LOOD ROYAL IS A GAME OF DYNASTIC INHERITANCE, DIPLOMATIC INTRIGUE AND MEDIEVAL WARFARE.  Designed for up to sixty players, with another sixty or more positions played by the computer, the aim is to accumulate power and wealth for your family over several generations, rising to establish yourself as a royal dynasty and, eventually, challenge for the imperial throne.  Each noble house begins with a domain consisting of a number of honours, or territories, spread across one or more kingdoms, and must use diplomatic, economic and military means to increase their prosperity and power.

LLYING YOUR FAMILY with other noble houses through marriage and treaty, spying on your enemies (and perhaps your friends), assassinating and disgracing those who stand in your way, subverting those who should be loyal to others, dispensing justice throughout your territories, deciding who is in favour, and out of it, at your court - all these and more are the tools of diplomacy and politics to be used to establish your house as a leading family.  But be careful - those around you are scheming as well...

OUR MILITARY STRENGTH consists of the knights who have sworn fealty to you; the fyrd, or muster of peasants and yeomen who make up the bulk of your infantry, and professional soldiers hired from the mercenary bands who roam the land looking for a contract with the highest bidder.  Muster your troops and send them out to conquer and pillage other lands, either as part of your kingdom's army when you are summoned by your king, or raiding over the borders to bring back booty to swell your coffers.  Use your forces to crush rebellions at home while secretly you spread discontent among the troops and population of your neighbours.

UILDS OF CRAFTSMEN generate trade with their skills, and the produce of eighty commodities in your towns and farms provide the money for you to realise your ambitions.  Establishing schools and universities, granting charters to the growing towns of your domains, and deciding what commodities to tax - all these are decisions facing you in the economic management of your lands.  Perhaps you will be forced to seek loans from moneylenders, or perhaps you will be fortunate enough to be able to loan money to others.  Build roads and castles to encourage and protect trade, and support the guilds by funding research to bring skilled workers to your lands.  You will have to make crucial choices as to where you focus your efforts: you cannot be everywhere at once, but how far can you trust the relatives and advisers around you to carry out your wishes?

LOOD ROYAL is a game idea I have been working on for some time.  I have been a game player for many years - board games, card games, computer games - and have found many games which offer a glimpse of what I want, without necessarily giving me everything - interaction with a large number of players, but also intelligent computer-moderated non-player positions; a generational scope allowing grand strategic visions; the ability to direct diplomatic and economic operations for your territory, while using military means to protect and expand it; and the dynastic complications that can actually force your hand, dragging you into wars and confrontations you may not want.

Games that I enjoyed, and which led to this work on Blood Royal, include board games such as Diplomacy and Empires of the Middle Ages, and computer games such as Civilisation and Europa Universalis; I was also inspired by the visions of computer games in Breaking the Game, a short story by Orson Scott Card, and Complicity, the novel by Iain Banks.  I originally conceived Blood Royal several years ago as a PBM game, but quickly realised that it would not be economically viable to continue in such a format, and the idea lay dormant for a while, until the advent of the internet made it a practical proposition again.

I am currently working on the final polishing of the game scenario and player options, as well as beginning work on the game engines for the moderator and player. If you are interested, please continue to have a look at the Player's Guide to see more detail of what the game has to offer.  During 2003 I shall be finishing work and testing on the game engines and looking for playtesters: if you'd be interested in taking part, or if, having read the Player's Guide, you have any ideas to contribute - the game is still expanding as I work on it!

Copyright © 2001-04 James Doyle. All rights reserved.