Today I am sharing a set of revised rules that is intended to replace the Strongholds and Domains section found in ACKS Chapter 6, p. 125 to p. 134. You can find them here:
I offer these revised rules with no little trepidation. Domain rules lie at the heart of ACKS, and its mechanics have withstood some of the longest-running campaigns in the Old School Renaissance. But I would like to believe that my skill as a game designer has grown with each book I've produced, and increasingly I believe that the domain rules in ACKS could be improved in ways that retain their core functionality while eliminating some of their more unwelcome headaches.
Here are the goals which I laid out for myself in drafting these revised rules (in order of priority):
1. The rules would retain the concrete, bottom-up approach that characterizes ACKS. I am no fan of the abstract, top-down approach that other systems have offered to handle domains, as I find them disassociated with the game world. (In any case Judges who seek an abstract, top-down approach already have several capable systems to choose from.)
2. The rules would be compatible with ACKS's existing assumptions on demographics, agricultural productivity, population density, and other economic issues. Moreover, they would need to be implementable "in play" without disrupting a campaign, and without imposing more than a small variance in the income of average or existing domains and realms.
3. The rules would eliminate the recursive nature of income calculation, wherein a lord earns 20'% of his vassal income, who earn 20% of their vassal's income, who earn 20% of THEIR vassal's income, and so on. It should not be necessary to build a spreadsheet calculating the revenue of a baron in farthest Opelenea in order to determine the income of the Emperor of Aura.
4. The rules would eliminate any percentage-based calculations for domain revenue and expenses. All elements should be on a per-family basis, so that a player or Judge can quickly assess whether a domain is profitable and by how much. If *all* percentage-based mechanics could be eliminated, so much the better!
5. The rules would eliminate the "month/month/month with festival" cycle so that players and Judges do not need to re-calculate their domain income every third month.
6. The rules would put morale rolls on the same timeline as other domain activities (monthly), and make morale a more integral part of the overall domain game.
7. The rules would answer important questions that had emerged over time, such as: "Is land value rolled per hex or per domain?" "do domains with a trained militia still need a garrison?" "how does a domain upgrade from wilderness to borderlands to civilized?" "why do we not track urban settlements of less than 75 families?"
8. The rules would allow for domains of any size, and for noncontiguous domains. The default shape and structure of realms (with personal domains that increase in size with ruler level, and layers of vassals) should be encouraged by game mechanics, but not mandated in all cases.
9. The rules would take into account new mechanics that were introduced in Domains of War, such as military campaigns, militia, conscripts, and vagaries.
10. The rules would be written in such a way that new "modules" of rules could be easily added for Judges who sought more detailed mechanics. In particular, the rules should be easily expanded to cover future systems for (a) land value by terrain and technology, (b) different types of government (e.g. senatorial), (c) separating landownership from lordship, and (d) domain actions.
I hope you'll review these revised rules and let me know if you think I've succeeded!