Our group is currently building a campaign world (one nation per player) for the Pillars of the State campaign (as suggested in the DMG2 somewhere around page 170).

Today we encountered the "problem" of how to create a world where one nation is not completely and absolutely superior to any other nation (aka best economy, best diplomacy, best military, best science, best magic, best whatever).

Is there an existing framework for this? I seem to remember that some game or system was handling nations similar to characters (with attributes, skills, feats and stuff), but I can't recall what game/system that was from.

Ideally, the system would allow players to create/build their nations alone (without GM supervision) and let them customize individual areas (e.g. describe specific military advantages or units) but put some limits and constraints on them so that they cannot be good at everything and each nation has something unique.


I dug through my collection of books and found the mechanic I mentioned. It's from Sword&Sorcery's Advanced Player's Guide (a 3.5 supplement from 2004) and is called "Castle and Keep". It uses a set of 4 classes of community (civilian, military, arcane, and religious), 6 ability scores (force, mobility, resilience, learning, awareness, command), some feats and most of the normal 3.0/3.5 skill set to model communities ov varying sizes. You can multiclass your community and there are several levels of advancement which improve the stats of it.

It seems that this is pretty close that what I wanted, now the next question is: how can such a system be adapted to 4e (especially regarding the skill and multiclass aspect of the mechanic)?

  • \$\begingroup\$ This isn't point buy, but Microscope, or Kingdom seem like good fits here...Just put "single powerful nation" on your palette on the verboten side. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    May 2, 2012 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle: Thanks for the hints, I'll check them out. The problem of simply putting something on a blacklist is to figure out what exactly needs to be put on that list. To use a real world example, would you allow a player to run China while others run Austria, Denmark and Swiss? Would you allow a player to run Iceland while others run the USA, Russia, and Germany? That's why I'm searching for a system that doesn't depend (mostly) on handwaving or thumb*pi to figure out whether something is okay or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2862
    May 2, 2012 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Arotter You might want to post that "next question" added in your update as a question on its own. Maybe flesh out the sticking points a bit. \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    May 2, 2012 at 20:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AceCalhoon: Done: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/14028 \$\endgroup\$
    – user2862
    May 3, 2012 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


I haven't heard of an existing system for this, but I think you could fairly easily translate character-building into nation-building. For example, replace Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, Intellect, Charisma, and Fortitude with major nation traits, such as Military, Science, Economy, Magic, Diplomacy, and something like land defensibility.

You could then use either array, rolling, or point buy to create the nation as a character with these traits.

You could replace character skills with nation skills, such as military offense, defense, trading, technology, resources etc. and have the base skills modify these in the same way a character's Strength modifier adds to his Athletics skill.

So long as you can translate each character trait into a nation trait, this should allow for fair and limited nation building. Hope this helps!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Building on Jason's answer, I could see where, if I were a member of your group, I would appreciate some heads-up regarding the attributes of other countries. This may ruin surprises in some ways, but if I knew one of the other city creators had focused on technology, I could not only focus my country's skills elsewhere, I might work in a story regarding why my country developed "X" in response to the other country's "Y." In the character-building analogy, this could help avoid that uncomfortable situation in which all the players show up to the new game having created rogue strikers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lechlerfan
    May 2, 2012 at 7:33

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