After what seems like an awfully long time, I got back to the table with the Friday night RPG team last week, and we made a determined effort to resurrect the dormant Pathfinder Kingmaker campaign after over a year's hiatus. At 13th level. Ouch.
Readers may recall that the Kingmaker campaign arc involves the party first conquering/pacifying a realm, then expanding its frontiers eastwards and southwards, then defending it against determined attacks from the west.
We left the action with the characters taking part in a tournament hosted by the neighbouring realm of Pitax, which has been seeking to undermine the rule of the PCs by foul means, and most recently had encouraged another of our neighbours to invade our fair realm - dealt with by ourselves in the usual bloody, 'shock and awe' fashion. The tournament, initially peaceful, had degenerated into a duel to the death between Artemisia, my Human Barbarian, and a barbarian chieftain, while Kelvin's Tengu Monk Wu Ya tackled a hill giant chieftain under similar circumstances.
It took us a while to get back into the swing of things, as Pathfinder cannot be described as a straightforwards game, particularly at 10th level or higher. At the end of a long and tiring week, it can be even more of a challenge to the old grey matter. I had been up since 5.30, so always knew it would be an interesting session.
The terms of Artemisia's duel meant that she could not receive any magical buffing, so the battle degenerated into her trading blows with her enemy, and hoping that she would do more criticals than he could in the process. Both barbarians were inflicting somewhere in the region of 60-90 hit points damage per round. Artemisia ended up on 49 hps, hoping that her opponent was on less than that, because it was almost certain she wouldn't survive another round. Luckily for her, she felled him with her first blow of the next round.
Cutting off her enemy's head, she presented it to the assembled horde of barbarians who had been preparing to invade our fair kingdom under the Pitax banners. A 20 on her Intimidate roll (helped in no small part by the magic of our druid leader Cassie) left the 6000 odd barbarians kneeling at her feet.
Wu Ya's battle was also a close run thing, but the terms of his fight with the hill giant allowed some magical intervention from Grameer (13th level Elf Mage) and Cassie (13th level Elf Druid). The monk even got in a coule of 100+ hits on the hill giant.
Needless to say, victory was ours, and we marched on the capital of Pitax, only to find that its ruler had fled by sea with a small coterie of anti-heroes whom we will no doubt face at some point in the future. The two duels burned up about 90% of the session, and I came away convinced that Pathfinder is not the system for simulating epic one-on-one battles. It feels more like an early Streetfighter iteration on the Atari.
Pathfinder is damned hard to get back into after a long hiatus, especially at higher levels. I doubt our party was functioning at full effectiveness as a consequence. Hopefully we'll be able to get our ducks in order before we return to the campaign. The decision has been made to play this when Ric is in town from Manchester, so it looks like we'll be carrying on with the Carrion Crown campaign in the meantime. Luckily, this is at 4th level at the moment, so should not be quite as 'bucket of cold water in the face' as Kingmaker. We have one more book to get through in ther Kingmaker saga - I'm not entirely sure at what level that will leave us on by the end, but I certainly need to come up with a better way to keep track of the masses of data that I need to consult in play!