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Can this Kingmaker game be saved? (spoliers)


Kingmaker


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Let me set the scene:

I'm running five players through Kingmaker. We're in the middle of RRR (the group has dealt with Grigori and the werewolf, they know about the trolls down south, and they've just discovered the Abandoned Keep) and we've done about 18 months of build phases.

The problem is, my players are growing heartily sick of the build phases.

Now, I know I could run the "Kingdom in the Background" option, but that's highly unsatisfactory to me for a number of reasons. First, I feel the kingdom building mechanics are the heart of the AP and what makes the AP different from anything else. Second, that would mean focusing on the events of the AP, which honestly are nothing to write home about (The Varnhold Vanishing is awesome, Blood for Blood is an abysmally-designed waste of paper and time, War of the River Kings is serviceable at best, and Sound of a Thousand Screams is good but such a complete and utter non sequitur that it may as well be parachuted in from a different AP) so rushing through the building aspects of the AP to get to it is sort of like driving 100 mph to get to a corn field in Nebraska. Third, the "Kingdom in the Background" option is unsatisfactory because large sections of the plot in the later books involve triggers and issues based in the mechanics of kingdom building, so removing those mechanics make those issues (the technical problems of absorbing large swaths of land, the different plot points that occur when the kingdom reaches a certain size or what have you) very much less interesting. Fourth, I'll be damned if I'm going to assume the onus of all the bookkeeping and decisions involved in kingdom building on my own shoulders -- if I want to do that, I'll fire up Civilization on the PC.

A complicating factor of the whole thing is that the players who are growing sick of the build phases are growing sick of them for different reasons. One player wanted the sort of intrigue that comes with a "Game of Thrones"-style setting, which isn't something that a frontier kingdom being built up from the raw wilderness can deliver. Another player is irritated that other players are taking up too much of the process and that she isn't the focus of the build phases because of her character's background (a cleric of Abadar), and that other players are getting too much attention in the roleplaying elements adherent to the build phases because of background choices they've made for their characters. A third player isn't much for deep roleplaying and enjoys the poking-things-with-sharp-bits-of-metal aspects of Pathfinder; however, all the players enjoy that aspect as well in some measure, and those aspects come less and less frequently as you explore all the land you can get to without getting slaughtered by wandering monsters or trespassing on your neighbors' territory.

That last point is genuinely significant, because no matter how I space out the plot events from the books, they need to be surrounded by game years of kingdom building to bring the kingdom up to the point where it can handle the events of the next book in the chain; this is something that's making everyone's skin crawl just at the idea of it.

This is not to say I've had nothing occurring during the build phases outside of the mechanics. Quite the contrary, they've had to deal with a wide variety of conundrums that they've all enjoyed, which have arisen from elements both in their characters and from outside events. Those have been the best moments of the game so far, IMO, but, again, nobody wants a steady diet of roleplaying at the expense of traditional adventuring activities like exploration and killing things for fun and profit.

Now, there are solutions to much of the above. The pedestrian and uninspired nature of the later books is easily rectified by homebrewing vast swaths of the books, which is something I'm fine with. So far the players have been generally very passive in expecting me to bring everything of interest to them, and them being more proactive in developing their own plot lines can make more interesting and involving things things occur during the time covered by the build phases. However, that still leave the crux of the issue, which is that the kingdom building metgagame is getting tedious and boring for them and they want more traditional adventure than I can deliver in the framework of the AP.

Having previous tried Curse of the Crimson Throne (and failed at it when the GM quit the group when we were 5th level), we don't want to abandon yet another AP at 5th level. However, I'm not certain that solutions exist for the problems we have. Can this campaign be saved? What do YOU think?


Sure it can. You've already laid out the groundwork. Put them in charge of bringing in the elements that they want without cramming the nuts and bolts of building the kingdom month by month.

They want Game of Thrones? They have neighbors in all directions, outline them, dangle a few carrots, roll with their decisions. The kingdom does not remain a frontier for any longer than they let it stay that way.

The cleric of Abadar was to expand civilization in the Stolen Lands? Suggest that she survey her kingdom's raw materials and the possibilities for trade gthat can be made from them. Obviously, she will want to quickly change from exporting raw materials and importing finished goods to localized craftsmen making the finished goods and exporting those in trade for what the kingdom does not produce for itself. Exotic spices, iron, steel, *salt* and silks are but the tip of things her kingdom will want. Off the top of my head the Stolen Lands are a cornucopia of agrarian and lumber-based products: fresh-water fish and mollusks; berries; grains, legumes; wine and beer and distilled beverages; *honey* and many products from that; various hardwoods and soft woods for all manner of carpentry, weapons, shields, ships and vehicles; paper; exporting exotic animals as pets or arena fodder. There could be much wrangling to establish guilds govorning all of these activities, let alone the friction between local churches and the inevitable preseltyzers from more "exotic" faiths.

The noble families are not initially present because the *player characters* ARE the noble families. Invite (and escort) their own kin to their new lands. Such will inevitably lead to disputes.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Gregg Helmberger wrote:

Let me set the scene:

I'm running five players through Kingmaker. We're in the middle of RRR (the group has dealt with Grigori and the werewolf, they know about the trolls down south, and they've just discovered the Abandoned Keep) and we've done about 18 months of build phases.

The problem is, my players are growing heartily sick of the build phases.

Now, I know I could run the "Kingdom in the Background" option, but that's highly unsatisfactory to me for a number of reasons. First, I feel the kingdom building mechanics are the heart of the AP and what makes the AP different from anything else. Second, that would mean focusing on the events of the AP, which honestly are nothing to write home about (The Varnhold Vanishing is awesome, Blood for Blood is an abysmally-designed waste of paper and time, War of the River Kings is serviceable at best, and Sound of a Thousand Screams is good but such a complete and utter non sequitur that it may as well be parachuted in from a different AP) so rushing through the building aspects of the AP to get to it is sort of like driving 100 mph to get to a corn field in Nebraska. Third, the "Kingdom in the Background" option is unsatisfactory because large sections of the plot in the later books involve triggers and issues based in the mechanics of kingdom building, so removing those mechanics make those issues (the technical problems of absorbing large swaths of land, the different plot points that occur when the kingdom reaches a certain size or what have you) very much less interesting. Fourth, I'll be damned if I'm going to assume the onus of all the bookkeeping and decisions involved in kingdom building on my own shoulders -- if I want to do that, I'll fire up Civilization on the PC.

A complicating factor of the whole thing is that the players who are growing sick of the build phases are growing sick of them for different reasons. One player wanted the sort of intrigue that comes with a "Game of Thrones"-style setting, which isn't something that a frontier...

If your willing to make whole sale changes to the path to suit your group it should be a no brainer. Is there at least one person that can do the kingdom building? Roll all the Kingdom events ahead of time and give them the results that suit your - their pace etc. Don't give up on the path.


One thing I've found that really helps break the tedium of kingdom building is that I have events every month. It never made sense to me for an entire month to pass without anything interesting happening.

I don't assign all the quests at once, and I don't have every hex populated from the beginning. The party can't just blast through the land exploring it all in one month and then expect nothing to change the rest of the year. The Stolen Lands are constantly changing and being reclaimed!

Every month that I roll a "non-event", I come up with a new quest (usually from the book) that involves a new threat to the stolen lands (i.e. A Forest Drake has been sighted! or, Trolls have moved into the southern Narlmarches!) The threat could be in any hex, even if previously explored.

It really keeps the game world interesting, and also gives a great opportunity to throw plot hooks for some of the other great modules that can be easily tied into this setting like Crown of the Kobold King (and others.)

Also, the Game of Thrones type atmosphere is very easy to bring into this adventure path, especially since Brevoy screams it. Consider the Greenbelt like Riverrun (in the GoT series), it's smack in the middle of a political nightmare consisting of New Stetven, Restov, Pitax, and Mivon.

Bring those other nearby kingdoms much earlier into the game. An strong alliance with Maegar Varn in book 2 will make book 3 very interesting. Make sure to build up the tension between Restov and New Stetven. Discussions with Mivon and/or Pitax tend to make Restov and each other very nervous.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Turin the Mad wrote:


Sure it can. You've already laid out the groundwork. Put them in charge of bringing in the elements that they want without cramming the nuts and bolts of building the kingdom month by month.

They want Game of Thrones? They have neighbors in all directions, outline them, dangle a few carrots, roll with their decisions. The kingdom does not remain a frontier for any longer than they let it stay that way.

Well, it remains frontier until it's sufficiently built up and established, which takes time. And, more importantly, lots and lots and lots of build phases.

Turin the Mad wrote:
The cleric of Abadar was to expand civilization in the Stolen Lands? Suggest that she survey her kingdom's raw materials and the possibilities for trade gthat can be made from them. Obviously, she will want to quickly change from exporting raw materials and importing finished goods to localized craftsmen making the finished goods and exporting those in trade for what the kingdom does not produce for itself. Exotic spices, iron, steel, *salt* and silks are but the tip of things her kingdom will want. Off the top of my head the Stolen Lands are a cornucopia of agrarian and lumber-based products: fresh-water fish and mollusks; berries; grains, legumes; wine and beer and distilled beverages; *honey* and many products from that; various hardwoods and soft woods for all manner of carpentry, weapons, shields, ships and vehicles; paper; exporting exotic animals as pets or arena fodder. There could be much wrangling to establish guilds govorning all of these activities, let alone the friction between local churches and the inevitable preseltyzers from more "exotic" faiths.

This is all true, though she is playing the High Priest and other players might object to her stepping all over the bailiwicks of the Marshall, Treasurer, and Diplomat collectively, and the High Priest assuming such a broad portfolio would inevitably cause lots of friction -- friction which said player would likely take as a rebuke to her no matter what I said to the contrary, given the personality involved.

Turin the Mad wrote:
The noble families are not initially present because the *player characters* ARE the noble families. Invite (and escort) their own kin to their new lands. Such will inevitably lead to disputes.

Right, the players understand this. The "Game of Thrones" guy has said that the kingdom will be exactly what he wants to play in...in 200 game-years. I don't particularly want to foster lots of friction between the PCs -- there's already quite enough of that!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
PJ wrote:
If your willing to make whole sale changes to the path to suit your group it should be a no brainer. Is there at least one person that can do the kingdom building? Roll all the Kingdom events ahead of time and give them the results that suit your - their pace etc. Don't give up on the path.

There are a couple of people who would be glad to take on the burdens of the building, but that just means that the others will have nothing at all to do, rather than nothing they enjoy doing, during those times. This seems not to be a significant improvement over the status quo. :-)

I do know all the upcoming kingdom events for the next...gosh, I think it's 14 months or so. I do that so I can foreshadow and properly lay the groundwork for them to make sense.


You could have the players that enjoy the building aspect build up the kingdom on a off day. Some burden will be on you to entice the players with interesting things to do and learn about in between exploration and combat.
My players attempted to frame Mivon as an agitator against a neighbor, after I dropped some hints about a looming war.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Cidwin wrote:

One thing I've found that really helps break the tedium of kingdom building is that I have events every month. It never made sense to me for an entire month to pass without anything interesting happening.

I don't assign all the quests at once, and I don't have every hex populated from the beginning. The party can't just blast through the land exploring it all in one month and then expect nothing to change the rest of the year. The Stolen Lands are constantly changing and being reclaimed!

Oh, I do that as well. The PCs have continuing individual storylines I've built up from their backgrounds and actions, and something happens every month in addition to anything I roll.

One thing I've found remarkably useful is to come up with monthly events by going to Wikipedia and clicking "random article," and adapting whatever comes up. I've come up with some weird, interesting things that way!

Cidwin wrote:

Every month that I roll a "non-event", I come up with a new quest (usually from the book) that involves a new threat to the stolen lands (i.e. A Forest Drake has been sighted! or, Trolls have moved into the southern Narlmarches!) The threat could be in any hex, even if previously explored.

It really keeps the game world interesting, and also gives a great opportunity to throw plot hooks for some of the other great modules that can be easily tied into this setting like Crown of the Kobold King (and others.)

This is a good idea (I am definitely running The Harrowing in this manner!), especially because the side quests are generally pretty damned stupid as laid out (a spoiled girl demands that the King and the High Lords of the land bring her a pony!) Many of the side quests I've abandoned as just being silly, and others I've modified to make them more sensible. I'm just not sure how long it's plausible for the ruler of the land and his closest advisers to keep riding out to personally face down every monster that wanders into their territory. That's what they're building up an infrastructure for, after all (I've already had to swat them down about sending in their nascent military forces to deal with the trolls!).

Cidwin wrote:

Also, the Game of Thrones type atmosphere is very easy to bring into this adventure path, especially since Brevoy screams it. Consider the Greenbelt like Riverrun (in the GoT series), it's smack in the middle of a political nightmare consisting of New Stetven, Restov, Pitax, and Mivon.

Bring those other nearby kingdoms much earlier into the game. An strong alliance with Maegar Varn in book 2 will make book 3 very interesting. Make sure to build up the tension between Restov and New Stetven. Discussions with Mivon and/or Pitax tend to make Restov and each other very nervous.

This is reasonable in principle, but there are problems that my players would immediately seize on. Most notably, there needs to be at least some crude idea of parity for skulduggery and plotting to make a difference -- i.e., if one side is vastly stronger than the other, then the plots of the weaker one will either be completely ignored or provoke a response the weaker side can't handle. They already have swallowed a grievous insult from the Drelev Demesne (Grigori believed himself to be hired by that country and told the PCs so) because they know that they're not strong enough to resist Drelev should that ruler send his armies crashing into them, which he would be very likely to do if they anger him. How much more so established players like Mivon and Pitax, not to mention Restov? Sure, I could have them play bit parts in other people's intrigues, but that's unsatisfying -- the players want to be movers and shakers, not pawns, but anything they move or shake is going to kill them (or at least they would have a justifiable fear of it doing so which would prevent them from moving and shaking in the first place). The players and their kingdom are relative ants trying to stay out of the way of relative elephants.

That said, I've established Maegar Varn as being a "good guy," and they've grown very friendly with him and his land. This will make all of them disappearing to kick off Book 3 a real kick in the nards.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Midnight-Gamer wrote:

You could have the players that enjoy the building aspect build up the kingdom on a off day. Some burden will be on you to entice the players with interesting things to do and learn about in between exploration and combat.

My players attempted to frame Mivon as an agitator against a neighbor, after I dropped some hints about a looming war.

This is something I've considered, and I would definitely implement it but for the personalities involved. The player with by far the most interest in building the kingdom (the cleric of Abadar) isn't a "rules person" and would need her hand held every step of the way. And that's fine, except she's so busy she can only so much as answer an email about once a week, much less get together on a non-game-day. I'm pretty sure it would bog down very quickly under those circumstances, unfortunately.

Taldor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I can't know what the PC's will build up front but I generally roll events months in advance and then weave those together into a cohesive plot, if I can. The Events, as written, offer a quick & dirty method for handling them and the repercussions they might represent. I just use those as guidelines... and thus I can build in all the intrigue and drama I want and fit the repercussions (penalties to rolls, Unrest, loss of BP's, etc.) to the situation.

Early on, the PC's had allowed bandits they'd captured alive to repent, accept a brand, and find honest work. As they later founded their own kingdom, many of these reformed bandits came to their lands to pitch in, grateful for the opportunity to go on breathing and loving the idea of getting in on the ground floor, so to speak. They've formed what's come to be known as The Lodge which is shaping up to be something of a labor union... though with enough fantasy slant to be fitting for the game and setting.

They've grown significantly in power. To offset them, merchants gathered into their own Merchant's Guild. To add intrigue, Kressle (yeah... her) is the Counselor in my PC's kingdom (and that was a pretty interesting story on its own). Naturally, the Merchant Guild assumes she'll side with The Lodge whenever they need to dispute something she gets involved in. So far, that was all simmering in the background.

At some point, the PC's, had made a terrible error and killed a nymph. They paid (pulled BP's for the money) to raise her but their relationship with the fey became seriously strained. They managed to come to an agreement to avoid future mistakes by pretty much surrendering a good amount of their claimed territory to the fey - forest and rivers that will never be developed or exploited in any way.

So now there's a supply issue which the Merchant's Guild is blaming on The Lodge. The Lodge is increasingly upset with the fey (those woodsmen that Melianse confronted were members of The Lodge in my campaign) and now having choice lands made off-limits slots The Lodge off even more (wait... did I use Shadowrun slang there???).

And all of this actually sprang into being because of a couple of die rolls months ago that I took some dramatic license with.

One more thing I do that seems to help... I write a newsletter for my players that covers events that don't always make it to the gaming table, foreshadow things to come, and present some of those MMO type "fetch" quests. The newsletter also describes reactions from the population to things that might have happened during a session. Fixing up after a certain beastie attacked the town, for example, wasn't just a matter of dumping BP's. They got to read about people in town that were killed, the resulting hardship and difficulties, etc. Its also a great place to plant seeds for potential plotlines, see what the players seem interested in and then flesh those out.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Faster Kingdombuilding?

The easiest fix is to tinker with the kingdombuilding rules. You need to keep your hand on the tiller so that you can drive pacing. In my game, I made resource points give d6 BP per month. That gold mine? d6 BP. That mud bowl? d6 BP. If the PCs need more BP, have an "NPC discover" a vein of silver in the ground. If the PCs have too much BP, tell them the mine dries up. You control the pacing. It sounds like your group needs a lot more BP. Give it to them.

If some of your characters want Game of Thrones play, then you can kill two birds with one stone here: trade agreements. There are six noble houses in Brevoy, each with their own powers and agendas. Some of those houses have parallel/descendant houses in Mivon. (There's also four houses in Pitax if you want to include them.) Each of these entities could be the subject of their own trade agreement. What does a trade agreement do? Why, it gives you 2 BP every month. And there's no great catalyst for betrayals and politics than whom is trading with whom.

(Both of the above suggestions should replace the magic-item-economy. Do not go down that dark path. You lose control, and you lose opportunity to do the above.)

Finally, remember your players can grab more hexes per month as the kingdom gets bigger. This will create an acceleration effect. Feel free to tweak the rules to have it accelerate faster.

---

More killing things?

Buy Tales of the Old Margreve (PDF only, alas) and run them through quests in the woods. If they've already explored the woods, drop another woods on the map. This 3PP is seriously a must-purchase for Kingmaker. It contains 8 shortish adventures, all wonderfully inspired, and perfect to slide into the Kingmaker AP. I don't know how you feel about 3PP in general, but you need to get this one.

Throw in other modules. I've run Feast of Ravenmoor and Realm of the Fellnight Queen in my campaign already. Right now, my PCs are up in Garess lands, trying to make contact with the Highdelve Dwarves... and I'm using Clash of the Kingslayers to do it!

Other GMs on these boards have successfully inserted Carnival of Tears, Conquest of the Bloodsworn Vale, and even most of Hook Mountain Massacre!

---

More spice in general?

Make sure to use this: Expanded Events

Hope any of that helps.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
roccojr wrote:


One more thing I do that seems to help... I write a newsletter for my players that covers events that don't always make it to the gaming table, foreshadow things to come, and present some of those MMO type "fetch" quests. The newsletter also describes reactions from the population to things that might have happened during a session. Fixing up after a certain beastie attacked the town, for example, wasn't just a matter of dumping BP's. They got to read about people in town that were killed, the resulting hardship and difficulties, etc. Its also a great place to plant seeds for potential plotlines, see what the players seem interested in and then flesh those out.

Mmmm, newsletter... [drool] That's a fantastic idea. Consider it yoinked.


Gregg Helmberger wrote:
Well, it remains frontier until it's sufficiently built up and established, which takes time. And, more importantly, lots and lots and lots of build phases.

It takes FAR less than one is used to during the first 25 - 50 hexes in size (first two maps of the four). Once they break the small # of buildings a month "barrier", it does not take long at all. My group has played about 10 years' time all told, have wrapped up Book 5 and are at ~250 hexes in total size with 80 fully developed city districts. It takes very little time assuming something close to the RAW kingdom rules are being used.

Gregg Helmberger wrote:
This is all true, though she is playing the High Priest and other players might object to her stepping all over the bailiwicks of the Marshall, Treasurer, and Diplomat collectively, and the High Priest assuming such a broad portfolio would inevitably cause lots of friction -- friction which said player would...

If the other players are uninterested in working with her, this is all their own making.

They characters may be in the positions, although it is very clear that most of the group has no interest in dealing with the headaches of administrating the kingdom, let alone on the degree that you seem to want them to.

Resolving things exclusively at the table can easily train-wreck the entire campaign. When there's only 1 or 2 interested players out of 4+, a happy medium has to be reached. This is not the typical AP where you can play the game this way. Some one has to deal with all the "boring stuff" away from the table when everyone's there.

There are TONS of ideas for Kingmaker on this forum, make use of them! It sounds like you're only partially through Chapter 2 - plenty of time for Hargulka's troll kingdom and much much more to be injected.

It has already been suggested to let the players take charge - let them! This is the only campaign that isn't homebrew (well, up until Fire Mountain Games' Evil PCs AP has hit the shelves as it were) that I've seen published that encourages the players to take the reigns.

If they don't, well ... guess it's time to consider other options.

:)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Erik Freund wrote:

Faster Kingdombuilding?

The easiest fix is to tinker with the kingdombuilding rules. You need to keep your hand on the tiller so that you can drive pacing. In my game, I made resource points give d6 BP per month. That gold mine? d6 BP. That mud bowl? d6 BP. If the PCs need more BP, have an "NPC discover" a vein of silver in the ground. If the PCs have too much BP, tell them the mine dries up. You control the pacing. It sounds like your group needs a lot more BP. Give it to them.

If some of your characters want Game of Thrones play, then you can kill two birds with one stone here: trade agreements. There are six noble houses in Brevoy, each with their own powers and agendas. Some of those houses have parallel/descendant houses in Mivon. (There's also four houses in Pitax if you want to include them.) Each of these entities could be the subject of their own trade agreement. What does a trade agreement do? Why, it gives you 2 BP every month. And there's no great catalyst for betrayals and politics than whom is trading with whom.

Finally, remember your players can grab more hexes per month as the kingdom gets bigger. This will create an acceleration effect. Feel free to tweak the rules to have it accelerate faster.

Lack of BP is certainly PART of the problem, one which is finally turning around easing significantly with some wise builds. However, accelerating the building brings additional problems, doesn't it? The more kingdom you have, the more kingdom you have to build. The more cities you have, the more cities you need to fuss with. Even if BP are coming in at a faster rate, there's more to spend them on. I could be off on this (I'm projecting forward in my head, since the player's kingdom is only 18 months old) but it seems this way to me.

One solution I've come up with is to assign each city/region to a specific player for improvement, minding, and general care and love; then, each successive build phase would rotate who the first player to build, and therefore the first player to build something BIG, is. I think this might solve some of the ennui surrounding the build phase, though it still leaves other problematic things in the wings.

Erik Freund wrote:
(Both of the above suggestions should replace the magic-item-economy. Do not go down that dark path. You lose control, and you lose opportunity to do the above.)

I'm not sure I follow you here. It seems to me that part of the point of the build phases is to create a vibrant and functioning economy. If the whole economy is powered by an endless supply of handwavium...what's the point? Why don't I just tell them they can build whatever they want, whenever they want and remove the build cycle as a whole?

---

Erik Freund wrote:

More killing things?

Buy Tales of the Old Margreve (PDF only, alas) and run them through quests in the woods. If they've already explored the woods, drop another woods on the map. This 3PP is seriously a must-purchase for Kingmaker. It contains 8 shortish adventures, all wonderfully inspired, and perfect to slide into the Kingmaker AP. I don't know how you feel about 3PP in general, but you need to get this one.

I do have that and have been considering running some things from it. And of course I can always have a couple of encounter areas (read: dungeons)"discovered by farmers plowing their fields," though, again, I'm not sure how much of that I can do without straining verisimilitude.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Gregg Helmberger wrote:
Erik Freund wrote:


(Both of the above suggestions should replace the magic-item-economy. Do not go down that dark path. You lose control, and you lose opportunity to do the above.)
I'm not sure I follow you here. It seems to me that part of the point of the build phases is to create a vibrant and functioning economy. If the whole economy is powered by an endless supply of handwavium...what's the point? Why don't I just tell them they can build whatever they want, whenever they want and remove the build cycle as a whole?

There's two principle means of getting BP. One is the Economy roll against the Command DC (where you divide the total by 5). The other is direct BP gain (such as from selling magic items, or perhaps the houserules I posited above). You should definately and absolutely keep the Economy roll. This is the bedrock of your nation's income. There is nothing handwavy here, and you want your PCs to nurture it.

However, if you let the magic-item-economy (that is, BP from selling magic items) run its natural course, it will dominate your income stream. I'm talking about rapidly getting to 200BP/month. This is silly. And there's no logical in-game way to stop it. As GM, you lose control and fall victim to poor rules. (And the versimilitude is weird: who keeps buying +5 swords every month?)

Giving targeted suppliments of BP (ie trade agreements, gold mines) allows you to control the suppliment. It also opens up neat RP opportunities. If it feels too "handwavy" for you, remember that you choose how many monsters ambush players in their sleep, and how high CR those monsters are. Combat is handwavy too.
In other words, when a gold mine starts to dry up, let the PCs roll some Appraise or whatever checks to keep it going "just a bit longer." When a trade agreement starts to go sour, let them Intimidate or whatever the person into keeping it going. Let the players interact with it. Just don't forget your the GM.

Again, the direct-BP should be a suppliment to the bedrock that is your Economy roll. The magic-item-economy, as-written, up-ends that relationship. You should therefore strive to keep things in their proper place.

Osirion

Some solutions I have off the top of my head:

1) Reward the characters with backstory by allowing them to contribute to kingdom building (either gaining bonuses by using skills or spells, or by gaining mechanical and/or story benefits by building according to their backgrounds).

2) Add in or emphasize the rewards of adventuring as related to kingdom building - there are plenty of points to add in possible BP or direct kingdom rewards. Consider loosening the structure of kingdom building - if the PCs conquer a tower of monsters, add it to their kingdom immediately without going through the mechanics of claiming the hex and founding a city. I started doing this with both groups (albeit without skipping the hex requirement) and they agreed things made more sense.

3) There are plenty of opportunities for intrigue - Grigori was a good one, but that is past. Add in some more encounters with agents of Drelev and Pitax, and even from Restov. I also came up with espionage rules for one of my games that may be of interest, though it requires keeping track of the other kingdoms involved to be fair (add or remove options to taste, maybe even require roleplaying elements):

Spoiler:

There will be an Espionage phase during the kingdom building week each month. During this phase, the Spymaster (or appropriate player, but there must be a Spymaster appointed) can opt to make a kingdom Loyalty check to attempt espionage against a single sovereign nation. Before the check is made, the type of espionage must be selected from those below. The result of a successful check is covered in each entry. A failure indicates no result, but the attempt was unnoticed. Failure by 5 or more has special penalties, and the target is likely aware of the attempt. Note that rival nations can also now attempt these!

Attempting espionage carries no further cost (the risk of failure is enough).

General Intelligence (DC = Command DC)
An general intelligence check grants all party members a +2 insight bonus to one of the following checks: attack rolls, saving throws, or skill checks. This bonus lasts for one month and only applies when the check is made against the target kingdom or its subjects (ie. does not affect random encounters). Failure by 5+ imposes a -2 penalty on party members rolls in similar situations.

Directed Intelligence (DC = Command DC + CR of target)
A directed intelligence check reveals specific information about a target subject of the nation (note this can also be used on one's own subjects). Similar to Knowledge checks except it works on humanoids and without firsthand knowledge. Like Knowledge checks, every 5 points above the DC reveals another piece of information.

Counterintelligence (DC = Command DC + 5)
A counter-intelligence check prevents all types of espionage from the rival nation.

Military Intelligence (DC = Command DC + CR of highest CR army)
A military intelligence check grants any army in the field an advantage of +1 to OV and DV when engaging armies of the enemy. This bonus lasts for 1 month. Failure by 5+ imposes a -1 penalty on the PC armies in similar situations.

Sabotage (DC = Command DC + BP value of building)
Sabotage means the target building is partially ruined. The nation loses the granted bonuses during the next kingdom phase and increases unrest by 2. Repairs cost half the original BP (to a maximum of 5). Success by 10+ means the building is destroyed. Failure by 5+ means word of the attempt increases unrest in the PC kingdom by 2d4.

Economic Sabotage (DC = Command DC)
Economic sabotage costs the rival kingdom BP equal to the result of the check divided by 5. Failure by 5+ costs the PC kingdom BP equal to the DC divided by 5.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I think I have enough to bring to the table to keep the crew happy for the moment. We'll see this Sunday! :-)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

My players hated it too. We played until almost 4am in the morning towards the end of book 5 so we could finally finish with kingdom building and be done with it. The King deliberately built a "swamp highway" through the marshes at massive cost in order to spend bucketloads of BP and thereby speed up the process.

Personally I felt that kingdom building was like a game of Civilisation with all the fun stripped out. I never found a satisfactory answer to this but know that I did complete the campaign (with a pretty harsh ending if you look at the obituary thread) and my players were deeply satisfied with the end result. The process however was a total pain.


Two of my players undertook the heavy mantle of the city building / kingdom development and did it away from the table. Kingdom design/building by committee takes too long. As it is they've invested about 80 hours' time. It probably took me 10-12 hours to do Pitax.


The problem is certainly difficult, especially as there are so many sources of discontent. However, if you're willing to dive in deep enough, a couple of changes can solve most of them, without players even noticing direct DM intervention.

Let's take intrigue. They are too weak for Game of Thrones style intrigue... or are they? Their kingdom certainly is, but the players themselves are fairly powerful already.
So they can't throw around their kingdom's power... that just makes things more interesting. They may not weave their own power play plots, but they can certainly struggle to redirect plots against them, 'appropriate' supplies from enemies, gather intelligence, perform sabotage, or otherwise adventure for their kingdom completely outside of the plot of the books. Sometimes the adventure will bring in BPs, sometimes rivals of their targets will reward them, and sometimes the reward is better trade conditions for their merchants (could be a plus in economy, monthly income, or a flat bonus).
The intrigue would be defensive at the beginning, and I think for flavor reasons that makes sense; the whole settling idea is part of a power play between the Swordlords and the Throne, so they must free themselves from peon status before they can make their own plays. Maybe you'll have to sit the players down outside of game and explain (or rewrite) some of the background so they understand what's going on better.

As for the cleric... what background gets in the way? So she is a cleric of Abadar, that should make for excellent role playing. Trying to convert people, strengthening the faith without angering Erastil worshipers too much, establishing her own position within the (Galarion-wide) church hierarchy, and so on. And that's before you consider the standard duties of priests... they help troubled souls, are advisers to common people, help the grieving, and generally keep a community running. Now you must pick what of these duties may appeal to the player and present her with opportunities to handle the situation on screen, so to speak. Does she have a high heal skill? So maybe she is midwife for the town as well? Or maybe a woman comes to her with tales of domestic abuse (or rape) that may or may not be true; I hope she has sense motive! Maybe one of her acolytes has a problem and needs advice... or suffers suddenly from mental disorders that could range from harmless over annoying (like kleptomania - and dealing with the fallout once it comes out) to deadly. Is it an attack (could be a good seed for an intrigue based side adventure)? A divine test (and if so for who)? Or simply a natural event?
And how about policies that are not mentioned in the book. Taxation of churches. Tax exemption for church donations. Church schools. Religious teachings in school. Law and moral in general. And lots of other stuff that (so far) has no game effect, but that could make for interesting RP and certainly provide stuff for conflict. But keep a heavy hand on any attempt to bring real politics into the game - any argument over what effects any decision should have should be per email only and never happen during the session!
And that's for general clerics; now consider what Abadar specifically could bring to the campaign. Or ask your player to read Faith's of Balance and see how she can advance his cause in game. She certainly should have an idea what a city (and kingdom) should look like, but her ideas may well be different from the others; indeed if the players take their job serious everyone should have different ideas of what needs to be build, and there should be a lot of horse trading between them about what will be build in what order, and what other concessions one side makes to others.
For example she should want religious buildings dedicated to Abadar specifically, and have them get a special place in the city; and then other building that support the Faith, like banks, under church control. Meanwhile other players of other Faiths may wish to limit the influence of a single church and have more secular banks and multi-faith temples with Abadar being just one of several gods worshiped there. Same game statistics, so neither side will offer a clear mechanical advantage, but both sides offer seeds for future events. Corrupt secular banks, clerics meddling in politics, religious tensions, and so on. There's even stuff here for domestic intrigue for the game of thrones player; the special handicap of dealing with the inner workings of a multiple continent spanning church as an outsider would offer an extra challenge for him, as would the fact that bribes are largely useless.

And while not all these side events would lead to combat, many can. A corrupt bank could have golem guards and a criminal conspiracy uncovered may just be the front for a necromancer stealing bodies and turning them into unusually powerful undead. And even a conflict in the church of Abadar could lead to combat; from a sect that has taken up devil worship and doesn't appreciate the party exposing them to faithful clerics believing that the party hinders the church (and thereby Abadar) and must be removed by any means necessary (including mercenaries). Or it could be a delegation from a powerful faction (church, Brevoy, whatever) that was send to the kingdom going missing and the players now need to track down whatever captured the delegation in the first place (or find proof that none was send to begin with) - this could be fighting bandits or monsters; lots of options.

Of course as DM you can only throw so much at the party before they get tired of it or you burn out - even with creative help on this forum - so keep prodding the players for plot seeds. Whenever there is a build cycle ask them what they are doing; what they want to do; what opportunities they are looking for. If they don't offer anything, then ask if their twenty something year old virgin really isn't interested in anything. Tell every player to develop six NPCs for you. Four friends (that may or may not be true friends) and two people they don't like. Then have them introduce all the characters at the next session and the other players must decide their attitude/interaction with the NPCs. Have them design their homes and put it somewhere on the map; then give them neighbors. Friendly neighbors. Annoying neighbors. Neighbors that are interested in them. Maybe some that keep an eye on them for others; but flood them with so many NPCs that your spies get mentioned by name, but don't stand out until they actually do something. And don't forget they are heroes... hero worship leads to lots of romantic opportunities. Of course not everyone interested is in it for fame or money, some may be genuinely interested; especially high Cha characters could have flocks vying for their attention. And if there is a kingdom, there always is the issue of the monarch marrying to secure succession; you may very well end up having a personal event for each PC each month, like episodes of their child's life or some such; though most would just be flavor at that time, they may later turn out to be seeds for new developments.

How far you go depends on your group, but Kingmaker is about building a community. The large community is governed by the kingdom rules, but it is bland, mechanic. The small community is all about RP. And here not only do you stay in the same city, but you hold the strings of power.

The power of the government is another issue that could make good RP; remember all those cities in RPG's with none standard power centers? With conspiracies and corruption on all levels? With evil cults existing under the nose of the government? Well, here's your chance to build one under the nose of the players. I guess that could fall under the intrigue section, but I'm thinking more about independent/new groups here, instead of foreign infiltration.

Don't forget, if you strip away much/most of part 4&5 of the AP, you have a lot of XP/treasure to play with, so don't be afraid to do so.

And you're right to a degree that part 6 isn't foreshadowed well; so fey attacks (maybe even a whole war against evil fey) could serve to give some hints about what's going on. With Abadar being the god of civilization and cities, his holy sites would make the most obvious targets which would give the cleric even more RP opportunities. If you can get him to design the local temple himself and then run them through a combat where the fey attack the temple it should give the players interesting ideas... especially if you ask them to update their houses afterward. How often do players get the chance to design encounter locations? Once they are done with the houses, you can ask them for the keep , seat of government, and various other public buildings - let them offer ideas as well. You probably won't need more than a handful of the maps for this campaign, but it will come in handy in future campaigns, I'm sure.

And there's Candlemere Island; perhaps some aberrations start raiding the kingdom and are tracked back here; how will/can the party stop more from appearing? After some combat they may very well have to retreat and purchase a scroll of Wish to stop the attacks - but other parties may pay them to instead wish the creatures to appear elsewhere instead of closing the rift. It could of course be just a once per year event and the party simply arranges to be present in the future to deal with whatever comes through. Or even once a season simply to provide regular challenging combat.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Old Drake wrote:
...lots of good stuff...

This is some terrific advice. I've already torn out Candlemere tower in favor of a much more involved adventure that ends on something of an open-ended note, so I can easily involve more things from there.

The Abadaran cleric's player is a bit of a tricky one to handle for a variety of reasons, so I think keeping her happy will be a work in constant progress. Her main beef with character backgrounds is that, for a replacement character, another player created a character whose background includes offing a son of the Queen of Kyonin in a duel. The complications arising from that were obvious and I threw it open to a party vote whether or not to allow it; the cleric's player thought it was a great idea at the time, but since then she's become resentful of the character's past having become a plot point (by no means a major plot point yet, but one that's ongoing). It's that sort of situation.

In general, great advice! Thanks!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
FallofCamelot wrote:


Personally I felt that kingdom building was like a game of Civilisation with all the fun stripped out.

This. A couple of my players have made that exact comparison.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Turin the Mad wrote:
Two of my players undertook the heavy mantle of the city building / kingdom development and did it away from the table. Kingdom design/building by committee takes too long. As it is they've invested about 80 hours' time. It probably took me 10-12 hours to do Pitax.

I'm hoping that each player having exclusive control over their own little domains in the country will make the whole thing more fun and involving for them. I know it would have that effect for me. It will also help in the feeling of them building up their own houses, as well as giving me opportunities for more fun stuff in ruling the land when something that would benefit one player's lands would harm another's...


The tension with Kyonin is an interesting background story; I don't know if I'd allow something like that as background story, but I can see the possibilities.

Now I don't know how detailed the background of the other characters are, but you could try to take something from the clerics background (or something that isn't there, but fits with how she plays the character) and add that in. Maybe she saved the live of a dwarf or gnome and never gave it a second thought, but it turns out that the person was rather important, and that's now catching up with her. It could be bad as in he was a notorious assassin, and she gets blamed by some (potentially influential) people for saving him - on the other hand he might turn up and provide lots of underground contacts.
Of course it might also have been a noble instead, and with his fathers death, he is now the head of his house, and hearing of the new nation his savior is helping to create leads an expedition of dwarfs to assist. The dwarfs could form either an independent underground city using up no space but providing some boon (some BP every month or a major economy boost to simulate trade) or form a new city for the kingdom - maybe in agreement with Varnhold in the mountains somewhere. Of course the reward might be simpler - directions to a hidden vault nearby that contains a minor artifact of Abadar for any cleric to proof herself worthy; a well known artifact that attracts lots of attention, both good and bad.

I don't know how much liberty you normally take with player backgrounds, so you might want to clear such an idea with her first. Or otherwise try to stage such a scene and then a few session later strt bringing in consequences. Involving the background in the story is nice, but having actual in play action start of plot threats (at least to us) is more rewarding. So maybe you should ask her to bring in some ideas for her character based either on yet undefined background or on current desires and goals that could be brought into the story.

Of course no matter what her background says, she is part of the bureaucracy of the church of Abadar by virtue of being a cleric. So bringing in the church should always work. Or other clerics she trained with, be they class mates or teachers, some of which may have fallen to the worship of less pleasant entities. come for a visit. Maybe the midwife from the book actually is an old friend of hers? Or a family friend? Of course after the cult is exposed an inquisitor would investigate the situation and she would be considered a suspected cult member as well - maybe even blamed for killing her and denying the Inquisitor who was on the way to arrest her the opportunity to question her. That said, proving your innocence is not something every player enjoys, especially when singled out.

Eighteen build phases so far... do they already have their castle? Either way, they may uncover ruins under the stag lords fortress that are inhabited by enemies... and the ruins of a temple to Abadar that nobody has heard of. And one of the few things still intact in the temple is a picture that bears an uncanny resemblance with a certain cleric - it could be her twin. Or maybe more nerve wracking for the players, a stone statue with really uncanny resemblance - as if she'd been turned to stone. Investigation would eventually reveal references to prophecies, but nobody can find the actual text of the prophecy, just vague and contradictory references. But her name comes up in a few books (or is it merely another person with the same name?) and the stone statue may have some gear the looks almost like some of her favorite items, worn exactly as she does, but it has to be a coincidence, right? What exactly the prophecy refers to may never be known to the players during the campaign, but it might turn out to be about something as basic as the Lonely Warrior or Vordakai, while you keep the players thinking it might be about the final boss, or something near there.

Another idea might be a stranger visiting her in the temple, asking for advice and moral guidance. After a very strange conversation with a person that has a really strange world view, the person leaves.
A few days later a green dragon arrives and asks to be taught the way of Abadar; it's a young dragon that they might be able to kill, but if it is willing to leave it's evil lifestyle behind, should they? And how will the people react to the presence of a dragon in church? And is the dragon even capable of living in peace with humans, or are they just too different in their way of thinking? And what happens if former victims come with just grievances?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Well, thanks for all the advice, but check this out.

Oh well, going out with a blaze of...well, I was going to say blaze of glory, but there was precious little glory last night. It was a blaze of something. LOL!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Gregg Helmberger wrote:

Well, thanks for all the advice, but check this out.

Oh well, going out with a blaze of...well, I was going to say blaze of glory, but there was precious little glory last night. It was a blaze of something. LOL!

Wow, TPK!


O.o .. again, mmmkaaay ..

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

At least you didn't TPK on the final bad guy...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
FallofCamelot wrote:
At least you didn't TPK on the final bad guy...

Yeah, there are pluses and minuses for that. Failing against the Big Bad is at least epic. This was just sad and alarming. :-)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

It was funny though.

Reminds me of my last CotCT session:

Spoiler:
PLAYER 1: Something is in that pool. We should be extra quiet and make sure we don't disturb it.

PLAYERS: Absolutely

GM: OK what are you doing

PLAYER 2: I'm throwing a rock in the pool.

No player death but the reaction of the rest of the players was hilarious.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
FallofCamelot wrote:

It was funny though.

Reminds me of my last CotCT session:

** spoiler omitted **

No player death but the reaction of the rest of the players was hilarious.

ROFL! That's awesome. :-)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
FallofCamelot wrote:

It was funny though.

Reminds me of my last CotCT session:

** spoiler omitted **

No player death but the reaction of the rest of the players was hilarious.

LOL!

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