I've mentioned before that the programmed adventure format was adopted by Metagaming Concepts in 1978 for their The Fantasy Trip line of MicroQuest adventures. That same format was massively popularized in a series of choose-your-own-adventure books from 1979 to 1998.
Dark City Games resurrected The Fantasy Trip rules in 2005, by creating a free retro-clone called Legends of the Ancient World (LotAW). In addition to a fantasy ruleset, two other free rulesets, for science fiction and western adventures, are also available on the DCG website.
Publishing those retro-clone rules allowed Dark City Games to release 19 new MicroQuest adventures, compatible with LotAW.
According to the lore of DCG, The Crown Of Kings adventure was originally submitted to Metagaming some 30 years ago, just as Metagaming was imploding. The Dew brothers, George and Warren, created DCG and LotAW in 2005 in order to publish this, and other adventures, and keep the spirit of The Fantasy Trip alive.
The Crown Of Kings was published in 2005. It is priced at $12.95, and consists of a 44-page booklet, a sheet of cardboard counters representing the characters, monsters and opponents in the adventure, and a playing board used for encounters. The adventure consists of almost 600 paragraph entries, with the players moving from paragraph to paragraph, based on the choices they make at the end of each entry.
The premise of The Crown Of Kings is fairly straightforward. The players have heard rumor that a local warlord is in possession of the legendary Crown of Kings. They decide to break into his castle to steal it.
I must confess, when I read the premise of the adventure, I was hopeful. Surely the Crown of Kings is not simply a crown, I thought, just as the Sphere Of Power from the D&D adventure, The Lost Tomb Of Martek, was something other than a crystal ball. I imagined that the adventure would end with the Players a little wiser, but no richer, having discovered that not all legends are to be taken literally.
Unfortunately, the Crown Of Kings really is a crown, and a magic item to boot. While the adventure is reasonably well written, and features art by Dario Corallo that pleasantly harkens back to the role-playing art of the mid-70's, The Crown Of Kings adventure is a straight-up treasure hunt. There are lots of monsters and opponents to battle, but the authors claim that you can also complete this adventure without having to engage in a single combat.
If you are interested in some light role-playing, or would like to discover what The Fantasy Trip was all about, you may enjoy giving LotAW a chance. DCG has four free adventures available from the website, as well as the free rules. For those who have played some or all of the original MicroQuests, you may want to give The Crown Of Kings or some of the other DCG adventures a try. While this particular adventure seems a little overpriced, at $12.95, some of the other adventures, such as The Dark Vale, are well worth it.