Roleplaying a fair and decent ruler


Kingmaker


So we're doing the prepping for the upcoming Kingmaker AP and after the other players pretty much had chosen their roles beforehand and no one else seemed interested in playing the King. The DM wanted the throne to be occupied by a player. Thus I was given the responsibility and honor of gowning the crown. While I look forward to the challenge of portraying such a character it does bring certain concerns into consideration.

How does one go about playing a ruler which is both fair yet determined and who demands respect not only from the npc's of the world but also from the other player characters. What defining virtues should one take into consideration when putting on the crown?

Since I'll be playing a cavalier I want to be able to demand respect not only on the battlefield as a devoted leader and tactician, but also amongst the people and most importantly without outshining or stepping on the toes of my fellow players.

How should I portray my character to ensure that I'm not stealing anyone's thunder away, but also Fulfill the image I have of a stern and just ruler? And how should one go about playing someone who's not only a tactical genius, but also a respected leader on the field of battle and in the throne-room?

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Start by listening to the other characters in your party, or to NPCs, and not immediately shutting them down when they offer suggestions. That by itself will take you a long way... :)


Jason Nelson wrote:
Start by listening to the other characters in your party, or to NPCs, and not immediately shutting them down when they offer suggestions. That by itself will take you a long way... :)

Thanks, great idea :)

Any more suggestions?

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Mortagon wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:
Start by listening to the other characters in your party, or to NPCs, and not immediately shutting them down when they offer suggestions. That by itself will take you a long way... :)

Thanks, great idea :)

Any more suggestions?

Read the journal by merisal from the blog. It shows some things plus and minus


Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Mortagon wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:
Start by listening to the other characters in your party, or to NPCs, and not immediately shutting them down when they offer suggestions. That by itself will take you a long way... :)

Thanks, great idea :)

Any more suggestions?

Read the journal by merisal from the blog. It shows some things plus and minus

Yeah, I've been following that. What I would really want though is to hear from other players about their experiences in roleplaying such characters. This is the first time I'm attempting to play such a character and I really don't want him to look like a tyrant or a douche. In my experience when another player is given a leadership position in a party the other players tends to react poorly to such characters.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Be supportive. When other characters are attempting to do something, use the Aid Another action (even in combat, sometimes) to ensure their success...and together, your mutual success. Also, put the concerns of your people first...and then rely on the other PCs as your most trusted in allies in meeting those concerns. Big kind, be benevolent, but also be a guardian (or a shepherd) of your lands and people. Deal with the problems they can't take on. And provide everyone with the tools (and environment) they need to be successful. Play your character that way...with a dose of decision-making leadership...and you'll go far, I think.

My two-cents,
--Neil


NSpicer wrote:

Be supportive. When other characters are attempting to do something, use the Aid Another action (even in combat, sometimes) to ensure their success...and together, your mutual success. Also, put the concerns of your people first...and then rely on the other PCs as your most trusted in allies in meeting those concerns. Big kind, be benevolent, but also be a guardian (or a shepherd) of your lands and people. Deal with the problems they can't take on. And provide everyone with the tools (and environment) they need to be successful. Play your character that way...with a dose of decision-making leadership...and you'll go far, I think.

My two-cents,
--Neil

That's exactly how I was envisioning playing my character. I'll be playing an Order of the Dragon cavalier so I will have plenty of team-boosting effects and my aid another actions will become better as I level up.

This is all pretty easy to do mechanically, although it is in the rp department I could use some guidance. I've never played a leader type character before and I'm afraid to portray him to strict or to soft. I need to find some way to portray him which demands respect and admiration.

Dark Archive

My girlfriend is playing the cavalier/queen (NG cavalier, Order of the Dragon, IIRC, devoted to Iomedae) in this campaign, so she should be a good example of what kinds of stuff to expect. I'll have her post up some notes on her experiences, if you want.

I hope to be setting up a campaign journal as well, with XP rewards for submitting entries. Hopefully some good things will arise from that. :D

Scarab Sages

All these suggestions are good, however, as the king, I am sure you will be the main focal point of the campaign. Afterall, you are the final authority, and the other PC's are the supporting cast. However, when we think on the King Arthur legends, we always come back to Lancelot, who was one of several knights in the round table.

Perhaps trying to elevate, by decree or personal favor, one or two of the PC's who are closest to you in honor, courage, and deed.

Anyway, it will be difficult, but you will have to adjust to ingame circumstances which could make this easier, or harder, depending on your paty makeup.

CC


Make it clear to everyone how important their jobs are for the wellfare of people and country and that you, the king, puts your highest confidence in them.

Offer them help and advice whenever and whereever you think is necessary.

Whenever they fail to meet your just and necessarily high expectations give them incentives to try harder - accept no slack.

When they are still not up to the task then adopt a more direct approach and tell them what to do directly.

If they complain about you dropping down orders out of the blue without knowledge of the details cut them short, thats nothing but lame excuses for their own failings.

Doing that you must be on constant lookout for insurgence. It is then that the wiese ruler starts to reap the benefits of a timely instanted secret militia sworn only to him to bring before him any who displease.

Displeasing a king is among the most heineous crimes imaginable! Execute them on the spot and give their jobs to your offspring (be insightful enough to produce a lot of these as early as possible).

It's all in the best interest of the people and country of course.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

CuttinCurt wrote:
All these suggestions are good, however, as the king, I am sure you will be the main focal point of the campaign. Afterall, you are the final authority, and the other PC's are the supporting cast.

Welll... this is where the potential problem lies in the translation between the roleplay and the metagame.

In name, the kingdom has a "ruler" - a baron/duchess/king/etc.

In practice, the players (through their characters) are more or less an oligarchy or a ruling council, rather than one monarch and a bunch of underlings. Or perhaps I should say, I think it wise that they SHOULD be considered this way. The moment you start thinking "I'm the king, they're the advisors" is the moment you start demoting the other players at the table to a lesser status than yourself; they are advising, you are deciding.

If all the players at the table are happy with that, then more power to you and glad to hear it. I'm just saying that's a tricky road to travel without making the other players feel relegated to your "supporting cast."

I'd suggest thinking of yourselves as co-rulers. One person sits in the big chair because that's the easiest way to interface with the populace and other countries, but every player and their character should have an equal say in decision-making. For that matter, you might consider (a) rotating rulership of the country or (b) rotating final decision-making authority between the players (regardless of what their characters' roles are in the kingdom leadership), to ensure that a player who may have a minority view on what the party/country should do doesn't just get outvoted EVERY time, but actually has a chance to do some of the things they would like with the country even if the rest of the group - especially the more number crunching/maximum efficiency types - might say are suboptimal or 'bad' choices.

Take those for what they're worth.

Scarab Sages

Jason Nelson wrote:
CuttinCurt wrote:
All these suggestions are good, however, as the king, I am sure you will be the main focal point of the campaign. Afterall, you are the final authority, and the other PC's are the supporting cast.

Welll... this is where the potential problem lies in the translation between the roleplay and the metagame.

In name, the kingdom has a "ruler" - a baron/duchess/king/etc.

In practice, the players (through their characters) are more or less an oligarchy or a ruling council, rather than one monarch and a bunch of underlings. Or perhaps I should say, I think it wise that they SHOULD be considered this way. The moment you start thinking "I'm the king, they're the advisors" is the moment you start demoting the other players at the table to a lesser status than yourself; they are advising, you are deciding.

If all the players at the table are happy with that, then more power to you and glad to hear it. I'm just saying that's a tricky road to travel without making the other players feel relegated to your "supporting cast."

I'd suggest thinking of yourselves as co-rulers. One person sits in the big chair because that's the easiest way to interface with the populace and other countries, but every player and their character should have an equal say in decision-making. For that matter, you might consider (a) rotating rulership of the country or (b) rotating final decision-making authority between the players (regardless of what their characters' roles are in the kingdom leadership), to ensure that a player who may have a minority view on what the party/country should do doesn't just get outvoted EVERY time, but actually has a chance to do some of the things they would like with the country even if the rest of the group - especially the more number crunching/maximum efficiency types - might say are suboptimal or 'bad' choices.

Take those for what they're worth.

The full intent of my post was to be taken in game. Sometimes I dont write what I assume, and in this case, that happened.

If I could clarify, allow me to say that my post was an in-game thought, and not meant to demote the players at the table. Even though that is what could happed if there was no communication at the table between players.

I have only my gaming group to reference on these things, and I know that we would make plans that, with the help of the DM, could easilly make the "in-game" focus on the king something that drives a major story arc that has everyone involved equally, giving all a chance to shine. The Players should, however, understand that the King is the King, and might get some extra attention as his rule is established. This is where my assumption was made.

That is why I was trying to reference lancelot, since he is just as well remembered as the king in all the arthur stories (IMO).

Jason, I can see how this could be taken wrong as I used the phrase "focal point of the campaign" when I really didnt mean that.

Sometimes I write my foot in my mouth...


Always remember this "You lead your men to their victory or you fail them..."

Leader is the suckest job ever.

While the rest of the party screams for glory and gold, you must make sure they live to collect both. If you want to be a good leader you need to give orders and have them followed. That kind of loyality is earned or bought.
The leader is the last one out, if a player member falls it's because you couldn't save them. The Leader takes the blame for failure.

When an army falls in battle the soldiers are forgotten, their leaders are cursed and reviled.

Good Luck, because you have been given the best/worst job EVER...

Lead you men to victory and become a legend; fail and the same people that sing your name with lynch you with your own belt.

One more thing, be subtle with you orders, suggestions are easier to obey than orders


Mr.Fishy wrote:

Always remember this "You lead your men to their victory or you fail them..."

Leader is the suckest job ever.

While the rest of the party screams for glory and gold, you must make sure they live to collect both. If you want to be a good leader you need to give orders and have them followed. That kind of loyality is earned or bought.
The leader is the last one out, if a player member falls it's because you couldn't save them. The Leader takes the blame for failure.

When an army falls in battle the soldiers are forgotten, their leaders are cursed and reviled.

Good Luck, because you have been given the best/worst job EVER...

Lead you men to victory and become a legend; fail and the same people that sing your name with lynch you with your own belt.

One more thing, be subtle with you orders, suggestions are easier to obey than orders

That's why I GM now. All my teammates do what I tell them. As a player, I would try to direct other players, and my wife would usually get on my case for telling her what to do.


Mr. Fishy is bigger than his wife so she does what shes told...after she explains why Mr. Fishy is an a%+~#!% and has a fit.

Mr. Fishy has been the leader in a group before. Sometimes the group comes to together under a good leader.

Sometimes a good leader tricks the unrule party into to doing what he needs them to do.

PC= Probability Crazy

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

1) Let it be known from the outset that the group has, in effect, chosen your character for this role, by choosing to play the supporting role.
2) Be sure to know the roles the others have chosen and encourage them to develop those roles in support of your kingdom.
3) Be the leader by choosing your character's morals; live or die by those standards; be the example.

If you haven't watched A Knight's Tale, do yourself the favor of watching it. There's a great scene near the end where the hero is at his lowest and his comrades come forward to defend him. The speech by the Prince in response to this scene captures the feeling I want for my "King" player when I run this. "This, too, is Knightly." This is going to require some buy-in from the other players, though, since it is essential that they see your character as the leader, the hero, and understand that their roles as supporters are as essential to the story as your role as leader is.


Starting now get an idea about how you will organize your kingdom. What are the priorities?

People need food, lodging, protection and recreation. That makes farms, fishing, etc. and buildings for them priority one. Almost at the same time you need to organize the wardens, militia and garrisons to protect your people. Recreational shops, etc. and money makers come immediately after.

Rules for all that should come in the next installment but if you get an idea now it will go smoother.

Also, when dealing with opponents will you make them your friends if possible or kill them all and import new people?

Being a leader is about planning as much as charisma.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

People are assuming a king is necessary. A ruling council or council of regents would be a better fit, where the perks, dangers and responsibility of rulership is equal for all the characters.

Heck, let them take a chapter from the experiences of Andoran and establish a quasi-democracy or republic model. The characters would be a shoe in for the first couple of 'terms of office' (when all the hard work is required) and then they have the option of moving on when NPCs run for office (if they get tired of governance) or have the fun of roleplaying an election in which character assassination (figurative and literal!)from NPCs contenders becomes a component of the electoral process.


Know your group. Most groups will have issues if one person becomes the king and starts giving orders. Just because I chose to play a thief and spymaster/intelligence agent doesn't mean i want a supporting cast role. It just means that spymaster is closer to my character's personality and only 1 person can sit the throne at a time. I'd strongly back the person who wrote, make everyone have equal say in deciding the fate of the country. Each person should have their specialty which they can shine in but the general rule should be a group decision. Some people are not comfortable being a vocal leader at the table and will settle for a sub par experience rather than cause a stir or speak out.

however, I encourage dm's to discuss characters possible roles ahead of time. When making the characters, do a group session and discuss how The Players want to run it. Some groups might like having a strong leader and the other pc's are happy to excel in their side roles, knowing without them, the king would fail.


Mortagon wrote:

<snip>

Since I'll be playing a cavalier I want to be able to demand respect not only on the battlefield as a devoted leader and tactician, but also amongst the people and most importantly without outshining or stepping on the toes of my fellow players.

<snip>

If you try to demand respect, you are almost assured of not getting it.

You'll want to command respect.

To command respect is to be given respect without asking for it- without forcing other people to give it to you- they naturally respect you because of your actions/demeanor, etc.

To demand respect is to behave or act in a way that forces people to respect you.....


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Short answer: You need to act like a leader "in character."

Long answer: This is a topic that can (and does) fill thousands of pages. I'd recommend reading some "leadership and management" books. Many of the methods and techniques for motivating and directing people will be applicable in a role-playing environment.

Sovereign Court

Mr.Fishy wrote:

Always remember this "You lead your men to their victory or you fail them..."

Leader is the suckest job ever.

While the rest of the party screams for glory and gold, you must make sure they live to collect both. If you want to be a good leader you need to give orders and have them followed. That kind of loyality is earned or bought.
The leader is the last one out, if a player member falls it's because you couldn't save them. The Leader takes the blame for failure.

When an army falls in battle the soldiers are forgotten, their leaders are cursed and reviled.

Good Luck, because you have been given the best/worst job EVER...

Lead you men to victory and become a legend; fail and the same people that sing your name with lynch you with your own belt.

One more thing, be subtle with you orders, suggestions are easier to obey than orders

Mr. Fishy makes a good point. We tend to think of leaders in the sense of the privileges we see them enjoy (Off with his head - he looked at me funny!),but those are expressions of power and privilege which are not the same as actual leadership.

Leadership was once described to me (by a leader I very much respect) as doing your best to make sure that those you lead have everything they need ('need', not necessarily 'want') to be as successful as possible. Sometimes that comes in the form of support, sometimes guidance and sometimes providing structure or boundaries.

If you view your leadership role in a 'service to the rest of the party/kingdom' way, you can expect good results, low resentment and, just possibly, people who want to do exactly what you want them to do (of course, they may think it was their idea).

Good luck! - Heavy is the head that wears the crown.


You need to play the just and fair leader, not the vindictive, arbitrary tyrant.

Here's something to think about. The just and fair leader should listen to all points of view and consider all the issues before issuing an opinion/edict.

The tyrant says, basically, "Because I said so." That should be avoided.

The tyrant will also balk at being asked why or how he came to a ruling while the just and fair leader might even share his reasoning with trusted associates.


If my party decides my Bard should have 'the role' I am fully prepared to take Leadership and hand the crown to my cohort. It has a lot of possibilities, I think.


If after diplomacy you find you're not winning the battle - off with their heads! - "It's good to be the King"!


All this advice is well and good, but a few scripted events and personality traits can go a long way toward establishing a personality. Here's some scenery taken from various fictions and my own games.

1) Every night in his grand hall, the king invites a different person to sit at his side and speaks with them about what they do for his kingdom. One night he might get a crash course in wagonmaking--the next, a ghost story from the oldest woman in his city.

2) He conducts his own executions. Not out of sadism, but because, if he's going to take a man's life, he should have the cahones to do it himself. In that way, he'll always understand how the people view his justice.

3) He is not a great fighter. Sure, he can defend himself reasonably well, but the man is past his prime, perhaps sporting an injured arm or an empty lung. Doing this both establishes sympathy and keeps him from overshadowing your PCs.

4) His soldiers are fiercely loyal, shouting "Long Live King _____!" before entering battle. He seems forever at odds with his retainers, denying them their warnings that he stay where it's safe when there's s*@# that needs inspecting.

5) His children are intelligent, well-behaved, and mature for their ages.

6) He disguises himself as a commoner and wanders among his people to learn what they say when he's not around. This is easy to do, because most people know him more by his crown than his face. Rumor has it that he was once imprisoned on one of these ventures, and that he spent an entire day in the prison before revealing his identity, at which point he gave his justice system a significant overhaul. Of course, the bards have a tendency to exaggerate.

7) He has plenty of advisers, but asks them all to leave the room so that he can speak candidly with the PCs. They are the only people he can confess his weaknesses too, and he demands that they speak truthfully to him about everything, regardless of how he feels.

8) If they're interested, he'll give the PCs titles in his court: "Master of Assassins" for the rogue, "Lord Marshal" to the ranger, "Knight Captain" to the paladin, "First Wizard" to the wizard, "Archbishop of the Stolen" to the cleric, and so on.

9) He passes stark, just laws in response to campaign events. If there's religious disputes, he asks for the PCs help in drafting a law to keep them from fighting.

10) He reads.


Thanks for all the great advice. We start playing on Monday and I will be sure to remember the advice I have been given here.

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