Other places on Golarion for kingdom-building?


Pathfinder Campaign Setting General Discussion


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So, Kingmaker has established a well-deserved reputation as one of the most beloved Adventure paths, to the point that it's received a CPRG adaptation and is in line for a 10th anniversary hardback and updated edition for Pathfinder's second edition. A lot of that has to do with encounters and local setting details that are unique to Kingmaker and the Stolen Lands; however, if you were to run a game focused on kingdom-building elsewhere on Golarion, what sort of places might you set your game?

Note that I'm particularly looking for opportunities for potential PCs to build their kingdom "from the ground up" here; while there are certainly opportunities for kingdom vs. kingdom conflict among the established nations of the Inner Sea, I'm more interested in the frontier-taming and homestead-building sort of play that characterises Kingmaker, but involving a different corner of the setting and a different cast of characters. I do like the idea that, just as the kingdom of the Kingmaker PCs received charters from the swordlords of Rostland and founded their kingdom with Rostland's tacit approval and initial support, so too should there be a link from prospective PCs in another part of the world to a nation or organisation that provides intial support for their efforts in order to get the ball rolling and provide an initial premise or structure for the expedition.

Note also that I'm interested in locations within or close to Avistan first, Garundi locations second, places elsewhere on Golarion third - my last significant campaign took place in a homebrew setting styled along Chinese and Korean lines and so I'm looking for somewhere a bit "closer to home" in terms of traditional D&D and Pathfinder settings and expectations.

Southern River Kingdoms: On the other side of the River Kingdoms from the Stolen Lands, there's a fairly significant area of territory that doesn't seem to be strongly claimed by any existing River Kingdom - this is an area that borders Galt and curls around Cordelon and Hymbria before stretching up through the Embeth Forest. The natural suggestion is that any group of would-be kingdom-buildiders in this area consits of refugees, exiles, and hopefuls from Galt, and there are a few similarly-themed settlements in the River Kingdoms already (Gralton and Liberthane). Kyonin is nearby (with Hymbria essentially being its exclave) which adds a welcome non-human angle to the situation. On the down side, this would be "just another River Kingdoms kingdom-building exercise," that's possibly too close the the Stolen Lands of Kingmaker to really develop its own identity.

Belkzen: Didn't I just say that I wasn't interested in kingdom vs. kingdom conflict? I think a kingdom-building game in Belkzen isn't going to involve an outright invasion from one of the neighbouring realms, so much as a push by determined opportunists with their own ambitions or a personal stake in the matter - an Ustalavic noble or general with a hatred of orcs and/or a desire to replicate Kazavon's feats of conquest across the region, or a shrewd crusader-captain from Lastwall keen to see the Conquered Lands reclaimed and made a buffer against Belkzen to allow Lastwall to devote its attention to Gallowspire more fully, or the rise of an ambitious Mammoth Lord determined to carve out a realm of his own and seeing the orcs as easier (or more deserving) targets of conquest than his own people. Both of the southern routes into Belkzen leave me with the feeling that the sandbox in which the PCs might be playing would be very close to Urgir, and the idea of a kingdom growing and prospering so close at hand to Chief Grask Uldeth might strain the suspension of disbelief; at the other end of the Hold, an expedition from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords seems like it might be more focused on a particular, barbaric theme, and accommodate a less broad range of potential PCs, than one from Belkzen's southern neighbours.

Isger: Andoran, Cheliax, and Druma all have some interests here; I think the Menador Mountains form an effective natural boundary with Molthune (which besides has its attentions focused on Nirmathas more than southward expansion) and I don't really imagine the dwarves of the Five Kings Mountains seeking to expand beyond the mountains proper. Nor do I see Druma as particularly expansionist in this direction, and Cheliax... honestly, if Cheliax wants more direct control over Isger, it's going to replace its current Steward with one with shorter strings, rather than carving off chunks of the back country piecemeal. I think a kingdom-building game in Isger represents an Andoren endeavour; the Isgeri army is consolidated around Elidir and the Conerica River, surrendering the hinterlands to banditry, and so certain Andoren factions take an "enough is enough" approach and dispatch agents to tame the wilderness which Isger's own government seems uninterested in, or incapable of, bringing back under some semblance of control.

The Nolands: This wilderness area between Varisia and the Linnorm Kingdoms is described as a haven for exiles and bandits who are growing more co-ordinated of late - precisely the sort of situation that might prompt either Varisian or Linnorm King interest in bringing the region to heel. That creates a natural opportunity for a rival kingdom to develop (a Varisian-backed kingdom to oppose the PCs Linnorm King-backed expedition, or vice-versa) and the region was once part of the Thassilonian kingdom of Cyrusian, providing an opportunity to tap into that part of the Golarion's lore too. On the other hand, it's a smaller area than the Stolen Lands that's depicted on existing map as less varied in its terrain, in particular a lack of forests; maybe that would make it a less interesting setting for a kingdom-building game.

Iobaria: This is a huge region, dotted with ruins but generally sparsely settled thanks to persistent plagues, internal turmoil, and the repercussions of external calamities. It's ripe for the conquest, but as a pseudo-Russian corner of the setting it's perhaps a bit too similar in its overall themes to Brevoy and the Stolen Lands just over the border, indeed the Nomen Heights region that Kingmaker PCs explore seems to represent the western foothills of the Hills of Nomen that mark Iobaria's western border. I think Iobaria's various plagues would make for a unique obstacle for the PCs' kingdom to content with, and might perhaps represent the work of a disease-themed villain (in the same way that fey themes are present throughout Kingmaker).

Thoughts and further suggestions, anyone? If you were to run a kingdom-building game elsewhere on Golarion, where would you set it?


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So, this would have to be Post closing of the World Wound, but I think a Kingdom building adventure in Sarkoris would be interesting. Sarkorsis was the name of the land BEFORE the World Wound opened and Demons took over the place. The players would be re-settling a land that had been ruled by Demons for about a hundred years while having to deal with the neighboring territories.


That seems like a cool idea! It hadn't occurred to me, because I figured if any party were to try and rebuild Sarkoris, or establish a new kingdom within the former borders of Sarkoris after the closing of the Worldwound, it would be the mythic PCs of the Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path in charge of such an effort, rather than a relatively green band of heroes. But there's certainly some potential there yes!


I really like the idea of Sarkoris for kingdom building. The Nolands is another great choice. It's clear that the southern half of Varisia up to the Storval Plateau can easily coalesce into a confederation of their own, but north of Riddleport has no one with a stake in it.


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Another idea is the Shackles. Since at the moment there is only a bunch of Pirates with dozens (or more) of small but inhabited Islands you COULD make a campaign out of breaking the power of the Pirates and creating an actual Civilization, or Multiple.

Dark Archive

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Forging an alliance of Mwangi city-states into a sort of loose kingdom or federation could be intriguing, with Angazhan's faithful and the pirates of the Shackles being the primary foes (and perhaps some pro-Chel spoilers from Sargava trying to keep the natives from unifying). Tying said kingdom-building (or alliance-forging?) into a Shackles-civilizing event could work, with the majority of piracy shifting to now come from Chel-sponsored privateer fleets operating primarily out of Sargava, but also welcome (quietly) in certain Chelish ports. (The Hurricane King sees which way the wind is blowing, and swears lip-service to Asmodeus, gaining a powerful ally...)

That all said, the idea of restoring lost Sarkoris, post-Worldwound, sounds amazing as well! Local powers, ranging from the Technic League to orcs from Belkzen to penitents from Ustalav to opportunists from Druma and Razmiran, could flood into the area, and have to learn to live with remnants of the original Sarkorian natives, and former crusaders from all over the Inner Sea who have chosen to settle in these lands they spent so much blood defending.


Galt would be another good place, I think.


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I drew up a kingmaker campaign (though sadly never got to play it) set in the Land of the Linnorm Kings. Specifically, the eastern part of Southmoor. That region seems tailor made for it, to me.


Fabius Maximus wrote:
Galt would be another good place, I think.

When I pitched a Southern River Kingdoms game above, I had kind of imagined a return to Galt as the logical endgame for a group of Galt-derived characters, expatriates returning to reclaim their homeland (or carve out some slice of it) having built a powerbase for themselves across the border. But it's certainly possible to imagine a kingdom-building game entirely within Galt too, with the Red Revolution spiralling further out of control and regions far from the turmoil of the capital and the attentions of the Grey Gardeners plunging into anarchy and slipping the tenuous yoke of Galt's leadership entirely.

Steve Geddes wrote:
I drew up a kingmaker campaign (though sadly never got to play it) set in the Land of the Linnorm Kings. Specifically, the eastern part of Southmoor. That region seems tailor made for it, to me.

I would love to hear anything about this that you're content to share! I feel as though the region you describe here overlaps with the Nolands some, but extends quite far beyond it, too, bringing prospective kingdom-building PCs into conflict with established powers and famous adventure sites. I imagine a natural part of such a campaign would be the ritual single combat with a linnorm necessary to establish a prospective ruler not merely as a chieftain or warlord but as an actual Linnorm King - whether that represents the climax of the campaign, or the transition into its endgame.


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Non-standard PC races could expand the possibilities: Unifying the lizardmen of the Mushfens could be a kingmaker type campaign, or forming a great Kobold empire in the Candlestone Caverns...

Sczarni

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

I have actually looked into a campaign where everyone are part of the Pathfinder Society that focuses on the Explore part of "Explore, report, cooperate".

Part 1: Their job is to find a location within __ miles of a spot on the map that is inhabitable. The society is no longer content with just setting up lodges in existing cities, they want to own the entire cities, taxes can then support local explorations. After a certain amount of time, when the settlement is considered self-sufficient, they ensure that they are able to teleport in at a moment's notice, and move to the next area of the map.

Part 2: would be when they have proven the ability to make settlements work. They then get sent to settlements that are failing, and partially (poorly) built. They are tasked with turning around these settlements (Think Bar Rescue), while still having to support the settlements they created in part 1, and help with kingdom building.

(For parts 1+2, I would allow 2 "active" characters per person, and each settlement they can decide which of their characters they bring to the table, and upon getting orders to leave, they would have the option to leave their PC in that settlement in a position of power, but they would then have to stay in that settlement for the beginning of part 3)

Part 3: The PCs get into more direct confrontation with other groups. The Lumber Consortium and The Aspis Consortium have both been funding settlements on the fringes for decades. They have both political and physical power to rival the Pathfinders, and have butted heads before. What happens if they join forces, maybe even pulling in the Gnoll and Okeno Slavers that Pathfinders have been confronting. Several of the settlements from parts 1+2 come under attack at once. How do they hold up? Does the party get split to defend the people they have worked on building relationships with?

This allows for detailing multiple areas, Sarusan, Arcadia, Casmaron, Mwanagi... you could hit them all in one campaign, while still being more interconnected than Organized play is. Heck, if they get enough political clout, they could go try to start a settlement on Hermea with or without the dragon's blessing as a followup adventure.


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pad300 wrote:
Non-standard PC races could expand the possibilities: Unifying the lizardmen of the Mushfens could be a kingmaker type campaign, or forming a great Kobold empire in the Candlestone Caverns...

The Darklands would be an interesting settings for a kingdom-building campaign... "A Kingdom Below"

Shadow Lodge

The indispensable prerequisite for a Kingmaker-style campaign is a large swath of unclaimed and unadministered wilderness. The following locations in the Inner Sea Region suggests themselves:

1) the Sodden Lands;
2) the Mwangi Expanse;
3) Sarkoris;
4) parts of the River Kingdoms;
5) the Storval Plateau and points west in Varisia (note: New Eurythnia and New Edasseril both make decent patrons to go kingmaking in the Nolands);
6) points north of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings (note: the territories between the Lands of the Linnorm Kings and the Crown of the World are not mapped); and
7) Iobaria.

There are unclaimed territories in Tian Xia, but aside from the Velashmi Jungle, they escape me at the moment.

You can turn the setup for Ruins of Azlant into a kingmaking setup if you want.


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A Kingdom building in The Hold of Belkzen is actually an idea I have toyed with in my head. Since the Orc lands are not actually controlled by any one tribe, the PCs would be the ones to unite the lands and actually establish central authority. Bonus is that once they do THAT they now have a huge Orc Army to go Dark Lord on their neighbors with!


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I would be very wary about trying to make a kingdom in the Mwangi Expanse or the Storval Plateau. The temptation to write these areas off as savage lands ripe for conquest is...really not great. If the kingdom model of government worked for these areas and these cultures, they would have done it themselves.


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YlothofMerab wrote:
I would be very wary about trying to make a kingdom in the Mwangi Expanse or the Storval Plateau. The temptation to write these areas off as savage lands ripe for conquest is...really not great. If the kingdom model of government worked for these areas and these cultures, they would have done it themselves.

YlothofMerab, thank you for articulating this, it's a concern that I shared about these particular suggestions. Looking at my copy of Heart of the Jungle, there's a strong suggestion that the major cities of the Expanse - Mzali, Nantambu, Osibu, and Senghor, perhaps also Usaro - claim and administer the territory that's necessary for their survival, or perhaps as much as they can, and quite aside from the colonialist overtones of any attempt to kingdom-build in the Expanse, there are also questions that arise like "What enables the PCs to quickly and successfully establish a kingdom in an area that has counfounded and restricted indigenous settlement-building for millennia?" and "What advantage do the PCs have that enables them to succeed where the likes of Taldor's large, well-equipped, and well-supported Sixth Army of Exploration failed?" Likewise I take your point that attempting to kingdom-build atop the Storval Plateau runs into the problem that the Shoanti quahs already maintain a coalition of seven nations in the area; it's unclaimed and unadministered only in the eyes of outside parties like Cheliax or Korvosa who are very much using their own standards and sense of cultural superiority to pass that judgment.

I think you absolutely could run a game about building a coalition out of the Mwangi city-states in response to some outside threat or rising ancient evil, or about closely uniting the Shoanti quahs to resist colonialist expansion from Korvosa/Magnimar/Riddleport or the threat of invasion from Belkzen, Irrisen, or the Land of the Linnorm Kings, but that's not a 'kingdom-building' game in the sense that Kingmaker presumes.

Shadow Lodge

YlothofMerab wrote:
I would be very wary about trying to make a kingdom in the Mwangi Expanse or the Storval Plateau. The temptation to write these areas off as savage lands ripe for conquest is...really not great. If the kingdom model of government worked for these areas and these cultures, they would have done it themselves.

I took it as given that the kingmaking enterprise was necessarily one of colonial conquest and subjugation. Kingmaker itself has the party exterminating a colony of mites, genociding a kingdom of trolls, confining tribes of centaurs to reservations, subjugating "barbaric" human peoples, and conquering neighboring states. To say nothing of the fey, whose way of life is doomed if Nyrissa is not victorious.

Dark Archive

YlothofMerab wrote:
I would be very wary about trying to make a kingdom in the Mwangi Expanse or the Storval Plateau. The temptation to write these areas off as savage lands ripe for conquest is...really not great. If the kingdom model of government worked for these areas and these cultures, they would have done it themselves.

Oh, definitely. My idea was strictly the Mwangi natives unifying into a collective of city-states, not having any sort of foreign power coming in impose a new order on them (and, indeed, the pro-Chelish elements in Sargava are trying to *prevent* the natives from allying and rallying together to oppose them as a united front).

On the other hand, a Sarkorian Kingmaker could deal with that sort of 'outsiders building a kingdom in our old land' thing, with former crusaders from Mendev (who've lived there for years already) trying to build a kingdom there, while the shattered remnants of the former Sarkorians scramble to reclaim as much of their former territory as they can, before it's all snatched up by opportunists from Mendev, Ustalav, Numeria, the Mammoth Lords lands and / or Belkzen... (and perhaps Druma, Razmiran, Irrisen, etc. Opportunists abound within the general area.)

That is, however, based on my assumption that the Kellids of Golarion are more inspired by Robert Howards Cimmerians, than any real world culture, and while I'm not worried about offending any real world Cimmerians, I'd change my tune if it turned out that the Kellids were actually based on some real world culture instead!


Set wrote:

a Sarkorian Kingmaker could deal with that sort of 'outsiders building a kingdom in our old land' thing, with former crusaders from Mendev (who've lived there for years already) trying to build a kingdom there, while the shattered remnants of the former Sarkorians scramble to reclaim as much of their former territory as they can, before it's all snatched up by opportunists from Mendev, Ustalav, Numeria, the Mammoth Lords lands and / or Belkzen... (and perhaps Druma, Razmiran, Irrisen, etc. Opportunists abound within the general area.)

I can totally get behind a Kingmaker-esque scenario where the native population is uniting together in response to a rising threat or to eliminate a particularly destructive force within their territory. And the reason the original Kingmaker works so well is specifically because that land is not ancestral to some other group. And even then, they do acknowledge how the kingmaking efforts to take a toll on the local wildlife, ecology, and fey.


TheOrganGrinder" wrote:
{. . .} quite aside from the colonialist overtones of any attempt to kingdom-build in the Expanse, there are also questions that arise like "What advantage do the PCs have that enables them to succeed where the likes of Taldor's large, well-equipped, and well-supported Sixth Army of Exploration failed?" {. . .}

I can think of a possible advantage right off the bat: The PCs (with difficulty, but eventually) earn the trust of and demonstrate their respect for the people already living in the Expanse, and are likely to be mostly Expanse citizens themselves (Mwangi or the other Humanoids that live there), whereas the Sixth Army of Exploration tried to subjugate everyone there, and probably tried to play them off against each other. A powerful motive might be that somebody (probably not Taldor itself, but same idea)(*) is sending another Army of Exploration there soon, and people living there need to unite to defeat it.

(*)Likely candidates: Cheliax (if it manages to get through or around Sargava, Sargava (if it manages to crush the unrest it is dealing with, especially if Cheliax offered it a deal that its leaders felt they couldn't refuse), the Shackles Pirates (if they get tired of depending upon Sargava for tributes obtained from southern Garund, and decide to go in themselves, or maybe make a deal with Sargava as described above for Cheliax), Rahadoum (if they feel that invading the Mwangi jungles is their ticket to escaping death by desertification), or Usaro (the great mass of Demons in the Abyss have gotten frustrated over the closing of the Worldwound and want to open a new one, and Anghazan and Ruthazek the Gorilla King are happy to oblige as long as they get a suitably large piece of the pie).

* * * * * * * *

Other candidates for kingdom building are places that currently have governments that are unstable (even if they superficially appear stable) and implode. This will have some overlap with the original post:

River Kingdoms: Canonically, those things are rising and imploding all the time. Of course, the trick is to keep your new kingdom from likewise imploding after a short time.

Galt: Canonically, governments in Galt are rising and imploding all the time. Can you be the ones to make a new government that will actually last without turning Galt into Cheliax 2.0?

The Hold of Belkzen: Canonically, this is only kept under control by whoever is strong enough to force their will upon a decently large part of it. If one of these leaders dies, and the succession does not proceed smoothly (as it is likely not to), an opportunity arises for those wanting to build a new kingdom there -- especially if it happens to more than one at once. Can you be the Orcs that will finally unite the tribes of Belkzen without depending upon some foreign mastermind like the Whispering Tyrant?

Numeria: If the Black Sovereign dies, the Technic League will almost assuredly maneuver to put control into the hands of someone under their control. But if they botch the transition, opportunity awaits for someone to move in. Can you be the ones to take over Numeria without falling into the synthetic drug-infused clutches of the Technic League?

Shadow Lodge

YlothofMerab wrote:
And the reason the original Kingmaker works so well is specifically because that land is not ancestral to some other group

Yes it is. Even setting aside very small societies and fey (not because they're lacking in dignity, but solely because they're too numerous and varied to mention), I named three peoples indigenous to parts of the Stolen Lands: Hargulka's people, Armagh's people (were they called the Tiger Lords? I forget), and the Nomen Centaurs. I'd forgotten about the boggards of Hooktongue Slough, but they're very much in evidence. There's also an ancient elven claim to the whole of the River Kingdoms - it won't be made good on, and they don't live in the Stolen Lands anymore, but their ruins are there.

Hargulka's people and Armagh's people, at least, are assumed by the AP to have been drowned in fire and blood.

The original Kingmaker was not innocent of colonial conquest. Quite the opposite. It's fine to say that any transpositions of the concept to other regions should be so innocent, but at least you can say so without whitewashing the original.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
YlothofMerab wrote:
And the reason the original Kingmaker works so well is specifically because that land is not ancestral to some other group
The original Kingmaker was not innocent of colonial conquest. Quite the opposite. It's fine to say that any transpositions of the concept to other regions should be so innocent, but at least you can say so without whitewashing the original.

I admit, I've been going off knowledge from the CRPG, which doesn't really dive into that nuance. Thanks for the additional information!

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
YlothofMerab wrote:
I would be very wary about trying to make a kingdom in the Mwangi Expanse or the Storval Plateau. The temptation to write these areas off as savage lands ripe for conquest is...really not great. If the kingdom model of government worked for these areas and these cultures, they would have done it themselves.

Parts of Mwangi Expanse are thriving under a kingdom-like culture (read the Fireborn Novel for several examples)


Cpt_kirstov wrote:
YlothofMerab wrote:
I would be very wary about trying to make a kingdom in the Mwangi Expanse or the Storval Plateau. The temptation to write these areas off as savage lands ripe for conquest is...really not great. If the kingdom model of government worked for these areas and these cultures, they would have done it themselves.
Parts of Mwangi Expanse are thriving under a kingdom-like culture (read the Fireborn Novel for several examples)

Firesoul*

Also: it is an excellent book in general.


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Land of the Linnorm Kings has some areas that would be rife for kingdom building, and could have the hunt for a Linnorm to make it official could be fun.

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