Pathfinder: Kingmaker

I have to admit, I've been gone for over a month, when I poked my head into this thread I thought you were all talking about a game still in early access.

They announced today that their 1.1 patch is coming soonish, apparently with 1000 bugfixes... (or maybe they mean it will bring the total fixes up to 1000) which I guess is nice, but also tells a lot.

I think I'm nearing the end of the midgame, and that part's fun. The combat has been good and well-balanced for quite awhile. Many fights are me doing the stompy bit, some are hard, and a few are impossible, but the impossible ones are pretty clearly telegraphed most of the time. That part has been genuinely fun, and I've enjoyed the story a lot. Right now I'm in Varnhold, off in the story bits there, and kind of lost and directionless like usual. The game is not good at signposting where things are. Your characters may have explicitly been told where to go, but the game often doesn't bother to tell you where that is.

Gotta agree with Shadout about the kingdom management. This is another example of where they did a design on paper, but I don't think they actually played it. There are many really dumb choices in the design. One of the worst is when you get involved in some projects; once you start them, you can't stop for any reason whatsoever. For that two weeks or whatever, you are absolutely committed. Your entire barony could burn to ash and you'd still be stuck training your treasurer. You can't react to anything, you can't give orders, you can only train. It's one of the stupidest designs I've ever seen. I've got a huge pile of uncompleted kingdom projects that I don't dare do, because I can't lock down any of my advisors that long. And the artificial deadline of everything always failing on Day 1 of the new month is effing ridiculous. You can have a thing literally pop up on Day 30, and fail the next day if you don't have an adviser already assigned to it.

And then the city-building bits? You can't even rotate a building. Seriously. After you develop a settlement to the second level, they start to get 2-space buildings. But you can't rotate them. They'll snap around, inevitably, to the wrong facing, so you can see that they coded in the ability for the buildings to go multiple ways, but they didn't assign any control to actually rotating them, and the snap function doesn't really work.

This is, very simply, a game that they didn't play before shipping. There is no way anyone sat down and actually tried to manage a kingdom before they shoved the final build out the door.

Oh, and as interesting note that might just be an exploit of the implementation: I saw the AI do a cool thing yesterday. I developed Octavia as a mage/thief (not a good idea in Pathfinder, you want almost all your levels in one class, but too late now, can't undo)... and I saw her getting sneak attack damage on the level 0 Acid Splash. Ranged touch is substantially better at hitting than a normal arrow would be, and getting 4 or 5d6 of sneak attack acid damage is pretty darn impressive for a free-use spell. She'd be a 9th thief/1st mage if I'd been smarter about building her, and she'd be getting I think 7d6 acid splashes at that level.

"Go for the eyes, Octavia, go for the eyes!"

I built Octavia as an arcane trickster so I still get mage levels and sneak attack but she's nowhere near as good as my knife master at the rogue stuff and my mage is miles past her in magical power. Live and learn I suppose. One of the arcane trickster's big skills is being able to disarm traps and unlock chests from a distance but I've never found a case where that mattered.

So I got a long way further, but I think I might be done. I'm a big fight with a king, and it is one of the most unreasonable f*cking designs I have ever seen. It is a literal middle finger to every player to get that far.

These guys are, fundamentally, asshole DMs. They don't like you. They don't want you to succeed. Even on Normal mode, it takes an absolute minmaxed party with every trick in the book just to get through major fights. You can stomp some of them, but with the tougher ones, there's not much room for slop even on Normal. You must have a very carefully tuned party, preferably drawn from years of experience with the D&D 3.5E system, to make it. And there's a good chance it's not happening even then.

These are fundamentally "adversarial players", DMs who are the players' opponents, not their friends. These are the ones I always heard, over and over, that you didn't want to play with. If this were a real campaign, I'd tell you to stay the hell away from these people.

It's a shame Avellone got mixed up with these chumps. The story's real good, but everything around is a mess. Their encounter designs are insane, having no resemblance to any rules I know. They just make weird, impossible sh*t that doesn't fit in the rules anywhere. D&D isn't like this. They're trying to make it into WoW, and it doesn't work.

You shouldn't have individual humanish people with a thousand hit points and AC 46. That just shouldn't happen, that should be gargantua-class monsters only. If your D&D design includes this kind of opponent, gargantua or no, for characters at level 14 (which, even minmaxed to absolute edges, will get to maybe a hit roll of 42), your design is broken and you do not like your players.

You know how Icewind Dale was all trick fights? That's what this is, but much much harder. You've just got a lot of padding around the hard bits, instead of being dragged straight from setpiece to setpiece. You're effectively tied with an arm behind your back while your enemies get to rampage around with absolutely unreasonable powers. Almost everything you fight seems to be able to cast multiple spells a round or hit five times or literally do fifty damage a hit.... every time.

That would be kinda okay if it was a glass cannon, like Nok Nok -- dude does insane damage but falls over in a stiff breeze. But when it's got a ridiculous AC and a ton of hit points and it hits like a truck and it casts multiple weaker spells per round or single perma-disabling spells that you can't recover from without resting.... the design is just bad. Everything is supposed to have strengths and weaknesses, and the fun for players is taking the fights apart, kind of like a puzzle.

But they don't like you. I think it's literally the case that they do not want you to have fun in these fights. I genuinely believe that them imagining a player succeeding brilliantly at fighting one of their setpieces would make them extremely angry. You may think I'm overstating this, but I really don't think so. I've been playing D&D a long time, and while I'm not that up on 3.5E, as I never liked it that well, I've still got kind of a sense for it, and these people aren't on my side.

When you sit down at this game, you are the enemy. Be aware.

You know the DMs that would laugh at players when they lost? That's what this feels like.

I'm still plugging away at this but I can't say Malor's take is wrong. I'm having a hard time keeping track but I think I'm in Act 4 maybe? Just got into Pitax across the western river. Anyway, this weekend I went into a dungeon as part of the main story line and I wanted to to see what I'd be up against. Turns out the difficulty of the encounters were a massive spike. I went from steam rolling all the prior enemies to now having to reload fights multiple times in order to get past them. So anyway, I spend maybe an hour getting down to the 2nd level of the dungeon and I realize it's still keeping up this non-stop string of tough fights. At this point I have no spells left and I've even started breaking into my stash of healing potions just to keep my people on their feet. 3 of my people have crippling injuries and stat downs are sprinkled throughout. I manage to make it maybe halfway through the 2nd level and now my party literally feels like it's being held together with string at tape.

Naturally I didn't have enough rations in my inventory to camp and even if I did I'd probably need to rest at least a couple times to get back to fighting shape. Okay, no problem, I think. I'll just walk back outside and camp out there since I can hunt outside for food. So slowly I trudge back up to the entrance only to find the front door locked. I look it up on some forums and sure enough, once you enter this dungeon you're locked inside until you defeat the boss. And no, this was never mentioned to the player prior to or after entering. The only way I found out I was locked in was because I tried to walk back out. Not even the often foreboding "be sure you're prepared before facing so-and-so!" that I've gotten a couple times. So great, at this point I don't even know if I had a save from before I walked into this place so what to do. Luckily they give you the option of dropping the difficulty down to "story mode" and I was able to finish off the boss and get out of there. Now yeah, I guess I should always be prepared for potential deep dungeon dives and equip myself appropriately with rations, rope, crowbars, spell components, and whatever other random items the game occasionally will use on long expeditions but because I'd never encountered a situation before where it was necessary, I'd basically written off the overly heavy rations as being needed for basic questing. So the game has a bad habit of flip-flopping back and forth between mid-game Baldur's gate style fights to Dark Souls boss level encounters. Far more often than not I end up having to cheese my way through a fight.

Oh, and my kingdom also failed at one point because one stat got down to zero because of a story based problem that was afflicting me even though all my other stats were sky high and I had build points to burn. I had to look this one up too and to eliminate this threat you had to have an advisor complete the same quest 3 times before the problem would go away. So this led to me reloading an older save and then spending the next 30 minutes quick loading and quick saving my way to 3 successes on this 5 day event mission in order to keep the game from ending. They give you the option of turning the kingdom over to indestructible mode but, by god, I'm trying to actually play this game by it's rules but it does make it obnoxious some times.

New patch looks pretty great at first glance. 'Effortless' difficulty for Kingdom Management seems like it could be a good place to go for the taste / flavor of that stuff without the annoyances, but right off the bat the UI is better in this version. Mind you I'm still pretty early in the whole, process and still playing normal difficulty, but the changes look promising.

Had some more time with the new patch. It is a huge improvement. I’m not seeing any notable bugs, and the Kingdom Management part is much improved. They fixed that thing where problems and opportunities would auto-fail on the first of each month. A grace period extends to the 20th now so you can’t get locked in leveling up or claiming and miss a chance to act.

I’m also finding the game much more forgiving now than in the early levels (i’ve Got an 8th level eldritch archer - the build really came alive around level 7 and she absolutely shreds things with Devourer of Metal.)

It’s keeping my interest a lot more than most RtwP games do, and I’m digging the various story beats quite a bit. The whole enterprise is sprawling and messy, but I think with this new patch this sprawl is interesting and positive more than it is frustrating or negative.

I also think this is a game where playing with the difficulty goes a long way. They give lots of options to fuss with and the baseline normal is harder than most games normal. I got a lot of mileage out of turning off encumbrance influencing movement speed. Another big help has been using protection from and resist energy spells. Candlemere went from impossible to cake walk with two quick spells. And web has been a life saver that’s transformed impossible encounters into manageable ones, especially when I stack the party with ranged characters.

The one huge QoL improvement I still want is being able to jump straight from the palace to adventuring without having to march through town. That’s a head scratcher of a design decision.

I see this is on sale for $30 on the Steam sale. Has most of the jank been fixed at this point?

A fine question, LeapingGnome. Very fine indeed. I'm wondering the same!

LeapingGnome wrote:

I see this is on sale for $30 on the Steam sale. Has most of the jank been fixed at this point?

I haven't touched it in months. I've heard it got better, but I haven't experienced it myself.

Haven't played since I finished it. But it sounds like a lot of the bugs have been fixed. Still new patches coming out very frequently.
Like a Bethesda game, it is probably one of those experiences that will always have jank. Too many variables, and so many timed quests and events that are bound to cause trouble with each other.
Also no fixes for the weird spiky balance, as far as I know. Might never get fixed since it seems intentional.
Next big patch is supposed to be mid-January. Probably not a bad idea to wait for it at least.

As long as you opt-in to the "my kingdom can't fail" mode it can be a load of fun. I just got frustrated and rage quit after the second time the game just ended mid-travel because one category in my kingdom dropped into the negative but it didn't explain how or why it happened and no warning was given that any stat was getting low. It was completely unintuitive in that regard as I don't see why a kingdom who's going gangbusters on their economy, religion, stability, army, population, etc would suddenly collapse into dust because the culture or magic score went too low. So really almost all my gripes come from the kingdom portion of the game and some lack of direction in the quests. Playing with character builds, however, was a blast.

I am pretty sure it was only $40 at launch.
I'd wait for a steeper discount. Or you might be able to get another 12% off on GMG.

Its pretty great right now. I've had zero issues and I love this game. It might end being my GOTY. It is big, unwieldly, and bizarre - but ultimately it is delightful. The story is way weirder than I was expecting, and there's a whole heck of a lot of game here. I'm only on Chapter 2 or 3, and I have no idea where the story is going. All I know is that this world is HUGE and there's tons to do and way more flexibility in the way you can do things than I was expecting. I think its worth diving in for $30 easy, and I prefer it vastly over Pillars II.

I would strongly advise people to play with the difficulty settings. Don't be afraid to make things easier on yourself, especially if you aren't into save scumming. There are some incredible encounters that can be easy or insane pending on your prep entering the fight. Use your potions, scrolls, etc. If you are the type of person who can spend hours in a chargen, you will be in for a treat.

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

If you are the type of person who can spend hours in a chargen, you will be in for a treat.

This is the primary reason I haven't booted it up yet. Once I get into a crunchy chargen, I am rarely able to extricate myself. I end up building dozens of characters.

FWIW, I heard early on about the vicious, unfair encounters and cranked the difficulty WAY down.

I've been enjoying it. The companions are really great, or at least the non-evil ones are.

The game does seem to be biased toward chaotic and good being co-existent a lot of the time, so be aware that it's hard to keep a paladin from creeping into Neutral Good over time without an occasional atonement spell.

The game has also reinforced why I prefer 5e to 3.5e on the tabletop. The character options are fun, but there is a LOT to keep track of, and I miss bounded accuracy.

I bought it on Steam sale, this game is pure old gamer chicken soup. Lots to like so far!

One weird problem, in combat when I click a spell or ability my mouse suddenly gets really sensitive and jumpy until I click somewhere to lock in who I want to attack. Anyone else run into this?

*update*

No problem playing direct in my PC, so it must be a weird in-home Steam link streaming thing.

Certis wrote:

I bought it on Steam sale, this game is pure old gamer chicken soup.

This is a great way to put it. I haven't seen a video game so decidedly designed to be faithful adaptation a tabletop game - modern video game design ideas are tossed aside to be true to the Pathfinder rules. Like, some of the design decisions are just WILD and I haven't seen anything like that since maybe those old SSI games like Pools of Radiance.

But the messy craziness of it all somehow holds together. I feel like it shouldn't, but its super addictive, and it keeps getting more addictive the more I play. I enjoyed Pillars a lot but it started to wane as it went, both the first game and sequel had this effect. So far Kingmaker just gets better and better, IMO. Of course I'm a mere 60 hours in, so that could still change.

Play this game now!

Squee9’s nine tips for Kingmaker.

1. Set kingdom manager to “doesn’t end the game on failure” then engage with it only when you feel like. It’s not worth a lot of your time.

2. fiddle with the difficulty until you are happy. I’d recommend tuning things easier than you think you need it and upping it slowly from there. Keep critical hits set at weak or lower. There’s lots of literature out there about how crits are dumb for PCs, who will face way more than any individual enemy.

3. Create your character for the early game. You have very few resources and a lot of challenges in the early game. Spellcasters will struggle to be useful for a long time.

4. Save frequently. Some fights will be tough in ways you aren’t prepared for. Have a recent save you can go back to to prepare for the fights ahead.

5. Spend money! Upgrade equipment as soon as you can. One more point of armor
Class or strength is a huge power boost.

6. Buff management. There is way more buffing that needs to be done. Non spellcasters have abilities and stances that affect their fighting abilities. Keep track of that.

7. Spellcasters are CC masters. Most of the most powerful spells in the game (slow!) are disables. Make your enemy easier to hit, make them weaker, make them confused.

8. Ask me questions.

9. Have fun or play something else. Life’s too short.

Concur with all of Squee's post and others recently. Game is fantastic, I was a Day 1 guy got distracted and decided to wait on patches. The game is an absolute P&P players dream. As Certis mentioned, old gamer chicken soup. Definitely mess with difficulty, lowering it specifically. Save often and enjoy the truest port of a P&P game I've played in years.

Got to the point where I’ve established my Barony (Daggervale, since I’m a rogue) and did the initial setup. Playing slowly, waiting for that next patch to drop but trying to keep up some momentum.

The stag lord battle:

Spoiler:

I’m really glad I made friends with that Owlbear, no way I could have managed that battle without it rampaging through them too. By the end I was training enemies back to it since I had no way to rest and I was out of potions. This game is such a bastard.

I've established the Vales of the Stag. Raised my companions to level 7,almost level 8. I'm an Inquisitor. Stag Lord battle wasnt too bad, I've played very slow and meticulous as well. The teamwork feats are life savers and having the extra companion, my Mastodon, share my feats is great. I've got Valerie up to AC 37 with a team work feat. Only character I rolled beyond the stock npc companions was a sword Saint whom I love, but I may replace with a new character just to play around with some of the cool classes. The Inquisitor is amazing and I'm glad I started the game with him vice my normal Paladin. Love the game and I'm really digging the kingdom stuff.

Is that the shield wall teamwork feat? I gotta get her AC up, she’s too squishy right now.

Yes, I focused early in the game to get Valerie to be my main tank. Shield wall, heavy armor focus, shield focus, etc.. All of my front line shares those feats and also the additional chance to hit and damage when they are flanking. Focus on one monster at a time and they are always flanked and my bard gets a continuous sneak attack with her bow because the baddie is flanked. My front line is 4 heavy armor (me, Valerie, the Dwarven cleric, and Amiri) characters plus my mammoth, my mammoth gets every team feat I do. I work my Sword Saint in once the fight is on to man's sure she isn't focused on and she adds mega damage very fast. I steam roll anything my level, and can generally ease my way through up to 2 levels above me in a mass fight. There are a few fights I've had issue with but not too many.

I've pretty much got an all-squish main team (Arcane Archer main, dagger rogue merc, Linzi, Tristian, Enkundayo, and Val), with Valerie functioning as the sole tank. We steam roll over a bunch of encounters but if Val goes down things get tough fast. Enkundayo's animal companion 'Dog' is nice secondary tank though.

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

I've pretty much got an all-squish main team (Arcane Archer main, dagger rogue merc, Linzi, Tristian, Enkundayo, and Val), with Valerie functioning as the sole tank. We steam roll over a bunch of encounters but if Val goes down things get tough fast. Enkundayo's animal companion 'Dog' is nice secondary tank though.

Yep, my mammoth is fantastic as the secondary, but between Harrim, me, and the mammoth we form a lock down shield wall with Val in the middle and use Amiri, and my sword saint, on the edges. Linzi adds a nice bit of constant ranged sneak attack damage.

I'm just into act 2. And as someone who GM'd the original PnP adventure path for a group that made it to act 4, I have to say - Kingdom building is obtuse and difficult to grok. They need a MUCH more robust tutorial on the systems governing the barony.

I'm a long-time Pathfinder TT gamer, but I wonder how accessible this would be to players unfamiliar with the ruleset. For example, attacks of opportunity are bitches, if you're not paying attention - is there some "Help" menu that pops up once you suffer a few of them? Mobility is limited in a way that it wasn't back in, say, Baldur's Gate, and if you approach this game like that one, you're a lot more likely to get steamrolled.

Also, the loading times are killing me. I thought that was my old-ish rig, but based on the community comments, it's definitely not. Apparently there's a 1.2 under development/open beta that is meant to address them, but it can't come soon enough into stable release for me - especially switching around the cpital between the tavern, square, throne room, bedroom, and kingdom interface.

Love the table top game, but it can definitely be overwhelming in the rules at times. That's why I'm using 5E for my 9 year old so has suddenly become interested in table top RPG. As for Kingmaker, there are some basics in the encyclopedia but the tutorial could be better. Best thing for the kingdom management is to set it on easy and assign the best advisor based on +whatever to both the advisor role and the mission. Like the game says take care of problems first and opportunity when you can. If one of the cards has your and a blue icon, it's timed and related to one of your main quests. Try to be in the throne room around the first few days of each month and handle business. Basic city building applies. Town hall, granary, wall, barracks etc... They just add points to your stats Kingdom wide. When you get to a certain number you can raise the level of your kingdom in that using an advisor through a mission that will pop up. When you raise your capital level you can upgrade already built buildings by clicking on them and choosing upgrade. Also the game wants you to play with the npc party it gave you so concentrate on them and level them strategically for a role. They'll be certain quests you'll need certain npcs for. In the settings make sure you have the setting that had the npcs who aren't in your party still get experience. Also make sure you take the time to level the ones that aren't in your party because those stats and skill checks will apply in kingdom missions, it's a pain in the ass because you have to bring them in the party, leave town, level them and then reconfigure your party but it's worth the effort. The game has its foibles but it's a fantastic play for old school PnP gamers. I'm hoping it does well enough to inspire some 5E copy cats and to give Owlcat the ability to convert other Pathfinder campaigns. Id love to see Runelords and Rise of the Giants or even a Starfinder module.