Thursday, July 25, 2019

Propping Up the Dungeon, Part Deux

TLDR version of Part One:  I like the Pathfinder RPG.  I want to try running a game that adopts the prop-heavy approach of Mythos gaming to a traditional fantasy tabletop.  The large player base for Pathfinder makes it a good venue for that.

So why am I so enamored of the "Kingmaker" adventure path?  There are a couple of reasons, all of them supporting the use of a high-touch, prop-heavy approach.  I won't touch on any major spoilers.

1. The campaign's setup involves a band of adventurers receiving an official warrant to survey and develop a wilderness frontier.  Think "Lewis and Clark" mixed with the merchant adventurer companies of the Post-Columbian colonial period.  In the current era the area being explored is largely unknown, but that wasn't always the case.  There are historical documents, journals, and maps describing what was there in the past...and what may be happening there currently. 

2.  A quirk of the Pathfinder world, shared by D&D, is that magical communications don't become available until characters have advanced a few levels.  Yeah, it's gamey as hell, but it is what it is.  Because of that, and the limits on message spells, most of the communication between the expedition and their sponsors has to be physically carried.   Luckily, there's a reasonably reliable courier service that uses the adventurer's base of operations as a stop on their multi-day journey between the two nearest cities.

This opens up some great opportunities for storytelling.  As epistolary tales like Bram Stoker's "Dracula" demonstrate, letters and messages can help build up an engaging narrative.  It also gives the players something interesting to do during the downtime between tabletop sessions.  As the campaign progresses the number of potential correspondents grows substantially as the adventurers build up their kingdom. 

3.  In normal play players will have absolutely no chance of learning the significant backstories behind various characters and villains.  Based on accounts from players and GMs this isn't a problem unique to Kingmaker, but one found in a number of Paizo products.  Disseminating it via in-game writings makes it available to players without breaching immersion.

4.  Kingmaker already has a number of documents that feature prominently in the plot, including a series of official warrants, flyers posted at the central adventuring location, invitations to some notable public events, etc.  I'm surprised these haven't already been packaged as handouts.

Beyond the adventure specific items I also want to fiddle around with having actual props for loot.  That includes coming up with coinage, gems, potions, and scrolls.  It's going to be a while before I feel comfortable enough to run Kingmaker, so working on those will let me dip my toe into a high-touch approach before diving in all the way. 

As always,  your thoughts and suggestions are appreciated.

1 comment:

WestRider said...

I don't know how much you've picked up running this blog about materials and techniques, but one easy one is Games Workshop's Nihilakh Oxide. Does a fantastic verdigris effect incredibly easily. Great for old coins and such. Their Typhus Corrosion is also pretty handy to add a bit of texture under rust, or just for grime.