This single-player role playing game is set in England during the late 1300s, and is loosely based on The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. As a young squire boy with strong connections to the Royalty, you can become a knight or a monk, a bishop or a craftsman, a yoeman or a shepherd. But life is short - and your time is limited.
The game takes place over a long period of time, between 1370 and 1410. The population of England is still depleted from the Black Death, which struck in the 1340s. The Hundred Years War rages on and off in France and Castile, while England has its own internal struggles. The Peasants' Revolt of 1381, the English Civil War of 1408, and the constant threat of the Scottish invaders leave English society in turmoil. As the High Middle Ages come to an end, a new middle class of merchants and craftsman emerge in London. The new cannons have made the traditional warfare of knights and castles obsolete. The world is changing - and so must you.
You will get to customize your character's name and basic appearance at the beginning, but your character will change dramatically over the course of the game. You will begin at age 15 and end at age 55. Your physical skills depend not only on experience, but on your current age. For example:
- Sprint: Maximum at age 25
- Strength: Maximum at age 30
- Health: Maximum at age 30
- Endurance: Maximum at age 35
- Wisdom: Maximum at age 55 (highest age)
Each of these areas will have a maximum level that will change over time (say, level 40 at first but later level 50). But to reach level 40 or 50, no matter what your age, you will have to exercise your character's body/mind. There will be lots of heavy objects to lift and improve your strength skill. You improve your health skill by eating vegetables. Working out too much will damage your health skill. Conversations and puzzles will improve your wisdom skill.
Conversations will have up to five or six options, battles will have multiple outcomes, and fatal decisions can be made at any moment. There will be hundreds of NPCs to interact with. Some will give you quests and some will simply want to chat. With all these choices, you will get to develop a unique personality for your character. Personality is determined by points in the following areas:
- Dominance: Points are gained for brutality, victory in battle, and intimidation of all who cross you. Points are lost anytime you back away from a fight or show mercy for your enemies.
- Loyalty: Points are gained anytime you fulfill a promise to a lord or knight. Points are lost when you commit rebellious actions, strike out on your own, or fail to finish a quest on time.
- Sanctity: Points are gained for prayer, preaching, giving to the Church or the poor, and making a pilgrimage to Canterbury. Points are lost for offending or opposing the Church.
- Chivalry: Points are gained for helping the sick, the poor, and the helpless, and for showing respect toward friends and enemies alike. Points are lost for harming civilians or defenseless enemies.
Each of these four areas will have a scale of -10 to +10, where points can be gained or lost. Generally, positive values are always better, but occasionally a negative value will come in handy. Neutral values are never useful. Often, gaining points in one area will mean losing them in another area. However, it is possible to get to +10 in all four areas at the same time, but it's not easy.
The Game has three main factions.
- The Church, led by Simon Sudbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury
- Allying with the Church and following their quests is bound to increase your Sanctity rating. Although the Church usually aligns itself with the Royalty, sometimes they take the side of the peasants. The Church usually promotes peace and stability, although they can be corrupt at times. In the Church, you can become a monk, a friar, a bishop, a student, or a summoner.
- The English Royalty, led by Kings Richard II and Henry IV
- The King and his council believe in heavily taxing the peasants and working class. They need money to fund their knights and armies, both in France and at home. Allied with Royalty are unpopular law enforcers like John of Gaunt and Robert Belknap. If you ally with the Royalty, you can become a knight, a squire, a yeoman, a reeve, or a landowner.
- The Peasants' Revolt, led by Wat Tyler and Jack Straw
- The Black Death left a shortage of workers that has given bargaining power to the surviving few. The Peasants demand an end to the oppressive taxes of the King and the Church. As the Peasants organize, they gain influence and even succeed in capturing the Tower of London. As a member of the Peasants' Revolt, you can either be a simple plowman (although the work will be hard), or you can become a member of one of the Guilds. There is a Carpenters' Guild, a Millers' Guild, and a Butchers' Guild, which each have their own advantages.