Kingdom building rules


You start by claiming a hex and probably building a city there. The kingdom progresses on a monthly cycle, each month consisting of four phases: Upkeep, Improvement, Income and Event. During the Upkeep phase the treasury pays its debts, the security services make their reports, and craftsmen make new magic items available. During the Improvement phase the rulers make their decisions: changing leaders; claiming new land; making improvements in the form of new cities, new buildings in existing cities, roads, and farmland; and changing the government’s general approach towards governing the kingdom with regard to the three main stats. During the Income phase the rulers can make deposits into or withdrawals from the treasury, and collect taxes. Finally, during the Event phase, Stuff Happens.

Kingdom stats

Your kingdom has a kind of “character sheet” which contains the following stats:

  • Economy, Loyalty and Stability. These are like saving throws: how rich the country is, how patriotic its citizens are, and how bad its criminal and rebellious elements are. The main contributors to these stats are alignment; leaders and their decisions; developments such as buildings; and Unrest. A natural 1 is always a failure and a natural 20 is always a success.
  • Size. This is the number of hexes claimed.
  • Population. This is actually unimportant, but the standard formula is 250 x size + urban population.
  • Control DC. The usual DC for Economy, Loyalty and Stability checks is 20 + the kingdom’s size. Don’t worry if this looks high—it’s actually easier to hit than it looks.
  • Unrest. This measures how much the populace dislike how the country is being run. You might think of this as “internal political damage”, so every kingdom has 20 “hit points”. It’s also a penalty to Economy, Loyalty and Stability checks. Unrest ranges from 0 (no complaint), to 11 (some outlying areas are sufficiently annoyed to break away), to 20 (government collapses).
  • Treasury. This is measured in Build Points. It’s not money, but an abstraction of various quantities (including money) that contribute to a country’s capital. Having a negative balance makes the people nervous.
  • Edicts. This is the government’s general approach to running the country. More aggressive Promotion and more Festivals cost more but increase Stability and Loyalty respectively; heavier Taxation increases Economy but decreases Loyalty.
  • Consumption. This is how many BP it costs to keep the country running each month. Consumption = size + number of city districts + cost of edicts – 2 per farmland.


There are 11 leadership positions. For each one, whoever fills it contributes one of their ability modifiers to one or more of the country’s three stats. A leader must be physically present in the country for one week per month to grant this bonus; failing this, a penalty applies instead (in some cases to more than one stat).

Some positions are more important than others. The most obvious is also the most important:

  • Ruler. Head of government: baron/baroness (size <= 20), duke/duchess (21 <= size <= 80), or king/queen (size >= 81). Charisma modifier applies to one (baron), two (duke) or three (king) of the country’s stats, which you can change at the start of the Improvements phase. A married couple can rule jointly, giving each of their bonuses individually. If absent, Unrest increases a lot during Upkeep and the country can’t expand or make improvements (other than buildings).

The ruler has three chief advisors, one for each stat/edict. If you don’t fill these positions, you can’t issue the corresponding edict.

  • Councillor. Representative of the people to the government. Wisdom or Charisma modifier applies to Loyalty. If absent, Unrest increases during Upkeep, and the country can’t benefit from festivals (i.e. Festivals reverts to None).
  • Grand Diplomat. Manages foreign relations. Intelligence or Charisma modifier applies to Stability. If absent, the country can’t issue Promotion edicts (i.e. Promotion reverts to None).
  • Treasurer. Manages the treasury and tax collection. Intelligence or Wisdom modifier applies to Economy. If absent, the government can’t collect taxes (i.e. the Taxation reverts to None, but since zero tax isn’t a deliberate policy, you don’t get the Loyalty bonus).

Vacancy in the following positions causes Unrest to increase each month, which can quickly get out of hand if you don’t deal with it quickly:

  • Ruler and Councillor, as above.
  • High Priest. Sees to the country’s religious needs. Wisdom or Charisma modifier applies to Stability.
  • Spymaster. Keeps spies in both the country’s underworld and in other kingdoms. Dexterity or Intelligence modifier applies to one stat, chosen during Improvement (once per month).

The following positions should at least be filled by someone vaguely competent to avoid the vacancy penalty:

  • General. Commands the kingdom’s armies and is a public hero. Strength or Charisma modifier applies to Stability.
  • Magister. Guides the country’s higher learning and magic. Intelligence or Charisma modifier applies to Economy.
  • Marshal. Organises border patrols and enforces frontier justice. Dexterity or Wisdom modifier applies to Economy.
  • Warden. Leads the country’s defence and city guards. Strength or Constitution modifier applies to Loyalty.

The following position is entirely optional:

  • Royal Assassin. Public executioner, headsman, or assassin. Strength or Dexterity modifier applies to Loyalty, and Unrest reduces during Upkeep. There is no vacancy penalty.

Monthly progression

  1. Upkeep. Skip this phase during the first month before you’ve claimed or built anything.
    1. Roll Stability vs Control DC. If successful, reduce Unrest by 1. If Unrest is already 0, increase Treasury by 1 BP.
    2. Pay Consumption. Deduct Consumption from Treasury. If Treasury is now negative, increase Unrest by 2.
    3. Fill empty magic item slots. If any cities have empty magic item slots, the GM rolls new random items to fill them.
    4. Unrest. If Unrest is 11 or higher, lose one hex (chosen by the leaders) including improvements. When reclaiming an abandoned hex, any town there must be annexed (Stability check vs control DC; failure increases Unrest by 2d4). Finally, if there is a Royal Assassin, reduce Unrest by 1.
  2. Improvement. How much you can do in this phase depends on your country’s size—the bigger, the more you can do.
    1. Select leadership. You can change leaders as often as you like (to a limit of once per month, of course).
    2. Claim hexes. A hex must be adjacent to already claimed land and have been explored and cleared of hazards. Annexing a hex costs 1 BP and increases size (and hence consumption) by 1. Abandoning a hex (decreasing Size by 1) increases Unrest by 1 (4 for a city hex).
    3. Found and improve cities. Founding a city requires clearing a site, which costs a certain number of BP and takes a certain amount of time depending on terrain.
      • Buildings can give bonuses or penalties to the country’s stats; reduce the cost of other buildings; create magic item slots for the city and increase the city’s base value; increase the city’s Defence Modifier (used in mass combat, which first comes into part 4); increase or decrease Unrest when built; or reduce the cost of edicts.
    4. Build roads. Roads make travel quicker and increase Economy and Stability. Building roads in a hex costs 1 BP, or 2 in forests, or 4 in swamps and mountains, and twice that if there is a river.
    5. Establish farmlands. A farmland hex reduces Consumption by 2. Developing farmlands costs 2 BP in grasslands or 4 BP in hills. Forests, swamps and mountains can’t be farmed.
    6. Issue Edicts. Choose your Edict levels.
  3. Income.
    1. Deposits. You can donate coins, gems, jewellery, equipment, etc. to the treasury to increase its balance. Every 4000 gp of value donated adds 1 BP to the Treasury.
    2. Withdrawals. You can withdraw money from the treasury at a rate of 2000 gp per BP. Doing this increases Unrest by at least 1, and more if you fail a Loyalty check.
    3. Sell valuable items. You can sell items that cost at least 4000 gp through your city’s markets—your own, or ones in a city’s item slots. This requires an Economy check. If it sells, the Treasury increases depending on whether it’s minor, medium or major. You can attempt such a sale once for each city district in each Income phase.
    4. Generate income. Make an Economy check vs the Control DC. If successful, increase the Treasury by a number of BP equal to the check result / 5 (round down).
  4. Event. During this phase something interesting may happen, at the GM’s whim. An event can increase or decrease stats, destroy city blocks, increase Unrest, etc. etc. Some events are ongoing and have their effect happen each month until finished.
    • Hiring adventurers. By hiring adventurers, the PCs can effectively purchase one time bonuses to any Economy, Loyalty, or Stability checks made as a result of a kingdom event. A group of low-level adventurers costs 4 BP and grants a +2 bonus.

Kingdom building rules

Pete's Kingmaker campaign Thrawcheld