Last year until early this year I ran a campaign which used the Kingdom Building rules extensively. In the end, I must say that we were dissatisfied. Part of it was that I rushed the final campaign arc due to time constraints, which caused a higher ratio of kingdom building turns to adventures than was probably good for the game. But another was that the PCs focused on building large and prosperous settlements first before expanding their territory to any significant degree - which in turn meant that very quickly they had so many bonuses that they never ever failed a Control Check.
This, I think, is a fundamental problem with the rules. The Control DC is equal to [Kingdom size in hexes + number of districts in settlements], but districts, if properly developed, bring many, many more bonuses to Kingdom Attributes than hexes, while both a district and a hex add a meager +1 to the Control DC.
Therefore I have a thought: What if districts add more than +1 to the Control DC, in order to encourage rulers to spread out their territories more instead of just focusing on city-building? And what value would be suitable for this?
If they dont build more cities, their capital is vulnerable to attacks, they have no scouting before their capital is under siege, no time to prepare. If they want to station troops along their borders, that will cost a lot of resources and those armies could rout after a while (they would need a commander with them).
Keep in mind that a new settlement counts as a district aswell, and a capital so prosperous should be visible to bandits and other, more "expansionist", countries.
I don't see them focusing on a single hex as a big problem though, isn't that what city states did back in the day? It was all fun and games until they ran out of food supply, or were under a siege for a few weeks.
The system assumes you can either plant (with farms) or buy your food with BP, but that also assumes you have plentyful trade routes going in and out. What would happen if that route is blocked by an enemy army?
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Shadowkras has the right of it (dude knows his kingdom rules).
Yes, the bonuses scale waaaay faster than control DC. That's actually pretty intentional (having a size 150 kingdom constantly teetering on the brink of anarchy just isn't fun).
If, however, you think it could do with tweaking, modify the Control DC to be kingdom size plus districts plus (kingdom size / number of settlements), which effectively will add a penalty for large kingdoms with few settlements, representing them extending their reach.
Here is a good example of what happens when you go short on food, but is still able to buy extra food from merchants:
Food Shortage: Spoilage, treachery, or bad luck has caused a food shortage this turn. Attempt a Stability check. If you succeed, Consumption in the next Upkeep Phase increases by 50%. If you fail, Consumption in the next Upkeep Phase increases by 100%.
You could assume that if its impossible to buy food, the consumption automatically goes up by 100% while a siege lasts.
Or if you dont want to penalize them too much, increase by 50% but without any method to remove the penalty while the siege lasts, this extra demand for food is for refugees from nearby farms.
For War Refugees you could use a mechanic similar to Squatters:
Squatters (Settlement, Continuous): An empty settlement lot is taken over by beggars, troublemakers, and people unable to find adequate work or housing; they camp there with tents, wagons, and shanties. You cannot use the lot for anything until the squatters are dispersed. Fame and Stability decrease by 1, and Unrest increases by 2. You may try to disperse the squatters with a Stability check. Success means the squatters are dispersed and the event is not continuous, but if a House or Tenement is not built in that lot on the next turn, Infamy increases by 1 and Unrest by 2. Failing the Stability check means the event is continuous, and you may not build on that lot until the event is resolved.
You could rename it and make it continuous as long as the war is going on, forcing them to struggle to maintain Unrest at bay while still dealing with enemy forces.