Guide Review: Balduran’s Guide to Kingdom Building (Adam Hancock): 5 Stars

Guide Review: Balduran’s Guide to Kingdom Building (Adam Hancock): 5 Stars

September 9, 2019 0 By Isaac May

To go about fulfilling my goals, I decided two things early on. First, the rules for kingdom building would be based on existing D&D rules. No need to reinvent the wheel. Don’t get me wrong, what I’ve done here is more than reskinning. But you’ll soon discover that Balduran’s Guide to Kingdom Building feels very fifth edition. It is built in the spirit of D&D’s simplicity. In that vein, the pieces that comprise a settlement and kingdom are roughly analogous to building a player character.


Balduran’s Guide to Kingdom Building is the quintessential guide to building settlements in a 5th edition context. The rules are clear and their design feels just like you’re building a brand new character thanks to the city sheet. You’ll want to see this city sheet filled up, you’ll want to see your settlement grow in a very real way. Outside of the rules on building there are mass combat rules and adventures that feed right into the overall theme of kingdom building.

What Worked

Kingdom As A Character. The statistics of settlement building are an analog to the statistics of character building. What would be a complex system feels far more accessible when you look at the parts as a whole. Breaking down the actions or decrees of a stronghold into simple to manage events that have direct completion times, Kingdom Builder manages to make something incredibly complex easy to understand. The system feels as if it was written with 5e mechanics at its core. 

World Building. There are a staggering number of uses for this book that have nothing to do with a party constructing a settlement or stronghold. There are story hooks, adventures and even information for a Dungeon Master to quickly create towns on the fly. Nearly every chart comes with a rolling option for determining the size, scope and content within a settlement. The information provided gives you plenty to brainstorm entire areas of your setting. This is excellent for any DM and even better for those that have a party with wanderlust.  

Gorgeous Layout. This book is a masterpiece of composition. The artwork is well placed, there are travelogue quotes from all manner of interesting characters among the realms. None of the artwork is too jarring and everything takes on a soft painted look. The professional design along with excellent layout makes Balduran’s Guide to Kingdom Building a joy to read. Often, books of this nature that contain adventures, game rules and more become disjointed in their design. In contrast, each piece of this puzzle fits perfectly together to create something warm and inviting. 

What Didn’t

Descriptions Lacking. At times we felt descriptions were lacking or confusing. Clean tables help to mitigate this problem. Overall the ruleset is easy to follow, but there were a few moments where clarity was needed. These issues cropped up when discussing settlement tiers, however, they were cleanly resolved by looking at the offered tables.

Must Have

We are giving Balduran’s Guide to Kingdom Building a rating of 5.0 Stars. This guide belongs on every table, no matter the size of the adventure. If you aren’t using it for your party to build their stronghold, the adventures, mass combat rules, and tables to quickly roll up a settlement are enough reason to own this product. There simply isn’t a better suited guide for building strongholds on the Dungeon Masters Guild!  If you appreciate our reviews, please click the picture if you’re planning on buying.

Isaac A.L. May is a best-selling DM’s Guild author and creator of the Weird Stuff I Found series. His background in Psychology is leveraged in all of his professional engagements, from writer to Dungeon Master. Isaac is passionate about all things “gaming”, and pursues his passion for game design and mechanics through theory crafting. Isaac’s DnD 5e works can be found HERE  and he can be found on twitter as @IceyKindaDicey.