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.
[4 of 5 Stars!]