Kingdom of Loathing, or KoL, is a browser-based, turn-based multiplayer RPG. Inspired by BBS door games like Legend of the Red Dragon, the game is mostly presented though text and monochrome stick figure drawings, and is known for its humorous fantasy setting. In 2017, KoL was followed by a standalone, single player spin-off, West of Loathing.
Your first task as a new adventurer is to pick a character class which affects how you level up in the game as well as how you access skills and utilize quest rewards. There are six classes falling into three categories.
The Seal Clubber or Turtle Tamer classes are your basic tanks, leveling up based on muscle stats. They have inherently high hit points giving them earlier access to more powerful weapons and special class specific skills such as Amphibian Sympathy, Musk of the Moose and Ghostly Shell. Skills for muscle class characters can be found by completing quests or purchased from the Brotherhood of the Smackdown.
Players choosing to go with the Accordion Thief and Disco Bandit classes are sneaky and cunning. These rogue-like characters use their high moxie to get the jump on foes, often pickpocketing otherwise unobtainable items. They tend to acquire meat (the game's currency) more quickly than other classes. They also like to use ranged weapons, which use moxie instead of muscle to determine if they hit an opponent. Accordion Thieves also have the useful ability to play songs for themselves and others which can affect anything from combat frequency to item drops.
Pastamancers and Saucerors wield their powerful Chefstaves to cast lasagna bandages and mighty saucegysers to heal themselves and obliterate their foes. While physically the weakest of the character classes, they are highly attuned to the mystical and thereby enjoy greater benefits from certain potions. They are also the only ones with access to the Wok of Ages which allows them to practice Transcendental Noodlecraft to cook advanced and much sought after hi mein recipes.
The Kingdom of Loathing is a turn-based game. Each day after rollover, each player is given 40 adventures. Most actions in the game take one turn. This includes adventures in zones, cooking food, making booze, and smithing items. There are some things (like making jewelry or going on a vacation) that can consume more adventures.
Although each player starts with 40 adventures, there are ways to get additional adventures. The most common ways are eating food and drinking booze. Each food items fills up your stomach, and each drink increases your drunkenness. A player can eat up to 15 fullness each day. A player can drink up to 14 drunkenness each day. Once a player is at 15 drunkenness or more, they will be falling down drunk and will be unable to drink any more and will not receive normal adventures (they will receive Drunken Stupor adventures, which generally result in a loss of meat or stats, or they will receive a message saying they are too drunk to adventure). There’s also a spleen stat that works similar to the fullness stat, but spleen items are far less common than food or booze.
Players can also earn extra adventures by equipping certain items during rollover. For instance, equipping a dead guy’s watch during rollover will grants an extra adventure. There are also some rare familiars and items that can give adventures for other circumstances.There’s no limit to the number of adventures a player can accumulate in one day. A player with access to decent food and booze can obtain 200 adventures or more each day. Any unused adventures that are left before rollover will carry over to the next day. However, each character cannot start a day with more than 200 adventures. Any number of adventures above that number will be lost.
The main purpose of the game is to free King Ralph XI who has been captured and imprisoned by the Naughty Sorceress. With each level the Council of Loathing will send you on a specific quest to advance your mission. These vary in depth and difficulty from simple search and find missions to elaborate multi-stage assassinations and the rewards tend to be comically disproportionate to the effort involved. Her Naughtiness waits at level 13, provided all of the Council quests have been completed. Listed below are the quests requires to 'beat' the game.
- Level 1 - Toot Oriole Quest - Only available during a player's first ascension, it introduces the mechanics of the Kingdom of Loathing and functions like a tutorial in other games.
- Level 2 - Spooky Forest Quest - You are required to go to the Spooky Forest and find a mosquito larva and return the larva to the Council of Loathing.
- Level 3 - Typical Tavern Quest - The owner of the Typical Tavern is having a rat problem. You'll adventure in the basement until you find a rat faucet, then turn it off.
- Level 4 - Boss Bat Quest - You are sent to kill the Boss Bat, which is found in the Nearby Plains. The player will need to find some form of stench resistance, then find and use three sonar-in-a-biscuits before they can fight the Bat.
- Level 5 - The King of Cobb's Knob Quest - You are sent to kill the Goblin King. Players can try to tackle this challenge in two way: acquire the Knob Goblin Harem outfit and use some perfume, or acquire the Knob Goblin Elite Guard Uniform, then bake a cake and bring it to the King.
- Level 6 - Deep Fat Friar's Quest - You are instructed to go to the Deep Fat Friars and find the three items needed by the friars to cleanse the taint of the gate.
- Level 7 - Undefile the Crypt Quest - You are instructed to go to the Crypt in the Nearby Plains and clear out the monsters. There are 4 zones to the Crypt. Adventure in the Crypt and fight each sub-boss. Once all four sub-bosses are defeated, a fifth area unlocks and the player can fight the Bonerdagon and finish cleansing the Crypt.
- Level 8 - Mt. McLargeHuge Quest - You are sent to Mt. McLargeHuge to help John the Trapper investigate the source of extreme cold at the top of the mountain.
- Level 9 - Orc Chasm Quest - You are sent to help the Highland Lord Black Angus, who lives beyond The Orc Chasm in the Big Mountains. You'll need to fight a bunch of smut orcs, build a bridge out of suggestively-named pieces, and light fires at three peaks (one oil themed, one parodying Twin Peaks and The Shining, and one featuring five factions of ghosts representing Star Wars, Trek, Harry Potter, Twilight, and Doctor Who fans) to complete the quest.
- Level 10 - Giant Trash Quest - Players are sent to the Nearby Plains to find the source of the giant garbage that's filling up the Plains. After climbing the Beanstock and getting to the Giant Castle in the Sky, they will have to fight the giants until they can turn the giant wheel and end the quest.
- Level 11 - Quest for the Holy MacGuffin - A huge undertaking. You will need to find your father's diary, then adventures in various locations until you acquire all of the pieces of the Staff of Ed. After discovering a pyramid in the desert and using the Staff, players will continue adventuring until they can fight Ed the Undying and get the Holy MacGuffin.
- Level 12 - Mysterious Island Quest - You are sent to the Mysterious Island to start a war between the hippies and the frat boys. After you've started the war, you are then instructed to end the war. Completing sidequests on the island will help speed up progress during the war.
- Level 13 - Naughty Sorceress Quest - This is it! Players must climb the Sorceress's Tower, fight off her traps and monsters, then defeat her in the final battle.
There are a number of general and class-specific side quests which can earn you special skills, items or character tattoos. You can also earn trophies for accomplishing specific tasks, such as eating or drinking an obscene amount, or opting to not equip pants. Some of these trophies are no longer obtainable, frustrating hardcore completionists.
The Kingdom of Loathing features a multitude of locations. Only a few locations are unlocked as you start the game, but more locations are unlocked as you level up or you find items. Locations that consume an adventure when you visit them will list the number of adventures used in parenthesis. Some locations are not accessible when you’re reached a certain level, some are not available during some ascensions depending on what path you took when you ascended, and some locations are no longer available to adventure in, because they were a part of a limited-time event.
The heart of the Kingdom. It mostly consists of noncombat locations, although there are a few lower-level locations to adventure at. This location contains the Council of Loathing, which gives out the main quests, the guild halls for each of the classes, and the Clan district.
The campground is used as a storage location. There is a place where you can rest to recover HP and MP (the amount of HP and MP restored can be improved upon by installing better housing), as well as closet to store items and various items related to PVP. It also houses your trophy collection, familiar terrarium, and quest log (which keep tracks of completed and uncompleted quests and other accomplishments you’ve attained while playing).
The Big Mountains
A mid-level adventuring zone. It contains Mt. Noob, which is the first quest that all new player get, along with the Orc Chasm and Mt. McLargeHuge, which are the central locations for the level 8 and 9 quests. It’s also the location of Crimbo Town during Crimbo in December. The Sea A high-level adventuring zone. This location does not unlock until part ways through the level 13 quest. The Sea contains some of the toughest non-scaling enemies in the game. In addition, certain items to themselves and their familiars to adventure in the Sea, it takes two adventures to adventure here instead of the normal one, and the deeper in the Sea you go, the lower the item and meat drop rates are.
The Nearby Plains
A low- to mid-level adventuring zone. Adventurers will typically spend most of their time from levels 4 through 10 completing quests in this zone. It has a mixture of low-level areas (like Cobb’s Knob and the Bat Hole) with some higher-level areas (including the Beanstalk and the Palindrome).
Lair of the Naughty Sorceress
This is the location for the entire level 13 quest. Players must make it through the crowds of other adventurers outside, find a way through the Hedge Maze, climb the Sorcerer’s Tower, and eventually defeat the Naughty Sorceress at the top. Once the Sorceress is defeated, this also becomes the location where players ascend and start the game over.
A mid-level adventuring zone. You can’t get here until you build a bitchin’ meat car. There are not many locations to adventure at here, but it does contain The Shore (where you can take vacations), as well as Bordertown, which has the Mall of Loathing, where you can buy item from other players.
The Distant Woods
A low-level adventuring zone. Many of the low level quests take place here. Some notable locations include the Copse of the Deep Fat Friars, which are part of the level 6 quest and can get you an item to increase the amount of food, booze, or spleen items you can use in a day, and the Typical Tavern.
The Mysterious Island of Mystery
A mid- to high- level adventuring zone. There are three main locations here: the Orcish Frat House, filled with frat boys; the hippy camp, filled with filthy and dirty hippies; and the Obligatory Pirate Cove, filled with pirates. The level 12 quest involved choosing either the hippies or the frat boys and leading them to victory other the group.
There are also a few locations that aren’t on the map anywhere. If you get too drunk and try to adventure, you’ll adventure in a Drunken Stupor, which are adventures that cause you to lose meat or stats. The Secrets Tropical Island Lair is the final location for each class’ Nemesis quest. And there are also some maps that can unlock new locations to adventure, although they’re only available through mall purchase now.
After the final boss battle, players have the option to continue adventuring in their current state or to "ascend" by shuffling off this mortal coil. Ascension is a new game plus mechanic in which the game world is reset, and the player is reborn at level 1, with the option to choose a new class, sex, and birthsign. Players have the option to increase the level of difficulty through self-imposed restrictions and limited access to previously acquired skills and items. They are rewarded with unlockable adventuring zones and powerful reward items.
Each ascension run earns the player karma, a special kind of currency which they can spend to permanently learn (perm) any currently-known skill. Permed skills remain available in future ascensions, meaning that as the player progresses through multiple ascensions, they can accumulate a suite of skills from all six classes, making their character stronger and capable of completing ascensions in fewer turns or days. Generally, ascensions with more severe restrictions reward more karma.
A complete description of ascension types are listed below:
- Casual - No restrictions on the adventurer. Once the player has ascended, the player will have access to all items they had before they ascended. Any skill they have permed will also be available. However, since there's not much challenge to a casual ascension, there are not many rewards for completing one.
- Normal - Also known as 'softcore'. Players are locked in to a 1000 turn ronin state. While a player is in ronin, they will not be able to trade with other players or buy items from the mall. They also have limited access to their items, only being able to pull 20 items from storage per day. The player will have access to all of their familiars. Once the 1000 turns are up, all the restrictions are lifted and the player gets access to their items again.
- Hardcore - Players are completely restricted from their items. Until the Naughty Sorceress is defeated and the King is freed (or the player drops Hardcore), the player will not have access to any items nor can they acquire items from the mall or other players. In addition, players will have access only to skills they purchased as Hardcore Permanent, not normal Permanent. All familiars in the player's Terrarium remain accessible. Completing a Hardcore run will give that player a stainless steel item depending on what class they completed the run as.
- Bad Moon - A special type of Hardcore ascension. Players will not have access to any previous skills (including those marked Hardcore Permanent). They will also have an empty Terrarium and will have to reacquire their familiar. Finally, special adventures are unlocked that can have a negative impact on the adventurer. Completing a Bad Moon run will give that player a Brimstone item for their next ascension, depending on which class they beat the Bad Moon ascension as.
In addition to choosing their path, players can also choose a restriction to be placed on their character. The restriction will generally limit what the character can do, but it will offer greater rewards.
- Standard - The only restriction in Standard is that players can not use legacy content (items, skills, familiars, etc.) that has been unavailable for more than two calendar years. Completing a Standard ascension will award a class-specific piece of gear.
- Teetotaler - Player can eat food, but will be unable to drink booze. Finishing a run as a Teetotaler will give that player one Retenez L'Herbe Pate for completing a normal ascension or three Retenez L'Herbe Pates for a hardcore ascension.
- Boozetafarian - Player can drink booze, but cannot eat food. Completing a run as a Boozetafarian will give that player one bottle of single-barrel whiskey for completing a normal ascension or three bottles for a hardcore ascension.
- Oxygenarian - The player cannot eat food or drink booze. Completing this run will give a player one can of Breathetastic Premium Canned Air for completing a normal ascension or three cans of Air for a hardcore ascension. In addition, a player who completes a Hardcore Oxygenarian run will be given a plexiglass item instead of a stainless steel item.
In the summer of 2011, a series of special challenge paths (released one every three months) were announced. They place extra restrictions, but also give greater rewards, including extra karma and a commemorative Thwaitgold statue for each path.
- Bees Hate You – The Summer 2011 challenge path. With a few special exceptions, you cannot use any items with the letter ‘b’ in it. You can equip items with the letter ‘b’ in it, but you’ll take damage at the beginning of combat for each instance of the letter ‘b’. Finally, every 15-20 turns, you will fight bees.
- Way of the Surprising First – (Fall 2011) Players cannot equip weapons or off-hand items. In addition, players cannot auto-sell items and overall meat gains are vastly reduced. Players can learn special skills to complement their weaponless fighting style.
- Trendy – (Winter 2011) Players cannot use any item that hasn’t been available for over a year. The most notable examples are Mr. Store items and familiars more than a year old.
- Avatar of Boris – (Spring 2012) Introduces a new character class which plays similarly to a muscle class. Avatars of Boris don’t have any access to skills from previous ascensions, and the only weapon they can equip is Trusty, a two handed axe. The class features 30 new skills which are not bought through a guild hall, but acquired from Boris’ Gate as the player gains levels. Boris doesn’t use familiars, but does have a faithful minstrel named Clancy who possesses similar abilities.
- Bugbear Invasion – (Summer 2012) Bugbears from another dimension are invading the Kingdom. Their mothership has smashed and completely replaced the Naughty Sorceress's tower. The player must engage in a series of short quests throughout the ascension to track down invading bugbears and infiltrate their ship. Instead of the Naughty Sorceress, the Bugbear Captain is the final boss in this path.
- Zombie Slayer – (Fall 2012) This path occurs in a post-apocalyptic reality wherein most of the Kingdom's populace – including the player – have been zombified. Like Avatar of Boris, the player has a new class, with a selection of 30 new zombie-themed skills. Instead of MP, skills are fueled by the player's zombie horde, which can be increased by infecting enemies in combat. The player may only eat brains, and only undead familiars are available.
- Class Act – (Winter 2012) Restricts players only to the skills of their current class. All permed skills from other classes (as well as non-class skills like Torso Awaregness) are unavailable, although bookshelf skills are still available.
- Avatar of Jarlsberg – (Spring 2013) Reincarnates the player with the spirit of the wizard Jarlsberg, the second of Loathing's three legendary heroes. Like Avatar of Boris, this path features an entirely new character class with a new skill tree. Jarlsberg has the power to conjure and cook cosmic foods, but refuses to eat or drink anything he didn't make himself. This mysticality-based class uses enchanted food companions instead of familiars.
- BIG! – (Summer 2013) Player characters start the ascension at level 15, meaning that most areas and Council quests are accessible from the start. However, the Kingdom's monsters have also scaled up.
- KOLHS – (Fall 2013) The player must spend the first 40 adventures of each day attending KoL High School, a group of new adventuring locales which offer new monsters, items to craft, and the opportunity to ally with one of three factions: the jocks, the nerds, or the greasers.
- Class Act II: A Class for Pigs – (Winter 2013) This path once again restricts players to their current class skills, which had undergone a series of revamps in the preceding months. This path also introduces an experimental change to the leveling system.
- Avatar of Sneaky Pete - (Spring 2014) Play as the third of the legendary heroes of Loathing, the moxie-fueled, motorcycle-riding Sneaky Pete.
- Slow and Steady - (Summer 2014) Players are granted 100 turns per day, with no way to generate more.
- Heavy Rains - (Fall 2014) A torrential flood increases the challenge level of every zone in the Kingdom, introducing new water-themed monsters as well as new sets of skills based on Thunder, Rain and Lightning.
- Picky - (Winter 2014) Players pick only 3 familiars and 11 permanent skills to use in each run.
- Actually Ed the Undying - (Spring 2015) Play as Ed, the immortal mummy who usually serves as the boss of the level 11 quest. Ed has his own skill tree and can access the Underworld by temporarily dying in combat.
- One Crazy Random Summer - (Summer 2015) All monsters gain random modifiers which alter their abilities and/or appearance.
- Community Service - (Fall 2015) All Council quests are removed, replaced with 11 acts of community service that have a high adventure cost, but require little real-life time commitment from the player.
- Avatar of West of Loathing - (Spring 2016) Play as one of three new classes (Cow Puncher, Beanslinger or Snake Oiler) from the upcoming spin-off game West of Loathing.
- The Source - (Summer 2016) You discover that the Kingdom is a computer simulation and must fend off the Source Agents using your newfound hacking skills.
- Nuclear Autumn - (Fall 2016) After the apocalypse, you must contend with radiation poisoning and use mutant powers instead of your normal skills.
- Gelatinous Noob - (Spring 2017) You're a blob of slime who absorbs items to gain abilities on your quest to become human.
- License to Adventure - (Summer 2017) You become a secret agent, but must also deal with supervillain lairs or else risk being disavowed by the agency.
- Live. Ascend. Repeat. - (Fall 2017) Time keeps repeating over and over. All players get the same RNG seed, and item drops are deterministic, removing much of the randomness of the ascension.
- Pocket Familiars - (Spring 2018) All combat is contested in Pokémon-like 3-on-3 familiar battles.
- G-Lover - (Summer 2018) All items, skills and familiars lacking the letter "G" in their names are prohibited, which causes a lot of problems.
- Disguises Delimit - (Fall 2018) Monsters wear a variety of masks, which enhance their abilities. The player can swap masks with opponents in combat to gain disguise-based bonuses.
In-Game Holidays and Events
The Kingdom of Loathing has an in-game calendar, which is loosely based on the real-life calendar. There are 12 months (in order, Jarlsuary, Frankuary, Starch, April, Martinus, Bill, Bor, Petember, Carlvember, Porktober, Boozember, and Dougtember) , and each month has 8 days. Each month has a holiday that's loosely based on a holiday that would occur in the real world calendar.
- Jarlsuary 1 - Festival of Jarlsberg: All skills cost three less MP to use, and the party hat is available for purchase in the Market (which restores MP per adventure.
- Frankuary 4 - Valentine's Day: Valentine's Day cards (and other gift items) are available from the Gift Shop.
- Starch 3 - St. Sneaky Pete's Day: If an Adventurer can get to 26 drunkenness, it will open up a series of St. Sneaky Pete's Day Stupor adventures (instead of the normal drunkenness adventures). There's usually a unique adventure that can occur during these special adventures that will give the player an item after the next day's rollover. Also, green beers are craftable by players (which are mainly used to get a player's drunkenness to 26).
- April 2 - Oyster Egg Day: Players can buy and equip an oyster basket. Adventuring with the basket equipped will give the player a possibility of finding an oyster egg after each adventure. Each location contains one type of egg, so players will have to adventure in multiple locations in order to get different kinds of eggs.
- Martinus 2 - El Dia de Los Muertos Borrachos: Special enemies can be fought while adventuring. Defeating these foes will cause them to drop special booze drinks, depending on the level of the player.
- Bill 3 - Generic Summer Holiday: Players can buy one of three items from the Market (foam noodle, inflatable duck, and water wings). Equipping one of them and adventuring in the Fountain in the Market Square causes the player to gain a buff which will increase the substat gained in a combat adventure.
- Bor 4 - Dependence Day: Players can buy fireworks from the Market. The fireworks provide a massive buff to one stat, but only one can be used per Dependence Day (and the fireworks can only be used on Dependence Day).
- Petember 4 - Arrrbor Day: This opens up the Arrrboretum in the Distant Woods. Player can acquire one of three equippable items and adventure in the Arrboretum and plant trees. Adventuring 100 times in the Arrboretum will cause the player to find a piece of an outfit on the next Arrrbor Day. Adventuring between 2 and 99 times will cause a useable item to be found instead.
- Carlvember 6 - Labor Day: Players gain an extra 10 adventures after rollover. Usually, there's a cap of 200 adventures rolled over to the next day, but this effect overrides it.
- Porktober 8 - Halloween: Players who are wearing an outfit can go trick or treating. Trick or treating will cause players to acquire candy (depending on what outfit they're wearing).
- Boozember 7 - Feast of Boris: Each character's maximum fullness is raised by 15, which roughly doubles what a player can each during that day. There's also a set of random adventures (similar to El Dia de Los Muertos Borrachos) where the defeated enemies drop food.
- Dougtember 4 - Yuletide: Marshmallows can be bought from the Market. Player can also sit around a bonfire and listen to a ghost story (which changes a marshmallow into a roasted marshmallow).
Holidays can also occur during their real-life holidays. Crimbo is the most popular, and is usually a major event that occurs during the month of December and culminates at Christmas. The holidays listed above (or at least the holidays based on real holiday) generally occur on the holiday, regardless of the actual in-game calendar. The following holdays are also celebrated:
- Groundhog's Day - An animated groundhog will occationally appear in the Nearby Plains.
- Cinco De Mayo - Players are given an item (usually Mexican related).
- Friday the 13th - Special unlucky messages occationally appear after combat.
- Talk Like a Pirate Day - Adventurers encounter pirate-y adventures, which drop special items.
- Crimbo - This is usually a month-long event. It usually involves helping out Uncle Crimbo out during the holiday season. For a time, Crimbo was in the hands of Don Pygoscelis (who became Don Crimbo) and the greedy CRIMBCO corporation, but at the end of the event in 2010, Uncle Crimbo took back control of the holday.
Due to real-life holidays falling on their real-life holiday, there have been occasions where two Kingdom of Loathing holidays have fallen on the same day. This usually results in some mixture of the holidays, like St. Sneaky Pete's Oyster Day, which allowed players access to the St. Sneaky Pete drunken adventures and to hunt for oyster eggs, and Crimboween, a combination of Crimbo and Halloween and very much in the spirit of the movie A Nightmare Before Christmas.
While there is no multiplayer mode per se, Adventurers do have several options for interacting with other players.
By joining a clan (or starting your own) you have access to clan-specific features such as the ability to pool resources through a karma controlled Clan Stash, members only chat channel and multiplayer zones in your clan basement. Much like the rest of the game, these zones are accessed on an individual basis, however they differ from the main story in that each player’s actions affect the outcome for clanmates who also choose to join the adventure. For instance, certain rare and valuable Hobopolis item drops can only be obtained if a specific number of people finish the zone within a pre-set turn limit.
Furniture can be purchased using funds donated to the clan coffer. These offer many benefits ranging from additional turns per day and health and mana regeneration to non-tradable, exclusive buffs and consumable or equipable items. Funds can also be used to wage war on other clans, however this aspect of the game is completely optional.
Breaking the “Magical Mystical Hippy Stone” at your campsite enables you to engage in PVP combat with other like-minded individuals. The PVP system is automated, with the outcome decided by player stats as well as any buffs, campsite furnishings, armor and other obscure criteria. Players are limited to ten fights per day, with additional fights granted by consuming certain items or amenities in your clan lounge. Beginning with the April 2012 revamp, PVP is contested in seasons, each lasting three months.
PVP is a best of seven series of minigames. The first two minigames are based on player stats, while the last five games are randomly chosen from a list. The attacker can choose which of their stats they wish to attack with first. Any ties are won by the defender. The random minigames are chosen from a pool of 12 possibilities, many of which change from one season to the next. Example minigames include:
- Balanced Diet – The player who has consumed the greatest number of unique foods in the current season will win.
- Flower Picking Contest – The player who has obtained more Pretty Flowers through PVP during the current season will win.
- Verbosity Demonstration – The winner is the player whose equipped items have the longest names.
- The Egg Hunt – The winner is the player with highest item drop rate modifier.
- Swimming with the Fishes – The player who has spent more turns in the Sea this season will win.
Rewards for PVP include fame, swagger (a currency used to buy exclusive items from a PVP shop), and the ability to steal random loot from others. While opting into PVP puts one at risk of losing items, there are methods to ensure that one's valuables are protected from theft.
KoL and Pop Culture
The game itself is one long string of puns and pop culture references ranging from obscure song lyrics in battle descriptions to monsters such as the XXX Pr0n, Flaming Troll, and an Oasis Monster that drops Supernova Champagne and Wonderwall Shields. The Enormous Greater Than Sign pays homage to the classic dungeon adventure Nethack while the Strange Leaflet side-quest takes the player completely out of the KoL environment and drops them into the middle of a text adventure Zork reenactment. It’s near-impossible to track down every reference in the game: almost every monster, location, item, and even attacks are reference to some real-life event, person, or object.
Nerdcore Hip-Hop artist and Kingdom of Loathing player MC Frontalot included a tribute to the game on his 2010 album “Zero Day”.
August 8th, 2004 was the date of one of the biggest meat bug exploits in the kingdom. At the time, if you used an item called the meat vortex in your inventory, it would cause you to lose meat. However, if the vortex would drop their meat to less than 0, the vortex would actually end up giving the player billions of meat. This effectively crashed the economy of the game, since anyone could have easy access to billions of meat.
This bug spread quickly through the game, and, while it was quickly patched out of the game, left the developers with few options of how to deal with the extra meat. They could either roll back all the information to the last back up, or they could reset the entire game. The developers went with a third option, which was the institution of meat sinks designed to drain the extra meat out of the game. The Penguin Mafia was created, which removed large portions of the meat from player’s inventories. They also set up an antique shop, which sold hugely expensive items and held raffles for rare items. Although other meat sinks were put in later, these were the first and possibly the most effective.
How many clicks does it take to delete an MMORPG? Four. This theory was tested on October 26, 2005 when game co-creator Jick inadvertently deleted most of the game tables while attempting to push an update. The game was down for a week while the creators attempted to restore what they could from the game.
Due to some poor planning at the time, some information saved on the servers had not been updated in a month. The information that was most affected was the list of items in Hagnk’s storage and ascension information. The ascension history was completely lost, replaced with the text “Ascension Records X through Y were lost in the Great Time Catastrophe.” in the ascension log. Hagnk’s storage worked a little differently: if you had items in Hagnks on September 6, you essentially got those items back. If you had items in Hagnk’s storage on October 26, those items were lost. Some people got duplicated items (which they were allowed to keep), while other lost item, although an item-recovery system was set up so people could attempt to reclaim their lost items.
Once the game was restored, an event called the Great Time Catastrophe started. Various time rifts opened around the kingdom, allowing adventures new zones to adventure in for a time. In addition, as part of the apology from the people running the game, each player was given a piece of petrified time.
Since then, nightly backups take place when the system goes down for rollover so an event of this magnitude will not happen again.
The Gray Plague
The Gray Plague was an in-game event that coincidentally overlapped The Great Time Catastrophe. The event began on on Columbus Day, October 11, 2005, when an account named Cristobal Colon distributed "comfy blankets" to players. It is believed that using these blankets silently infected players with a disease. This Gray Plague caused the word "-cough-" being appended in gray text to chat messages sent by infected players. As the disease progressed, users' chat messages (which are normally black) faded into progressively lighter shades of gray. Further, the contagion spread through chat and messages, and at its height over 33,000 players were infected. The contagious nature of the event was likely inspired by the accidental Corrupted Blood incidentwhich had occurred in World of Warcraft just one month earlier.
On November 1, 2005, the Council of Loathing began offering a quest through which adventurers could help cure the plague. Using a time rift from the Great Time Catastrophe, players were asked to time travel 28 days into the future, to a time when the Gray Plague had transformed the population of the Kingdom into zombies. After harvesting zombie pineal glands, adventurers returned to the present, where Doc Galaktik formulated doses of a serum which could cure the infected.
In May and June of 2006, a comet appeared in the skies of the Kingdom. This one-time event led to the temporary opening of the LAAAAME Observatory, a location where adventurers could scan the skies, compete to be the first to discover various astronomical objects, and win delicious astronaut ice cream. On June 3 at approximately 11:25 PM EDT, the comet impacted Grimace, one of the moons of the Kingdom. This resulted in the formation of a third, smaller moon dubbed the "Hamburglar," which complicated the game's moon phase system. A chunk of Grimace that fell to earth created the Grim Grimacite Site, which eventually became a source of moon-related items and equipment.
NS13 (an abbreviation for "Naughty Sorceress 13") was a major content addition released on June 25, 2007. Prior to this event, the main sequence of quests in each ascension ended at level 11. NS13 added major quests at levels 11 and 12, and pushed the final battle with the Naughty Sorceress to level 13. Casual and Bad Moon ascension types were also introduced at this time. Further, many aspects of gameplay relating to ascension were altered, including the re-balancing of skills, familiar weight, and stat gain.
From July to September of 2009, unexplained tremors shook the Kingdom, heralding the arrival of rock monsters that began randomly attacking adventurers. The monsters were finally driven away after the defeat of Crys-Rock, a giant crystal-rock creature who enjoys telling jokes about how brown rock monsters are different from grey rock monsters. Aside from introducing a number of new monsters and items, this event also kicked up "mystic dust" that permanently re-balanced the MP costs of Pastamancer and Sauceror combat spells.
Bigg's Dig and Valhalla Invasion
On September 1, 2010, Bigg's Dig appeared in the Nearby Plains. There, a suspicious archaeologist named Renatus C. Bigg asked players to help him excavate a dig site composed of one million individual plots. Driven by a desire for cool fossils, the players cleared out the dig in short order and reassembled the fossilized creatures they found, in search of more loot. In October 2010, a skeleton invasion destroyed parts of Seaside Town, providing narrative justification for the reorganization of various locations. "Bigg" was revealed to be a necromancer who had used Bigg's Dig to unearth a skeletal army, with the intention of terrorizing the Kingdom.
In May 2011, the skeleton story came to a head when the undead army attacked Valhalla, the Kingdom's version of the afterlife that adventurers visit during ascension. Riding hideous flying yetis, the Kingdom's adventurers flew through Astral Slashes to fight off the invaders with the help of the Air Warriors of Loathing. After a final battle against the Bone Star (a gigantic battle station that resembled a bone moon), the skeletal army fell, and Valhalla was rebuilt. This event provided the narrative justification for the revamp of Valhalla and the introduction of seasonal challenge paths.