Many fantasy stories are epic struggles between good and evil. The storylines of Knight's Kingdom and Knight's Kingdom II are also tales of good versus evil.
Good versus evil is a bit dull because that is not how the real world is, despite what some leaders may want their people to believe. I cannot get into the KK2 storyline because it is good versus evil and little more. But wait! Aren't Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time, two very popular fantasy series, also stories of good versus evil?
Yes they are. However, a series of novels such as Lord of the Rings has interesting characters, character development, enemy agents, and all sorts of other things that a good book will have. KK2's storyline is written for children, so it has very little of these details. The KK2 storyline has been condensed down to little more than an plot outline with a bit of detail around important events. Imagine how terrible Lord of the Rings would be if the same thing was done with it?
Now, good versus evil stories can be entertaining if they have the detail and magnitude of a series of novels. Unfortunately, that is not the case with KK2. Is this a problem? Yes. The whole product line and story boils down to good guys versus bad guys. Each new character that is added will be one or the other. There's no room for the imagination.
Now, for action toys, this is apparently fine. Autobots vs. Decepticons, GI Joe vs. Cobra, Turtles vs. Foot Clan, etc. However, we are talking about a creative toy, not an action toy. A different approach is needed. TLC realized this over 20 years ago.
The LEGO Way
The Legoland Castle line was not good versus evil. It was Lions and Falcons. Yes, they often fought. Yes, one was implied as being the faction of the king. However, neither faction was ever labeled as good or evil.
At first, this seems like it is very similar to the approach used with KK1 and KK2. Two factions. However, there is one big difference when adding new factions. They can be independent!
Consider the rumored new additions to KK2. Gargoyles, Sorcerer, and Rogue Knights. Okay, Gargoyles and Sorcerer get added to the evil team, and the rogue knights will eventually wind up on the good team. You're still stuck with a linear good versus evil setting.
The addition of Forestmen and Black Knights in 1987 and 1988 created a dynamic setting. Nobody was good or evil. Wars would be fought because of conflicting motives, not because good guys must always fight bad guys. Your play sessions could involve alliances, treaties, grudges, and betrayals. With KK2, none of that is possible. Good simply cannot ally itself with evil, and everyone is on one side or the other.
If I Controlled the KK2 Story...
I would carry on the good/evil story for another year or so. Let the good guys win. Vladek is killed. The sorcerer is never found. King Mathias raises the four good knights to high lords and they each oversee a portion of the kingdom.
A year after Vladek is defeated, the king is killed by poison. He has no children and never named an heir to the throne. The four lords travel to the Castle of Morcia with their personal guards and meet in the throne room at the castle to discuss the king's death and who should rule the kingdom.
After much discussion, the meeting falls apart. Jayko suggests that the high lords form a council and rule by concensus.
Danju believes he should be king because he is the most wise and experienced. "What a foolish notion. Councils do nothing but bicker and accomplish nothing. This land needs a king who can be decisive, and nobody is more wise and experienced than myself."
Jayko doesn't appreciate the logic in that. "You always think you know everything, and now you think you can just call yourself king? Maybe I should be king!"
Rascus is not interested in the Crown, but tosses a few japes into the argument. "He's got a point - for once - we need a young king so we aren't having this same argument again next year."
Santis had no patience for all of the nonsense, so he sat down on the throne and placed the crown upon his head. "Maybe the strongest should be king."
Santis meant his comment as a jest to stop the arguing, but his gruff demeanor hid his humor. Jayko and Danju immediately took offense and shouted at Santis to get off the throne. "King Mathias wouldn't want squabbling children to rule the kingdom-" Santis' reply was cut short as Jayko drew his sword and marched towards the throne. Danju tried to hold Jayko back, but he was shoved aside while Rascus wisely started edging towards the nearest door.
A scuffle begins, guards get involved, but the fight is eventually broken up. Each of the four decides to return home.
My KK2 Story
Santis took his time traveling home, seeking the advice of minor knights and nobles along the way. He also heard many troubling whispers in the taverns, and was frequently slowed by incompetent stableboys. A few days from his keep, a messenger found Santis. "My lord, Jayko and his men came to your keep seeking shelter for a night. We welcomed them as allies, but they turned on us in the feast hall and killed most of your men before they even drew their blades. The eagle now flies atop your turrets." Upon hearing this news, Santis gathered support from the knights and nobles he had been speaking to, returned with them to Castle Morcia, and declared himself Steward. He vowed to hold the castle until a true king could be chosen peacefully.
Experience might make a good king, but proof will make an legitimate king. Danju went to his library and studied numerous lengthy tomes detailing ancestry and bloodlines. "Somewhere in these pages, I'll find a king," he thought as he choked on a puff of dust. "That king will not be me. I was a fool to take that woman's suggestion seriously..." After a couple months of study, Danju determined that two of the squires in his keep had links to the royal bloodline. He began to take an active role in their education and training, hoping to decide if either one of them was worthy. Hoping to avoid the same judgement mistake he made with Jayko.
Rascus returned to his fortress in the forest and began to prepare defenses after his green runners, an elite band of rangers, brought him news of Jayko's actions. Although he has no interest in ruling Morcia, the other lords may send forces to kill him so he and his decendants will never stake a claim on the throne. The other lords may also try to send messages seeking his allegiance. Rascus does believe that the land needs a king, and he may be willing to enter an alliance if it will bring peace more quickly.
"The strongest should be king. Heh. Santis will have his wish," Jayko mused to his advisor. After the meeting, it was quite clear that the successor to the throne would not be decided by sensible discussion. Danju insisted he should be king while Santis had the nerve to crown himself! "As usual, my ideas were discarded as childish fancies, and Rascus had nothing better to do than mock me." Theris, his advisor, nodded in understanding. After being raised to lordship, Jayko hired the advisor to reduce his own workload. "The people will come to support me. I am kind to the peasants, and I was merciful towards the soldiers who surrendered. That mess in the feast hall was regrettable and dishonorable, but your idea won us the castle. Now I would like you to write some letters for me."
The dawn echoed with the sound of peasants screaming near the borderlands. A band of skeletons razed the village of Greenhovel, and the Necromancer Nez-Kronis began the task of adding the newly dead peasants to the army. "No survivors. That is good. We do not need news of our activities to spread yet."
Maz-Jenya looked up, "Fear not. Poz-Theris will begin spreading word that Danju poisoned the king, and I've already planted the evidence in his library. The lords will be fighting themselves too much to even notice us."
"Very good," Laz-Magnus added as he stoppered a glass vial. "I recieved a report from our agents in the field. All carrier pigeons to and from the lord's keeps have been shot down, with the exception of the grey pigeons sent by Poz-Theris."
"The lack of communication is helping our tavern rumors gain credibility." Maz-Jenya smiled as she torched a straw hut with a jet of fire from her fingertips. "One small noble went so far as to burn his entire crop after hearing whispers that the land was cursed."
"It's a amazing what a poisoned well and a few sick peasants can do," Laz-Magnus agreed.
Nez-Kronis didn't seem quite so optimistic. "A few minor nobles acting foolish off of dumb rumors is one thing, but we still need to get our agents in place with the high lords. Our agents with Santis and Danju are almost in place, but we have been completely unable to get any of our people very deep into that forest where Lord Rascus hides himself."
Yeah, this is what happens when I get bored at work. Feel free to add to the story or comment on it.