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Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 15, Part 3

December 28, 2014

Ruminations and Reflections

As sad as it was, in some ways it’s a good thing that Salar the halfling ranger died. As much as I loved the character, the mechanical choices made by the player were extremely subpar, leaving him feeling like a third wheel much of the time, and he was resistant to suggestions. His player is thinking of coming back with a paladin or monk, and he rolled some nice stats, so hopefully this time around he will feel more useful while still providing a needed check on the group’s evil impulses.

I’m not entirely sure where the party intends to go from here, and it will be at least 3 weeks before we meet again because of the holidays. With Salar’s death, presumably they will want to head back to Stagfell, which would make this the 3rd “find the trolls” expedition that got cut short by a PC capture or death. And I just realized that the PCs that got captured by the lizardfolk on that first outing were… Travaris and Salar! Travaris, of course, died on the following troll hunt, and Salar died on this one. Foreshadowing! Or maybe those two players are just a tad on the foolhardy and/or unlucky side.

Boliden’s player is now a brand new father, so his character will fade into the background until he is able to return to the game. I’m sure some members of the party (*cough* Mestinous *cough*) will be reluctant to adventure without having the barbarian along, but I think they will be alright. Satampra is now a 3rd level swashbuckler, and is doing much more damage than before, and Salar’s new character will probably be more effective in a fight than Salar was. Although that’s not a very high bar to clear.

Finally, before the session I had a talk with Mestinous’ and Iofur’s players. They were feeling frustrated, like they weren’t making very much progress in the story. This was an odd complaint to me – I thought that the PCs had accomplished a lot to date, and had been moving events forward at a good pace – but I wanted to understand where they were coming from. What I heard was that their expectations of how things should be going was not meshing very well with a sandbox-type game. In particular, they seemed frustrated that they hadn’t dealt with the trolls yet. I let them know that the trolls were basically the climax of the adventure, and that the idea is for them to be more focused on building up and expanding the kingdom at the moment.

And now I am regretting all over again that I skipped the solid year of kingdom turns before starting the adventure proper, as the book recommended. I’ve been trying to distract them from the trolls (which I also told them) so that their kingdom will be a little more developed when they come into direct conflict with the trolls, as I had wanted to try out the mass combat rules.

I think Iofur’s player is also feeling like we aren’t getting much done in any one session, and he has a point there. This particular session, 4 of us were just hanging out for a good while before Simon’s and Salar’s players showed up. They had good reasons to be late, but it’s still frustrating. Especially when you only meet once every two weeks, at best. Iofur wants to ditch random encounters, and to consolidate multiple kingdom turns into one go so that they didn’t take up much game time. Without random encounters, exploration becomes a little too static and safe for me, so I don’t think I will be getting rid of them. And I’m not sure how to consolidate kingdom turns unless there’s no adventuring going on in-between, because the events from the turns feed into the overall story. Now that I’m writing this out, I’m thinking that perhaps he wants to focus more on the plot, and less on the ruling. Which is a little odd, since he really wanted to join this campaign because of the ruling aspect. Of course, how Kingmaker handles ruling is maybe not to everyone’s taste – it’s more like Civilization than Game of Thrones.

I suppose that after the holidays I’ll ask everyone, as a group, about how they feel about the game, and take it from there.

Next: anarchy in the riverlands!

  1. It’s also hard to feel like you’re making progress in a sandbox game without the chapter-by-chapter progression of a central narrative. You could try to smooth things over with Mestinous and Lofur by likening the situation to “grinding” before an end boss. Getting everything ready for that last big hoo-rah before a boss fight?

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