Monday, September 20, 2010

Kingdom Builder

A couple of weeks ago Hannah "Swordgleam" Lipski of Chaotic Shiny Productions asked me if I would do a review on her most recent generator, the Kingdom Builder Generator Pack II and I quickly said absolutely. It's no secret that I am a fan of Chaotic Shiny's products. I did reviews for Tavern Tables and Treasure Hoard Generator, both excellent tools to add to a GMs arsenal. I'm here to tell you the Kingdom Builder Generator Pack II is probably the best one yet.

Like all of Hannah's generators this one very simple to use and provides an amazing amount variety. It uses a nine tab strip across the top to find what you are in most need of to complete your kingdom. And like her other generators you can print and save your results. It generates a lot of good stuff so you're going to want to.

I've broken the review down into the sections of the generator followed by some examples of what you can expect.

Kingdom & Hooks
One push of a button and the outline for a new kingdom is ready. This tab combines most of the other generators and creates eight categories that outline the kingdom.

Kingdom Name: Straight forward results. Some are one work where some are the Holy or the Glorious. Most of the names are pronounceable, but I have to admit there are a few names that came up I think I would hurt myself if I tried to say them.

Ruled By: You would think with a name like Kingdom Builder that you would get a list of kings? No so. There are some interesting variations. In five generated kingdoms I got a philosopher-queen, two kings, an elected official and a minister. I like these variations because it gives a GM a shot of inspiration about the kingdom. A kingdom ruled by a minster would be a very different place than one ruled by a philosopher queen.

Prominent Places: Five randomly generated names for places are listed here. This section helps flesh out the geographical features of the kingdom. There is a tab dedicated to this feature where you can generate up to fifty places. There is a feature where you can select random names or nonsense names or word names. Examples of the random names generated are Crorrana Fen, Nodan Glen, and the Taenen Wilds. Some of the names are difficult to pronounce, but you can generate more than enough to choose from. The word names are putting two known words together. Here are some examples, Starrock Peak, Steelwine Sea, and Pickwaste Canyon. Some humorous results were generated also like Meatlawn Tarn, Wifebank Plain and I kinda like this one Gloommilk Crossing. So like most of the named sections, pick and choose what you like. If nothing else it will get your wheels churning and inspire other names you might not have thought of before. The other feature in this section is you can specifially choose what geographical location you would like named. So if you have a forest, swamp or settlement you're just having trouble coming up with a name with one push of a button you can have five to fifty suggestion waiting for you.

Laws: Two to four laws of the land are generated here. This is a great feature. It lists the crime committed and the penalty of the crime. An example of one is 'the penalty for a previously convicted criminal who steals a sheep is execution'. Wow, that's some hardcore justice there. Law has its own tab and here you can generate from five up to fifty laws. It's a nice addition that can get a GM started on a law system in a kingdom. I'm not sure how often the penalty for a wizard wounding a sheep is public humiliation will come up, but it's there if you need it.

- A landless person who slanders a priest is thrown into the stocks.
- A military officer is caught smuggling wine he will pay a small fine.

Recent Events: Five randomly generated events of what is going on in the kingdom. These generated events give the kingdom a life, a movement that things are happening within the kingdom. I really like this section because not only does it provide further geographical locations it also can be a great source for adventure hooks. There is an Events tab that can create up to fifty events. And each generated event comes in two parts that could either be separate or with some imagination linked together. Here are some examples of what could be headlines in your kingdom. It doesn't take much to see how these could turn into great adventures.

- Near the northern castle a new species of trolls may have emerged and the popular religion is losing followers.
- Several people have vanished near the southwest plains and an important politician has gone missing.
- A giant has been spotted in the southern barony.

Notable Individuals: Three to four interesting characters a generated with each kingdom. These could be high profile NPCs the players interact with or are working in the background. The details of the individuals vary a great deal. A combination of any of the following could be included, profession, friends and relatives, physical description, rumors, and where he or she can be found. Some examples:

- Bat, the Flamboyant, suspicious scholar who is openly feared by the commoners. He has been quickly gaining enemies. He can usually be found at a friend's house. He is stocky with an obvious birthmark and dark skin. The dashing guard captain Anou' is his friend. The secretive priest, Possor, is his advisor.
- Cra'elae, the shadowy, alcoholic adventurer who recently had a sudden change in alliance. She has just gained a significant ally. She can usually be found in the affluent part of town. She is muscular with a pierced nose and tanned skin. The proud magistrate Orachn is her opponent.

As you can see there is fodder in there for interplay among NPCs. This is one of my favorite elements in the Kingdom Builder Generator.

Army: Every kingdom needs an army. There is some great stuff included with the personality of the army itself. What they are known for, what weapons they prefer and an estimate of troop strength. I like that it also includes what tactics they favor and if there are any current issues with the troops.

- Caenmor's army relies heavily on powerful infantry and the use of slings. They are known, to a lesser extent, for using orcs. They are famous for their terrifying armor and flashy tactics. Each corps contains 15 battalions of 350 soldiers. Currently, they are are having supply-chain problems.
- Fraz's army is famed for its quick moving infantry and the use of dirks. They have a highly informal chain of command, with ranks based on family connections.

Current Fashion: This is a nice touch for role-playing. Not normally a consideration when drudging through the intestines of a mountain, but what's more embarrassing than using last year's 10' pole. Keep up on the trends of what people are wearing so maybe you can be one on the useless people who gain notoriety by doing nothing. Seriously though, I like this addition. It adds an element I rarely think of when gaming. This is also another one that has its own tab so you can generate five to fifty styles if you wish.

- The fashion features crude, form fitting dark gold and dark blue garments. Tops are typically cropped with plunging necklines. Bodices are also customary. Diadems are popular accessories. Embroidery and pockets and chiffon are staples of the style. Upper and lower classes wear very different clothing.
- This style emphasizes pleated, billowing pale violet garments. Top are typically long sleeved with high necklaces. Brooches and headbands are popular accessories. Bright green, violet and gold are also common colors. Young adults and elderly wear very different clothing.

There is one more tab that no kingdom can be complete without. Flags. I could go into a whole Eddie Izzard skit about flags, but I won't. If you have seen Hannah's random generator for coins the flags work on the same concept. You can specify what type of flag you want whether is square, swallowtail, or gonfalon is your choice. With all the options included in this one you can pretty much make any map you want. And you can also import you own pictures to customize your flag even further.

There is so much talk about building a campaign world, the time and work that a GM is required to put into it before one session is played. The Kingdom Builder Generator can get things started by producing kingdoms even before you have a map drawn. Game system neutral so it can be used for Swords & Wizardry, OSRIC and 4th edition D&D if you so choose. Hannah's asking price for this is $3.95. With the number of hours this will save you when creating a world this is a steal. Its real simple, if you are currently building or plan on building a campaign world get the Kingdom Builder Generation Pack II.


  1. Thanks for the awesome review! I'm glad you liked it so much.

  2. Kind of neat, and only four bucks... I might just have to get it.