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Re: passage of time-- I let them know at the end of a book that time will skipped. I let them know that they have time for politics, diplomacy, crafting, family/dynasty building. Sometimes something might come up as a result of their plans that could be an adventure session.
A partial game report, no player fatalities.
Last night, we played session 25 of my game, set in the world of Birthright, so the names and places have been changed from the Kingmaker AP. I'm a mishmash of Books 3 and 4, so that Armag's Tomb is where Vordekai's lair is, Varn is the guy turning into Armag, and Vordekai got taken out a few sessions ago. Varn dragged the missing citizens of Varnhold off into the mountains to dig out the tomb.
Where it started to get strange: Our oracle, while investigating the Oculus, consulted with her immortal patron, who is Lawful Evil. She had no objection to the use of the eye, and the oracle was already (partly) blinded by her class. So, she accepted her fate and popped it in.
Not so strange: The party led their army into Varn's land, and we set up for a battle using the mass combat rules from Ultimate Campaign. We had played with these once before, against Hargulka's troll kingdom, and some players didn't like them at all-- with Small and Medium armies, it was too easy to one-shot-kill a whole army. Which happened to 2/3 of the realm's armies. This time, we built up so that all of the units were Medium or Large. Once I laid out the armies (I made a card for each unit, so that all could perhaps visualize who was fighting whom), then it got weird.
Strange: the player who most strongly objected to the system, did it because there is no visible tactical maneuver: the cards don't move around to fight. I thought this strange, since he'd objected (years ago when he was DM) to my trying to use tactics in a game. A debate broke out, and we decided to not play this out as a battle. It will be played out, just for fun and education, at some later time. BTW, a 10th-level barbarian looks like she should carve her way through a Large army of warrior-1s all by herself.
More strange: the night before the battle, our Oracle walked out of camp, near to the enemy camp, and used the haunting call effect of the Oculus to "Don't trust the priests" among Armag's army. I ruled that this would disrupt the loyalties and combat effectiveness of Varn's/Armag's armies enough that they fought poorly the next day, and were quickly overwhelmed by the PCs and their armies.
We went on to play into half of the Armag's Tomb dungeon, suspending the game with the golem's defeat.
As Pennywit says, after RRR, the exploration fades, as most of the hexes seem to be claimed by someone else, and can be claimed by defeating one's enemies.
And I echo captain yesterday, doing the kingdom turns away from the table works very well. At least for my group, as I only have one player who cares about that at all.
I do like your idea of getting them to meet Varn and hammer out boundaries. Any element of diplomacy and meeting the neighbors is a good idea in my book. Get them to meet with Drelev, while you're at it, let them form some impressions of him. Introduce some of the other nearby nobles, so that when they pop in for quests, it doesn't seem so contrived.
I'm playing with the concept, and I'm beginning to like the idea of Book 4 as a cold war between Irovetti and my players. I'm not sure, precisely, how to engineer that, but I like the idea that Irovetti and my players are in a battle of wits and diplomacy before warming up to the Rushlight Tournament in book 5.
IMC (not Golarion), I am planning to have Irovetti and his bard win over Drelev, and convince him that they I. is going to be the winner of a big war vs. Brevoy. My party has been pretty successful at diplomacy with Drelev so far, so he's going to invite them to his castle, and make them an Offer They Can't Refuse. Of course, I fully expect combat to break out instead....
I've already run the Rushlight Tournament, but I held it at Ft. Drelev-- the whole tournament thing being something that Ivar's brought back from some foreign land.
Circulate rumors about the wonders of the Rushlight Tournament beforehand, especially if it's an annual event.
If Irrovetti is popping by to meet the neighbors, have him relay some impressions of the Drelevs, too.
Irrovetti, as spelled, needs to have an over-the-top Italian accent, IMO. Pitax seems like a northern Italian pre-Renaissance city to me.
FWIW, my group is near the end of Book 3, too, maybe 3 sessions to wrap it up?
In the Shackled City Ap, our group incorporated as Elite Recovery, since the early missions focussed on bringing people back to the city. My urban druid PC even took some levels in a bounty-hunter PrC (Bloodhound?) to help us out.
Like something involving the fey couldn't be "wrong"?
One of my PCs has a fey-like missing mother as well, my urge has been to swap her with Evindra, but I don't think I can pull the trigger on that. I may instead have her remains be among those in Armag's tomb.
I think someone earlier was in the same boat, they let the players hear the "tame" owlbear, amid other signs of bandit power.
Like seeing another bandit-hunting group get shot down by the archers while being swarmed by the zombie minefield.
Long time ago (the 90s), I was running a Birthright campaign. Player A brought in a human fighter with a bloodline, father unknown. Player B and I were talking one night about this, and noticed that Character A's bloodline was exactly half of Character B's, which meant it was possible that Character A could be the son of B (half-elf), and their ages were appropriate, too. He and I agreed to keep this a secret. We even joked among the rest of the group about revealing Character B's also-unknown father in a Darth Vader-style reveal.
Sooner or later, the group meets a dryad who'e been living in this area for a long time, and she agrees to answer some Questions. Character A asks, "Who is my father, and where is he?"
The look on A's face? Priceless. "N-No. Just... no."
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.