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Me and my group and running the Kingmaker campaign. I'm GM'ing and they've asked me one very important question I've not been able to answer. Why should we create new settlements?

Under the Ultimate Campaign rules for creating and running a Kingdom, there doesn't seem to be any benefits to creating new settlements vs just adding a new district to your existing one. There's the same penalty, +1 to control DC, and there's extra cost of creating the settlement vs no cost of just adding a district to an existing settlement.

The only benefit I have been able to give them is some locations will give them discounts off / free buildings. But beyond that, they just want to keep to their main city and create one super metropolis. And I can't fault them for that, it's the most economically sound decision.

So are we missing something or is the system flawed?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Given the answer below, here's a nugget of a suggestion in case someone familiar with the mechanics wants to propose house-rules. The board game suburbia has players' actions primarily influencing the rate of population growth and the rate of income growth. After certain threshold populations, the rate of both of those features growth decreases, which is a beautfiul mechanic for illustrating a Tainter overcomplexity cost. Slowing the rate of rate of growth is a great motivator for new settlement. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 13 '14 at 23:58
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Under the Ultimate Campaign rules for creating and running a Kingdom...

First off, I just want to point out that the rules from Kingmaker (as originally printed in 2010), differ significantly from the rules in Ultimate Campaign (as printed in 2013).

The Kingmaker version of the rules was filled with holes, it felt like no one had actually tried to use them. If you look at the math on that version, there was basically no reason to ever claim / populate a forest hex. Also, the only buildings worth building were magic item factories as they were worth dramatically more than everything else. What's worse, after creating these elaborate rules for Kingdom building, they then create rival kingdoms that don't follow any of these rules !?!

So at the least, make sure you're using the new rules for building.

So are we missing something or is the system flawed?

We found the Kingmaker version so terrible that we basically wrote our own loosely based on the one presented.

The Ultimate Campaign rules worked out some of these issues and are much more sensible, but there are still issues exactly like the one you point out. I would say that the system as printed is still quite flawed.

It really feels like the Paizo team just printed "some good idea" without ever really play-testing that idea. Clearly, even a basic play-test run would have discovered the missing incentive for building anything but a metropolis.

Spoilers below

Frankly, if you don't have to go much deeper to find all kinds of other flaws. Some simple ones:

  • Army representation. In our Kingmaker campaign, I managed to convert all of the Stag Lord's soldiers to my cause. That's 50 armed men with horses. Over the course of the time we threw funds into some more militia to water down the ruffians, but there was no real way to represent this military presence within the kingdom. In fact, as a player Kingmaker seemed to be filled with events that really didn't care at all about our military investments.
  • Resource trading, there seems to be no difference between the silver and the gold mine. We "negotiated" with the Dwarves mining our gold, but the outcome of the negotiations meant nothing for the kingdom as a whole.
  • Trade negotiations with other kingdoms. This doesn't seem to happen and there are no rules to increase/decrease the value of certain resources. There are lots of feats / abilities / spells that would seems relevant to large-scale trading but none of the feature in the game.
  • There's no system for "information gathering". How does spying work? What information do I know about my surrounding kingdoms.

BTW, the military problem gets worse if you have PCs with the Leadership ability. Our "King" was a Cleric of Abadar who receives Leadership for free at 8th level. If you look at the Leadership bonuses, it's possible to have a score of 13 to 15 which grants you 2nd and 3rd level followers. Arguably those followers are Clerics or Adepts which would clearly have an economic & military impact on the Kingdom, but there is really no rules for managing these simply. Do they form an army unit? Do they take BP to support? Can I instead leverage them for something else?

I mean, if I have a 3rd level wizard "on staff" and he's not an adventurer type, he's probably going to spend his days crafting magic items. Magic items "at cost" is a big deal.

At the end of the day, you will be making a lot of judgment calls for things that are simply not in the rules.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice, but don't you think the problem lies more in the lack of a mathematical analysis of the system than in a lack of play-testing? \$\endgroup\$ – Mala Jan 14 '14 at 0:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mala You ask that like they're unrelated. \$\endgroup\$ – okeefe Jan 14 '14 at 1:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mala, I would call this "degrees of bad". Under the Kingmaker rules, forest hexes were literally useless. My party figured this out in 60 minutes or less. And of course, you start your Kingdom right next to the woods, so you're going to notice this right away. This wasn't just some math issue with failed exponential scaling, they wrote a system that starts failing you in the first couple of turns. The only explanation I can find for this is simply that they didn't test it out. \$\endgroup\$ – Gates VP Jan 14 '14 at 1:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would you have your version of the system somewhere? \$\endgroup\$ – Cristol.GdM Jan 14 '14 at 17:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Here is a link to some of the tweaks we proposed. Please note that we did not get to book three of the campaign as our DM disappeared, so these tweaks have no more play-testing than those in Ultimate Campaign. (docs.google.com/document/d/…) \$\endgroup\$ – Gates VP Jan 20 '14 at 8:45
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There's nothing inherently wrong with just building one large settlement. I think you are correct that there are no real mechanical benefits from creating multiple settlements.

There are a few in-game reasons, at least in the Kingmaker campaign.

  1. Travel time to safety. When adventuring, the party might need to return to a settlement to rest in relative safety. Having a settlement within a couple days ride (as opposed to a week or two) might be extremely helpful.
  2. Overall goal: civilize the Stolen Lands. The original goal of the campaign is to create a stable state in the notoriously chaotic region of the River Kingdoms. Building one very large city would probably have limited effect in furthering this goal. There is no game mechanic to enforce this, but it seems logical to me. A network of smaller communities would probably be more stable.
  3. Explicit goal of NPC: in Rivers Run Red the party is approached by a retired ranger who wants to start a town at the location where the old Tatzlwyrm den was. In my campaign at least, he was very likeable and it was difficult to say no to someone who wants to work very hard for you and contribute to your kingdom.
  4. Number of eggs vs. number of baskets: This is the big one in my party's opinion. If one settlement is invaded they can always fall back to one of the other settlements, regroup and counter-attack. In a one-city situation, you're pretty much screwed if you ever lost that capital city. In our campaign I played up the growing tension with Brevoy to the point that they created a small settlement near the border with the main purpose of being a canary in case war were declared.
  5. Raising armies: It's not explicitly stated in the rules, but James Jacobs at least stated in a forum post that common sense would dictate that armies must be raised at a settlement. Similar to point 1, having an army that needs to travel for a couple of weeks to get close to the action might be less convenient than having an army that is only a few days away.

I have to say that our settlements (currently three) have evolved into quite different locales. The bustling capital with its castle on the hill and busy waterfront is very distinct from the lawless frontier town dotted with brothels and taverns. The different characters of the settlements has been an unexpected element of fun for me as the GM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your points: RE number 3: I wish my party was the same. They treated him with nothing but distrust. It was only when it became clear he was going to do it with or without their blessing, and ONLY when he agreed to become part of their Kingdom did they agree to let him settle. They just didn't believe anyone would want to settle there. \$\endgroup\$ – Styphon Jan 14 '14 at 16:03

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