Saturday, 18 September 2010
Pathfinder Kingmaker: A short cut to mushroom (soup)
I think at this point it is appropriate for me to provide a little summary of the Pathfinder campaign I participate in on Friday nights. We've got a decent-sized group, with five players and a GM, and we're currently playing the Kingmaker campaign from Paizo, which so far has seen our characters rise from the obscurity of 1st level to coming within striking range of 5th.
Kingmaker involves the adventurers being tasked with pacifying an area of wilderness, which they then have the right to develop as their own kingdom. It includes a kingdom building/management model that kicked in when we reached 3rd level, allowing our characters to found a kingdom, start bringing in settlers, begin farming, etc. The early phases of the campaign were simply exploration, using an old school hex-by-hex approach, complete with wandering monsters, that reminds me of early D&D Expert level adventures I ran back in the Eighties.
The current party consists of a Human Barbarian, a Tengu(!) Monk, an Elf Druid, another Elf, this time a Wizard, and a Changeling Rogue. We have also obtained a number of animal companions, including the Druid's pet elk(!) called Bullwinkle (!!), a trained dog called Cujo, and a savage war horse for the barbarian which currently goes nameless.
Playing Pathfinder over the last few months - with a bit of a hiatus for summer holidays - has brought home to me how powerful my barbarian character Artemisia is, when compared to previous incarnations of the barbarian class, for instance in third edition D&D. She has quickly turned into the primary combat weapon of the party, although I have to say the monk is shaping up well, and seems capable to being able to do a respectable amount of damagae (30+ hit points) with a single attack. This has to be a good thing, as it means we no longer need to rely on my PC to keep us alive! Whenever she gets knocked out, we have been faced with somewhat of a predicament, but I feel comfortable now that the Tengu monk Wu Ya, and indeed even our backstabbing rogue, are capable of doing some serious damage themselves.
We have also been able to make good use of a number of spells, effectively deployed by both our spellcasters (one of whom is usually played via Skype from Manchester these days). A particular favourite has been Entangle, which helps anchor critters to the ground before we move in to finish them off, and Summon Animal (?) which lets us bring woodland critters into a fight. They have been more than useful in flanking opponents, although controversially we once used a poisonous toad to flank a Huge centipede, only to find later this was ILLEGAL in the steward's enquiry. Even more recently we have been using Enlarge to turn my character into an effective giant, along with her warhorse, which provides the party with a tank option in outdoor encounters.
In the last couple of sessions we have been starting to develop our kingdom, and put together our ruling 'cabinet' composed of a mix of PCs and NPCs (a little bit like a Cameron/Clegg coalition). This has meant giving positions of power and responsibility within the new realm to NPCs which we do not necessarily trust completely - at least, I don't - but we need them in place to ensure the smooth running of our kingdom (VERY like the Coalition government in fact). I think we're still a little lacking in the Foreign Secretary department, and are trying to fix this, but it may take time (heck, the similarities with Westminster right now are darned frightening, come to think of it).
Pressing on to our most recent session, which was somewhat truncated by my late arrival and Dave the changeling's departure for Surrey, our party has decided it is running out of cash to run the kingdom with, and continue to develop our glorious capital of Staghelm (think: more Deadwood than Rome). Consequently, with tax revenues still insufficient, we have opted to explore more of the lands to the south in the hopes of coming up with some more loot.
The evening was comprised of three main encounters. Firstly, we rescued some gnomish explorers who had been ambushed by goblins but were having trouble getting their wagons across a river. I felt a little peeved that they were off exploring lands claimed for OUR kingdom, without so much as a by-your-leave, but given the referee has insisted all our characters are of Good alignment, there was little scope for roughing them up and plundering their wagons. Still, we were able to trade a little bit of local intelligence with them, and it does look as if there could be a dragon lairing to the south and west of our current position, which may be exciting.
We also encountered a hag, accused by some of our subjects of kidnapping and eating local children, although there is little evidence to support this yet. Apart from serving us soup - which my character politely declined - she provided us with a few interesting titbits of information, including warning us of the presence of a hydra in the nearby lake. The GM had been trying to encourage us to go out boating on the lake earlier in the session, but we decided this would be a little rash and give him far too many opportunities to place us in a difficult situation.
The hag finally asked us to go mushroom-picking for her. I think I may have been a tad overtired by this stage after a busy day covering the gold market (gold at $1276/oz at time of writing), but the party seemed to feel this request was fine, and off we went. Our journey took us to the far side of the big lake (called the Stagwater or something like that) that lies to the south of our little capital. Approaching the aforesaid mushroom patch, we ran into a huge carnivorous plant thingy, emerging from a muddy hole, which we defeated in about four rounds. It would have been dangerous had it managed to keep hold of a PC and actually swallow one of us, but as ever with monsters of this kind, if it is taking multiple hits from a dog, a stag, a summoned dog/wolf, and three combat PCs, plus is big enough to be shot at and magic missiled by the others, is it going to last long enough to do that? Er...no, as it turned out.
That's pretty much where we left it, with Changeling Dave having to rush off to Surrey. Druid Rich is in Majorca, and Skyped with us briefly from his couch there (we HOPE you were wearing your trunks Rich, and were not Skyping us naked!) More Pathfinder next week with any luck. I'm not sure what the plan will be, but I suspect we will scout further south along the west side of the lake, as we know there is a hydra lurking along the eastern fringes, which we're keen to avoid.
Tune in next week for more, kids, for more loincloths and broadswords.