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Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG) $5.95
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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Book of the River Nations: Complete Player\'s Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
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Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Anton M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/17/2012 09:59:12
I was intrigued by Paizo's "Kingmaker" adventure path, which transforms a D&D adventure into sort of a detailed cooperative "Settlers of Catan" or some other 'building' game, wherein each turn represents a month of world-time.

Unfortunately, my players are all too high-level to start at "Kingmaker's" level 1 adventure. Plus, would I really need to buy the entire Paizo adventure path, when I wouldn't be using their actual adventures?

Enter "Book of the River Nations." This book is inspiring, and condenses many many "Kingmaker" rules into its 52 pages. Most reviewers here mention it as a companion to "Kingmaker," but I want a replacement: how to create your own "Kingmaker"-like adventure.

Basically, your adventurers go out into the wilderness, fight monsters, discover valuable sites for resource creation and extraction, pre-existing abandoned facilities, and generally carve a kingdom out of the wilderness. The kingdom has several character-like stats, but there is a dark stat which brings down the other stats: "Unrest," or popular dissatisfaction.

I would really like some rules for map generation: how does one generate a "Kingmaker" wilderness, perhaps with some randomness. How much farmland is fair? How many windfall abandoned facilities are fair? How much mining is appropriate? In "Settlers of Catan" this facility is built in, but sadly, "Book of the River Nations" lacks this information. They do provide a page of hex paper, just no suggestions on what or how much to put in the hexes.

Another missing feature is some kind of straightforward "Unrest" calculator. Other people online have developed Excel Spreadsheets for calculating this, but surely this can be calculated on paper, and it would be helpful to see here. Also, it's not clear whether or how much unrest carries over from turn to turn.

Of course, this is specifically for "Players," and not "Game Masters," but the absence of a "Game Master's" guide makes the above gaps rather painful. I have to ding the book 1 star for that.

For all the complaints above, the book is swell, and well worth its now-reduced price. I just want the publisher to put together another "Game Master's" volume to cover the above-mentioned gaps. I'm willing to pay!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
I'm really glad you enjoyed the Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building. I noticed you had a few questions and I would like to address them. First, Unrest is a cumulative stat so if you have 5 Unrest last turn, you will have 5 Unest the following turn until you build something or have some kind of event that reduces unrest. Second, why was the word "Player's" included in the title? There are alot of reasons but they can all be summed by saying it is as much for GMs as the 3.5 Player's Handbook is for GMs. While we have been working on a more GM's based book that would detail things like map generation and the like, we have not yet finished that yet. So take heart. We will get there.
Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Rachel B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/03/2011 07:25:23
Our group has been using this along with the Kingmaker Adventure Path. We have found it to be very helpful.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Christopher D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/28/2011 19:57:37
A great tool for running a kingdom in any fantasy game. Fantastic with any D&D style system and a must if you happen to be running Paizo's Kingmaker campaign.

Buy this book! ( Liked it so much, I purchased a gift copy, via Paizo.com, for a friend)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Dark M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/19/2011 13:35:28
Book of the River Nations by Jon Brazer Enterprises

This product is 52 pages long. It starts with a cover, ToC, Introduction and credits. (4 pages)

Chapter 1: Exploration (2 pages)
This chapter has rules for exploring hexes and how to claim them for building a kingdom. There is also some side bars to give you a idea how big a hex is to real world locations and such.

Chapter 2: Kingdom Building (14 pages)
This is a chapter on how to build your own kingdom and this is where the book truly shines. A kingdom has a stat block somewhat like a PC would have. It changes as the kingdom grows. Once a month a kingdom follows a Kingdom Turn chart to determine what happened that month. There is four steps to follow, Upkeep, Improvement, Income and Event phases. You pay BP points in upkeep.(BP points come from income or from possible PC actions), then with the points left over you can spend them to improve you kingdom, followed by figuring the income for next months BP pool. Followed by the event there is a total of 40 random events that can happen.

Next is the Leadership section, if PC's or NPC's take on leadership roles in the kingdom they effects a related kingdom aspect, there is negatives for some roles if they are not filled. There is a total of a 11 roles. Certain hexes are not just open ground and they add resources depending what they are. This is followed by rules for building a city in a hex. There is 55 building types, along with 8 special things for the main castle, and 11 open space locations. The section ends with gaining xp, losing hexes, and GM advice.

Chapter 3: Mass Combat (10 pages)
It starts with how to make a army stat block and what it means. There is 14 tactics a army can learn that lets it do special things. Resources are things that can be bought with the BP of the Kingdom building rules to improve your army, there is 10 things. Some armies have special abilities that they can use, there is 14 listed. Next it gets into training armies and vassal armies.

The next part gets into running a mass combat. There is a combat round summery. Along with 5 different basic strategies or stances a army can take and what the mods are. It talks a bit about routing armies, victory, recovery, defeat, multiple armies, and the effects PC's have in armies. The section ends with 17 sample armies and a page of GM advice.

Chapter 4: Feats (3 pages)
This section introduces two new types of feats, kingdom and mass combat feats. They help specificity with those aspects in this book. There is 4 Kingdom feats, 3 Mass Combat, and 10 normal feats.

Chapter 5: Spells ( 5 pages)
It starts with a small section on how existing spells can effect mass combat. Next it moves onto new spells. There is 29 new spells, many of them for mass combat, Such as the summon army and summon natures army. Each with nine version of each spell. There is 6 spells that have nothing to do with armies or kingdom building. They range from meh to pretty cool.

Chapter 6: Secret Societies (4 pages)
There is 4 listed societies listed in this section. Each only has a paragraph or two about them. Mostly they are new character options, two of them. The Hidden Sniper and Monks of the Green Leaf are new archetypes for the Ranger and Monk respectively. While Devout Healers and Kings Eye are new PrC's.
Hidden Snipers – The gain SA ability, Aim(as a move action can get a bonus to hit), must take bow or crossbow weapon style, and gets poison use. Gives up wild empathy, favored enemy and hunters bond.
Monks of the Green Leaf – Gets some different weapons and skills, Elemental Fist, adds more Bonus Feats options, Locate Creature. Gives up Stunning Fist and Abundant Step.
Devout Healer – Five level PrC. d8, medium BaB, 4 skills, +5 spell levels. Gains a lot of bonuses with healing.
Kings Eye – Five level PrC. D8, medium BaB, 6 skills. Gains bonuses with sneaking, social skills, lock picking and gather information. A ability to made coded messages, slight boost to SA, and will save bonus.

Chapter 7: Magic Items (2 pages)
There is 11 new magic items. Only a couple of them effect kingdom building and none effect mass combat. It would have been nice if more had effected them and even better a side bar listing some existing magic items and what effect they may or may not have. I am sure a few existing ones would make sense for that.

It ends with a OGL, Ads and kingdom, army etc sheets. (8 pages)

Closing thoughts. First let me say this is a review copy and a real copy might come with a print version. If not then I think it needs one. The artwork is ok and black and white, but it has a big wide color border on each page that would be brutal on a printer and one of the big selling points for this is all the kingdom rules and such collect for ease of reference. For the printed book it's fine of course, for a PDF though it hurts the value of the PDF. Editing and layout are good, I noticed a few minor errors here and there but not bad at all for a book this size.

As for quality it varied. Chapter 2 was very good, chapter 1 and 7 was solid. Which combined is a 3rd of the book, the rest of the chapters where mostly ok. The weakest chapter is the mass combat rules, they get the job done but that’s about it. They scream for some expansion like what was added to the Kingdom section. Of course most people know the kingdom and combat rules come from extra sections in the recent Paizo AP Kingmaker. This book collects, reworks and expands some on those rules. The spells and feats where so so, some where meh, some where pretty good, but most was ok. Not bad, not great. Three of the Archetype/PrC's where pretty good and one was meh.

So what's my rating? Well for a combined book covering all the aspects it does it's job. If you are looking for kingdom building rules, this expands things enough to make it worth buying especially if you don't own the Kingmaker AP. Mass Combat is a bit of a let down next to them, it gets the job done but that’s about it. The rest helps expand things a bit. All and all I am going to give this a 3.5 star, I would give it a 4 star if it came with a print friendly PDF. If you are looking for kingdom building rules I recommend checking this book out.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Alfred B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/18/2011 09:27:45
From my blog review at http://www.thealfredeffect.com/?p=562

Here we are again with another amazing release by Dale C McCoy Jr and Robert Brambley of Jon Brazer Enterprises. "Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building" may be a long title but it encompasses everything that this book is about. The latest volume in the "Book of the River Nations" series, this latest release is available in print or pdf form from Paizo or RPGNow as well as your friendly local gaming store.

If you have read my last review of a Jon Brazer Enterprises product you know that JBE puts out some high quality content. They deliver again with this beautiful and well-written tome. Today I will be talking about the pdf version of the book.

The Complete Player Reference for Kingdom Building weighs in at 52 pages in length with the first 3 and last 3 pages given over to covers, title pages, and ads. The very first thing that jumped out to me about this piece was the beautiful cover art which extends from the front cover to the back cover. JBE work has always features very well done covers and trade dress, but I think this title has raised the bar. The interior art is gray scale and very well placed throughout the text, never more than a quarter page in size. The trade dress is aesthetically pleasing without distracting the eye or taking up too much space.

Moving on to the content which is the most important piece of any RPG supplement. Here JBE shines again with excellent layout and organization. The book is divided into 7 chapters and the contents includes page numbers for each as well as each table and sidebar throughout the book. I found looking up information to be very easy especially when combined with the easy to navigate bookmarks in the pdf.

Chapter 1 covers exploration and touches base on topics such as movement and wandering monsters. This is one of the shorter chapters in the book, but does include 2 tables and 2 sidebars.

Chapter 2 is what I consider the real meat and potatoes of the book and covers the topic of kingdom building. This is what it is really about in my opinion and I think JBE agrees because it covers 14 pages of the text. Here we have rules for leadership roles, the phases of a kingdom's turn, how to build improvements, castle building/improving, kingdom events, and experience gained from all of these activities. This truly is a comprehensive A-Z for the administration of a kingdom. Heck there are over 50 different types of buildings you can construct, 8 additions to spice up your castle, and 11 ways to develop an open space. All of the bases really have been covered here.

Chapter 3 covers another major aspect of running a kingdom, mass combat. What do you do when you go to war and how to resolve those battles. Here we have information on the army stat block, tactics that your army can use, resources/special abilities for the army, how to train armies, how to incorporate vassal armies, some sample armies, victory/defeat conditions, and how to run mass combat. This section definitely has the most crunch with stat blocks, modifiers, and a new way of resolving combat between such large groups. Everything is presented in a clear manner so it is very easy to pick up on. The author's don't get bogged down in the details of each individual soldier and instead concentrate on the essence of the force as a whole.

Chapter 4 introduces 17 new feats and two new feat types, the kingdom feats and mass combat feats. The feats here are all very logical and the benefits are well balances.

Chapter 5 brings us spells. Here we have a section on using spells in mass combat as well as 29 new spells to use. The new spells are primarily aimed at mass combat and as a GM I would not really allow them to be used outside of that.

Chapter 6 discusses organizations and secret societies. This includes 2 prestige classes, the Devout Healer and the King's Eye, as well as 2 archetypes, the Hidden Sniper and the Monks of the Green Leaf. These are not bad, but in my opinion don't really contribute a great deal to the subject matter at hand.

The final section, chapter 7, covers magic items and boy do we have some nice ones here. There are 11 items total and each one has a unique use in your kingdom. These items will give any spellcaster something good to work on crafting.

Last but certainly not least we have the appendix which is given over to 5 different blank maps and stat sheets. We have a great hex exploration map, a kingdom sheet, city district sheet, notable npc's, and mass combat army sheets. All very handy to have at the table.

Overall this is an awesome addition to any player or GM's Pathfinder RPG library. Personally I plan on picking up a print copy for my GM as a hint to allow my character to start planning his conquests. :)

Disclaimer: This pdf was provided free of charge by the publisher for review purposes.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/17/2011 10:05:35
This pdf is 52 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 blank pages on the insides of the cover, 1 page back cover, 1 page advertisement and 1 page containing both SRD and editorial, so let's check it out!

The first thing you'll notice when checking this pdf out, is the ToC with the accompanying introduction on the first page, the extensive bookmarks and the clear and easy to read two-column layout. This book is a compilation and expansion of the kingdom building rules for PFRPG's Kingmaker AP that makes the system more accessible for players. Due to probably not everyone owning the AP, I'll try to sum up the rules as we go. Thus, let's get to building our very own kingdoms!

The first 2 pages depict what is necessary to build a kingdom in the first place - exploration. After the concisely-written notes, we are introduced to the mechanics you need to run your kingdom - there are 4 phases in a kingdom's turn, upkeep, improvement, income and event. Almost all checks are related to a single mechanic and the player's decision, allowing for luck, skill and planning to determine and influence the success of a given kingdom. "But wait", you might say - "what about all the players in my campaign?" Fret not, each can fill a role in the kingdom and both the kingdom building and regular roleplaying are important. Especially when taking a look at city building, the next section of the book, in which you'll also find stronghold building guidelines and rules for the development of open spaces, the connections between PC- and Kingdom-level become fairly evident. Want an academy with scholars in your city? Well, buy one!
Edicts and events add a spicey touch to the building of nations and finally, there's the mass combat chapter in which the clash of armies, their equipment and special abilities, vassal armies etc. are detailed. Players in battle and the change from units to PCs and back is also mentioned along a selection of several sample armies.

On the rather-PC-centric-side, we get 17 feats mostly dealing with leadership and terrain-movement like swimming. For small armies of casters, we get so-called mass-combat spells, i.e. spells that can only be cast as long, huge rituals and subsequently be disrupted. Which, at least in my opinion, as a concept make for great instances when the PCs try to prevent the casting of a mass combat spell. There are some non-mass-combat spells here, too, just so you know. :)
Next up are two prestige classes, the devout healer, a healing-centered caster, the hidden sniper alternate ranger-archetype and the King's Eye, the kingdom's master-spies. There also are 2 pages of magic items, an exploration map, a kingdom sheet, a city district sheet, a sheet to keep track of notable NPCs and a mass combat army sheet. All the sheets are top-quality, easy to read and concisely presented.

Conclusion:
Layout is clear, adheres to the two-column standard and serves its purpose. The b/w-artworks are ok, though nothing to write home about. Editing is ok - I only noticed 2 mistakes on all the pages and both were minor typos. I only noticed one formatting error, a case of two capital letters in the beginning of a sentence. If you're reading this review, though, that's not what sparks your interest, but rather whether you should buy this book. To cut a long rant short: If you've ever entertained the notion of your PCs owning a keep, expanding it, ruling and participating in the complex notions of politics rather than just be henchmen of rulers, this book is for you - the rules from kingmaker are concise, cool and easy to grasp, but hard to master. And this book actually delivers all you need, compiled into an easy-to-hand-out reference that will make it even easier for your players to understand the rules and immerse themselves in the great prospects of rulership That being said, the book unfortunately is not perfect - while it's a great resource for kingdom & city building, the rules fall short when it comes to mass combat, at least in my opinion. Yes, they are good. Yes, they are necessarily abstract, but I'm spoiled by 3.5's "Cry Havoc" and would have LOVED to see an expanded take on the rules and more content in that section - more spells, monster rules, more special abilities for the units etc. I realize that this complaint might be unfair, but it's all that keeps me from all out declaring this the ultimate resource on kingdom & city building and mass combat. As it stands, I still love kingdom & city building and will continue to use my own rules for mass-combat. But that's just my preference. What's my final verdict, then? It's a great book, but it could have been the reference in more than being just a reference guide, but rather THE reference. Combined with the few typos, I'll settle for 4 stars and a hearty recommendation. Anyone who plans to run Kingmaker should get this for his/her players and the same holds true for anyone planning on having the PCs acquire a kingdom/city - for you this book is a must-have.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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