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Our group is playing the Kingmaker adventure path and we are about to start a kingdom. I'm intending to use the Ultimate Campaign rules for kingdom building (they seem to be genuinely the same, aside from a few more options and some patches against turning the kingdom into a magic to money machine — at least as far as I can tell without actually playing both mechanics...).

So, my question(s):

  1. Are there any pitfalls a group should avoid? (important things which might be overlooked, stuff that should be done early/later, which leadership roles shouldn't be left vacant etc.)
  2. What is a recommended kingdom build for the first year (12 turns)?

Our play style puts more emphasis on role-play and story telling — we follow most of the RAW, but there never were any issues with cheesy-but-mechanically-optimized character builds or such — so I'm more interested in, for example, stuff that will become apparent in turn 80 but already should be taken into consideration in turn 15 to avoid the kingdom collapsing under it's own weight, rather than exploits that clever players might abuse. (No matter how mechanically beneficial a graveyard is to a city, they won't turn the capital to a necropolis just to improve economy...)

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My answer is not worth of a new post, most of what I would say is covered by Macona, but my advice is to expand a lot and build plenty of farm lands. Do not go too building heavy early on without walls to defend. Get your production up first! As for roles, we found the assassin very helpful for keeping unrest down. – DanceSC Jul 18 '14 at 14:37
@DanceSC doesn't "expand a lot" goes exactly against Macona's first point ("Don't spread out too far")? How did you overcome the quickly raising command DC? – G0BLiN Jul 18 '14 at 21:39
The only dc we had issues with was the Stability, and that was why I recommended assassin, our economy and loyalty were amazing, but I can get you more details in a bit – DanceSC Jul 18 '14 at 22:51
But how do you get your kingdom stats up if you don't want to build buildings? I'd expect the reverse to be true: stay small, build buildings until your scores are good enough, and only then expand. – mcv Jan 30 at 15:09

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I ran this a couple of years ago. Here are some of the problems we encountered.

  1. Don't spread out too far as the DCs go up by 1 for every hex you claim. Build up your city with lots of buildings first. ((TIP: Buildings that generate items are the best way to make BP))

  2. Don't withdraw money from the kingdom to spend on equipment. Seriously, it will unbalance the game. Pump everything you make back into the economy and improve you cities.

  3. Try to get the whole group involved or it will become a one-player task which will leave most of the group bored. Later on, you could even let each player have their own town.

  4. Exploring will feel tedious later in the game. The GM will have to create some kind of system for sending out minions to unexplored Hexes as eventually you'll feel that it's beneath you.

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+1 Definitely for the don't spread out. Also focus on Economy buildings! – Rob Jul 17 '14 at 10:22
How will withdrawing money unbalance the game? Will it ruin the economy? Will it make the PCs too powerful? It seems obvious for the ruler of a territory to get excellent equipment for himself as long as he can do so without hurting the economy. – mcv Jul 17 '14 at 10:38
@mcv I think that's called corruption, and even if it does not hurt the economy, people will still think that money would have been better spent by investing it back into the kingdom. In addition, equipment price is based on how much money a PC would have at the appropriate level, so a party of 6 that gets multiple times their normal income from taxes and fines can get far better equipment than appropriate that way. This means you need strong enemies, but what if your kingdom does not have enough money to pay an army strong enough to defend against those enemies? – Nate Kerkhofs Jul 17 '14 at 11:24
But isn't that realistic? Plenty of kings had tons of fancy equipment without having to have had a lot of personal adventures. Of course it's unwise to hurt the economy or defenses by looting the treasury, but surely there is some room for expenses for the rulers? – mcv Jul 17 '14 at 11:40
@NateKerkhofs That's corruption in a modern political system, not in a feudal system. In a feudal system, anything remitted to the king is the king's, for their sole discretionary disposal. They have responsibilities to their subjects by law and custom, but what they do with revenue is not one of those legal or customary responsibilities. (And I'm much more interested in Macona's actual reasons for that recommendation.) – SevenSidedDie Jul 17 '14 at 17:04

OK, first things first... throw out the Kingmaker rules. No seriously, look at the "Ultimate Campaign" books for something a little more sane. The rules in the original book are garbage and simply don't work. The Magic resources are dramatically over-powered the Forest hexes carry negative value even though the DM's guide identify the wood as being very valuable.

And then you get into crazy things like "all mines being equal"... so if you find a gold mine and a diamond mine and a silver mine they're all worth the same thing!?!

Stuff to do:

  • Put together a spreadsheet to track everything. Try Google Docs or MS OneDrive for sharing the spreadsheet. You will want to write down what's going on each month so that you have some form of accounting.
  • Consider taking some of the city-building "offline", get an on-line die roller and fill out the months when the core parts of the quest are not happening. Otherwise you end up with a few people sitting around eating snack foods while the two or three people actually roll up the Kingdom. This isn't laziness, it's just that kingdom building takes a while to master and most months are filled with pretty mundane decisions. Big structures can take months of setup and even more months to build, so you're not actually making lots of month-to-month decisions.
  • Also take a look at the downtime rules (also in Ultimate Campaign), use the spreadsheet above to keep notes on what everyone is doing each month. This can be important source of personal income for people with Crafting skills. It's also relevant for people with specific strategies or things like the Leadership feat where lots of extra people are pulled in.
  • Develop a plan for dealing with longer term growth. I did not make it through my Kingmaker campaign, but from what I recall, the heroes Kingdom was eventually going to consume multiple maps, that's a lot of hexes to clear.

What is a recommended kingdom build for the first year?

You basically build roads, farms and a mine or two. Unless something really terrible happened to Oleg's trading post or you chose not to claim the castle, you basically need to build a road from there to your castle and then you need to build farms to feed everyone and then you need to build mines or sawmills to start growing the economy.

You're limited to claiming a hex / month and you don't really have the resources for much more than that anyways. So if you do the math, 12 months is basically just enough for covering the territory between Oleg's and the Castle.

Other personal notes

  • Work with your DM to fill out where the book leaves off.
  • Aside from the holes in the Kingdom rules, much of the DM's guide seems to have been written by a DM whose players never actually built the Kingdom (else they wouldn't have printed what they did). The result is that you will think of tons of Kingdom-building ideas that the DM just doesn't have in the book.
  • You really have to decide how much politicking, spying and things you want to engage in. You also want to talk to the DM about your strategies for dealing with this in your own kingdom. This may be challenging as the story seems to have several set pieces that seem to ignore what you've actually done, but it's nice to know you at least tried.
  • Additionally, the economy of the Pathfinder universe is kind of warped and non-functional. The moment you start dealing with money on a big scale, you can see these shortcomings. In fact, if you look at the Ultimate Campaign rules, this is one of the big fixes they made, reducing the output of Magic Shops.

Simple ideas that break the game

  • Consider building a "Teleport network". A level 11 sorcerer can cast 6+ teleports / day, carrying 3 additional medium creatures all carrying less than their max load. A normalish human (12 STR) can carry two bags of holding (IV). That's a combined teleport capacity of 12,000 lbs or 2,000 cubic feet. That's about 2x20ft shipping containers on every trip and your handy sorcerer can do 3 round trips / day. What about "mishaps" on teleportation? They don't happen if you build a set of well known locations. And that's barely trying, enlist your fighter and give him Ant Haul and Lighten Object! Suddenly your sorcerer is a jumbo jet of cargo movement. Why would you ever risk a caravan of trade goods?
  • Many magic items were not designed with economics in mind. For mining, consider a ring of Hairline Fracture or Expeditious Excavation or Ant Haul (run through an example below). A ring of "Enhance Water" could provide a barkeep with 10 pints of ale / minute simply by changing "water into wine".
  • Think about the Create Water "cantrip". A 10th level Cleric/Druid can generate 20 gallons / 6 seconds an infinite number of times. That's 120,000 gallons / hour. Of course, you can put a simple version on a ring for 1000gp and give your town an infinite well. Even less if your Wizard has ring crafting.
  • If you get followers due to Leadership, your position as Kingdom rulers will likely give you a +3 or +4 bonus. This means that by level 7 your score can easily be 15 or 16 which means that you will have a 20+ followers, including a level 3 follower and a level 5 cohort. The rules say they are generally not useful in combat, but make them all wizards and give them all wands of magic missile and watch them be very useful in combat (20d4+20 damage per turn). At the least you can leave these as primary guards for your base, but you'll need to negotiate the actual mechanics with the DM.
  • The list goes on, but the basic premise is that when you're suddenly competing economically, you start looking at the spell list very differently. And that really changes the world, because most people don't really care about +1 longswords, but they really care about a ring that makes gallons upon gallons of water every day.
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"The list goes on, but the basic premise is that when you're suddenly competing economically, you start looking at the spell list very differently. And that really changes the world, because most people don't really care about +1 longswords, but they really care about a ring that makes gallons upon gallons of water every day." - This, so very this. I played a crafter in a PF game, using downtime not kingdom rules though, you really start thinking of items that are incredibly useful, but not on an adventure. – Dave Jul 18 '14 at 12:19
Yeah, just my example, 1,000gp gets you a magic "water spigot" that produces 20 gallons / minute or about 28k gallons / day. That's 4x better than a modern kitchen tap. Run full time is could provide drinking water for a full 30k person town. It basically lasts forever at a cost of 3sp per person in the town, that's a steal. Frankly, every wealthy person probably has one of these in their house, it's just expensive enough to be out of commoner reach, but just cheap enough that it's your first big purchase when you've "made it big". – Gates VP Jul 18 '14 at 19:41
Could you add some explanations or examples to the assertions made in the answer? Right now a lot of this reads like opinion with no way for a reader to judge the reasons for the opinions without independently verifying everything in Kingmaker and Ultimate Campaign, and that weakens the answer's usefulness. Alternatively you could just cut those parts out—they're not relevant to the question anyway, as the asker has already ditched those rules in favour of Ultimate Campaign. – SevenSidedDie Jul 18 '14 at 20:23
Why is it important to build a road from Oleg's to the castle? Shouldn't you just stay small at first? – mcv Jan 30 at 15:18

If your party gets frustrated with the endless paperwork, you can take a lot of the hassle out by letting them "buy" Econ, Loyalty and Stability with straight build points. If you want to be nice you can let it be 1:1; but looking at the buildings offered, it ought to be closer to 3BP:1E/L/S. In our game the wizard NPC treasurer goes around making buildings work twice as hard. I did a spreadsheet, but I like spreadsheets. Our party ended up with just the king paying attention to hex claims, terrain improvements and town building; one really ought to enforce that one person budgets the BP, one does the hex claims, one improves the hexes claimed, and one puts up buildings, all simultaneously at the table, borrowing BP as needed; get a hundred cabachons or poker chips from the dollar store, why not. The hex claims guy will only need like 5 BP, Terrain Improvements tops out at like 40-50, and buildings can cost hundreds or thousands per turn at higher levels; so as they finish their work they can give their "change" to the next person, and help advise (but they shouldn't be allowed to decide for them).

Early on we also believed magic items gave us limitless money - but on further inspection it seems intended to say "Your town has no magic items, but they have a potion of feather fall, would you like to buy that?" Which limits your munchkins to buying only stock on hand, not a cheap bag of holding and a portable hole for reasons they refuse to explain, etc. - but if you're letting them commission any equipment or upgrades they want, there's not much point.

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This answer doesn't address the question that was actually asked. You may want to edit it to be an answer to the question. – Miniman Oct 21 '14 at 3:21
@Thym - Reading your answer, it seems that between the lines you are sharing your group's solutions to two "around the table" pitfalls (rather than mechanical / in-game pitfalls), i.e. "too much paperwork" and "don't let it become a one player project". I see that the answer received some swift down-voting, but it seems to me that with some rewriting you can make it a solid contribution to this question. Thanks you for your input, and don't let the down-votes discourage you, this is just the way SE sites ensure quality answers to actual problems. – G0BLiN Oct 21 '14 at 14:31

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