3 Reasons Why I Love Kingmaker

Image by Luis Antonio Salas Lastra

If you’ve ever talked with me about adventures and adventure paths/campaigns, then you know I love the Kingmaker Adventure Path by Paizo. In my opinion, it is the best adventure path or campaign put out by any company bar none. Care to find be out way?

1) Easy to Add Your Own Subplots

Without a doubt, this campaign is the easiest to add your own subplots. Adding subplots is a great way to personalize what you run for your group. Take a recent session as an example. One PC is running from their family responsibilities. How did I introduce that to the group? I changed a random encounter from “raiders” to “mercenaries.” That’s it. Same stat blocks, same setup. All I had to change was have one of the mercs to do is have one point and say, “It’s her! Get back to base camp and report back! We’ll cover you! Go, go go!” Talk about easy.

Here’s another example from this past weekend’s game session. There’s an encounter with some trapdoor spiders (I changed it to yellow musk creepers and zombies because I’ve done enough spiders lately, but that’s beside the point). There’s treasure there that can make someone believe they recently killed someone. So I added a note from what would otherwise be an incidental NPC they meet in the future to some love interest I just made up, where the NPC is hoping to stop the love interest from marrying someone else. Who is that someone else? The hatest brother of a different PC. So now they’re on their way to stop a wedding.

Try doing either of those in Tyranny of Dragons or Abomination Vault.

How does it accomplish this? Two reasons: 1) the main plot of the campaign is pretty weak. It’s pacify an area and start your own kingdom. Not every encounter in the campaign is directly tied to the main plot. This means there is plenty of room for additions and modifications. 2) Lack of a ticking clock. If the fate of the world is at stake, the player characters are not going to worry about some random NPC’s love life.

2) Players Choose the Direction of the Campaign

Every campaign has rails to keep the players on track. No way around that. The real question is: are those rails so narrow and has so few turns that there is only one way to go with no choice about what comes next or are those rails wide open? Kingmaker’s rails are a huge map. If the players want to go left, they can go left. If they want to go right, they can go right. There is no right way and no wrong way to do it. If players want to place their capital at location x, there’s no reason why they can’t. Players feel more free to do what they want.

How is this accomplished? The players are given a goal. How they choose to go about it is up to them.

3) It’s Just Fun

Campaigns that are dark and serious, I’ve done them. They’re great but I personally don’t want to do one right now. I just want something fun and lightheaded. Sure there are mysteries to solve and bad guys to face, the campaign itself is not trying to be a Call of Cthulhu game uncovering dark cults and fighting monsters so terrible you may lose your mind. For much of the campaign, you’re trying to make the world a better place and stop those that want to tear you down.

This is accomplished by choosing to not be dark and gritty and by having the focus on the goodness on what the players create.

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