Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pathfinder's Kingmaker Adventure Path

I've never subscribed or bought an adventure path from Pazio before, but when I read about their new Kingmaker Adventure Path it didn't take me too long to subscribe. My campaigns have always been sandbox style and I am always interested to see what others do and this is one of the few times where a company produced modules in a sandbox style. And before I go any farther I just want to add, though this is written for the Pathifinder rule set I converted most of the first book to Swords & Wizardry with OSRIC influences within a few hours.

The benefit of subscribing from Pazio was not only did I get the books at a discount I also received the PDFs for free. So if you are planning the purchase this series (and you should) I would defiantly go that route. The books are top notch quality. I like the perfect bound so I can find them easily on my already crowded gaming shelf. The entire book is in color and the artwork is great. The only personal think I didn't like was the anime influenced pictures. Not a big fan. But like I said that's just my personal preference. The layout of the book is simple and everything is easy to read. The one problem I did have with the layout is the main map is on page 14 so while I was reading through the book I was always going back to hunt for it. I would have liked to have seen it on the inside of one of the covers or a centerfold.

More on the map. It is a hex grid map which all respecting sandbox maps should. Each hex is equal to 12 miles (sound familiar Rob?) and locations of interest are denoted by various symbols. The map is okay. It doesn't have a lot of personality to it. It looks nice, but bland at the same time, like someone made a beautiful looking dinner, but didn't season the food properly. When I got book 2 in the series then I found out why the map was so empty. The second book fills in the southern section of the map.

I waited until I got first and second part of the adventure path to see what direction they were going in. The first part is called Stolen Land by Tim Hitchcock. It sets of the area where the players will start their adventuring career. First level newbs standing outside of Oleg's Trading Post having no idea what they are about to get themselves into. Basically the adventure breaks down into the main plot and side quests. The plots are well developed and the side quests are fun and useful. Not only can these side quests score the players a bit of money, but they may also find an ally or resource that will come in handy later. I won't go into much detail here about the adventure itself, but I think the first book succeeds in setting up the players to possibly become rulers of their own land. But I wasn't sure how that was going to work until...

...I read through the second part in the adventure path, Rivers Run Red by Rob McCreary. The second book introduced the kingdom builder mechanic. Your kingdom gets its own character sheet! I love that. It breaks down what influences the players' kingdom positively and negatively. This is worth the price of admission alone. Also inside is a city builder grid, but ignore that. It's not good. I think it was meant to be a visual tool, but its way too simplified for my tastes.

The second book is set up like the first. There is the main plot and side quests. All very interesting. I think they are more creative in the second book and have a lot of leeway for a GM to play with. The addition to the second book is the problems the players are going to have to deal with when they are developing their kingdom. And this is where brute force is not always the answer or in some cases the worst answer. These encounters are interesting and depending on the patience of your players can be downright annoying, but who said running a kingdom would be easy.

In both books there are mini bestiaries in the back. Some of the monsters are in the adventure some are not. Either way it's nice to have a few new strange critters in a GMs arsenal. Also, both books have a short piece of fiction. Calm down. Stop your hissing. They aren't bad at all. I found them fun to read. But if you don't like reading it you don't have to. It's not like its WoD fiction.

As a GM I definitely run this adventure path for my group. With the kingdom builder element it adds an elements that probably is not seen in most games and I think a fantastic addition. I look forward to the next four books and glad I took a chance on this adventure path.

1 comment:

  1. I saw that they used 12 mile hexes. I thought that is probably a too large of a scale and then I saw they populated nearly every hex with something so it works out the same as one of my Points of Light in terms of the number of encounter.