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My players have rescued the hostages (I made some changes to the layout as I'm dropping the attack by Pitax and using the Tiger Lords for the mass combat) and did their best to make it look like Drelev had done it, including killing off the one person at the bandit camp who recognised them (Goody Niska, who escaped from them before and went to join the Black Sisters).

They're now waiting to see what happens between Drelev and the barbarians before they make a move, and insist on using NPC spies rather than going anywhere near Fort Drelev themselves. I think I need to pressure them with a one-off opportunity (perhaps all the elite guards have been sent to smooth things over with Armag) or they'll never go to the fort in person.

pennywit wrote:
Quick question: Can somebody give me a handle on what is going on, plotwise with the Swordlords at this point? I'm not entirely sure.

We're not really told, but my take on it is they're waiting for Orlovsky to start fighting Surtova so they can take over as much of Rostland as possible and take it independent again.

They're no longer supporting t1he PCs directly but they're going to want to maintain good relations in case they need someone to have their back.
They don't call on the PCs' kindgom as part of the AP, but my idea for the endgame is to run the Return of Choral and have the Swordlords turn to them for help at that point, with the possibility of Rostland joining the PCs' kingdom as a reward.

Bear in mind that 50BP is the equivalent of a lot of cash, so you have to flavour it right. My party defeated the Stag Lord and then when the Swordlords' agent came to give them their reward, he arrived at the head of a caravan of settlers carrying tools and building materials. That was their 50BP, and it worked to put them in the right frame of mind; any resource that might convert into BP gets considered for the kingdom first, and they're personally quite lightly equipped.

Dingleberry wrote:
BornofHate, I really like the idea of incorporating more half-orcs. Maybe full orc tribes, too - especially if only a half-orc party could negotiate any kind of peaceful co-existence.

In that case I'd definitely look at changing the Nomen centaurs in Book 3 to an orc tribe. Varnhold hasn't been willing to negotiate with them but the PCs are expected to, so it fits perfectly.

It may be a harmless sebaceous cyst - I've had one for years just about level with my shoulder blades but I'm not sure if they can form lower down. Either way, get it looked at - I think that was the last time I actually went to a doctor about anything and he recognised what it was straight away.

Elga's also pretty popular with my lot. I also rebuilt her as a Witch and pushed her up a level (making her the only person they knew who could successfully use mending on the Lonely Warrior's sword).
They eventually convinced her to be Magister ("I'll think about it. I think better over a nice cup of Black Rattlecap Tea"), and we've yet to see what happens when she dies of old age, but it's likely to happen soon.

Mikmek has taken levels in Trapper Ranger and I was looking for an excuse to have him follow them around, but instead they made him temporary Spymaster while they investigate the Varnhold Vanishing. When they get back they'll have to decide whether to put things back as they were, or accept the Economy increase and Stability loss that come with their new Thieves' Guild.

I've toned down The Dancing Lady's madness - they are a mostly female party so she didn't have a massive advantage even with the level of Bard I gave her, and they basically ended up in a standoff, so I decided to dial back the consequences of leaving her alive. However, she still doesn't think like a human at all. She agreed to keep to herself and not to drain anyone to death, but then local men started mysteriously aging - she was taking her half-drained victims to the First World so that they could spend time recovering. Totally in keeping with the letter of her agreement, and she still has no idea why the PCs were upset with her.
Since I'm making some changes to the later story, I've also given her Evindra's water clock, but it's such an awkward object that I can't even get the players to accept it as a gift. She'll need to cause some more trouble soon so that I have another excuse to offer it to them.

Just a heads up that Patrick Keith - sculptor of the Bombshell Babes and numerous Pathfinder minis for Reaper - has his new Kickstarter up for pulp SF skirmish game Counterblast. The minis are looking great so far, and the rules look interesting though I haven't had a chance to try running anything yet.

The page is here and it's about halfway funded so far.

Maybe tie it into the Kingdom building: He only goes away when the PCs settle the hex and reopen the crossing (ie build roads there), thus proving the bandit threat is over. That will leave them trying to convince people to settle in a place which is quite obviously haunted :)
It will mean he's still there well into book 2, but since he can't be defeated normally it doesn't really matter that the PCs will be a bit higher level.

I'm almost certainly going to use the 'return of Choral' as the final act in the campaign. And since my players are bound to be more than capable of dealing with a red dragon by then, I'll be giving him the devil-bound template. So in my campaign, the disappearance was obviously something to do with his infernal contract.

As for Rogarvia's lands, I think they're effectively run by the Swordlords, if not officially owned by them. Restov was in Rogarvia territory because it was the last place to be conquered by them, and the population has never really accepted the unification. In my campaign at least, the Swordlords have no intention of getting involved in the civil war so much as using it as cover for splitting from Brevoy entirely, and that's why they want allies to the South.

I imagine Brevoy would just shake their heads as a whole, but the individual houses would probably figure out that it was just another way to continue their existing rivalries and support or field their own candidates.

You'll have to use diplomacy or spying to figure out how Pitax and the other River Kingdoms would react, it depends how your DM plays them.

The council in my group is considered to be a mix of meritocracy and popularity so while there's no formal vote, at least some of the positions are filled by the people who would have been the popular choice.

I'd recommend you start small; let each town hold mayoral elections (because your DM can probably handle that without formal mechanics and it will get the people used to the idea).

I'm early in VV, and my party already have a rough idea of the safe area around Varnhold, so they're unlikely to do much detailed exploring elsewhere.

There really is no reason to explore while solving the problem of the day, and for both VV and B4B they're likely to feel they're up against a time limit. However, once they inherit Varnhold (and later Drelev) they'll want to look for resources they can add to their kingdom, and for that they'll have to go back and explore. So it's probably a good idea to buff most of the encounters outside of the main plot, because they'll be running into them a couple of levels higher.

There are assumed to be cabins and possibly even small hamlets scattered all over the area. Most of them probably think of themselves as Rostlanders but don't really have a government. These are where the majority of the fledgling kingdom's population will come from.

There are also assumed to be traders moving North and South (between the River Kingdoms and Brevoy) but trade has dropped off due to the bandits which is part of the reason for sending the PCs in the first place. The bandits have only quite recently started demanding tribute from Oleg, presumably because there have been less traders to attack.

IIRC, the room that it takes place in is only 30' across and 10' high, specifically to nerf such abilities. It's also (depending on whether it's still in the First World) a pocket dimension which is only accessible in specific ways, so the Dimensional Anchor is already there.

My party's frontline consists of a Scout archetype Rogue and a Ninja. Both of them exchange the rogue abilities you won't need much in the AP for more combat effectiveness, and both seem to work about equally well.

I have been using XP for two books and I'm getting fed up with it. On the other hand, fixed level up points are tricky when the PCs can take things on in any order and/or skip some entirely. So from now on I'm going to tag the most important encounters and side quests as 'achievements', and level up after every three achievements.

I think advancing them simultaneously will make for a much richer game but it will take a lot of work. You are bound to forget about something and have to wing it when your players should be finding out details that you haven't yet worked out.

Also, if your players are anything like mine then as soon as they figure out they have multiple adversaries, they will start trying to point them at each other and avoid getting directly involved. This is not necessarily a bad thing but you have to be prepared for the possibility that you may never get to use huge chunks of what you prepared.

I'd probably look at using the six-player conversions from this forum. They're designed to pitch the encounters at a larger party but should work just as well against a higher-level party, and the commensurate increases in XP and treasure are also appropriate.

It's not that low-wealth in my experience, though most of the sraight up GP rewards are for sidequests and a lot of DMs change those because a bunch of fetch-quests in a row can get tedious. So it's possible that you're a bit behind where the AP expects you to be, especially if you've skipped some of those sidequests.

The group I DM for (just about to start book 3) are quite poor because they insist on donating anything they can't immediately use to the treasury, but that's their choice.

If your DM uses Ultimate Campaign then I believe that has rules for organisations and making money during downtime, which would cover your guilds or, for example, buying a stake in a magic shop (which would fit in nicely with your crafting).

IIRC that's about how mine worked out, but I was being quite generous with the exploration times. If you take the full effects of terrain and weather into account then they may have to keep going through the winter if they want to be ready for those colonists in the spring.

Mosaic wrote:
Several of my bosses along the way had magic rings made out of woven green hair (Nyissa's). Whatever magic was appropriate for them boss - ring of protection, a ring of fire resistance for a certain troll, the flawed ring of animal friendship, etc.

Nice to know I wasn't the only one who did this, including giving Hargulka a ring of fire resistance. So far that's the only one of them which the party are actually using.

Rather than make it easier to scry on them, I've made the rings impose a -1 on saves against fey magic (-2 against Nyrissa herself).

On the XP thing, for the first two books I used it, on the basis that it's a sandbox and the 'level up at an appropriate point' paradigm doesn't work so well when the players can tackle things in any order or skip them entirely.

It's a pain, though, so for book 3 onwards I'm going with a compromise: setting a number of 'achievements', with a level-up after every three achievements. Some of these will be important parts of the main plot, others will be the more significant side quests, at least one should be a landmark in kingdom building. And there will be a couple more than are necessary, so they can afford to miss some, or be really thorough and be well on their way to the next level at the end of the book.

By the letter of the AP, Vordakai is too arrogant to consider the PCs enough of a threat to be worth the effort of changing his prepared spells.

However, with a party of seven you probably need to give him every advantage you can. I would maybe not tailor the spells to the party, but I would have him decide how to defend his lair and give him a spell loadout suited to that. For example, I've swapped in Wall of Force because I think the layout of his chamber should give him a chance to separate the frontliners from the casters in the party.

Lee Hanna wrote:

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?

In theory, yes, but that means you're relying on magic item sales or donations from the PCs to keep the population alive. Every hex with a settlement is consuming 2BP and if you're not claiming farms or other resources then that has to come from somewhere.

Having valuable resources spread out can encourage a bit more separaton between settlements; my group has a settlement at the hot spring because I gave them bonuses to all three stats for commercialising it.

Also, have your players met Maegar Varn yet? While he was very polite and willing to negotiate on borders, my players definitely got the impression that they needed to start claiming hexes in the east in case he got there first.

Yeah, none of the encounter maps were printed in tabletop size even in the original version. Where necessary I've just recreated them on a battlemat, but we've had very few encounters where they were even needed.

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My group's Duchess is a Gnome Oracle whose obsession is growing apples. So they went looking for a name which meant 'orchard' and ended up with 'Boomgaard', and a capital city called 'Boom'. Which I will make them regret some day.
They already regret one of the other towns. The person running the Kingdom sheets said 'we really should give this settlement a name', to which everyone else replied 'yup'. So Yup it became.

As far as how Drelev's forces even get to Tatzlford, I thankfully don't have to deal with that issue because I have a better target. My players developed one of the grassland hexes on the edge of the forest (just downslope from the hot springs, so I gave the town a resource bonus), and Drelev can reach that by going around the top of the lake.
The boggards North of the lake may bother travellers, but they're not going to take on a small army of humans and trolls (or possibly humans and hill giants by the time I've tweaked it to actually challenge my players) so the forces from Drelev can walk straight into that nice little area of grassland without even going through the woods.

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Whereas I wanted them to feel independent from Brevoy as soon as possible, so made it clear that border negotiations were the colonies' own responsibility. Which of course encouraged them to be more proactive about trying to gain the advantage, so I should have been ready for it.

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IIRC all the Spriggans' treasure (apart from the centaur bow) has been taken from the town, and one chest of Vordakai's contains the valuable possessions of everyone he captured. Everything else should be fair game.

Also, as a more general thing, WBL is pretty irrelevant in Kingmaker. Some groups use crafting and the Kingdom's wealth to put themselves way over; other groups (like mine) donate everything they can't immediately use to the treasury in order to build the Kingdom quicker. It's really your DM's responsibility to tweak later books accordingly.

Oh, the other thing I should mention is that if you make Varnhold look too successful before the Vanishing, your players will consider rushing East at the first opportunity to claim some hexes before Varn gets them. Which is annoying in the middle of Book 2 when you don't have any of Book 3's encounters handy.

I'm making Varnhold Pass a second settlement (2 watchtowers) because that's the only way to make it look like a defended pass. And several of the surrounding hexes will be farms or quarries (which are a thing in my game). However, they've obviously been abandoned by the time the PCs arrive.

Fort Drelev is more tricky, because it really is almost totally surrounded by hexes that are either too hostile or already claimed by someone. I could see a couple of the adjoining hexes around the lake becoming farms, but don't overdo it as the whole point should be that attacking the PCs' kingdom is Drelev's only remaining option for expanding.

In my campaign, the reward for defeating the trolls (converted to be all BP in the form of trade concessions) was posted by the Mivon Merchants' guild. Mivon was the PC Kingdom's main trading partner, and the trolls were far enough south that I figured they'd be a problem for both kingdoms. Most of the other quests were either given by individuals or things that the kingdom would have to deal with anyway (in which case I made the rewards Loyalty/Stability boosts rather than cash).

Crysknife wrote:

A simple clarification, since my players will ask, but don't read ahead if you did not finish the module...

** spoiler omitted **

Vordakai only took treasure from the people whose souls he captured, not directly from the village. So we can assume that the original owner was wearing one, but had not given the other to anyone else. It doesn't specify whose they were, but since they're supposed to be returning that treasure to the villagers, the owner can claim them and explain the situation.

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I thought I was all Kickstartered out after Bones II, but I'm liking the look of this Kickstarter for modular, laser-cut MDF dungeon elements.

I'm hesitant to call it a terrain Kickstarter because I don't see it being used for full layouts so much as to add cover and height elements to battlemaps (at least, that's what I have in mind for it).

It's already funded, there are just under three days to go, and the next stretch goal will pay for a second laser cutter and add free elements to everyone's pledge.

Like most groups, mine made an agreement with the Kobolds to work the mines and stop attacking humanoids, in return for being left alone and well-supplied with food and luxuries. Mikmek was rather taken with the party and is taking levels in Trapper ranger in the hope of joining them at some point.

However, I had the party encounter another group of Kobolds, following rumours of a Green dragon (actually the Forest Drake). These other Kobolds have been sent to join the Sootscales, so I can either engineer a conflict between the two groups or have them be a bad influence.

I rather like having VV as a sidequest, because it's the only one that is almost guaranteed to take more than a month of game time, forcing the players to actually think about appointing temporary replacements.

However, it is by far the easiest part to drop. Varnhold is far enough away from the rest of the action that it can remain independent without becoming involved with the war, and not having access to those resources will force the PCs' kingdom to be more active in the West.

Technically, no problem at all. They might well kill Oleg and employ the bandits instead of the other way around, but that's still a totally workable way to start things off.

As long as the group genuinely intend to explore the area and found a kingdom, the fact that they're evil shouldn't make too much difference - they still have an investment in the kingdom, and most of the enemies are direct threats to the kingdom. They might make a totally different set of allies than a good party would, but those characters can still serve the same roles.

An evil party will probably have a more proactive 'get them before they get us' attitude, so be prepared that as soon as you hint something is a threat, they're likely to go after it and shortcut some of the plot.

Book 3 might be an issue, as an evil group might be tempted to take over Varn's lands and never rescue the people, but if they do that then they'll have both a Cyclops lich and an angry centaur tribe on their borders. Vordakai is sufficiently arrogant and self-absorbed that he won't consider negotiating with them whatever their alignment.

Andostre wrote:
I really like this idea. I'm worried that my PC's aren't that big on the aimless exploring, so this is a great reason to explore towards Varnhold.

Heh. Be careful with that. My players decided that they had to claim all that territory before Varn did, so they headed off that way in the middle of Book 2 when I didn't have the map ready.

DM_Blake wrote:
Are you sure that's RAW?

Not as sure as I was, actually. The dragon encounter was an unusual circumstance since it hadn't expected the effect, so the DM ruled that it had to make a concentration check (which it couldn't pass due to all the damage it was taking). So I guess his reading was that under normal circumstances the drinker would be able to dismiss the effect. I've never had to rule on it as a DM myself.

DM_Blake wrote:

smoke that curiously takes the form of your fighter before it solidifies and resumes attacking the monster.

Or rather, before it hides in the corner and hopes the rest of the party can finish the monster. Gaseous form lasts 2 minutes/level, so 10 minutes for a minimum level version, and you can't voluntarily end the effect if it's a potion.

Just ask the dragon we fed one to a couple of campaigns ago (oh wait, you can't, he didn't last very long after losing all his natural armour).

Mr. Grogg wrote:
When she vanishes with the rest of Varnhold, this will create some additional motivation for the PCs.

I am nearing the end of book 2, and have a player who wants to change characters. So his current character has been invited to Varnhold to look at an artifact they've found, taking the place of the NPC bard.

Having somebody with a close connection makes the hook stronger, but the danger is that your group might be too familiar with the area by the time of the Vanishing. My group have been given an accurate map of the area claimed by Varnhold, and I had to be very generous to them in border negotiations to stop them rushing East and claiming as many hexes as possible.

Lady Maray? She's a massive opportunist, so if there's no possibility of her seducing one of the PCs then she'll try to join up with one of the other powerful people in the area - maybe Irovetti or even Armag. If you're keeping the PCs up to date on the civil war in Restov, she might even go there and cause trouble for them.

Philip Knowsley wrote:

And that people were't being killed...but that they were disappearing, & strange things were happening to them.

They've pretty much said, though not in so many words, that she can still drain people as long as she doesn't get carried away and kill them. So maybe she'll drain them and then take them off to the First World for the accelerated healing factor. They'll come back after a few days, several years older.

Well, they've left her alive for now, with the same deal as Tiressia and Melianse - she'll keep an eye on their borders and try not to kill anyone who belongs to the kingdom. This only came about because the one character who escaped both the insanity mist and the dance proceeded to score a critical and then intimidate her into stopping the dance, otherwise it might easily have been a TPK.

However, since they didn't get to take her stuff, I have to get them interacting with her again at some point. I've placed Evindra's water clock in her tower (because I'm planning to mostly skip book 5). If they'd bothered to mention any of the hints they'd seen about Nyrissa I would have had her gift them the clock, but negotiations didn't get that detailed.

My PCs have just killed Rigg and the Grimstalker, and are about to confront The Dancing Lady. Half the party is on top of her tower (and she knows they're there thanks to Detect Thoughts) and the others are down at the entrance. It happens to be a mostly-female party so she's assuming that was deliberate and that they know more about her than they actually do.

However, one of my players is on the verge of changing character, writing out the current Spymaster (who is marrying Varn's nephew Felix) and taking over a sorceress who has just come into town and will make a natural Magister. This will leave a gap in the Spymaster role and I was thinking of encouraging them to negotiate with The Dancing Lady and eventually offer the role to her.

She has natural enchantment and divination powers, plus I've given her a level of Bard, and she can pass as an elf, so she'd be ideal for the job. And having an NPC spymaster could be fun later on.

So, do you think this could work? What will they need to do to convince her, what reasons might she have for agreeing, and how will they (and she) handle her blood drinking? Several of the Kingdom's agents are good fae, so how will they react?

My group is nearly at the end of Book 2 and hasn't bought any items from Restov or commissioned anything from within the kingdom. I give them a list each game month of the items available in the kingdom and they have bought maybe two so far. Even most of what they find, they donate to the treasury as they are far more worried about growing the kingdom quickly than increasing their personal power.

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Nyrissa is aware of the PCs quite early, sure, but there's no reason for her to care at that point.

Remember that her plan to capture the Stolen Lands doesn't care who's in charge. Indeed, she has gone out of her way to sponsor people who might unite the area (The Stag Lord, Hargulka, Irovetti) and it's a nice irony if her plan relies on a tamed Stolen Lands, and the PCs unwittingly provide that for her.

The only time Nyrissa starts to consider the PCs as a threat to her is when they get Briar, and that happens late in the AP deliberately. She can probably only be sure that they have it when they use it to slay the Jabberwock, by which time everything's already underway.

They're designed for 4, and if you're using the standard XP system then you'll need to make some tweaks for a larger group or they won't advance quickly enough. Alternatively you can add in some side adventures, something Kingmaker is well suited for.

Take a look at the sticky at the top for some very good 6-player conversions of the encounters. I have been running it for a group of 5, which has now become a group of 6, so I've used a mix of original and upgraded bits.

Valfen wrote:
In my campaign, the PCs contracted the Narthropple Expedition (the Gnomes in book 2) to do almost all exploration for them

This is likely to be the case for my group as well. Narthropple is currently helping them clear out the trolls (since the information he's looking for is in their hideout) and will then be able to complete his current commission and come back to work for them.

I'm thinking that equipping and paying him should probably just be a straight +1 or +2 to consumption, and he'll map everything he can but avoid major encounters.

I rewrote the character as an archivist bard with ranks in Cartography and gave him a low-level utility sorceress assistant, so he's quite well suited to the job.

I was really hoping he might have a shot at marrying the gnome Baroness, but I don't think that's going anywhere. That might change if he's working for them over the long term.

Sub-Creator wrote:
If the PCs just moved an army into Mivon's territory to defeat Hargulka, that would be construed as an act of war against Mivon.

I went the opposite way, making Mivon (or more specifically, their merchants' guild) the ones who offered the reward for stopping the trolls. I figured from the location that they might also be attacking targets in Mivon, and it made more sense for Mivon to want rid of them than Brevoy.

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