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Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 16, Part 1

January 11, 2015

Dangerous Liaisons

faecourtMestinous the elven wizard was a sight to behold as stepped into the grand ballroom with catlike grace, his wife Tamara on his arm. Gathered in the room before him were the most important political actors in Brevoy, and the assembled humans could not help but marvel at the wizard’s delicate features and the languid fluidity with which he moved. As spymaster of Caerelia, he was there to observe the kingdom’s allies and enemies, and to identify opportunities for making new friends, or for hurting old foes. It was a task that his keen mind was indubitably well-suited for.

As Mestinous surreptitiously scanned the room, he began to feel a glimmer of contempt for these humans. Compared to him, they were clumsy, ugly, stupid… And then his gaze fell upon his human wife, Tamara. She was smart and educated for her kind, but still no match for his astounding intellect. As she noticed his gaze and smiled at her husband, he considered that she was not very pretty, either, even by human standards.

But Mestinous’ train of thought was interrupted as the crowd suddenly surged away from the ballroom entrance. He craned his neck to see over the crowd, and then gasped in shock at the sight. A tall and truly gorgeous elven woman, dressed in green cloth and jewels that were fit for a queen, glided into the room as if she owned it and all within. He had never seen anyone like her – in his wildest dreams he could not have imagined a more perfect specimen of elven femininity. She was so stunning that it almost hurt to look at her. The men around her immediately set to fawn over her, but she was clearly disdainful of their groveling. Then her eyes caught the wizard’s, and she gave him, out of all the powerful men in the room, a wicked smile that caused his heart to skip several beats.

Mestinous found himself leaving his wife’s side to stride towards this heavenly vision, trying to look both confident and nonchalant at the same time. She laughed gaily and beckoned him closer, and the sound of her mirth made him feel as if he had emerged into the sun after years of darkness. She took his proffered hand in hers, and the two of them stepped onto the floor to begin an intricate elven dance.

Everyone else in the room cleared the way for the pair, and looked upon their lithe forms with awe and envy. The woman in green danced with incredible passion and grace, which caused Mestinous to wonder how she might look writhing under his bedsheets. As if she could read her dance partner’s mind, she leaned in close and whispered an invitation to join her somewhere more private after the dance. The spymaster eagerly agreed.

As the dance came to end, Mestinous’ heart skipped a few more beats in anticipation. She tugged him through the applauding crowd and towards the exit. Tamara called after her husband, but he paid her no mind as he followed this perfect woman deeper into the palace. Eventually, the elf threw open the doors to her chambers and pulled him inside for a sensual and almost savage kiss. With a wave of her hand, her clothes fell from her body. She climbed into her opulent four poster bed while looking over her shoulder at Mestinous with eyes that were dripping with desire. If her face was almost too beautiful to look at, her body was like the blinding sun to him. But he quickly shed his clothes as well, and followed her into the bed. The sight of her, the smell, the touch of her skin; he was possessed by a lust unlike any he had ever felt before. Indeed, he had not thought it possible for his kind to feel with such intensity and burning need. He plunged into her and both of them cried out in pleasure-

-and then Mestinous sat upright, gasping and sweating. The campsite that his companions had set up lay around him, and the trees of the Narlmarches towered over him. As he struggled to come back to reality, he focused his keen senses on the familiar: Boliden’s awful snores, the drip-drip-drop of rain from the leaves, the soft whinny of a horse. He breathed deeply until he felt that he had mastered himself once more. There was no bed, no ballroom, no lady in green. He was with his fellow adventurers on a journey to Tatzylford, for the purpose of obtaining carts that could haul their newly-won treasures back home.

Priorities

Rivers Run Red 16aYes, that’s correct. The group’s first priority after the battle that killed Salar the halfling ranger was to ensure that there was no way that anyone might take the loot that they couldn’t carry – mainly a life-size alabaster statue and an ancient water clock. They had spent the night at the castle, and in the morning Simon Wellread the cleric cast glyph of warding on the tower entrance to deter intruders. They were worried, you see, that in the handful of days that it would take them to get some carts and come back, someone would wander into the castle and leave with the extremely heavy art objects.

Simon also blessed Salar’s corpse with gentle repose, and had prepared some remove curse prayers for the journey. It took him a few tries, but he was able to remove the Dancing Lady’s death curse from Mestinous before they reached Tatzylford (and before they had any encounters).

Rivers Run Red 16bLoy Rezbin, mayor of Tatzylford, and his wife Latricia welcomed the rulers to their humble logging camp. The party had agreed to give the Rezbins some BP when the couple was preparing to found the settlement, and the pair wished to show their appreciation to their sponsors. After a hot meal and a good night’s rest, the group obtained some carts and the draft horses to pull them, and headed back to the castle.

Once back at the elven fort, they loaded the statue and water clock onto the carts and set their sights for Stagfell. Along the way, they decided to explore the hex where the scythe tree had once preyed, despite being slowed down by the carts. Although the tree was long dead, it seemed that life had not yet returned to normal here, for no creatures bothered them. And so the adventurers returned home from their third troll hunt, with no trolls to be found.

Rivers Run Red 16cThey decided to loan the statue, which depicted a naked dancing elven woman, to one of the town brothels, and they placed the water clock in their ramshackle fort. They traded the mithral elven statuette they had found to Lily Teskertin, a local collector of elven art, in exchange for a cloak of resistance +1. Iofur the druid claimed the cloak. Services were held for Salar, and his second, a human monk from Brevoy named Breen Everstead, was named as the new Councilor.

Anarchy in the RL

It was the month of Erastus (July) – prime adventuring season! – but the demands of ruling now commanded the party’s attention. Caerelia had been carrying 2-3 Unrest for many turns now, and in fact they had delayed officially giving their fancy new Grand Diplomat the job for some months because they didn’t want to make it worse (much to the chagrin of Iofur’s Uncle Joren, the current Diplomat, who had been trying to resign since the spring). And then, the Unrest issue got worse.

It started with a failed Stability check. I tied this to the turn’s kingdom event, a monster attack.* Trolls had crossed Caerelia’s western border, and had eaten some settlers. The long-rumored troll threat was finally here! People were understandably a little panicky, which translated into +1 Unrest for a total of 3.

* Originally I had rolled the Land Rush event, but the event’s resolution just didn’t make sense to me. I tried to make it work a few different ways, but in the end I just scrapped it and re-rolled.

Then Breen Everstead assumed Salar’s role as Councilor. Another +1 Unrest (total 4) and they failed the Loyalty check. Breen was facing some resistance in taking over for the beloved Salar, and position was considered vacant for a turn, which was a massive hit to Loyalty and generated another +1 Unrest (total 5). There was no way they could have another leadership change now, so Iofur begged his uncle to stay on as Diplomat for another month, and Joren reluctantly agreed. Finally, they failed the Economy check for the 2nd turn in a row.

The situation was not looking good, and I was honestly wondering if Caerelia was about to go into an Unrest death spiral (once you start to accumulate Unrest, it becomes harder to get rid of it, which generates more Unrest, and so on until the kingdom descends into anarchy). -5 to all kingdom checks is serious business! The group decided to forgo adventuring for the time being in order to focus on putting the kingdom to rights. This didn’t have any mechanical effect, but it made the most sense to them in terms of the story.

But first, they had some marauding trolls to deal with!

Next: troll trouble!

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10 Comments
  1. Pinkius permalink

    Oh my, H-how lewd. Things certainly are heating up for your party!
    The dreaded unrest spiral of death is what our group was so terrified of, that and wanting to become an economic powerhouse. Initially we wanted to reach that goal with magic item production, but then we swapped rulebooks and magic items became too hard to cheese.
    So we just pumped up our kingdom stats with buildings, a castle in every town, cathedrals, shrines, banks, garrisons, basically anything that gave good stats, didn’t take up too much room, and didn’t come with significant drawbacks

  2. Oh, you switched over the UC rules (or something else?) mid-campaign? How far along in the AP were you? Did the DM allow you to change anything in the process?

    Someone asked if the Kingdom Manager application could handle the original rules, because that’s what his group was using. And I seem to recall there are some differences in the bonuses granted by some buildings, and some other things just didn’t exist. Like, there was no reason to ever claim forest hexes because you couldn’t build anything in them.

    • Pinkius permalink

      We swapped over to the UC rules because the UC book had just come out. Supposedly they were compatible with the old rules, but hell if we ever found something that was, half the building stats themselves were different.

      I think we switched over very early, before the trolls showed up even, but I was never really that involved with the kingdom building part of the campaign, sometimes I’d look in to see what buildings gave the best stats per cost and suggest building more of those, but others were already on-top of that. I like my kingdom building like I like my RTS games, a short build up into deathgrip sieges. Kingmaker didn’t scratch that itch.

      I’m not sure what itch Kingmaker was meant to scratch though, because it didn’t really seem to hold anyone’s interest, the only one who stuck with it was the GM and player of the cleric (also the king).

      • Yeah. Building stuff up can be fun, but I think it loses its luster unless there’s some sort of competition involved, as there is in RTS and 4X games. Both the structure of the AP and the Pathfinder rules themselves may be working against having that competition here. There’s the trolls in RRR, but after that you have neighbors that either aren’t interested in expansion or war (Brevoy), get taken out by someone else (Varnhold), or are hard to get to (Drelev and points west). So what is the purpose in building up the kingdom if there’s no actual kingdom-level conflict?

        And then you have high level characters who are highly mobile and can tear apart armies on their own, or scry and fry enemy leaders. Why resolve conflicts on the kingdom level when you can handle business yourself?

      • And so, with the above in mind, how does one interject more competition for land and resources into the AP? Maybe I will have to turn Varn into an antagonist in the time between RRR and VV. Perhaps the throne of Brevoy will get involved with the upstarts down south. Would Mivon have any reason to push north?

        It’s a shame there’s a giant freaking swamp between Drelev and the PCs. I wonder if groups actually go through the swamp in book 4, or if they just fly over it or ride around the lake.

      • Pinkius permalink

        Our group foolhardedly went through the swamp, where-in we found gaze attacks, all got charmed, and built a statue to a creepy naga witch before an NPC broke the enchantment with a scroll.

        To be fair, everything else we ran into got pasted, so we were overdue for a challenge, but two DC 23 will saves for everyone before we can take an action is a bit much.

        Also, armies are SUPER expensive to maintain, the system itself discourages battles and standing armies. If you skim the rules it doesn’t seem bad, but then you realize the consumption of armies is PER WEEK, not per month like everything else in kingdom building. static defenses are far less costly, and it turns into a cold war almost immediately

      • Yeah, that’s a good point about army consumption. And another point in favor of the PCs doing everything themselves.

        It always seemed strange to me that the army cost is weekly when everything else in the system is monthly. You have to really be rolling in the BP to afford it. I wonder if armies were meant to be something that you could spend BP on once you’ve built most everything that you want to build. Otherwise, assuming your kingdom consumption is 0, you have BP coming in every turn and nothing to do with it.

    • Pinkius permalink

      Thing is, you’re never going to claim every hex, and you can make as many cities as you like, unless you play until your characters are white in the hair you’re not going to run out of things to spend BP on. So you can make any number of cities, stack them with your choice of buildings, boost your kingdom stats, claim a few hexes, rinse repeat.
      it’s all bloody accounting.

      At the point where we finally ran into army combat against another kingdom, I couldn’t help but wonder how the hell Pitax could afford to field it’s armies. A single city, not even an economic powerhouse, without a full suite of leadership, somehow fields up like, 4 armies?

      • Ah, but if you’re not expanding your territory or building up your cities, you do have the BP to spend on units. So the kingdoms with low or no growth, such as Brevoy and Pitax, can afford to support armies. I think I’m seeing that there is perhaps meant be some tension here for the player kingdom. Why spend BP on your military when you can spend it to get bigger? But your neighbors have armies, so you should have some kind of army to protect yourself from getting invaded. Which is going to slow your growth potential. Like in a strategy game, you want to build up your home base or civilization, but you also need to divert some resources to defense or someone will come along and take it from you.

        Of course, that breaks down when you have characters that can wipe out armies on their own.

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  1. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 15, Part 3 | Daddy DM

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