Red Tide with ACKS

In preparation for running the Red Tide campaign with ACKS (and Guns of War) I checked the population data in the campaign book. What's notable are the low population density and centralized settlement pattern. Of the domains where populations are mentioned the densities are roughly one tenth of ancient/medieval Europe. Because of the history of the region, this is probably a combination of low per hex population density and there actually being completely uninhabited wilderness hexes inside the domains' nominal borders. The domains also seem to have more urbanized population distribution. Also about half of the urban population is concentrated into the domain capitals. All of this means that only part of each domain is civilized or borderlands and the rest is wilderness.

One thing that draws attention is that ruling with ACKS (no pun intended), the dwarven domain is completely wilderness. IIRC in OD&D Rules Cyclopedia dwarves counted all mountain hexes as civilized. Is there a similar ruling somewhere in ACKS or should I houserule it?

The low population restricts maximum NPC levels in the campaign to 10 and means that the rulers of most smaller domains (baronies to counties in size) will be below name level. With the the revised domains rules the sizes of these subordinate domains are smaller, with many low level rulers.

The low levels will also need some modification to the mage minimum levels to allow for the (relatively common) magical research and the schools of magic in the campaign. Maybe I'll allow any mages of 5th level and above to teach pupils in addition to making new spells and modify the magical experimentation rules to allow more risky spell research, magic item and monster creation at lower levels with higher risk. Instead of there being a minimum level for experimentation I'll houserule the research bonus as a modifier for minimum level for item creation. E.g. pioneering experimentation allows making potions at first level and permanent items at 5th level. For a 5th level pioneer the risk is great, major mishap at a roll of 1 to 7, and a major breakthrough at 18-20. This modification keeps magical items available, but makes their creation more unpredictable, with added boons and catastrophes suiting the theme of the campaign.

as someone who tried to convert the 4th edition "points of light" campaign setting and use the numbers provided, I can warn you that I ended up with a campaign that was more "pinpricks of light", and encourage you to consider inflating the population numbers.

I'm using Red Tide as my setting to run ACKS Dwimmermount in, and found similar issues with the demographics of the setting. What I did was take the national population numbers to stand for households, not individuals, but left the city populations the same. I think my highest level character in the setting is 13. The population numbers feel more real to me as I no longer have to worry about how all those city people get fed. You might do something similar.

Thanks for your advice.

Considering the colonization history of the area, should I multiply the total population by 5 (1 household/family per person in original demographics) or 10 (to get it in line with ACKS-normal population. The colonization started with a limited population base and the wars have had their toll, but on the other hand there are mentions of population pressure driving people to the marches.

Well, since I went with x5 that'll obviously be what I recommend. :-) I don't think you have to require a x10 population to explain why settlers are moving back to the Westmark. I assume that peasants are always open to moving toward a better deal, and in my campaign the petty lords of the Westmark have abolished serfdom, while the other realms in my campaign have serfdom to on degree or another. Some are willing to take the risk of escaping their current lords in order to become truly freemen. Again, this is in my campaign. I think by the book serfdom may only be practiced by the evil realms, but I have it in practice in the Mandarinate.

I tried the values and 10x gets closer to the carrying capacity and lets the dwarves have civilized hexes without deviating from the urbanization & centralization baseline. I think I'll use that and see where it goes.