Colonizing without a castle

In my just-converted-to-ACKS campaign, the player characters are colonizing a large, recently-discovered island. Prior to converting, they had made landfall, set up a small village, and cleared out three six-mile hexes, but not constructed any fortifications. Their total population is a little over 1,000, so call it 200 families.

Per standard ACKS domain rules, 200 families in wilderness requires a minimum of 2 hexes, which, in turn, requires a stronghold worth a minimum of 60kgp, which would take 4 months to build (or 2 months for 120kgp). But no such stronghold exists and, as one of my players put it, “So it could be a village for 10.000 and a palisade, moat and towers around it. I presume that is what you do in wilderness. Not a ‘Keep’ with unlimited stone and metal and so on. And barbicans.”

So I’m wondering how more experienced GMs would handle this, and whether there’s anything official addressing it. I don’t want to just ignore it, because then there’s no reason to ever build a stronghold. The most obvious answer would be to increase either the garrison cost, the chance of monster attacks, or both, but I can’t find any guidance on that in the core book, which basically just seems to say no stronghold = no hexes controlled = no population.

Also, as a side question, does the full version of Domains at War (or any other extant ACKS product) have anything covering domain-level random events? (Plagues, good/poor harvests, etc.)

Off the top of my head (and also, I am not an Autarch), I would probably rule that any hex not controlled by a stronghold can never be rated above Wilderness.

This increases your chance of monster attacks and limits your population density. I believe that it would allow players to take advantage of situations where a stronghold isn’t built yet or isn’t directly necessary, but they would still want to build a stronghold for any place that they actually care about.

Hello nDervish! This situation is not directly addressed in ACKS or D@W, although the latter has a variety of mechanics under Conquering and Pillaging Domains that give some implicit suggestions.

What I would recommend is as follows:

  1. The domain cannot progress past Wilderness.
  2. The domain suffers a -4 penalty on morale checks. (In D@W, when a stronghold has been captured and pillaged, this imposes a -4 penalty on morale checks for the domain, which is where I m sourcing this idea from).

Within the game world, the peasants are fearful because the lack of a stronghold gives them no acropolis or redoubt to retreat to if danger comes. Meanwhile, rebellious nobles or rivals will feel the ruler’s realm is insecure for lack of a stronghold.

D@W has extensive tables for random domain events. Here are two sample events from one table.

Tribute: Tribute pours in from vassals and clients, increasing the leader’s war-chest. The leader receives gold pieces equal to the lesser of one month’s wages for his army or one gp per family in his overall realm.

War Profiteers: Merchants take advantage of the mobilization to raise prices. The cost of artillery ammunition, armor, mounts, supplies, and weapons is increased by 10% for 1d4 seasons. Each time this vagary is rolled, prices increase an additional 10%.

Yes, I think I like the morale modifier… Outside of wars and the like, it looks like the only time you make morale rolls for a domain are the quarterly rolls for morale change, meaning that the population’s morale will gradually wane until a stronghold is constructed, which seems appropriate here. Rebellious nobles and rivals aren’t really present to be an issue. (Unless you’re counting things like the nearby troll village that they don’t know about yet…)

I think I’ll actually use a morale roll modifier of -1 per full or partial 25% of stronghold value that they’re short by (so, for 3 hexes, the penalty is reduced by 1 for every full 22,500 gp value of completed construction, or 1 point every 45 days at standard construction rate) rather than jumping straight from -4 to no penalty. Thanks for the suggestion!

Not being able to progress past wilderness is a given.

Do you have an estimated public release date for the full D@W PDF? I’ve already got the free preview version, but it’s not enough…

We’ll be releasing the PDF very shortly. June. Books to follow!

Oh, that’s wonderful news! I’ll make sure to set aside a pile of money right now.

I backed the Kickstarter, and I’ve spent a lot of time with the .pdf files already - you won’t be disappointed.

Another thing is, without a stronghold, the PC doesn’t really display enough power, authority, or protective ability for the peasants to necessarily see him as their ruler or protector. That makes collecting taxes a BIT trickier…