There's an old school yard expression, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."
I'm here to tell you that philosophy was a lie in grade school and it is most definitely a lie in Sorcerer King. The Sorcerer King is more than capable of breaking your bones (among many other worse things!), and your words, if not chosen carefully, will absolutely get you hurt. So, we're going to talk about another important element of survival in Sorcerer King:
Lying I mean, diplomacy! ...Which, let's face it, definitely involves a bit of lying all of the time from time to time.
You are only alive and in possession of your kingdom because the Sorcerer King has allowed it. Remember, he's already won the war and has more than enough power to take you out early on if you cross too far over the line in your dealings with him.
When I started my first game of Sorcerer King, I had no idea how important making nice with him was. I tend to be a fairly diplomatic person, but I'm also fairly righteous (I'll admit it, I'm a Paladin), so when the Sorcerer King came to me offering me riches and favors in exchange for letting him progress further in his Doomsday plans, I threw out my chest and defied him in the most heroic way possible:
Suffice it to say, he was more than a little bit cheesed at my insolence. I didn't think much of it during our next few interactions...but then as I progressed further into gameplay, I noticed he hadn't been bothering me too much. He wasn’t offering me assistance anymore, nor was he threatening to deal with the little issue of my existence. So I continued to happily expand my empire, blissfully unaware of the threat that loomed on the outskirts of my humble little territory.
You might say that I... froze in terror.
All right, that was bad, but I'm not sorry. This guy proceeded to absolutely decimate two of my cities in the span of just a few turns. My poor little piddly armies guarding my city walls never stood a chance. Panicked, I used the Cloud Walk spell to teleport my Champion to where the trouble was occurring, intending to make a valiant stand against evil, because good always triumphs, right?
Wrong! So very, very wrong.
Poor Peregan. Because he is a Champion, he resurrected (at the cost of the Doomsday counter going up), and I thought maybe, just maybe, if I can keep damaging them, I can come back from this!
I'm pretty sure this is what utter despair looks like.
It was around this time that I remembered I had a "Report" screen. When I opened it up, I was a bit stunned to find that my threat level was a 5, which is as high as it goes. This also means that the Sorcerer King sees you as a problem that has to be dealt with, which is how I ended up with two terrifying monsters rampaging through my kingdom.
I retired that game. In my next play through, I opted to - with as much dignity as possible - kiss the Sorcerer King's butt.
Certain dialogue choices will grow the Doomsday counter, but will let the Sorcerer King overlook your existence for a bit longer. Other choices won't raise the counter, but will raise your threat (which I learned the hard way, obviously), and some choices won't affect it strongly one way or the other.
Other things that affect your relationship with the Sorcerer King are cities. The more cities you create, the more attention you draw to yourself, which generates that threat. Befriending and allying with your rivals will also draw ire. These are things that you must obviously do in order to win, but raising your army and expanding your territory gradually while preparing your armies and defenses will allow you to survive the Sorcerer King's attacks once he's decided he's suffered you for too long. As you expand, dancing that diplomatic line with him will also allow him to let a few things go, which might be just enough to grant you an edge later.
So, as tempting as it is to mouth off to the Sorcerer King, doing so will cause potentially game-wrecking problems for you later. So play nice, okay?
...until it's time to fight dirty, at which time you should be prepared for one heck of a brawl.