King of the Giantdowns
“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”
—Henry IV, Part 2 Act 3, scene 1, 26–31
What follows is a crash course in the Kingdom Building/Rulership rules, to familiarize you, the players, with the key terms and concepts necessary to best utilize them. Following that will be an in-depth breakdown of the round-by-round flow of play.
The kingdom building and rulership rules were originally designed for the Kingmaker adventure path and have since been updated in the Ultimate Campaign rulebook. Basically they are rules that govern how well or poorly a kingdom does, and provides a mechanism for you to alter taxes, build roads, erect monuments, and explore, among many other things.
Leadership Role There are as many as a dozen Leadership Roles, 6 of which are of principle importance (i.e. should be filled by PCs), each taking a unique position in the kingdom and the responsibilities therein. A leader must be present at least one week of of every Domain Turn (month) to attend to the affairs of state.
Domain Round Precisely one month in game time, or 32 days (4 8-day weeks). Everything that happens in the kingdom takes place on this time scale, with the exception of troop movements.
Domain Action Each ruler can take a Domain Action each Domain Turn which determines his or her level of participation in events. Common Domain Actions include raising an army, casting a Domain Spell, or adventuring/taking downtime (in which case time is tracked on a day to day basis as per usual). Domain Actions generally take 24 days to complete, allowing PCs in leadership roles to attend to requisite affairs of state.
Loyalty, Stability, Economy Collectively known as kingdom scores, these are the three main “stats” that your kingdom has. Not unlike a skill check or a saving throw, these are rolls that someone in your kingdom must make in order to succeed in certain tasks, or to avoid a negative circumstance. Similarly, these are collectively known as kingdom checks. Each Leadership Role allows the PC ruler to add one (or more!) of their ability score bonuses to one (or more!) of these very important scores. Many, many other numbers also provide circumstantial bonuses, including buildings, Feats, Blood Abilities, and Skill Perks.
Control DC The Control DC of a kingdom is based on its geographical size and how difficult it is to rule. It is the base DC for (nearly) all Loyalty, Stability, and Economy checks. Since things like roads and military outposts add to those stats, intuitively the larger a kingdom you have geographically, the harder it is to rule it effectively without investment in infrastructure.
Build Points Sometimes referred to as Gold Bars, Build Points or BP are the currency of your kingdom, and actually represent a combination of raw materials, cash, and influence, so it’s not directly translatable to a cash amount. That said, you can add BP to your treasury at the cost of 4000gp, and you can extract cash at the rate of 1BP per 2000gp.
Domain Rules Step-by-Step
The following is adapted and abridged from the original Kingdom Turn Sequence presented in Ultimate Campaign. The page linked here, from the PRD, goes into further depth about the nuances of some rules, and explains in totality rules alluded to in this turn sequence (e.g. what buildings or improvements you can purchase and what they do, etc.)
During the Upkeep phase, you adjust your kingdom’s scores based on what’s happened in the past month, how happy the people are, how much they’ve consumed and are taxed, and so on.
Step 1— Determine Regency: One by one, each leader must make a Loyalty check. If successful, they may add a number of Regency Points to their Regency Pool equal to 1 plus their Bloodline Rank. If they fail by less than 5 they gain only 1 RP. If they fail by more than 5 they gain 0 RP, and increase Unrest by 1.
Step 2—Determine Kingdom Stability: Attempt a Stability check. If you succeed, Unrest decreases by 1 (if this would reduce Unrest below 0, add 1 BP to your Treasury instead). If you fail by 4 or less, Unrest increases by 1; if you fail by 5 or more, Unrest increases by 1d4.
Step 3—Pay Consumption: Subtract your kingdom’s Consumption from the kingdom’s Treasury. If your Treasury is negative after paying Consumption, Unrest increases by 2.
Step 4—Fill Vacant Magic Item Slots: If any of your settlement districts have buildings that produce magic items (such as a Caster’s Tower or Herbalist) with vacant magic item slots, there is a chance of those slots filling with new items (see the Magic Items in Settlements section).
Step 5—Modify Unrest: Unrest increases by 1 for each kingdom attribute (Economy, Loyalty, or Stability) that is a negative number. The Royal Enforcer may attempt to reduce Unrest during this step. If the kingdom’s Unrest is 11 or higher, it loses 1 hex (the leaders choose which hex). If your kingdom’s Unrest ever reaches 20, the kingdom falls into anarchy. While in anarchy, your kingdom can take no action and treats all Economy, Loyalty, and Stability check results as 0. Restoring order once a kingdom falls into anarchy typically requires a number of quests and lengthy adventures by you and the other would-be leaders to restore the people’s faith in you.
The Action phase is when you take Domain Actions and issue Edicts that expand and improve your kingdom.
Step 1— Declare Domain Actions: One by one, each leader declares a single Domain action to be performed during the month (Domain Turn). These can include casting a Domain Spell, raising an army, claiming or abandoning hexes, taking down time (Adventuring), and so forth. A full list of available actions is listed at the bottom of this page.
Step 2—Assign Leadership: Assign PCs or NPCs to any vacant leadership roles or change the roles being filled by particular PCs or closely allied NPCs (see Leadership Roles).
Step 3—Issue Edicts: Leaders who have chosen Domain Actions that allow for a lesser, secondary action, known as Edicts, declare them now. They are then resolved, one by one.
During the Income phase, you may add to or withdraw from the Treasury as well as collect taxes.
Step 1—Make Withdrawals from the Treasury: The kingdom-building rules allow you to expend BP on things related to running the kingdom. If you want to spend some of the kingdom’s resources on something for your own personal benefit (such as a new magic item), you may withdraw BP from the Treasury and convert it into gold once per turn, but there is a penalty for doing so.
Each time you withdraw BP for your personal use, Unrest increases by the number of BP withdrawn. Each BP you withdraw this way converts to 2,000 gp of personal funds.
Step 2—Make Deposits to the Treasury: You can add funds to a kingdom’s Treasury by donating your personal wealth to the kingdom—coins, gems, jewelry, weapons, armor, magic items, and other valuables you find while adventuring, as long as they are individually worth 4,000 gp or less. For every full 4,000 gp in value of the deposit, increase your kingdom’s BP by 1.
If you want to donate an item that is worth more than 4,000 gp, refer to Step 3 instead.
Step 3—Sell Expensive Items for BP: You can attempt to sell expensive personal items (though not unsold items generated in Upkeep Phase Step 4) through your kingdom’s markets to add to your Treasury. You may sell one item per settlement district per turn. You must choose the settlement where you want to sell the item, and the item cannot be worth more than the base value of that settlement.
To sell an item, make an Economy check with a penalty equal to the sale price of the item to be sold divided by 1000 (round down). If successful, divide its price by half (as if selling it to an NPC for gp), divide the result by 4,000 (rounded down), and add that many BP to your Treasury.
Step 4—Collect Taxes: Attempt an Economy check, divide the result by 3 (round down), and add a number of BP to your Treasury equal to the result.
In the Event phase, a random event may affect your kingdom as a whole or a single settlement or hex.
There is a 25% chance of an event occurring (see Events). If no event occurred during the last turn, this chance increases to 75%. Some events can be negated, ended, or compensated for with some kind of kingdom check. Others, such as a rampaging monster, require you to complete an adventure or deal with a problem in a way not covered by the kingdom-building rules.
Any event that is rolled occurs during the FOLLOWING Domain Round, and can be reacted to accordingly during the Action Phase.
The following is a list of Domain Actions from which kingdom leaders can choose during the Action Phase (Step 1), along with an in-depth explanation of how to perform it, who can perform it, and whether or not it allows enough time for an Edict to be issued by the same character.
Description: You leave your current role. By taking a Domain Action to do so, you cause little or no unrest in your kingdom, your affairs are put in order, and there is a smooth transition to whomever takes up your role next. Note: If the role is not filled in Action Phase (Step 2), your kingdom immediately suffers the role’s vacancy penalty.
Description: Adventure/Downtime is a generalized term for any activities performed off of the Domain Turn clock, i.e. tracked by days and hours as is a regular adventure. Examples include researching a spell, crafting a magic item, participating in an Event Phase adventure, and so on. More information about what Downtime options you have is available on the House Rules page.
Description: You may recruit or conscript troops, creating a single military unit. (see: Mass Combat). In general, you can create a single military unit, but the Mass Combat rules allow you to split an army into two or more smaller armies of otherwise identical composition. You may expend up to your Bloodline Rank (minimum 1) worth of Regency Points to recruit additional units as part of the same action. You must have funds in the treasury to pay the initial recruitment cost of all created units, as well as for any additional resources (e.g. 3 BP for Improved Armor).
Role: Ruler, General, Marshall
Cast Domain Spell
Description: You cast a single Domain Spell you know. Erase any BP costs from the treasury and any RP costs from your character record sheet. If insufficient funds are available, the spell fails. For more information see Domain Magic.
Role: Ruler, Magister, High Priest
Description: You consolidate personal power in an attempt to increase your Bloodline Score. This requires a number of Regency Points in your Regency Pool equal to the difference between the required Bloodline Score of your Bloodline Rank and the following Bloodline Rank. This information can be found on the chart here. For example, a Regent attempting to increase his Bloodline Score from 35 to 36 (Bloodline Rank 3) would need to expend 15 RP, because the difference between his current Bloodline Rank (3) and the next Bloodline Rank (4) is 15 (30 vs. 45).
After declaring this action, spend the required RP and increase your Bloodline Score. If this moves you into a new Bloodline Rank, adjust your character sheet accordingly, including new choices of Blood Abilities.
This can be a dangerous and selfish gain of personal power, however, and it disrupts the cycle of power flow between ruler and the land he rules. Attempt a Stability check with a penalty equal to your new Bloodline Rank. If you succeed, nothing further happens. If you fail, your kingdom gains Unrest equal to your new Bloodline Rank.
Description: By silver tongue or a network of informants, you can gain information about the goings on in another kingdom, or even your own citizens. With an Espionage action you can make a Knowledge (Local), Knowledge (Nobility) or Diplomacy Check (to gather information) by making a Loyalty check instead of the appropriate skill check. There is a cumulative -1 penalty to this check for every Hex distance from your capital city the information must be gathered. Maintaining a spy network is costly and unpredictable, and each time you take an Espionage action you must subtract 1d4 BP from the treasury.
Description: Through an elaborate magical ritual you forge a leyline through a single hex, allowing Mebhaigl to flow from a Source to another location. Each Hex of leylines forged costs 2 BP and 2 RP.
Role: Magister, Ruler
In addition to Domain Actions, kingdom leaders may perform Edicts, which are minor actions that don’t require more than signing a few papers, such as ordering the construction of buildings or terrain enhancements, or making proclamations. Only a leader who has taken no Domain Action, or performed a Domain Action which explicitly allows for it can issue an Edict.
The rules on how Edicts work, including limits to how many can be made per Domain Round can be found in the PRD and on tables 4-1 through 4-4. Each Edict can only be issued once a Domain Round, so all pertinent decisions must be made at the time it is issued.
Edicts are as follows:
Create New Settlement- What it says on the box. Found a new settlement in a Hex controlled by your kingdom. Note: You cannot use this Edict to create, repair, or improve a military unit.
Build New Building(s)- Build a number of buildings (see: Building Descriptions).
Claim a Hex Claim a hex. The hex must be adjacent to an already claimed hex, and have already been thoroughly explored.
Build Terrain Improvements- Roads, Farms, Aqueducts, you name it.
Holiday Edicts- Change the number of festivals your kingdom observes in a given year. Note: Only a High Priest can issue a Holiday Edict.
Taxation Edict- Alter the taxation level of your kingdom. Note: Only the Treasurer or the Ruler can issue Taxation Edicts.
Promotion Edict- Recruitment campaigns, propaganda, anything you need to do to entice settlers to pull up stake and move to your territory. Note: Only the Ruler, Grand Diplomat or Councilor can issue Promotion Edicts.