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I am currently planning out a scenario for a group where the scenario will involve governing a village and expanding it using kingdom building rules, all while also solving mysteries in the land (similar to Kingmaker).

However, I have previously tried running Kingmaker and my players just shrugged off most of the kingdom building. They felt that it wasn't really important and they really just wanted to get on with killing things.

I feel mostly responsible as I failed to make the building part interesting.


How can I make the task of developing the village, at the very least, equally as interesting as slaying cultists an goblins?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I tidied up your post a little bit. If you feel that I changed anything crucial, please feel free to roll the edit back. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Nov 16 '18 at 20:42
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You can't make them care.

Different players have different playstyles. Some like managing things (like towns) and others would much rather just wander around and kill cultists. If your players have absolutely no interest in managing a town, then trying to force them to do it will make the game Not Fun for them.

Town management is a different sort of game. It's like the difference between playing Sim City vs playing a Hack/Slash RPG. If you only want to play a Hack/Slash, someone forcing you to play Sim City sucks.

So my first piece of advice...

Talk to your players

Ask your players if they are interested in this sort of gameplay. If their response is a universal "Ugh, no. I don't want to manage some stupid town. I just want to kill goblins and cultists!" then you should strongly consider dropping city management from your campaign.

If they aren't opposed to the idea, then there are some things you can do to make it more appealing.

Make the village offer them benefits that help them out while adventuring

If your players are focused on adventuring, then make the village a benefit to the thing they want to do. The more they invest into their village, the steeper of a discount they get at its stores, and the more stuff they have available for sale. Have villagers start working as attendants and aides to the party...perhaps one of the 'upgrades' they can get is to acquire a stablemaster who keeps the party equipped with mounts.

Make running the village easier.

The Kingmaker Ruleset is designed for people who want to be deeply and heavily involved in the creation and building of the lands they rule. It is not designed for players who maybe, kinda, are interested in having a village they use as a home base....but mostly want to go adventuring.

If you still want them to be involved in this village, then minimize their role in managing it. Let them appoint a reeve who only comes to them for the big decisions...and otherwise let the 'management' side of the village happen out of sight for them.

Build quests around the village.

The more time your players spend around the village and its people, the more likely they are to get attached. So, have quests that involve the village.

  • We're trying to establish a new trade route, but a clan of bandits is between us and our destination
  • We cracked open the old mine...it's full of goblins.
  • Hey boss, some guy just showed up, broke a window, and said we have to start paying his organization protection
  • So, there's this massive horde of monsters...and we happen to be in between them and the city they are planning to attack. Help?

And so on...

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Be sure that your players are interested in village-tending

You said that your players previously shrugged off the kingdom-building aspects of a previous campaign in favor of wanting to get on with killing things. That is a totally valid way to play Pathfinder, and forcing players to get out of the "kill things, take their stuff, get better stuff, kill bigger things" loop when they're not into leaving the loop can be incredibly frustrating for player and GM alike.

If your players aren't interested in village-tending, you need to decide which is more important: the village-building campaign you have envisioned or the players; you really can't have both.

Be sure that village-tending is interesting

Put interesting choices before the players - not just "which end of town do I put the tavern on", but choices like which deities have an alter in the starter temple or whether to build a defensive wall or a hospital.

Put interesting NPCs in the village and surrounding areas, some of whom are antagonistic to the party and/or to other NPCs. Let the players decide whether to side with the loggers (more logs = better wall) or the elves who live in the wood (having friendly relations with the elves should grant some boon, even if it's just "peace with the elves").

Don't reduce it to a die roll

If you want players to be invested in something, it can't be as simple as a single die roll. Sure, the dice can play a part, but all of the decisions they've made to this point should affect the outcome (some choices will affect which outcomes are on the table, others will affect the odds of certain outcomes, and, sure, a couple might be red herrings).

Combat's no fun if one player rolls one die to see if they win the combat (most of the time, anyway); it's fun because everyone gets to contribute in some way, and there's tension in whether - and in how well - the party will succeed.

Don't get bogged down

If the village-building isn't the party's favorite part, let an NPC spearhead the process: they can come to the players for advice, but should make some decisions that the players wouldn't like (maybe adventurers have to pay an extra tax on magic items...).

Don't get into the weeds: no one cares whether the levy on imported mead is 1.5% or 1.7%, or whether the chicken that farmer Brown says is his despite being on farmer White's farm is actually his. Let the players quickly find aids who will handle the mundane day-to-day events so that the PCs can handle the big decisions and still go adventuring - after all, that's why the players are coming to the table!

Make the village important

Hint that the goblins over that-a-way are getting sick and tired of the PCs killing them and are massing for a major assault. The decisions that the players have made now have in-game consequences: if the village has a solid defensive posture and good guards, they will be able to hold off the worst of the attack while the PCs deal with the horde outside the wall; if the village is three huts and a Stan Lee cameo as the guard, the village is toast. And, if the village is toast, the magic item shop they were counting to get their next bit of shiny is now a pile of ash.

When the PCs find themselves in other settlements, let the stature of their home village influence how the locals relate to them: if their home village is powerful and prosperous, maybe a merchant will offer them a discount in exchange for a favorable trading partnership, or a minor noble could inquire as to a formal, friendly relationship; if home is three shacks, maybe the merchant openly wonders whether the PCs actually have the coin to purchase their wares.

Don't force it

I started with this, and I'll end with it, too: if your players don't want to tend a village, there is nothing you can do to force them to enjoy it or even engage with it. If your players aren't interested, you need either to drop the village-tending or the players, or nobody is going to have fun. And, at the end of the day, that's what's important: everybody at the table should be having fun.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to hang out with some friends, roll some dice, and kill some goblins, without thinking about the political implications of choosing this duke's offer over that baron's.

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Make the village change based on their action/inaction.

Party saves a small farming village from goblin raiders. The heroes track down the goblin leader or even leaders as part of a low level campaign.

After that's done, give them a month of down time. They come back to the village, tell tales, sell off some swag, maybe invest some of that money into a business or a house or perhaps a local attempts to seek their help and found a formal militia, maybe even hire up some permanent village guards, and erect some guard posts. Do the party help, do they not? What's their reasoning? Does it seem hopeless, do they think it's a waste of their money, are they just uninterested in being heroic and are more interested in being mercenaries for coin and treasure? How does this change their image in the eyes of the locals?

Maybe if they do help then the town has more of a chance to defend itself, and become a place of well stocked shops, if they don't maybe the rumor of their victory over the goblins and the prosperity of this new saved village, attracts bandits and criminals to town. Instead of a direct conflict these criminals offer a truce, they will keep an eye on the town and keep things "running smoothly" in exchange they will pony up a cut of what they make to the party. Trading shopping options for gold income. Most businesses won't want to locate here because of the "tax" that is enforced.

Does this interest your PC's? Do they take a direct role with this criminal element? Do they allow this to happen, do they fight against the criminals? Maybe it's not criminals maybe it's actually agents of a noble from a distant land seeking to annex this territory. Does this get the party interested? Do they get embroiled in the politics of land transfer and the back stabbing nature of the noble high elite? Do they serve as new agents of a foreign crown perhaps? Are the significantly against the idea of this land being invaded?

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Give them something to care about

Try to create NPCs that the Players will like and care about. Have the villagers 'lead' lives outside of interactions with the players. Many players find it to be really cool when some boy they rescued a while ago is growing into a young man who wants to be like them, or they fend off some marauding orcs meet some interesting NPCs on the way and on their return later find themselves invited to a wedding between those NPCs. NPCs are the bread and butter of the village. Make the villagers interesting and helpful and your players will usually care.

The players’ actions affect the village

Someone already touched on this, but the village must change based on your players actions or in-actions. Try having the village grow as a result of the steady stream of loot the players are selling there by having shops expand their selection of wares alongside an increase in village wealth. Or, by putting a stop to those marauding orcs mentioned earlier, the village prospers and people start moving there. Maybe the village builds a statue to commemorate their heroes and they always get the best rooms at the best inn for free, on the other hand if the players do nothing about those orcs the village is rescued by another adventuring party and no one will allow the players to stay at their inn and shopkeepers tack on an extra 25% for their goods and services. As the village grows into a town or city, the players can be approached about being elected into an governing office.

You don't need to roll governing dice

You don't have to use kingdom building rules to actually have your players govern the village. If they are going to be ruling the village, you can decide when disasters strike or when there's a big baddie on the horizon that only the players can handle. Give them the means to command people without forcing them to take the leadership feat (after all they are rulers) and make those people they command effective and interesting or at least lovable. The players may not want to be involved in the ennui of setting up a village or handling minor complaints, give them the options of delegating the tasks to others and freeing themselves up to being commanders in combat (a war, fighting off pillagers, etc) and when it comes time to adventure from their seat of power make it for something really important that only they can handle. (I mean, imagine you're a ruler, why should you leave your seat of power to go run creatures off of some land when you should be able to just send your soldiers.)

Alternatively

Check to make sure that this is something your players are actually interested in doing. You have to figure out if they just didn't like the execution or the mechanics of kingdom building or if they are just not interested in that sort of content. Some people want to rule, others just want to be drunk barbarians. If they don't want to rule and just want to loot and kill, you can still have their actions and in-actions affect the village that serves as their home port and provide interesting NPCs for them to meet and interact with who have lives and who actually change and develop seemingly independent of the players.

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