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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
It's a good one to modify because 100gp each is a ridiculous reward for some mushrooms to make tea with. I was expecting them to need her help casting mending on the sword from the tomb, since she's the only character around who's high enough level to fix such an item, but they ran into her before finding the tomb so I instead made it a test she gave them before agreeing to become Magister ("I'll think about it - but I could think better over a nice pot of Black Rattlecap tea").
Have they met the Swamp Witch yet? In my campaign I rewrote her as an actual witch, and she's reluctantly become Magister.
As a witch, she'd be high enough level to have several castings of Remove Disease each day. She can ask for the Black Rattlecaps as an ingredient for a general cure, and use her own magic to keep things under control in the meantime (and maybe ask for something else for helping at all, depending on how much they manage to change her attitude).
Just shows how different every group is. Mine are way behind WBL and are reluctant to keep anything they don't need because they'd rather donate it to the treasury to help expand the kingdom faster. As a result, I can make the quest rewards BP (or stuff that can easily translate into BP) and they're happy.
The rogue's player is not going to like this, but he and your cavalier are your front line. I am DMing for a similar party - two casters, an archer fighter and two rogue variants (Scout archetype and Ninja). The two rogues carry the brunt of the close combat duty. A Songhealer bard has recently joined the party but that wasn't until they were level 4.
The toughest random encounter they met in book 1 was a CR6, and I gave them every opportunity to avoid the fight, though in the end they went for it and barely won.
The ring is one of a pair (the second is found among Drelev's treasure, having also been looted) and there are rules for using them together, so changing them to different items would be tricky.
The only reaction rules given are a bonus or penalty to one specific Intimidate check, but if the PCs end up trying to negotiate with other Tiger Lord NPCs then a general bonus to Intimidate or penalty to Diplomacy would seem reasonable.
Edit: As for your former Tiger Lord PC, I'd allow him a fairly easy roll against Knowledge (Local) or Knowledge (Nobility) to see if it's something he was aware of when he was with them.
So if you give a faerie dragon sorcerer levels, does it get bloodline powers based on it's actual sorcerer levels, but spellcasting based on its combined sorcerer+racial sorcerer levels?
I would assume so. However, I also wonder if it's necessary to give it class levels at all. True dragons advance their spellcasting as they gain HD, so would advancing the Faerie Dragon's racial HD have the same effect?
I did notice this myself, especially if the PCs manage to get Staggy in his bedroom (like mine did) and not give him a chance to come out and attack them before they get further in.
Mine did the same, leading to Staggy having to fight in melee while unprepared and drunk. Mind you, they worked for the victory, replacing the liquor shipment with a stronger version to keep him in bed, and being lucky enough to attract Akiros' attention before any of the other bandits could get suspicious.
I did find that I had to swap rooms round even in that case, because otherwise there was nowhere Akiros could leave them without somebody else getting a good look at them.
We've done the same thing. Instead of the straight division of the economy roll by 5 as given, no taxation divides it by 6 (it's assumed that even without taxes the Kingdom has some investment in the economy), low taxation divides it by 5, and so on all the way up to Overwhelming which divides it by 2.
This generally raises more income, but I've ditched the Magic Item economy and made some other adjustments and it seems to be working out.
My players asked some volunteers from among the settlers and ex-bandits to go down to the Stag Lord's fort for some militia training from Kesten Garess. This made him feel useful (since he's not on the council) and let them keep an eye on the borders of their kingdom (since they haven't actually claimed that hex yet).
As each group of militia is trained, I am giving one of their towns a defence bonus of +1 for having trained men available. They will have no other effect until they are mobilised.
Mary Yamato wrote:
We dealt with this by having the PCs aid in a rebellion in Restov leading to it becoming a Free City. This gives some buffer with Brevoy.
This was always my take on it - that Restov (or possibly a larger chunk of Rostland as a whole) intended not to take sides in any civil war, but use it to declare independence. It makes much more sense for them to seed kingdoms to the south if this is their plan.
In my campaign it's entirely possible that the PCs' Kingdom will end up with Rostland as a vassal state, but that's because I'm planning to run the Return of Choral as my 'book 7', and the prospect of Rostland bending the knee is the only thing likely to make them take on the task.
Also watch out for the annexation of Varnhold in #3 as it can wreck a weak or unstable economy. It is very discouraging to get a "reward" that turns out to ruin your kingdom.
The trick here is to allow some of the claimed hexes to still have usable farmland. A few farms will offset the sudden rise in consumption while still raising the Command DC, making it a difficult but not disastrous undertaking.
Since this is THE perfect AP for PCs that want to dabble in Leadership or Crafting
Everyone says this, but an alternate way to look at it is that it's the one AP where they don't need to touch either. By the time they'd be thinking about getting the feats, they'll know plenty of NPCs who can help them out, and can commission any items they need. So I've advised my players not to waste feats on Leadership or Crafting.
The first couple of books, at least, are very tight on XP to begin with. So if you ditch the less interesting quests and keep random encounters to a minimum, a couple of extra modules shouldn't put them too far ahead. You could also maybe lower the XP bonuses associated with kingdom building, and ditch the XP for exploring hexes after book 1.
Or, you could use the slow XP progression, though I think with that method you'd have to add at least one module to each book to keep them on track.
It's a good idea to introduce Maegar Varn before Varnhold disappears. My group are a couple of sessions (and about a year of game time) into book 2, and I'm about to send them a herald announcing that Varn will be visiting in a month or so. He will suggest that both sides work on a road connecting one of the PCs' towns with Varnhold Pass, and if all goes well the players will only find out about the disappearance when they act on that plan.
The way I ran it was that Drelev was the 'official' expedition, sponsored with Noleski's knowledge and including merchants and diplomats, so they were given their charter in a formal ceremony. The other three groups were insurance for Restov, so they were given theirs all together in a more unofficial meeting. The three groups met but didn't have much to say to each other, though Varn did wish the PCs luck.
There's also a character in book 5, Ilora Nuski, who helps the PCs and is supposed to be an exile from Pitax. I plan to instead make her the only survivor of the Iron Wraiths expedition, otherwise they're never mentioned again.
we don't do mass combat, we just use the army rules to determine how much trouble the PCs will have navigating their way through the wartorn battlefield to make their way to the commanding officers or other notable members of the opposition. >_>
That was kind of how I was planning to run it. After all, that's what high level characters are for. However, there are potentially some situations where two battles can be running simultaneously, or they happen before the PCs can react, and those are the ones that the rules are there for.
I like the idea of running a battle as a single combat, it's just the right level of abstraction, but I'm not convinced by the implementation.
The Kingdom building in Ultimate Campaign seems to be a strange mix of things I'd already done because they were obvious (hex improvements other than farms, rebalancing the economy to ditch the magic item element), while adding more detail to bits I'd already simplified (such as adding more building types after I'd cut the list down by about half).
I am likely to add one or two of the hex improvements I hadn't already thought of, but apart from that I don't think there's anything in that section I can use.
I haven't looked at the mass combat rules yet, and that's the part I really don't like in Kingmaker so I'm hoping the Ultimate Campaign version will be an improvement.
In the first case, the CR of the encounter is 7 (total XP 3200 which is the same XP as for 1 CR7 creature). In the second case, it's CR6 (total XP 2400 as you calculated, which is the same as 1 CR6 creature). XP per player is always just the total divided by the size of the party.
The guideline for 3.5 used to be to add 2 to the CR every time you doubled the number of creatures (so in your second example, CR2, +2 for doubling to 2 creatures, +2 again for doubling to 4). The way the XP table is built, the same mostly holds true for Pathfinder, but looking to see what CR matches the total XP value is more helpful for mixed encounters.
Edited to add: I wouldn't rate either of those as epic encounters for the party you describe, though they would both be challenging.
I went with the rings, too. I made the Stag Lord's one a Ring of Climbing and worked the lock of hair into the ring itself (since a Ring of Climbing is normally a piece of cord or twine by the fluff).
All of them will work as normal (even the Ring of Bestial Friendship) but anyone wearing them takes a penalty on saves against fae spells and SLAs, and a double penalty against those cast by Nyrissa herself.
Our diviner wizard may work out a way to use them against her later, but given that Nyrissa is mostly alone in a nondescript room, I don't think scrying will give away too much.
As DM, I often use 3rd party monsters that were designed for 3.0 or 3.5, and even some of the more obscure WOTC ones. I also have the Magic Item Compendium and will drop some items in as treasure, for the sake of variety, although Ultimate Equipment did introduce a number of items which covered the functions of many 3.5 items in different ways.
There are two wizards in the party, one of whom is a specialist Diviner, so they may also get hold of some 3.5 spells, but I haven't put any in yet.
The first Scarred Lands Creature Collection had the Feral - a creature with one soul split between multiple bodies. Every time you killed one, each of the others gained a hit die and other stat increases, until there was just one really powerful one left.
The great thing about this is that if one of your players does confront and kill their stalker, the others will see theirs get stronger.
You might have to tweak the stats for your party's level (the standard Feral pack was, IIRC, 15 2-HD monsters, meaning that the final version would end up as 16HD. If you start with a pack size of 4 then obviously the ability range will be that much smaller).