In all the time I’ve been running this silly blog, how have I never written about the Kingdom of Loathing?
A place where your character classes include options like “Seal Clubber,” “Disco Bandit,” and “Sauceror.”
A place where your familiars can include a Levitating Potato, a Sabre-Toothed Lime, a Ninja Snowflake, and a Cheshire Bat.
A place where almost every combat encounter includes sly pop-culture references, whether you’re fighting the enslaved spirit of a jellyfish that didn’t quite make it to Jellyfish Heaven (where jellyfish go, to get away from Mormons and drunk Eskimos), The Big Wisniewski (“Hey, I’m not Mr. Wisniewski, man,” he says. “Just call me ‘This Guy.’ That’s me.”), or a Cloaca-Cola Soldier (who’s stuck in a time warp, still striving against the Dyspepsi-Cola forces in a Cola War that never ends).
It is a very silly game.
Originally launched in 2003, KOL is notable for its simple stick-figure graphics and its weird humor.
In KoL, a player’s character fights monsters for experience, meat (the game’s currency), and items, through a turn-based system. Players may also interact with each other through player versus player competition, participate in the in-game economy by trading goods and services, organize their characters into clans, work together to complete clan dungeons, and speak to each other in many different chat channels.
You start the game as a novice, tasked to save the Kingdom from the influence of the Naughty Sorceress and restore King Ralph to the throne. You undertake various quests along the way, gaining knowledge, unlocking skills, and gathering pet familiars. After your final showdown with the Naughty Sorceress you can choose to “ascend,” taking on a new character class and running the whole game over again.
Unlike many other “free-to-play” games, KOL really is entirely free: You can get through the entire game without spending a penny. However, the game is maintained entirely through donations, so there are lots of extras available if you want to spend money. Each $10 donation to the game will gain you a “Mr. Accessory” token, which can be equipped as-is to boost stats or used as currency at the game’s Mr. Store to unlock exclusive content and items. (There is, incidentally, a way to get the extra stuff for free if you’re diligent. Many users buy Mr. Accessory tokens with real money and then re-sell them in the Mall for Meat [the in-game currency]. If you work hard and earn lots of Meat, you can buy the tokens and then exchange them at Mr. Store.)
An invaluable resource for the game is Coldfront, a sort of catchall discussion site, and particularly the site’s wiki. The KOL community will help you navigate quests, unravel obscure references, and choose the best equipment and buffs for a particular task.
If you decide to give the game a try (or if you’re already a player) and want a hand, look me up: I’m Cobwebs in the game, and will be happy to welcome you into the Shadow Manor clan.