A finished Kingmaker campaign


Kingmaker

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

After almost 2 years and 250-300 hours of gaming spread out over ~60-70 sessions, our group has finished the Kingmaker campaign. It was a lot of fun to see the PCs grow from level 1 to level 16, and from mercenaries to leaders of the kingdom of Gwendor, spreading over the Stolen Lands and Pitax.

The campaign was a lot of fun and, as usual, I'd like to thank Paizo as well as the authors (Tim Hitchcock, Rob McCreary, Greg Vaughan, Neil Spicer, Jason Nelson, Richard Pett, and the wrangler of all these deranged minds, James Jacobs) for writing such an enjoyable set of scenarios. Getting to play the archetypal fantasy trope of building one's own kingdom was exceptional. It was very different from the usual D&D/Pathfinder campaigns and the sand-boxiness was a very nice change, even though having done it once is probably enough. The amount of GM work required to benefit from the open setting is far from negligible and I'm looking forward to playing a simpler campaign (Shattered Star).

For us it's the highest level campaign we've ever played, and the first time we reach these levels. It was interesting to play at such high levels and see how the Pathfinder rules behave. It truly becomes a completely different game which is worth playing every so often. I'm not sure I would push to repeatedly go any higher than 16-17th level though, because the game does provide a bit too many options, both on the PC and GM sides, for quick and reactive sessions.

At the end, the group consisted of:


  • Hêmael, male half-elf, cleric of Kurgess 14/fighter 2, general of the kingdom of Gwendor;
  • Iaurinn, male elf, conjurer (teleportation sub-school) 16, high magister of the kingdom of Gwendor;
  • Lilac, female gnome, paladin (shining knight) of Arshae 16, queen of the kingdom of Gwendor;
  • Sempor, male gnome, druid 16, master spy of the kingdom of Gwendor;
  • Bellatrix, female half-orc cohort, bard (arcane duelist) 14, bride of the queen of the kingdom of Gwendor.

Overall, we liked:


  • the Pathfinder rules, as usual;
  • the openness of the campaign which allows the kingdom to grow organically, with a lot of interactions with many NPCs who could (should?) have been single encounter NPCs;
  • the NPCs and their detailed description which made it easy to play them (Oleg, Svetlana, Kressle, Jhod, Akiros, Grigori, Tig-Titter-Tut and Perlivash, Melianse, Mother Moon, Satinder Morne,…);
  • the feys, with their quirks and craziness;
  • the fact that the BBEG was different from usual and not the rather typical outsider, or high-level evil humanoid;
  • the ambivalent opponents who could be turned (the brigands, the kobolds, Drelev and his band, the feys,…)
  • the regular change in pace (small 4-room dungeons, large exploration periods, largish dungeons, lots of roleplaying encounters,…);
  • the exploration;
  • the gritty feeling of The Stolen Lands with the discovery of what would become the PCs' home;
  • Varnhold Vanishing and its change of pace;
  • the really epic Sound of a Thousand Screams with the blooms, Thousandbreaths, many dragons, and the House at the End of Time;
  • the players building their own kingdom, and the PCs caring about their surroundings as a consequence!

What we thought was suboptimal:


  • the (h)exploration after book 2 (by that point, the PCs have minions to do that for them);
  • the kingdom rules after book 3 (just too much book keeping for little in-game benefit);
  • as written the story is lacking connection from the PCs' point of view, (but I changed that and had sparse but regular mentions of the "fey queen" throughout the first 5 books; that worked great!);
  • the Brevoy civil war letdown: it's emphasized in the Player's Guide, but never developed in the campaign;
  • repeatedly rolling 1s on saves for the dragons (Ilthuliak become an acid breathing toad).

But it was overall a huge amount of fun and these suboptimal points were easily tweaked.

The final epic encounter with Nyrissa will follow later in this thread once I've written it up, likely in the next few days. It was a long tactical fight lasting 18 rounds, with 2 deaths and a petrified PC. Certainly suitable as an epic end-fight!


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Quote:

What we thought was suboptimal:

  • repeatedly rolling 1s on saves for the dragons (Ilthuliak become an acid breathing toad).

Au contraire,, that was the best part of it. :o)


cool

after 60 sessions,we finished about 4 weeks, the pc kingdom got swallowed up and put on the mantle-piece!!

I too am running Sh Star next, on my turn to GM for a nice change of pace


Congratulations =D


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

I saw that in the obituaries thread, thenovalord. That's quite an ending! I wonder how my players would have reacted to that!

It wouldn't have been possible in my campaign, though, because they had uprooted Thousandreaths, and Nyrissa would have needed months or years to put her ritual into motion.

Thanks, Orthos. :)


Congrats, Olwen and his players!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well done Olwen, Kingmaker is a big campaign and it sounds like you've done it justice.

Grand Lodge

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Well done Olwen, Kingmaker is a big campaign and it sounds like you've done it justice.

Grats Olwen and group. I wish I could get my campaign to conclusion.


Congrats! Your epic (sorry, mythic!) task of finsihing KM makes me confident that we can do this also. We just had our 10th session and the players haven't even considered doing anything to Staglord. Might be the fact that I'm using a lot of extra material.


I'm just starting book 5 of the series, and am running into some of the same problems you pointed out, namely that the kingdom-building rules become utterly unworkable at some point in the 3rd book, due to kingdom size, and that the exploration/encounters outside of the main events for books 3 & 4 seem...pointless. Why would a king do dig around a piddly boggard lair when he could send troops in to crush them or chase them off their land? The story starts to suffer from the eyebrow-raising plot device of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy always beaming down to solve every little problem...

ANYWAY, that said, I have some questions about mass combat that I was unable to get answered on the thread for that, and any advice would be helpful.

Did you have any armies attack towns or cities that lacked units? If so, what did you do for the town's ability to attack? A town can have a DV, but without a resident unit, it seems that it would lack the ability to fight back...what did you do about this, if this came up?

Any experience or suggestions would be appreciated.

Silver Crusade

Whew, wow to see a KM finish. We're just past the 21st session and starting the 4th book. Glad to see the party prevailed!

Also appreciate the input at the end regarding kingdom building, hex exploring. Exploring was fun the first 2 books but not so much now. My players are each adopting a city and managing it while I as DM keep the overall stats compiled.

@ Eddie. Local militia could always rise, though they may still be a joke to attackers. Even at +0 offense, they'd get +2 OM and DV for homefield advantage, and size could be relative to the town.

Shadow Lodge

Eddie the 'Ed wrote:
Why would a king do dig around a piddly boggard lair when he could send troops in to crush them or chase them off their land?

Because there's more than one way to solve problems? Perhaps this kingdom counts kobolds and centaurs among its vassals and doesn't bat an eye at recruiting boggards to its banner. Or maybe the ruler doesn't want to spend BP on an army just yet, and is willing to take the personal risk of dealing with the boggards with just her longtime companions.

Also, pacifying the boggards is a secondary problem. The problem is the Drelev Demense and its designs on the PCs' kingdom. The boggards only matter for two reasons: first, they're blocking traffic on the Sellen, which is something of a minor problem for the PCs' kingdom til they start claiming land along the river, and second, they happen to live between the PCs' kingdom and Fort Drelev. Now, Fort Drelev can be dealt with a number of ways, by assault, or by intrigue. Assault would require an army, and that army could be employed along the way to pacify or drive out the boggards. But an army would be detrimental to subversion and intrigue.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Eddie the 'Ed wrote:
Why would a king do dig around a piddly boggard lair when he could send troops in to crush them or chase them off their land?

Because there's more than one way to solve problems? Perhaps this kingdom counts kobolds and centaurs among its vassals and doesn't bat an eye at recruiting boggards to its banner. Or maybe the ruler doesn't want to spend BP on an army just yet, and is willing to take the personal risk of dealing with the boggards with just her longtime companions.

Also, pacifying the boggards is a secondary problem. The problem is the Drelev Demense and its designs on the PCs' kingdom. The boggards only matter for two reasons: first, they're blocking traffic on the Sellen, which is something of a minor problem for the PCs' kingdom til they start claiming land along the river, and second, they happen to live between the PCs' kingdom and Fort Drelev. Now, Fort Drelev can be dealt with a number of ways, by assault, or by intrigue. Assault would require an army, and that army could be employed along the way to pacify or drive out the boggards. But an army would be detrimental to subversion and intrigue.

Clearly, Zim does not know my players. They were able to find out about the secret entrance into the tunnels under the keep in Ft. Drelev and worked their way up through the floorboards, stomping the Baron and his stooges from the inside out. I have a party that is a combination of character-maximizing rules lawyers and "let's kick down the door and destroy!" sorts. It actually makes for a powerful combination, as the former makes sure that the latter's characters are powerful, and the former's already are.

So after Tatzylford (our spelling) was attacked and they were sure the threat came from Drelev, they dispatched their own army, to march overland by a northern route, while they went straight through the swamp, blowing past everything they could skip in order to get to Ft. Drelev and go after the baron.

Regardless, my point was that once we got into the 4th book the interest level of the players in dealing with what felt a lot like pre-planned random encounters (work with me on that one...think about it) dropped off significantly. They enjoyed exploring and dealing with a variety of threats in books 1 & 2, and by the end of book 3 had settled into enjoying being kings and having power and people under them.

I ought to go back and count sessions - haven't done that as of yet. We do have about a year of weekly sessions already invested, though. Wow.

Shadow Lodge

Eddie the 'Ed wrote:
Clearly, Zim does not know my players. They were able to find out about the secret entrance into the tunnels under the keep in Ft. Drelev and worked their way up through the floorboards, stomping the Baron and his stooges from the inside out. I have a party that is a combination of character-maximizing rules lawyers and "let's kick down the door and destroy!" sorts. It actually makes for a powerful combination, as the former makes sure that the latter's characters are powerful, and the former's already are.

I think we're talking at cross purposes, or that I'm not making myself clear. Probably the latter. Gaining access to Fort Drelev, finding a secret door into Drelev Keep, and then proceeding to kick untold quantities of ass once inside falls under "intrigue" for me. Well, I say "intrigue," though really mean "infiltration". By "assault" I really meant "conquest".


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Eddie the 'Ed wrote:
Clearly, Zim does not know my players. They were able to find out about the secret entrance into the tunnels under the keep in Ft. Drelev and worked their way up through the floorboards, stomping the Baron and his stooges from the inside out. I have a party that is a combination of character-maximizing rules lawyers and "let's kick down the door and destroy!" sorts. It actually makes for a powerful combination, as the former makes sure that the latter's characters are powerful, and the former's already are.
I think we're talking at cross purposes, or that I'm not making myself clear. Probably the latter. Gaining access to Fort Drelev, finding a secret door into Drelev Keep, and then proceeding to kick untold quantities of ass once inside falls under "intrigue" for me. Well, I say "intrigue," though really mean "infiltration". By "assault" I really meant "conquest".

Roger all of that. So long as tankards of ale are hoisted in celebration afterward, and vast quantities of bread bowl stew are consumed, all is well.


Hey, there. I was one of the players in Olwen's game.

The Boggard were actually one of the sensible tasks for us to take on, because we often regarded contact with a new species as a diplomatic mission. By the end of the game, we were quite firmly allied with the fae, the kobolds, the centaurs, and the boggards, and had made treaties explicating the degree of independent government they had over their own lands, what areas we would leave exclusively for them and not develop with roads and farms, etc.

But the larger point remains. Book 1, we were explorers! Book 2, we were running a barony, but we were still adventurers at heart, and although we grumbled about the pettiness of some of the tasks it was nice to sometimes get back out on the road and get our hands dirty "for old time's sake".

But Book 3, we were starting to go ... Look, we're running a country, we're trying to get a Cathedral built in time for the royal wedding and are in heated political arguments as to whether it's going to be interfaith or dedicated to Erastil since the conservative religious faction in the kingdom is already having enough problems with the very progressive gnome Queen opting for an interspecies same-sex love match, not to mention the difficulties the bride's family causes when they arrive from the Hold of Belkzen, plus the kobolds are stirring up trouble again and we have to tell them to quit it while also placating them so we don't have a civil war on our hands, and meanwhile our neighbor to the east has disappeared and we're the only people in the kingdom capable of fighting the lich responsible, SOMEONE ELSE CAN EXPLORE THE STUPID MOUNTAIN HEX, OK?

Then by Book 4, the mechanics of kingdom building had simply become so unwieldy it was no fun any more. Not to mention that, like exploring, deciding to build a monument in Southport, our twentieth or whatever city, also started to seem a bit below our specific notice at that point.

Fortunately, our GM was very quick to react whenever we said "This part is getting boring", and adapted the campaign to suit.


Knowing how ambitious me and my upcoming group are, I'm hoping to pull off an epic campaign this time. Last time I ran Kingmaker, it kinda fell apart due to the players lacking interest in doing quests past part 2. They wanted to sent cohorts to explore the hexes and do the quests in their stead instead of being the conquerer-kings of their fledgling nation. I also forgot to mention that their plot of land was a tiny colony, not a nation rivaling Brevoy.

Then again, it was my first time ever as DM, so I'm probably as much to blame as the players there.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

To follow up on Kyrademon's comment, my feeling was that the new rules (hexploration, kingdom building, etc) are a lot of fun, but only for some time, somewhere between 1 and 2 chapters, before they become a hassle. I think the main reason they become boring is that they are much more repetitive than the normal character rules. As you go up in level, a character acquires more options, can do more things. When a kingdom gets bigger, well, you get to reveal 3 hexes per month instead of 2. Hooray!

What I found very enjoyable with the kingdom building was roleplaying interactions, or events. But even this plays against the kingdom rules since if you follow them, resolving an event usually only involves rolling high enough on a check.

So the way I did it is that I put a lot of emphasis on hexploration during the first volume, using some advice from this board, going as far as to check the weather every single game day by taking the historical real-life weather of a small town in Michigan (or was it Illinois?). I tend to believe, but my players would need to chime in here, that it made the first book more memorable, and grittier. That's what I was aiming for to convey the idea of a cold and brigand-ridden frontier.

By book two, I put much less emphasis on the hexploration part of things so the PCs could much more quickly go from one interesting hex to the next. They were more powerful, had horses, and had built roads, which all made traveling easier. And by book three I completely ditched the hexploration part of things, mainly because I don't think it makes sense in Varnhold Vanishing to ask the PCs to explore when they are investigating the disappearance of all of Varnhold, but also because, as Kyrademon mentioned, they had other much more important things to deal with. For some time we used the queen's followers from her Leadership trait to keep a sense of realisme in the hexploration, but that made the kingdom rules even more unwieldy.

The way I then dealt with quests and exploration is that, first, I completely removed the quests after the middle of book 2 because they get quite ridiculous (why would the leaders of a kingdom go out of their way to hunt dragonflies for their pretty wings?!?) and, second, when the PCs would enter a new region (i.e. one of the four map folio maps), their spies, scouts, etc would report on its main (potential) issues/threats. The PCs then did what leaders do: decide how to tackle problems. In some cases, the order in which they dealt with things or how long they waited for could have an impact on the situation. I thought it worked well, and removed the hassle of the quests, but since the PCs didn't get these XP, I added a few small things here and there so they wouldn't level up to quickly (we level up at fixed points in the campaign). I would usually build on kingdom events for these.

Regarding the kingdom building rules, about half of the table was very invested in crafting the kingdom, month after month, for about a couple of books. Roleplaying the interactions with neighbors, main NPCs, and/or events was very enjoyable for everyone and quite a change from regular campaigns so, just like for the hexploration, I would advise using these rules for some time at least, because they add a lot of depth to the campaign if one uses them as a base to develop. But after book 3, it started to become a huge time investment for little return (brothel number 7, check; tavern number 12, check; city number 14, check…). The timescale of the kingdom also became different from the timescale of the PCs' actions (dealing with Drelev, Armag, etc.). That created a disconnect that was difficult to deal with. So we eventually stopped using the kingdom building rules by the start of book 4, assuming that the kingdom was healthily growing. The stats were so high anyway that only a natural 1 meant a failure on a check, and that usually had very little consequences.

Finally, I'm afraid I can't help much with the mass combat rules, because we simply didn't use them. We didn't feel like playing a board game instead of Pathfinder. Since we were also starting to feel the length of the campaign, I dropped the second half of book 5. The PCs' kingdom did get attacked by Pitax's army after the tournament, but we resolved the war by having the armies clashing in the background whilst the PCs dealt with prominent figures of the other army (the large wyvern that can be found in that book, the general, and maybe some other threat I don't remember). I find that, in general, that's usually a much better options as it gets everyone much more involved in what is happening at the game table.

As soon as they had defeated the Pitaxian army, I moved straight to the blooms which, I thought, worked very well. And then I had all the blooms erupt in a few days. That somewhat replaced book 5's urgency and necessity to defend the kingdom with some even bigger feeling of urgency. It wasn't a simple army anymore, it was a Worldwound-type cataclysm that was unfolding in the kingdom, as the queen put it.

So, to summarize, I would advise following how your players react to the new rules. For me, that meant using the hexploration rules for the first 2 books, using the kingdom building rules for books 2 and 3, and replacing the mass combat rules by iconic combats between the PCs and leaders of the enemy's army.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:
Knowing how ambitious me and my upcoming group are, I'm hoping to pull off an epic campaign this time. Last time I ran Kingmaker, it kinda fell apart due to the players lacking interest in doing quests past part 2. They wanted to sent cohorts to explore the hexes and do the quests in their stead instead of being the conquerer-kings of their fledgling nation.

I think that's entirely fair on their part, and why I quickly dropped the quests and focussed on the PCs being leaders.

But Kingmaker is also is huge campaign to tackle and required a lot of preparation on my part, even after 20 years of GMing. So congrats for trying it as a new GM and, as long as everyone is having fun at the table, it's great! :)

Despite my long post above, the campaign was a huge blast. There's only a few things that needed to be tweaked here and there. But which campaign doesn't require some adjustments to one's table?


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Reading some of these complaints and warnings (here and elsewhere) urged me to pull my players aside last night and discuss this. We're about a session or two away from starting Chapter 2, and I wanted to make sure that we were on the same page regarding kingdom building versus further exploration.

I informed them that while they would indeed be building and running their kingdom, they would still be a small region, with a small area under their control, and not yet of the size or population - and probably wouldn't be, for the entirety of the campaign, or at the very least until Chapter 5 - to stand quite on par with their neighbors. They also, the five of them, would be THE powers, their physical capabilities and presence more so than any political might they might wield. Meaning that they would not be able to send out soldiers or lackeys to take care of what might otherwise be perceived as quests and tasks unfitting for royalty: their resources are limited, they haven't yet expanded their kingdom to the size and strength necessary to throw around that kind of order, and again might not within the entire range of the campaign. Further exploration, any more large problems that crop up, and the like, all these things would need to be handled by the PCs themselves. They wouldn't be able to rest back on their laurels in later chapters. And if they want to expand, especially when they get into Chapters 3 and 4 and are able to move beyond the initial borders of their charter, they're going to need to get a basic gist of their potential new territory, which is going to require exploration.

My players at least were emphatically in favor of further adventuring, exploring, wandering, and questing, even once they've got the crowns and scepters and fancy palaces to live in. Given that desire, likely much of the kingdom building aspects will be done out of game, between sessions, with only the diplomatic and interactive stuff actually coming up in-game along with adventuring and questing. We have a forum where all the statistics and such for the game are posted: we have a running thread for NPC cast (which needs to be updated to include Perlivash and friends as well as a few other people, the last update was at the Stag Lord encounter and they've only just explored the majority of the Narlmarch Forest since then, last session ended after discovering the unicorn) as well as a general summary of how things are going, adding a kingdom building thread would likely simplify things. Keep the first post a running edit of the kingdom's current status then let the player reply with suggestions, instructions, or reactions, that kind of thing.

So while it seems my group came to very much the opposite conclusion as some of the stories here, I at least owe you guys a thanks for prompting me to bring it up and make sure we were all on the same track.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Orthos wrote:
Given that desire, likely much of the kingdom building aspects will be done out of game, between sessions, with only the diplomatic and interactive stuff actually coming up in-game along with adventuring and questing. We have a forum...

That's also what we did with the kingdom building mechanical aspect of things. Except for the first few round that were played at the table, it quickly became obvious that this was the way to go. We played events at the table, just like you're planning on doing.

Even so, by turn 50 or 60 (if I remember well), things still get cumbersome, despite the help of Excel sheets and forum posts that one can easily go back to check previous suggestions. Basically, the novelty wears off and dealing with 15 or cities just seems pointless if nothing can happen to the kingdom.

If it works for you, go for it! But I'd advise you to be ready to switch the kingdom rules to the background if you realize that your players get bored of it after a few (in-game) years. :)


Oh that's what I meant, they would ALWAYS be in the background. All Kingdom-building stuff will be done out-of-game.

Unless by "in the background" you mean "stop tracking it mechanically and just assume it's there and functioning". I just meant "not the main focus of the game, and handled out of the way of the roleplay and interaction".


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Orthos wrote:
Unless by "in the background" you mean "stop tracking it mechanically and just assume it's there and functioning".

That's what I meant, but maybe you won't have to do it because you'll still all have fun with the kingdom far into the campaign!


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The final battle for the Stolen Lands – Episode 1

First, a bit of background…

The situation was getting so dire in their kingdom that the PCs decided to enter Throusandbreaths before stopping all the bloom that were erupting in their kingdom of Gwendor.

In Nyrissa's realm, they decided not to dither and followed the shortest path to the House at the Edge of Time. When they could avoid a glade's menace, they did (the Mandragora orchard, which they flew over), when they could cajole their way through, they did (the glade with the winged owlbear), and when they had to fight their way through, they did (the watchers of the whirling shores, and Ilthuliak).

The fight with Ilthuliak would be a story of its own but suffice to stay that it drastically changed from the wyrm black dragon punishing our not-so-mighty leaders, to the dragon being polymorphed into a toad by the high magister. Even though she was still an acid-breathing toad, Ilthuliak then proved not to be a sufficient enough thread for the leaders of Gwendor. The defeat of Ilthutiak, one of Nyrissa's main minions, uprooted Thousandbreaths, which collapsed back into the Stolen Lands.

That was a lucky turn of event for the PCs. It wasn't planned, but I think it allowed them to win the final battle against Nyrissa.

After a night of sleep in the High Folly, getting their rest plagued by nightmares, they proceeded to the seize the House at the Edge of Time. There, the ghostly guards proved much more dangerous opponents than the Jabberwock, the poor thing, who got critically hit by the paladin and then rolled a 1 on his save to not flee in panic. So the mighty creature of legends fled like a coward, only to be chased by summoned creatures. By the time it was able to come back on the battlefield, it was already in sorry shape and it could only unleash a couple of beam attacks on the queen before crashing in a last breath.

The PCs then entered the House and explored… every… single… room… before finally finding Nyrissa's bedroom, which they thought was the link to the Fable room she was hiding in. The main consequence of this long search is that the PCs have exhausted roughly half of their resources by the time they finally face Nyrissa. As they start to prepare themselves before entering the Fable, the fey queen suddenly appears, surrounded by a shimmering aura, and accompanied by a Huge air elemental…

With the constant clairaudience/clairvoyance effect of the Fable, she knew that the PCs had planned to completely buff themselves up, and swarm the Fable room with summoned creatures. That would have invalidated her antilife shell tactic and, since she had no one left in the House to protect her, she decided to take the matter in her own hands and teleported into the hallway next to her bedroom, after the bridge overlooking the throne room.

After the moment of surprise and panic as Nyrissa hadn't left them time to prepare, all hell broke loose.

The final battle

Iaurinn, the wizard, is the first to react, quickening true strike so he has at least a chance to dimensional anchor the fey queen. With some luck, he succeeds, preventing her from feeling later in the battle. Hêmael, the general of the kingdom and a powerful cleric of Kurgess, unleashes a destruction on the nymph, damaging her for about 40 hit points. She replies with a maze on the general, but one of the few spell he had cast in the couple of preparation rounds they had before her appearance was spell turning! The maze bounces back to target Nyrissa, bypasses her spell resistance and… fizzles, warded that she is by the wizard's dimensional anchor! Nyrissa quickens a displacement as her stunning beauty blinds Bellatrix, the queen's bride and the court's bard, which the queen, paladin of Arshae, mercifully removes. Sempor, the kingdom's most powerful druid, transforms into an earth elemental so he can more easily move through the small rooms of Nyrissa's quarters, gliding through the walls. The bard starts supporting the group whilst the air elemental swipes through the group, for little effect. No one has yet tried to go through the shimmering shell that surrounds to fey queen…

Iaurinn quickly retreats to a side room after casting a lava wall that blocks an escape from the throne room and occasionally spit globs of lava in the next rounds, usually to little effect against Nyrissa's very high AC, and displacement. Hêmael tries to teleport into the shelled area around Nyrissa, to no effect. It slowly dawns on the group that she is warded by an antilife shell and that reaching her will be very difficult. The general decides to follow up with what worked before and unleashes another destruction on the nymph, damaging her further. It starts to show (she's roughly a quarter of her hit points down) but, in the pain and suffering from Thousandbreaths being uprooted, she has a moment of absence… which she quickly overcomes (rolling "Act normally" on the confusion chart!) to unleash a particularly hurtful quickened, maximized lightning. Sizzling with electricity, Sempor isn't too proud. At the same instant, Nyrissa's finger of death against the queen of Gwendor proves inefficient. The paladin retaliates with a smite evil and lance attacks. With the reach, she can hit the nymph despite the antilife shell, doing a bit of damage.

In the meantime, Nyrissa's stunning beauty has starting to take its toll and a majority of the PCs will always be blinded throughout the whole fight. The few heals and breaths of life cast around the battlefield only help for a handful of rounds until casting a spell or unleashing an attack on Nyrissa forces the PCs to look at her, and quite often make them blind.

Iauriinn's wall of lava blindly sputters lava on Nyrissa and, surprisingly, hits and damages her. Hêmael can't bypass the antilife shell, but his spiritual ally can!… If only it were more efficient at hitting the nymph. They start to realize that her AC is incredibly high and that getting a hit through will be difficult, if not nigh impossible. Nyrissa's maze on the general goes through, this time, until Briar protects her wielder, rendering him impervious to her magical assaults. Grumbling or, actually, hatefully screaming her pain and folly to the PCs, she quickens a cure spell whilst her elemental pummels Lilac, to little effect. The druid starts doing what he does best: summoning swarms of magical creatures. Bellatrix vanishes and leaves the hallway whilst she's still alive, doing what she does best by boosting her companions morale. Lilac is able to hit Nyrissa for another 35 points of damage. Without open space for charges, she is much less efficient than usual and the target's high AC is hard to hit! Lilac touches herself, closing most of the lightning's wounds.

In the neighboring room, the wizard turns to tricks to be of any use. Taking a risk, he quickens a true strike, enters the hallway, and triggers the wall of lava to spew more material on the fey queen. It works! He swiftly teleports back to safety. Hêmael protects himself with a death ward (which won't be of any use throughout the whole fight) as he waits for someone to drop Nyrissa's antilife shell, and AC-boosting spells whilst they are at it… Having had enough and recovered her faculties, the fey queen unleashes destruction on the battle field! Calling on her mystic theurge powers, she sews two of her most powerful spells in the same magical lines. Both lightning and fire erupt into the hallway, bringing utter chaos with them. Despite some fire resistance, the combination of a fire storm for 72 points of damage and the chain lightning for another 53, in addition to some bad saves proves to be Sempor's undoing. Not only is his summoning cancelled, but he collapses on the ground, dead. Nyrissa has shown the extent of her powers when she can focus. Lilac retaliating assaults prove inefficient on the displaced nymph.

The final battle has started less than 30 seconds ago that magic already pervades the air, along with the acrid smell of ashes, Sempor's ashes, and Nyrissa still looks mainly unhurt, if clearly insane as she scream insanities to the trespassers… Things start to look quite dire, but Gwendor's leaders have seen worse.

(to be continued…)

Shadow Lodge

*standing ovation*

Encore!


Olwen wrote:
Even so, by turn 50 or 60 (if I remember well)

We only got to something like 36 before we abandoned the Kingdom mechanic.

That said, I personally had quite a lot of fun learning the ropes of the Kingdom-building system, planning out a functional network of cities, naming them, and watching them grow. I agreed it got too massive to continue to the end of the campaign, but I wouldn't want to have missed out on it entirely.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The final battle for the Stolen Lands – Episode 2

Something has to be done about Nyrissa's protective spells or they will likely be here all day. So Iaurinn, at the cost of becoming blind, charges into the hallway and targets the nymph with a dispel magic. All present are appalled at the limited impact of the spell, as only Nyrissa's spectral hand gets dispelled. Things are not getting any better! Unable to do much against the nymph, and knowing he can still help his gnome friend, Hêmael calls on his clerical powers to teleport next to Sempor's body and he infuses the druid with a breath of life that brings him back from the grave. Whilst a confused Nyrissa babbles incoherently in a mix of many languages, overcome by pain, Sempor furthers Hêmael's help by healing himself. Lilac, still very angry at the evil queen's assaults on her kingdom tries to benefit from Nyrissa's confusion but her attacks are futile. The bard, Bellatrix, follows the wizard's cue and spams another dispel magic. Despite her lower magic mastery, her spell sneaks through the fey's defences and both her displacement and antilife shell collapse!

Things are suddenly looking far less good for Nyrissa: her antilife shell was protecting her from the general, Briar's wielder, and she won't be able to cast another one before they reach her. In addition, the wizard's dimensional anchor prevents her from just retreating and coming back later. I could have gotten her to simply fly and flee, but that's really not consistent with Nyrissa's folly, and she's still doing okay with her 200+ hit points, and AC50. She's also far from being toothless…

In the other room, Iaurinn fumbles through his scrolls and activates a break enchantment scroll to remove his blindness. He fails (after the crapy dispel from last round, it's clear the dice aren't favoring him). His wall of lava also inefficiently targets Nyrissa. With the antilife shell gone, Hêmael can finally get closer to the nymph queen and takes this first opportunity to try and hit her. The emphasis is on try as he fails to connect with the deft nymph. That turns out to be his last chance. Nyrissa, able to concentrate again, unleashes a prismatic ray into the hallway, engulfing Bellatrix who is wreathed in flames, Lilac, who saves against insanity, and her pony, Buttercup, whose evading reflexes shrug off all damages. Hêmael, the closest to the evil queen is less lucky and his flesh is turned to stone. Briar vibrates with magic as she attempts to counter the spell, but to no avail. It is now a detailed statue of the general that embellishes Nyrissa's private quarters. He is unable to hear his companions cries of despair when his calcified body stops moving. The last thing he hears is Nyrissa's cackling glee as she flies above the throne room…

Vengeful, Sempor calls down the powers of the sky on the fey queen, unleashing a flame strike which Nyrissa easily avoids, still laughing. A giant constrictor snake previously summoned by the serpent druid attempts to grapple the fey, and it would have done so, had Nyrissa not been protected by a ring of freedom of movement. Yet another tactic that proves inefficient! Bellatrix attempts another trick, returning her own magic against Nyrissa, as she tries to blind her. Again, to no avail. Finally Lilac uses the extra space from the fey's retreat to finally charge her, smiting her and calling on Arshae's powers to imbue her weapon with a resounding blow. Her frustration is complete when she misses yet again, unable to bypass Nyrissa's magical protections.

It is getting difficult for the group, and worse is coming…

(to be continued…)


More story time, please! :)


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

It'll come, hopefully soon. I've just been busy preparing and starting our Shattered Star campaign. :)


I'm looking forward to story time.

Also, I feel nervous about starting my campaign at saturday.

My players wanted me to make a DM PC, and here I am panicking whether to make her a Monk or a Paladin...

( I made a thread about this which I am now shamelessly advertising )


Icyshadow wrote:


My players wanted me to make a DM PC, and here I am panicking whether to make her a Monk or a Paladin...

Cleric or Bard. Paladins just end up stealing too much limelight, whereas the others can help the group out of a lot of sticky situations without taking up much room on the stage.


Iaurinn o-Lossaeglir wrote:
Cleric or Bard. Paladins just end up stealing too much limelight, whereas the others can help the group out of a lot of sticky situations without taking up much room on the stage.

You have to ignore the bard completely to avoid stealing the limelight. That's like their purpose in life. ;)


We already have a Wizard, a Cleric and a Ranger.

It's like nobody even looks at the thread, when they don't even know!


Icyshadow wrote:

We already have a Wizard, a Cleric and a Ranger.

It's like nobody even looks at the thread, when they don't even know!

Icy, you might want to consider a Cavalier -- the kingmaker campaign is wonderful for this sort of character. Its similar to a a paladin in theme, both are knights, but less likely to steal the spotlight as cavaliers dont have the amazing perks of the paladin. This gives you a traditional melee combatant (tank if you will) and the capability to do some pretty fun stuff.

Good luck with the campaign kickoff, Kingmaker is an amazing path and tons of fun.


I'm not really a fan of the Cavalier due to how dependent of the mount the class is.
Currently my mind is mostly on the Monk idea I had earlier, discussed on the other thread.

And I'm well-aware of how fun Kingmaker can be.
I ran it once before but the group I played with wasn't really suited for it.

They're more of the "less RP more exp and gold" types (also known as "murder hobos" around here), to my undying chagrin.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

I found Kingmaker to be pretty easy, honestly, since the PCs have the ability to go nova on the few (one?) encounter they have each day. So I wouldn't add a GM-PC. In fact I'm quite against it as the GM already has a lot to deal with in this campaign and I think it's easier to tone things down slightly instead of adding someone to the group.

That said, one of the opportunities of Kingmaker is that there are a lot of NPC around who could join the PCs, so I would likely consider that, until the PCs have the Leadership feat.

If you nevetheless want to add a GM-PC, I'd probably add a bard who can buff the group and then be mainly forgotten, or a simple strait fighter. The issue with the bard is that it would then make a lot of sense to have him/her be the charismatic member of the group who talks to NPCs. But that would mean that you, the GM, end up talking to yourself all the time and the other players are mainly here to watch the show. ;)


The players wanted a GM PC.

I'm serious, they asked me to make a fourth character to join them.

And given the stupid amount of DMs that get a stroke from the word "homebrew", of course I'd say yes.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Icy, have you looked at any of the non-Cavalry Cavalier Archetypes, or Archetypes that being the Mount in later? My personal favorite is the Standard Bearer, he still has Mount but doesn't get it until 4th or 5th level & has Banner from the get-go. If the party doesn't have a Bard, Banner will help significantly.


I could go with that.

But I just want to try a Sacred Servant Paladin, or that Ironskin Monk.


Icyshadow wrote:

I could go with that.

But I just want to try a Sacred Servant Paladin, or that Ironskin Monk.

...and, if you were a player - I'd say go for it...

...but, you're the DM - & whilst, yes - your players want a DM PC...you're
still the DM...

All I can recommend is that you create something that will be of value to
the party, without you having this 'amazing PC you want to play' as if
you weren't the DM...which of course you are...
All that does is make your job - on an already time consuming AP - harder.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The final battle for the Stolen Lands – Episode 3

Iaurinn heard his companions cries of despair over their trusty general turning to stone. Listening only to his courage (and planning his escape well), the wizard dives into the battle zone, deep enough to reach Hêmael and, with one swift break enchantment, brings him back to life. His teleportation powers get him out of harms way. Without even a thought for the ramifications of his transformation into stone, Hêmael focusses all his attention on the fey queen, but fails to hurt her. In return, Nyrissa unleashes a chain lightning through the room, and electricity engulfs most of our heroes, except for Bellatrix and Iaurinn, wisely hiding in the next room. Briar's protection completely shields the general, but it's far from being the case for his companions and Sempor, in particular, collapses again on the tiled floor, bleeding profusely and barely breathing. Again…

Sempor is down to -9 hit points, with a Constitution of 10. If he can't stabilize on his turn and isn't healed until the beginning of his next turn, he will be dead again!

Lilac is, once again, unable to pass Nyrissa's defences; their fight turns to a parody of the paladin's usually swift assaults on evil. Bellatrix, in the neighboring room cannot break the enchantment of Nyrissa's blindness effect. Despite the heroes dropping Nyrissa's antilife shell earlier, the situation is more and more dire as some of the companions keep falling under the magical blows of the nymph queen. Hêmael's success at curing parts of Sempor's wounds before he dies again turns into a short-lived and sour success when Nyrissa targets Lilac with a maze spell and sends her to an extradimensional space from which she won't come back before the end of the final battle. The ranks of the Gwendorian are slowly waning while Nyrissa's magical powers show no signs of relenting in numbers or power.

Follows a successions of ineffective and somewhat desperate attacks from our heroes. Nyrissa seems impervious all they try and with the paladin gone, it seems that the survival of the group relies on the general and Briar. Sempor, having already suffered greatly in the last minute or two, being twice on the shores of Pharasma's realm flees the room. Even Nyrissa's confusion and pain from her uprooted realm does not appear to hamper her much. Although she fumbles the casting of another prismatic spray, a quicken hideous laughter almost proves too much for the general, who heroic nature finally allows him to prevails (he uses an action point). In the meantime, Iaurinn's desperate attacks Nyrissa with his wall of lava now systematically prove inefficient, either because of her dextrous movements, or because he aims without looking at her, too fearful of losing sight again.

It is a stalemate as the heroes attacks continuously fail, and Nyrissa's pain prevents her from casting much in the way of offensive spells onto the group. Her supply of high level spells is also starting to grow short. The only major changes in the next few rounds comes from Hêmael stealing a potion of fly from Iaurinn, thereby enabling him to fly into the high-ceiling throne room where Nyrissa has retreated, and Sempor starting a summoning spree that will later prove to be the nymph's undoing. As Nyrissa's magic ebbs, the tide is turning to the Gwendorians advantage. But slowly, oh so slowly, and anything can still happen.

Having had enough, Bellatrix directly joins the fight. In an attempt to intimidate her, she yells her views at the evil queen: 'Your kingdom is sucky, it's falling apart, and you smell funny!' But the nymph queen is beyond such petty attacks, as much as she is beyond Iaurinn's assaults with a scroll of disintegrate. Her only reply comes in the form of yet another chain lightning which hits both Iaurinn and the air elemental summoned by Sempor. If Iaurinn is pretty hurt by the lightning assault, the air elemental is paying no attention to it, especially since more of its kind start swarming the room. Lilac, on her own somewhere else, is still unable to escape the maze she desperately explores, fearful of her companions (and wife's!) fate against the other queen.

The elementals, more and more numerous, are however unable to hamper Nyrissa and she carries on with her electrical assault, almost killing the general, but also the high magister whose spells (lightning bolt, baleful polymorph) continuously prove inefficient. Even his most basic magical attacks, through magic missile prove inefficient and bounce off Nyrissa's shield! Nyrissa, furious, holds no punches anymore. Maybe she was previously playing with the heroes like a man would play with a cat, but she's obviously now had enough and magic spews from her in a storm of fire, electricity, and raw power. The combination of a flame strike and a quickened lightning bolt proves to finally be the high magister's undoing. The charred body of Iaurinn floats towards the ground.

(to be continued)


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:

I could go with that.

But I just want to try a Sacred Servant Paladin, or that Ironskin Monk.

I would follow the recommendation of someone else, earlier, and not go for the paladin. From my experience, they can one-shot particularly iconic encounters against the last volume's dragons, or Vordakai, and I think it would be sad to have the GM-PC overcome these encounters, and not the PCs. But it's up to you. :)


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The final battle for the Stolen Lands – Episode 4

Impervious to his comrade's death, Sempor carries on summoning nature's allies onto the battle field in the hope of overcoming the fey queen. An idea starts sprouting in his feverish mind. He remembers what cyclopes did to them when the group was chasing Vordakai, the cyclops lich, so long ago, and how there glimpse at the future could allow them to carry out the mightiest deeds. In the meantime, Bellatrix incants one of her last powerful spells, breathing life back into the high magister who has only fallen for a few seconds. On the battlefield, all the elementals, as well as ettins summoned by Sempor focus all their attention on helping the general strike Nyrissa down. It is at this moment that Briar and Hêmael form a perfect symbiosis and, finally, the vorpal powers of the sword come into play…

This is when Hêmael's player rolled a 20 on his attack, confirmed by another 20. This is it! This is what they have been waiting for for about 15 rounds and probably 2 hours in game time. There is much hooting at the table, as well as congratulations, but the joy turns sour when I reveal that…

Nyrissa is no fool, though. Unable to find the damn sword forged from shards of her soul, she long ago wished herself protected once against the sword's decapitating abilities. The general's superb attack has little effect other than leaving a thin trail of blood on the nymph's neck. Another let down as it seems impossible to vanquish the evil queen. The heroes have tried all they can and still she survives. Sure, some wounds are proof of the brutality of this clash of titans and that she can be hurt, but these wounds seem so small compared to how much of themselves they have invested in this battle. The fey queen still stands, and still pummels them with magic missiles and scorching rays. In the meantime, the leaders of Gwendor are in sorry shape and their resources are decrease to a dangerous point of no return.

But all changes when Sempor summons a first cyclops on the battle field. The creature insightfully attacks Nyrissa, bypassing her defences and further confirming its critical hit! Nyrissa takes 49 points of damage and is stunned by the assault, flat-footed for a round! Doing all they can to benefit from this advantage, everyone helps the general so he can attack the fey under the best condition. With Briar's help, one attack bypasses Nyrissa's defences and she is staggered under the clash of her soul shards with her being. The tide seems to be turning, and Sempor invokes more cyclopes into the room. Even the nymph dominating Bellatrix to defend her doesn't sway the Gwendorians' assaults.

Nyrissa focuses all her attention on healing herself as she now regularly suffers from the assaults of the general, aided by all present. She is still able to cast a few offensive spells, but they are not powerful enough anymore to reverse the tide again, especially if these cyclopes continue to swarms the battlefield… And they do when, with one spell, Sempor summons another five cyclopes into the throne room. The room is completely swarmed by summoned elemental, the one-eyed giants, and the Gwendorian heroes and little else could be summoned there. But it won't be necessary. The freshly summoned cyclopes all assault the fey queen, even those in the back, unable to reach melee, who are hurling their greataxes at the nymph. One of these greataxes flies through most of the room, eerily avoiding all friendly creatures and violently lodges itself into Nyrissa's body.

We use the Critical Hit Deck for both PCs and NPCs and for this confirmed cyclopean critical hit, I draw the card "Hack And Slash: Double damage and all critical threats against target automatically confirmed for the next 3 rounds." With a few cyclopes still about to attack, "rolling" a natural 20 on their 3x-critical greataxe attacks with their Flash of Insight, it was clear that this attack from the hurled greataxe was the end of Nyrissa. Again, there was much relief and rejoicing at the table as the tension ebbed. The only thing I could do about it, was rejoice with them at the fitting, tensed conclusion to the campaign. And smile with them at this original trick that vanquished Nyrissa. :)

That proved to be Nyrissa's undoing as, losing her balance, she was unable to properly defend herself against the remaining cyclopes attacks, as well as the general's final assault. After she fell, the general severed the fey queen's head to be sure she wouldn't come back. And there it was, five years after setting foot in the Stolen Lands for the first time, that the heroes of Gwendor had finally earned their right to rule these lands. The greatest threat that had overshadowed almost every attack onto their kingdom had been vanquished…

Lilac then popped back into this dimension, wondering what she had missed…

It was all a great campaign, and the final battle was suitably tense. It was indecisive for long enough, and won on a twist of fate, just like I'd like all my campaigns to end. It could have clearly gone the other way. It's the second campaign we end, after Legacy of Fire two years ago, and the final battle was really good in both cases. I hope it'll also be like that for the next one, Shattered Star!

Thank you for reading the very long summary! :)


Excellent storytelling!


Wow, that's bloody epic. I certainly hope that the heroes of our game are able to have as exciting, tense, and rewarding an encounter as yours did! Thank you for sharing!


Epic! I just hope my game comes even close to that level of amazing when it comes time to fighter Nyrissa.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Wonderful tale of valor and bravery!


And when the great saga of this adventure is written ... Queen Lilac is going to have to have a talk with her wife the bard about the use of the phrases "almost useless", "not even there for half the fight", and "seriously, I think her pony ended up doing more damage". :)


Sounds pretty awesome.

Also, two sessions down so far on my campaign.

RP has been restrained (except in parts by the Dwarf Cleric and the Human Necromancer) but it's been fun for everyone.


GLORIOUS. And a fitting end. Though poor Lilac, hahah.

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