About this project
Thanks to the support of our backers, Domains at War will become a reality! If you missed out on the Kickstarter, don't worry - we're still eager to set you up with everything you'll need to play. Backers always get their rewards first, so the fastest way to get your hands on Domains at War will be from one of the friendly local game stores who supported this project:
Next, we'll ship copies to people who pre-ordered from Autarch, and after that Domains at War will be available at stores worldwide. We expect that all the backer rewards will also be available for retail and/or direct sale - the exceptions being illustrations, new units and armies, and having your name listed in the finished product as one of the people who made our creation better than it could have been without you and Kickstarter.
What Is Domains at War?
Domains at War is a comprehensive system for fantasy, ancients, and medieval warfare in tabletop gaming. You can play it as a stand-alone wargame, using hexes & counters or miniatures to wage epic battles and desperate skirmishes. Rules for grand strategic campaigns provide context for these tactical engagements, plus an abstract pen and paper resolution system for battles you don't want to play out. And both the tactical and strategic systems can be used in your role-playing game when your characters want to build strongholds, lead armies, and personally turn the tide of battle with sword and spell.
Because Domains at War always emphasizes the role of individual commanders, when they confront one another to battlefield duels or lead from the front in a heroic foray you'll need to have a RPG system on hand for 1:1 scale combat . It's easy to use Domains at War as a mass combat supplement for all the most popular fantasy RPGs, but it's designed specifically for the Adventurer Conqueror King System. ACKS isn't included in the basic reward levels, but see the Add-ons section if you want it delivered with the rest of Domains at War, or pick it up now as a PDF if you don't want to wait. This Excel calculator can help you figure out the amount to pledge for all the rewards and add-ons you want.
Domains at War is now funded! We're excited to be able to make this project happen. If you're a backer, thank you for sharing our enthusiasm. If not, we hope your pledge will bring us closer to one of our stretch goals below so that we can create more cool stuff for everyone! We've now reached the Hardback and Auran Empire Scenario Pack bonus goals, and are working towards the Old School Scenario Pack.
The Domains at War Story
Tomorrow you will bring the battle to the foe. Tonight you walk among the troops you’ll lead. The mercenaries are veterans and sleep while they can, but the peasants levied from your lands seek courage in tales of your previous victories. You sit at their campfire, wearing your ring of invisibility so that you can listen instead of command. Remember when you were like them? Back when you first entered the dungeon, you wielded a sword to fight for gold, glory, and the favor of the gods. Winning these earned you a throne. Now you wield an army, and fight for the right to rule the domains at war.
If your tabletop gaming would benefit from the vivid drama and agonizing choices of warfare, Domains at War is designed for you. We've created three interlocking systems to cover the full sweep of military struggles in a fantasy, ancient, or medieval world:
- quick mass combat rules for use in any role-playing game that uses concepts like hit points and armor class
- comprehensive support for war in ongoing campaigns, fully compatible with the Adventurer Conqueror King System's rules for mercenaries, strongholds, magic, and rulership
- a fast-playing tactical wargame derived from these systems, so that playing a battle generates outcomes like what you'd get if you fought it out on the one-on-one roleplaying scale
The essentials of mass combat are presented in Domains at War: Free Starter Edition. It's designed for quick resolution of the kinds of battles that most often arise in role-playing games. Who will survive when a mercenary unit of horse archers encounters a tribe of orcs, and what would the player characters have to do to change this outcome? How many troops does it take to besiege the Keep on the Borderlands, and how soon will they breach its walls if no one arrives to help the defenders? If you're interested in Domains at War, this PDF is a great place to start. Like the title says, it's free to download from DriveThruRPG!
Domains at War: Campaigns supports games in which ongoing military struggles become a major focus of play, whether that's Adventurer Conqueror King campaigns in which the player characters have gathered followers and built strongholds, or wargames with a strategic context in which each battle is part of a larger struggle. When the warhorns blow, will you drain your treasury to hire mercenaries, test your people's loyalty by levying a peasant militia, or plead your own loyalty to a superior and request a grant of troops? If the battle goes well, will you leave a garrison behind to hold the conquered territory or pillage it to keep your army well supplied? If fate is against you, can elven cloaks and boots help your army retreat to safety, or will the enemy's wyvern-riding scouts guide them to intercept you?
Domains at War: Battles is the elegant contemporary wargame that results from adding tactical decision-making to the abstract resolution system used in Campaigns and the Free Starter Edition. Play is fast enough that battles can be set up and won or lost in a single role-playing session, and flexible enough that in playtesting we've used it for everything from Hannibal's war elephants against the Romans at the Battle of Zama to a party of adventurers and mercenaries against the denizens of the classic D&D adventure B4: The Lost City. It's no small achievement that the outcome of a Domains at War battle matches what you'd expect from real-world history on the one hand and a RPG combat on the other. We're even prouder that the system is easy to learn and fun to play!
Battles and Campaigns are already fully developed. You'll be able to download and start playing with the complete manuscripts as soon as you pledge at the $5 level or above. (See the first backers-only update for details!) We'll use the funding from your Kickstarter pledges to illustrate, lay out, and print these books, as well as to create the play aids described in the advanced reward levels and the Add-Ons section below.
The Domains at War History
Two years ago, we founded Autarch to create the Adventurer Conqueror King System. Our goal was to fulfill the promise of the original fantasy RPG by supporting all levels of campaign play, and we succeeded with the help of 246 Kickstarter backers. One key element remains unpublished: the rules for fielding armies and waging massive battles, fully integrated with ACKS' core systems for ruling domains and hiring mercenaries.
Those rules have now been extensively playtested and refined, again thanks to our original backers. But along the way we realized that it wasn't enough to present a system by which player characters could grow from being a sell-sword to a leader of men. For that journey to be meaningful, we needed to give players a way to directly engage with the full sweep of fantasy warfare, from the strategic choices faced by an army whose lines of supply have been cut to the agonizing tactical decisions of a hotly-contested battlefield.
The original players of Dungeons & Dragons knew in their bones why the title for a first-level fighter was "Veteran"; why the mark of a hero was his ability to rout an enemy formation; and why the loot from a successful adventure was only as good as the stronghold protecting it. Chainmail, the medieval fantasy wargame from which D&D grew, provided a conceptual framework for the primal RPG campaigns. But much more importantly, having played lots and lots of Chainmail gave the original D&D players first-hand experience with the greater struggle in which individual heroes may turn the tide, or die trying.
Our goal with Domains at War is to create a Chainmail for the modern tabletop. We've created a fast-playing contemporary wargame in which the fate of epic armies depends on the actions of individual heroes, organically integrated with a role-playing game so that players can zoom in to resolve duels and heroic forays and then smoothly scale up to gauge the effect on the battlefield and the larger campaign.
Everyone who backs this project will get the two key elements of Domains at War - Battles and Campaigns - in the form of drafts, PDFs, or books. Although these have everything you need to bring war to your tabletop, we're also creating a lot of stuff that, as gamers, we know we'd like to have to improve our experience of play. These items are listed below. You can add them items to any reward level by increasing your pledge by the amount shown.
Our Excel calculator is designed to help you figure out your pledge and the rewards and add-ons you'll get in return. To use it, follow that link, click "Download", open it in Excel or OpenOffice, and enter a "1" in the leftmost yellow column for each reward or add-on you want. At the end, enter a 1 in the yellow column if you need international shipping or are using a Dwimmermount coupon. The bottom line will tell you what your pledge should be and how many of each item we'll be sending to you.
Softcovers: You get each of the following if you select a base reward of $35 (DECURION) or above, but you can always add more copies! If you are adding these to a base reward level of $20 or less (LEGIONARY or SIGNIFIER), please add $5 to cover shipping ($15 outside the US).
- Domains at War: Battles, $15. 96 page softcover book.
- Domains at War: Campaigns, $15. 96 page softcover book.
Hardbacks: These books combine Battles and Campaigns into a single volume ready to go on your shelf next to ACKS and the Player's Companion. If you are adding these to a base reward level of $20 or less (LEGIONARY or SIGNIFIER), please add $5 to cover shipping ($15 outside the US).
- Single volume Domains at War, $45. 192 page hardback book, printed by Lulu.
- Signed single volume, $60. As above but signed by lead designer Alex Macris.
Hexbook: Designed by Jed McClure of Albatross Press for running D@W Campaigns! This notebook combines pages of 6-mile and 24-mile hexes with record sheets and examples of domains of various sizes. If you are adding these to a base reward level of $20 or less (LEGIONARY or SIGNIFIER), please add $5 to cover shipping ($15 outside the US).
- Albatross Hex Notebook, $15. 64 page saddle-stitched notebook, printed by Lulu.
Complete Set: You get each of the following if you select a base reward of $65 (CENTURION) or above, but you can always add more copies!If you are adding these to a base reward level of $20 or less (LEGIONARY or SIGNIFIER), please add $5 to cover shipping ($15 outside the US); this does not apply if you're adding extra copies to the same or higher level.
- Poster battle map, $15. These two 24" by 36" sheets fold down to fit in the 8.5" x 11" portfolio, and combine to make a full sized play area for Domains at War: Battles, marked with 2" hexes. Note that Battles can also be played by measuring distances on the tabletop; the rules are presented in terms of hexes because in playtesting it proved to be easier to convert from hex to measurement than the other way around.
- Counter and token sheets, $15. A dozen heavy cardstock sheets, printed with fantasy units and markers for use with Domains at War: Battles. As shown in the video, the game can also be played with stands of miniatures; the rules contain a guide to adjusting scale and basing for the most common sizes of figures. However, even a committed miniature enthusiast like Mike Mornard says he can always find a use for some well-done counters of fantasy/medieval armies!
Deluxe Set: You get each of the following if you select a base reward of $185 (TRIBUNE) or above, but you can always add more copies! If you are adding these to a base reward level of $20 or less (LEGIONARY or SIGNIFIER), please add $15 to cover shipping ($40 outside the US); add $10 if you are adding these to a base reward level of $135 or less ($30 outside the US).
- Original Outdoor Map, $30. This 24" by 24" map of wilderness terrain is marked with 1" hexes and printed on vinyl so that Domains at War: Campaigns players can use wipe-erase markers to add strongholds and settlements and trace their armies' lines of supply. The recommended equipment for the original Dungeons & Dragons game included a similar map, which could be used to provide an instant landscape whenever play entered an unknown area. This is Rob Conley's RPG adaptation, done in watercolors by Studio Greengoat, and will be supported with Campaigns scenarios from the many fantasy worlds to have incorporated this landscape. Note: this reward is identical to the Dwimmermount wilderness mat - if you're a Dwimmermount backer who's already getting that, only add this one if you want a second copy!
- Battle map, $50. This is the 48" by 32" map with 2" hexes shown in the video. It's printed on vinyl for durability and so that Domains at War: Battles players can use wipe-erase markers to draw in terrain features, spell effects, and other dynamic changes to the battlefield. When not in use, it rolls up into a tube for easy storage between games.
- Army trackers, $30. These two double-sided tablets store 8.5" by 11" pages in vinyl pockets, allowing you to insert printed army lists and play guides and then overlay information with wipe-erase markers. The trackers come with the pre-printed sheets we think you'll find most useful, including Campaigns and Battles army lists for all the sample scenarios and a play aid for tracking the elements of a side's morale in Battles, as well as electronic templates for creating your own inserts.
Roleplaying Rules: These are not included in any reward level but are useful if you want to use Domains at War with the RPG system that formed its design assumptions. If you are adding the hardcover edition of these add-ons to a base reward level of $20 or less (LEGIONARY or SIGNIFIER), please add $5 to cover shipping ($15 outside the US).
- Adventurer Conqueror King System, $10 PDF, $40 hardcover + PDF bundle. Lauded as “a new and modern system that takes very seriously the concepts that made this hobby great”, this contains rules for one-on-one combat, monsters and magic, the economics of mercenaries, marketplaces, and strongholds, and the creation of new campaign regions.
- ACKS Player's Companion, $10 PDF, $35 hardcover + PDF bundle. This expansion provides new classes and new spells - all of which are covered in the Domains at War rules for magic on the battlefield - as well as systems for creating your own.
If your pledges take us past our initial funding target, we'll use the additional money to create some cool new stuff for you!
- Bonus Goal 1, $20,000: Hardcover Collector's Edition. We believe that separate softcovers are the handiest format for using Domains at War at the table, but we've heard from many fans who want a hardback on the shelf to match ACKS and the Player's Companion. If we raise a total of $20,000, we'll have enough to support this hardcover print run. At that point, we'll create a new Senior Centurion reward level with the hardback and also make it available as an add-on to other reward levels.
- Bonus Goal 2, $25,000: Auran Empire Scenario Pack with 3 scenarios, including special hero and unit counters and terrain pieces unique to ACKS' implied setting.
- Bonus Goal 3, $30,000: Old School Scenario Pack with 3 scenarios, drawn from the campaigns of grognards and OSR luminaries, including a Campaigns scenario usable with the vinyl wilderness map.
- Bonus Goal 4, $40,000: Domains at War Online Tool Suite providing assistance to build units, manage armies, and create domains
- Bonus Goal 5, $50,000: Naval combat for Domains at War - this is a whole supplement in itself, but if we reach this level every backer will get an intro to the topic on the scale of D@W's Free Starter Edition!
All scenario packs enabled by bonus goals will be free for every backers to download in PDF format or use online. The estimated delivery dates do not apply to bonus goals; we will focus on shipping everything we originally promised before turning our attention to fun new stuff made possible by additional funding.
How Much Further to These Goals?
Risks and challenges
Backing a Kickstarter entails risks as well as rewards. As project creators, it's important to us that you are aware of the risks and have a chance to evaluate what we're doing to minimize them.
* DISAPPOINTMENT *
Any time you pick up a new gaming product, there's a risk that it will fail to live up to your expectations. Using Kickstarter increases this risk. Because you will be the first to get your hands on Domains at War, you won't have the chance to read reviews or get word of mouth feedback before deciding to invest your gaming dollars in it.
To minimize this risk, we made the Free Starter Edition available for you to download before pledging. Its simple rules are the core of the Domains at War system, and should give you a good idea whether it's something that will appeal to you. If you're still not sure, you can start with a $5 pledge and download the manuscripts of Campaigns and Battles, then increase your pledge if you like what you see. If not, you can cancel it at any point before the campaign ends.
Because we'll be using the Kickstarter funds to cover illustration, layout, and printing, you won't be able to check out the final production quality of Domains at War before deciding to pledge. However, Autarch has earned a reputation for high production values and excellent customer service with our previous Kickstarter projects, and we are eager to live up to this standard.
* DELAYED REWARDS *
Although it may be reassuring that we've done successful Kickstarter projects before, you should be aware that we also have a track record of not meeting our estimated delivery dates. It's not uncommon for game creators to run late, but we are firmly committed to getting our Domains at War rewards to you on or before the promised dates. The key to doing this will be to learn from the mistakes we made in each of our previous projects.
ADVENTURER CONQUEROR KING: Funding ended 8/6/11; PDFs delivered 2/1/12; hardcovers shipped 4/12/12. We launched this Kickstarter before the requirement to set an estimated delivery date, but it's fair to say we expected to have the rewards ready sooner than we did.
Our mistake with this first Kickstarter was to not limit the scope. Unlike Domains at War, we did not have the manuscript for ACKS finished when we launched the Kickstarter. This worked out well for a new company; the process of communicating with backers gave us lots of great ideas for how to make ACKS better, and we're glad we took the time to incorporate this feedback into the finished product. The problem was that ideas resulting from this collaboration also made the book longer than we originally anticipated, leading to delays.
Now that Autarch has been around a little longer, we're still dedicated to collaboration with backers, but we can apply this to other projects we have on the drawing board. As a Domains at War backer, you'll have the chance to provide input on drafts of the upcoming Auran Empire Campaign Setting, which we intend to contain all the information you'll need to play out D@W battles and campaigns in this fantasy world. We now have the luxury of waiting to crowdfund a product until it already has the invaluable benefit of feedback from the people most likely to use it at their gaming tables.
PLAYER'S COMPANION: Funding ended 3/16/12. Estimated delivery for PDFs 5/12; actual 12/16/12. Estimated delivery for hardcovers 7/12; actual 1/28/13.
hardcovers shipped 4/12/12.
Some of the delays on this project were due to not learning from our mistakes - the bonus goals added substantially to the scope of the project. We also ran into a new mistake, a bottleneck in our work flow with the internal organization of the PDF.
What we've learned is to plan for at least two ways to achieve each step on the way to creating the rewards. Domains at War has a higher funding target than any of our previous Kickstarters because we've double budgeted for key elements of the process; even if a supplier or contributor takes the money and runs, we'll have funds on hand to cover our backup. To further avoid bottlenecks, we've also set internal deadlines to tell us when it's time to stop waiting for plan A and go with plan B. We hope that this extra redundancy in Domains at War's scheduling will allow us to actually beat our estimated delivery dates if everything goes smoothly, and still meet them even if it doesn't.
DWIMMERMOUNT: Funding ended 4/14/12. Estimated delivery for PDFs 6/12, 8/12 for hardcovers. Current estimate 8/15/13 for Labyrinth Lord version, 12/25/13 for ACKS version.
The Dwimmermount rewards are still outstanding, and mistakes we made in setting up this project mean it's been a long and difficult journey to the point we're at now where we have full confidence in our estimated ship dates. The lesson we've learned is that there is no getting around bottlenecks that depend on the unique work of an individual. To avoid delays, their work has to be finished before the Kickstarter launches, and others need to be able to take the remaining steps toward fulfilling the rewards even if individual issues intervene.
Only Alexander Macris could have written the complete draft for Domains at War, just as only James Maliszewski could have written the Dwimmermount draft. Having that draft already in place so that someone else could use it to deliver the rewards is an essential safeguard against delays. Although Alex is far and away our most valuable player, Autarch is a LLC with seven members in two cities. Barring a disaster big enough to affect the entire Eastern seaboard, one of us should be able to fulfill our promises to you with Domains at War.
* UNFULFILLED REWARDS *
By far the worst risk you face in backing a Kickstarter is that you'll pledge your money and never get the rewards you were promised in return. You can reduce this risk by only backing creators whose track record demonstrates that they're worthy of your trust. We hope that our (eventual) successes with ACKS and the Player's Companion, and our commitment to stand by our Dwimmermount backers despite all of the difficulties on that project, speaks to our trustworthiness.
To minimize your risks of giving us money and getting nothing in return, we've made sure we can set delivery estimates within a six-month window following the time we'll charge your credit card. Being within this window gives you the best chance of getting your credit card company to process a chargeback if it looks like we're going to fail to deliver your rewards or respond to your request for a refund. There's absolutely no reason to think this might happen; we've gone above and beyond the Kickstarter terms of service in offering refunds to Dwimmermount backers. Still, we really hate the idea that you might get completely burned by putting your faith in us, and it's reassuring to know we're leaving your own options open in the event that something goes totally wrong on our end.
* CHALLENGES *
Although we're confident that our experience as publishers will let us handle any problems that emerge, Domains at War involves kinds of printing we haven't handled before. During the time we've been developing this Kickstarter we've received proofs of our maps, counters, and play aids. We're confident that we'll be able to produce these rewards with the same quality we've brought to our other projects, and we plan to share the basis for this confidence with you in weekly project updates.
* ALTERNATIVES *
We hope you'll decide it's worth taking on the risks involved in backing this Kickstarter, but it's important to emphasize that this won't be your only way to get hold of Domains at War. We expect that all the items that go into the Complete Domains at War Set will be available in stores within a few months of the time that Kickstarter backers receive them. (Retailers who back the project will have them sooner!) All these items, as well as the PDFs and the components of the Deluxe Domains at War Set, will be available for purchase online around the same time. The only things you won't be able to get once the Kickstarter closes are free shipping, the rewards that involve creative contributions to the finished product, the chance to provide feedback on this and future projects, and acknowledgement in the credits for having helped make Domains at War a reality.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Look at the top of the page for the tab that says "Updates". Links for the manuscript downloads are in the first update, which is readable only by backers.
In addition to the text-only rules (or the PDF or softcover when they're released), you will need some twenty-sided dice, pencils, and paper. For both D@W: Battles and D@W: Campaigns, you'll also need a set of role-playing rules for resolving individual combats. Domains at War is written for compatibility with the Adventurer Conqueror King System (which you can get as an add-on reward in PDF or hardback), but you can also use it with your favorite RPG system that shares concepts like hit points and armor class.
For D@W: Campaigns, you'll need some hex paper to make a map of the campaign region. You can print this from free PDFs available at the Autarch site - http://www.autarch.co/system/files/files/ACKS_BlankHexMaps_0.pdf - or pledge extra to add the hex notebook as an add-on reward when it becomes available.
For D@W: Battles, you need a way to track the position of units on the battlefield. This could be the poster 2" hex map and cardstock counters included in the Complete D@W Set or the vinyl hex map included in the Deluxe D@W Set, or ones you print yourself from the PDF. You could also use miniatures and a ruler to track movement and position on the tabletop instead of a hex map; the Battles manuscript has guidelines for adapting to commonly-used miniatures scales.
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