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.
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.
I agree with the above, the DM needs to make the bandits come out and play. I did that with Dovan, who went down super-easy, but two of the bandits with him made excellent sources of information.
Wandering monsters have been rare and rarer with my dice, but we've turned up 3 or more owlbears, all of whom died easily. They're now considered vermin by my group, and the unofficial name for their hometown is Hootergrad.
As I've said before, I am taking the AP apart and re-assembling it to fit my world. One bit is that I am now planning to separate Irrovetti, Pitax, and the Rushlight Tournament.
I'm moving the tournament to between Books 2 and 3, and moving it to a different neighboring kingdom, one off the south edge of the Greenbelt map. It would fit better culturally somewhere else, and it allows me to play it as part of a trade embassy with a foreign land. One of my PCs is eager to start trade caravans to that land, and once the trolls are out of the way, she can do it. I have an NPC suitor for the Baroness' hand who is a merchant noble, and he also wants to get that going.
I will probably still keep the map and descriptions of Pitax, but swap them for another city down the line. Irovetti's stats will get reskinned and retained as the main bad guy in Book 5.
My question to you all regards the mechanics: since the tournament events are mostly DC and AC based, it would seem that I could just reduce the numbers to match the groups' levels at that time, right?
It's not very big, and I am rethinking holding off until next (game)year. They're currently heading into autumn & winter, so I thought that would be a good time to make the request.
They're at 3500 people and 6 hexes, 1 settlement. I'm not sure right now how much of a BP reserve they are sitting on, but my wife (playing the Councilor, and running all of the Kingdom Tracking) is being fanatical about keeping money in reserve.
I was thinking of asking for a Medium or Small army, hoping that the players might want to add some bells & whistles like mounts. I wouldn't ask for all of the troops they could raise (see: Troll War), but enough to be noticeable. A hidden benefit should be that she will get an idea of how much an army might cost, and keep an eye on being able to pay that when needed.
They might actually turn him down, or send a token. Hmmm, have to think about that, too.
Another long-term concept I'm working on. Since IMC the Baroness is the daughter of a major noble (Lodovka war-leader), and the home kingdom is having a low-level civil war, Father will call upon them in the 2nd year of the game, requesting a military unit for duty during a summer campaign off-map.
Essentially, the PCs would have to pay to raise an army, pay its Consumption, but not get to use it for a while (like during the Troll War).
In return, they get: an army that will improve its morale and tactics without them having to do anything; Father will move to the barony in the off-season (I have really long winters), potentially an NPC for a leadership role. Possibly, they could send an NPC they already have as a leader, too, possibly gaining levels or loot for that guy.
Does this sound like a fair trade-off?
This is my attempt to improve a story link between the homeland and the new colony, as well as keeping the players thinking about military matters.
EDIT: The funny thing is, once I proposed the idea, the player of the cavalier PC thought his guy might want to ride off to this war, instead of sticking around here.
I'm leaning towards "crossed over into the First World" (and might find a way to cross back) or "discovered undercover in Drelev's keep."
This morning, I thought of whether she might have successfully found Briar 15+ years ago, and left it guarded by Evindra. Then she went somewhere else in the world, so that Nyrissa wouldn't track her down.
Or, she didn't find it in the Stolen Lands, went to look elsewhere (or find more clues), and will return to resume the search here.
"Drelev's keep"-- what if she's leading her own team of adventurers, perhaps one mostly elves, with the goal of finding Briar on their own? Two heavily-armed teams come face-to-face in the dungeons, perhaps to cooperate or clash.
Despite my desire to not put family NPCs in Aunt May's peril of the week, having Irrovetti find & kidnap Mom, and stick her where Evindra is, does have some appeal. Using that to draw the PCs into the trap at the Abbey?
I'm thinking favorably of having the PC's father (older human) retiring from his estates (she has an older brother), and moving to the PCs' castle, thus becoming another NPC available as an adviser. I did make him the source of the 50 BP that started their realm.
Redcelt, that's pretty cool, thanks. I agree, keeping a player's backstory characters alive should be a priority, and it is for me. So far, a different player was missing two brothers, and one of them turned out to be Akiros.
I don't really want to shoot down that idea right away, but... read along while I think aloud.
- Durn, if I'd asked about this last month, I could have slipped her in before giving the "who's who in the neighborhood" speech.
OTOH, I did sort of specify that it was solely on their side of the river, I left the trolls out. Everything beyond the lizardman village (gnolls in my game) was left vague, except for the hodag. I'm not sure how I can square someone living alone, that far from the other fey and close to the more hostile stuff.
- It might be neat to have her found, petrified into a statue. That's how we brought in a new PC, back in the later stages of Shackled City. I wish I'd thought of that before reading out the life-sized statue in the Dancing Lady's tower.
- I'm now planning on breaking up parts of Books 4 and 5, so having her (and/or Dad) show up at the end of Book 3 would be just right. Especially with the lore to lead them right to Armag's tomb, as I'm considering letting them run out to that dungeon even before Tatzylford gets hit.
Philip, yes, I have had those kinds of memories, as well as things that my parents thought really significant, that I forgot about.
Keep the ideas coming, please, I will keep working on this end.
My group is about halfway through Book 2, the new barony is slowly growing. I am looking to lay down some foreshadowing and direction for later books, and I would like the suggestions of the group here.
One player (the Baroness' player, in fact) gave me some great backstory. Both her parents were adventurers, had settled down about the time Yulianna was born, but then Mother disappeared. Father was a semi-barbarian warrior noble, now a strong supporter of the Tsar; Mother was a half-elf, possibly a wizard or sorceror. We've discussed that both parents were adventuring in the Stolen Lands earlier, I've secretly decided that both were quietly searching for Ovinrbaane on behalf of the previous Tsar, while Mom was also very covertly hunting for Briar, too.
There was an earlier outbreak of fey coming to the Stolen Lands to look, too, and both parents fought that. The Swamp Witch helped them a little bit, Bokken's brother was one of Nyrissa's human agents, driven insane back then, as was Stag Lord's father.
Someone on here (great thanks, whoever you are) had planted a copy of "Zuddiger's Picnic" for a PC to find, her mother's lost copy, which plot point I am SO stealing and folding into this disappearance.
1. So far, I have decided that a partial copy of "Z's Picnic" will be found on the body of the ranger killed by the Big Owlbear (IMC, he'll be an older noble under Nyrissa's influence).
2. Mom's journal of the earlier expedition has already come to the PC, but I haven't revealed all of its contents to the player yet. I think it should include hints or sketchy maps to a lot of buried sites in most of the books, like the Lonely Barrow and the Dancing Lady's Keep. Most of them marked, "to check out someday." It should imply that they were looking for something magical, maybe even that it's Ovinrbaane.
3. Mom's journal for her 2nd expedition, the one when she slipped away from home without telling her daughter, should come up somewhere, right? It should have more detail on things, possibly even a more precise location for Ovinrbaane. But where can the PCs find it?
This is one of the things I really want your help with. It probably shouldn't show up before they set out on Book 3, or we risk the players forgetting about it, or not wanting to deal with the distraction elsewhere. It will point one direction, but the pull of Varnhold is the other way.
4. Mom's fate What happened to her? This is the other thing I puzzle over; I have a lot of ideas, but cannot make up my mind. Some ideas:
Thanks for any suggestions.
I ran my 6-player party at fast-track through Book 1, as they really wanted to go after the Stag Lord, and with some discouragement by me, they did dawdle until they hit 3rd level before going after him. They still didn't explore the forest hexes.
After taking the fort, I slowed them to Medium-track advancement. As it is, they've done better than half of Book 2 and should hit L6 at the end of the next session (Big Owlbear and likely the Lonely Warrior). That should set them up nicely for the trolls when spring rolls around. All of the above took spring & summer, they're going to take autumn off. The owlbear is going to hit their town just after midwinter.
I seem not to have checked in here, we are about 1/3 done with Rivers Run Red.
They pretty much ignored the forest in favor of exploring the hill country, and convinced the kobolds (goblins for me) to help them attack the Stag Lord's fort. They now claim "Tuskwater Keep" and 4 hexes.
I thought about it, long before I started running the AP. Fortunately, I discovered Combat Manager, and that it has all of Kingmaker's NPCs and monsters already plugged in.
What I have been doing is making index cards for active NPCs and their factions, so I can keep track of who's working for whom, and so forth.
I've also plotted for her to be a spymistress for Nyrissa. I made her into a noblewoman, cousin to a mid-size lord who's just off the map. She's running several agents and informants around the region, including Kavken (informant), Willas Gunderson and Grigori (provocateurs, might even be the same guy, I haven't decided). She's trying to stir up lots of adventurers to go looking for lost elven artifacts (*Cough*Briar!*cough*), that are just waiting to be dug up. When Lily Teskertin asked wistfully for an elven artifact? Was that all her idea? We'll see.
So far, my group is early in book 2, so it won't matter, but they are meeting her now, undercover, as she visits their new hall.
My dice apparently don't kill PCs, but the big monsters go down like chumps.
Race: Scythe Tree
Name: Howl of the North Wind
It was a long night last Saturday for the monsters. The barbarian at least got in a few licks, the inquisitor's player is switching to a ranger, in hopes that he might get to do something in a fight.
This is the group that yawns at owlbears, I think they've killed 3 so far, so the Big One may not scare them much.
Some of this is some kind of karmic injustice; my PC in Savage Tide got swallowed or killed every time we fought a plant in that campaign, we thought it was a curse by a druid. If you guessed that the DM of that game is the cavalier's player, you've spotted the imbalance.
Yeah, this. One of your players came up with a very good use of skills, so why punish that?
Also, there are two threads for illustrations of the "Zuddiger's Picnic" book that is a key in Book 6. One is complete, one is not. If you can get those, it can be a handy prop to have.
http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2l50p?Zuddigers-Picnic-artwork#1 is one of them.
1. I haven't dealt with this yet, so I have nothing.
2. My group tends to do this kind of record-keeping and administrative detail outside of the regular play sessions, mostly by email. For this game, my wife wanted to do all the kingdom playing, even though her character isn't the ruler. The rest of the players were more than willing to let her do it, so we do the kingdom turns at home, away from the game sessions. We run 3-4 turns in advance of the hexploration, but I allow revisions based on in-game events. She checks her ideas against the actual ruler, just in case.
Name: Only the Dancing Lady
Five of six PCs, and their wolf companion, failed the Will save against her dance, and the sixth PC failed against her suggestion to "wait downstairs for a few moments."
I didn't think through her abilities, and let an argumentative player disrupt my thoughts enough that she didn't cast entangle next. Instead, I extended their dazed states d3 rounds (borrowing from the enthrall spell), after she began grappling the cavalier. She got one round of draining on him before he threw her off, and the melee got started. I think it only went three rounds after the dazes wore off.
If she'd been able to entangle the group first, she might have been able to claw him down before some of the others could have gotten into it-- the cavalier was the only one with a cold iron weapon.
Funny, that's what my group is saying about owlbears, except the near-TPK bit. I think they've met 3 or 4, and have been putting them down fairly easily. The cavalier is grumbling about an "infestation," and the working title for the country is "Hootergrad."
And, yes, I agree with the sentiment not to optimize or metagame. Do, however, seek to invest in some healing. My group opted not to take any arcane casters, we'll deal with how that plays out.
Like Redcelt32, I've begun using the side-quests to introduce NPCs, primarily other noble families. Perhaps that might feed the eligible-bachelors need, as well.
Interesting, so far, none of my players want to craft, they just want someone to make stuff for them... which can lead me sending them on more quests!
Yes, it does bother me a little. At a convention last week, I had to hold my tongue when someone did... this... extra... slow....
Not knowing modifiers bothers me more, which is why we write them on the sheets. I'd like to yell at the two worst offenders at one of my tables, but I think they'd leave the group sooner or later.
I have been training my son and his pals to roll all the necessary dice at the same time. When we first started, one of the guys used to make a big show of shaking his dice, one at a time, and offer them to his neighbor to blow on for luck. We broke him of all of that.
Since then, I think they've gotten the visceral joy of rolling a handful of dice together. Best occasion, in a game with automatic weapons, someone got to roll 42d20 when firing a machinegun.
I've been playing them by ear: Corax and his loggers won't show up until later. My party should cross through that hex next session, but since they only started their exploring and founding in the last 3 months, game time, I don't think he should be there just yet. I'm saving them for another month out, and maybe another hex.
As a railfan,I rather like the idea. Rail lines need somewhere to go and cargoes to move, in order to be profitable. They might require Consumption costs, but could be a huge bump to Economy.
Some infrastructure to consider fuel and water stops, and crew change locations. On historical rail lines, water stops tended to be about every hour or so of steaming time, so stations and villages often grew up there. After 8-12 hours of running/100-160 miles, the crews needed changing, which often also became a locomotive stop. The locomotive-maintenance shops needed workers, so those often became bigger towns, and railroads called that 100-160 miles a division.
Rather than make a long list of building types, perhaps you could just sum them up as a "Station" and put a fairly high cost to build those.