the food chain - and which are in turn the main source of crafting materials, so the humans actually need to go out and hunt them.
  • Death By Child Birth: Can happen if the female player who rolled 2-3 on intimacy roll with no new population (baby died too) and side effect of a point in insanity for the male partner.
  • Determinator: The survivors. In a world where it's much much easier to die they've chosen to try and eke out an existence.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: At the end of the first expansion, the Gold Smoke Knight explodes and suffocates everyone in your settlement to death. Many of the other Downer Endings have clever foreshadowing, but this one not so much.
  • Did You Just Make Clothes Out Of Cthulhu: Really any of the monsters, but especially the Watcher who is the final boss of the core game. You get his armor in the Lantern Festival, which then allows you to punch out the King and the Scribe.
  • Dungeon-Based Economy: The main resources in the game are the hides, bones, organs and treasure of the monsters. To get those, hunting parties need to be sent out into the darkness.
  • Eldritch Abomination: All of the monsters have various hands, faces, and other appendages strewn about almost haphazardly. It gives the monsters a very unique feel. To say nothing of the weird powers and behavior of most of them.
  • Eldritch Location: The Lonely Tree has some strange interactions with the White Lion and the Phoenix. The setting as a whole may also count, due to its generalized creepy weirdness.
  • Enfant Terrible: The Sunstalker baby which has a cadre of human handlers that it may eat.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: The point of the game is to kill monsters, take their parts for equipment, then kill bigger monsters.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: Both straight and inverted. Nearly everything is trying to kill the survivors. But the survivors can turn the tables by hunting them down and killing them first (if they don't get killed by a random hunt event first, like getting Eaten Alive by mouths opening from the ground).
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Most survivors meet horrible early deaths. With a lot of work, planning, and experience, it's possible to get your settlement to defeat the Final Boss. In most campaigns, this results in an even worse fate.
  • Fanservice: Pinup miniatures are offered as separate sets for the fun of it and not usually for gameplay purposes.
  • Final Boss: The Watcher in the core game. The Dragon King and Sunstalker in their eponymous expansions, The King and Scribe in the Lantern Festival expansion had it not been canceled. The 1.5 version brings a new one to the core box, the Gold Smoke Knight, while upcoming expansions will have the Gryphon (in its eponymous expansion), the Mountain Man (Inverted Mountain campaign/expansion), the Legendary version of the Lion God (The Silver City expansion), and the Ivory Dragon - AKA True Form Satan (also in its eponymous expansion).
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Not cute names, but at the very least mundane. The White Lion, the (Screaming) Antelope, The Dung Beetle Knight, The Flower Knight, The King, The Scribe, the Mountain Man.
  • Freud Was Right: There's an awful lot of sexual/reproductive/suggestive imagery, including (or perhaps especially) on the monsters; on the male side the most blatant is the Sunstalker, on the female side it's the Wet Nurse.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Some wounds (or the accumulation of wounds) can maul a survivor so badly that they can't take part in the hunt or the defense of the settlement; some mental disorders can also permanently incapacitate them.
  • God-Emperor: The King has the makings of one but we know nothing of him. The Scribe might be an actual one with an emphasis on the god portion.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Greater Entities ruling the setting; this was one of the reasons why the Lantern Festival expansion was cancelled, as it would have pitted the survivors against one of them, the Scribe, and Poots specifically mentionned that this would take the scope of Kingdom Death: Monster too far from his original intent. That said, there are plans to eventually release a deck-building game at the level (and perspective) of the Greater Entities, Kingdom Death: Titan.
  • Groin Attack: Genitals are a potential attack target on survivors and certain monsters.
  • Heroic Build: Given that this game was originally built about a line of very specifically crafted boutique miniatures, all of the humans portrayed in the game seem to hold the physique of olympian athletes or supermodels. Seemingly justified however, in that the dried ink that cakes the eyes of all newly-awakened humans found among the Plain of Faces implies that they were literally written into existence by the powers of the Scribe, in furtherance of that entity's continuing interest in studying human civilization cycles. The Scribe can, literally, make his creations look as beautiful or ugly as he pleases, so it seems that - in either a small act of mercy, vanity, or both - he blesses the humans he creates with hypersexualized bodies... Not that having such a physique actually allows many newly-made humans to survive the overwhelming rigors of the world of Kingdom Death...
  • Hot Witch: The Flower Witch, as well as her five disciples (including the two who are men) have the same kind of build as most everyone else in the setting.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: after the first death of the settlement, the survivors may choose between building graves or "repurposing" the body of their fallen comrades.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Both male and female armor can range from plausible to completely impractical. All of them help the wearer kill bigger monsters though.
  • Improvised Weapon: The starting weapon is a sharp stone pulled from a stone face in the ground.
  • In the Hood: The Watcher wears a hood and no face.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: Monster parts are used to make weapons, armor, gear, and new settlement locations (found here).
  • Item Crafting: Everything apart from the starting weapons, clothes, and location are crafted in one form or fashion.
  • Kill the God: The Scribe is described as being able to rewrite reality. He's a boss in the Lantern Festival. Subverted as the expansion was scrapped for this reason (Word of God was that this would be going too far beyond the intended scope) among others.
  • Knight Errant: Of the monstrous variety. The Lion Knight wanders the wilderness visiting human settlements. He can be helpful to artistic settlements. He can be downright vicious to warlike ones. The Twilight Knights (represented by several miniatures) are a more traditional example.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In-game example. One of the hit location cards mention that the survivor manages to stab the White Lion in a human-looking hand.
  • Made of Plasticine: The survivors explode in showers of gore in the concept art.
  • Male Gaze: To some extent the female minis. To a much larger extent the pinups.
  • Medieval Stasis: It is implied that a powerful entity is watching the survivors and making sure they do not advance past a certain level of development for reasons that are not disclosed.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: All of the monsters are various different combinations of the creature that one expects and a mish mash of human parts.
  • Modesty Towel: The survivors in the beginning wear clothes that cover their private areas. It also offers a point of protection to the waist.
  • Monster Knight: The Dung Beetle Knight, The Flower Knight, the 1st and 2nd Lion Knights, the Black Knight, the Gold Smoke Knight, the Storm Knight, the White Knights (both standard and Heavy versions), the Spiral Knight, the Cyclops Knight and likely the Lost Knight.
  • Monster Lord: The King (to the King's Men and King's Hand), the Dragon King (although he's the Last of His Kind) and the Lion God (to the White Lions - although this may have been retconned). It's unclear yet if the Screaming God is this to the Screaming Antelopes.
  • Monster Modesty: Some combination of averted and played straight, depending on the monster. The Wet Nurse is generally considered the least modest.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Lion God, Slender Man, The Man Hunter, The Dragon King, The Sunstalker, The Nightmare Ram, The Oblivion Mosquito, The Butcher, Satan. Also, a random hunt event can see the survivors hounded by "Cancer Pigeons", small birds with humanlike faces who will afflict them with tumors if able.
  • Nested Mouths: The Phoenix has a beak that opens to reveal a human mouth (or, more accurately, face) with a human tongue.
    • The Gryphon has a second upper beak inside its outer one.
  • New Game+: There are rumors that killing the phoenix can send/reset the survivors back to year 1 of the lantern hoard with all of their armor intact. A good thing because the Watcher attacks on year 25 regardless of the survivors' gear level.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game teaches you through failure. Expect to die a LOT.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Several events invoke this, such as maddening screams emitting from beyond survivors' line of sight, getting lost in the darkness and never being seen again, finding human or monster corpses mutilated by unseen forces...
    • Also enforced on some level by the fanbase, many of whom refuse to reveal spoilers about the setting and monsters (as many are revealed piece-by-piece during gameplay) and likewise refuse to have them revealed to them, so as to not dilute the experience.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: The Nightmare Ram has many of the elements of a centaur, but still somehow looks wrong.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Dragon King controls radiation from his body instead of the normal breath weapon. Although it's unknown whether or not he has a breath weapon.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: VERY different. It's telling that of the preexisting monsters included in the game, Slender Man is the one most similar in powers, appearance and behavior to its non-Kingdom Death counterpart.
  • Panthera Awesome: The smallest cat is the White Lion. The largest is called the Lion God, though calling it a cat may be charitable.
  • Papa Bear: The gender of the Lion God is unknown. What is known is that if the survivors kill too many White Lions, they'll get a visit from the Lion God.
  • The Phoenix: A monstrous bird with some magical powers shares the name in the core game. That's about where the similarities end.
  • Power Floats: The Watcher.
  • The Power of the Sun: The Sunstalker. Doubles in that a gigantic, ancient one is the sun in this world.
  • Primal Fear: A world of shrouded in darkness with monsters that not only unafraid of humans but use them both as a food source and chattel slaves.
  • Reality Warper: The Scribe as stated above. Saviours are born with these powers too, but the human shell holding it is too fragile and they'll often burn out.
  • Recurring Boss: The nemesis monsters. Where most of the monsters are just beasts you hunt down, The Butcher, The Man Hunter, Slender Man, The Lion Knight actively look for and hunt down settlements of survivors.
  • Reinventing the Wheel: Depending on how the game goes, the survivors may invent something that already happened in a different game. It Makes Sense in Context though. Humans are split into distinct populations that may by chance happen on the same innovation.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: Every "victory" ending so far. Possibly Back from the Dead in the People of the Stars scenario, though.
    • Original release: Kill the Watcher. You are now completely without light, and will be shortly overrun by monsters.
    • People of the Lantern: The Gold Smoke Knight explodes, and the smoke inside of it suffocates your settlement.
    • People of the Sun: After killing the Ancient Sunstalker, your survivors are too weary to fend off it's spawn and can only await death.
    • People of the Stars: Your survivors kill the Dragon King and eat it's heart. Everyone dies of radiation poisoning, but possibly come back from death as new fledgling Dragon Kings.
  • Sanity Meter: It's possible to contract all sorts of mental disorders.
  • Scary Teeth: All of the human teeth in the game are beautiful, pristine, and white. Too bad none of the teeth belong to humans. Extra credit to the Antelope for having a maw running down its belly full of human teeth.
    • The White Lion doesn't have human teeth... it has those of a great white shark. Conversely, the Adult Sunstalker has the head of a great white shark, once more with human teeth.
  • Shout-Out: To The Slender Man Mythos with the inclusion of Slender himself as a nemesis monster, who fits in quite well with the general theme.
  • Spiders Are Scary: The Spidicules is a mish mash of human body parts combined with a spider's.
  • Theiss Titillation Theory: The male miniatures start out wearing only loincloths. The female miniatures also wear tops that amount to a rag tied around the breasts, which looks like it would fall off in a light breeze. It makes the figures look far more sexualized than if they were simply topless.
  • The Night That Never Ends: The "world" is shrouded in near-constant darkness, the only source of light being lanterns that mysteriously show up in several places, or bioluminescent body parts on certain monsters (which are sometimes said lanterns, creepily enough). Any celestial body you may see somewhere up in the sky... isn't.
  • Time Master: The Phoenix can age a survivor years into the future or to dust.
  • Too Cool to Live: Saviors can be born on a roll of 10 during intimacy, the resulting child can have one of three benefits that can be either auto-hits, increased attack range, or copious amounts of extra armor. They also get stat bonuses based on their choice, and they get four times as much hunt exp as a normal survivor. This also means they reach the end of their career after only four hunts, and rather than retiring, they cease to exist.
  • Turns Red: Hurting the monster removes attack cards from its deck and makes the remaining ones turn up more often. That's good when a few harmless cards remain. When it means the monster now uses That One Attack every two turns... not so much.
  • Vagina Dentata: The screaming antelope has a giant maw that runs laterally down its belly that is very reminiscent.
  • Vapor Wear: Most of the pinups wear very little clothes. The Dragon King's armor for both genders has a giant gash down the center of the chest.
  • Was Once a Man: A disturbing number of monsters are this. From the base game, the Kingsmen are survivors who succumbed to the King's Curse, and The Butcher is a Forsaker that lost their sense of self to their endless rage.
    Nothing remains of the man, just a mess of flesh clinging to the insides of the Forsaker's armor, animated by nihilistic fury to destroy on the road through oblivion.
  • Womb Level: The lantern hoard is actually the womb of a Watcher, a powerful monster who waits for the settlement to grow powerful enough before consuming it.
  • Your Reward Is Clothes: The survivors make gear out of parts they get from beating bosses.