Player Participation


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

My group is just getting into Rivers Run Red and are into the first month of Kingdom building. The problem I’m having is that only one player wants to actually participate in the kingdom building process. A couple of the others will put their two cents in, but it’s only that and really even they only give minimum effort and just let the one guy do the work. Most of the group seem. Ore interested in killing monsters and getting loot than the actual story line and the kingdom building part. This makes the whole thing difficult and frustrating because we have been gaming together for years. They did fine going through other APs that I’ve ran. They are a more action oriented group, but when I mentioned doing this AP they seemed excited at the prospect of building there own kingdom. I now think they were just excited about having there own kingdom and ruling over others.
This may be more of just a rant, but I do need some good GM advise on handling things for the game or maybe I should put the game on hiatus and move to another AP that is less work for them.

Thanks in advance for ay advise you can give on handling my players.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I would consider turning the Kingdom building system to a downtime element perhaps run through a google spreadsheet or document. Share it with your group through email etc and ask those interested to provide input or discuss it in downtime. If it is actually slowing down and making regular game time a chore then it's best to take it out of the regular session.

Either that or drop the kingdom building all together. I've not run or read Kingmaker so I'm not sure how much the kingdom building element is important to the content of the session.

That is my suggestion. I had to relegate the relationship and caravan mechanic from Jade Regent to downtime on discord with my players otherwise I'm sure they would be gone by now.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

That’s just the thing. I have been trying to do it through a Google doc and email and still only one guy mainly participates. I get very little replies from anyone else, and when they do reply it is just to agree with the guy that has already done the work.
To me, the kingdom building in Kingmaker is a featured part of the game. If you take away the kingdom building element there is no Kingmaker.

I find Kingdom Building is difficult for most groups. There's usually one number cruncher that's good at figuring out the best options (either the most beneficial or the most story appropriate... it changes, depending on the person) and the others default to what that one player says.
Getting people to all care is incredibly hard and getting everyone to equally voice their opinion typically means that, rather than working together, they're actually just arguing about everything. (Which usually turns bad).
So long as the one player enjoys figuring out the kingdom stuff and the others don't mind that one being in charge of it you're honestly fine. (Assuming everyone is enjoying the game.)

You can't force someone like a mechanic in the game.

Dark Archive

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I had a fair bit of trouble with kingdom building with my first run of Kingmaker and it was ultimately what ended that campaign. Well, that and the fact that my wife couldn't stand the other player's attitudes. This second run has been going really well in regards to kingdom building. The first few kingdom turns were rough and they almost went bankrupt after a botched Economy roll. One player, the rules savvy guy, took the time to read and understand the rules better on the buildings and improvements. After he figured it out, he explained it to the others. Once the whole group had a basic grasp of what was good for the kingdom, rules wise, they were able to plan out their choices alot better. It was still rough, but I made sure they took plenty of adventuring time between kingdom turns so no one got bored. Before I knew it the whole group was looking forward to the kingdom turns. I almost always have an event happen, good or bad, to keep things interesting. I guess I just eased them into it gradually and tried to tie the NPCs they cared about into the things they were building.

Laveral wrote:

To me, the kingdom building in Kingmaker is a featured part of the game. If you take away the kingdom building element there is no Kingmaker.

While I don't think you are alone in this feeling, IMHO of course, I do think you are somewhat of a minority. It's still Kingmaker without the clunky optional mechanics.

I've seen a lot of different types of players in 40+ years, most want to roleplay, murderhobo, loot stuff, etc. Maybe one of my former players would go for the mini-game stuff. The same player loves all the mini-games in the Final Fantasy series of video games and platinums any other games he gets his hands on.
I'm not saying that a majority dislikes the kingdom building rules either (at least from my browsing these threads over the years), but a great many posters here said it eventually bogged them down where they either just handwaived it all later, got bored, or flat out just stopped using them. Maybe the novelty just wears off after awhile.

Also, unless you are using the Ultimate Campaign sourcebook, the original Kingdom Building rules are kind of broken, IIRC.

I'm also in agreement with Savant on this too.
If you have a player who likes that aspect of the campaign and is willing to do the work involved, then why not just let him? As long as you are all enjoying the campaign, everyone wins.

Personally, I wish Paizo would drop the "mini-game bloat". Some just are poorly thought out and/or playtested, like the Trust mechanic in book one of Carrion Crown. Getting background story and/or research to PCs out of the insular townsfolk of Ravengro shouldn't come down to a lucky die roll IMHO. The party should earn their trust as they help them in the coming days with the strange things that begin to happen. That's how us older Grognards did it in Ravenloft ;).

Another example of these rules being tedious is the Provision Point system in Ironfang Invasion. Everything can be done far simpler with just roleplaying it out instead of constant calculations. Need them pesky refugees to relocate? The caves get more darkland visitors. Food and Water scarce? Don't need the calculations to figure that out, maybe the increasing patrols make it harder to hunt or forage in the open, maybe the hobgoblins want fresh food too?

There's a chance that I may be running KM myself soon. The Kingdom building rules will not be used, and mass combat will be just background noise instead. Especially since I'm replacing alot of book 5 with "Prisoners of the Blight" (Book 5 of Ironfang Invasion).

Standard Disclaimer*** YMMV.

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My group was somewhat into it; it helps that we're a bunch of middle-aged nerds. I maintained buy-in in part by incorporating mini-plotlines in with the kingdom-building turns. And by the time we got to the point where it was a huge kingdom with several small cities, I asked for general directions rather than saying, "OK, how many houses do you want to build in City A."

Some things I did to keep things lively:

* When my players went a long time before claiming the Temple of the Elk, a group of paladins of Erastil claimed it for themselves. My players then had to negotiate with the paladins' leader or else take that spot by war. (They negotiated)

* The Kingdom of Sootscale was a semi-ally, but was also expansionist. My players had to deal with them claiming hexes.

* When we were deep in kingdom-building, I used "Kingdom reports" to keep things lively. Each player received rumors, side quests, and such pertaining to the things he was in charge of.

I'm pretty fortunate in that most of my players are pretty invested in the Kingdom Building aspect of the campaign. There are two that are a bit tuned out, though one was earlier until his first character died. The two that are a bit tuned out are moreso because their characters are.

That said, I don't completely agree that the actual kingdom building is an integral part of the campaign, rather just the growth of the kingdom (heck, the AP even gives the kingdom in the background rules). So with that said, what I would likely do in the situation described by the OP is check with the other players (the non-invested ones) and see if they are even want to partake in that phase of the game. If not, you can just deal with the one player that is invested and give an update before each session.

Another alternative that could work fairly well would be to turn the kingdom turns into seasons rather than months. By having a kingdom turn every three months or so, it better allows the PCs to have their time adventuring and only occasionally return to deal with the kingdom stuff. The bottom line of course is that not every player wants to get involved in all the minutiae and there's nothing wrong with that. Additionally, if you are not worrying too much about the kingdom turns, it might give you more time to develop the story elements of the game, which then get your players more invested in the story.

For my mileage, I think that the KM AP provides a very solid foundation for a campaign, but it's just that, a foundation. Its the good and bad about a sandbox game. Lots of great hooks tossed around, but not much development of them. I thin the most successful KM campaigns will require a good deal of flexibility on the part of the GM (not saying OP isn't already doing that btw). You need to listen to your players and watch them. See what they are gravitating to, what they are focusing on. Heck, even the BBEG needs a lot more development by the GM (IMHO) than is in the AP because otherwise, said BBEG kinda comes out of left field.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I agree about the BBEG in this campaign. I have been trying to leave subtle hints in the way of a symbol for her that the PCs will run across from time to time. I even had her reincarnate one of the PCs that died earlier in the campaign, because the Player preferred that character for this campaign, after the group killed the Stag Lord.
I have definitely been using Ultimate Campaign instead of the rules in the Kingmaker book.

Thanks for the advise everyone.

If it falls apart I’m going to scrap it and go to a way more adventure oriented/dungeon crawly type of AP.

I've had similar frustrations with this sort of thing. Some players just aren't going to take certain steps, whether it's kingdom turns or doing all their character stuff out of session or what have you. So I would say to do the turns with the one player that is interested. You can't force the others to care.

And in any case the kingdom rules are kinda boring once the kingdom is beyond the early growing pains. You build stuff but there's no built-in pushback or scarcity of resources unless you've changed around the AP a fair amount (or unless the players have expanded beyond their means). Events are resolved with checks that can only fail on a 1, and even if they fail it's just a couple of numbers off the kingdom's big bonuses. It can be fun in a "I'm making a thing in the way that I want to" way (which is better done with 1 player anyway), but it's not very good as a mini-game.

What makes Kingmaker interesting and different from other APs, IMO, are the part of rulership that aren't represented by the kingdom rules.

You are also a player in the game. Explain that this is a part of the campaign you are running and need them to be more invested.

If they aren't interested still after asking nicely then think about a different AP.

I moved directly to Iron Gods after Kingmaker, it might be more what they are looking for.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Have you asked the players why they're not enthused by the kingdom building aspect?

Maybe it's become too mechanical for them - perhaps a more free-flowing design would be better. I modified it heavily for my group, mostly making them a little easier, because they felt like it had to be solved & that they were failing at it (They had some early bad luck & a few things that compounded it). By taking some of the sting out & also being a bit more free-flowing with situational bonuses around thematic ideas (Like giving them a temporary loyalty & stability bonus when they built a shrine for a player who died) they started treating it more as a cool thing they could build & less as a puzzle to mathematically solve.

Maybe they just don't like it as much as they thought - and maybe you should either make it less of a focus or even change AP's if you don't want to run kingmaker with a light touch on the kingdom side.

Without knowing why your players aren't engaged it's hard to know what fix would help.

Just let the one guy run it. There isn't really a way to force the others to participate. Kingdom Building is a major part of Kingmaker, hence the name. If your group doesn't like Kingdom Building, then it's probably the wrong AP to run.

My one gaming group finished Kingmaker a couple years ago, and right around the end of book 3, we took the Kingdom Building aspect to Skype calls since only two of us players were really into it. A third player would provide input, but it wasn't really a thing for the other two. It just became easier for us to pick a night between sessions and do it online.

Given that the Kingmaker AP includes sidebars for "Kingdom in the Background", I don't think the Kingdom Building system was necessarily a core theme of the AP, but the idea of the PCs being founders of a fledgling and growing Kingdom in an area hostile to civilization is. Paizo clearly anticipated that some players wouldn't be into the Kingdom Building mechanics part of it and gave the GM a way to handwave that part of the game, while keeping the core theme. It's still a great AP with a good story, though, so try not to let the other players' lack of interest in the mechanically-dense Kingdom Building rules get in the way of the fun of the rest of the AP.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Well, I started using Discord and some of them seem to get involved in it a little bit more with that. The main guy is doing the kingdom building ideas for the most part, but others got on and discussed how to do each month also.
I have thought about going to another AP. I even started reading Tyrants Grasp the last couple of weeks just in case.

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