Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms (PFRPG)

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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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Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Joshua J. Frost wrote:

And here I thought was complimenting you. I'll take my Azlanti Knowledge title and my toys and go home now.

*harrumph*

Er...

Spoiler:

Explosive runes?


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
yoda8myhead wrote:
Joshua J. Frost wrote:
As will the map of the Azlanti Kingdom of Golarion Knowledge, More Land.
Make puns about my name and risk not getting turnovers you're counting on, Frost. I'm not afraid to debunk your misconceptions of holding all the power.

I will mark this sensitivity, well.


Either way josh has made his mark in More Land.

I was walking through More Land when a rare Azlanti yo-date fell on my head.

*sigh* I surrender.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

I need to add a second page to my s&!$list. Keep it up, jerks.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps Subscriber

After reading the info on the Fifth Freedom, how would the folks of the River Kingdoms view Summoners?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tim Statler wrote:
After reading the info on the Fifth Freedom, how would the folks of the River Kingdoms view Summoners?

That's probably depend. A wizard who used planar binding to force an outsider to do his bidding would likely be considered as bad as a slaver. A cleric who bargained with a planar ally, on the other hand, not so much. And as for summon monster spells? That's like a minute or two of slavery for the summoned. Not so bad.

And while Riverfolk may despise a mage who binds demons/devils to his will... they'll probably be far less concerned with the Fifth Freedom when they're staring down a legion of enslaved hellspawn.

Dark Archive

yoda8myhead wrote:
I need to add a second page to my s@%@list. Keep it up, jerks.

Let kiddies be Yoda.

Live by the old adage:

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but only an Empowered Meteor Swarm will
really f$%# you up
.


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
yoda8myhead wrote:
I need to add a second page to my s!#@list. Keep it up, jerks.

You also have a superlist? What number am I on yours?


OK, a few issues with Guide to the River Kingdoms.

It would be nice for each section to have a little picture showing WHERE in the RK it is, so we don;t have to keep flipping to the front and playing Where's Waldo.

This ties into the second problem, some of the places are mis-described in the book.

For example, page 45: Scrawny Crossing.

First Sentence: At the edge of an abandoned ferry crossing in the Eastern River Kingdoms...

But don't look for it there on the map. Look in the east all you want, but on the map, Scrawny Crossing is about as far WEST in the River Kingdoms that you can go and still be in the River Kingdoms.

There is at least one other instance of this in the book (I'll need to re-read it again) but it made it tough to find the places on the map.

Other than that, a great book. And at least I had something to do in the airport waiting for the bumped flight. Trying to find Scrawny Crossing took some time...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
gigglestick wrote:
It would be nice for each section to have a little picture showing WHERE in the RK it is, so we don;t have to keep flipping to the front and playing Where's Waldo.

I'd certainly love for them to make more books formatted like the Guide to Korvosa. It had nice little mini maps for quick reference.

Quote:
There is at least one other instance of this in the book (I'll need to re-read it again) but it made it tough to find the places on the map.

Mossbridge or Mossriver or something like that. Dang, already starting to forget. -_-

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

I was secretly hoping the actual town placement of Uringen wouldn't be noted. I'd actually say that the place on the map is an approximation.

I like that it's hard to find.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Adam Daigle wrote:

I was secretly hoping the actual town placement of Uringen wouldn't be noted. I'd actually say that the place on the map is an approximation.

I like that it's hard to find.

There's definitely some irony to it. "It's not a flaw! It's a feature!" Heh. :-D

Silver Crusade

Just got it, digesting it now.

I do want to point out that the guy on pg. 2 seems to have made quite the faux pas as far as the Six River Freedoms go. So much for his lengthy rule. :P


Still waiting for the mailman to bring me my copy. But the PDf has been nice reading.

Contributor

gigglestick wrote:
It would be nice for each section to have a little picture showing WHERE in the RK it is, so we don;t have to keep flipping to the front and playing Where's Waldo.

Even though doing that would mean less text content for that kingdom's entry? Especially for the one-page kingdoms?

gigglestick wrote:

This ties into the second problem, some of the places are mis-described in the book.

For example, page 45: Scrawny Crossing.
First Sentence: At the edge of an abandoned ferry crossing in the Eastern River Kingdoms...
But don't look for it there on the map. Look in the east all you want, but on the map, Scrawny Crossing is about as far WEST in the River Kingdoms that you can go and still be in the River Kingdoms.

Oops, that's my fault. I mean, James Jacobs' fault!!

Dark Archive

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

Oops, that's my fault. I mean, James Jacobs' fault!!

I thought Wes was the official scapegoat?


I got my copy of the book today. Seems to be a very good one. A lot of variety in it, that´s for sure.

My group will start Kingmaker in a few weeks. I´m the GM. I wonder, how much of the material in the this guide I can use. There´s only a small section covering the Stolen Lands. And I got the impression, that nearly all of the campaign will take place in that region. Does that mean, that most of the guide will be useless? No Lambreth, no Sevenarches? These are some of the coolest places in all of the River Kingdoms. It would be a pity, if they´re completely left out of the six adventures.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Stephan wrote:

I got my copy of the book today. Seems to be a very good one. A lot of variety in it, that´s for sure.

My group will start Kingmaker in a few weeks. I´m the GM. I wonder, how much of the material in the this guide I can use. There´s only a small section covering the Stolen Lands. And I got the impression, that nearly all of the campaign will take place in that region. Does that mean, that most of the guide will be useless? No Lambreth, no Sevenarches? These are some of the coolest places in all of the River Kingdoms. It would be a pity, if they´re completely left out of the six adventures.

While elements from other River Kingdoms will pop up in Kingmaker now and then, the entire AP takes place in the Stolen Lands and parts of Pitax. The Kingmaker AP isn't intended to give a tour of the River Kingdoms.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

The main action of the AP takes place in the Stolen Lands and in

Spoiler:
Pitax.

There are a few references to or appearances by people from other RKs, and there is so much downtime built into the campaign that PCs certainly have the opportunity to explore the other RKs as much as you would like them to; you might even want to reward them for their efforts with boosts to their kingdom's Economy score for establishing trade routes or friendly relations with other RKs, but the core of the AP is about the PCs establishing their own kingdom in the Stolen Lands, not a travelogue of the other RKs.

Scarab Sages

What was the release date for this? It seems to be the only Pathfinder Chronicle to date that I do not have. I also can't figure out why I haven't received it automatically with my subscription if it has already released.

Tam

Contributor

It's probably still shipping to subscribers, we only got it in the warehouse very recently.

Paizo Employee CEO

Tambryn wrote:

What was the release date for this? It seems to be the only Pathfinder Chronicle to date that I do not have. I also can't figure out why I haven't received it automatically with my subscription if it has already released.

Tam

Tam:

It was shipped out in February. Did you get an email in February saying that we were going to ship it? You should post in the Customer Service thread and ask Cos or Sara Marie to check into this for you. Sounds like a sub that got lost in the system for some reason.

-Lisa

Scarab Sages

Thanks guys. You're right Lisa, the Customer Service forum is more appropriate for this.

Tam

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Stephan wrote:

I got my copy of the book today. Seems to be a very good one. A lot of variety in it, that´s for sure.

My group will start Kingmaker in a few weeks. I´m the GM. I wonder, how much of the material in the this guide I can use. There´s only a small section covering the Stolen Lands. And I got the impression, that nearly all of the campaign will take place in that region. Does that mean, that most of the guide will be useless? No Lambreth, no Sevenarches? These are some of the coolest places in all of the River Kingdoms. It would be a pity, if they´re completely left out of the six adventures.

P.S. Glad to hear you're a Lambreth fan!


This may be my new favorite Chronicles. This and Darkmoon Vale are just terrific


I just started reading this, and I located this thread in order to post a comment very much like this one...

Mikaze wrote:
I do want to point out that the guy on pg. 2 seems to have made quite the faux pas as far as the Six River Freedoms go.

...except that I got the impression that woman was a slave BEFORE the old king was killed. I wanted to post the question of how the previous king got away with such a blatant violation of the fifth freedom, but it looks like others may interpret that picture differently.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Aaron Bitman wrote:

I just started reading this, and I located this thread in order to post a comment very much like this one...

Mikaze wrote:
I do want to point out that the guy on pg. 2 seems to have made quite the faux pas as far as the Six River Freedoms go.

...except that I got the impression that woman was a slave BEFORE the old king was killed. I wanted to post the question of how the previous king got away with such a blatant violation of the fifth freedom, but it looks like others may interpret that picture differently.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Well... rules ARE made to be broken, after all.


What gigglestick and shinmizu were trying to say, by the way, is that the entry for Mosswater begins "In the eastern reaches of the River Kingdoms..." and the map shows that Mosswater is as far WEST in the RKs as you can get.

(I only got to the Mosswater entry just today.)


I just got this book and was a bit disappointed at the lack of maps. Besides the overall map of the area, there is nothing else. I was hoping for 'zoomed in' maps of the individual areas & towns. Is there such a thing for this region? Do all Chronicles guides have only one region map?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

William Edmunds wrote:
I just got this book and was a bit disappointed at the lack of maps. Besides the overall map of the area, there is nothing else. I was hoping for 'zoomed in' maps of the individual areas & towns. Is there such a thing for this region? Do all Chronicles guides have only one region map?

Some Chronicles books have lots of maps ("Heart of the Jungle is one example). Some do not. "Guide to the River Kingdoms" would certainly have benefited from a number of zoomed in maps, I agree, but scheduling and the fact that we had to fit ALL of the river kingdoms into the book more or less conspired to make including maps of each individual kingdom impossible. We would have had to extend the size of the book up to 96 pages and the price up to something like $25.00 if we included all those extra maps, and neither of those was a workable option (we're not sure customers would buy a $25 softcover book enough to justify its printing, and more to the point we didn't have the resources or time to add 32 pages with a LOT of maps to the book).


James Jacobs wrote:
William Edmunds wrote:
I just got this book and was a bit disappointed at the lack of maps. Besides the overall map of the area, there is nothing else. I was hoping for 'zoomed in' maps of the individual areas & towns. Is there such a thing for this region? Do all Chronicles guides have only one region map?
Some Chronicles books have lots of maps ("Heart of the Jungle is one example). Some do not. "Guide to the River Kingdoms" would certainly have benefited from a number of zoomed in maps, I agree, but scheduling and the fact that we had to fit ALL of the river kingdoms into the book more or less conspired to make including maps of each individual kingdom impossible. We would have had to extend the size of the book up to 96 pages and the price up to something like $25.00 if we included all those extra maps, and neither of those was a workable option (we're not sure customers would buy a $25 softcover book enough to justify its printing, and more to the point we didn't have the resources or time to add 32 pages with a LOT of maps to the book).

I understand. So, is there currently a source for maps of this area?

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

I've been working on-again/off-again on a map of Uringen. When I get it finished, I'll post up a picture. (Not that that's official or anything ...or even good, for that matter.)

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

Adam Daigle wrote:
I've been working on-again/off-again on a map of Uringen. When I get it finished, I'll post up a picture. (Not that that's official or anything ...or even good, for that matter.)

Shouldn't that be more of a here-again/gone-again map?

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

Russ Taylor wrote:
Adam Daigle wrote:
I've been working on-again/off-again on a map of Uringen. When I get it finished, I'll post up a picture. (Not that that's official or anything ...or even good, for that matter.)
Shouldn't that be more of a here-again/gone-again map?

Much more appropriate. :)


I was wondering how does the information in the chronicles about the River Kingdoms compare to that found in the Inner Sea World Guide?

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

jeremy hehn wrote:
I was wondering how does the information in the chronicles about the River Kingdoms compare to that found in the Inner Sea World Guide?

Well, the Inner Sea World Guide bit about the River Kingdoms is only 4 pages long, while the River Kingdoms book is 64 pages. The Chronicles book further details the kingdoms mentioned in the Inner Sea World Guide and then has write-ups on some of the other kingdoms not mentioned in the World Guide. Each kingdom gets between 1–4 pages each kingdom (maybe more for a couple of them, I don't have my book with me right now). Hope that helps!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

This product was just announced as part of the Crowdforger PDF Superpack, given out to all Crowdforger level contributors to the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter

Just a heads up.


I pledged for the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter and received this PDF. I decided I wanted a printed version of this so I made use of one of those online printshops who can print out PDF's and such. This was my first time I used such a service and I have to say it came out *very* well. I am glad though that I did use the thickest paper available. It now truly feels as a soft-cover book; anything thinner and it would have had the feel of an expensive glossy magazine, I think. Anyway, I much prefer reading this printed copy on my couch then a PDF version on my screen. :)

Some good info about the River Kingdoms, really gets me in the mood.

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