For my money, Kingmaker is one of the best adventure paths Paizo has released to date. The sandbox style of game play and the addition of kingdom building rules make it a fascinating and unique campaign. It was only natural, therefore, I converted it to my beloved Greyhawk.
It should come as no surprise Kingmaker—like many of Paizo’s adventure paths—with minimal work fits very nicely into the World of Greyhawk. After all, many of Paizo’s movers and shakers—Erik Mona, Lisa Simpson and Jason Bulmahn are long-term Greyhawk fans. Still, depending on your respect—or devotion—to the setting’s canon setting Kingmaker in Greyhawk is not as simple as just plonking it down on a map.
Make it Your Own
Remember, when preparing to run Kingmaker it is your campaign, and you can make any changes you deem desirable. Gary Gygax himself said (in B2 Keep on the Borderlands), “Become familiar with this module, then make whatever additions or changes you feel are necessary for your campaign…
This is as true for Kingmaker as it is for any other adventure or adventure path. The Paizo or Greyhawk police are not going to break down your door if you make small or large changes to the adventure path. Similarly, I doubt many players will storm away from your table when they realise Kingmaker isn’t a perfect fit for Greyhawk.
Remember, the goal is to have fun not slavishly follow setting canon. With that—and everyone’s fun—in mind, keep what you want, modify what you fancy and discard the rest.
Accept it’s Not a Perfect Fit
Greyhawk is not a tremendously detailed campaign world, which worked in my favour when deciding where to place it. That said, Kingmaker (and Golarion) have their own rich flavour and so a perfect fit is impossible. If you are a Greyhawk Canon Purist—I myself an recovering from that malady—you are going to have more trouble than most setting Kingmaker in the Flanaess. That said, if you are more flexible, it is a doddle!
To my mind, there are three major things you need to consider when converting Kingmaker to Greyhawk (or any other campaign world):
- Gods and Goddesses: Golarion and Greyhawk have their own sets of pantheons, which at first glance could make conversion tricky. However, luckily, most gods in the two pantheons are focused on pretty generic portfolios—for example, nature—which means they are pretty interchangeable.
- Regional Powers: Obviously, the two campaign settings have different kingdoms. This isn’t really a problem. For Kingmaker, all you need is a temperate wilderness area contested by a couple of nations. Their exact motivations—even locations—are not crucial to the plot, and as the GM you can easily change their motivations to fit your campaign. In my campaign, I decided Ratik was trying to settle the northern Bone March and that various powers—variously the humanoids of the Bone March, South Province, the pirates of Dekspoint and even the city state of Knurl—might contest their southern push.
- Geography: Accept the geography of Kingmaker is not a perfect fit for Oerth. That said, one of the genius things about Greyhawk is that it’s not hyper detailed, and it’s map is quite large-scaled. This means, it’s not too hard to find an area to set the adventure path—if you are flexible. I decided on the Ratik/Bone March border, but it could just as easily be set in the Wild Coast or even on the Sea Princes/Keoland/Yeomany border.
Along with these major considerations you’ll likely want or need to make a host of minor changes to the modules as you play through the adventure path. You might want to change NPCs’ names to better fit Greyhawk’s naming conventions, add in some setting-specific prestige classes (like the Knight Protectors) and so on to better fit your vision of Greyhawk.
Remember, as the GM, you are likely more invested (and knowledgeable) about setting canon than your players. They probably won’t care the Kingmaker map doesn’t line up exactly with the Greyhawk map or that some of the adventure path’s background doesn’t perfectly mesh with Oerth’s. The play’s the thing, and if everyone is having fun such minor concerns are irrelevant.
In My Campaign
And finally, as an aside while Kingmaker didn’t end well for us—we had two TPKs in the same location before giving up—we had tremendous fun, and it’s one I’d urge you to run.
The events in Kingmaker spawned my longest running campaign—the Borderland of Adventure and its current “side quest” the Shattered Star. NPCs that appeared in Kingmaker, have made appearances in my main campaign and the events still subtly affect current goings on.
Given that, even though everyone died (more than once) I view it as a tremendous success.
Got More Conversion Tips?
Have you run Kingmaker—or any other adventure path—in Greyhawk? If you have, let me know how it went in the comments below. Also, if I missed something, or if you have another cool tip for running adventure paths in Oerth please let me know. I’m currently running the Shattered Star and any hints or tips are gratefully received!
26 thoughts on “How I Converted Kingmaker to the World of Greyhawk”
This sounds much like what I went through to convert Kingmaker to Birthright: Gods, NPCs, maps, and monsters all needed adjustments, but nothing game-breaking. Good to hear I wasn’t alone.
I’d love to see some of that if you typed any up. I’ve a friend locally that’s thinking of doing that but he’s daunted by the scope of it.
That is one of the real strengths of Greyhawk….it is lightly enough detailed that it can truly be what you want it to be. I am not a purist…i love Greyhawk, and I am particularly fond of the Gygax elements, but my Greyhawk has its own flavour, unencumbered by the setting. After all, in the early days, it could accommodate pretty much any published module.
Supporting detail: I want to say James Jacobs’ preferred setting is also Greyhawk. I wonder if there is any correlation between your observation about ease of conversion and Golarion being everybody’s second favorite setting.
If you think about it, pretty much most of the major APs would work almost perfectly in either Keoland or somewhere in the Great Kingdom.
Huh. I wanted to love Kingmaker. It is the only adventure path I did not get all of, and one of several of that time period that just didn’t do anything for me. Glad to hear you enjoyed it though! And TPK’ed two groups to boot!
And both TPKs were in the same room!
Silly Players! 😉
Ask and I shall receive…. thanks Creighton!
No problem, Tom. I rarely need an excuse to talk about my campaign! I’m just sorry it took so long to emerge from my brain.
I love the Kingmaker path, and set it in a slightly post Greyhawk Wars era The area I chose was in the southeast corner of the Bandit Kingdoms right under Phostwood.
I redid the religions to be different than Golarian and traditional Greyhawk. I simplified things to make the religions faith and dogma based and not alignment based.
For keeping track of taxing, power etc I am drawing from Birthright setting mechanics. They are also ” in the background” so the players can’t crunch and optimize things.
We are using 2nd/1st edition ad&d on a slow experience track. There are also a liberal amount of optional rules thrown in from book and net sources.
What else….no rezzing, teleporting, or alignment detection, heavy on the crunchy resource management, low magic. I encouraged the players to make important characters, and some of them start with titles, servants, retinues, and size able cash reserves.
The setting and presentation of Kingmaker just fired my imagination to put it in a Greyhawk setting. I was very inspired by the creativity of the writers and direction the path goes.
Birthright is my second favourite campaign setting! I loved the whole concept of bloodlines and the kingdom management side of the game. I toyed with converting it to 3rd edition ages ago, but never got around to it.
Your campaign sounds like something I’d love to play in!
Our game started not long after Game of Thrones tv show began. One of our group said it would be cool if we could do something like GoT. I had heard about the Kingmaker AP and picked it up.
I could not see any reason why 4 nobodies would be given a commission/charter to a new territory, so I told everyone to make 2 characters; one that had some status and one that was more common. I also wanted them to have familial connections. I made a 7 page pdf as a campaign outline, so people had an idea of where things were headed.
What I got was about 1/2 the players made someone realy of minor importance(like they owned an armor-smith shop), and the other half were poor orphans whose parents were killed. Oh…and some of the minor important characters were orphans too. No one actually claimed a title either! I was hoping for a baron’s son or something but no luck. No one wanted to push things or demand too much for their character, so I used DM fiat to modify backgrounds.
For the orphan turned mercenary; I promoted him to mercenary captain, gave him 23 men at arms for his company, and a war chest of 2500 gold. The bard I made the 2nd son of a landed baronet & etc.
I gave most everyone family members (i.e. you are the 2nd of 7 children), personal and business connections, and even named servants (thank you Downton Abbey.) I tried to install a sense of history to the game and characters and made things like family trees and events that may have affected their family. The class system was super important (commoners, aristocrats etc) and I enforced it. One player mouthed off to the crown prince in front of important people, and I had the PC thrown in the dungeon (2 game years so far…he’s playing his second character.)
The charcters went on several adventures before I started the actual AP. I had the characters buy the commission for 21,000 gold pieces. That way they feel as though they have earned it, as did the other adventuring companies who picked up charters to the neighboring areas in the Kingmaker Path.
Lastly, I didn’t tell anyone we were playing a path called Kingmaker. Those books were never present at the table (I did use some Castles and Crusades “A” series for build up adventures.) One player is a Pathfinder guy and kind of figured it out during a session, “this is sort of like the Kingmaker AP!” After the game I told him, “This IS the Kingmaker Adventure Path, please don’t mention it again. ” 🙂 He actually owned the first book, but my game’s buildup was different enough that he really didn’t recognize it until some of the prominent AP NPCs started becoming involved.
The players are fans of history, so I do research to pull real medieval tidbits into the game. On tonight’s viewing plan: a BBC history program about marriage and the church, and birth in the middle ages. The PCs are going to need heirs!
Convert Birthright to 3.x, you say?
I’ll just leave this here.
You swine! I’m a huge fan of Birthright. I’ve just lost a lot of time…
And oh yes, I did too when I saw this. When 3e came out I realized that it should be possible to convert to 3e pretty easily.
I’ve considered taking a run at it for Pathfinder, but I’ve got enough other things on my plate I haven’t decided to start that one.
Good article! Loved running Kingmaker, myself as did my players. Best advice I have is to read ALL the paizo message board material for it and mine that for ideas, there’s extensive modifications people have done all linked and listed there including a really nice 6 – player upgrade to the difficulty.
An upgrade for difficulty! Blimey! Some of the encounters in the first two books are brutal. (But as the GM, I’m not complaining too much!)
Thanks for this suggestion. If I run it again, I suspect I’ll be checking out the resources you mention!
Now I’m curious. Where did your parties die in Kingmaker?
Both died in the ruined elven tower midway through Rivers Run Red. In both cases, the Dancing Lady slaughtered them. (Although to be fair, the first time they entered it’s lair three of the four failed their saving throw against the creature’s captivating dance which *really* didn’t help matters!)
I ran “Rise of the Runelords” in GH. Sandpoint was near Verbobonc, on the main road. I was even able to meld that history into Oerth.
Excellent. Do you have any notes on how you integrated the histories? Rise of the Runelords is on my “to do” list and I’d be keen to see what you did! For the Runelords, I went down the Ur-Flan route. Did you?
Late to the party! This is awesome! I was going to try to do this for my boys campaign and I would love to know if there were specifics, especially the conversion of the 30 mile GH map hexs to the PF 12 mile map hexes!
FWIW I am going to try and mesh GH, Kingmaker and the old Guardians of the Flames novels (freeing the slaves/destroying the slavers/founding a refugee city/country) using the A1-4 modules and the Hold of the Sea Princes/Keoland area.
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