Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms (PFRPG)

****( ) (based on 7 ratings)
Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms (PFRPG)

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Stake your claim! In the anarchic hills and valleys of the River Kingdoms, all you own is what you can hold by force. Dozens of nations flourish in this land of outlaws and scoundrels, from high-walled city-states to tiny tribal enclaves, and any hero with strength and vision can claim a throne at the point of a sword. Here secretive druids protect ancient forests, and downtrodden refugees and exiles cast longing eyes toward lost homelands. Civilized sea monsters trapped far from the briny deep rub shoulders with legitimized assassins, and strange magic can pull a prosperous town in and out of time and space. With the constant rise and fall of bandit lords, there’s no limit to the power and prestige bold adventurers can find—though whether they can keep it is another story.

    Inside this 64-page book, you’ll find:
  • A complete overview of the River Kingdoms, their statistics and history, and the Six River Freedoms that enforce honor among thieves
  • In-depth entries on 22 new nations from some of the most imaginitive authors in fantasy and science fiction, including award-winning author China Miéville, New York Times bestseller Elaine Cunningham, and gaming legends Chris Pramas, Colin McComb, Lisa Stevens, and Steve Kenson
  • Adventure hooks for every nation, fully fleshed-out and ready to be dropped into your existing campaign
  • New feats, spells, class abilities, and poisons native to the River Kingdoms
  • An exhaustive map of the River Kingdoms, including ancient ruins, haunted cities, monstrous lairs, and much more

Though created for the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting, the information presented in this book is perfect for inclusion in any game world, and makes an excellent supplement for the Kingmaker Adventure Path.

by Eric Bailey, Kevin Carter, Elaine Cunningham, Adam Daigle, Mike Ferguson, Joshua J. Frost, James Jacobs, Steve Kenson, Rob Manning, Colin McComb, Alison McKenzie, China Miéville, Brock Mitchel-Slentz, Jason Nelson, Richard Pett, Chris Pramas, Jeff Quick, Sean K Reynolds, F. Wesley Schneider, Neil Spicer, Lisa Stevens, Matthew Stinson, and John Wick.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-203-6

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting Subscription.

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A Workmanlike Overview

***( )( )

In the official Pathfinder campaign setting of Golarion, the River Kingdoms is an area intentionally underdeveloped to give room for the GM and players to create or import their own fictional creations without clashing against established canonical countries. The River Kingdoms are really a couple of dozen small, independent nations that range from small city-states to bandit fortresses; all they have in common is dependence on the River Sellen. One of the River Kingdoms, the Stolen Lands, is the site of the Kingmaker Adventure Path, a campaign that sees PCs carving out their own state. The Guide to the River Kingdoms provides short descriptions of 22 different areas, and although it’s certainly not comprehensive in detail, it provides enough of an introductory overview to get creative GMs on the right track. Interestingly, each of the areas is written by a different author, and Paizo was able to get some big names (like China Mieville and Elaine Cunningham) to contribute.

The inside front cover is a map of the River Kingdoms, showing the different branches of the Sellen, notable settlements and ruins, and the wavy borders between the different kingdoms.

The book starts with a nine-page overview that talks about life in the River Kingdoms, with a focus on the Six River Freedoms, an unwritten code that binds the people of the disparate kingdoms together. There’s also a good discussion of how those countries that border the River Kingdoms interact with it. The section concludes with a brief entry for two minor deities widely worshipped in the River Kingdoms: Gyronna (hag goddess of hatred, extortion and spite) and Hanspur (god of rivers and river travel). I thought this section was really well done, and gives the River Kingdoms a unique niche in Golarion.

The entire rest of the book are entries for the River Kingdoms. The entries are either 1 page, 2 pages, or 4 pages long for each kingdom. Each entry includes a brief introduction, a settlement stat block (not the full version from the Game Mastery Guide, unfortunately), and then paragraphs on Government, Notable Sites, Resources, Adventurers, and (for the longer entries) Adventure Hooks. The entries are in alphabetical order, and it’s not necessarily clear why some countries got very short entries and others got longer entries. The kingdoms covered are:

• Artume (1 page): Thug-ruled kingdom—forgettable.

• Cordelion (1 page): Xenophobic kingdom deep in the forest with elven ancestry—also forgettable.

• Daggermark (4 pages): Apparently the largest of the kingdoms, despite having a well-regulated system where anyone can legally hire assassins to kill anyone else (except military personnel)! I don’t know why anyone would live there, but the entry is interesting. Five new poisons are introduced, but they’re pretty boring except for Shamweed (which gradually buffs the recipients Constitution for a week before turning incredibly nasty)

• Gralton (4 pages): An interesting country formed by refugees from the inquisitions in Galt, with nobles forced out of necessity to take up trades while dreaming of returning to their homeland. I could imagine using Gralton in a storyline.

• Heibarr (1 page): A cool ghost city.

• Hymbria (1 page): An elven community with a dark side—not too shabby.

• Lambreth (4 pages): Great backstory of a kingdom rescued from Razmiri encroachment by a savior who was too good to be true.

• Linerthane (1 page): Nice little story of idealist paladin with a fortress and big dreams of someday fixing Galt.

• Loric Fells (1 page): Monster infested.

• Mivon (4 pages): Cowards who fled Brevoy while maintaining the Aldori sword-dueling ethos. The entry includes a good codified list of rules for Mivoni duelling.

• Mosswater (1 page): A good adventuring locale: a town long overrun by merrow.

• Nystra (1 page): A concept very similar to Mosswater, but this time the culprit is yellow musk creeper and strange insect-like gargoyles.

• Outsea (4 pages): My personal favourite of the bunch. Written by China Mieville, the backstory to this place is just crazy-ridiculous-cool. I have an Undine PFS character from Outsea, aided by a regional trait in Blood of the Elements.

• Pitax (4 pages): Interesting, politically-divided town that is infested by thieves. A good place to start a campaign, as it could support various themes.

• The Protectorate of the Black Marquis (2 pages): Pirate despot town with interesting backstory.

• Riverton (1 page): Theocracy with a great cult leader.

• Scrawning Crossing (1 page): Classic “all villagers mysteriously disappeared one night” hook.

• Sevenarches (4 pages): Original kingdom ruled by druids, with fey support, with no elves allowed due to mysterious disease.

• The Stolen Lands (4 pages): As I mentioned, this is apparently where Kingmaker takes place. From the description here, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would *want* to make a kingdom in this sh#*hole.

• Touvette (2 pages): Harsh, lawful kingdom.

• Tymon (4 pages): Lisa Stevens’ baby, a gladiatorial kingdom with a constantly reincarnated leader who has been running the joint for 2,700 years!

• Uringen (4 pages): Adam Daigle’s baby, a fun concept of a town partially “unstuck” in a pocket dimension. Great place for adventures that players haven’t seen before.

As indicated above, the quality of the entries varies, with some really great ideas and some fairly generic ones. Although the cover art is great, the interior art is very much a mixed bag. The bullet point on the back cover about “New feats, spells, class abilities, and poisons” is literally true but hyperbolically misleading—this is *not* a crunch book, with only a handful of player options throughout. In one respect, however, this is good: with the launch of Pathfinder Second Edition, this book is just as valuable as it was in First Edition.

All in all, I’d say this was a solid, average Paizo book. I wouldn’t rush out to buy it, but I certainly don’t regret owning it either. Obviously, those running something like Kingmaker or other campaigns set in the River Kingdoms will find it indispensable.


Gets creative juices flowing

*****

Trying not to replicate the other reviews, this campaign setting is exactly that - a sketch of many different cities and city-states within a loosely defined country. The locations are creatively detailed, with the intent to provide a HUGE variety of rulers to parlay with as players build their own domain during the Kingmaker campaign. For that it works brilliantly! There are regions to trade with, city-states to provide problems for the new PC rulers, leaders to ally with, and locations to be explored. As I read through this sourcebook cover to cover (despite often finding it difficult to stay engaged with other PDFs), I couldn't help but think about the possibilities for many of the areas.

Admittedly, as many of the other reviewers stated, this is light on crunch. If you are interested in stats, stay away from this product as there are only two gods with basic worshipper info, 5 new poisons, 1 spell, 1 alternate bard class ability, 1 region affinity, and 1 magic salve in the 32 pages. However, the nature of the sandbox campaign compliments Paizo's approach with this product: giving a huge range of idea-generating options for the GM to flesh out. The only thing I found wanting is the region to the east, immediately abutting the Stolen Lands, was not detailed as much as the other areas surrounding the campaign. However, that being said, if you are going to play Kingmaker I think the number and variety of kernels of adventure-generating encounters far outweighs that gripe.


Variables, Variables...

***( )( )

This is a somewhat strange campaign setting book, in the sense it seems not only is the various regions described in the book very different (from very regular fantasy tropes and/or very real world inspired) to the very fantastic... But how they are described also varies so much, because the authors do their pieces in very different ways.

For example, one region might have a city statblock, a lot of info on people there that can be usefull and inspiring, written in an entertaining way... While at least one other is pretty much "there are these guys guarding something but I won't tell you much about either" over three pages.

I found some of the articles in the book excellent, some average and some bad. As there is something to every taste here (except crunch, this is pretty much pure fluff), I guess that would be true for most people too.


One of the most ambitious Paizo Products yet...

*****

Indispensable with the Kingmaker Adventure Path, The River Kingdoms reads like a fantasy novel sampler kit; look who wrote it after all. My only complaint? Why did they limit it to 64 pages? This could easily have gone much bigger...adventure path sized. Check my full review Guide to the River Kingdoms


Great sourcebook

****( )

The River Kingdoms is one of the more interesting settings for Golarion. Paizo does a nice job of keeping things detailed just enough to give creative GMs some leeway to add in some details of their own.
Being a big fan of China Mieville, I greatly appreciated his contributions in the description of the unique city state of Outsea.
There are some great sites of interest within one of the more standout areas of the campaign milieu that the PCs can explore. For example, a town that is a town but not a town... Can't say more as I don't wish to spoil it for any upcoming readers.
If you're thinking about using Paizo's next AP- Kingmaker, I strongly recommend purchasing this sourcebook.
I too wish there were more NPCs in the sourcebook but the material was an intriguing read.


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Dark Archive

What is Kingmaker?!?


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

I'm going with "soon to be announced AP".

Dark Archive

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
I'm going with "soon to be announced AP".

Yeah, but i want more information than that :(


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Yeah...I didn't say I was going far, just which direction...
They're trying to short-circuit the part of our brain that stops us from hitting "add to cart" every time we see it with all these announcements!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Legacy of Fire is AP #4. It's the one we're going to be launching in a few weeks.

Council of Thieves is AP #5. It launches at Gen Con, and will be the first PF RPG AP.

Kingmaker is AP #6. It's set in the River Kingdoms. That's about all we'll be saying about it for many months, though! :)

Dark Archive

Wouldn't that be a bad thing?

Oh well I haven't had to worry about that urge since I superscribed :D


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

River Kingdom plus "Kingmaker" sounds like a great AP to me :)

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:

Legacy of Fire is AP #4. It's the one we're going to be launching in a few weeks.

Council of Thieves is AP #5. It launches at Gen Con, and will be the first PF RPG AP.

Kingmaker is AP #6. It's set in the River Kingdoms. That's about all we'll be saying about it for many months, though! :)

I just noticed that this post was there... huh.

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

many <= 4, when the next announcements are going to be made.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow, River Kingdoms AP? That sounds fun, could the end result be the PCs ruling their own robber barony?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Kingmaker is AP #6. It's set in the River Kingdoms. That's about all we'll be saying about it for many months, though! :)

Huzzar, months of wild speculation and intense dissection of any sentence that falls from James' lips/pen/keyboard.

All I know so far is that this will be the first AP in which the PCs begin as Vargouilles questing for ancient magics that will return their bodies.

Spoiler:
I may have made that up.


Callous Jack wrote:
Wow, River Kingdoms AP? That sounds fun, could the end result be the PCs ruling their own robber barony?

Gosh I hope so. I've been trying to write my own campaign based in the river kingdoms along just those lines.

Anyways a Chronicle for the River Kingdoms will be very helpful either way.

Dark Archive

Cool! I'm looking forward to a scourcebook on one of my favorite regions of Golarion! And an AP named KINGMAKER? Where do I have to sign in?! :-)

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

And that is followed by KINGSLAYER and that is followed by Clash of the Kingslayers... hmmm... don't we already have that? Is that a prequel AP? Apisode One?

<banter mode off>

Just kidding around. I find the chaotic political environment of the River Kingdoms ideal for an Adventure Path.

Dark Archive

Oliver von Spreckelsen wrote:

And that is followed by KINGSLAYER and that is followed by Clash of the Kingslayers... hmmm... don't we already have that? Is that a prequel AP? Apisode One?

<banter mode off>

Just kidding around. I find the chaotic political environment of the River Kingdoms ideal for an Adventure Path.

No, no... once you've playd Clash of the Kingslayers, don't you need a new king? Ergo, Kingmaker! ;)

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Whoa....Kingmaker. I can't believe missed that earlier in the week. That is quite a teaser.


Just the name alone makes me want to get my hands on it :)

Liberty's Edge

this sounds like a Game of Thrones...
this i approve :D

Shadow Lodge

I was hoping it would have been done by Ed Greenwood. No offence meant James. Has Paizo approached Ed about doing one of the Pathfinder Books?

18DELTA

Paizo Employee CEO

18DELTA wrote:

I was hoping it would have been done by Ed Greenwood. No offence meant James. Has Paizo approached Ed about doing one of the Pathfinder Books?

18DELTA

James Jacobs is our standard placeholder for all products that we don't know who the author is. He won't be writing this book as far as I know, and we haven't announced who will be yet. Once we have an author, we'll change the name on the website here.

-Lisa

Shadow Lodge

Thanks. Still hoping for an Ed Greenwood Pathfinder Book. That would be pure win.

18DELTA

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

18DELTA wrote:

Thanks. Still hoping for an Ed Greenwood Pathfinder Book. That would be pure win.

18DELTA

Do you know that Ed contributed to the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting book?

Dark Archive

Vic Wertz wrote:
18DELTA wrote:

Thanks. Still hoping for an Ed Greenwood Pathfinder Book. That would be pure win.

18DELTA

Do you know that Ed contributed to the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting book?

And many of us are surely hoping that you'll use Ed as a freelancer on more projects! 'Dwarves of Golarion', for example, would be pure gold if done by Ed -- I'm still using his book 'Dwarven Deep' in every FR campaign I run. :)

(BTW, did Ed write the stuff on Hold of Belkzen in the Campaign Setting? That was an amazing bit that surely felt like his work! :))


In terms of actual content/inspiration, I wouldn't mind seeing a nod or two towards Moorcock's Young Kingdoms.

Shadow Lodge

Yes I knew Ed worked on the Campaign Book. That was one of the reasons I bought it. :) Ed doing a Pathfinder Chronicals Book would be pure win

18DELTA

Paizo Employee Creative Director

18DELTA wrote:

I was hoping it would have been done by Ed Greenwood. No offence meant James. Has Paizo approached Ed about doing one of the Pathfinder Books?

18DELTA

No offense taken.

We've talked with Ed in the past and he's worked on stuff with us before (such as the aforementioned Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting Hardcover), and we'll be quite likely to talk to him again to get him to work on other Pathfinder products as well. He's a busy guy though, and getting his schedule to sync up with Paizo's is a tricky task...

In any case, we haven't announced who's writing this book yet, mostly because we're still assigning parts of the book. It won't be by one author, though... that's all I know for sure right now.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

Legacy of Fire is AP #4. It's the one we're going to be launching in a few weeks.

Council of Thieves is AP #5. It launches at Gen Con, and will be the first PF RPG AP.

Kingmaker is AP #6. It's set in the River Kingdoms. That's about all we'll be saying about it for many months, though! :)

I wonder if two months is enough "many".


Zuxius wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Legacy of Fire is AP #4. It's the one we're going to be launching in a few weeks.

Council of Thieves is AP #5. It launches at Gen Con, and will be the first PF RPG AP.

Kingmaker is AP #6. It's set in the River Kingdoms. That's about all we'll be saying about it for many months, though! :)

I wonder if two months is enough "many".

Mr Mona has let slip some stuff about Kingmaker here.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks Zombieneighbor!

I am looking to these kingdoms with great interest.


Kingmaker is also the name of a Neverwinter Nights premium module sold by Bioware. I guess that's not a problem though since it's a video game rather than a tabletop game?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm, perhaps they should change the name. People might read too much into that.

Sovereign Court

Oh, for crying out loud. Kingmaker is also a boardgame from the 1970s about the War of the Roses, a British Indie Rock band, a Marvel comics character, and the bloody 16th Earl of Warwick, with whom the term originates.

Nobody's going to be confused or litigious about this because Neverwinter Nights went to the well, too.


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

OT
Yeah, I hate flip-floppers. Why can't we just count on people to be good Yorkists?

Contributor

cappadocius wrote:

Oh, for crying out loud. Kingmaker is also a boardgame from the 1970s about the War of the Roses, a British Indie Rock band, a Marvel comics character, and the bloody 16th Earl of Warwick, with whom the term originates.

Nobody's going to be confused or litigious about this because Neverwinter Nights went to the well, too.

::applauds::

Thanks for the historical perspective. Usually you have to go to the Richard III Society to see Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, referenced on on a message board. :)


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Right-thinking is invasive. Being right-thinking about Pathfinder increases your chances of being right-thinking about Good King Richard. I'm waiting for somebody to sign on to the compatibility license and offer a historically accurate (i.e., Ricardist) War of the Roses sourcebook.

I'm a shameless threadjacker, sorry.

Sovereign Court

Respect for Old Dicky Neville is secondary to my needs than that we use the X-Men villain whose power was loan sharkery.


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Neville was an opportunist, not a loyalist, no?

You've got too many shark things going on in different threads. I'm having to look too many things up!

Sovereign Court

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:


You've got too many shark things going on in different threads. I'm having to look too many things up!

I live to serve.


Mairkurion {tm} wrote:

OT

Yeah, I hate flip-floppers. Why can't we just count on people to be good Yorkists?

Marshall to Thetford with 50 men!


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Man, I gotta keep an eye out for a copy of that game. It's OOP, right?


cappadocius wrote:

Oh, for crying out loud. Kingmaker is also a boardgame from the 1970s about the War of the Roses, a British Indie Rock band, a Marvel comics character, and the bloody 16th Earl of Warwick, with whom the term originates.

Nobody's going to be confused or litigious about this because Neverwinter Nights went to the well, too.

Learn something new every day. I never heard of any of that stuff you mentioned but I think the 16th Earl of Warwick gets the title.


Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
Man, I gotta keep an eye out for a copy of that game. It's OOP, right?

Yep.

http://shop.ebay.com/items/_W0QQ_nkwZkingmakerQ20boardQ20gameQQ_armrsZ1QQ_f romZQQ_mdoZ


Wolf Munroe wrote:
cappadocius wrote:

Oh, for crying out loud. Kingmaker is also a boardgame from the 1970s about the War of the Roses, a British Indie Rock band, a Marvel comics character, and the bloody 16th Earl of Warwick, with whom the term originates.

Nobody's going to be confused or litigious about this because Neverwinter Nights went to the well, too.

Learn something new every day. I never heard of any of that stuff you mentioned but I think the 16th Earl of Warwick gets the title.

Of course, this is also where GRRM gets some of his inspiration for the titular head of the Lannisters.

Sovereign Court

F33b wrote:


Of course, this is also where GRRM gets some of his inspiration for the titular head of the Lannisters.

It's fun to go through the A Game of Thrones and tag all the thinly-veiled analogs to historical figures from the War of the Roses. :)

Contributor

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:

Right-thinking is invasive. Being right-thinking about Pathfinder increases your chances of being right-thinking about Good King Richard. I'm waiting for somebody to sign on to the compatibility license and offer a historically accurate (i.e., Ricardist) War of the Roses sourcebook.

I'm a shameless threadjacker, sorry.

But since you're a Ricardist, all is forgiven.

A few years back, I was asked to write an article entitled "Richard III and the Princes in the Tower" for Renaissance Magazine. I started out a traditionalist, but by the time I'd read a stack of books (I always do way too much research) arguing both sides (actually, "several sides" would be more accurate), I ended up firmly in the Richardist camp.

And yes, a War of the Roses source book sounds like a pretty good idea to me.


So, how far ahead do you guys try and get the cover art done? Like this is a Dec. release, but with it going to the printers, wouldn't it need to be done like next month?


Choopacabra wrote:
So, how far ahead do you guys try and get the cover art done? Like this is a Dec. release, but with it going to the printers, wouldn't it need to be done like next month?

Covers usually go up a month or so before the release of the product, they may have some, but they are rarely put up on the website until a month or so before the product. Hope that helps.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

cappadocius wrote:
F33b wrote:


Of course, this is also where GRRM gets some of his inspiration for the titular head of the Lannisters.
It's fun to go through the A Game of Thrones and tag all the thinly-veiled analogs to historical figures from the War of the Roses. :)

What about the Game of Porcelain Thrones?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Choopacabra wrote:
So, how far ahead do you guys try and get the cover art done? Like this is a Dec. release, but with it going to the printers, wouldn't it need to be done like next month?

We generally try to order art for covers very early, often six months or more before the book ships to the printer. But also, we give our cover artists a long time to perfect the covers. In addition, the actual design of the cover usually ends up being one of the last steps in the process. As for shipping to printer dates, those are generally 2 months before release... so we're still five months ahead of when we'll have to start thinking about that for this product.

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