How many baronies in a march, etc?

When ACKS came out I tried a couple of times to put a setting together (and Alexander and Tavis were gracious enough to put a lot of effort in to try to help me) but in the end I postponed the whole affair until I had more plain old basic style D&D experience. ACKS as my first D&D game was biting off a bit much for me (I had played one session of 4e and just a few sessions of Labyrinth Lord and that was it; never read Moldvay etc, back then). 5e/LMoP was more my speed and we then followed up with B4 The Lost City and a bunch of Red Tide stuff, both using 5e. But, now I want to give the ACKS method another go. So... lots of questions from me!

I want to use 5e but to complete it with domain and trade stuff from ACKS including the ideas of "In a duchy there is like three level 9 people typically" and stuff like that. We're gonna start low level with an early emphasis on discovery, getting lost etc but I want this stuff to be in place. For the first time ever I feel like I have time to prep.

To summarize the progress so far, whenever I open chapter 10 I usually get overwhelmed and it's hard to see the concrete next steps to do. But I looked at my own old notes and I found one that I liked, I had written as a note to self: "Don't overthink it. Draw the borders you like, then count the hexes to see what type of realm they are, and then work upwards and downwards from there, dividing into subrealms or joining into superrealms.

In my case it turned out that the three realms I had drawn up were duchy-sized. I then named them, and divided them into counties, and named them, and divided them into marches.

This is what I have so far: (Players in my game please don't click on this) (I'm using the Albatross press "Map Style IV")

I also have an s-expression with this same data: duchys with their name and the counties in them with their names and the marches in them with their names and hexcount (capped at 4 like the desert marches still only get 4 for their hexcount. I figure it's kinda barren in there). (I'm gonna use this sexp to do the math stuff!)

I then thought "OK, this part of the prep is pretty boring, I'll do the baronies stuff later and now it's time to do population calculation so I can place cities."

And then I stumbled upon this mystery:

One barony is 120-200 families; one hex of a march is 320 families so obv not every single hex in a march is one complete barony.
Oh, the following table says that a march (3-4 hexes) is 4-6 baronies. So 4-6 times 120-200 is 480-1200, still below the 960-1280 population count of a marsh. Folks, I don't understand this stuff  :/

And I just found out that the same goes for the duchy/county division. 4-6 counties = 18400-51000, lower than the 20000-52000 that duchies have.

So I'm misunderstanding something. A march has at least 4 at most 6 baronies. So I'm going to need to create a lot of baronies (don't worry I can do this procedurally). But before I undertake that... I'm missing something. Where are the missing people? Maybe I'm misreading some table? Is there part of a duchy that don't belong to a particular county? And if so, how come the people there still counts as population for the duchy? These questions are not rhetorical, I'm serious about trying to set up this campaign.

TL;DR, I had two questions:

A. At least 4 barons for every county, at least 4 counties for every duchy, that means a lot of barons. I know zip about feudalism (that's why I rely on games such as ACKS, so that I don't have to try to read the domesday book and stuff like that), but I've never heard of so many barons. I have three duchies, does that really mean around 400 barons?

B. Where do the extra people go that don't fit into the 4-6 counties in a duchy etc?

I suspect both of these questions have the same fundamental misunderstanding at their core, and that I better hold off on the Big Barony Creation Project until I get some sort of clarification.

Thanks, thirdkingdom! I had not yet grasped that either. That makes a lot more sense than having thousands of barons. 

Hello! Your questions are good. B is easier - in say a duchy, you have a duke, and then you have his vassal counts. The duke has a personal domain of some size, and this counts towards the duchy’s land area and total population, in addition to the domains of his vassals. This is also true of counts and marquis. If you look on page 230, the table Revenue by Realm Type has a column “Ruler’s Personal Domain (families)”, which should (I think?) account for the extra population you were missing. One difficulty with this is that it tells you how many families are in the liege’s personal domain, but doesn’t actually tell you how much land area he personally controls - for this you would need to reference the table below that one, with population density. So in your march example, with a population density similar to that of Rome (~300 families / 6mi hex), the marquis’ personal domain has 320 families and takes up about one hex, and then he has four barons, each with 160 families (again from the table with personal domain families), which take up half a hex each, for a total area of 3 hexes (one held by the marquis, two with two barons each) and a total population of about 960 families. This is a minimal march; if you add two more vassal barons, you get 4 hexes of total area and 1280 total population.

(I didn’t expect that to work out as well as it did - maybe 320 families per hex is the secret default population density for ACKS)

As for A… honestly I don’t know either. I haven’t read Domesday, and my experience with feudalism is primarily Crusader Kings II, where you have anywhere between 1 and 6 barons per count, depending on the county, and marches just arent a thing. v0v I recently embarked on a project to make domains simpler to use in play, the results of which ended up at

(Also, <3 s-expressions. You have good taste)

I am not an Autarch, but it sounds like your confusion might stem from the fact that larger realms do not necessarily have to be made up of smaller realms.  The maximum domain size that any one person can control is a single 24-mile hex (or 16 6-mile hexes).  Therefore, if you've got a march (a realm ruled by a Marquis) of, say, 4 hexes, those hexes do not have to be comprised of 4 seperate baronies.

Now, this Marquis could have vassal barons, who individually rule additional single hexes.  To go one step up, let's say you have a County of maximum size (30 six mile hexes).  The County is comprised of:

16 hexes ruled directly by Count Azure.

4 hexes ruled directly by Marquis Teal

4 hexes ruled directly by Marquis Navy

4 hexes ruled directly by Marquis Indigo

1 hex ruled directly by Baron Cyan

1 hex ruled directly by Baron Cerulean

Does this make more sense?


This makes more sense in that it provides more reasonable results.

However, I guess it's back to the drawing board for me since my original "draw some borders, then count up how big that is to find out the realm type, then divide it up" doesn't work.

(Like I drew some borders I thought made sense, then counted out that they were duchy sized, then started dividing that up.)

Can anyone restate that in terms that make more sense with how it really is, what I really should do?

Instead of just dividing them up completely into 4-6 counties, I should...?

I think I see now that "assign some amount of land to be directly the duchess'" is one part, but

A: is the rest all counties or must there even there be some marches or baronies that answer directly to the duchess? how do I divide this land up?

B: how big is the amount of hexes assigned to the primary ruler of each realm?

C: How does this then tie into placing cities and villages etc because that's going to be the next step?

I'm going to read your "simplifying domains" later because I suspect I'll have to do something similar, but re-done because I have some different assumptions:

  • sub 6-mile hex is OK but if it's at least one 6-mile hex then no fractions
  • not centralized settlement pattern I love my rural little woods. We've already run lots of urban campaigns

I think it is largely up to you, how you want to do it.  When I'm doing world creation I try and do as much as possible randomly.  I don't like to have to make decisions that I can rely on the dice doing for me.  So, I'd probably work the other way:

You're trying to make a Duchy, right?  Let's say that the Duke controls the largest area possible for a single ruler, 16 continuous hexes.  Duchies are between 67 and 172 hexes in size, which is a range of 105 hexes.  I'm going to randomly generate a number between 1 and 105: 17.  Our first Duchy is 67+17 hexes, or 84 total 6-mile hexes.  Subtracting the Duke's 16, that leaves 68 uncontrolled hexes.  Counties are comprised of 15-30 hexes each, so let's assume that there are 1d4 Counts that owe fealty to the Duke: I got a 4.  To make life easy you can assume that each County is exactly one quarter of the remaining domain, or 17 six mile hexes.  Each Count, let's say, controls 4d4 hexes.

Count A controls 11 hexes, Count B controls 9, Count C controls 9 and Count D controls 11.  You can break this down further, of course: Counties A and D have 6 hexes that are controlled by one or two Marquis (with any remaining hexes being baronies), while Counties B and C have 8 hexes controlled by one or two Marquis (again, with any remaining hexes being baronies).

The more I can automate my process the better.  Hell, one of the things I like about Hexographer is that its got an auto-populate function, so I can input a percentage of appearing villages, towns and cities and go from there, so I don't even have to think to hard about that (well, there is some tweaking involved, of course).  You can further assume that every 6-mile hex in Civilized territory is going to have a Class VI village in it.

This really helps! I want to work from the other way because I already fell in love with my terrain map, but reading your method can help me figure out what I need to do. I totally missed that "can only control 16 hexes method". I thought it was all vassaled out like a boss.

So in the Duke's 16, is that less or more likely to have bigger settlements?

In other words, where will settlements go, in vassaled lands or in the directly controlled lands (of each level)?

Also... is it ok to give them forest land, swamp land etc? Or does it has to be farm hexes? I imagined there's a little farming going on next to the trees, hunting in the swamp etc. Only the desert I left more bare. + the unclaimed half of the map.



I really got the vassaling backwards before! But... what's the whole 4-6 thing in the table, then? Political Divisions of Realms, p 229. What's the point of this table if there isn't 4-6 of each subrealm? Like if the counties don't have 4-6 marches in them?

And it says: "The Revenue by Realm Type table assumes that at each tier of nobility, the nobles have 4-6 vassals of the next tier below them, who each hold a vassal realm, as per the Political Division of Realms" table.

I think what you write makes a lot of sense, thirdkingdom, and your explanation in this post is even clearer than your earlier post in this thread (and the two posts compliment each other well) but I have a hard time squaring it with the game text. I guess I'm still missing something?

Aight, here goes:

Cities.  You can place cities as desired.  I tend to assume the main ruler's domain will have the largest city.  I base the size of the capital city off the domain as a whole.  Let's say that our pretend Duchy, comprised of 84 total six mile hexes, has an overall population of 30,000 families.  According to p. 231 of Core 10% of a realm's population should be urban, with 20% residing in the largest city.  That puts the total urban population of our Duchy at 3,000 families, with the largest city being 600 families (Class VI).  It's a small realm.

Terrain.  You can also place terrain as desired.  ACKS does not modify a domain's land revenue based on terrain type.  In theory a swampy domain can be just as profitable as a verdant grassland.  It's up to you to figure out why.

The reference to the Revenue of the Realm, with each ruler having between 4-6 vassals, is there as a guide to ballpark the revenues of domains when you don't want to have to go through the trouble of making them individually.  They're guidelines, not hard and fast rules.  I also can't find it right now, but I believe that the "4-6" range is based upon the average number of vassals a single ruler can have.  I may be imagining it, because I can't find it in the book, but I seem to recall that any one ruler is limited to a number of vassals equal to their max number of henchmen.  This aids in creating "trees" of vassals.

I think part of the problem is that you're overthinking the titles of the realms.  As it says on p. 131:

 An adventurer who establishes a new realm can claim any title he wishes, of course, but other realms will not necessarily treat him as such.   


Here's an example:

Gworg the Unwise is a badass sonofabitch and one day he takes his army out into the wilderness and conquers an entire 24-mile hex.  In addition to being a badass he's also greedy and claims all 16 six-mile hexes as his personal domain.  He builds his strongholds and pours money into urban development.  Gworg crowns himself King Gworg I, the Jewel of the West, and none come before him with a large enough army to contest his claim.  Several years pass and all is well in Gworglandia, until one day it comes to his attention that his five faithful lieutenants (read, henchmen) are getting restless.  He summons them to his audience hall and announces that he will gift each one with a single six-mile hex to rule over and makes each one a Baron.

He makes sure that the hexes he grants them are on the edge of his domain, between his lands and restless wilds, and he also informs his henchmen that, should they ride forth and conquer the land adjacent to their domains he shall make them Marquis and let them elevate their own loyal lieutenants (read the henchmen of their henchmen) to the status of Barons.  

I would also recommend you read the Grim Fist actual play ( located here to see how higher level play, urban development and henchmen trees work (note that most of this starts with the second thread in the series).


2097, sorry to hear about your confusion! Here was how I intended for the process to work. I regret that the rules don't make this as clear as they should.

I'll use a duchy, since that's what you've used.

1. You decide on a Duchy. A duchy can have 67-172 hexes. Let's say you decide on 120 hexes. 

2. You then carve out the duke's personal domain. A duke's personal domain is around 1,500 families (See Titles of Nobility table in Chapter 7). Are those spread across a civilized, borderlands, or wilderness area? He's a duke, so you decide on a civilized domain; that is 780 families her hex, so his domain covers two 6-mile hexes. You put those somewhere in the center of your duchy. 

3. Now you have 118 hexes left. You decide the duke has 5 counts as vassals. A county is typically 15-30 hexes each. You decide to create:

  • County Alpha, 30 hexes
  • County Bravo, 25 hexes
  • County Charlie, 25 hexes
  • County Delta, 20 hexes
  • County Echo, 18 hexes
  • Total: 30+25+25+20+18 = 118 hexes

4. The campaign is going to begin in County Charlie, so you decide to work out that realm in more detail. A Count typically has a personal domain of 780 families (again, referencing Titles of Nobility in Chapter 7). That takes 1 hex. You put that somewhere near the center of County Charlie.

5. County Charlie has 24 hexes left. You decide The Count of Charlie has 5 marquis as vassals. A march is typically 4-6 hexes. You decide to create:

  • March Uno, 5 hexes
  • March Dos, 5 hexes
  • March Tres, 4 hexes
  • March Quatro, 5 hexes
  • March Cinco, 5 hexes
  • TOTAL: 5+5+4+5+5 = 24 hexes. 

6. The campaign is going to begin in March Cinco, so you decide to work out that march in more detail. A marquis typically has a personal domain of 320 families (again consulting Titles of Nobility in Ch. 7). You decide that the marquis's domain is borderlands, so it can have a maximum of 250 families per hex; his domain will take 1.28 6-mile hexes. For your map purposes, you draw it as a single 6-mile hex, or maybe put a little nubby sticking into another hex. 

7. March Cinco has 4 hexes left. You decide that March Cinco will have 4 barons. A baron's realm can have 120 to 200 families. You decide each will have 160 families. Since a borderlands hex can have up to 250 families per hex, they each get one hex. One of them shares part of his hex with the Marquis of Cinco. 

You can then repeat as desired for your other counts, marches, and baronies.

IMPORTANT: The domain mechanics are meant to provide something that makes sense and reflects broad historical norms. Historically speaking, you could find virtually any heirarchy of vassalage and settlement you can possibly imagine. You might find barons reporting to kings, kings who were dukes of other kings, city-states that reported to empires, city states that were empires. History is stranger than fiction, because if fiction was as strange as history no one could understand what was going on. (Imagine if Game of Thrones' politics were as confusing as the real-world Holy Roman Empire). So what does that mean? It means, if you want to...

- you could give the duke a 16-hex personal domain and then divide the rest of his realm into 6 16-hex counties, for a total of (6x16 + 16) 112 hexes, and just stop there. Or add 4 1-hex baronies as vassals to one of the counts. 

- you could give each marquis his own 4 to 5 hex domain and not worry about the barons

- you could call the duke a viceroy, call the counts barons, and call the barons reeves

- you could have the duke have 3 vassals with 16 hexes, and then 3 vassals with 1 hex each, so that he has a mix of counts and barons reporting to him; and then do the same so that the counts have a mix of marquis and barons; and so on.




Alex, am I imagining that each ruler is limited to a number of direct vassals equal to their total number of henchmen?

This is so, per page 130. Leadership proficiency probably helps.

It does! Between this and Domains at War, Leadership is the single best proficiency in the game.

Thank you Alex! This was a much clearer process.

So I wasn't too far off with how I designed my duchy "Indre", dividing it into four counties and those counties into four marches - and then the whole 125×120 map with three duchies (and completely wild land about the size of two duchies) will have a little over 200 baronies. Is this right? If so, I can get going with it, I'll get going -- I just want to make sure that's really right before I start doing so.


I'll just need to carve out the ruler's personal domain in the middle of every realm + figure out what's settled and unsettled. Maybe a whole lot of hexes even up in the north are also unsettled, further decreasing the sizes and amounts of my counties. I'm going to have to re-read all of chapter 7 more carefully, too. (Oh, I just did... I guess I'm going to redraw my borders taking civilized/borderlands/wilderness into account.)

[quote="Alex"] A march is typically 4-6 hexes. [/quote]

Is this right? The "Realms by Type" p229 says 3-4 hexes?

This is great stuff, very helpful.  But here's a simpler question for other people: does one *need* to do even this level of specificity to make ACKS work? My suspicion is no.

I divided my empire into 4 kingdoms, then focused on one kingdom, scattered cities around, which I presumed would be duchies (I think?), but didn't bother establishing them more specifically than that.  Then I immediately zoomed into the starting town and ignored the rest.

Is there anything in the rules that *requires* such specificity?

Nah, it's not required.  You can run a perfectly good game just by throwing some numbers at the wall.


I dunno; we’ve never had anyone feel burdened by their hench limit (most of my players tend to keep two or three) or unit command limit that I can recall, nor have we ever had domains large enough to bother with vassals (“If my personal domain is smaller than the maximum personal domain size, why would I want vassals?”). My players tend to think Command is very strong / “top tier” instead.

Nope, not required at all. I've run campaigns of ACKS without worrying much about it at all. But it's there if you want it.

3-4 is correct. My eyes glazed onto the 4-6 entry on the table below, that's all.