Part of my campaign has gone from a semi-necessary and tedious side-game to the fun thing that will be interrupted once we go back to playing our game week to week. But I get ahead of myself...
What is Kingdom Building?
Kingdom Building is the between-adventures phase of my campaign where the PCs can do things like raise armies, develop international spy networks, start businesses, find spouses, lead troops into battle, and throw awesome parties. This allows years to pass between active adventures, as the Prince of Cyre and his friends wouldn't be visiting dungeons every week, they'd be helping to run the country.
- In the last long-term campaign I played in, a couple of players were more interested in starting secret organizations, maintaining underworld empires, and engaging in political and economic maneuvering. Not all of the PCs were designed to engage in that sort of thing. Many of the players (myself included) were in the position of either sitting there, session after session, trying to convince the other PCs to move forward and go pursue the more adventuresome hooks we had been given (like saving the nation!) but mostly watching the PCs who were playing a completely social game engage in town, doing very little. When we finally forced the issue and went on an adventure, one of the PCs quit, because he didn't think his character would adventure any more, but would stay at home and maintain his underworld contacts. I didn't want that sort of thing, where PC goals were mutually exclusive, to happen in my game, so I built-in a specific time for adventuring, and a specific time for politicking. PCs can pursue their own thing or help each other, at their own discretion during Kingdom Building, but they all know, when the time comes for Adventuring, they are a team. The players also knew, going into this game, that both styles of play were expected and encouraged, so they should make characters accordingly. The Archetypes reinforced this idea.
- One of my players travels for his job through most of the fall and again through most of the spring. With only 3 PCs, losing one makes playing normal D&D rather difficult. I decided that, using the magic of the internet (specifically) Invisible Castle and Google Docs, we could run Kingdom Building while our missing player is off travelling the southeast.
- The scope of the game is epic, and requires my politically well-placed PCs to command troops, broker international deals, and eventually, by Paragon Tier, try and restart and/or run a nation. This isn't necessarily what 4ed is designed to do, but I figured Kingdom Building could be successful by taking some established 4ed systems (skill challenges) and stretching to meet this need.
How Kingdom Building works:
- The definition of a round changes in Kingdom Building. One round=one month.
- Each month, a PC gets two Standard actions and a Minor Action.
- PCs can use Standard Action to pursue Policies. Policies can be anything from "Establish International Informants" to "Attain Military Rank" to "Establish Eastern Defenses" to "Improve Relations with House Vadalis." Policies are basically skill challenges.
- PCs can use minor actions to "aid another" other PCs. They can also use Minor Actions to directly work on policies with a -5 penalty to the roll.
- They can use powers and abilities that interact with skills and skill challenges.
- There is other stuff that has built on this, but 1-5 is the core of the system.
20 rounds in to Kingdom Building:
- One PC (The Prince) has put together a partial list of eligible bachelorettes and has become engaged with one. He has also recruited members of a new Knightly Order, been confirmed as a military officer, taken his knights and warforged on a rescue mission (and failed), done some PR war relief, rebuilt his knightly order, tand helped oversee a massive upgrade to Cyre's eastern border defenses.
- One PC (Istav) has obtained diplomatic credentials, put together an international information network, and has established a diplomatic relationship with members of the Aundarian and Brelish diplomatic core. He has used these credentials to travel to Aundair, hoping to negotiate reunification between the Aundarians and Eldeen Reaches. He also, nearly single-handedly, made the Eastern Border Defense upgrade happen, and has, in general, made the party run through this much more efficiently.
- One PC (Art) has developed a domestic information network, has created a new fully-credentialed identity, has founded a business selling discount weapons to the lower-classes for home defense, and has joined the Metrol Thief's Guild. He now has his own team of thieves he commands in Metrol, is looking to plan a massive heist, and has branched out to importing and exporting rare wines and unusual liquors. He would not have been able to get as far as he has without lots of help from Istav.
Basically, we are having tons of fun so far, and by the time Oargev's player comes back into town next week, we may actually be a little disappointed to stop Kingdom Building for the winter, and begin actual week-to-week adventuring.