I’m in the early stages of setting up a campaign where a Danelaw inspired region is under the recent thumb of an invasion of a small group of largely independent chiefdoms (each modeled as a “duchy”) by snow elves leading an army of orcs, wolves, and frost giants. Very broadly, the setup is this.
One of the players (who regularly GMs) will be playing the role of the snow elves. The other players will have control over jarls and thanes in the embattled region. The player who will be making tactical decisions for the snow elves will be playing to win.
So here’s where I need help. I want to begin with a certain level of balance between the forces of mankind and forces of the snow elves. This should obviously be baked in at the campaign creation level. My initial idea was to have a population of the north of ~2 million (according to some estimates, roughly the population Anglo-Saxon England) and create 10-12 duchies of about 200,000 people each. Then I could assign them (conceptually speaking) to various starting positions in the war:
- Jarl with elite companions ruling a Dublin-like city with outlying chieftains only partly under control (not sure how to model this - they only really control the city and its environs and nominally the outlying chiefdoms
- Outlying chiefdoms in the Hibernian area, all squabbling and modelled as a full duchy's worth of counties and marches that could be a force if united
- Viking-themed region (duchy) with a former high king in exile (driven out of former lands now completely covered in snow and ice)
- Viking-themed region (duchy) with a jarl ruling a river-rich kingdom nestled between mountains
- Viking-themed region (duchy) whose jarl has taken advantage of the recent disorder to conquer a number of formerly independent counties and marches in his nearby area. The snow elves haven't reached his kingdom... yet.
- Viking-themed region (duchy) that fell to the snow elves and lost its jarl and powerful elites in the process but that is currently a hot spot in the war as southern knights (Norman analogues with a touch of crusader flavor) waging a war of reconquest against the snow elves... and making progress
- Anglo-Saxon themed region (duchy) that had fallen under Viking-analogue control a couple hundred years ago but that has thrown off the Viking-analogue rulers and is now "free" again, albeit with snow elf advisors in place
- Viking-themed region (duchy) that embraced the coming of the snow elves and threw in its lot with them, and where elites in particular are adopting snow elf inspired dress and weaponry
- Germanic forest barbarian themed realm (duchy) currently free of snow elf rule in spite of adjoining the snow elf lands (think snow elves as romans who've hit the furthest extent of their conquests in germany, so this is a slightly earlier time period I'm drawing from here)
- The snow elf wastes (duchy?)
- the orcish hosts (duchy)
Now, so far so good. Some of those groups are clearly allied (snow elf wastes, orcish hosts, and viking-themed collaborator realm), others are borderline (Anglo-Saxon themed realm), others are or could easily be unified against the snow elves (viking-themed river realm, norman analogue reconquest), and others are just trouble – and who knows – (viking-themed region with a conqueror taking advantage of the chaos).
I guess my question is first whether I’m on the right track here in modeling the forces of chaos as duchies or whether there’s an alternative model. Should the forces of chaos (snow elves, orcs, frost giants, wolves) be subject to the same demographics of heroism as the rest of the region? Do they count as part of the ~2 million inhabitants? That’s what I’ve done so far here because I need the forces of chaos to be subject to the same spread of starting level caps and ratios of high level or high HD characters as the forces of civilization, but there’s a sticking point because I want frost giants (for example). At these numbers, I only get a couple frost giants due to their high HD. Thoughts and recommendations?
I’m open to redoing my basic assumptions here, so any suggestions are fair game. The key thing (I think) is that the forces of chaos need to be subject to the same kinds of limits as the forces of law. I fully expect that if the human kingdoms continue to squabble, they’ll lose this war, and I’m fine with that, but what is important to me is that if they pull it together, they have a fair chance of pushing the snow elves back. The player with control over the snow elves will press every advantage he has and can find (believe me, I know this from experience and it’s one of the reasons I’ve picked him for the role), so it is essential that the resources (both financial and demographic) of the snow elf armies are established and clearly delineated from the first principles in a way that allows the underlying math of the system to take care of things when the snow elf armies march to war.
Advice? Suggestions? Help? (If it matters, I do have access to D@W as a backer. And I’m happy to do my homework to fix any false assumptions I’m currently working under – I’ve never run ACKS, just read the books, so I expect I’ll be making some novice mistakes.)