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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.
I think starting with #3 could work just fine.
When(If) they finish Big V's dungeon, the powers that be can grant them the rulership of Varnhold and the surrounding hexes, and you can pick up from there. One of the PCs could be a relative or designated heir to Varn, if you like.
You'd need the map from books 1 & 2, insert your own favorite monsters appropriate for their level, before starting book 4.
Yes, you will miss the fun of starting a realm from scratch, but your starting point won't be too far from that start-point.
I'm looking for a place to introduce her to my players in a different way. IMC, she's a cousin of their NPC spymaster, and should soon offer to be one of his informants. But, she's also working for Pitax, and Grigori was working for her.
So far, they haven't nibbled at potential rivalry with Lady Marstenka; oh, well.
However, another juicy (future) plot thread has dropped into my lap.
I propose that the temple in Restov (or a faction, or just one priest) is either a pro-Drelev secret supporter, or has his own goals regarding the legend of Ovinrbaane and Armag. If the Black Sisters can have their candidate for the Twice-Born, why can't he? AND if she had been nudged into going on this expedition because Armag is claimed as an ancestor of hers, so much the better!
SO, the high priest in Restov (Gorum-equivalent for my world) raises the barbarian, gets her promise of lasting gratitude and a promise to pay back the favor at some future date, and attaches one of his priests to the group to assist them in their quest for glory (read: keep an eye on them). If they happen to come across any tombs, he will encourage them to go delving into them.
When it will come time for them to find Armag's tomb and dive into it, he will be strongly encouraging them to get in there and get that (greataxe) away from the imposter, er, bad guy! And, since the barbarian has been killed and raised, why can't she claim the title of Twice-Born!?
Ran the finale Friday night, and it was properly tense for us all. Sadly, I was a bit rushed to try and get it all into a shorter session, but it still went past midnight.
The battle part took longer to explain that I expected, and was executed a lot quicker than I expected. I passed out cards for the 6 armies involved (2 troll, 1 gnoll, 3 human) to each player, so they could pick "strategy" and roll the dice. 4 out of 6 players rolled 17+, so 2 armies on each side evaporated at the first blow.
Moving on to the main event, the dungeon-crawl. The party, spearheaded by the barbarian able to hit for 20+ per swing, chewed through the outer layers of the trolls with little trouble. It was the next-to-last group that killed a PC. (see the Obituary thread for details).
I had a lot of fun working on the trolls, it was the most tension this group has had for a long time. Thanks again, Dudemeister.
Name: Vriska Arachnisdottir
Per Dudemeister's wonderful addition, the night began with a short mass battle, in which 2 of 3 human armies and 2 of 3 troll armies wiped each other out with high Offense rolls (n.b. Medium, Small, and Tiny armies are vulnerable to one-shot kills) in one round. The troll leadership and bodyguards fled into the tower, and the fight was on.
The combat-leaders in my party are a cavalier and this barbarian, and they proceeded to chop things up all over. The two rangers, rogue, and oracle played clean-up squad, holding the torches until the trolls and trollhounds got knocked into negative hit points. Note no arcane caster, no magical fire, limited amounts of alchemical fire or acid. Vriska was averaging 20+ points of damage per swing, using rage powers and the late Kundal's greateaxe.
When they got to the T-intersection between R7 and R8, the cavalier and barbarian went right, the rest stayed in the center to watch. That's when Hargulka dumped the Fog Cloud on the intersection, which meant the archers couldn't support anyone, and were quickly at melee range with Nagrundi.
In hindsight, this is when the PCs should have pulled back, so that they only had to face one troll at a time, but the blood was up, and it was a slugfest. Vriska survived being flanked by two of the trolls in the main hall, taking one of them down while taking some hits, and the cavalier whittled down the third. But, the one in the middle recovered enough hp to gnaw on Vriska's ankle while the first troll connected with multiple blows, and down she went, all the way past negative Con,* wiping out the first troll at the same time. Meanwhile, Nagrundi had done the same to the rogue (who was using a lightning bolt wand, while the rangers were eating big chunks of damage), until we ran a more careful count of her hit points. Bad math can cost lives.*
At this point, everyone started a withdrawal, but not before finishing off the 3rd troll in the main hall, and Nagrundi finally bought it, too. Fire was quickly dispensed*, and then they beat feet. A night's spells and rest put them back at full spells** and hit points, and they went back in for whoever was left.
Aftermath: The Oracle will go and pray for another winter wolf companion, which will be granted by Karesha. Vriska's body is being rushed to a cleric in Restov (the player tells me she really wants her back, so I say there will be a properly-leveled one there), where she will be Raised as a 4th level barbarian among a now-7th level party. There was agreement that some more money should also be set aside to get her armor magicked up by swamp witch Olga. So far, she had been wearing only Dovan's MW studded leather.
* these are points at which I could easily have sent in Hargulka, a fireball, and/or the rock troll, but I refrained.*** A TPK at this point could have killed the campaign, and I'd really like to get to Book 6.
** One ranger ignored her spell list all night, and the oracle had left the papers with her spell list at home. She could only cast the spells anyone could remember that she had done before.
*** I actually had the thought, "Wow, this is going badly, I could wipe them out," immediately followed by, "Yeah, do it!" But I resisted temptation.
"Are you tired? Tired of working for The Man? I say, Boom, baby, BOOM!!"
FWIW, I made Bokken and his even-nuttier brother and the Stag Lord's dad all part of a druid group that participated in the last time that N. tried to shake things up in the Stolen Lands, to see if her sword would turn up.
It didn't work, as the plot was broken up by another group of adventurers (which included my group's Baroness' parents, and Olga the Swamp Witch).
A minor lord from Brevoy (old and also kind of nutty) was also part of this plot. Very recently, he started having dreams of the Green Lady and suited up to go exploring again. Except he became the tool that N. used to stir up the owlbear against the PCs' castle.
Armag II and Drelev and Irovetti are just going to be pieces in her go-around this generation.
So far, my party (or at least the Baroness) is aware that her parents adventured here, and that some of the above are mentioned. I want to dribble pieces out here and there as we progress.
My 2 coppers:
I will cogitate upon these NPCs, and see if some pop up in my game eventually. Someone like Count Arnovski has already appeared, and is about to marry the Baroness. His goal is a river-based trade route to off the southern edge of the map. Once the trolls are defeated (2+ sessions away), it's a possibility.
I think mine did the first book in about a month of game time. They established their barony in the 2nd month of my calendar.
BUT,they didn't explore the forest at all, they saved that until after they'd taken down the Stag Lord.
I'm only in book 2, but IIRC, there are darn few traps in the rest of Kingmaker. My group has a rogue, but she's almost entirely focused on Diplomacy and the like. So far, she hasn't detected or disabled a single trap.
AS the above says, that's their worry, you just need to make sure there's nothing that they can't get through at all.
My group of 6 PCs is running without a wizard and only an oracle fodivine stuff, and so far, they are doing just fine.
Apparently, Irovetti is a bigger threat than the PCs, as far as Drelev can tell.
IMC, I will be weaving them more tightly together, and including that once Drelev joins Irovetti, he's a traitor to Brevoy, and there's no going back.
How should I handle XP?
How can I better foreshadow the events of the later books, major enemies, and the sinister First World influence? I'm considering starting early, with the Stag Lord's green herbal liquor - that sounds a lot like absinthe, AKA the 'green fairy'... For extra points, perhaps it was even made at Whiterose Abbey... or would that not work with the timeline?
-- I'd be concerned that it would pop up way too early, it could be years before "Whiterose Abbey" reappears.
How can I keep the kingdom-building fresh and interesting? From what I hear, entire sessions can go by of micromanagement. Not a single one of my players wants to run the "kingdom in the background" option, and they're all enthusiastic about the nitty-gritty at this stage. How can I keep that interest high?
-- I don't know that you can keep it high yourself, that will depend on them. I suggest staying flexible, that you could fade it out if you need to.
-- Always look for opportunities to make NPCs into interesting people.
-- Let time be fast or slow, as needed. Don't be afraid to pass seasons or years between adventures, especially once the new kingdom is established and item crafting begins.
-- Let there be at least a little political-diplomatic contact between the players', Varn's, and Drelev's realms. An earlier Rushlight Tournament would be a great place for this.
No name for the Barony still, but Levetgrad has been adopted for the village at Oleg's trading post.
The Inn of the Sleeping Owl in Tuskwater Keep, rebuilt after the Owlbear Attack, is now Bear Hooters. (Bare Hooters might be the brothel, *if* one is built.)
I, too, like it.
I think a detail that may be overlooked: why is it broken? Did Talonquake do that?
I will muse on this some more. IMC, the group recovered the map from the previous adventuring band who died in the owlbear's lair, but did not seek out the tomb.
I'd think you also want to play up that fey incursions are a regular occurrence around here? (N. sending minions to recover her sword?) Maybe the Warrior should mention that he's turned back fey treasure hunters, too. "Your ears aren't pointy, but you're still thieves!"
More recent thinking...
IMC, there's another ruling house in the plains hexes west-northwest of Oleg's and north of Drelev, already established a generation or two before the current expansion. The dice are leading me to set up some tension between this house and the PCs.
I'd agreed with the idea to move the centaurs into Book 4's map, but now I think I'll move things around a bit more. Let's put the centaurs, bulette, etc., and V's tomb up in the hills NW of Drelev and west of Marstenka's house. Thus, when Drelev and the Tiger Lords start delving into tombs up in centaur territory, it hacks off the centaurs and wakes up Vordakai, and it's the Marstenka village that goes missing, instead of Varn.
Unfortunately, the Baroness player's been failing about 1 in 3 Stability rolls over the past year, and racking up lots of Unrest when she does. "At least my d4 works." Once they beat the trolls, the might be able to get Unrest zeroed out. That should be a good time for me to fold in Tatzylford, too-- I should make it push them over the 11-hex threshold, when they can build/annex more things per turn.
No one has ANY interest in the downtime rules, so that source of extra buildings hasn't come about. I did have one NPC build 2 or 3 buildings on his own money.
They are working their way towards making things work together, like the farms and stockyards.
I need to go back and look at the Diplomatic Edicts. I could stick in an Embassy from the Tsar, which should be worth something.
7 hexes, 2 districts, so their DC is only 7 behind yours.
Nearly all of their NPC leaders are 4th level or less, so they can't have 5 ranks in anything. I'm weighing how fast to progress them along, to help out.
I'm preparing for the next game session, which for me involves both rolling random events in advance and deciding what various NPCs and their realms might be doing. I try to stay about a year in advance of the characters, so I don't have to make up stuff on the fly.
I have inserted another noble family on the north edge of the map, the Marstenkos. They claim some of the hexes on the border of maps 1 and 4, including Wyvernstone Bridge. The Stag is part of their house crest.
1. A few months ago IMC, there was a "Land Rush" RE, which I randomly decided was in a hex adjacent to Oleg's (recently claimed, not very developed yet). Ah, I say, "Lady Marstenka's founded some farms there, and they are doing very well. Settlers are passing through Levetgrad to move in there." The group immediately Farmed Levetgrad, to counter the Stability loss.
2. We ended the last game session with the arrest and trial of Grigori. They now know someone put him up to it, their first suspect was Varn, actually.
3. Next game will begin with a "Monster Attack" RE, and the dice again point to the hex of Levetgrad. Unrest is currently high enough that if the PCs don't deal with this, his hex will secede! I'll present this as, "Mayor Oleg's store was cleaned out, and if you all cannot protect him, he will find someone who will!"
4. The party has pretty much ignored Jhod Kavken and Kesten Garess, we last saw them still at Levetgrad. I think Jhod will have moved in to the Erastil temple, and has collected secret BP from Lady Marstenka to re-open the temple. Garess may have moved over to her service, too?
5. Lady Maray (from BfB) is definitely a spy for Pitax, and has been working to upset things around here. That includes sending Grigori. I'd like to move her about a bit, perhaps they should find out that it's a woman pulling these strings, and get them to suspect her before they attack Drelev's castle.
I think the dice are setting me up to trigger a little fight between Marstenka and the players, don't you? Perhaps I'll use the Battle for Tatzylford a bit early, but leave an obvious clue that the attack came from her, not Drelev.
I settled for his buildings not costing them BP, but taking up the slots for # of things that can be built. What I now wonder about is maybe I should have insisted on his own District in the same city.
Anyway, the Baroness accepted his suit at Saturday's game, and plans to make him a cohort when she gains Leadership next level. No decision on whether he will be a co-ruler or consort, or another position on council.
We are using UC.
Comparing yours to theirs, our Ec/Lo/St are about half of those, the city is 2/3 smaller, but the Control DC is almost as high.
They didn't expand a hex every turn, that's what puzzles me-- the Control DC is still higher than their modifiers.
I'm looking at when they add Tatzylford, that might bring them up more than it raises the Control DC, so it may happen sooner than later.
They've met both Varn and Drelev in person, not at a border. IMC, the noble family ruling Restov has annual midsummer festivals, and most of the local nobles meet there. The PC Baroness has started a spring festival, and Varn didn't come to the first one, so they think he might be dissing them. They just arrested Grigori, and Varn was their first suspect.
They've only claimed the 7 hexes from the Stag Lord's keep to Oleg's (inclusive). My concern is that they aren't expanding much, they went up to 6 hexes at a moderate pace, then stopped expanding for over a year in-game.
I worded their land grant as the Shrike River valley, so the mountains are a pretty clear boundary.
- I'm not sure if they are aware of the xp for building and exploration; I am not sure it would matter.
- Only one vacancy on the Council (Diplomat) atm. I ran the last year as non-adventure time, and two PCs went off to join the Tsar's army for a season. I allowed them to find some 0-modifier NPCs to fill in, so it was a loss, but not a negative.
- Leadership is allowed, but they are just 6th level now, and no one will have it until next level. The Baroness just agreed to an NPC's marriage proposal, so he can fill in either Consort, Co-Ruler, or Diplomat. Lily T. is a good Diplomat candidate, too, but they haven't thought of asking her in.
A theoretical question: it seems to me that buildings in settlements are the way to build up the modifiers, while adding hexes and settlements jack up the DC. Therefore, would it be better to concentrate on a few settlements before adding hexes?
So, my group is about halfway through RRR. I just had them take a year of non-adventuring, just to give them more time to build up the kingdom. The result is that they are still at 7 hexes, and held there throughout that off year.
Our informal ruler is very concerned about the Control DC exceeding their save numbers. The DC has been holding at 28 the entire year, the saves have fluctuated from 12 to 24, usually holding around 22. Unrest has been wandering between 0 and 2, with a dip to 4 a couple of times. The treasury has been very healthy, staying around 20 BP.
How does that compare to others' experiences? I'm not looking for quick fixes for them, I'm mostly concerned about whether they can handle the expansions that might result when they defeat the trolls or get to absorb Tatzylford. I got the impression that realms could be reaching 20+ hexes pretty soon.
Mine formed a temporary alliance to recover the statue in exchange for help in assaulting the Stag Lord's fort. The PCs quietly hoped that most of the kobold warriors would be killed, but only one of them died. Auchs apparently couldn't hit so many small targets.
After that, they've just left their hex, and the sycamore tree, alone.
My wife worked at this all through Saturday's game, as she is our designated mapmaker, and she was able to make it work. The white screen needed her to remove the blue and red corner hexes. Getting the icons into our file from yours took a while longer.
In all, though, it seems to work well. Thanks!
I see your map, but it's blank white, and no clicking seems to change that? (Using Firefox)
EDIT: If I try to click and drag across it, I can see the map, but only as long as I hold the button.
Actually, the local rep for the merchant-noble family is one of the sons of the clan head. He's angling for:
a) opening a trade route off-map to the south, and putting his money into the various facilities to use it. His "hidden agenda" will be in his investing in the docks, boatyards, ships, etc. The Councilor PC has been wanting the same thing since the game started, anyway.
b) he's also personally smitten with the PC baroness.
c) a council job, such as Diplomat or Treasurer, if not Consort.
He's an experienced fighter, has high Cha, but average Int/Wis, so he'd make a fair Diplomat.
The "side quest" from him that I have in mind is a trip off-map to the south to set up the trade route, which will morph into the Midnight Joust carnival. I'm plotting for it to happen shortly after the defeat of the trolls.
I'm looking for the opinions of other GMs here.
So, IMC, I have an NPC who is not a ruler of a land, but a representative of a merchant clan. He wants to improve his clan's ties to the PC ruler, and present her with a deal that should help them both.
I get that he could negotiate a Trade treaty, and set up an Embassy in the capitol town. What happens if he puts down the money (BP) for a business? Who gets the benefits? Should I include them in the city totals for the town, or just say there is a shadow building that is taking up a slot in the town grid, and the benefits are flowing to the NPC owner?
Verrrrrry Interesting. I like it.
I've been wanting to use Z's Picnic as some foreshadowing in my game, too. Our ruler PC's mother, also an adventurer, disappeared into the Stolen Lands when the PC was little. I've intended for dreams and the book to appear at good times.
Mine still haven't a name. Tuskwater Keep (the Stag Lord's former home) is the only thing I've named, and they're not changing it.
I have named the kingdom spreadsheet file "Hootergrad" (I think they've killed 6 or 8 owlbears by now?) as a prod to creativity, but it hasn't worked yet.
Yep, big chunks is pretty much what we're doing. There's about to be a 9-month (in-game time) gap between sessions, so a lot might happen. Oddly, my wife is not the ruler, so she makes a point of running her decisions by that player, as well as making broad plans with her. Other players have kicked in with occasional wish lists.
I remade a few of them as "local lords who live just off the map, and who want to win your favor" hand out the items without letting the players know it's a quest.
Lily is the younger, marriageable, sister of one of those lords.
For the record, I'm putting my characters back onto Fast Track, as I will be skipping Book 3. At the request of the players, they want some time (at least two sessions, I think) between levelling, so it will be more like "level when the GM says so." I want them a bit ahead of the curve after Book 2, but they will still be behind Book 4.
OTOH, given the ease with which they are slaughtering most combat opponents, even on the 6-player conversion, I'm not too worried about challenges.
As for the in-game time, we're starting to skip whole seasons between sessions, as 5/6 players don't want to deal with the bookkeeping. The one who does is my wife, so we can do a lot of the things out of game.
I don't see the answer on my first look through the rules, but my take would be to rule that a settlement is a terrain improvement, and not one with an asterisk. So, it could share a hex with some other improvements, but not with another settlement.
That's probably unrealistic, but it is simple and clear, and it's only a game.
Dudemeister, I like that wrinkle better than moving them to southern Greenbelt. That might give the players incentive to better relations with them, as they deal with both Drelev and the barbarians.
I continue to throw out ideas, looking for ways to improve and tailor my game. This one's a bit more radical.
My group has a history of not finishing long campaigns, we tend to lose interest after 2 years of real-time, and have formed a low opinion of playing past 12th level or so.
I like the endgame of Book 6, as well as the war of Book 4 & 5. I intend to mash 4&5 together a bit more closely, and I really hope to get to Book 6 as a big climax to the campaign.
I realize that my group would miss out on the levels gained, but if I put them on Fast xp progression, that will make up 2/3 of the lost levels. Also, as my group is 6 players, they seem to be consistently punching above their weight.
I do like the peace-making with the centaurs section, so I am contemplating shifting them somewhere else on the map, perhaps the southeast corner of the Greenbelt.
In short: retain Centaurs and some of the quests that touch on their side of the mountains, shift to Fast XP; drop lost villagers and Vordakai and the related quests.
Opinions? What would I lose by dropping out Vordakai and the empty village? He is a nice villain, but I don't know if I can afford the time to go get him.
A druid should be a great person for interacting with the friendlier fey in the forest, as well as the swampy critters. Those could be a source of information about Nyrissa later on, or the Dancing Lady and her minions in Book 2. I made the Scythe Tree a lesson that D. Lady was imposing on Tiressia and the others to start listening to her.