I have been thinking about and discussing the Domain Game with a bunch of folks online, thought I’d share a couple of articles I thought were interesting.
ACKS is, then, an example of what happens in a system when the designers know from the start that everything else in the system needs to support options and actions in very-long-term campaign play. For example, I’ve never seen an equipment chapter written like this one. It has the standard run of goods and services, but they’re throttled by the class of the local market – a six-step scale, in which I is the best and VI is the worst. Limiting access to gear seems to be the least important part of this, though it’s certainly the part that PCs will care about for the early portions of the campaign. The important stuff is the access to henchmen and hirelings, which will make a world of difference once you have enough money to care. If you plan to do any conquering, you should probably hire some help.
Domain-level play is an old term for giving RPG characters political power in the form of ”domains” they control, be those guilds, corporations, or part or all of a sovereign nation. Historically, Dungeons and Dragons campaigns would eventually see the characters having enough wealth and influence to purchase a stronghold, which would give them not only a base of operations but also a parcel of land to see over. Once the characters were officially nobles in this way, a whole new area of storylines could open up, involving courtly intrigue as well as broader politics. At a default level this would insert characters onto a bigger political stage, but it was both possible and for some palatable to start changing the course of politics in the world in which the game took place.
The Wandering Gamist on Domains in ACKS (less flattering)
The trouble is that running a domain in ACKS is not fun. It is paperwork. ACKS’ domain rules have the following property: an extrinsic incentive exists for PCs to want domains (primarily XP from running a domain, but also some cash from taxes and ready availability of a market), but there is nothing intrinsically rewarding about the actual mechanics of operating a domain. First campaign with domains, we had a character with a domain who was milking it for XP, and other players decided to establish their own to keep up, and were disappointed with the experience. Second campaign with domains, we decided to avoid the loss-of-cohesion trap of individual domains and have a jointly-held party domain. This meant someone had to be the Spreadsheet Guy. Nobody wanted it. Sure, I could run the domain, but I’m already swamped running all the other domains and building adventures and trying to remember to eat and sleep.
“The trouble is that running a domain in ACKS is not fun. It is paperwork.” As a gamer who liked Rogue Trader better than WH40k proper, I say, “Speak for yourself”. Also, only two attempts at Domain Play are mentioned. Why were the domains underdeveloped? Hmmmm. How developed were your first and second homebrew dungeons?
I am currently playing in a game of ACKS, with a group of like-minded people enthused about the idea of Domain Level Play. The GM chose ACKS specifically because it is geared toward that goal. I’m looking forward to it. My character has already started planning for it.
I’ll have more on this later. For now, let’s call this a bookmark.
Update: 2 Jan 2021
My Domain Game ideas include doing something with Outdoor Survival and the Catan Dice games…