Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kingmaker Adventure Path Conclusion

When Pazio first announced their sandbox style AP I was excited and subscribed. I had already bought the Core Rules and Bestiary and liked them so why not take a chance on an AP. The one thing that is for sure, Pazio does not half ass their quality of the books they put out. All are sturdy and look fantastic. My comments are vague at times because I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone.

The first Kingmaker adventure out is The Stolen Land. It's very good. I was happy to have my excitement satisfied. My expectations were high and were met. The second, Rivers Run Red, is much like the first. It completes the bottom half of the map from the Stolen Lands. In this adventure they give you the basic rules to start building cities and eventually a kingdom. I like their streamline rules, they are easy to use as is and easy to tweak to your liking. These two, in my opinion, are more like adventure path 1a and 1b.

The Varnhold Vanishing, the third in the series, has the coolest boss. In this one the players using the same set up as in the first two, but this time to expand their kingdom. To find resources, make allies, exterminate enemies and to show those snotty little neighbors to the north you didn't inherit your kingdom, but forged it from sweat and blood. Varnhold did a good job of taking the AP to the next level.

Blood for Blood. You need to defend you kingdom from very big things that want to crush you like a bug. Exploration is needed. Again the wilderness hex map is used and off the players go to defeat horrible monsters. This is where the adventure path, for me, starts to break down. It continues to use the same format as it did in the previous adventures. I understand, but now the players have developed their land they are defending it from their enemies. Don't get me wrong it is still very good and interesting, but the format of the adventure seems to be holding onto the shirt tail of the party and keeping them from developing farther.

The 5th installment, War of the River Kings, is where the format needed to be changed. Especially for this kind of adventure. It seemed forced at this point. I understand the need for continuity between product, but this one was trying to accomplish different goals than the first three, but they were still using the same blueprint. The storyline is great, situation feels organic and develops well, but I would have liked to have seen a different way to approach this adventure. Something that suited the situation better. The players are no longer in an exploration mode, but defenders of a kingdom and those are two very different beasts.

The final entry, The Sound of a Thousand Screams, is a great conclusion to the AP. Here they finally seem to break out of the format used in the precious products. They needed to and did. This adventure feels like the epic it should be. The players at this point are reaching their end game and this one lets them go out with a bang. No, I won't give you any details.

Overall, I loved the Kingmaker AP and definitely glad to have it on my gaming shelf. The problems I had with the middle adventures I plan to tweak, but still use their content. Everything they include is useful. I haven't even mentioned all the extras they tag on the end of their adventures. It's like getting a mini bestiary or magic items or culture addition. These are well worth the money. I've already spoken about the physical quality of the books and the content is even better.

The best compliment I can give this AP is I would suggest it to my friends and have. And now to all of you out there. If you've never subscribed or been through an adventure path scenario then I suggest you start with the Kingmaker series. It was a lot of fun to read. Now I just need to find the time to run it.

1 comment:

  1. My thoughts are similar to yours. I purchased this set of adventures to support the idea of published sandbox adventures. This didn't feel as sandboxed as I had hoped, for there was still a very strong "adventure path" vibe to it.

    Still, I found it inspiring and am watching to see what comes out of the Traveller-D&D mashups ... I like the idea of subsector-sized wilderness adventure maps that you can place random adventures into.