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Greetings, this guide is a list of ideas on how to make the most out of the RPG possibilities Kenshi has to offer.
Other Kenshi Guides:
- Kenshi: Advanced Training Guide
- Kenshi: Food Production Guide
- Kenshi: How to Play (Roleplaying Tips)
- Kenshi: A Quick Start Guide
- Kenshi: A Guide to Building Your First Town
- Kenshi: Combat Leveling Guide
If you imagine Kenshi as a Pen & Paper RPG, then Kenshi is the Game Master and you are all the players at once. The GM delivers the setting, but you have to decide what is going to happen. And in my experience, since everything is possible, but nothing is necessary it gets boring and repetitive quite soon. These are just suggestions, you can do whatever you want.
Define your goals
Set an end goal
What do you want to achieve in your playthrough?
Having a vision for what you want to achieve will greatly help you stay entertained and focused. I find it also makes it easier to “finish” a game, instead of keeping it running until it bores me to death.
The bigger your goal is, the longer and more you have to work for it.
To reach a big vision you need to take small steps.
Listing the smaller goals you have to reach makes accomplishing the big vision more approachable and give you something to do right now that you can achieve soon.
What would a RPG be without side quests? Something unrelated to your end goal. Maybe a personal grudge against a faction. Visiting every city in the world. Starting a war.
Keep the door open to do other things whenever you feel like it.
Who will you be?
I started out with defining a goal, because it helps me think of who I want to be.
This is what I consider to be the core of the gameplay. After all a Role Playing Game relies on you playing a role, right? So think about what your role in Kenshi will be.
Make a faction
Since you can’t really join another faction you got to make up your mind who you and your guys are. Or maybe you stay alone. Whatever.
Every faction in the game has something that differantiates them from the others. What makes you different from the others? Do you have a certain style of clothing or fighting?
What is your name, what’s your purpose?`
In Kenshi you can get along with almost everyone at the same time. That can be extremely boring. Think about who you are and how you stand in regard to others. A faction that enjoys freedom and likes to travel may not be so happy to see some Slavers on the horizon. A group of postapocalyptic hippies may decide not to fight animals. Skeletons may be Biophobic and attack everything not out of metal.
Make friends AND enemies.
Give your characters a personality
That drifter in the bar you just hired didn’t just spawn there…okay he probably did. But imagine he is real and he had a life before the recruitment. It defined him, how he reacts to and interacts with the world.
Give him some personality traits, a few behaviours he can’t shake off. Some good, some bad. Maybe even something that is in opposition to the ideals of your faction. Conflict makes for some of the most interesting stories.
Choose your limitations
What are you allowed or forbidden or required to do?
Is it okay to take and sell slaves? Do you have to rescue slaves? Can you loot people? Can you steal?
A game in which everything is possible can benefit greatly from limitations. However you have to set them yourself. WIth having in mind who you are supposed to be, it is easier to decide what the limits are. You can impose limits on your entire playthrough or just on the behaviours of single people as part of their personality.
Decide on a way to handle your savegames
Let’s get meta. After all you have the control over time and space in Kenshi. Being able to save and reload at any time gives you incredible power. Some say overpowered.
Limiting your ability to save and load makes decisions much more important and alters the way one plays.
Let me give some ideas on how to handle saves:
- Anything goes aka Save Scumming – You get to load and save whenever you want. You get unlimited tries and continues at everything
- Free Trial – You save before a fight or trying to steal stuff and if you fail you reload, but you don’t get to try again
- Iron Man – One savegame only. You save at the end of every session and load where you left off. Every loss is permanent, even when your whole faction dies and the game pretty much ends.
- Bronze Man – One savegame only and losses are permanent, except when you would have to lose the game, you get to reload to a previous game.
- Saving at Rest – You don’t get to save whenever you want to. Your party (or the majority of it) has to rest in a camp or in a fortified place to be able to save your progress so far.
- Saving costs money – You can’t really make yourself pay for saving, but let’s say you have something like tokens, for example for every save while resting you got to drop a research book. And to save without resting you got to drop an Ancient Science Book. See it as an offering to the Phoenix to save your soul.
Mod the manure out of it
Browse the Workshop or modding sites
There are many Mods in the Workshop and modding sites like Nexus Mods or Skymods.
You can find something there to adapt your overall gameplay or maybe just something for a specific playthrough you want to have.
Implementing mods into Kenshi is easy. If you were creative enough to figure out everything so far, you are surely capable enough to install mods.
Make your own mods
When you open Kenshi over the library you can choose to open the game editor. Or you open the forgotten construction set.exe from the game folder. It opens said set in which you can create your own mods by creating new things or editing the properties of existing items. All rather easily.
Leading by example
Old men talk much when the TV is broken.
Let me put my teachings into practice and show you an example of what can come out of them:
The Monster Hunters
- Kill atleast one of each monster / animal / creature in the game
- Find out which creatures are in the game
- Find out where they live
- Gather a squad
- Kill / Defeat a member of every faction
- Kill / Defeat atleast one of every robot
Make a Faction
We are the Monster Hunter faction. Our purpose is to hunt down monsters of every kind. Not to make the world safer, just to prove that we are on the top of the foodchain.
We behave like a pack of wolves, with the strongest and most competent leading us. His word is the will of the group. He leads the hunt.
Our members will be comprised of mostly humans. Skeletons and Hivers are allowed, but not looked for.
We fancy the Shrieking Bandits, but they don’t like us. Other than that we don’t like anyone in particular, but there are a few we dislike. In nature you live on your own strength and that of your people. Not of the work of slaves. We despise Slave and Man Hunters. We prefer even Cannibals to them, atleast they hunt humans to eat them! Also the United Cities and the Holy Nation anger us. Trading slaves and acting like they are all powerful. Their arrogance will be their undoing. However it is not our job to make them fall, but they better not stand in our way either.
We also dislike thieves of all kinds. You have to earn things in life, not just snatch them away from others when they are not looking.
My starting character
I take the Guy with a Dog start. I choose to pick a Scorchlander, as they got the right stat boosts for a hunter and the attitude to back them up. His name will be Orome and the dog is called Huan. (Check the Silmarillion or LotR wikis for reference).
He was the son of farmers who were forced to work for the United Cities. Originally coming from The Great Desert area they got tired of the endless sand storms and Skimmers. So they took the opportunity to volunteer to be part of the first settlers moving into the Bast region. A new start offers a new hope they say. Soon they got their first child named Orome and things went well.
Orome helped out on the farm, but as a child he had quite a lot more freedom than his parents. He used that free time to scout around the area. Collecting plants and catching small animals to help feed his family, since most food they made had to be given to the lords.
Then, everything changed when the Holy Nation attacked. Bast was besieged and in the fires that ravaged the city, Orome was split from his parents, never to see them again.
He fled out into the wilderness he was so familiar with and after the fighting was over, returned to the city to see what was left of his former life. He could find nothing but a little dog who seemed just as alone as he was. And so they set out together.
But peculiar were his plans, as many who had lost things so dear to them vowed revenge against those that had taken them away. But Orome knew better. The United Cities taught him that one doesn’t own neither ones life nor ones fate. The Lords decided. Nature told him much the same story. A Goat does not decide when it will die. That decision belongs to the Bonewolfs and Beak Things.
The strongest decide who will live and who will die. Just hitting back against the one who hurt you is not good enough. One needs to be the strongest to be safe.
But how does one proof he is the strongest? By beating everyone else, of course. This attitude may have made him a ruler to be feared among all other factions. But he did not bother with the humans political battles. At his heart he knew that nature is stronger than any nation or race. Proven by the two Empires that fell to the ground, yet the trees still grow and the animals roam free.
He needed to prove that he is the strongest in nature and gather a group of hunters that were capable of hunting down even the mighty Leviathans and among this group of hunters, he was king!
A few simple personality traits to guide his behaviour:
- Huan #1 – If he has to choose between rescuing his squad and rescuing Huan he chooses Huan. Who knows how Orome will react if he dies.
- Dislikes Law and Order – He accepts the laws of nature, but not those of men.
- No Step Back – In a fight he doesn’t retreat unless he needs to save Huan.
- Hates Slavers – It’s not about freeing slaves, it’s about beating up those that take freedoms away.
- Prefers to sleep outside – A bad sleeping bag is better than the best bed in a Bar
What are our gameplay limitations?
- Since we are hunters, we only use crossbows and polearms as our main weapons. Maybe a Desert Sabre or Falling Sun if we hunt special prey.
- Katanas as side arms to weaken our prey from blood loss.
- We have to be fast to hunt, so no heavy armor allowed that slows us down.
- Taking and selling slaves is forbidden as long as Orome is around. Maybe that will change if someone else leads the Monster Hunters.
- No stealing allowed. We take only what we earned.
- If we need money we will put in good old labour, mining ores or hunting animals.
- We don’t build cities. We may buy a house somewhere, but we stay as mobile as we can.
How to handle saving
Bronze Man + Saving at rest: We get to save at every rest we do. Likewise we need to rest to save. We have to accept the losses we take, unless they are game ending.
The same quality of life mods that I have normally. Nothing that changes the way this game will be played.
To be continued?
Everything I said so far focuses on turning Kenshi into a RPG experience. However it is possible to play Kenshi as more of a Strategy game. With lots of micromanagement to be sure, but every guy in your faction can be just a guy. Like a Space Marine in SC2 is just a Space Marine.
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