The King is Dead

… or at least our run of Kingmaker is.

I kinda knew. When it gets this hard to gather people for a gaming session, the campaign is in trouble. We finally got together to talk. Nobody wanted to continue. Not even me. So it’s over.


summer Update III

Unlike what some people claim, wars are not won by making the other guy die for his country, anymore than they are by dying for your own country.
Wars are won by forcing you opponent into a situation where the continuation of war is not an option. This whether such a situation comes around due to a lack of materielle, of personelle, or of morale.

This is why the allies’ bombings of the industrial Rhine-Ruhr area worked so much better than the german Blitz against London, during WWII.
It is why it is so hard to win against guerillas – at least if they are carefully organized.
That’s why the US’ fantasies about winning wars purely through air power, are little more than pipe dreams.

In a very real way, this was how Trollheim was ultimately defeated, back in the day.

But because the Kingmaker AP isn’t actually written to allow the PCs to act as kings (or rather: King and court), there’s no information available to allow the PCs to fully wage war.

The mass combat rules really reduces mass combat rules economy, loyalty loss, a very swingy d20, and little more. But the only way that the war on Pitax/Irovetti can be resolved, is by being traditional adventurers – and even then, it’s by going through a somewhat anemic single-level dungeon, as better described elsewhere.

I have tried to reconstruct Pitax as a realm, but even the area claimed by Pitax is something I have had to get from secondary sources.
I’m extremely frustrated with this AP.

Summer Update I

This is not going to be a long post.

We’ve effectively left the AP behind. We’re still playing Kingmaker – or at least we’re still playing Pathfinder, with the same characters. Carchost is still the center of things. More so now perhaps.
Because what we’re currently playing, is the war against Pitax.

Now, there is is mass-combat system in this AP. One that I have commented on before. And I wasn’t planning on talking about it again. But Now, I’m going to.

This system is very swing-y. D&D (and by descent, Pathfinder as well), has always been based on the use of the d20. Now, the d20 is a very large die. Meaning that its influence tends to dominate over the value of the modifiers. At least at the lower levels (where I must admit I’ve spent most of my time).

But in this mass-combat system, the attack roll and damages roll have been collapsed into a single roll. Which makes the actual results of those d20s very important. And my players just have more luck with the dice than I do, I think.

There’s been a good bit of frustration with the very swingy combats, but in general, Carchost is winning and Pitax is loosing. I just wish Paizo had bothered to give us stats for Pitax, so that I wouldn’t have to make it all up, almost whole cloth.

Fort Drelev II

That was anti-climactic.

By this time, hill giants are not a threat to a full level 10-11 party. Even in groups.

A lot of people will tell you that blasting is a bad strategy in Pathfinder. And I’m not contradicting that. But that’s to a very large extent due to energy resitances, and hill giants have none of those.

Also, around level 10 summoned monsters last long enough to not just be summoned before a battle, but even long enough to accept pre-fight buffs. You can even have called monsters, not just summoned ones. And pre-buffed devils with fireball support take out hill giants amazingly fast.

“But Rosecrown, if innocent bystanders and/or buildings are harmed, it’ll be bad for the party!” No, not really. My players did largely avoid harming bystanders.
But even the few hurt by-standers and the couple of houses that got torched, didn’t matter much. Because after everything calmed down, the PCs could simply spend a few days healing, entertaining etc and all will be forgiven.

Well, that, and spending a month’s budget worth of BPs. Which may sound like much, but really isn’t.

Fort Drelev I

Firstly, a warning. I don’t know if we will ever finish this AP. The focus among my players appear to be wavering. We’ve still scheduling sessions but Real LifeTM keeps getting in the way. That said…

The party made a quick visit to the troops at the Wyvernstone bridge, then moved on to Fort Drelev. They stopped about 2 miles outside the gates, to discuss how to proceed.

I didn’t really change much in Fort Drelev, at least not much that could be seen from the outside. Obviously, any mercenaries present, including the hill giants, serve Irovetti before Drelev. I also tweaked Stroon, in personality if not in mechanics. In this version, Stroon was less loyal to his sister, and more dominated by his fear of Pitax and Irovetti. Or to put it in anotherway, I tried to re-weave the social dynamics inside the castle into a lovely little vipers’ pit, so that my players might be able to play them against eachother.
This actually appears to be the intention, with a brother-in-law and an exotic mistress (“Lady” Quintessa Maray), but the AP doesn’t really seem to do anything with it. Or did I miss a bit of text somewhere?

Having mentioned “Lady” Quintessa Maray, I have to admit that I don’t like any of the named NPCs in Fort Drelev. Or at least not their illustrations.

  • Hannis Drelev – his image (p. 40) could actually be kinda nice. Except that this image (to me at least) signals a hard working hero, not the sort of “I deserve money and respect because I was born noble!”-character that Drelev has come across as. He looks scruffy and unshaven, nobody cleaned his scabbard, his breastplate doesn’t fit him, his cloak is in tatters and what even is that green thing his wearing over his armor? A tactical vest?!
    And yes, he looks calm and confident, not pressed into making bad decissions by his stronger neighbour. Nope, couldn’t really use that illustration.
  • Imeckus Stroon – nothing much to really complain about. His picture (p. 42) is a tad generic, but at least he looks like he could be a court wizard.
  • All three women: Satinder Morne (p. 35), Baroness Pavetta Stroon-Drelev (p. 43) and “Lady” Quintessa Maray (as seen on p. 44). So, a mature woman worried because her husband has noticed a younger, “prettier” woman. Classical and not unrealistic. But they had to underscore it by giving her Jewel, that horrible little dog. Again, realistic, but building to stereotype here.
    The other two? A beautiful woman dressed better than anyone else in town, Satinder Morne exudes a sense of confidence, bravado, and charm in all she
    Look at her picture at p. 35 – That’s not the look of a self-confident woman! Neither for that matter is the look “chosen by (for) Quintessa Maray.
    Indeed, the people I’ve shown those pictures to, either laughed or suggested that the art director needed to buy his wife/girlfriend more flowers.
    So yeah. I Fort Drelev, women are either cheap whores or neurotic, nagging wives.
    Am I simplifying? Yes. But really, this feels lazy.