Domains at War - Update on Our Approach

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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10
Domains at War - Update on Our Approach

Hello everyone - Thanks for your feedback in my "level of detail" and "hexes v. inches" threads. After many hours of design work and some playtesting, here's the refined approach we're going to take.

  1. Domains at War will be split into 2 books: DAW: Campaigns and DAW: Battles. Using the rules in DAW: Campaigns, fantasy RPG characters will be able to raise armies, campaign against enemy forces, and conquer domains. The Campaigns book will also include a streamlined system for resolving the outcome of pitched battles between army-sized forces. This system is ideal for resolving battles between NPC commanders, where the adventurers are bystanders or low-level participants. When the campaign’s characters attain the heights of power and begin to lead armies into pitched battles, then it’s time to consult the Domains at War: Battles (DAWB) book. DAW: Battles will provide comprehensive rules for playing out the results of epic battles on the tabletop.

  2. DAW: Battles will use hexes and counters. The book will include counters and terrain suitable for use with 2" hex mapsheets, such as those found in the "Battle Lore" / "Battles of Westeros" series of games by Fantasy Flight. It will also include sample mapsheets. However, it will be playable with any size hex grid. For example, you will be able to draw the battlefield on printable 1" hex paper and play with 25mm miniatures, if desired. You could also play it without hexes and simply use a ruler.

  3. While DAW: Battles can be enjoyed as a stand-alone wargame, it will be designed primarily for battles where the player characters are in command, so it will make the deeds and decisions of those characters the focus of its gameplay. Each character will be in command of a certain number of units, and the units will move and fight on the character's initiative. This creates an exciting ebb-and-flow on the battlefield and allows for everyone to participate in the epic fight.

  4. DAW: Campaigns will be a free download. DAW Deluxe, including DAW: Campaigns, DAW: Battles, and mapsheets and counters, will be a premium PDF product. ACKS kickstarter backers will get DAW deluxe (it was their bonus goal). We may do a later kickstarter to do DAW: Deluxe as a boxed set.

Joined: 2012-02-26 22:57

I think that all sounds very intriguing.

Carlos de la Cruz
Joined: 2012-02-16 00:47

Indeed, I think that all sounds great! :D

Joined: 2012-02-16 02:22

will the premium pdf be available for non kickstarter backers at some point?

Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Yes, the premium PDF will be available for sale on DriveThruRPG. We may later make it into a print book and boxed set, but that's TBD.

As a further update, my revised approach to having a separate Campaigns book has let me add some very fun detail. I've now got rules for inserting spies into the enemy camp and conducting hijinks (stealing banners, spreading rumors, assassinating commanders), rules for scouting and reconnaissance, and more.

sean wills
Joined: 2011-07-07 19:39

As a further update, my revised approach to having a separate Campaigns book has let me add some very fun detail. I've now got rules for inserting spies into the enemy camp and conducting hijinks (stealing banners, spreading rumors, assassinating commanders), rules for scouting and reconnaissance, and more.[/quote]

This just gets better and better :)

Joined: 2012-02-22 22:34

Let me second that... looks like a great addition to the system and seems like it involves the different class archetypes in a meaningful way. Thieves and assassins mucking up all the well-planned strategies of the opposing side... awesome.

Joined: 2011-08-02 21:17

Alex this sounds great! Now if I may suggest, and prolly you guys are already thinking along these lines, total war, ala Sun Tzu, is a natural fit for ACKS, given the detailed economics. A clever general should be able to win a campaign with hardly ever fighting a pitched battle. Starvation, assassination and economic destruction are almost never well modeled in wargames. I'm sure there are some historical examples you are aware of but Sullivan's campaign (New York, Rev war) may be particularly relevant as a "borderlands" setting, and a very successful campaign at that.

On the tactical side of things, I personally would like to see a system where formation and small unit manuevers were relevant, but that may be getting more granular than you want, I dunno.

Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Thanks for the kind words. I *think* we've got a good "total war" ruleset, with spies, assassins, pillaging, supplies, etc., but it needs playtesting. 

Which thus prompts me to say: anyone who'd like to help read and playtest the current DAW rules, please email me at alex at autarch dot co.


Joined: 2012-02-16 02:22

Has there been any discussion or playing ofsmaller scale skirmish battles?

Joined: 2011-08-02 21:17

Thought of one more thing to add to my wish list. Entrenchment rules for units. In a world where wizards and dragons are slinging fireballs at my troops, I'd really want them to be able to dig in.

Joined: 2012-05-04 04:54

I'm rather new to ACKS, but I look forward to seeing what you come up with for integrating wargaming with the rules. I've alternated between rpg's and miniature wargaming (primarily of the historical sort) since my teens, and yet have only managed to combine the two during our time playing Pendragon.



Joined: 2012-06-13 18:40

Two questions:
* is DaW:Campaigns at the play test level yet?
* do ACKS Kickstarter backers get access to the DaW playtest? (if so, my Kickstarter ID is same as here)

Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Here's what will happen:

1. Everyone will get a 10-page DAW Free Starter Edition.

2. All ACKS Kickstarter backers will get a PDF of the complete DAW Digital Boxed set, with DAW Battles, DAW Campaigns, and some cut-outs for minis, etc.

3. Later this year we will host a Kickstarter to fund production of a hardcover and boxed set version of DAW. 

Joined: 2011-07-17 01:55

Alex, when do you plan to release playtest versions of the Campaign / Battle Rules? Our campaign is right on the verge of some domain level play (we have a 7th level guy in the lead) and some people have a keep and hired mercs to garrison it.

Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I'm literally days away from having it finished! We then just need to lay it out as a PDF.

At that point, we'll do the following:

1. Release the 10-page free version

2. Release the complete version, without art, to our original ACKS backers

3. Hold a Kickstarter to fund a full "digital boxed set" (or, if we raise enough, actual boxed set) of the rules with art, counters, etc.

Joined: 2011-07-17 01:55

Days! Woot. That should be in time for our big showdown on Sept. 7-8. Many thanks!

The Wyzard
Joined: 2012-05-04 13:21

How do you plan to spread the word on the kickstarter? I missed the one for the Player's Companion, and I definitely want to back a hex-based D&D wargame thing. It's right in my wheelhouse.

Ludanto's picture
Joined: 2012-04-30 11:52

I don't have a wheelhouse, but I definitely want to be informed about the DaW Kickstarter. I'm kicking myself for missing the Players Companion Kickstarter as it is.

Joined: 2012-08-09 16:30

I've missed all the kickstarters, due to ignorance of this system up to a few weeks ago. But I'll backing this, I tell ya what.

Joined: 2012-03-08 01:21

Hey, any update on this? Has the kickstarter already happened, or is it still in the works? (Also any news on that free version?)

Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

The Kickstarter hasn't happened yet. We wanted to get at least the complete Player's Companion PDF into everyone's hands before starting another Kickstarter.

Domains at War is 99% done, though, save for art.

Joined: 2012-03-08 01:21

Ah, OK. Thanks for the update!

Joined: 2012-06-04 11:02

Is there any chance there's a mailer or something I can get on to get notified when the kickstarter for this spins up and you guys have future projects/product plans?

I honestly don't check these forums much at all(and I'm not running an ACKs campaign at the moment), but would absolutely be interested in being a part of the KS for this.

To me ACKS is an important part of the rpg community.

Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Dracones, there's no mailing list, no, though that's not a bad idea. We'll do our best to spread the word when we start the Kickstarter. Tavis usually hits, TheRPGSite, EnWorld, and the other major hubs, and the OSR blogs...


Joined: 2012-05-15 22:31

So I want ACKS rules for quickly resolving mass combat, without moving counters around on a map, and for otherwise resolving large scale things like barbarian raids on villages or other military-like enounters much like the rules to resolve hi-jinx. So, yeah, military hijinx.

I'm not interested in a wargame with PC's as heroes and tracking ranks and wheeling and otherwise playing Warhammer.

So the book I'm looking for is DaW: Campaigns, right?

Also, just so you know, I think hijinx systems (like those of the thief and assassin) are an excellent way of combining the ACKS "bottom up" approach with a "top down" approach seen in things like An Echo Resounding. I'd happily pay for a book full of them. Thiefly hijinx, military hijinx, magical hijinx, priestly hijinx. Well, maybe not a book of *just* those, but they would certainly be a welcome addition.

Rodriguez's picture
Joined: 2012-04-05 04:40

I am not sure if there is a practical way to get hijinks for other classes as they dont get any additional skills one could roll for.

I would love to have a system like that though.

Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

It sounds like what you'd want is Domains at War: Campaigns, yes. 

The system in Domains at War Campaigns doesn't use hijinks, but it's very simple. The rules assign a "Battle Rating" to each body  of troops. For example, 10 goblin wolf riders have a Battle Rating of 1. You then resolve the fight between the opposing sides with rolls of d20s based on the sum of the battle ratings involved.

PCs can intervene in the fight by doing a "heroic foray" where they commit to personally defeating a certain value of Battle Rating. The Judge selects enemies equal to the chosen BR. You then roll on some tables that tell you how far away the enemies start and what's going on at the point on the battlefield where the PCs join the fight. If they win, the enemy's BR is reduced, letting the PCs have an impact on the overall course of the fight.

Here's some examples of random battlefield conditions:


Blood and Mud: The battlefield here is soaked in blood and mud. Due to the wet, slippery conditions, creatures that roll a natural 1 on attack or saving throws fall prone.


Piles of Dead: Huge piles of dead troops lay in heaps on the ground. Movement rates are halved because of the carrion obstacles, and no charging or running is permitted. The corpses may be animated by necromancers. Thieves and others skilled in hiding will find ample cover available to make use of their abilities (+2 bonus to proficiency throws). All creatures suffer a -2 penalty to morale rolls due to the awful carnage.


Volley of Arrows: Arrows fill the skies, striking friend and foe. 1d4 rounds after the foray begins, make an attack throw with a target value of 15+ (modified by AC) against each creature in the foray. A hit deals 1d6 points of damage to the creature struck.

Domains at War: Campaigns also adds a bunch of new hijinks to the game, including:

  1. Disinformation - A perpetrator can spread lies and rumors through an enemy's camp.

  2. Subversion - A perpetrator can subvert a subvert stronghold's defenses by unlocking doors, opening gates, etc.

  3. Sabotage - A perpetrator can attempt to destroy the supplies of the opposing army. 



Joined: 2011-07-12 13:55

I eagerly scrolled down looking to see if an update to the D@W thread meant an impending Kickstarter announcement. Alas, :sigh:

Any word, wise Autarchs, when we can expect an announcement? I really love how this is taking the quick and abstract top-down of the old war machine style approach to compliment a detailed battle system - best of both worlds.

Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Tavis is going to post the backer levels this week, and the Kickstarter will start within the month!



Joined: 2012-05-17 22:22

[quote=archon]Tavis is going to post the backer levels this week, and the Kickstarter will start within the month!  [/quote]
Great news. Been waiting on this one for a while!

Asaris's picture
Joined: 2011-07-15 15:02

Great news!

Rodriguez's picture
Joined: 2012-04-05 04:40

Any news on the Kickstarter front? :)

Joined: 2011-07-01 15:40

It shouldn't be much longer. I've assembled the pricing info and written some of the KS page text, hope to put the rest of it together tomorrow.

Joined: 2012-01-14 14:14

Will there be a way to back you through PayPal? In my current financial situation I prefer not to use my international credit card too much.

Joined: 2011-11-11 08:23

can't speak for the crew, but in the past i have backed the CR and PG via paypal and it went smooth.