I'm trying to use elements from Domains at War (D@W) in my latest campaign (called Age of Autarchs). I figured other referees might find some of my thoughts useful. This first post relates to my kickoff session which I called "The Battle of Yando Falls".
I wanted to have an introductory session to teach the players how the D@W Campaign rules work. The intent is to create an assymetric "setpiece" battle which is initially tilted in the favour of the opposition. However, the odds can be improved relatively easily by player action.
The adventure featured the PCs as lieutenants in a mercenary company (the Black Thorns) who are tasked to reinforce a fort which has suddenly found itself blockaded by enemy forces.
I created a scenario where the fort commander was too inexperienced and mediocre to adequately deploy his defences. (In game terms, his Leadership Ability was too low to command all the troops.) With the PCs support, he could succesfully deploy all his units and sucessfully defend the Fort.
The Fort at Yando Falls:
I modelled Fort Yando off of the map of Fort Suskiskyn from the D&D Module B10 "Night's Dark Terror". The map features a few stone towers with several wood buildings and a wooden palisade for defense. In my game, the river was actually much larger (I replaced the river bridge with a dock) and I assumed that the animal pens were fenced in (rather than a palisade wall).
Taking a rough count of the buildings and palisades from the map, I figure that the stronghold is worth about 22,500gp. Since most of the defenses are wooden, this represents only 1000 SHP. Nonethless, it should be able to support about 8 units.
A Problem of Scale:
I've run into a problem when using the D@W rules - I can't reconcile the scale. At the Company scale, Fort Yando should support around 960 troops, which seems absolutely ridiculous for a fort of this size. I can totally believe that it could hold 240 soldiers, though, which is the "Platoon" scale value.
Since the PCs are only mid-level, I'm using the "Platoon" scale anyways (30 infantry per unit). I've gotten so used to this scale that I often forget that the default scale is Company (120 infantry per unit), so I'm going to assume that everything is scaled for "Platoon" numbers and not worry about the discrepancy.
The session started with the PCs setting off towards Fort Yando. None of the players requested additional troops from their mercenary commander (I would have provided an additional unit if they asked). Fort Yando was under blockade from an unknown force, and I allowed a Strategem check for the PCs to determine the enemy forces.
During play, this was treated as a scouting expedition by the "sneaky" PCs. They were able to find scores of orcs concealed in the scrublands surrounding Fort Yando. One of the players tried to track down and assasinate the orcish commander before reaching Yando. The orc leadership was too well defended to make an attempt, but he did spot lieutenants from his own mercenary company (the Black Thorns) meeting with the orc commander.
Defence at Yando:
After scouting against the orcs, the PCs reached Fort Yando and convinced the commander that they should help take command of the troops. (In game terms, the commander allowed the PCs to lead divisions of the Yando forces.) This meant that Yando no longer suffered from the "overwhelmed commander" penalty (D@W Campaigns p.70), and that each PC was now a Commander for Yando (with henches as Lieutenants).
The PCs decided on a heroic foray, bidding 2.5 BR - in this case, a small force of PCs acted as "bait" and challenged the orc chief to one-on-one combat. The chief - along with his "elite" forces - charged towards the PCs.
(At this point I also revealed that the orcs were working for a neighbouring Wizard-Duke. During the foray, the Wizard approached the fort under the effects of an invisibility spell and cast earth's excrescence, shifting the eart to create a breach in the wooden palisade.)
The heroes were able to defeat the chief and repel the elite orcs. I was surprised how quickly we were able to do the Heroic Foray - it only took a few minute before the orcs' morale broke.
Next we rolled for the actual assault on Yando. I had the players roll dice for their troops, and I rolled for the orcs. Again I was surprised how fast this played out - the whole battle was over in a few minutes of game time. In fact, I was expecting this adventure to take two sessions - but we wrapped up in one evening with time to spare.
(Speaking of time to spare, this post has gotten a lot longer than I intended and I'm out of time. I'll stop here and add more of my thoughts later, if there is interest...)