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Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #12: Chris Avellone's Narrative Design Goals
Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 21 June 2017, 00:25:09Tags: Chris Avellone; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker
After taking a rare day off, today Owlcat Games deliver the long-awaited Chris Avellone Kickstarter update for Pathfinder: Kingmaker. It's a succinct description of Chris' design goals for adapting the Kingmaker module in a way that'll make it fresh even for people who have already played the pen-and-paper version.
I’ve wanted to do a Pathfinder RPG for quite some time. When the opportunity came up, Owlcat explained they wanted to do something surprising – take one of Pathfinder’s existing Adventure Paths (an interconnected series of six modules that act as long story) and turn it into a computer RPG.
So my first thought is - what the hell do you need me for?
…but the next thought was – I wonder how you could take a module and make it a compelling experience, especially if players may have already read it/played it. This wasn’t anything new to me – it happened all the time in my early gamemastering days. Any time a new published module came out, every gamer would buy it, tear off the shrink wrap, then scour every page so they’d know how to find every secret and magic item.
Then innocently, they might prompt their idiot gamemaster to run the adventure. I know because I was one of those GMs. (And um, one of those players.)
But back to the question. So how do you implement a story that others may have already experienced?
There were a few simple answers – one is, what really makes the adventure? The players around the table. In the computer game, those players are you – and your companions. And all of you can bring stories of your own which can be interwoven into the plot and depending on who you travel with, suddenly the adventure has not one story but several, depending on your choices and which allies you've selected.
Second, when implementing a story many hold dear, be respectful to the franchise and the original content. One of the challenges is that the Kingmaker story is one a lot of Pathfinder fans have experienced and loved, so we want to be respectful of that – there are certain touchstone moments that are key to the experience and we want to preserve the moments that are heart and feel of the original story.
Third, expand the story in new ways. With Pathfinder, this is easy to do because the modules themselves are structured with an open-world feel, so the ability to add events, dungeons, and encounters is easy – the Kingmaker plot wasn’t gated in the first place, so the adventure already has room for all these elements.
This is especially true of the characters in the Adventure Path. There are some in the Adventure Path that are described only as an event… and the GM is allowed to integrate them into the game as they see fit. And so have we. Veterans of the pen-and-paper adventure will find existing characters and NPCs in new areas, new ways, and sometimes, even with a new arc.
This also gives us room to introduce new allies, new foes, and a variety of side quests – some of which may grow naturally from the module’s original content, and veterans may appreciate it even more because they’ll understand the reason for these new elements perhaps quicker than most.
One example is the gnome explorer Jubilost, who players can encounter trying to ford a river early on in the Adventure Path… but in the computer version, you don’t just encounter him, he has the potential to become a companion in your party.
Part of the reason for this addition is because Jubilost… despite his sharp tongue… is a great walking encyclopedia for any party, and a great way to introduce both the player and their character to the Stolen Lands, so having him as a companion in that role makes sense, and across the entire game as well.
But the evolution of Jubilost’s role is just one example – we’ve taken many of the characters and expanded their roles and woven them into the plot and events in ways that Adventure Path veterans will understand – and some that will be a surprise. Expect a lot more content both from the Adventure Path itself and off the beaten path as well.
That sounds good, but I have to say that it's strange that we still don't know who this game's other writers are going to be. We know from the recent AMA that Chris doesn't have time to do it all himself.