Kingdom Building Table of Contents
Some heroes found kingdoms, driving out hostile monsters to make room for peaceful settlers. Others lead soldiers into battle, waging great and terrible wars. This section presents rules for building a kingdom and waging war that focus on the larger tactics of city planning and troop strategy rather than managing details of individual settlers and soldiers.
This section uses “kingdom” as a universal term to represent all kinds of domains, regardless of size, form of government, and gender of the ruler. Most of the decisions are in the hands of the players, and these rules are written with that assumption, using terms like “your kingdom” and “your army.” However, the GM is still in charge of the campaign, and is expected to make judgments about the repercussions of player decisions. While players running a kingdom should be allowed to read these rules (having them do so makes much of the kingdom building easier for the GM), the players shouldn’t think they can abuse these rules to exploit weird corner cases. For example, players may decide to construct a city full of graveyards because of the bonuses they provide to the city, but if the GM believes that is unreasonable, he could decide that the city is prone to frequent undead attacks. Likewise, a settlement with more magic shops than houses and businesses may slowly become a ghost town as all the normal citizens move elsewhere out of superstitious fear. As with a normal campaign, the GM is the final arbiter of the rules, and can make adjustments to events as necessary for the campaign.
Ruling a Kingdom
Ruling a kingdom is a complex and difficult task, one undertaken only by the very ambitious. Many PCs are content to live as mercenaries or treasure hunters, no interest in being responsible for the health and well-being of subjects; for these characters, a kingdom is simply a place they pass through on the way to the next adventure. However, characters who are keen to spread their wings and forge a place of power and influence in the world can use these rules to create a different sort of campaign. If the PCs are interested in ruling only a single town or castle and the small region around it, kingdom building can focus primarily on the settlement and the PCs’ personal demesne. If the PCs have larger goals, such as carving out a new, independent kingdom, these rules allow them to build cities and engage in trade, diplomacy, and war.
These rules assume that all of the kingdom’s leaders are focused on making the kingdom prosperous and stable, rather than oppressing the citizens and stealing from the treasury. Likewise, the rules assume that the leaders are working together, not competing with each other or working at odds. If the campaign begins to step into those areas, the GM is free to introduce new rules to deal with these activities.
Like the exploration system, the kingdom-building rules measure terrain in hexes. Each hex is 12 miles from corner to corner, representing an area of just less than 95 square miles. The hex measurement is an abstraction; the hexes are easy to quantify and allow the GM to categorize a large area as one terrain type without having to worry about precise borders of forests and other terrain features.
The key parts of the kingdom-building rules that you’ll be referencing are as follows:
- Explanation of the kingdom terminology.
- Step-by-step instructions for founding a kingdom.
- The turn sequence for an established kingdom.
- The game statistics for terrain improvements.
- Step-by-step instructions on how to found your first settlement.
- The game statistics for the types of buildings.
- The settlement District Grid.
Following the main rules and the types of buildings are several optional rules for kingdom building, such as modifying the effect of religious buildings based on alignment or deity portfolio, tracking Fame and Infamy scores for your kingdom, rules for different types of government, and special edicts you can declare during the turn sequence.
Kingdoms have attributes that describe and define them. These are tracked on a kingdom sheet, like a character’s statistics are on a character sheet.
Alignment: Like a PC, your kingdom has an alignment, which you decide when you form the kingdom. The kingdom’s alignment represents the majority outlook and behavior of the people within that kingdom when they’re considered as a group. (Individual citizens and even some leaders may be of different alignments.)When you decide on your kingdom’s alignment, apply the following adjustments to the kingdom’s statistics:
- Chaotic: +2 Loyalty
- Evil: +2 Economy
- Good: +2 Loyalty
- Lawful: +2 Economy
- Neutral: Stability +2 (apply this twice if the kingdom’s alignment is simply Neutral, not Chaotic Neutral or Lawful Neutral).
A kingdom’s alignment rarely changes, though at the GM’s option, it can shift through the actions of its rulers or its people.
Build Points: Build points (or BP for short) are the measure of your kingdom’s resources—equipment, labor, money, and so on. They’re used to acquire new hexes and develop additional buildings, settlements, and terrain improvements. Your kingdom also consumes BP to maintain itself (see Consumption).
Consumption: Consumption indicates how many BP are required to keep the kingdom functioning each month. Your kingdom’s Consumption is equal to its Size, modified by settlements and terrain improvements (such as Farms and Fisheries). Consumption can never go below 0.
Control DC: Some kingdom actions require a check (1d20 + modifiers) to succeed—this is known as a control check. The base DC for a control check is equal to 20 + the kingdom’s Size in hexes + the total number of districts in all your settlements + any other modifiers from special circumstances or effects. Unless otherwise stated, the DC of a kingdom check is the Control DC.
Economy: This attribute measures the productivity of your kingdom’s workers and the vibrancy of its trade, both in terms of money and in terms of information, innovation, and technology. Your kingdom’s initial Economy is 0 plus your kingdom’s alignment and leadership modifiers.
Kingdom Check: A kingdom has three attributes: Economy, Loyalty, and Stability. Your kingdom’s initial scores in each of these attributes is 0, plus modifiers for kingdom alignment, bonuses provided by the leaders, and any other modifiers.
- Many kingdom actions and events require you to attempt a kingdom check, either using your Economy, Loyalty, or Stability attribute (1d20 + the appropriate attribute + other modifiers). You cannot take 10 or take 20 on a kingdom check. Kingdom checks automatically fail on a natural 1 and automatically succeed on a natural 20.
Loyalty: Loyalty refers to the sense of goodwill among your people, their ability to live peaceably together even in times of crisis, and to fight for one another when needed. Your kingdom’s initial Loyalty is 0 plus your kingdom’s alignment and any modifiers from your kingdom’s leadership role.
Population: Actual population numbers don’t factor into your kingdom’s statistics, but can be fun to track anyway. The population of each settlement is described in Settlements and Districts. Size: This is how many hexes the kingdom claims. a new kingdom’s Size is 1.
Stability: Stability refers to the physical and social well-being of the kingdom, from the health and security of its citizenry to the vitality of its natural resources and its ability to maximize their use. Your kingdom’s initial Stability is 0 plus your kingdom’s alignment and leadership modifiers.
Treasury: The Treasury is the amount of BP your kingdom has saved and can spend on activities (much in the same way that your character has gold and other valuables you can spend on gear). Your Treasury can fall below 0 (meaning your kingdom’s costs exceed its savings and it is operating in debt), but this increases Unrest (see Upkeep Phase).
Turn: A kingdom turn spans 1 month of game time. You make your kingdom checks and other decisions about running your kingdom at the end of each month.
Unrest: Your kingdom’s Unrest indicates how rebellious your citizens are. Your kingdom’s initial Unrest is 0. Unrest can never fall below 0 (anything that would modify it to less than 0 is wasted). Subtract your kingdom’s Unrest from all Economy, Loyalty, and Stability checks.If your kingdom’s Unrest is 11 or higher, the kingdom begins to lose control of hexes it has claimed.
If your kingdom’s Unrest ever reaches 20, the kingdom falls into anarchy (see Upkeep Phase).
Build Points The units of a kingdom’s wealth and productivity are build points (BP). Build points are an abstraction representing the kingdom’s expendable assets, not just gold in the treasury. Build points include raw materials (such as livestock, lumber, land, seed, and ore), tangible goods (such as wagons, weapons, and candles), and people (artisans, laborers, and colonists). Together, these assets represent the labor and productive output of your citizens.
You spend BP on tasks necessary to develop and protect your kingdom—planting farms, creating roads, constructing buildings, raising armies, and so on. These things are made at your command, but they are not yours. The cities, roads, farms, and buildings belong to the citizens who build them and use them to live and work every day, and those acts of living and working create more BP for the kingdom. As the leaders, you use your power and influence to direct the economic and constructive activity of your kingdom, deciding what gets built, when, and where.
Build points don’t have a precise exchange rate to gold pieces because they don’t represent exact amounts of specific resources. For example, you can’t really equate the productivity of a blacksmith with that of a stable, as their goods are used for different things and aren’t produced at the same rate, but both of them contribute to a kingdom’s overall economy. In general, 1 BP is worth approximately 4,000 gp; use this value to get a sense of how costly various kingdom expenditures are. In practice, it is not a simple matter to convert one currency to the other, but there are certain ways for your PC to spend gp to increase the kingdom’s BP or withdraw BP and turn them into gold for your character to spend.
Providing a seed amount of BP at the start of kingdom building means your kingdom isn’t starving for resources in the initial months. Whether you acquire these funds on your own or with the help of an influential NPC is decided by the GM, and sets the tone for much of the campaign.
In many cases, a kingdom’s initial BP come from a source outside your party. a wealthy queen may want to tame some of the wilderness on her kingdom’s borders, or a merchant’s guild may want to construct a trading post to increase trade with distant lands. Regardless of the intent, the work involved to create a new settlement costs thousands of gold pieces—more than most adventurers would want to spend on mundane things like jails, mills, and piers.
It is an easy matter for the GM to provide these funds in the form of a quest reward. a wealthy queen may grant you minor titles and BP for your treasury if you kill a notorious bandit and turn his ruined castle into a town, or a guild may provide you with a ship full of goods and workers and enough BP to start a small colony on a newly discovered, resource-rich continent. In exchange for this investment, the sponsor expects you to be a vassal or close ally; in some cases, you may be required to pay back these BP (such as at a rate of 1 BP per turn) or provide tribute to the patron on an ongoing basis (such as at a rate of 10% of your income per turn, minimum 1 BP).
An appropriate starting amount is 50 BP. This amount is enough to keep a new kingdom active for a few turns while it establishes its own economy, but it is still at risk of collapse from mismanagement or bad luck.
As the initial citizens represented by this BP investment are probably loyal to the sponsor, taking action against the sponsor may anger those people and cause trouble. For example, if you rebuff the queen’s envoy, your citizens may see this as a snub against the queen and rebel.
Your responsibility to the sponsor usually falls into one of the following categories, based on the loan arrangement.
Charter: The sponsor expects you to explore, clear, and settle a wilderness area along the sponsor’s border—an area where the sponsor has some territorial claims. You may have to fend off other challengers for the land.
Conquest: The sponsor’s soldiers clashed with the army of an existing kingdom and the kingdom’s old leaders have fled, surrendered, or been killed. The sponsor has placed you in command of this territory and the soldiers.
Fief: The sponsor places you in charge of an existing domain within his own already-settled lands. If it includes already improved terrain and cities, you’re expected to govern and further improve them. (While you’ll start with land and settlements, you’ll still need around 50 BP to handle your kingdom’s Consumption and development needs.)
Grant: The sponsor places you in charge of settling and improving an area already claimed by the liege but not significantly touched by civilization. You may have to expand the borders of the land or defend it against hostile creatures.
Starting from Scratch
It’s not easy to start a kingdom—probably the reason everyone doesn’t have one. If you are founding a kingdom on your own, without an external sponsor or a fantastic windfall of resources, the initial financial costs can be crippling to PCs. Even building a new town with just a House and an Inn costs 13 BP—worth over 50,000 gp in terms of stone, timber, labor, food, and so on. To compensate for this (and encourage you to adventure in search of more gold that you can convert into BP), if you’re running a small, self-starting kingdom, the GM may allow you to turn your gold into BP at a better rate. You may only take advantage of this if you don’t have a sponsor; it represents your people seeing the hard work you’re directly putting in and being inspired to do the same to get the kingdom off the ground.
This improved rate depends on the Size of your kingdom, as shown in the following table.
||Price of 1 BP
- If you make a withdrawal from the Treasury during the Income Phase, use this withdrawal rate to determine how much gp you gain per BP withdrawn.
The GM may also allow you to discover a cache of goods worth BP (instead of gp) as a reward for adventuring, giving you the seed money to found or support your kingdom.
Founding a Kingdom
Once you have your first settlement, you have the start of a kingdom. You’ll need to make some initial decisions that affect your kingdom’s statistics, and record them on the kingdom sheet.
- Choose Your Kingdom’s Alignment. Your kingdom’s alignment helps determine how loyal, prosperous, and stable your kingdom is. Your kingdom may be a lawful good bastion against a nearby land of devil worshipers, or a chaotic neutral territory of cutthroat traders whose government does very little to interfere with the rights of its citizens.
- Choose Leadership Roles. Assign the leadership roles for all PCs and NPCs involved in running the kingdom, such as Ruler, General, and High Priest. The leadership roles provide bonuses on checks made to collect taxes, deal with rioting citizens, and resolve similar issues.
- Start Your Treasury. The build points you have left over from starting your first settlement make up your initial Treasury.
- Determine Your Kingdom’s Attributes. Your initial Economy, Loyalty, and Stability scores are based on the kingdom’s alignment and the buildings your settlement has. (If you start with more than one settlement, include all the settlements in this reckoning.)
Once you’ve completed these steps, move on to Kingdom Turn Sequence.