Nice easy plot hook, innit? There’s a reason “rescue the princess” is just behind “an old man has a map” in the Old Adventure Hook list.
It feels slightly fresher outside the medieval fantasy milieu - Star Wars has staked a claim on the archetype, while The Prisoner Of Zenda still works because it mixes the kidnapped heir with 19th century European politicking.
Of course, in the medieval fantasy milieu it carries most weight because royalty aren’t largely figureheads, they can raise armies and start wars, and in some cases have actual Divine Right and associated superpowers. Kingly power is cool if one of the PCs happens to have those powers, but might be a bit Mary Sue if it’s an NPC, especially if this is the monarch the PCs are expected to follow. Being Prince of Atlantis is just a superhero origin unless the PCs are also from Atlantis.
Must be a king.
He hasn’t got shit all over him.
- Monty Python And The Holy Grail is a perfect Warhammer movie but deadly to attempts to run Pendragon.Of course there are also games entirely about royalty and other rulers and their courts, whether they’re leading nations into battle or getting tangled in webs of intrigue. Game Of Thrones is also rather Warhammer-y in its outlook but from a top-down perspective. It draws from various points in history which provide enough bad behaviour in royal courts to fuel decades of political gaming, while also presenting heroic characters who care about the connection between sovereign and subject.
... “the land and the king are one.”
- Sir Terry Pratchett asks a perfectly reasonable question, Wyrd Sisters.