Pathfinder RPG Prepping for Pathfinder: Kingmaker (spoilers!)




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    Prepping for Pathfinder: Kingmaker (spoilers!)

    After our run through one of the weaker Pathfinder APs (Council of Thieves), my players have joyfully settled on the Kingmaker AP as their next challenge. This should be interesting. I've got the Kingmaker adventures, the pdfs, the player guide and the map folio - and the PCs have happily embraced the Advanced Player's Guide to create their characters. What could possibly go wrong?

    Well, lots, but just at the moment it hasn't!

    Oh, Dave wants to play an Assassin and Greg wants to play a Paladin? Well, that didn't last long.

    (I'm going to relax the alignment restriction on the Assassin to allow them to be neutral. Not that we've been paying that much attention to alignment in any case).

    Unlike my running, Council of Thieves, I'm hoping to take a much more active role in balancing the adventure to fit my players. The problem with doing that is (a) I don't really have much time to do that and (b) Pathfinder is still a system that I'm not that familiar with. 14 sessions of PF - even with all my 3.5e experience - isn't quite enough. Mind you, the players are a LOT more familiar with how to deal with PF creatures like devils and grappling monsters, so the TPK from poor tactics/monster unfamiliarity shouldn't occur. No, just from Overpowered Monsters.

    The PCs the group are talking about include an Alchemist, a Oracle (Life), a Paladin, a Rogue (eventually Assassin) and an arcanist of some sort; Lee hadn't decided last time I saw him. Characters will be slightly more powerful than standard point-buy, so I really should adjust a couple of monsters to compensate. If I knew exactly what to do. Oh well!

    One very unusual aspect of Kingmaker is its exploration focus. I'm not sure how this will affect the game's speed; we went through Council of Thieves extremely quickly (14 four-hour sessions), but Kingmaker covers more levels and has a lot of small encounter areas. I'm hoping for a slightly slower progression than CoT, but I do tend to cut to the chase on the story and encounters: role-playing exists, but it serves the plot rather than being an end in itself. And I run combats very, very quickly.

    I'll give the PCs the blank hex-map from the Player's Guide to write down the exploration status and encounters in each hex (there's no chance of getting lost, is there? That happened in my most recent AD&D session... ), but I'll also have the poster map from the KM Map Folio on the table so they have a much, much better idea of what's going on. I've run enough "blank hex" adventures recently (notably Isle of Dread) so that I don't really need another one: it's the contents of the hexes that are more important than the terrain types.

    If anyone has any pointers for the first adventure (Stolen Land), I'd appreciate them. We begin this Sunday, and we'll be playing weekly. Onwards to the first session!

    Cheers!
    Last edited by MerricB; Friday, 27th July, 2012 at 01:30 AM.
    Merric Blackman
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    Ignore enrious
    I used a laptop running Hexographer with a map of the Stolen Lands while gaming to keep track of things.

    For the first module, flesh out the not-soon-to-be-dead NPCs - they will very likely make up part of the council in coming modules, so best to introduce them as living, breathing NPCs early.

    Beyond that, I'd recommend that you take a look at this thread: http://www.enworld.org/forum/pathfin...ngmaker-2.html

    Additionally, check out the Paizo boards for the Kingmaker section - some of the authors have published errata and other suggestions, plus there's spreadsheets for the kingdom management and an expanded encounter table.

    All this, and much, much, more. One of the benefits of using an "older" AP.

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    Make the trading post encounter of first meeting the couple matter. Have a few other NPCs of hunters and other people come in for the players to meet. When you get into book 2 and build the kingdom the PCs will need NPCs to fill important roles and the book presents a bare minimum of NPCs. When we played it I think by drafting ever named NPC we meet we were able to fill in the leader ship roles with no one to spare.

  4. #4
    Totally agreed with the mentions of developing NPCs. Make sure to introduce several and make sure they have some depth. I think when I ran Kingmaker it was where I dropped the ball the most. Not enough focus on the NPCs and building them up - both so the players had other people to choose from for leadership spots and also to help give some more concern for the welfare of the kingdom itself.

    I think the people that have really successful Kingmaker campaigns put time into the NPCs to help bring the kingdom to life.

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    Thanks for the advice! I made sure to emphasize the NPCs, and I'll try to build them up more as the campaign progresses.

    Our first session saw the following characters presented for play:
    Dave - "Nowan Orlovski" - human Rogue, Nobleborn
    Lee - "Brandis Evermine" - half-elf Ranger, Pioneer
    Tim - "Asmodeus" - half-elf Alchemist, Brigand
    Michael - "Kiera" - human Oracle (Life), Pioneer
    Greg - "Wyven" - human Paladin, Sword Scion

    The group reached Oleg's Trading Post, where they explained they were there to survey the land and kill the bandits. This gave Oleg mixed feelings: good to have someone dealing with the bandits that were making his life a misery, but not so good that it'd mean there'd be more people about; he wanted a few people to sell goods to, not a whole city's worth! Svetlana, his wife, was more happy about the news, and calmed him down.

    Pharist 1, 4712: Ambushing the Bandits
    The group thought Oleg's plan of ambushing the bandits when they came to collect the goods on the morrow was a good one, and they planned their attack... not much. They just set up on the battlemap in various positions to do the ambush from (not always the best, esp. with regard to Dave's character).

    However, nothing could prepare us for the reality of the first combat: in the surprise round and the first round of full combat, none of the players rolled higher than a five! This gave the bandits an unexpected bonus as the players flubbed their rolls, and they were able to take Nowan down. I also had to explain to Lee how horrible the Heavy Crossbow is for a ranger - and quickly replaced it with a Longbow. Eventually the players started rolling higher, and they managed to defeat the bandit's leader; the two remaining bandits tried to flee, but were cut down.

    Oleg and Svetlana returned from where they'd fled, and they congratulated the party on their success. The party took the horses that the bandits had left, selling three to Oleg (which took most of his remaining funds), and then rested for the night; they'd begin their exploration on the morrow. They also undertook to find Svetlana's wedding ring, which had been taken by the bandits.

    Pharist 2nd-12th, 4712: First expedition
    The group started their search to the north-west of Oleg's Trading Post, making their way through the plains, before entering the forests and swamps of the Narlmarches. Once in the forest, Wyven's horse almost stepped in a bear-trap, but Wyven was alert enough to avoid it. Nowan was then able to disarm it; although not immediately (and he got caught in it once himself!)

    More bear-traps, carelessly scattered around the forest, were found by Brandis, who marked each in turn for Nowan and Asmodeus to disarm. However, Asmodeus brashly declared he'd find one himself - and he did, by stepping into one! Kiera was not that impressed as she healed both Asmodeus and Nowan.

    (Why is Asmodeus called that? I don't know, but it wasn't the name his parents gave him!)

    As the party headed south, they ran into Travon, a hunter who warned them about Breeg, a somewhat disturbed trapper who had set the bear traps they'd discovered. More traps were probably around, and Travon expressed his distaste for them: he preferred the clean kill of his bow and arrow. Travon knew Oleg and Svetlana, and was glad to hear that the group were dealing with the bandits: he'd seen them about, though he'd avoided them and didn't know where their camp was. The party bid him good day and continued their survey.

    As it turned out, Breeg wasn't going to be a problem: a deadfall trap he'd been setting by the path of the Thorn River had fallen on him, trapping him and eventually killing him. His masterwork handaxe was in a treestump nearby, which Brandis recovered. Brandis also noticed a small grig nearby, named Xoan, who was very friendly to the group, especially after they started conversing with him in Sylvan. He revealed that "Perlivash" had been responsible for the trapper's death, but not who Perlivash might be.

    It didn't take long for the group to find out who Perlivash was. While avoiding a giant centipede (some 25 feet long!), Brandis realised that his arrows were missing, having been replaced by sticks. Looking around, he noticed a Grig and a Faerie Dragon rolling with laughter in the air above (Brandis has a +10 Perception check, and Lee was rolling well for his Ranger).

    Calling out a greeting - and bribing them with gold and fine wine, which Nowan, the noble outcast had with him - the group (and particularly Kiera) befriended the pair: Perlivash the faerie dragon and Tyg-Titter-Tut the grig. The pair returned Brandis' arrows, now wrapped in flowers, which Brandis took particular note to praise, and the fey were delighted to know that the group were hunting down the "mean biggenses". They were able to point the group in the right direction to find the bandit camp, and offered their help if the group needed it in the future (though not as adventuring partners - knowledge only!)

    Now it was time for the group to engage the bandits, and, after Nowan scouted out the bandit camp, they approached it from two sides, but lost the element of surprise mainly due to how horrible Kiera and Wyven were at being stealthy!



    This was fun: I was able to use the D&D Wilderness Tiles I'd acquired along with the many D&D Minis to represent this combat.

    Once again, the group rolled fairly poorly in the beginning of the combat, but they recovered quickly. Tim also displayed how scary the Alchemist is - splash damage of 5 points from alchemist's fire wasn't quite enough to kill the bandits outright, but it hurt them dreadfully. One vial went haywire and landed off-target; luckily, it just splashed on a pair of bandits!

    Wyven engaged the bandit leader - a woman wielding dual hand-axes - in combat, and his good AC (20) was able to protect him against most of the attacks. Some arrows hit our heroes, but Brandis was able to return fire and take out one of the look-outs. When Wyven finally slew Kressle, their leader, the remaining bandits surrendered or fled; the fleeing ones were shot down by Brandis.

    Interrogating the remaining bandits, the party discovered the bandits were working for a powerful bandit called the Stag Lord who was greatly feared. However, the Stag Lord had become a drunk in recent months, and even more bad-tempered. The bandits revealed where his lair was. In answer to an inquiry as to the location of Svetlana's ring (which was not with their loot) they revealed that a group of mites had taken the ring - the mites lived under the Old Sycamore tree to the east.

    However, that quest would have to wait for now. The group returned over the plains to Oleg's Trading Post, delivering the two bandits to borderland justice.

    There, they discovered that the guards that Oleg had been waiting on had arrived, led by Kesten Garess, of the Garess noble family of Brevoy. He got on well with Nowan, and revealed that there was a rogue mercenary - Falgrim Sneed - probably working with the bandits that he wanted due to a past feud. If the party delivered Falgrim alive, he reward them with four masterwork weapons.

    Another arrival at the trading post was Jhod Kavken, a cleric of Erastil who wanted to reclaim a lost temple of his god. He offered free healing to the group if they'd find the temple for him.

    The party also took note of various quest notices posted on the trading post's notice board; in particular the bounty on dealing with the bandits, which they'd effectively already done. (A reward will arrive for them once the lords of Brevoy get around to it; probably on the 19th).

    With that, I ended the session - we had about 20 minutes left, but it was a natural break-point in the adventure. Each of the PCs gained 1200 XP. I'm concerned that the XP may be a little too low, but we'll see how they deal with the upcoming encounters. I have been using random encounters - which yielded Travon, Xoan and the giant centipede.

    We're really enjoying the adventure so far. I'm displaying the Map Folio poster map of where they're exploring, so they have a visual reference, whilst Tim is marking down what they find on the blank mapsheet.

    The group doesn't have a proper wizard. Greg's already considering getting a cohort once he becomes eligible for Leadership. If the group really need one, I'm sure one of them will die and make up a replacement character that fits the bill!

    We'll continue on with the game next week. Until then!
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  6. #6
    Great write-up! I enjoyed the read.

    Quote Originally Posted by MerricB View Post
    With that, I ended the session - we had about 20 minutes left, but it was a natural break-point in the adventure. Each of the PCs gained 1200 XP. I'm concerned that the XP may be a little too low, but we'll see how they deal with the upcoming encounters. I have been using random encounters - which yielded Travon, Xoan and the giant centipede.

    The Kingmaker Forums at Paizo made it sound like you had to watch XP pretty closely and there were times that it was a bit tight. When I run APs I tend to hand out XP at the appropriate points and not track it closely.

  7. #7
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    Quick note: We've finished the Kingmaker AP! I'll post the final two reports soon, but the game ended with the BBEG's head being cleaved from its shoulders by the paladin, whilst everyone else in the party was dead. Sort of ridiculous ending which brought out everything I hate about Pathfinder (and D&D in general, high levels suck).

    On next to Way of the Wicked!
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    Quote Originally Posted by MerricB View Post
    Quick note: We've finished the Kingmaker AP! I'll post the final two reports soon, but the game ended with the BBEG's head being cleaved from its shoulders by the paladin, whilst everyone else in the party was dead. Sort of ridiculous ending which brought out everything I hate about Pathfinder (and D&D in general, high levels suck).

    On next to Way of the Wicked!
    I know high levels in 3.5E were an absolute bear to prep for as a DM... especially since my BBEGs were all high level clerics and wizards, so I had to pick out dozens of spells for each. And, so it wasn't just Previous Bad Guy with one more level, I had to come up with different PrCs, templates, etc to layer on to them just to give them a different flavor.
    Valar Morghulis

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by MerricB View Post
    Quick note: We've finished the Kingmaker AP! I'll post the final two reports soon...
    Just found this thread this morning, and am preparing to start KM. I was excited to find a description of the whole path as played by a group. Then I got to the last page, and it was as though the cable TV went out as the detective declared, "And the killer was..."

    Any chance of a few details on those last two reports?

    One big question I have is how long it actually took to run the entire AP. I've seen different people give numbers of sessions but no indicator of how long the average session was, and I've seen people say that it took a certain amount of real-world calendar months with no indicator of how many sessions they played during that time. With this thread, it does both those: I can see it took about 6 months and about 20 (or so) sessions. That's the closest I've come to an answer of how long it actually takes to play. But do your sessions average 4 hours, or do they tend towards marathons of 10 hours, or someplace in between? How long would you guess your average session is?

    I'm planning to play about four hours roughly every other week. From what I've been reading, Kingmaker could be done in six months or it could take as much as a few years. That's a pretty huge variance and I really want to know what I'm committing to here.

    Any guesses?

    Marshall

  10. #10
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    Sessions were (mostly) weekly, and in the order of 3-4 hours each. And about 20 sessions was right.

    We tend to run sessions a bit faster than most people.

    A couple of notes on the final session can be found here:
    http://www.enworld.org/forum/entry.p...il-Guy-in-RPGs

    I'll see what else I can remember...
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