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.
[5 of 5 Stars!]