Advice for Varnhold and Drelev


So my party had just finished the Stolen Lands and have earned their own nation after dealing the badguy. We are just about to start our first kingdom turn next session and I was wondering how I should handle Varnhold and Drelev. I want to make it seem like the other two baronies are growing as well but not too much to make them infringe on the pcs. Any advice on how to handle them?

One way to so it is for both of those baronies to send emissaries to the PCs. Varnhold might send a physical emissary to visit and be nice, while Drelev might send Imeckus Stroon to teleport right into the players' throne room in a show of power.

In my campaign, I introduced them at the beginning of volume one, as they received a charter similar to the one from the players. They came back between volume 1 and 2 as I played the non official module 'venture capital', that I recommend and available on this forum.

I played Varn as a sympathic guy that had a good opinion on my pcs beforehand, because he knew the father of one of them. Varn has a grown up daughter for any wishing pc to marry if it goes well.

Drelev is nothing without his wife, who decides everything for him. They both despise the pcs.

I told my players that those 'rivals' played with the same rules as they do. Whenever my players worry that life near the Greenbelt is harsh and may put them in a weakened position with regards to the other nations, I remind them that they have their own difficulties. The marshes west are deadly and Varn complains about centaurs regularly.

I introduced another 'new nation' between the pcs and varnhold. My players care much more about that one and about trolls than they care about varn and drelev.

Silver Crusade

Similar to Banedon. Varn already had his land and was part of the ceremony for granting of the charter (wished them luck) as well as Venture Capital (where PCs roleplayed to get their BPs and made promises and deals).

The PCs have seen his daughter grow up over the years (she visits and talks about centaur lore and how "nomen" is a derogatory term), and Varn at one point took interest in one of our PCs as a possible fling.

So, have friendly visits (Maegar and company brought their famous beer). Have the PCs take a visit to Varnhold itself a few times.

As for Drelev, could do the same thing (he'll find excuses to not meet with them as he sees them as undeserving), reluctantly meeting and greeting when politics and royalty dictate it. In mine, he's never visited once and the PCs like it that way.

Also, I held the Tournament of Champions way early, and had Drelev and the PCs invited (but not Varn). Political messages were sent by the invitation (are you Brevoy or River Kingdom loyal), but it also gave a chance to interact early and make the Tournament a regular thing (it rotates River Kingdoms, not all are as elaborate or have such great prizes), using a variety of options from Nelson's Tournament book (he wrote lots of material for Pathfinder and writes supplements that fit Kingmaker for Legendary games).

In short, give them all plenty of chances to interact so that map of Varnhold means something more way down the road when their neighbor has problems.

I am interested, Touc, about that Nelson's tournament supplement. I never heard of it. Unless I am mistaken and you are talking about war of the river kingdoms.

Could you give any reference to the supplements you are talking about?

EDIT: oh! I think I found it. Is that 'Royal Tournaments' by Nelson and Welham?

Silver Crusade

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Yes, that's the one!

Before he worked on that, Nelson had a draft he was willing to share with gamers by email of some original ideas and work that had to be cut from the module. Was glad later to see he got to expand things running through his head.

My only advice for tournaments is to give the other players scripts to play the other competitors. Otherwise, it's boring to watch someone do the entire archery part with the DM rolling 5 other competitors. I let everyone grab an NPC based off their intros (like professional wrestling intros, lots of buildup), and some had cheating scripts or tactics. For example, I changed Villamor Koth so that he would do absurd things like try to shoot the bow behind his back, take drinks during his turn, go kiss an adoring fan, etc. (It was considered poor taste for the Pitax champion to dominate on Pitax soil, so he's only competitive in the joust and in some other river kingdom's annual tournament, given they rotate it...and not all invite the PCs).

Touc wrote:
My only advice for tournaments is to give the other players scripts to play the other competitors. Otherwise, it's boring to watch someone do the entire archery part with the DM rolling 5 other competitors.

Alternatively, pre-rolling minimises the amount of time spent watching the GM roll. I rolled out the Competitors in advance, and wrote down that Competitor Y hits with his first arrow, misses his second, the third doesn't do enough damage to penetrate despite hitting, and nets a total of 6 points. Competitor Z Rapid Shots two arrows in one his first turn, on his second cheats unless a PC makes a DC25 Perception check to stop it, etc, for a total of 11 points (or a DQ if he's caught cheating). An actual PC rolling through shouldn't take more than a few minutes.

I concur with the pro wrestling intros and build-up though, that's a lot of the joy of the Rushlight Tournament.

I set up a banquet where the PCs could meet and negotiate with the different factions that are willing to supply Venture Capital to their realm. Varn and Drelev with their people were also present, and they had a chance to interact with them.

Varn was a friendly guy who was interested in cooperation, Drelev was a dick who humiliated the PC ruler I’m public. There’ll be exchange of information, news and competition, and anything else I can think of. Having their neighbors be active at the same time as the PCs adds to the fun, I believe.

Touc wrote:

My only advice for tournaments is to give the other players scripts to play the other competitors. Otherwise, it's boring to watch someone do the entire archery part with the DM rolling 5 other competitors.

I did this with my players, and it was great fun. I remembr the boasting contest in particular. I swapped out one of the boasts for the lady (can't remember who) who was Drelev's lover. I think it was Quintessa Maray. The player really hammed it up as he told a story about how these really mean people from another kingdom completely ruined the man who was the love of her life ...

Silver Crusade

Hehe, my kingdom has had controversy concerning a graffiti artist who for years has been drawing pictures involving the Baron and the local 3-legged dog (who now has become a local legend, surviving a dragon attack thanks to a bad deal with fey, and defending the town against cultist assassins).

For boasting, I foreshadowed it all: the boaster for Pitax has visited (they met and interacted with her once) a few times, and she had plenty of material by the time the tournament rolled around. Nothing like seeing player faces when another player (I let them all choose a competitor without knowing the script in advance, with some short notes on style) talks about Stumpy the 3-legged dog and the real reason why the Baron isn't married.

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