skirmish level d@w?


I’ve started looking at the files, and I’m a little unsure if this is covered, but though I see rules for epic battles, is there a way to scale things down for smaller units? I’m thinking of un its with maybe 20 to 30 men in them, for example.

It seems like this scale would make it useful in more “everyday” encounters, like accidentally (or on propose) antagonizing an orc village. The warbands seem to scale to units, but aren’t they pretty close to the low end of what the system can do at this scale?

Maybe seeing what an orc village looks like in d@w (commanders and units) would clear that up for me… Anyone?

One elegant hack would be to divide unit size by 10, for 12-man units of infantry or 6-man units of cavalry. Leave the attacks per unit consistent, but reduce the damage from a PC taking a uhp of damage from 2d6*10 to 2d6, and change the divisor for hero number of attacks to 4.5 instead of 45 (technically we’re doing the same with all other units’ No.Att. divisors, but it works out because we’re dividing the number of them by the same amount). Lower the thresholds for commanders and lieutenants such that beastman champions can serve as lieutenants, subchieftains as commanders, and chieftains as generals. This scale would’ve been really useful when my PCs were using squads of 10-12 pikemen and 10 archers to hunt ankhegs and we weren’t sure how to resolve it efficiently.

Could do the same with division by 5 to get 24-man infantry units (probably in 3 ranks of 8, for a size of 24’x18’, so a hex should be about 30’, a combat round pretty close to a round in ACKS, and increased hero visibility), 12-man cavalry units, 2d62 hp / uhp and a hero attacks divisor of 9. Probably subchiefs as lieutenants / commanders and chieftains as generals on this scale. Dividing by 6 is a little annoying because of the hp/uhp ratio… I guess you could take 2d610 / 6 to be about 2d10 hp/uhp, then use 20-man units (10 cav) and a hero attack divisor of 7.5. Might also want to modify how leadership ability and ZOC are calculated, if you’re on smaller hexes and using smaller units and you want to let lower-level characters lead effectively. Strategic ability and morale modifier need not change. Spells should be easy enough to work out, but maybe not at this hour of night/morning…

at 20 men per unit, a goblin warband works out to about two units on average, with a subchieftain as commander. A goblin village is then about five such ‘divisions’ with a chieftain as general, likely with one warband mounted as well as a few other worg units throughout some of the divisions and possibly with bugbear / shaman / witch-doctor support as well. I imagine beastman subchieftains would be unlikely to cede leadership of their warbands to each other unless forced, contentious creatures as they are… This arrangement puts an average-sized goblin village right in the sweet spot of 10-25 units that DaW is built to handle.

I’ve also been interested in this scale, partially because I’m excited by D@W while being one of 2 3rd level characters in a party of first level characters. It really works for the rag-tag peasant army led by the PCs because they are, sadly, the most qualified in the immediate area when the beastman raid is spotted. It is difficult to scale down too much however, especially when 1st level casters could conceivably take out 1/2 a unit with a single sleep spell and the most effective general is actually the 1st level bard because of his 18cha.

I would definitely be interested in official (or at least unofficial) skirmish-scale D@W combat for battles just too big for normal ACKS but too small for normal mass combat.

I posted about a similar idea on the ACKs G+ community, so I will copy+paste my thoughts that I made there.

"Since I run my game as a play-by-post, leveling happens veeeeery slowly, so I usually try to find ways to give the players a taste of what they can do at high levels earlier than normal.

Looking at the table under Organization and Command in Very Large Armies, I quickly did the math to imagine extrapolating it down a level. All the unit sizes are multiples of four of each other, and are used for troop levels where that unit size would describe between 6.25 and 25 units.

So, I immediately wonder whether one could shrink it down a level for armies sized between 190 and 750, with infantry units of 30 each (15 for cavalry), NPC commanders having to be at least 5th level, and Lieutenants having to be at least 3rd level. For monsters it might get odd since Lieutenants can’t get any closer to the HD of a rank and file.

On paper this seems like a promising way to let sub-level 9 PCs that are interested in military command get a taste, but the issue is how one raises and maintains such an army without actually owning any land and having no regular source of income besides dungeon crawling and eventually plunder/spoils.

The only alternative I see is letting the adventurer tier PCs serve as commanders of divisions to a higher level NPC, but this doesn’t seem particularly interesting since they wouldn’t get to make any decisions.

Thoughts, anyone?"

I hadn't personally found a need for skirmish level D@W - we regularly fight battles at up to about 100 combatants just using the standard ACKS rules. But clearly this is a big interest for a lot of folks!

Here are some initial rules to test:

1. A "sub-unit" of infantry is 30 men (organized 10 wide by 3 deep), 15 cavalry or ogres, 5 huge creatures, or 1 gigantic or colossal creature.  

2. UHP are calculated as (Creature’s Hit Dice) x (number of creatures) / 3.75

3. Unit # of Attacks are calculated as (No. of creatures) x (no. of attacks + cleave factor) x (average damage ) / (size factor x 4.5)

where size factors are

Unit Consists of

Man-sized Creatures

Large Creatures

Huge Creatures

Gigantic Creatures

Colossal Creatures

Size Factor






Cavalry size factor is 45.

4. Each hex is 10 yards (30'). 

5. All movement distances are doubled. All missile ranges and spell ranges are doubled. Areas of effect for spells are increased by a factor of 2 in length and width.

6. The maximum damage of spells is increased by 4. For example, if a company-scale unit could not lose more than 1/8th its maximum UHP, a skirmish-scale unit could lose up to 1/2 its maximum UHP from the spell.

7. Heroes take 1d4x6 damage per uhp dealt.


I’d love to be able to playtest those rules, but it looks like my unfortunate heroes won’t be able to field more than one or two absurdly mixed units even at 1/4 scale. Poor bastards. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be too hard to run the battle for Cynidicea at normal combat scale.

I'd love to see spell effects worked out at smaller scales, the way they are at larger scales in the epic battles chapter.

Not to mention the officer/caster prerequisites (probably pretty low if Alex has played full ACKS at this scale).

D@W definitely needs to be scaleable. I can see my players leading a town militia against a large bandit group (30-300 number appearing :wink: ) a lot more often than leading massive armies.
A skirmish level would be a great supplement or stretch goal.

Supplement-shmuplement! I’d like that kind of sirmish scaling in D@W proper.

I’d kinda been puttering around with that myself, mainly because I thought of the perfect title for a resulting PDF.

Seems my math matches up with what Alex posted, so I’m happy about that. I’m on the right track, though the UHP > 1d46 HP I haven’t decoded yet. (I was hovering around 2d44 or 2d3*5, but that was just comparing bar graphs on AnyDice)

As far as hero participation, I’d guessed at the Squad (sub-company) level, you could drop each level requirement by two:

Squad: Independent Hero: NPC 5th, Monster 7 HD, Caster: 2nd Arcane, 3rd Divine
Unit Commander: NPC 3rd, Monster HD +0
Division Commander: NPC 5th, Monster HD +3

Division Commander, in this case, being a division of squads.

Koewn, your math is spot on. There is roughly 1 3rd level fighter per 30 soldiers. 

I can add this into the rules, guys, but I'm loathe to do so without proper playtesting. One of the things we try with Autarch is to not publish untested rules. So could I ask those of you who are interested in such a thing to roll some dice, push some warbands around, and let me know how it goes?



If you do decide to put them in we’ll just start bothering you about platoon-level units :wink:

What would you be thinking would break?

If we were to systemically do this, would perhaps using the DW@:Battles example scenarios provide the best for repeatable and common-core tests?

Also, would there be a bit of a cascade effect in mixed-scale battles (doubling company UHP/damage, quadrupling the next level, etc.)

Is mixed-scale in D@W:Battles even a thing? Am I just assuming that out of the rules as presented? I can’t see it said explicitly said anywhere, but I think I got that idea out of the Campaigns book, Page 49. (which also mentions 1,080 man Regiment-sized units, which may be old language?)

Playtesting for this should definitely be publicized. Not only will it help test these rules, but it will also give Judges in lower level games a chance to test out D@W within their normal game.

The thing I think might break in Skirmish level games is the size of the map needed relative to the units. Since they can move twice as many hexes and shoot twice as many hexes, you need twice as big a board, I reckon.

I have never played mixed-scale battles - it's not a good idea because of the differing time/ground scale.


I’d figured as much. Ignoring the physical constraints of board size, having company and larger sized units taking up multiple hexes gets wiggly.

I made a picture in Roll20 - presuming the physical unit size doubles with the scale size, it’ll look like this I think, where the base sizing is “Squad” level.

Unit Hex Scaling - Squad to Brigade

So, it gets pretty bad after one scaling.

Also, I finally figured out where I saw that - Page 43, D@W:Battles, where a squad of 30 3rd level clerics turns a company of 120 ghouls.

I figure one-off “special effect” squads like that you can represent and move as company-sized units on the board with no real issue - at least between squad and company level you’re not changing the time scale.