Paizo’s Pathfinder is an excellent role-playing game for folks who enjoyed Dungeons & Dragons version 3.5, but weren’t terribly fond of the changes Wizards of the Coast made in version 4.0. After being out in the wild for some time, many players are actively seeking out the best Pathfinder adventure path for their group. While each player has their own opinion on what exactly constitutes the best Pathfinder adventure path, there is one path that my group has certainly embraced and enjoyed for almost a year now.
Enter the Kingmaker, a six-part adventure path that takes your group of companions deep into a territory overrun with dangerous creatures and seedy characters for the purpose of annexing and ruling it. This campaign works on so many different levels. You not only face challenges exploring the wilderness, but you also have to manage populating and securing a new kingdom. It’s your responsibility to establish diplomatic relations with the natives, secure townships from bandit raids and other unwanted influences, and improve the quality of life for your citizens.
Before you can do any of this, you have to explore this uncharted territory and face the existing forces that lurk within the wilderness.
The entire campaign can take a group meeting weekly well over a year to finish. We’ve been hacking away at it for almost a year (at a slow bi-weekly pace) for almost a year now, and we’re about halfway through it. The initial investment into the books ($20 per act) and companion guides may appear quite steep at first, but when you consider the extended amount of play you get out of it, the investment is actually quite a decent value.
The story told by the DM throughout the course of the adventure path is very detailed and virtually every base is covered the the game makers. I, like many players, love to try to find creative ways to solve seemingly impossible problems. To my surprise, virtually everything I can imagine has been written into the manual along with detailed responses to these actions. It’s a comprehensive adventure path that lets your DM concentrate more on building the story and less on the tactical details.
The storyline isn’t light on surprises. There are twists and turns that catch you (and your team) off guard if you aren’t taking precautions against them. Remembering to ask specific questions and use your abilities to see through the veil of deception can come in handy here. Not everything is as it seems in this world.
If you like dealing with fey, you’ll love Kingmaker. There are plenty of fey characters that impact the results of your actions throughout the story. Knowing which ones you have to deal with and which ones you can safely ignore is tricky, but it’s part of the fun. A good DM can use this framework and take it to a new level very easily.
Your DM is ultimately the person responsible for handling the game’s overall difficulty. That said, even a rookie DM can usually hit the nail on the head with this campaign. Bases are covered for a variety of player levels as well. Our group has some beginners and some more seasoned players, all of which found the game equally as challenging.
You have to be careful here, though. A creature may be easy for your party to kill, but the bigger challenge could very well be the beast you don’t see right away. There are a few encounters like this, and the random encounters play out like the plot depends on your ability to overcome them.
I’d recommend Kingmaker to any group searching for a long-term campaign to spend months on. It’s fun to play and there is plenty of room for the DM to make it their own. I’ve had a blast building a kingdom and working with other players (and NPCs) to determine specific qualities of this kingdom.
What deity will stand above all others? Will your kingdom be driven by laws and honor or something different? Your group’s alignment and decisions play a huge role in the success of the kingdom.
What about you? Have you played a Pathfinder adventure path that is worthy of the “best” title? Which one?