Been a while since I blogged kingmaker – I think I skipped a week. Paizo seem to include bonus rulesets with their adventures, and “War of the River Kings” has rules for conducting large scale war. It’s cool, but it shares the weakness that the “Crime Pays” rules have – by treating “the party” as a single unit, there’s not much for each character to do. The kingdom-building minigame has the same flaw, really.
How would you fix it?
Well – the Paizo games where you have to sweeten up NPCs (Serpents’ Skull, Skull and Shackles) get part of the way there. Each character picks an NPC to schmooze. But even then, everyone is rolling diplomacy. What you need is rules where the character’s individual strengths become important. If the king is a bard, then he plays it differently to how a fighter plays it. A rogue’s division of sneaks might be able to nobble the enemy before the battle, casters might buff/debuff rather than doing damage.
Ultimately it does come down to the fact that the game system is about individual activity, and a lot of the time the world doesn’t work that way. An NPC king might be an Aristocrat 15. Crappy, right? But that king has a bunch of stuff that D&D doesn’t really model all that well. He’s only crappy as a dungeon explorer and monster slayer. As a king, he’s doing all right.
Be that as it may, we moved our armies around the kingdom map and had one big battle at the end. As Machiavelli says: “never hazard your entire kingdom on anything less than your entire force”. Then we broke out into regular D&D after the armies had done their thing.
Oh – what the world needs is magnets that have whiteboard on the back of them, so you can write on them and move them around the magnetic board.
You have heard about the war, of course. I’m not paying as much attention as I really should – just hundreds of humans (etc) butchering each other, and I can’t really watch. Jope has called in the sootscale tribe, we have built a mercenary force, and the centaurs are helping, which is wonderful.
We were holding off the giants besieging Fort Tuskwater – there was a bit of business with that capstone we found. It’s some sort of cyclopean artifact which they were using to give them some sort of protection. Quite weird – it opens up and inside is this fountain of water. Of course, that’s only how it looks in our reality. I tried to pinch it. I summoned an elysian archer (one of the Bralani) and made him invisible, and asked him to grab the capstone while I distrated the giants with illusions. But the thing was dimensionally anchored, somehow, and unmovable. And the sorcerers using it had See Invisibility and Glitterdust, which rather puts a kink in the way I do business. We had to abandon the effort, although the archer was kind enough to hang about for a bit and shoot while I made my escape.
Now that Switch is using Summon Monster, although the spell compels service, when it comes to celestials she is being polite and treating them like actual people – NPCs. I think it’s more correct that way, and the spell does not establish a telepathic link or anything. For anything more complicated than a straight attack, you need to communicate with the summoned creature. Switch speaks celestial, so she spent a round or two outlining the plan with the Bralani.
So next day we attacked the encampment, using multiple Invisibility Sphere spells to cover our attack and exit. Oh, and a Wall Of Fire to slow down the bulk of the army. We didn’t recover the capstone, but we did manage to take out the giant that was using it and his two sorcerers before flying and teleporting off.
And then it was all armies on the move. Klael notified us from Tatselford that the place was under siege by a large flight of wyverns. All they could do was hide out and wait. But another large group of trolls was bearing down. We got the sootscale kobolds there first, and they ambushed the trolls as they marched to the town – absolutely tore them a new one. But as we were making sure of the trolls with Walls of Fire and general beheadings, the wyverns attacked and broke the sootcale army. Killed at least every second one, I think.
And so the wyverns continued to assail the town. We had some of the Nomen who would reach it next. The question was – attack with the centaurs, or wait for more of our forces? We decided to attack, or the wyverns would recover from their wounds. Even if the centaurs suffered losses, attacking sooner rather than later would give them a few days more to recover.
Well, the wyverns clearly expected more kobold arrows and not what they actually were facing – a century of skilled archers with full sized longbows. They were massacred.
But our information was that there was a colossal force of humans on the march from Pitax. Rather than defend Oleg’s, we decided to withdraw everyone to Fort Tuskwater and have a single, decisive battle there.
It was … it was war, Michael. I pray I’ll never have to see the like again. In the afternoon, Pitax were routed and our troops remained standing (and can I say that the mercenaries were useless – it was the kobolds with missile support that took them down).
I rolled for the mercs – a 2 and a 3, I think.
We charged the command hill, and that dammned Oni was there. I Glitterdusted him, as he has a habit of turning invisible. But we were not quick enough to keep him from reading a scroll and then teleporting out.
Well, this scroll created, or summoned something that pulled all the battle dead in and animated them as an enormous undead thing. Jope, Rainor, and Klael did what they do (and my, don’t the do it well), but I felt what they really needed was some celestial help. So I called for Hound Archons and three of them came. They couldn’t do much to the thing itself, but what they could do was extend their aura of protection – they adopted the form of small dogs to do so (to minimise their chances of getting hit. If they attracted the attention of this thing, it would simply have oblitrated any of them.)
Well, I don’t know how much it helped, but I’m sure it did. Gods knows what tricks this thing had. After that, I really couldn’t do much else – we didn’t have time to cast our spells before attacking. The boys took down this thing. I made sure to thank the archons sincerely and without flattery. If I’m going to be asking for celestial help, it would be wise, I think, to be diplomatic.
Now we have to mop up.
Hound Archons radiate a Circle Against Evil 10′
, and they just got in behind Jope and Shieldbearer to cover them and cast Aid
. And it was the right move – this thingumajig had a number of nasty tricks that the archons protected the characters from. It would “possess” a weapon, turning it against the party. It did this to Rainor one round, but hound archons have a continuous Detect Evil
and Greater Teleport
, so one of them popped over to cover him. And it would use Telekinesis
to keep the heavy hitters back away from it. But Unable to do that, Jope got all
his attacks. (Actually, I’m not sure that Protection from Evil would have done this. But that’s how we played it on the night, so meh.)
We took down a CR 16 thingy. Dayum! Now, let’s see how many saves vs the negative levels Jope and shieldbearer fail 🙂 .
PS: Oh! I almost forgot!
Jope and I have been working on some special barding for Klael’s pegasus. Jope’s workmanship is honestly astonishing – as good as some of our stuff. I worked a few illusions into the item – pink ribbons and rainbows. Klael’s mount, when it takes flight, looks absolutely faaaaabulous. I’m not sure Klael is entirely pleased, but it’s what His Lordship wanted and who am I to argue?