Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kingmaker

Congratulations to Paizo: Their Beginners Box has effectively cast its spell upon me and is working as intended. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was very impressed with their introductory boxed set for Pathfinder and, after reading it, I decided to dip my toes back into the often-times muddied pool of 3.5-based gaming.

Ever since Paizo released the Kingmaker Adventure Path back in 2010, I’ve had a lingering itch to play it. When a friend lent me the first module in the series, I read it halfway through before putting it down. Not because I was disgusted with it, but because I really hoped that one day someone would run it and I’d have the opportunity to visit the Stolen Lands for myself. After a year and a half of holding onto that hope, it finally became apparent that nobody was going to run it for me and I’d have to take on that burden for myself. And thus, my latest campaign was born.

The other reason I decided to run Kingmaker is that I’ve been looking to do a campaign that has a beginning, middle, and end. Most of my games have tended to be open-ended, but I know from personal experience that my interest in a specific campaign wanes after time, leaving me looking for the next “big thing.” Hopefully, Kingmaker’s structure will allow me to avoid that. It also has the benefit of getting to the “D&D endgame” much quicker than traditionally happens. By the second module, the PCs are already involved in the domain-building and administration process, and Kingmaker has some interesting mechanics to adjudicate that.

My original intent was to simply use the materials in the Beginners Box to run it, but after I read deeper into the campaign, I realized that running a primarily wilderness-based adventure without allowing the players access to classes like ranger and druid would be cruel. And since I already owned a copy of the Pathfinder Core Rules, I instead opted to limit the campaign to the races and classes included in that tome. I sank the cash into a Pathfinder Bestiary and I’m now ready to roll.

One of the great things about having a campaign world that is not completely detailed, quantified, and mapped is that it is extremely easy to pick a blank section of the map and plop down whatever I feel like running into that portion of terra incognito. And so it was that the Kingdom of Byrsk came to be placed on the far side of the aptly named Wayfarer Mountains that border the Eastern Reaches in the world of R’Nis. Its placement confirms something I’ve long suspected: my campaign world has definite “zones” where specific game rules hold dominance. The eastern edge of the major continent is home to 3.5 and Pathfinder; the central region around the fabled Ring Sea is AD&D land; and the western coasts are where B/X and Labyrinth Lord hold sway.

Last Monday, I gathered with a new group of players to officially dive back into old but somewhat unfamiliar territory. This group is composed of players from several diverse gaming groups I’ve played in over the last few years. One is a veteran of my Labyrinth Lord game, two I met during my D&D Encounters experience, and the last comes from a group I’ve played in on and off for several years. All in all, it appears that they are more interested in just hacking and slashing and crawling through dungeons, which is something I’ve been trying to avoid for a while, having led to my lack of enthusiasm with the old Labyrinth Lord campaign. Amongst the four of them, they rolled up a half-orc barbarian, a human cleric, an elven ranger, and a human wizard. The mix looks good and I’ve made the goals of the campaign very clear from the get-go. This is going to be a campaign about nation-building and all the fun and tragedies that accompany such ventures.

Currently, we’re running through the sample dungeon included in the Beginners Box. I wanted to run a prelude adventure that would allow the party a reason to be adventuring together, give then some experience and magic, try out their various character builds, and allow myself a chance to become acquainted with the Pathfinder rules. They’re halfway through the Caves of Gold Light and we should finish that delve at Thursday’s session. After that, it’s off to the Stolen Lands to forge their legacies.

It’s my intent to run this as a true Pathfinder game and try to avoid my prejudiced attitudes about what D&D is. I’ve accepted the high magic aspects of the setting and familiarized myself with the skill system and DCs as best as I can in the limited time available. I’m making rules notes in my campaign notebook as they crop up in play. I figure that since I’m always on the lookout for new freelancing opportunities, becoming fluent with the rules for the other 800 lbs. gorilla in the industry can only be a good thing. Of course, fun and cool always trumps mechanics, so we’ll see how often those aspects come into conflict as the campaign goes and make allowances when they do.

With a new campaign rolling, I’ll likely have to start updating the Archive of the Rotted Moon again. I’m not certain how detailed my session reports will be, but a running log of events is always useful to my increasingly decaying brain. It looks like I’ll need to write up my last few Stonehell forays and start chronicling the Kingmaker campaign there as well. I’ll mark the posts as applicable so folks can read or avoid them depending on their interests.

10 comments:

Tim Shorts said...

I've been wanting to do the same thing. I have all the Pathfinder core books and then a couple more and the Kingmaker series. I've never player 3.5, but that series has really got me wanting to try it.

Actually, for my newbie group, I'll be converting the Kingmaker AP into AD&D and have them run through it. It's set up nicely for a person or group that doesn't have a lot of experience with sandbox style of play.

Good luck with the group. Sounds great.

Brendan said...

FrDave recently had nice things to say about Kingmaker too. Maybe something to add to my list at some point.

That bit about different game systems having different geographies on the same game world is fun. I like that the various campaigns may at some point affect each other.

I look forward to further Rotted Moon updates. :-)

Eric said...

I played in a Kingmaker campaign, went through several characters, either because of "poor" 3.75 character builds because I refused to get all Featy and skilly or just bad dice rolls...I had a blast!

ERIC!

Akrasia said...

Of all the PF APs, 'Kingmaker' definitely strikes me as the most intriguing. Good luck with it!

The Bane said...

I just purchased the PFBB and am impressed. I got it mostly to see if it would be something I was interested in, after all the good reviews, that wasn't too 3.75ish. I also grabbed it because everyone I meet play PF of 4e. So, ya, I caved.

Now if I could just find a third party, or PF itself, who will produce and sell PFBB APs! That would be trick.

TB

Michael Curtis said...

Of all the PF APs, 'Kingmaker' definitely strikes me as the most intriguing.

I thought so, too. Mostly player driven with a metaplot and events to throw in whenever they run out of ideas of what to do next, but no hard schedule they're forced to adhere to.

Anonymous said...

Is it playable with b/x? does anybody know?

Michael Curtis said...

In theory it'd be playable, but since it's written for 3.5 mechanics, it would require a lot of revision.

Rorschachhamster said...

@anannymous: I would say, it is probably relatively easy to convert Pathfinder stats to B/X ones... just leave everything out you don't need, maybe adjust AC and damage dice downward in higher levels and use the normal attacks for hit dice/levels... bingo.
I tend to do it the other way round, wich is why I am grateful for the Tomb of Horrors Complete Pathfinder Edition (he!) and the absolut fantastic combat manager from Kyle Olson.
If you run with a computer on the table, Michael, you should check this program out. Monster stats a click away and NPC stats to use, as well.

Derek said...

I recommend ignoring their kingdom building rules (introduced in module 2, I think) and just doing your own thing.

They are interesting at first, because there is quite a bit if tension about whether or not you can keep your nation stable while it's in its infancy. But before too long, if you do it right, you start only being able to fail on a roll of 1 on a d20, so all of the risk goes out of it, and the overall dice rolling and bookkeeping gets a little crazy.

I think most groups would have more fun taking a high-level approach to the kingdom building rather than using the included mechanical system. It literally will becomes the difference between role-playing and roll-playing.