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Page 2 of 2One of the first things you'll do in the module is decide which of your four companions you'll use as henchmen. Since your companions died when you did, there is a cost to resurrecting them, and so you'll only be allowed to take two of them. So will you select Trip, a cowardly wererat rogue, or Kaidala, a scarred nymph druid, or Jaboli, an elitist rakshasa wizard, or Calibast, a fun-loving azer fighter? The races of your companions appear to be mostly cosmetic, and so your choices come down to who seems the most interesting or who compliments your character the best.
All of the above is basically a prelude. The module itself starts when you finally reach the inside of the Keep of Cyan. There you'll learn that the lord of the keep disappeared some time ago, and that the people of the keep are finally ready to elect a new one. However, the nine guildmasters who decide the election are conflicted. Three want the evil and oily Sir Becket, three want the good but unyielding Enivid Divine, and three are undecided. Then, quicker than you can say (Why isn't the module named Lordmaker?) you're nominated for the election as well, and the bulk of the module involves you trying to convince the guildmasters to vote for you.
Collecting votes is a varied process. Some guildmasters will send you on quests to kill things, some will be susceptible to bribery or blackmail, and one will even offer to vote for you the first time you speak with her. What's nice (mostly) about the module is that you don't get to choose the time of the election. Every so often somebody will tell you that the election is about to start, and while you can do a quest that allows you to delay the proceedings a couple times, eventually you'll have to go through with it, whether you want to or not. That means you won't be able to complete all of the guildmaster quests with one character; you'll have to play at least a couple times to see them all. The bad aspect of this system is that you might feel hurried when you play the module, and you might be thrust into doing something before you've collected your bearings -- or even any equipment.
But, largely, the module is fun to play. You can succeed through combat and diplomacy, and there are good and evil ways to meet your objectives. The characters are well drawn and well acted, and there's a certain amount of replayability to the module (I can see playing it twice; more than that is probably a stretch). It's just that nothing here is overly complex. There's a bouncing energy ball near the end of the module that is cool, but everything else seems like a fairly standard use of the toolkit. For small modules such as Kingmaker, I'd like to see more in the way of clever scripting and effects. As it is, Kingmaker reminds me more of Shadows of Undrentide than Hordes of the Underdark, which is a bad thing.
That being said, Kingmaker is entertaining enough to be worth $8. The module is well written and well acted, and while I might characterize it with a left-handed complement such as (solid but unspectacular,) and while there are a certain amount of bug that should be fixed in the near future, it gets the job done. I played through the module twice, once with a good paladin and once with an evil wizard, and the experience was different enough to make the second trip worthwhile, and in all I played the module for about 15 hours. I'm sure I got a better deal with my $8 investment than the poor schmucks who paid to see Surviving Christmas.
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