Theme Thursday: Land Grants

Today’s commentary on Pathfinder RPG design helps you handle it when PC’s are immersed in the story, and perhaps a little too immersed. Through a story and series of adventures one or more PC’s have been rewarded with their own demesne, to rule as they see fit and to earn some coin in taxes. This is a good thing! It’s exciting to gain treasures that are larger and more meaningful than another magic sword, and a sign of a great PC is indeed one who owns land.

However, with this great form of reward comes a frustrating host of issues and problems. All of a sudden, a PC can’t just gallivant off into the wild on a whimsical adventure. There are families to take care of, buildings to maintain, businesses to run, and so on and on with a host of everyday issues.

These mundane things can be really fun to play out. Possibly. For a while. Entering another world, another life, can never be more immersive than when the everyday is fantasy. But sooner or later your players are going to want to have an adventure, and you’re going to run out of interesting pig-run-away or patch-the-leaky-roof scenarios. What do you do then? Here are three suggestions:


The impressive and excellent Kingmaker adventure path from Paizo contains an excellent set of kingdom-building rules. They’re not perfect, but they can be an interesting little side game for your players, and they can really help you run adventures while still keeping a domain running in a somewhat believable way. You will need to watch out however, for there are ways to make the kingdom too profitable.

Make The Story Center on Defense

Most adventures are about the PC’s attacking–charging into a dungeon delve, raiding an ogre camp, or seeking fights out where they choose. It can be a fascinating change of pace when they have something to protect. Players will care much more about characters and places if the adventures force them to protect their own handiwork. Use the land grant to your advantage and make it into a wonderful place to adventure!

Leave Another in Charge

The steward, a non-adventurer spouse, or an elected group of aldermen are great ways to handle the mundane task of running an estate  if the players care about the place being kept up, but aren’t so interested in the details. Use the place as an occasional adventure hook or fun background, but create ways to prevent the PC’s from abusing their privilege. If they’re not working to earn benefit from the estate, don’t give them too much, or the game will lose its fun.

Enjoy your titles, lands, and kingdoms!

-Max Porter-Zasada