Kingdom and Domain building, do you all do that?

Hey all, I’ve been mulling over this question for a little bit now and I wanted to turn to you all to hear your thoughts.

Something I always found interesting in Dungeons and Dragons and similar games ( at least with the older rule sets), is that some of the focus of play was centered around Kingdom building and settlement building. I know in the more modern rulesets it’s kind of gone on the Wayside, but I was curious if any of you all had done anything like that in your own games or come across anything in the osr that is done Kingdom building?

Maybe I’m the odd man out on this, but I kind of find Kingdom building and settlement building interesting since you’re leaving a definitive mark on the world and the characters within it. Maybe that is apart of my own personal since I often find myself being the only proponent for it in my games.


This definitely comes up every time I play. Even when I was playing 5e I wanted to get into real-estate, the DM didn’t really know what to do when I started spending my large collection of gold on farms and things like that to try to make a passive income.

We’re running through B2 right now. I’m DMing and my players have set up shop in one of the caverns in the Caves of Chaos - fortifying the entrance, hiring guards to hold down the fort, setting up traps in one of the secret entrances to ensure their back is secured, etc. Now they don’t have to trek back to the Keep to turn in their stuff as they even hired a merchant and bought a cart and mule so they can send their goods back to sell. They’re level 2! I can’t wait until they hit a level where they can start really making an impact on the greater world.


I feel like this is me every time, usually I put the business or ownership pieces as a post retirement gig for the character. I often just want it so resource wise the party can I have a bit more flexibility since they’ll have a small well of Capital views.

That’s awesome to hear you have a group thinking outside the box on handling B2 and getting loot back to the castle. I still need to run my own players through B2 and show them what it’s like.

1 Like

Some of my players have expressed interest in domain-building in the past, and while I tried my best to offer them a fun experience the result ended in more book-keeping than it enjoyment. My holy-grail would be a kingdom building ruleset that is:

  • Rules light, not much bookeeping
  • Realistic
  • Doesn’t make PC’s too rich too early (e.g. if buying a farm provides too much profit, why would your character still adventure. Less of an issue as the PC’s level up and become richer)
  • Provides occasional twists/hitches (like little encounters to be dealt with, so domain-management doesn’t feel like a math problem)
  • Abstracts the minutiae (I had one player who haggled over the price of every chicken, never again :stuck_out_tongue:)

I agree with you, it feels like it flips between either being an interesting experience of politicking and role-playing or sitting down with a spreadsheet to check the seasonal income of one’s holdings.

A good way of doing what you describe could be building the domain as a character with each stat presenting an aspect of the kingdom. I’ve seen rulesets that do that, but it has mixed results sometimes.


The worldbuilding appeals to me as a GM but I’d never even offer it to a group. If they asked and had a history of putting in the effort then I’d be up for it. It builds attachments and it’s easier to create adventure hooks then.

1 Like

Hi folks,
earlier this year I ran a post series on my blog that was specifically about ways to incorporate “the domain game” without cracking your skull on too-crunchy rules. I’ll post some examples below, feel free to view my list of posts in the sidebar if this looks helpful.


These are really cool. I’m giving them a read right now. At a first glance, your priorities match mine pretty well. I’ll check back in after I’m done.

1 Like

I started take a read through each of your posts and you got some pretty good ideas. I’ve been halfway working on some simple Mass combat/ wargaming rules for my Wild West game and I have to take your thoughts in the consideration.

Thank you for sharing, I completely forgot about your post where you shared the Articles originally.

1 Like

I want to run and/or play in a domain game like this - something that you can do a little bit with even at low levels. My buddy ran a campaign of A Song of Ice and Fire, and that was a lot of fun, but the domain stuff is still too opaque on the players’ side. But that random events were great and the way the kingdom stuff worked into the adventuring stuff worked out pretty well. He’s running an ongoing Stars Without Number campaign now, but for some reason he’s making it a lot of work for us to get involved in the domain stuff. Not sure why. I have a feeling, though, that it would still be pretty opaque mechanically to interact with the domain stuff. I guess it depends on how it’s presented.

I’m looking forward to Kevin Crawford’s latest - Worlds Without Number - and seeing what he does with that. I think there’s still room for that perfect domain management game, though. Something simple enough for the players to intuitively understand the benefit of building this or that, or making whatever domain-level action.


Another OSR option is Adventurer Conqueror King (ACKS), a BX-derived (mostly?) Game that focuses heavily on the domain building aspect of the game. As a game, I like a lot of what it offers, though I haven’t actually got a feel for the domain stuff itself. People seem to like it.

1 Like

I would like to, but haven’t found player’s interested yet.

Another take on the problem of what adventurers do when not on adventures was tackled by The Fantasy Trip: In the Labyrinth (1980). It was one of the first (if not the first) RPG to have rules for jobs for PCs, with rolls for success in earning between adventures. You had to have certain traits to qualify for certain jobs.

This was the precursor to GURPS (1986), which, not surprisingly, has job rules, too, though for any setting.

I think some players imagine domain creation as retirement, but in Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor, it was the reverse of what people try to do in D&D. Players started with jobs and roles as leaders. When invasion threatened, characters went into the dungeons underneath Castle Blackmoor to find treasure to help fund their armies and strategic efforts. D&D reversed this, telling instead the story of how the leaders got to be leaders. But that story has been so engrossing, and so conducive to player identification with character, that it became the essence of the game rather than a side-effect.