Free Starter Edition


EHamilton, thanks for your comments. I’ve made some annotations below.

The BR table seems to suggest that the formula has a linear dependence on HD. That is, the rating of a human/orc heavy infantry is 2, a gnoll (2 HD) is 4, and a bugbear (3 HD) is 6. But the formula below says that the HD dependence should be quadratic, scaling as HD*(HD+1).

I thought maybe the discrepancy might be due to human/orc infantry having access to better armor (plate, versus chain-equivalent for the monsters?), but that still doesn’t explain the gnoll vs bugbear vs ogre linearity.

APM: The various troop BRs were derived by assigning an equivalent of fractions of various special abilities. Generally, the weaker the creature, the more importance I placed on their equipment. Some creatures actually have “negative” special abilities if they are irregulars (in DAW: Battles this is made much more explicit).

For example, conscript/militia and goblin light infantry and slingers count as having -0.25 special abilities: (120 / 240) x (0.75) x (1.75) x (1+ -.25) = 0.5

Human light infantry count as having 0.5 special abilities:
(120 / 240) x (0.75) x (1.75) x (1 + 0.5) = 1

Orc light infantry count as having no special abilities
(120 / 240) x (1) x (2) x (1) = 1

Orc heavy infantry count as having 1 special ability
(120 / 240) x (1) x (2) x (2) = 2

Gnoll heavy infantry count as having 0.33 special ability
(120 / 240) x (2) x (3) x (1 + 0.33) = 4

Bugbear heavy infantry count as having no special abilities
(120 / 240) x (3) x (4) x (1) = 6

It looks like the value for Ogres is wrong, though. In an earlier draft, there were only 25 ogres per unit, but now there are 60.

Possible unintended consequence of the morale system (maybe I’m misunderstanding this): The “rally” bonus applies only when the army gets to make a morale bonus (losing entire unit, or cumulative 1/3 of total unit number), but will let units with very high morale (plus a charismatic leader) get a +50% BR boost. A unit with adjusted morale 10 (including CHA bonus) would rally constantly! This creates a perverse incentive to include a bunch of really weak units that will die fast without having much effect on total BR – so that the main army has more chances to gain rally bonuses. I’d probably revise the trigger conditions for morale rolls to be based on something other than the raw number of units lost, maybe based on BR losses just like the modifiers are.

APM: While that is a theoretical possibility, I’ve run dozens of battles in a series of ACKS campaigns and never seen that occur. Most units have a ML of 0; some go as high as +2. Most leaders have a Morale Modifier of +2 to +4. Armies making morale checks are usually at a -2 penalty (for having lost more BR of units than the opposing army). The net result is that most morale rolls are made at a +2 bonus. About 16% of units will Rally, about 8% will Flee, about 25% will Waver, and the rest will Stand Firm. The ones that Waver or Flee end up much worse off on the following turn.

I like the heroic foray concept, although I’m worried about the scale mismatch between small heroic parties and such huge armies, especially when it comes to engaging ranged troops with heroes on an open field. If you launch a modest BR 1 foray and find yourself facing 240 goblin slingers, winning initiative would probably be a high priority! Quite aside from survivability concerns, it seems like these kinds of fights would take a substantial time (and collection of dice!) to play out.

APM: The assumption is that the PCs are 8th level and above. PCs of lower level than that are allowed to do heroic forays, but they are not really well-suited for wading into battle against masses of enemies. High-level PCs will slaughter low-level enemies, though. For example, a wizard with fly, protection from normal missiles, and a wand of fireballs will wipe out 240 slingers very, very quickly.

It’s up to the Judge to decide what the PCs face in their foray. Generally I assume the PCs are seeking out the toughest troops. If there is a unit of 120 Bugbear (BR 6) in the battle, let the PCs foray against the Bugbears. Then they’d fight 20 bugbears (BR6/6 = 1; 120/6 = 20).

Also keep in mind that for smaller battles (skirmishes) you can reduce the number of troops that one point of BR represents. For example, let’s say the battle is between 480 troops on a side. At 120 troops/unit, that’s only 4 units per side. That’s not very interesting. So, instead, let every 20 troops counts as a unit. Each side has 20 units, which will make for a longer, more interesting battle. It also allows heroic forays to be against units of 20 troops rather than units of 120 troops.

Since character level and battle size tend to increase in direct proportion, usually the optimum unit size tends to be in proportion to the level of the PCs.

One possible solution I might try: specify that each unit has a smaller number of captains (say, 1st-3rd level types), and disproportionately include them in the stake, replacing the full horde. That reflects the way I visualize a foray. It isn’t that the heroes exclusively attack a group of 120 goblin slingers to wipe out to the man, it’s that they target the leaders of that group and try to execute a precision strike to incite a panic. So a fight against a 120-goblin slinger unit would instead become a fight against a 3rd level goblin captain, a half-dozen 2nd level guards, and a dozen veteran 1st level slingers from that unit. If the heroes kill that command portion of the force, they’ve effectively destroyed the cohesion of the larger group and routed it.

APM: The math behind heroic forays won’t really work if you handle it this way. If you want the PCs to fight against major enemy NPCs, you’d be better off using the Heroes versus Heroes foray rules, with 0 BR staked.

Oh, and I’m wondering about the rationale for only allowing infantry pursuit after all opposing cavalry units are destroyed, and providing a throw bonus for destroying cavalry. I don’t see any problem mechanically, I’m just curious about the simulationist motivation and its historical precedents. This seems to be replacing the usual approach of basing pursuit modifiers off the terrain and relative travel speeds of the armies.

APM: The pursuit of enemy forces following a battle has always been primarily the responsibility of cavalry. Likewise, cavalry is the best troop type to screen a retreat.

Alex, in regard to your comment about scaling down the number of troops per unit, and how character level tends to be in direct proportion to unit size, do you think it would then be feasible to use these rules for sub-level 8 PCs to get a taste of leading armies?

regardless, reading these rules has me immeasurably excited to kickstart the full rules and get a look at the playtest document. I do love these nice, simple, streamlined rules as well, though!

Jard beat me to it, so, pretty much, “What he said!”.

Ditto this question - I just checked and I’ve got a sparsely-settled starting region with no polity over 30k families, which means only one or two NPCs are 8th level. (Or am I doing something wrong?)

Oh, yeah absolutely. 

We used the D@W rules to resolve the climax of The Lost City in my Opelenean Nights campaign. The PCs were between 3rd and 5th level. You can read about it under Opelenean Nights / Session 15; I cut and pasted most of the battle report below with some notes.

***The initial beastman assault came in three waves, each numbering about two dozen goblins covered by hobgoblin bowmen. The first wave suffered heavily under bow fire. The second wave made it to the walls, but in a feat of strength Rakh hurled back the assault ladders, sending the goblins to their death. The third wave reached the battlements and was met in close-quarters combat by the heroes . The balance of the fighting nearly tipped when a gang of seven hobgoblins descended upon their flank, having cut through the Warrior Maidens on the adjoining segment of wall, but these too were fought off.

APM: This was the first Battle Turn. The BR1 foray confronted a mix of goblins and hobgoblins divided into three groups. The gang of hobgoblins that arrived was a Vagary of Battle called "Enemy Reinforcements." Vagaries are random events that can occur in forays; the Vagaries chart is found in D@W Campaigns.

The fighting entered a lull that stretched into minutes. Senef and Nakhita did what they could for the wounded.

APM: This was a Lull in the Fighting between Battle Turns.

Peering anxiously outward, the adventurers noted that the ground below the walls was piled with the dead. This would forcing assault troops to advance more slowly, but offer them substantial cover.The lull broke with a horrible warcry, and the second assault was launched. All around them, the party could hear sounds of fighting, but they could do little to help for their own section of the wall was under attack: 20 hobgoblins carrying assault ladders scurried through the corpse-laden courtyard. Behind them came four bugbears led by a chieftain, and trio of ogres, one of them of enormous size. The attackers were simply too tough to be stopped with archery fire, and a dozen enemy soon had escaladed onto the walls. Rakh and the ogre chieftain fought a fierce hand-to-hand fight. Mahmoud and Ethlyn, meanwhile, squared off with the bugbear chieftain.

APM: This was the second Battle Turn. The BR1 foray confronted 20 hobgoblins, 4 bugbears, a bugbear chieftain, and 3 ogres. You'll note I describe piles of dead littering the battlefield; that was a Vagary of Battle called "Piles of the Dead". 

The battle was beginning to turn against the party when a band of ten Warrior Maidens raced onto the walls from the east – a timely set of reinforcements that turned the tide. When the bugbear and ogre chieftains fell, the enemy morale shattered and the beastmen scattered.The party was by now exhausted and the line of defenders was quite thin. The sounds of the maimed and dying were a symphony of slaughter. The death-cursed Rakh had to keep his ears so tightly plugged as to be veritably deaf.  Only Balen seemed unaffected by the horror: “War is entirely in the mind,” he said.

APM: The arrival of the Warrior Maidens from the east was a Vagary of Battle called "Friendly Reinforcements". There are usually 1d3 vagaries per Battle Turn; in this case, two vagaries occurred, "Piles of the Dead" and "Friendly Reinforcements".  When the enemy's morale broke, that ended the second Battle Turn.

Within minutes, a third and final assault on the walls came. Scattered bodies made reaching the walls a cumbersome process, made dangerous by the litter of weapons and bone fragments, but goblins and hobgoblins were everywhere escalading the battlements. At the main gate, the party was confronted by nine hobgoblins, a pair of ogres, and a hulking troll chieftain. Low on arrows, out of magic, fatigued and exhausted, the party had to rely on brute force. The terrible troll chieftain was on the walls in seconds, and met Rakh at close quarters. Rakh might have gotten the worst of had Sharik not evil-eyed the chieftain and sapped his strength. The weakened troll went down to Rakh’s claws and teeth. Mahmud and Nakhita meanwhile fought off the ogres and hobgoblins, barely.As the fighting on the walls reached its culmination, a foul odor descended on the battlefield. Below, moving through the carnage, was the great, loathsome form of Zargon, tentacled arms dragging the dead and dying into its voracious maw. Ethlyn began peppering the great beast with arrows. Wounded for the first time in a millennia, the “god” gazed upward with hatred, but no attack came – instead it withdrew to its subterranean lair.The fighting at the main gates having died down, the party gazed round the fortress and saw that the Warrior Maidens were everyone in withdrawal. Beastmen had clambered onto the walls and were waiting for orders from their troll chieftain… orders that never came. Glee turned to hesitancy, hesitancy to fear, and the beastmen’s morale broke – streaming away from the stronghold even as they had captured it!“Victory!” shouted the party .“Another such victory and we are undone,” said Balen. 

APM: This was the third Battle Turn. The "scattered bodies" and "litter of weapons and bone fragments" are two different Vagaries, namely "Scattered Bodies" and "Dangerous Debris". The arrival of Zargon was due to another Vagary of Battle, called "Monsters". 
So as you can see D@W works well even for mid-level characters. Resolving all three battle turns took about two hours, so it didn't even occupy half our weekly session.
quote context:


Nope, nothing wrong at all! 

Domains at War is centered on the battlefields of 8th-10th level characters, who typically field armies of 500 to 3,000. Armies of less than 500 you'll want to scale down the BRs; armies of more than 3,000, scale them up.

We've used the rules to handle huge battles; over the weekend I fought Gaugemala (Alexander v. Darius) in D@W: Battles with a scale of 1 unit = 1,920 men.

I tried to calculate the BR for a very old and magically enslaved Black Dragon:
I consider him giant sized so following the 120-60-20 rules and him having 16HD***** I came to the following results:
NÍÐHÖGGR the Black Dragon BR = (1/20)1617*6 = 81.6

Not bad… Considering a buyer would only have to pay around 72k Gold in a class I or II Market for him thats quite a bargain.

(At least till he starts eating own troops as somebody managed to break the magical bindings or whatever)

This looks great! I’m looking forward to the kickstarter even more now.

I’m glad you settled on multiples of 60 for the base unit sizes. Three cheers for divisibility by 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6! That will make scaling down for my own Lost City climax a lot easier.

I would like to see columns added to the Battle Rating table for skeletons and zombies. There seems to be space for it, and the necromancer’s undead army is as much a fantasy gaming trope as the dark overlord’s beastman army. Not to mention that I rolled up a scroll of Undead Legion in a treasure hoard and couldn’t bring myself to not add that much temptation to my game.

Of course, adding undead troops would mean having to address the effects of not having to eat or sleep on the supply and movement aspects of the Waging War phase, and the effects of not having to make morale checks at the tactical level on the morale aspect of the Ending Battles phase. That might be more than you intended to give away in the free intro doc, but I think those two abilities, plus immunity to normal weapons, are the common dungeon-crawl level special abilities that have the most effect on a war.

Anyway, I assume these abilities are all described in detail in Campaigns and Battles. Looking forward to seeing them.

I need to edit the formula text, as that's now two experienced players who are confused by it.

The denominator is virtually always (2*120), regardless of the size of the monster involved.  The 120/60/20 limits the size of the numerator; you can't fit as many elephants in a unit as you can fit humans, as units have to "fit" into formation on the battlefield. (In DAW: Battles, I explain that a unit occupies a 60' x 40' area).

The only time the denominator would not be (2*120) would be if the Judge has decided to scale down the size of the units to fight a smaller skirmish.

So your nasty black dragon would have a battle rating of (1/240)*16*17*6 = 6.8, rounded to 7. He is the equivalent of 500 men.


Thanks for the reassurance on the 120-men units. I *agonized* over unit sizes of 100 or 120. 120 was more common in the ancient world, 100 in the medieval world (I guess they counted with their fingers more often?) What tilted the balance was scaling. The game allows you to scale up the units by a factor of x4 or x16 and keep the game's board geometry the same. With 120 units, x4 = 480 or around 500 men and x16 = 1920 or around 2000 men, while 400 and 1600 are less useful. 

I actually don't think I've addressed undead in DAW:B and DAW:C in a clear fashion, but I can do so. It's just a matter of adding a few paragraphs to make explicit what is already implicit.

Adding Skeleton and Zombie BRs is easy and I'll do that.


So, at x4 scale, a unit of 500-ish infantry would take up a 120’ x 80’ space. And, at 1/4 scale, a unit of 30 infantry would take up a 30’ x 20’ space. Do I have that right?

Thanks for taking the time to address the undead. You could generalize it to “non-living troops” for all those dwarven machinists who prefer hordes of 1HD automatons to a few big ones.

Exactly correct. Without going into too much detail, to scale up the tactical game, you find the overall size of the armies involved, and that will tell you what size units to use. You then scale up the ground scale and time scale accordingly.


 Unit Scale  

 Army Size


 Ground Scale

Time Scale


 3,000 or less

 120 infantry or 60 cavalry

 1 Hex = 60’

 1 Combat Round = 10 seconds


 3,001 – 12,000 

 480 infantry or 240 cavalry

 1 Hex = 120’

 1 Combat Round = 20 seconds


 12,001 or more 

 1,920 infantry or 960 cavalry

 1 Hex = 240’

 1 Combat Round = 40 seconds


That makes him more reasonable…
He is still not such a bad deal!
Then his cost would be roughly half of the equivalent in slave troops and roughly in the same league as the costs of training and equipping 500 Heavy Infantry according to the example in the Undead Legion ritual (around 63k Gold) though having a black dragon in your army is much more impressive then having 500 more men… :smiley:

Undead troops have more important concerns than mere BR values. There is the issue of moral and leadership. Mindless undead would probably hard to rout (if not impossible without turning) and may be a little bit scarier (a penalty to enemy moral?). Furthermore, zombies and skeletons probably need one or more handlers of some sort to properly direct them in battle.

I noticed something odd:
“The weekly supply cost is 60gp per infantry unit and 240gp per cavalry unit.”
That seems to be extremely low considering an infantry unit consist of 120 men…

That works out to a bit more than 2 gp per month per soldier. Given that it is only covering supplies and no other costs of living (which are subsumed into the soldier’s wages), that seems pretty reasonable to me.

D@W assumes that 8lb of bread costs 1 silver piece (.1gp). 4 pints of water costs 1 copper piece (.01gp).

D@W further assumes a soldier needs 3lb of food and 4 pints of water per day.
3 x (.1/8) = .0375gp per day
(4/4) x (.01) = .01gp per day.
Total cost per day = .0475gp
Total cost per week = .0475gp x 7 = .3325
Total cost per 120 soldiers = 39.9gp

D@W assumes 1 pack animal per 50 men to carry tents, weapons, gear, spare equipment, flags, etc. (Based on Roman Army logistics). Each pack animal needs 20lb of food and 64 points of water per day.
20 x (.1/8) = .25gp per day
(64/4) x (.01) = .16gp per day
Total cost per day = .41gp
Total cost per week = .41gp x 7 = 2.87gp
Total cost per 120 soldiers = 2.87 x 120 x (1/50) = 6.88gp

So that suggests that supply cost should be 39.9gp + 6.88gp, or about 47gp per week per unit.

HOWEVER in certain terrain, pack animals and soldiers can drink free-standing water, so that should be reduced from the cost. And in the best terrain the pack animals can forage and that really reduces the cost.

HOWEVER we need to factor in that a large number of pack animals required to bring the food and water to the soldiers. The number of pack animals required is based on (a) the distance traveled and (b) whether the unit needs water brought to it, and (c) whether the pack animals can forage or drink water along the way.

The pack animals consume some supplies on the way, so getting the same amount of supplies a greater distance takes exponentially more pack animals, until you reach a “limit” where all supplies are consumed along the way. The more water the pack animals have to carry, the further distance they can travel.

This leads to the maximum supply distances used in D@W. It turns out that when you factor in the pack animals and build a spreadsheet you get these results:

  1. In terrain where pack animals can forage and drink freely, at a supply distance of 14 days, 17 more pack animals are required, and the total gp cost is 3.40gp per day per 50 men.

  2. In terrain where pack animals can drink, but not forage, at a supply distance of 6 days, 8 more pack animals are required, and the total gp cost is 3.35gp per day per 50 men.

  3. In terrain where pack animals can neither drink nor forage, at a supply distnace of 1 day, 3 more pack animals are required, and the total gp cost is 3.56gp per day per 50 men.

I averaged these to 3.50gp per day per 50 men. That in turn leads to (120/50 x 3.50 x 7 ) 58.8gp, rounded to 60gp.

Since few people want to worry about the exact number of mules in the supply chain, this all gets handled behind the scenes. The player just needs to know the number of units and it’s assumed low level adjutants and quartermasters ensure the right number of pack animals are assigned so long as the gold is spent.

Scribes & Supply Lines, the hot new game from Alex Macris.

Coming Fall 2013!

OT: This was great to see. I had assumed there were formulas behind those supply numbers, and now I can tweak to my heart’s content when supply is scarce - for example, if my players want to take their armies north to end those Ice Elf raids once and for all.

The one thing that bugs me about the 120 man units is the fact that (iirc) manual of arms lets you train 50 soldiers at a time. I think it would be helpful if you could bump manual of arms to 60 at a time to match. training a unit half at a time or all at once for cavalry, just fits better.