Friday, March 11, 2011

Anyone Playing Kingmaker?

No, no not THAT Kingmaker (that one I play), but the Paizo one.

I have been intrigued by this line of “adventure paths” (two words put together that usually make me throw up in my throat a little) for some time. Intrigued enough even to plop down some bucks for the first two.

While the content never rose to my personal gold-standard for hex-crawl campaigns, Runequest's Griffin Mountain, and some of the glossy "hot elf chick wielding foot-wide sword” like art made me balk; I thought, on paper at least, that it did a good job of combining two old-school meta-themes near and dear to my heart: sandbox wilderness exploration and the carving/ruling of new realms in said sandbox.

So what about practice? Has anyone played through these, either as intended or adapted to older editions?

And tell me about the dominion rules especially. Did they intergrate well into the actual tabletop campaign? Were they dropped or modified or did they rock the house?

Inquiring minds want to know.

(I know, I know this is a query better for a forum, but I am spending my gaming writing energy finishing the Domain Game turn reports before my players skin me alive for all my recent procrastination. )


  1. I haven't played it but I own the whole set. I like the basic set up of the dominion rules and empire building, but I have started working on a bunch of conversions to bring it more in line with my vision. I am reducing the size of the dominion to be more like a small province and maybe one large city rather than an entire kingdom as presented in the adventure.

    Its a good starting point but judging by the quality of your articles about kingdom building I think you probably could do without the rest of Kingmaker.

  2. We weren't ready to skin you alive... yet. ;)

  3. We're playing it now, albeit under the intended ruleset. The hexcrawl side of things is fun, and seems to work well, but the domain building part is a bit clunky.

    It's very easy to get to a point where you're essentially printing money with no negative aspects whatsoever; our kingdom has negative consumption and unrest, for example, and it's not even that large.

    (We're only about halfway through, and I expect to see some kind of plot-mandated calamity to hit our too-stable kingdom, otherwise there's absolutely no challenge involved.)

    The city creation rules are even worse. They're too structured and based on number-crunching, as if they're trying to emulate a computer game, where something more organic and freeform would seem to be better. We've just got to the point in the campaign where we're investigating neighbouring kingdoms, and we've noticed that the settlements we're encountering don't follow the construction rules, which is not a good sign.

    There's also a timing clash between how long it takes to do things in the city phase and the adventuring phase, and there are no real guidelines on how to integrate the two timeschemes.

    We've largely abandoned the domain system, to be honest. One of the group really enjoys the number-crunching and is happy to just work on it in his spare time; he's even created a number of custom spreadsheets, he enjoys it so much. The rest of us leave him to it and concentrate on the exploration.

    So no, while it's been fun to play, I don't think Kingmaker really offers you anything you couldn't do yourself.

  4. @Pierce
    The scale of the operation from the second book did seem wonky to me. That you would be running kingdoms of that size thrown up fresh in the wilderness didn't sit well to me. But then again I only read the first two booklets.

    Bully for you for going homebrew.

    I like the use of "yet" there haha.

  5. @Kelvin
    That is incredibly useful information, thanks for chiming in.

    Kingmaker's dominion rules felt a lot like Birthright when I skimmed them--somewhat computer "gamey" and I was concerned that it would mirror the same complaints that some people had had with that one about a difficulty making the two separate spheres work together.

    (Several people had commented to me that they felt BR would have worked better as a stand-alone boardgame for instance).

    A lot to chew on in that regards going forward in my own project. How can you give players the real depth and breath of running a realm without overwhelming them with bean-counting or a poorly-integrated separate game?

  6. @Red
    Thanks alot, now I have to read all that crap.

  7. Some of that crap is mine. I was running a Savage Worlds conversion of the first adventure, but we didn't even get to the domain rules.

  8. I currently DM this AP for two groups(1 are my kids 10-13 yrs and older gamers). We use the Pathfinder ruleset and follow the rules in the books for Kingdom building(to an extent) and Army Building(to an extent). The two biggest problems I have with it are the differing time scheme as mentioned previously and the complete randomness of some encounters provided in each hex. I enjoy randomness with the random encounter tables and wish the provided encounters in the book provided more to the plot. I have changed many of the plots to add to the plotline and push the story home. As for the time schemes, I am still struggling with a way to fix this as moving the characters along so they are at the right level to move to the next book is no problem, but getting them to claim hexes and build the kingdom at the same time is hard as the older group is ultra conservative.

  9. It's interesting that you both note the difficulty in getting time scales to jive right. I have gotten the impression that the gap between the kind of time scale in running something like a kingdom and the slower more day-to-day time scale of traditional tabletop D&D play is a tough thing to bridge.

    It makes the year-long gaps in Pendragon seem really attractive as an import.

    I'm personally toying with the idea of writing up guidelines to help people "fast forward" timescales in this kind of play. Rules and guidelines to help a GM model what happens to a realm say over a year or two.

  10. It is the first and only adventure path I've bought and I liked it a lot. Yes the dominion rules are chunky, but I think there is enough to work with to hoe rule it into a smooth system. I think they did a good job with it though there are some missteps along the way, nothing that damages the integrity of the entire AP.

  11. Yes, I must agree with Tim that the campaign itself is one of the better ones.

    I'd also agree with ckutalik that Pendragon is a good source of inspiration for sorting out the timing of the campaign.