Hexcrawl High: John Denver didn’t sing any songs about kingdom building mechanics

So we started the current campaign back in the first week of September. In the nine weeks since we’ve had six sessions. Which is probably pretty good considering the general scheduling complications endemic to adult roleplaying i.e. roleplaying games played by adults not sexy times pretending you’re a broken down car and your girlfriend is pervasive rust. Anyhow, in the last session the players hit level five and thus entered what D&D 5th edition loosely considers “Tier 2”.

Even with the scheduling issues I thought we’d get here a little quicker. It would seem that entering a new tier is a good time to look back and assess whats gone so far. But I think I’ve really covered all the major issues that have popped up e.g. maps are good, etc. I suppose one thing I will be modifying in some manner is my encounter table. A table with 20 entries, some of which are partially dynamic, works fine for the occasional, or semi-occasional roll. But as one session where the PC’s travelled for basically proved, lots of rolling on it leads to a lot of duplicate results. Which I intended to reinforce theme but which in practice reinforces tedium. Fighting the same bandits two or three times in a row isn’t fun for anyone. Which I spotted in advance and thankfully avoided doing. Now I could just narratively describe the encounter but I feel that cheapens it a bit. I noticed that the encounter tables in Xanathars guide have 100 entries. Which feels like it goes too far the other way (though I did use one in the last session and the fight against two manticores was fun). To be honest, when it comes out I’ll probably just switch tot he ones in Xanathar’s guide because I’m lazy (and apparently love manticores). But if I manage to fight off my natural inclination towards laziness I can think of two ways to address my current problem with my encounter tables. Either increase the number of entries in the table or introduce subtables based on categories e.g. I think 8 on the current table means an intelligent NPC encounter, and I’ve set one up for each terrain. What I could instead do is set up a small sub table so when I roll an 8 I then roll a d6 to see which NPC it is. But then I have to roll on two tables which just feels excessive for some reason.

I suppose the other problem, even though its easy to rectify, is that I’ve been a bit lazy with mapping out what the more active NPC’s in the setting have been up to. They’ve got their own plans and goals and have been working towards them but I was sort of letting them operate on an out of sight out of mind way which may have been a mistake for some of them. So I need to figure out exactly what they’re doing and who they’re doing it to. Also if they’re going to respond to the power vacuum the PC’s have created by taking out the most potent bandit group in the area.

Speaking of the PC’s. As mentioned in my last post the plan was for the second tier of play to include an element of kingdom building. After presenting that idea to the players it seems they’re interested in doing it so I’m back to the problem I outlined in the last post – what system do I use for it? While I was leaning towards something more freeform I think I’m going to just bite the bullet and jerry rig something together out of Pathfinders Kingdom Building system. I’ve got my hands on the Ultimate Campaign Guide which offers a bit more info on the system than the free version from the SRD or maybe its just presented in an easier to read format because I’ve got a better grip on it now. I think this was helped by doing some external reading around it which revealed comments from the guy who wrote the updated version and the problems they ran into because of the unintentional difference in hex sizes between the original and the rewrite and how they didn’t matter because it was all abstract. I also found a fairly convincing guide on how to convert Pathfinder DC’s to D&D 5th edition DC’s.

I don’t think it’ll all go smoothly but I’m at least convinced it’ll go now. If only I could find a convincing conversion system for Pathfinder to 5th edition gold costs I’d be much more sanguine about trying to beat the system into shape. The basic idea at the moment is to take the most straightforward approach i.e. the lazy approach. I’ll ignore the difference in hex size, I’ll use the Pathfinder modifiers and convert the DC, I’ll keep the Pathfinder gold cost and I’ll tear out all the references to magic item shops and the system for generating magic items. I imagine its the last two bits which may cause some breakdowns.

Along with kingdom building I’m wondering should I include some kind of “fame” rules. It’s something I only dabbled with all the way back in 3.x but if the PC’s are going to be movers and shakers in the local political scene then perhaps its important. I think I’ll probably just wing it for the moment. After all I’m too busy trying to figure out how to roleplay NPC’s disputing the PC’s new villages forestry rights.

I wrote this back on the eighth but didn’t post it, the last edit was at three in the morning so perhaps I fell asleep or perhaps I intended to add some more. Either way I’m posting it now (at more or less three in the morning on the 27th, but backdated because reality is a lie!)

Vent your spleen