Kingdoms of Legend: World Guide (PFRPG)

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IPG0100E

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The World as it Wasn’t

Kingdoms of Legend is a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible campaign setting based on an alternate history Earth of the early 15th century. Human empires dominate the landscape while the elves, dwarves, and gnomes struggle to hold on to ancestral homelands. The Greek gods are real: known by various names in different locales. Piracy, war, political intrigue, and danger are commonplace. Heroes are desperately needed in all corners of the globe!

The Kingdoms of Legend: World Guide contains an overview of the setting, introducing 41 different countries in Europe. Also included are two new half-races, new feats, numerous languages, and more!

Pathfinder and associated marks and logos are trademarks of Paizo Publishing, LLC, and are used under license. See paizo.com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Lack of Christianity/Islam deprives this alternate earth setting of its base

**( )( )( )

This pdf is 36 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 32 pages of content, so what is this setting of Interaction Point Games about?

After getting a neat 1-page full color map, we are introduced to the basic premise of the setting, for which this book can be considered the gazetteer, the Kingdoms of Legend. The basic premise of the setting is that the Kingdoms of Legend are an alternate version of our own world in which races like elves, dwarves, orcs etc. exist and magic works. That also means that we'll get the new half-dwarf and half-gnome races, which are okay, design-wise, but nothing to get too excited about.

Oh boy, after reading that, I was almost positive that there would be some aspects I wouldn't like. Turns out that author Brent Evanger has invested quite an effort into not just lazily slapping "fantasy" on our history and painstakingly researched 4 different sets of names for the twelve gods of the setting.

In fact, the category where I was absolutely sure this pdf would fail makes for the perhaps most compelling part, a t least for me as a language-nerd - In the language-department, thankfully the terrible idea that is the common tongue has not been slapped on poor Europe. Instead, we get 3 lingua franca and a vast array of different languages, all neatly categorized with alphabet, sample names etc. Even better, the at least in my games, never applied rule that everyone would be literate is not used - rather literacy is rare and something you have to work for (by investing at least a feat if you don't belong to the literate classes like wizards etc.). This expansion of the linguistics-rule also comes with sample DC-modifier to verify and understand documents etc.

This painstaking level of detailed research is also applied to the respective geography and a vast list of Kingdoms, city-states etc. is provided along information on largest settlements, capitals, population, allies, enemies etc., making for an interesting interwoven tapestry of political alliances and potential adventures.

Sounds awesome and like a wholesale recommendation? Unfortunately, no, as there are some problems: I did mention the twelve gods and it is in this area the setting somewhat falls flat on its face: There are 12 gods and the fallen (old) gods as well as primordial, savage evil deities even older than the Fallen and a lot of the motivations/tensions are supposed to be results of an old/new-struggle, somewhat similar to the Scarred Lands of 3.5., but minus the cataclysms, deities walking the earth etc. - this is a rather low-magic setting, after all. The first problem I see is that anyone only half-versed in mythology realizes that just saying "Odin is the same god as Hermes, just in Germanic" does not work. At all. While I could live with Greek and Roman gods being the same, the transition to Germanic and Celtic gods does not work and the approximation falls flat on its face.

Even worse, though, is something you may have noticed by now: Christianity, Judaism, Islam - all the "big" religions in Europe are absent from this world - Were they as influential as the average religion in a fantasy setting, that would be one thing. Taking into account how these religions essentially provided the drive for the crusades, inquisition, political maneuvers, excommunicated kings etc., this is a problem. The whole social order of medieval Europe, the political landscape etc. - almost everything was influenced by the church, be it positively or negatively. The fact that these religions actually DID persecute and convert people of the old beliefs makes this decision baffling at best for me: The concept of old vs. new in religious history and Christianity's replacement of the habits of old, their monastery structure etc. provided the driving fuel for not only religious, but also racial tensions and the different sub-sets of Christian beliefs also would have provided for ample, cool roleplaying opportunities. I mean, come on, even I as a die-hard atheist would LOVE to play a Catholic inquisitor rooting out vile cults! I gather that if I had a hardcore Christian in my group, he surely would enjoy kicking ass in the name of the Lord - after all, there are awesome quotes a plenty in the Good Book and why not showing off how cool religion can be in a friendly environment?

If you think I'm exaggerating, just think how our holidays impact our daily lives and consider how the whole social order, the whole calendar of people, their daily lives, revolved around these holy days. How the church was a place for research and training for people, a means to escape the rigid social hierarchy. Which is another problem: The class-system was quite rigid, imposing e.g. restrictions on the colors of dresses that were worn, most famously making e.g. purple exclusive for royalty or yellow the color of prostitutes. Marriages and power-bases were heavily influenced by one's class and connections and there simply are no pieces of information given for that - shouldn't e.g. Wizards be rather exclusive to the upper class? Making the learned arcanists tied to a class would make sorcerors and witches more interesting and would offer a dimension of class-struggle/conflict to the character classes, perhaps even with hunters. Unfortunately, though, the class-system is tied to racism, discrimination and, again, the church.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 2-column standard and the b/w-artworks are nice. There are onyl 2 bookmarks here, which makes navigating the pdf harder than it ought to be.
On the plus-side, I really loved the information on languages and the web of intrigue that one can weave via the concisely presented statblocks of the individual kingdoms/states.
While I understand that these mature topics like discrimination, religious strife etc. have probably been consciously left out to avoid offending anyone, I maintain that this essentially breaks the campaign setting. At least it did for me. Not only does the omission eliminate perhaps one of the vastest potential resources for adventures imaginable, it also breaks my suspension of disbelief - I simply can't picture a Europe that similar to ours sans these concepts. A courageous stand and a side-box that talks about handling these topics in a mature way could have made this setting plain awesome.

Instead, we get the 12 and the Fallen, which, while ok, are simply not compelling enough to make up for this loss - due to the limited amount of space available, they remain blasé and comparatively boring when seen in direct comparison. As a gazetteer, this pdf does an ok job, but not a great one - while there is a lot of information, there also are blank spaces galore in this book, which essentially make it impossible to concisely use the setting for one's game and still make it feel like a unique take on our world rather than just another generic fantasy world. In the end, I see good research, but some unfortunate decisions that, like dominoes, create some inconsistencies the pdf can not close in the limited amount of space available. If there ever is a campaign setting, I'll be sure to check it out to see whether the my concerns have been addressed in more detail - the potential is immense. If you're a history-nerd like yours truly and are as concerned about world consistency as I am, this pdf is not for and probably 1 star, in spite of the great linguistics section. If you're set on playing in an alternate version of our world and are willing to invest some time into making the setting's consistency work (or are easily offended by displays of religion etc) , this might be 3 stars for you. My final verdict will be 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


A Good Idea

****( )

I was surprised when I saw this posted on the Paizo Store Blog and after looking at it, bought both this item and the adventure. Using the world as we know it as a fantasy setting has been something I've been doing since the late 1980s and I was intrigued to see another person's take on the setting.

Overall, the quality of the product content is very good. Grammar is good, typos are pretty non-existent, and the prose is clearly written in a fashion that says, "game supplement" rather than "history thesis". The characters shown in the art are suitable for the era portrayed.

Overall, I liked it but was left wanting more historical background, cultural background, and explanations that satisfied or answered the faults I had with the product.

First, the dating system. Why is it using a Christian based dating system when there was no Christ or Christ event?

Second, the political groups. Many of the political groups came about due to how Europe developed hand in hand with Christianity, the Islamic invasion, the Roman successor states, and the clash between Christianity and the old religions.

Third, how the non-human races fit in. It seems like they're afterthoughts and not integral parts of the world.

Fourth, how the monsters influenced geopolitical development.

I guess what I was hoping for was something more along the lines of the cultures being used as the basis for the nations and groups rather than specific historical governments shoehorned into a fantasy setting.



GAHHHH!!! I wants this too!

Dark Archive

It sure looks great. Somehow I have the feeling this isn't historically accurate, though. (Apart from the fantasy things and all) I know at least one of the guys in my group who would be disappointed with that.

Dark Archive

Enlight_Bystand brief review caught my eye. 32 pages, though?


I went ahead and bought the pdf, and I admit I'm impressed with just a quick perusal of it. Looks generic enough for any conversions, and the bits on basic PFRPG races/classes give some good info for character development.

I'm [b]very[b] intrigued to learn more about this "Republic of the Archmage" that dominates northern Italy and the Adriatic Sea...

Sovereign Court

the David wrote:
It sure looks great. Somehow I have the feeling this isn't historically accurate, though. (Apart from the fantasy things and all) I know at least one of the guys in my group who would be disappointed with that.

Well, it's D&D. It's really hard to do historically accurate 15th-century D&D. I don't know if anyone's ever succeeded.


the David wrote:
It sure looks great. Somehow I have the feeling this isn't historically accurate, though. (Apart from the fantasy things and all) I know at least one of the guys in my group who would be disappointed with that.

It has elves dwarves and magic. And is sold as alternate, I don't think it was ever supposed to be historically accurate.

The Exchange

As cappadocius and vagrant have said, it looks like the magic stuff would throw things off such that it wouldn't be the same as the historical 15th century. I view it as what they would envision it if magic and gods were also involved in the timeline, different wars and empires would have resulted, societies/cultures would be different, etc.

I'll probably pick this up tonight, it looks interesting.


this does look cool

will there be real people in there like Joan of Arc, Charlemagne or Robin Hood

Sovereign Court

MerrikCale wrote:


will there be real people in there like Joan of Arc, Charlemagne or Robin Hood

Well, Charlemagne died 700 years before the current year in the setting... and Robin Hood was probably fictional... but Joan of Arc is at least from the right century! And early in the century, to boot! :)

Liberty's Edge

Hello everybody! Thanks for the interest in the book.

As to the historical accuracy of the Kingdoms of Legend campaign setting, I will say that we start with a historically flavored base, then add fantasy elements to it. We also pick and choose the cool parts from history and discard all the boring stuff. More or less.

Really the historical angle is used in an attempt to make sure the setting feels like classic "knights in shining armor". I have tried hard to avoid mood-breaking anachronisms.

IPG has a whole slate of new Kingdoms of Legend books under development right now. We have also been picked up by Alliance Games Distributors, so you could see these titles in your friendly local game store sometime soon!

Liberty's Edge

joela wrote:
32 pages, though?

Too short? Or too long?


I'm definitely interested in your books and requested "The Elusive Foe" via GMS magazine, though I'd love to get my hands on your other books and this in particular to properly review them. Cheers!

Liberty's Edge

Haven't bought this book yet, but I read one of the reviews and it stated there's no Christianity in this Fantasy version of Europe, mostly to justify using classic Pagan gods.

Honestly, I was wondering how hard it would be to retrofit a fantastic version of Christianity back in, perhaps using Archangel patrons built on the Empyreal Lords model?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
lonewolf23k wrote:

Haven't bought this book yet, but I read one of the reviews and it stated there's no Christianity in this Fantasy version of Europe, mostly to justify using classic Pagan gods.

Honestly, I was wondering how hard it would be to retrofit a fantastic version of Christianity back in, perhaps using Archangel patrons built on the Empyreal Lords model?

It's possible, but would need reworking the nations as well. Rome is the centre of a mageocracy for example.

Liberty's Edge

lonewolf23k wrote:

Haven't bought this book yet, but I read one of the reviews and it stated there's no Christianity in this Fantasy version of Europe, mostly to justify using classic Pagan gods.

We went the Greek gods route so as to have a multi-faceted pantheon (a la the world's most popular RPG) and to avoid any unsightly complications having to do with real world religions and casting spells and whatnot. We also tried to avoid any obvious stand-ins for real world religions for the same reasons.

We did choose some parallel-to-history ideas, like replacing the Papal States with a magical theocracy of sorts, centered in Rome.

Thanks for your interest!


Reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine.

Liberty's Edge

Brent Evanger wrote:

We went the Greek gods route so as to have a multi-faceted pantheon (a la the world's most popular RPG) and to avoid any unsightly complications having to do with real world religions and casting spells and whatnot. We also tried to avoid any obvious stand-ins for real world religions for the same reasons.

We did choose some parallel-to-history ideas, like replacing the Papal States with a magical theocracy of sorts, centered in Rome.

Thanks for your interest!

Having finally bought the book, I think it would be easy enough to alter the setting to something like I said. Essentially, the "Fallen" are replaced by the Twelve, who become the deities of the Old Races. Humanity's patron deities then become a Pantheon of Archangels

Alternatively, I have a copy of the Medieval Player's Manual, and an old copy of Mythic Europe for Ars Magica 3rd edition, ideal for fleshing out the medieval nations further.

Liberty's Edge

Mind you, having typed all of that, I do agree that it would be interesting to see an Alternate Europe where the Olympian deities remained influential. But I'd still keep variants of Monotheism around, with the alternate explanation that, instead of stamping out the Old Cults, the Christian Faith instead focused it's attention on battling Demon Cults.

Eberron has showed us one way that "Monotheism" could co-exist with Pantheon faiths, so why not use that model?


This paragraph comes from the guide's description of the Teutonic Order with the emphasis added being mine:

***
The knights of the Teutonic Order are a religious
military group dedicated to advancing the interests
of the Twelve. They were formed two centuries ago
during the Crusade against the orc hordes terrorizing
human lands in the Eastern Mediterranean.

***

Which Eastern Mediterranean lands are these?
The description doesn't make it sound like they were formed and came into the Ottoman Sultanate to kill orcs and I haven't found anything else (such as a half-orc presence in the population) that would lead me to think orcs were such a huge problem in the Sultanate, or anywhere else in the Easter Mediterranean.

So, where exactly did this occur and is there a half-orc presence there?


A good idea would be to combine this with the historical information from the XCrawl RPG.

Liberty's Edge

xorial wrote:
A good idea would be to combine this with the historical information from the XCrawl RPG.

Well, that's what I ended up doing, using the 12 Gods as the core of my XCrawl campaign's Cosmology.

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