The first isometric party-based computer RPG set in Pathfinder fantasy universe
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Interview with Narrative Designer Chris Avellone

Chris is a senior narrative designer on Pathfinder: Kingmaker. As a veteran of the industry he has worked on titles by Black Isle Studios, including Planescape: Torment, Fallout 2 and the Icewind Dale series. He has also worked on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, Neverwinter Nights 2 and Fallout: New Vegas. Recently, he has completed work on Beamdog Studios’ Planescape: Torment – Enhanced Edition and Arkane Studios’ Prey. We have gathered the community’s most burning questions for Chris about his involvement with Pathfinder: Kingmaker and his thoughts about the Pathfinder universe. Enjoy!

What draws you to the Pathfinder universe?

A few things. The adventure path format (it feels very open-world – go out, explore, find cool things and encounters, and they embrace this in their design), the setting, and the art style, including the iconic characters… I like their character designs very much, and I think Pathfinder is one system that has done a great job in capturing the look and feel of their archetypes and classes.

Which character do you play in tabletop Pathfinder?

In the card game, I usually go with Seoni, Lini, or Lim. In the last Pathfinder game (and this is why I love the system so much), I played a gnome wizard (mostly illusions) con artist who “headed” a band of Ocean’s 11-style thieves (the other players) to pull off heists. I use the term “headed” loosely. We usually got into more trouble than we succeeded, but we had a blast.

Can you tell us about your favorite iconic character?

Even though I usually play other iconic characters, I like Ezren’s backstory the most because it felt unconventional for a wizard, and I liked his persistence and his willingness to shift the course of his life to follow what he believed in.

Why did you choose Kingmaker as the setting for the CRPG? Why the River Kingdoms?

It was the decision made before I came on the project (work had already begun using Kingmaker, and the companions were fleshed out as well – usually biographies and arcs). That said, I don’t have any issues with the setting or the adventure path at all, I think it was a good choice (further confirmed by fan feedback).

I like the Kingmaker adventure path, it makes for an interesting computer role-playing game, the Stolen Lands are a perfect place for building a kingdom from scratch, and even better, the adventure path format gives Owlcat and I “breathing room” to add more narrative and quests without disrupting the classic adventure path itself (for players that know it and love the adventure path, they’ll find plenty of the same characters, areas, and situations, but often with an added element we’ve been able to bring to it on the developer side).

The Kingmaker Adventure Path has its own story. How faithful will the plot of the CRPG be to the AP? Should we prepare for any surprise twists?

Players familiar with the adventure path will be pleased at seeing many of the characters and setting from the pen-and-paper version of Kingmaker, and while there are some changes, I think players will be pleasantly surprised by how these changes complement the existing material – especially the companion interactions and the ways companions interact with some of the elements of the Kingmaker plot.

Outside of the main plotline, will there be plenty of side quests?

Yes – it’s one of the pillars of Pathfinder to reward exploration, and side quests are a large part of that.

Are we going to encounter iconic characters? Maybe even as companions for our party?

Yes, one of the Pathfinder iconic characters, Amiri, can join your party in Pathfinder. She has some of the best lines in the game so far, and it’s no surprise – she’s fun to write for.

Everybody needs a little love, right? Can we have relationships with our companions?

Yes, but not just romance (just romance is limiting). The companions are with you for a reason, and that reason may change based on your actions – for good or for ill, and they’ll pay attention to your behavior and act accordingly.

Being the hero may be fun, but we all know the dark side has cookies. Will there be possibilities to be really, despicably evil?

Yes. And cruel. And cunning. I generally find “smart” evil (ex: talking two enemies into killing each other) to be more fun than demanding more money as a quest reward or being a mass-murderer.

Will our decisions and actions have an impact on the world? Does the story offer replay value, offer different outcomes and endings depending on how we play?

Yes, it’s one of the hallmarks of an RPG, and Kingmaker is no different. We’d like players to play it more than once and get a different experience each time. The companion arcs alone have several options that are shaped throughout the game, and that means the story can change considerably depending on your party composition.

How much creative freedom will we get with quests? Will most of our problems be solved with the sword or will there be alternate, more unorthodox solutions like in tabletop?

Speech and diplomacy (especially in your role in ruling your kingdom) are part of your arsenal, both in the court and on the battlefield. Of course, swordp lay is still an option, but you may find other ways to achieve your goals with much different results.

Will companions react to our choices? Let’s say one of our companions is really good, but we keep making evil decisions. Would that companion eventually leave or even betray us?

Yes, alignment clashes (and acting against the principles a companion upholds) would cause them to lose faith in you, leave, or even turn on you. They aren’t simply walking backpacks and stats, they have their own personalities and things they hold dear.