Saturday, November 15, 2014

Kingmaker: An End To The Stag King

The fourth session of Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition finds a heavy focus on finishing off the first book, Stolen Land. This is the first part of the Kingmaker Adventure Path by Paizo. I've done very little actual conversion work, mainly flipping some hit points to a higher total and cutting way back on the experience points that the villains are worth.

For the most part, it's worked out and the players are relatively happy so that's the good news.

There will be some specific spoilers for this volume so if you'd rather not hear those, read no further but know that this adventure took four sessions to finish. There were numerous random encounters thanks to the chart included with the adventure.

Outside of the adventure proper, it includes several new monsters. Two of them, the elk and thylacine, a strange dog-rat animal, were great for background and flavor of the region but others were not encountered yet.

There are also details on the country of Brevoy, a kingdom to the north of the Stolen Lands and some fiction by James L. Sutter. I've read the whole section of fiction that follows the adventurers of Ollix Kaddar through all six volumes and their entertaining but not a lot of depth to them. Good stuff to give you some flavor for the River Kingdoms and to show how chaotic a region it is.

In terms of the group, all six players were in presence tonight. In order to try and get the Inspiration in use, I borrowed the idea of Initiative Cards that I'd seen the Game Mechanics use in the past. I had players fill out index cards with name, armor class, hit points, perception, trait, ideal, bond, and flaw with the hope that having it right in front of me would provide some reminders to give up the goods on those. Worked a little better as two players earned some inspiration but it actually happened at the tail end outside of combat.

Players in presence today:

Erdan: A monk elf. I remembered to bring the Stonehaven miniature this time. Huzzah!

Damai: A tielfling warlock.

Amun Ramas: Druid from the Egypt style portion of the setting.

Gerak: His halfling manservant (rogue)

Naronel: Elf wizard.

Kontos: Dragonborn fighter.

The players wanted to finish off one of the side quests, that of finding the taztzlwyrms. It was an interesting bit as I actually converted those over earlier. Many more hit dice and changing the poison con damage to 10 points damage on a failed constitution save. On the way to find them though, they did have a random encounter of six bandits that were no match for the group, despite the fact I threw in a bandit leader.

Afterwards they made their plans to snake into the Stag Lords fortress. In one of their earlier encounters, they discovered the secret password to get into the fortress as well as captured the special delivery of alcohol that the stag lord is fond of.

They had some good planning and it paid off. One of the lieutenants, Auchs, was quickly befriended by the halfling who played with the brute and earned his trust. Another lieutenant, Donovan, who I took to calling 'Bowie' because his miniature and illustration seems very 'glam' despite you know, being a bandit in a place where you have your own pots, was caught in a distraction that involved freeing 'beaky', an enraged owlbear.

There weren't necessarily any do or die moments for the party in the encounter as their careful preperation paid off. The Stag Lord, noted as an alcoholic in the book, was completely out as the players waited to see if the camp broke out in celebration at the bringing in of the good liquor and goods.

For the adventure, I bought numerous bandits. Some of these were from the Reaper line, some from Games Workshop (Empire Freebooters), and a few I had from various years of playing. I bought Donovan and the Stag Lord. Ugh on both of them. There are so many tiny little details and bits that it's maddening. I did Donovan up super quick with a few different shades of brown to try and match the illustration and a few washes and layers. That may sound like a lot but by keeping the colors to one tone it went much faster than it otherwise would have.

In addition I finally painted up my Pathfinder Bones Goblins that I had from the Kickstarter as well as some Kobolds. I also wound up buying some prepainted Pathfinder miniatures to try and get some mites as well as buying some Reaper mites. All in all I think I've painted over twenty miniatures for this adventure alone. Many of which will never see use again.

Who knows, maybe one day 3-D printers will allow you to print and recycle the material into another figure. That day however, was not involved in the last few weeks.

I did manage to find my old Savage Worlds blank Game Master screen. I've seen the one that Gale Force 9 has come out with and it is very nice looking and very sturdy. However is it massively reliant on you running the two official hardcover adventurers as opposed to being a general all purpose Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition screen.

So if you know of any landscape rules for 5th edition that would make for good reference, pass 'em on down!

We touched on what the players can do next in Rivers Run Red. They've decided to build the kingdom and have started the process of filling out positions, making kingdom alignment decisions, etc... I then checked out Pathfinder's Ultimate Campaign which has an updated version of that system so I might just swap into that system since we haven't delved too much into it yet.

I also have Adventurer Conqueror King but never dove too deep into those rules, instead getting it more as a nod to fond memories of OSR play.

If anyone's done any extensive kingdom building in the game with any of those rules, please leave a comment and let me know how it went for you.

I suspect that the next few adventurers will go well as the players enjoy a lot of the roaming around and exploring but a few are very intrigued by the whole king ruling process. On one hand I'm a little curious to see how it all plays out but on the other, well, four weeks of game play that's almost uninterrupted (except for the Halloween break) is a good run for us as almost all of us are working more than full time and a few have a lot of personal responsibilities. If we stopped playing sometime soon in the future it wouldn't surprise me.

For me as the Game Master, 5th edition leaves me a little cold. Again, I'm so used to the horde of material for 3.5, 4th, and Pathfinder, that I keep wondering, "why am I running this again?" but the players asked me to and I've agreed and it's not bad to GM. The numbers are generally much lower than they were in 3rd and 4th so the match is much easier. The hit points are higher for a lot of the monsters and the game doesn't care that the monsters don't follow the rules that the player's do. That was a strength of 4th edition too.

Hopefully everyone else's gaming is going well!