The Kingdom of Loathing, a browser-based multiplayer role-playing game, famous for its drawings of stick figures and its surreal humor and parody of the role-playing game tropes, has been online since 2003, and during that time it has managed to maintain a very strong regular player base (around 100,000 – 150,000 in 2008).
It is a very interesting game by itself, with its very peculiar kind of humor and its weird locations and quests, but eventually, it tends to be a bit too grindy for my tastes, just like all multiplayer RPGs. Nevertheless, it has served as an inspiration to several other games, like board games (“Mr. Card Game“) or even… a small and interesting series of gamebooks called “Kingdom of Loathing, the Home Game“.
Apparently, the first of these short gamebooks, was given out at the 2006 San Diego Comic Con to promote the online game, and additional adventures were released in the following years. They range between 68 and 126 sections, and all of them have the same hand-drawn artwork style as the online game and, of course, the same surreal kind of humor. The titles alone can say a lot of what we can expect from them. They are “KoL The Home Game“, “Part 2: Electric Boogaloo“, “Episode 3: Past as Prologue“, “And Now, Something Else Entirely“, “Escape from the Horrors of the Prison of the Towers of the Wizard“, “The Kingdom of Loathing’s Pirate Adventure” and “Lars the Cyberian vs. A Dracula“.
All I can tell about them is I had a lot of fun reading them on my way to work during the two weeks or so that it took me to go through the whole series. It is the kind of humor that makes you laugh out loud at the most inappropriate situations. I had an absolute blast with them, and I totally recommend them for what they are: a fun snack-sized gamebook treat that doesn’t take itself very seriously. Or not seriously at all.