There are lots of good ideas in Kingmaker, but the actual game system is a pretty bad fit for the game, and the new systems don't work that well. It has some really good story design, but the implementation of the adventures often leaves a lot to be desired. Full review here: http://merricb.com/2014/11/21/kingmaker-adventure-path-review/
Really did not enjoy this AP. It's sandboxy, but so much so that for the first couple of adventures it feels like a MMORPG as you just wander round endlessly getting quests from NPCs to clear out a monster lair or gather a thing. It got really boring really fast. I know sandbox games can be good, but an AP really needs a bit more momentum. Add to that an awful city building system and the result is one of Pathfinder's weaker APs.
I am currently playing in this campaign and we are on the second book. My DM is doing a good job and the concept and story are interesting. The concept of alliances with monsters is also very interesting.
However (aren't there always some of these) the beta testing of realm management is predicated on luck (rather than skill). A few bad die rolls in a row and you wind up spending 9 game months digging out from a hole so deep you’re wondering if your fledgling kingdom will ever see the sun again. Fortunately, it seems that events do not run on a timeline but on milestones in your empire building and exploration odyssey.
The other issue is that the wandering monsters and encounters that occur in the first book are too difficult for characters of level 1 and 2. This campaign should start with level 3 characters due to the encounters being designed for sand box rather than linear game play. Level 1 and 2 characters are too squishy to survive without some inspired play or DM fiat.
This is really two games in one. You have the standard adventures, which seem to have been well balanced and pose a significant challenge to most parties. The second element is managing the kingdom. This is kinda fun, but can be rather hard to manage without multiple spreadsheets...
We were initially drawn to this AP by the promise of a return to sandboxy play, but the execution left us cold. Fans of "role play" will be especially disappointed by this AP, as it is basically wandering in search of monsters to kill for xp. Most disappointingly, the domain system reduced what could have been a great kingdom-building experience rife with rich personalities and involved resource management to a seemingly endless series of rolls and modifiers. It's not all bad - Golarian is a great setting and exploring it up close is fun - but a resourceful DM with time on his or her hands will want to custom make a bunch of non-combat encounters to add, and just skip all the kingdom-building rolls in favor of more narrative-driven development.
I've read some of the negative reviews, and I just do not agree with them. I usually go for more focused storylines in a large campaign, but I thought Kingmaker works in the extremely large sandbox that it is. If you go into the AP with the right expectations, this is one of the better constructed APs. The only blip is the last installment, but with the climax of Part 5, the question becomes, "What else are you going to do?" Part six either works for you or it doesn't. If it doesn't, there are plenty of other ways you can go and just ignore the last installment. If this sounds like a backhanded compliment, it is not intended to be.There is plenty of room for DMs to work with and work around. The bad guys are familiar and new at the same time. The "world" created by this AP is rich and evocative. I enjoyed working my way through the parts, as did my players. This is a great AP for anyone looking for a modern take on the "classic" DnD experience. (Unless you buy Frog God Games products, naturally).
Really good across the board, although I'd say that the "Kingdom Building Rules" are a bit clunky and not very much fun for my group, but if your group likes that kind of thing, I'm sure it's a lot of fun.
This AP lives and dies with the GM. The kingdom building system is very basic and needs some adaptions to your group's play style - more buildings and adapted costs amond a few other things. Yup, you need some spreadsheets and preferably someone who can map the cities and villages developing during the game. But that's all part of the fun.
The GM is also free to insert a lot of sidequests were necessary or wanted, and it isn't too hard to leave some stuff out if the players decide not to head down that road. If you don't like managing stuff, it's not for you.
I was a player in the Kingmaker AP, and while my review may be somewhat negative, let me say that I enjoyed the experience, particularly the kingdom building subsystem.Kingmaker is exactly what the title implies: A set of green adventurers are given a charter to explore and pacify a nearby wilderness area, with the eventual goal of founding and building a kingdom. Paizo makes an admirable attempt to set an AP inside of a sandbox-style setting, where the main story can still be told, but the characters are free to explore and build as their hearts desire. Pro's: The endeavor of making an adventure path with the feel of a sandbox campaign is admirable. In many AP's, players make choices of what to do next because they know what the AP expects of them. The assumption in Paizo's AP's is that the players know they are playing an AP, and that they will willingly follow where the story leads them. Not so in Kingmaker. As a player, I often had no idea of what direction the story was taking, and that lack of metagame knowledge was liberating as a player; I could feel free to pursue any plot hook presented by the GM, not knowing if it was integral to the main story, or just a side plot, or even a red herring. The kingdom building subsystem was a welcome addition to the rules, presenting a game-within-a-game feel, and allowing the players to guide the formation and growth of their fledgling nation.Con's: While the lack of knowledge of the true main plot was often a plus, the AP doesn't really do a good job of giving hints as to what that plot may be. We made it as far as the end of the third chapter (halfway through the AP) before a TPK from the end boss prematurely ended our kingdom-building days, and I still had absolutely no idea what the main plot was. The AP uses a "hexploration" mechanic with a very 1st edition feel to it, but it ultimately fails because the players quickly learn that they will only face one to two encounters per day, leaving them free to nova any opponents they face in the wild with little or no concern over conservation of resources. The 15 minute adventure day is a real problem for this AP; GM's should search the Paizo message boards for creative ways to overcome this obstacle. Lastly, the kingdom building mechanic as presented in the AP is clunky, and can be very difficult for players to manage without knowledge of how the system works. If players aren't very careful during the early stages of building, their kingdom will be plunged into anarchy and revolt within a year or two. I recommend using the revised kingdom building rules in Ultimate Campaign; it goes a long way towards fixing some of the more egregious problems in the original system.So, final analysis: A good AP, but as I never was able to finish it, take my review for what it's worth. Maybe the final half of the AP addresses some of the issues I highlight above. Kingmaker deserves at least a grade of C+, with a B- not being out of the discussion.
The premise of Kingmaker is powerful, but it falls short on overall plot and consistency. Several key elements that players will want to explore are left undeveloped, and several other plot points that never will come into play are overdeveloped. With modification this adventure path is highly enjoyable, but if played as written it will leave many players unsatisfied. Also, the organisation of the books prove to be a hindrance for the DM to reference information once play has reached the fourth scenario.
I enjoyed DMing the Kingmaker adventure path, but found a few things I needed to edit or trim. While the sandbox design was refreshing, the city-building, nation-developing, and army design process were clunky to say the least. I almost was looking at other variant, nation-building systems to replace the ones in the adventure path. In addition, some of the inside cover optional quests I found were a little 'video-gamey' and needed some trimming. However, the overall concept won me over and the path can truly be edited to fit almost any flavor of game. A solid path.
When PF first came out I bought the first book in this AP and our group ran it up through book 5, lasting for over a year of weekly gaming sessions spread out over two years due to breaks. We loved books 1 and 2, given that they really established and maintained the sandbox that my players wanted. The kingdom-building rules were an interesting addition and we put those to good use, writing quite a story in the process. Book 3 was only okay, and in fact we hand-waved part of it, due to the fact that the party was just not that interested in exploring this place and that - they were leaders of a nation at this point, and wanted to operate at that level.Thus, Book 4 wasa return to that level, with them having an opportunity to adventure and fight as high-level PCs, while also waging a campaign of expansion into the Slough to their kingdom's west. Book 5, where the big war with Pitax took place, was pretty good, too, although the role of the PCs as individual actors was reduced once the war began. I created an ad hoc system that enabled them, as high-level PCs, to take part in battles alongside units that used the mass combat rules, and it worked okay...just okay enough to give them the feel of being the big butt-kickers on a battlefield of low-level mooks. We opted out of Book 6, since it took a strange turn into what was supposedly the great meta-story taking place in the background all along...but was never very well communicated throughout books 1-5. That said, I think weaving credible clues throughout over 400 pages of adventure material pointing to a shadowy, insane fey queen beastie would be really tough...and perhaps a bridge too far for Paizo. Personally I think Book 6 should have consisted of the PCs' kingdom getting involved in the civil war in Brevoy, the country from which the PCs originally came in Book 1. I think that would have provided a graceful, circular story arc that came to an end with the PCs becoming major players on one side in the civil war of their homeland, now a foreign power.As it is, Book 6 was of no interest to my group, and we ended up shelving the campaign for the time being (perhaps for good; I don't know at this point) with the PCs' kingdom working to establish itself further among its neighbors, as a kingdom would.I recommend it, but if your players really love building and running their kingdom, you might want to ignore Book 6 entirely and just let them continue in that direction.If you're interested you can see our entire campaign here, on the most excellent Obsidian Portal: https://kngmkr.obsidianportal.com/dashboard
So far, my favorite Adventure Path - the sandbox format leaves enough space for the GM to insert his own adventures and little adventures without having to rewrite the whole thing. The kingdom rules are good, but should be replaced with the rulkes from Ultimate Campaign. Only letdown is the final episode.
There are some great concepts in play here, and we had a great DM, but the source material tries to embrace the sandbox concept and suffers for it. The concept is that the players will carve out their own kingdom, exploring lands as they choose and developing it as they choose. In practice, the party meanders all over the place and too often there is little of note, too few connections, and too little that feels like it matters. There is a subsystem for running the kingdom, but it is lacking and felt like a bad secondary game with many missed opportunities.
Now that enworld.org has offered us a new system for rating and evaluating Paizo's Adventure Path, I am going to write my first review. I must start with one of the AP that has kept playing to my gaming group for several months: Kingmaker. Through the whole AP you can find a lot of new rules (that have been built up into the Ultimate Campaign). Exploration, creating and managing kingdoms, building armies and mass combat, interaction with the feywilds... that are so great additions to Pathfinder that they are now official rules. That's good. And interesting. You can realize that some of these new rules were still in development (the final edition is in Ultimate Campaign), but they served well to create the mood of starting a kingdom by their own for my party. BUT... the AP requires a lot of work from the GM in order to work. Why? Starting with the hook and plot. You are presented a country, Brevoy, close to civil war. And one of the power houses send you to start a new kingdom because it is supposed that it would be very helpful in the incoming struggle. But after this hook, no more is known about the events in Brevoy up to the 6th module. Time is supposed to pass between that first and last module. What happened in your homeland? The AP didn't say it. So you, the GM, has to work it. I love sandbox adventures, and I asume that this kind of playing needs a very specific kind of GM: creative, improvisation-capable, and resourceful. In this AP, you, as the GM, get enough knowledge of the enviroment in order to develop the world around the PCs. Kingmaker indeed does it. But again, it requires you a lot of work. I would have appreciated some hints abou how the centaurs could interact with the expanding kingdom or how to integrate the kobold's lair into your kingdom if you reached a peaceful agreement. Nevertheless, some NPC are simply great: the huge owlbear, the fey queen and his entourage, etc. And several encounters are great for roleplaying (like the sprite and his friend in Stolen Land). If you like sandbox campaign style and you are not afraid of a lot of work as a GM, this is for you. If you lack enough time to prepare your games or you were looking for a more linear campaign, that's not your AP.
I GM'ed Kingmaker for about two years before my players finished the series. Tons of fun. The sandbox nature of the story means PCs can do anything they want, from adventuring to building cities and nations. It is a lot of work for the GM, because you have to anticipate and deal with occasional player curveballs, but rewarding none-the-less.
Excellent idea and execution for a sandbox campaign in Pathfinder. The kingdom rules subsystem leads to a lot of fun, strategic play but also roleplaying opportunities. The storyline of the six chapters however is not very well tied together in my opinion. There is not really a unifying plot unless the GM makes it happen with some work on the different adventures. But definitely recommended, with some work a 5-star AP.