The Dark Lord is a kickstarter by Chamomile. Hes the guy behind a few cool products. The GM’s Guide, a self-explanatory, kind of system neutral, piece of highly recommended advice, Petals and Thorns, an adventuring module swimming in shades of gray, and some other stuff. We have bounced in and out of collaborations now and again, with a thousand and one unpublished ideas, a youtube play through of Petals and Thorns, and he even wrote a nice blog entry about this site. I’m trying to give some disclosure to say “I know the guy”.
With all that out of the way, The Dark Lord is like opposite D&D. You play as Totally Not Sauron, who meets at a high council with the other villains, played by other players, and plot your nefarious stuff. Then one of you goes off and does a big evil quest. That player gets to be a powerful lieutenant, and the other players play various minions. You, the powerful lieutenant, need to make sure the mission is accomplished. Your minions are various levels of loyal and competent. They may listen to you, they may not. They may even have other goals like “ensure the mission fails”. I think it lends itself to comedy pretty well, and the tone will end up very similar to Paranoia, one of my favorites. He gives guidance for a variety of other tones, but I know how I will run it. Whats neat about this game though, is that once your band of ne’er-do-wells finishes their mission, the game doesn’t end. You report back to The Dark Lord, and get what are essentially victory points. The Dark Lord uses them to expand his influence and “win the game”, but he can also use them to ensure he gets good minions to send on the next adventure. Good minions probably last longer, and probably are more successful against the forces of good.
The other big thing that appeals to me about this game is the domain management system. I’ve played in various stealth beta tests of these rules, and skimmed a rough draft of the actual rules (not enough to remember any of it), and they seem 1 – really fun, and 2 – actually playable. That combo is pretty rare for a domain management system. The bits I’ve seen also make me think it will be relatively easy to port to other games, which is huge.
The Dark Lord seems like something to back if you’re into playing the bad guys, Fantasy Paranoia, indie TTRPGs, or think Cham is the coolest. As of this morning its sitting at $8,500 or a requested $2,000, and he has delivered a few other kickstarters, so I think its a pretty safe bet that its more “buying a thing” and less “gambling on vaporware”. Its also $1,500 from another stretch goal, so that seems possible.