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silva
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 4:08 am    Post subject: Kingmaker ? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

On my sandbox frenzy I heard about this "adventure path" for Pathfinder, whatever that means. (I understand its a campaign setting of sorts).

So, have anyone here take a look or actually played it ? The bits Ive heard sound very interesting. How does it compare to "old school" sandbox campaings like Wilderlands and Griffin Mountain ?

Thanks in advance.
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Koumei
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 4:19 am    Post subject: Re: Kingmaker ? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

silva wrote:
On my sandbox frenzy I heard about this "adventure path" for Pathfinder, whatever that means. (I understand its a campaign setting of sorts).


Adventure Paths are... okay, know how you can buy individual modules like "Return to Temple of Etc" or "Tomb of Horrors"? An AP is a bit like a series of those that are all linked, and if you enter the first one like a wreeeeeeeeeeeecking baaaaaaaaaaaall, then you might end up killing an NPC that has to be your quest-giver or BBEG in a later one and then EVERYTHING IS FUCKED.

On the other hand, it lets you run a full campaign if you're pressed for time, shit at writing campaigns, or lazy. Back when Paizo just did Dungeon magazine and Dragon magazine, they'd occasionally do an AP with one adventure per issue for like a year.

I kind of hope Kingmaker (the AP) is related to Kingmaker (the NWN module where you have to go get people to vote for you so you can become Lord of the Keep and wear the stupid-looking helmet, and carry a magic weapon that has your grandfather's soul in it). I doubt it though.
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DSMatticus
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Koumei wrote:
I kind of hope Kingmaker (the AP) is related to Kingmaker (the NWN module where you have to go get people to vote for you so you can become Lord of the Keep and wear the stupid-looking helmet, and carry a magic weapon that has your grandfather's soul in it). I doubt it though.

Kingmaker has you running around the woods doing a bunch of bullshit quests to start a city/kingdom/whatever, then running around doing a bunch more bullshit quests while playing some not-that-great logistics and dragons, then fighting some wars, then some other shit, then discovering there was a bad guy all along that no one mentioned but the DM knew was connected to everything from the very beginning. You know, the same mistakes they make in every single fucking one of their AP's. Amusingly, it's also probably their best. Though some of the parts are very obviously there for padding.
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K
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Some friends of mine recently ended a Kingmaker campaign because your kingdom implodes permanently if you roll a 1 when you pull money out of your kingdom.
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Heaven's Thunder Hammer
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I took a serious look at the kingmaker series as a GM as at the time I was looking for some realm management rules. Paizo has recently released a book Ultimate something or another that codifies and expands these rules.

The actual series looked intriguing, and it seems many people reported back with lots of success. That said, one has to be upfront what kind of game it is with the players and have them make the right characters in the first place.

The realm management rules are OK, but not great (if at all) for mass combat. I looked up just about every d20 real management option under the sun, and the Paizo kingmaker rules were one of the more fun to GM for and use as a player. (I compare it to Fields of Blood, Empire, Birthright, and a couple others I can't recall.)

RPG rules generally seem to completely break down when simulating mass combat. The best take I've seen on mass combat has been in Heroes of Battle I think. The point those writers made was decide how the battle will go with no PC involvement. Then identify a few critical junctures which can improve the battle to favour the outcome the PCs want.
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Antariuk
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I've played in two Kingmaker games, one online and one real table (both games never made it to the 6th volume of the AP). It certainly has its charm, and one might look favorable at Kingmaker for (re-)introducing hexploration to the new PF crowd, but overall I think it's just mediocre.

As printed, the AP takes place in a remote region of Golarion where nothing exciting ever happened, and you get hired to explore and civilize a stretch of wilderness. If you (or your GM) want to include it, there is a whole Game-of-Thones like thing in the background with some noble houses fighting for influence and being your ally or not.
While at this point you have to suffer through some of the usual low-level crap many people seem to love, this is actually the best part of the AP as some of the encounters are pretty cool (or the impact they might have on your kingdom-to-be). Then it's onwards to the Kingdom rules, which as written in the original AP are broken and weird, so you should use the revised rules from Ultimate Campaign or some homebrew stuff (the UCa rules aren't "balanced" mind you, they just fix some of the obvious problems and re-intruduce some new ones, but overall they're useable).

Then it's back-and-forth between fighting outside and within your kingdom, managing shit, and finding the overall plot somewhere. Like DSMatticus said, the BBEG sort of comes out of nowhere, and the whole 6th volume can become a total non sequitur. If the GM has read all parts and knows about this it's not that hard to include some foreshadowing, but as written it's pretty bad. Which is disappointing, since the theme they're running with isn't terrible and could be something really good, but it needs work. I've read of games where the GM just used the first two or three volumes of Kingmaker and let the game evolve naturally from there, and I think that is a pretty good way to run this AP.
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hogarth
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:18 am    Post subject: Re: Kingmaker ? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

silva wrote:
How does it compare to "old school" sandbox campaings like Wilderlands and Griffin Mountain?

It's better because it has a plot, but you still have to dick around with "old school" random encounters which suck ass. Screw random encounters.
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Laertes
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
Screw random encounters.


This. Any moment in an RPG which people actively would rather not play needs to be removed from the game. The concept of "earn your fun" needs to die in a fire.
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mlangsdorf
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Kingmaker AP consists of 6 more-or-less linked adventures. They're supposed to cover the PCs' journey from low level nobodies exploring a wilderness to their rise to kings and queens of a newly founded realm and eventually their defense of said realm against mystic invaders.

Episode 1, Stolen Land, is a pretty straightforward hexcrawl. The PCs fight bandits and kobolds and stuff as they explore the terrain they may someday rule.

Episode 2, Rivers Run Red, is more hexcrawl, plus the founding of the kingdom. Various people try to topple the nascent realm, and the PCs have to decide how to deal with being slandered.

Episode 3, Varnhold Vanishing, has a little hexcrawl, but the key point is that the rulers of the neighboring expedition have disappeared, and the PCs have to go find out why. Spoiler: severely weakened cyclops lich.

Episode 4, Blood for Blood, has a bunch of barbarians staging a very tepid invasion of the PCs' realm, so the PCs do a bunch of unrelated things and eventually disperse the horde.

Episode 5, War of the River Kings, has the PCs' realm invaded by their southern neighbors. There's a pathetic invasion (mostly because the PCs are level 12+ and can wipe out armies of trolls by themselves) and then the PCs perform a coup de grace on Team Evil by invading their fortress.

Episode 6, Sound of a Thousand Screams, has the secret Mastermind appear as an evil faerie who overlays the fae realms on the PCs' expanded kingdom. The PCs have to go defeat her or something.


It's conceptually a decent campaign, but the execution is lacking. Episodes 1 & 2 are decent, and it's great that Paizo said "yeah, you can found a kingdom at 4th level. Go crazy with that!" But the war should probably be the 3rd episode, when an army of trolls is something that the PCs would legitimately fear and want the backup of 1000 soldiers to fight, while the cyclops lich could be a legitimate foe for 14th level adventurers, but has to be severely weakened to be defeatable challenge for 8th level heroes.

I don't know what to do about episode 6. Again, conceptually it's nice but it comes out of left field and could use better development in the earlier parts of the show. Or maybe it doesn't matter, since at any kind of reasonable pace, this AP would take a year to a year and half to play, and since you're an adult and will never play a single campaign for that long, you could just end with the defeat of the River kings (revised episodes 3-4) and be happy with that.
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silva
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Laertes wrote:
Quote:
Screw random encounters.


This. Any moment in an RPG which people actively would rather not play needs to be removed from the game. The concept of "earn your fun" needs to die in a fire.

I dont get this reasoning. If the GM dont pre-plan encounters (and in a sandbox environment this will be the case most often than not), he will have to resort to 1. randomizing tables or 2. on-the-fly improvising. Except if you guys know some other method that I dont, I cant see how you could escape that.
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Paizil
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

silva wrote:
I dont get this reasoning. If the GM dont pre-plan encounters (and in a sandbox environment this will be the case most often than not), he will have to resort to 1. randomizing tables or 2. on-the-fly improvising. Except if you guys know some other method that I dont, I cant see how you could escape that.


The issue is pointless fights that aren't important to the progression of the story. It doesn't matter if it comes from a table or is preplanned (Kingmaker uses both) "You enter this hex, there is a spider. Kill it" can become a grind really fast. Kingmaker has particular trouble in that the fights tend to be once/day, against single opponents, and heavy on animals or other things that can just be kited or whatever. So basically, as trivial as possible. Then you have to run a bunch of them just so you can find the next dungeon or meaningful encounter.


Last edited by Paizil on Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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rasmuswagner
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I has been said that the realm management and mass combat systems are "not great". That is a filthy lie. Like every mini-game introduced by Paizo - the chase rules, the pirate reputation grind, the caravan management in Jade Regent - the rules are asspoundingly bad.
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silva
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Paizil wrote:
pointless fights that aren't important to the progression of the story

Ahh I see. Since its a sandbox-railroad hybrid of sorts, each pole end up being detrimental to the other. Its actually worse than old school sandboxes then, because those at least were firmly grounded on a single style and didnít present this kind of conflict.

Color me interested, anyway. It seems to provide enough stuff for an interested group to cannibalize.
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Laertes
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

silva wrote:
Laertes wrote:
Quote:
Screw random encounters.


This. Any moment in an RPG which people actively would rather not play needs to be removed from the game. The concept of "earn your fun" needs to die in a fire.

I dont get this reasoning. If the GM dont pre-plan encounters (and in a sandbox environment this will be the case most often than not), he will have to resort to 1. randomizing tables or 2. on-the-fly improvising. Except if you guys know some other method that I dont, I cant see how you could escape that.


Silva, we're using the term "random encounter" in the sense of "a wandering monster type encounter, entirely avoidable, thrown in to give the illusion of a living world."

RPG combat takes a lot of time, slows the game to a crawl and carries the threat of killing PCs. Therefore, to do it at all in a place which isn't actually meaningful is subtracting from the rest of the game. You spend at least an hour and end up with... what? By definition there is nothing meaningful to be gained from a random encounter, and there is the possibility of loss. This isn't worth *free*, let alone at least an hour of my life.

This isn't just true of combat; it's true of all rules-heavy minigames with consequences for failure. But in most games, combat is the most egregious of such minigames.

What does work well is a little thirty second long skit. The GM describes what the characters see, the players decide whether or not they want to respond to it, and if they don't then it's *gone* and they can go and find something they care about.
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silva
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Oh if thats the case, I agree Laertes. I was considering "encounter" here as anything from a traveller merchant to a fountain of wishes to a lone crazy shaman to a goblin raiding party. But if all encounters are combats then I see how that could be detrimental to the experience. Specially so in games with slow combat mini-games.
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fectin
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

silva wrote:
fountain of wishes

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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Laertes wrote:
Silva, we're using the term "random encounter" in the sense of "a wandering monster type encounter, entirely avoidable, thrown in to give the illusion of a living world."


Unlike silva, I actually do understand what you're talking about, and I don't agree with you. Random encounters have exactly the same purpose today as they did when Gygax and Arneson wrote them up in the early seventies: they create a sense of urgency.

If every X amount of time you risk having an enemy patrol show up, it behooves you to limit the amount of time you spend breaking into the chamber with the Dark Ruby in it to the smallest number of X amounts possible. The threat of random encounters makes abilities like "picks locks in half the time" or "needs only two hours of sleep" or "pathfinds the party through the wilderness at increased speeds" meaningful.

Now, random encounters can obviously be overused. And they don't always even make sense. If your mission is to "murder everyone in that compound" then it doesn't make any sense for random encounters to be a bad thing. Every Bugbear you belly stab on its way to the bathroom is logically one less Bugbear in the throne room for the final confrontation. If your current mission is just to wander around the wilderness until adventure finds you, then a random Manticore is just like an encounter that means something except it doesn't fucking mean anything.

But if the mission is to get in, do a thing, and get out? Absolutely. Random encounters make all the sense in the world and are still the gold standard forty years after the case was initially made for them. If you're doing something like Shadowrun or Spycraft, random patrols are still a great idea in 2014, just like they were in 1974.

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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Paizil wrote:
silva wrote:
I dont get this reasoning. If the GM dont pre-plan encounters (and in a sandbox environment this will be the case most often than not), he will have to resort to 1. randomizing tables or 2. on-the-fly improvising. Except if you guys know some other method that I dont, I cant see how you could escape that.


The issue is pointless fights that aren't important to the progression of the story.



"There's treasure in the ruins"
You then get attacked on your way to the far away ruins, attacked while exploring the ruins, and attacked as you haul treasure back from the ruins.

I've played in some sandboxy games with random encounters, they were used to add color to the world as well as deplete party resources. If there weren't dire weasels and dire bears about we would be a lot more cavalier about crossing large distances to fill our donkey carts with treasure. These were 'get rich or die trying' kinds of games so it was pretty awesome to find a dire weasel lair randomly.

I also find enjoyment in rolling dice to kill things before the GM rolls the dice to kill me.


Last edited by OgreBattle on Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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silva
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

ogrebattle wrote:
I've played in some sandboxy games with random encounters, they were used to add color to the world as well as deplete party resources

This is good.
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Ice9
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The kingdom rules are significantly flawed, there's very little (or even negative) incentive to actually use the mass combat rules, and the last-act BBEG pretty much comes out of nowhere, unless MC reads ahead and is proactive about foreshadowing.

However, it's still the best AP I've played, and the kingdom stuff was a lot of fun. So, recommended, although there are a lot of things you can profitably change about it.

One thing to watch out for - there's a part (one of the later modules) where the PCs may want to take over an enemy city-state that attacked them, and the module even anticipates this, mentioning what steps would be involved. However, the city's stats are in the settlement format, not the kingdom one, which is not actually convertible! So figure out ahead of time what buildings it would possess.
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Laertes
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Frank Trollman wrote:
Unlike silva, I actually do understand what you're talking about, and I don't agree with you. Random encounters have exactly the same purpose today as they did when Gygax and Arneson wrote them up in the early seventies: they create a sense of urgency.


You're right: we do disagree.

If every X minutes of in game time, there's a risk of a random patrol happening, coming along, then it creates a sense of urgency. If every new hex you move into or town you move between or stretch of corridor you move down gives you a random encounter, then it doesn't create a sense of urgency at all; it creates a sense of turtling. If travel causes difficulties then you don't travel. When you have to travel, you do so slowly and carefully and in battle formation.

A sense of urgency should impel people towards fast, risky, rash action. Anything that punishes them for risky, rash movement does the opposite of that.

If you want a real sense of urgency then you do it right: you put a clock on the scene, and as that clock ticks down the remaining defences get stronger and new ones arrive. That way, sacrificing resources, tactics and reconnaissance in favour of speed becomes a valid choice.
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silva
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Laertes and Frank are talking two different things:

- Random encounters happening on a closed environment like a dungeon or a corporate complex are indeed used to put pressure on the players.

- Random encounters happening on an open environment like an hexmap is used to add color to the world, simulate movement and exploration, and provide hooks for new adventures/plots/treasure hunts.

Linear stories/scripts are detrimental to both.
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Ice9
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Although in Kingmaker specifically, the random encounters are less of a "difficulty" and more "free XP, sometimes treasure". You're taking on a single encounter a day, so casters are just facerolling it. We certainly never hesitated to explore for that reason; the only limiting factor to how far we roamed was needing to return home to govern each month.

Last edited by Ice9 on Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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silva
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ogre, I think hexcrawl exploration has a certain boardgamey feel to it that I like. As much as the encounters donít bog the game down to a halt (as Laertes advised above), it could be tons of fun.
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hogarth
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
f there weren't dire weasels and dire bears about we would be a lot more cavalier about crossing large distances to fill our donkey carts with treasure.

But you can have dire weasels and dire bears roaming about without requiring the encounters to be random. In my experience, a pre-planned encounter will almost always be more interesting because it will come with some interesting details rather than just having the GM shrug, plop down a blank map and say "I guess there are some trees around or something".

Ice9 wrote:
Although in Kingmaker specifically, the random encounters are less of a "difficulty" and more "free XP, sometimes treasure".

Our level 2 party got massacred by the random shambling mound; no one could make the necessary Knowledge check to know that we should have run away instead.

The other killer encounter on the low-level random encounter chart is a will-o'-wisp, which is more than capable of causing a TPK at that level.
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