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I'd understood that "steampunk" was coined as a joke. Some early Victorian science fiction things (with no punk themes in them at all) didn't sell well in the early '90s, and someone looked at the success of cyberpunk at the time, so the line was, "Well, if we called it steampunk, maybe it would sell."
I heard that from Frank Chadwick, creator of Space:1889, which called itself a "Victorian scientific romance" RPG/boardgame/miniatures game setting. The game dates to 1988-89, so it predates steampunk by a fair bit. It was heavily influenced by Verne, Burroughs, Doyle, and other late 19th-century writers, as well as the films that derived from those works. I loved (and continue to love) S:1889 as a setting, but the more recent development of steampunk doesn't light my boiler. Several other fans of the setting say they prefer the label "steampulp" for its more optimistic or romantic tones, and I agree.
As for the OP's problem with super-powerful technology, that's one of the things that turn me off of the genre, as well.
I used a spreadsheet to make a quick one-page calendar. 12 lines, 7 columns. Each line can be a month on a yearly calendar or a day on a daily calendar, I use both. The columns are labelled:
I use a page for most game sessions, each line is a day, and the Time column is also used for weather. I use it to track when random encounters are expected (I roll them up in advance), where the PCs are or are expected to be, what's going on in the area around them, and so on. The NPC actions and events sections allow me to introduce background things that may or may not affect the game (NPC #55 returns to town, a freak tornado levels some trees by the lake, the King of Oobilax is visiting his neighbor Snorkia, etc.), and some of them might not be revealed.
I use the same blank template for a calendar year in my Kingmaker campaign, again planning out random events and news items.
My group went into Vordakai's tomb today. They include 3 9th level PCs, 1 7th, 1 8th, a winter-wolf companion and one 6th and two 7th level cohorts. I was kinda worried that the piscodaemon in W14 would kill a PC, especially the 7th level barbarian (already killed her once, thus the lower level). As their only rogue does not have trapfinding, I was afraid the trapped room in W10 would be a TPK.
When they did trigger the trap, the one-turn delay meant most of them made it to the north portcullis before anything bad really happened, and then the oracle cast Wall of Ice at the entrance to the room, keeping the rapidly-filling water away from them. Plenty of time to escape.
Then, when facing down the piscodaemon, she cast Ice Slick under the beastie, so of course he rolled a 1 on his Acrobatics check to stay upright, blew the Concentration check to cast defensively, and died to a mess of AoOs. This is also how Vesket bought the farm, by the way. The oracle is becoming an occasional party-saver for them.
Once again, not a PC for me.
The piscodaemon in V's tomb is kinda wimpy when both front-line fighters facing him are protected by Freedom of Action (spell and ring), and then he blows his Acrobatics roll against the Ice Slick spell (see above: Vesket) and then can't roll to cast defensively his stinking cloud to cover his retreat.
Don't you feel sorry for any commoner in a tavern with the average pompous, violent clowns in any given "adventuring" group?
Sal's used to be a nice quiet tavern until the murderhobos showed up.
IMC, the players have started diplomatic overtures towards Drelev, playing up that they started (early) clearing the bogs but not claiming hexes. It seems to be working pretty well, at least they think so (They think Lady Maray is working for them).
I'm musing about having Drelev invite them to his castle for an important meeting (read: an offer they can't refuse), which will turn into an attempt at an ambush. You all can guess how that will go over with PCs, right?
While at the Rushlight Tournament (run early IMC), some of the council members split up to make friends with their neighbors-- I ran these as similar to the Diplomatic Edicts in Ultimate Campaign.
Their Grand Diplomat, Lily Teskertin, went to see Varn. Varn had already approached them about building a connecting road through the pass, as the PCs had a road and new village only 2 hexes away. It should have been a slam-dunk to set up an Embassy agreement here. One of the players picked up the die, I told her the modifiers, but not the (really low) DC. Lily rolled a 1.
"What could a charming teenage girl have said to an old bachelor warrior that could have gone so wrong?"
I ran this tonight, and it went rather well. I went with option A, Drelev was the host. I knocked 4 levels off the NPC players, and changed the names to match nearby houses.
I also printed off team sheets and handed them out to the players, so that they weren't watching me roll 5 sets of dice to their 1. That really helped, I think. They had a lot of fun with the boasting in particular, the lascivious natures of some of them provoking laughter.
I was kind of surprised that the PCs only won one event, I thought the archer and log-chopper would have done better than they did. The jousting (featuring a half-dozen Lego knights on the tabletop) went all in favor of the group's cavalier, who was already tricked out to do damage with a lance once Koth showed his colors.
The thing that I most hoped for was that the PCs would take this chance to interact with the NPC neighbors, and some of them split up to do this. I ruled that I would count it as several Diplomatic edicts, and they succeeded at two of four attempts, winning the rights to put embassies in Drelevgrad and Restov.
Several reasons: - on my map, the country off that corner of the map doesn't work with a tournament at all.
- I wanted there to be a chance for the players to meet & play with some of the NPCs around their land, such as Drelev.
- I really didn't like the idea of Irrovetti drawing the PCs into a trap, setting up another trap at the Abbey, and then launching the war. I want to chop it to just one lure.
- My Irrovetti-equivalent won't be hosting an event like this openly, she's the daughter of the deposed tsar.
- I thought it would be neat if they met the future Armag before he turns.
I'm sure there were others, but they're gone now. I thought I would use it as Option B for a long time, but now I am pretty sure I will go with Option A, with Drelev as the host.
I'm apparently unable to leave a module standing as is, I like to move parts here and there. Let me post some ideas, and see what the Kingmaker cognoscenti have to say.
First off, this isn't Golarion, it's the world of the Birthright setting.
I want to move the Rushlight Tournament to the beginning of Book 3, where my players are now.
Option A is that they get to meet & greet the other players in the area, so that they might care when their neighbors are being overrun or switching sides. I think it would be neat if they find out "Armag" is a guy they fought with just the year before.
- I haven't decided on the host yet: Varn, Drelev, or one of two families nearby (Restov or the area to the west of Oleg's) IMC.
Option B is that the host is instead the nation that's off to the south edge of the map, and the participants are mostly from that nation and its other neighbors. I still want them to meet Koth and Armag-to-be here, they just won't know who they are, yet.
The heck with Book 6, I think you have your final Boss Monster!
Raise a horde of barbarians and a horde of undead (generated by the barbarians) and go all "Riders of the Apocalypse"!
In the end I went home after the session and spent the entire night picking the kingdom building rules apart with a fine tooth comb to fix it. I'd made several mistakes because my reading of the rules was rushed,
Our group's dedicated kingdom-game-player quickly took to keeping a record of all decisions and even die-rolls, in case we discover that things change.
For instance, some players seized on a random event as a casus belli against the boggards in the Slough, and so we just played through that in the last two sessions. Since a PC died, we need to back up and re-do the month without a Warden, and revisit the 4 months since then before pushing ahead. With meticulous records of each die roll, we can adjust modifiers to see what changes without having to re-roll.
I agree with MannyGoblin, if the players are agreeable.
Other option is a rival group that was heading out about the same time, with different patrons among the Swordlords?
EDIT: or put them in place of Kesten G's group that was already on the way?
Name: Grigor (not that one)
Name: Leif, son of Bjorn
The Gory Details: The initial assault on the boggard (reskinned as hobgoblins IMC) village went well, with little trouble. The full showdown with the boggard wardens (6, with 5 frog companions), Sepoko, and 6 of the lesser boggards happened in the throne room.
After some warmups that went very much in the PCs' favor, the very armored cavalier and less-armored barbarian jumped down through the skylight. Leif followed them down, as did two cohorts. The hand-to-hand fighting was fierce down there, with several instances of the human-hating boggards getting a lot of hits with their extra damage from favored enemy and Power Attack: if any of those critted, it was bad news.
Before leaping into the fray, Grigor cast a silence spell centered on the cavalier's armor, who made a point of chasing the boggard cheiftain, nerfing of his spellcasting.
Four rounds into this, Grigor went down after one of the wardens scored with all of his hits and confirmed a crit, pushing him past dying. The barbarian would have gone down, except she had DR and magical help.
Most of the lesser boggards and giant frogs were killed (rounds took a LONG time) by this point, but the heroes were grouped in pairs, surrounded. The winter wolf came in to change the equation. Leif, though down to 6 hp, disdained the cure potion that the cavalier tried to hand him, and went to melee with Sepoko. One of the wardens ripped him apart instead.
Sepoko was soon killed (on a bite critical) by the winter wolf, and the remaining boggards fled into the swamps.
I had adrenaline running near the end, and all were concerned about a TPK (well, not quite, as the 2 PCs & 1 cohort on the surface and the 1 PC home at the castle wouldn't have bought it). I suspect there was an element of PC suicide on the part of Leif, his player had been grumbling earlier that he wasn't competing with the cavalier or barbarian in damage output. Yes, I did put this level-8 party up against a Book 4 set of encounters, but: 1) I warned them a little, and 2) I did not upgrade it for 6 players, as I have in the earlier Books.
Unless stated otherwise, as I understand it, the changes are permanent.
Yes, you need to watch the Unrest spiral, that can get nasty really quickly! My group's Counselor has been death on unrest, there are Houses galore in their towns.
After about a year of kingdom building and random events, things are bubbling to the north.
First, the Councilor PC, whose player is single-handedly running all of the realm-level things, began claiming hexes into the forest, hoping to head off any new encroachment by the Marstenkas. This was new, since she had been expanding very slowly before, but was possible, since they had just crossed the Size-11 threshold. Since they were up against Tatzylford, I allowed them to swallow his lands as well by tightening the vassalage agreement.
Second, the Bandits event was followed 2 months later by a Slavers event, then a Matter of Justice. All of these I ruled affected the unstable forest border, except that the first two were the boggards (bugbears IMC) and the last was the discovery by the NPC Spymaster of some humans who were aiding the slavers (secret: who were taking their prey to the naga).
Third, the Matter of Justice was followed by a Feud. I ruled this to be between the General (Akiros) and the Spymaster, whose recent success had given him the courage to start wooing Lily Teskertin, in essence cutting in on Akiros' moves.
Menawhile, the Warden PC is chomping at the bit to lead an expedition to chase down the bog-goblins-- I have my next session partly planned now. That the group is all 8th level, heading into Book 4 territory, should be interesting. I may move the naga, or some other nasty boss fey, into the Forgotten Keep.
It's a common hope of failing governments that a foreign war can salvage things by uniting the populace. Or a desperate last throw of the dice to go out in a blaze of glory, YMMV.
Maybe (if they have the levels), you can use the Troll War in Dudemeister's RRR variation. If they win, the BP captured could be a big help, and you could slip in a positive modifier to some die rolls for a few months, such as when they complete some of the quests.
Some of the other quests might be reskinned as offers by outsiders to help them out of trouble.
the David wrote:
I want to run Kingmaker in the Birthright setting. It kinda fits if you substitute the fey with shadow.
I *am* running Kingmaker in the Birthright setting. It's working out very well. I swapped Stolen Lands into the Mistmoor, and Brevoy = Rovninodensk, and away we go!
The Shadow incursions have been low-key so far, but at least one PC has bit heavily into the "must defeat the Shadow folk" idea.
That said, I endorse the Wild West idea, too, and may do that someday.
In addition to the above anti-bandit sweep (there was going to be a Bandit random event next month anyway, so I just moved it up), which sorta implicates the neighboring Marstenkos, the more violent PCs sneaked off to go slay the kobolds. Without telling the rest of the players.
I ruled that 1 8th level PC, a 6th level PC and a 6th level NPC should stomp the little critters out, without breaking much of a sweat. It's when the other players find out what's going on, that's going to be the fun part.
Coming late to the thread...
I started in 1980 or 81 (I really can't remember which, I do know it was winter), which would have been 6th or 7th grade for me. One kid down the street had Top Secret, the guy across the street had Basic D&D (I think red book). I was much more enamored of TS, I quickly became a hex & counter wargamer-- RPGs were just a side thing that could include more people.
We (my brother and I, the kid across the street, soon guys from high school) picked up AD&D pretty quickly, but I never really ran that. I let the others run AD&D, I just played. I only really took up GMing with Twilight:2000.
I've really learned AD&D rules by DMing 2e, and have played & run 3e/3.5, PF, but only sampled 4e. Some other RPGs, too, but I still consider myself a wargamer at heart, even if I enjoy hours more of campaign prep.
Anyway, 3 nostalgia moments from the last few years that I want to share:
- I found my player's notebook from my wife's 1993-96 Temple of Elemental Evil campaign, and noted that we ran through 4-7 fights per session. I knew that we could do 2 (maybe 3) fights per session in 3.5/PF, and far less than that in 4e. I've started running 2e as my introductory game for my son and his friends, much less to explain.
- Mad Irishman's website has PDFs of the old AD&D gold character sheets, the ones that covered 2-3 classes per different sheet. I could actually feel my heart skip a beat when I saw those. Guess what I printed off for the kids' 2e game, despite the differences?
Space:1889 and Birthright settings FTW!
I may be back to my earlier conflict: in planning for kingdom expansion, the Warden and Enforcer PCs, allied to the General (Warden's brother), another PC, and a representative from the Gorum-like church, are urging an "anti-bandit" sweep of their borders, right where the Marstenkos have been quietly expanding.
Mostly, this is just the more-violent players looking for something to slay, but I am going to seize upon it.
The breakdown rolls on the gates were poor, so the gnolls had just enough time to gather around the inside of the gates and ready to fight. As the party broke through, Vesket successfully intimidated the barbarian. And that was the last thing he did right.
One of the rangers hit him with an arrow, 1 hp.
One of these 2 gnolls (wounded a little) is able to right himself and pick up Vesket's cure potion, but that's all. The oracle casts murderous something-or-other spell, so he gulps V's potion for himself, and attacks his buddy. Vesket's stabilized, and there's no healing left anywhere, but the cavalier reaches over the barbarian and ranger with his lance, and drives Vesket well past negative Con. Twice.
In the rest of the fight, the rest of the gnolls were able to grind the barbarian down to single-digit hp twice, and the melee ranger was KO'd, but no PC deaths today.
You could improve the suspicion by letting the players know that an army has left Restov, but they stole out in the middle of the night, and no one knows where they went. THEN let them lose contact with Varnhold.
Seed it a little, with Varn complaining of centaur harassment beforehand, though.
I'm in pretty much the same boat, so I will be watching here, and thinking about it, too.
I like the undead army idea, as well as inflating the spriggans and/or centaurs to army status. Especially the one with the spriggans invading.
Allying with the centaurs against the spriggans and/or the undead would be a Good Thing.
OTOH, IMC, the nobles at Restov and N's Crossing are pretty friendly to the PCs. Maybe Grigori should stir up some stuff over here, and see if he can start a fight over the empty land?
Actually, in place of "slavers", I am tempted to have one (or more) lonely fey charm some logger or hunter into staying with her, and the PCs can negotiate or fight through that.
Back to the original question, it might also depend on how often you play and how interested your group is in the running of the kingdom. Right now, I have 1 player who loves to run the spreadsheet and plan out buildings and hexes, 1 who is willing to contribute and roll dice (but plays the actual ruler), and 4 who could care less about anything not bashing monsters. So, nearly all of the kingdom things are handled away from the table or around food breaks during game sessions. Thus, if I don't turn an event into at least an encounter, it's going to get handled as some emails and die-rolls during the inter-game period.
I'm hoping for years (we're in Year 3 now), I plan to take breaks of 1-2 years here and there, between wars and plots. Most of my players are content to wait for the "plot train" (ptui-- I hate that phrase), so it's almost all in my lap.
I try and turn them into encounters or adventures, but some of them will turn into, "roll a Loyalty check, that you'll only fail on a 2, and it's OK."
For me, it depends on the event-- can I make something out of it?-- and the timing-- are we in a time when we can work on this, or am I just putting the game on fast-forward because it's winter and I want to get to the next big event?
I suggest rolling events out in advance, putting them on a calendar for you to think about between game sessions. I printed off a blank spreadsheet with a half-dozen columns:
Date/weather Random Events PC actions local NPC actions faraway NPC actions Other
and 12 lines, so I can do a whole year, 1 month at a time. I can pencil in what I think will happen, what I plan to happen, and what actually does happen. I use the same blank to plan out what should happen during adventures, too.
Right now, I'm looking at a few REs, like slavers and bandits, that I think could be linked to point a hostile finger to the noble family that lives around the Wyvernstone Bridge (added by me).
Shackled city , as a player; we quit after saving the city. Levels were too high for us, a lot of powers/abilities/spells were being forgotten & confused. At the end of that adventure, my PC wanted to stay in town and help rebuild, another was dead and a third needed to mourn him, and the players were kind of tired of another player.
Savage Tide, as a player; again, I wanted to quit after saving the town, but we pushed into the interior of the island some more to go after black eggs. Featured 5 of the 6 players from above, the DM was a player in SC.
Kingmaker me as DM, same group (+1) as Savage Tide. Just finishing Book 2.
We play monthly, so it takes a while to get through an AP. I suspect (fear) we may get tired of it around level 14, like the two games above, so I am crafting plans and alterations to speed things along, that it might finish before we burn out.
I am going for a wrinkle in the Armag tale: the black sisters seen in book 4, will be only one faction of the local church, another faction has another candidate for "their" Armag descendant: one of the PCs. I think I had that in the back of my mind a while ago, but when that PC was killed (by Hargulka's trolls) and then raised, well, it just fell together. At the same time that she was brought back from the temple in question, a warpriest came along with her (by fantastic coincidence, the cavalier picked up a cohort at the same time). He's supposedly assisting the cavalier (general), but he's going to be helping out this barbarian (enforcer) just as often.
FWIW, the other faction will be aligned with the Irrovetti-equivalent in my campaign, and pre-Armag (V. Koth) will be met earlier, when I run Rushlight Tournament out of order.
So, I think I should start introducing his tale pretty soon, as this warpriest educates her on "her" legend.
I need to go read A's tomb again: where to put her?
Any opinions on re-skinning Evindra as Lost Mother?
Lost Mother, I am envisioning as something of a half-elven superspy, who settled down for a while among the Brevic humans. If the player wants to, we can play with the whole, "Did she really love Dad? Why was I born?" IMC, elves and humans don't play well together, so an agent manipulating short-lived humans as tools wouldn't be so far-fetched. Thus, I am wondering if Mom may just be leaving the clues, setting it up so that Daughter will finish this quest for her.
How early would want to start dropping hints about Nyrissa coming to call? Or that she's looking for something?
My big fear (based on what I've seen my group do in the past, including in this AP) is that once I lay a crumb, they will want to follow it exclusively. They're not ready for Book 6, and neither am I-- we're at the boundaries of Books 2 and 3, FWIW.
What I have done, is bait a hook given me by one of the players. Our Baroness' mother mysteriously disappeared when the character was about age 7. I've run with that: both her parents were adventurers here in the past. After the PC was born, human father stayed at home, while half-elven mother took off on her own-- father says he doesn't know where she went, and everyone at home says she just disappeared one night. The PC now has her mother's earlier adventuring journals, which talk (in code) about seeking something, and notes about some places to be checked out someday.
What she doesn't know is that while father & mother were quietly seeking Ovinrbaane for the previous king, mother was secretly looking for Briar, too, on behalf of some nebulous elven group. I intend for them to find mother's second journal, which will have more details, as well as a copy of "Zuddiger's Picnic."
So, my questions center on when to reveal:
And just where is mother, anyway? It would be extremely convenient for Evindra to be the missing mother, but I worry that it would be too neat, too trite? (It would solve a long-running mystery, and be a logical source for the infodump about Briar, Nyrissa, and her return.) I might have someone at the Rushlight Tournament (former companion, from a foreign country?) give Baroness a quiet briefing, but still with incomplete information. Should they find her bones somewhere, with the updated notebook? In Drelev's or Irrovetti's collections? In Armag's tomb?
I did let them know that adventuring was done around here, and that Bokken, his brother, and a nutty older nobleman were also adventurers here about the same time. That last guy (touched by dreams of Nyrissa, like Stag Lord and his father) was the one who went adventuring again, and triggered Talonquake. The Swamp Witch has said that she knew mother and father as well, but they did not confide in her, so she doesn't know anything significant. I think some of the centaurs might remember her, too, but they haven't met yet.
So far, the group has found rings of green hair on the bodies of several of their foes (thanks for those on this board who proposed that one), and suspect that the ancient elven towers (in the forest, in the mountains, etc.) are all linked, and I've added traces of interplanar gates in them.
So, anyway, suggestions?
Thank you, I will probably use this, as my players want to learn more about this "Faerie Invasion" that the Dancing Lady, among others, is leading.
At least, that's what they think is happening.
Indirectly, yes. As GM, I tried running both Tatzylford and the kobold hex as kingdoms, mostly so I could get a good grasp of the kingdom rules. Both of them collapsed from the Unrest spiral (not enough council members is a killer, I should have assumed there were +0 deputies available) within 3 months.
As for my players' realm, the one player who has been running the numbers has been fanatic about crushing Unrest, even before I told her about the above experiments. They've built a LOT of houses. Grigori really scared her, as did the troll threat, with their rolling Unrest. As it happened, they stomped out both problems before either lasted more than two months.
I think I played just under a year before Grigori popped up, but then the trolls were right after that, so it was a busy spring.
As a GM, I tried to learn the spreadsheets and kingdom-building at the same time as my players. I started Tatzylgrad and the kobold land off as NPC realms. Both crashed and burned on Unrest within 3 months, likely a result of not having enough NPC council members.
I have one monthly group that will ONLY play PF. Sometimes, two of those players and I play more PF-- they're heavily into PFS at conventions.
I have another monthly group, and a group that is irregular. Everyone in those groups has played PF, but these are my "anything but D&D" groups. We come back to Savage Worlds (various settings) as our main games, but we've played with Dungeon World, Traveller, Barbarians of Lemuria, and Serenity (Cortex). We've done some boardgaming on occasion, too.
I run sometimes for my 15-year-old and his pals, mostly in the summer. I've introduced them to AD&D 2e, Space:1889, Star Frontiers, and Twilight:2000 so far.
And then there's my monthly Star Fleet Battles group and weekly big WW2 wargame in the basement.
Philip Knowsley wrote:
How about some politicking between the players' realm, based in Varnhold, Drelev farther away, and the Stag Lord, the kobolds, and Hargulka's troll kingdom, each with a few hexes under their belts, too? Dancing Lady may be moving on the forest fey for control, and any of these could be looking for allies.
It could be a combination of Cold War and conquest-race between the PCs and Drelev/Armag, who are fronting for Irovetti.
Wow, I think I may do this, when/if ever I run KM again.