I know everyone is justifiably obsessed with the Vampirates DLC right now, but with the interesting additions to the Mortal Empires map in the form of Albion and Sudenberg, I thought I would share some ideas on how Dogs of War and the southern realms might be implemented. I also recognise that I'm probably not the first person to suggest these ideas, so apologies if you've heard all this before.
The way I see it working, much like the tabletop game, the Dogs of War are a set of units available to multiple factions, each with specific requirements for recruitment, such as holding a province, maintaining public order or forging an alliance. If you meet these conditions, you have access to the unit, most likely with a unit cap of one or two. Each faction has access to different units, with some having access to more units than others (for example, Bretonnia would likely be required to pay a chivalry cost alongside a monetary one, for the dishonourable act of hiring mercenaries, and the obnoxious Marienburg Landship would be much more dishonourable than, say, a unit of the Alcanti Fellowship).
Here is a potential list of DoW units and their respective requirements. (I forgot to add Beastmen, but I imagine they would have access to the same units as Chaos, if any at all)
Here's where the Southern Realms play into it. The Southern Realm factions would be represented by 2-4 new legendary lords, with a mostly shared roster of pikes, crossbows and mobile artillery (see Cataph's excellent southern realms mod for reference). Additionally, the merchant princes of the Southern Realms can recruit DoW units the same way that the other factions can, but with a few key differences;
1. They have potential access to all of the above dogs of war units
2, They have access to an agent called the "Explorer" who, among other things, can roam around the map, and after interacting with a faction or region with a DoW unit, can enable the recruitment of said unit in the "Mercenary Guild" building tree.
The Explorer essentially represents a trade expedition to foreign lands, spreading the word to foreign mercenaries that glory and gold await them if they sell their services to the explorer's patron. This allows the Southern Realms player to build up, not necessarily out, and plays into the idea that a Merchant Prince is more interested in wealth than carving out an empire. It also enables the Southern Realms player to embark on expeditions to find their favourite units to round out their rosters (It may be worth limiting the number of mercenary units available at any one time, but I imagine this cap would be increased with building upgrades).
This system allows for the inclusion of smaller factions such as Halflings (no pun intended), Albion and Amazons without having to pad out their rosters. It probably doesn't make much lore sense for these insular factions to start painting the map anyway. The DoW units could also be included in rebellions in their respective provinces (particularly the units which require Public Order to recruit) which would make overtaking foreign lands much more interesting. These units could also be expanded upon once game three is released. Want Ogre Maneaters and Oglah Khan's wolf riders? Just recreate Marco Polare's expedition to the Eastern lands!
Note, I've included Aranessa in the above list as mostly separate from the other Vampire Pirate factions. Personally I think she makes more sense as a pirate lord than a southern realms lord and in that respect I'm glad she was included in the Vampirates DLC, but with the above roster she has unique access to many more living units (so long as she can curb Vampiric Corruption) highlighting her role as the only mortal Pirate lord.
Very keen to hear people's thoughts on this, and feel free to add units and suggestions I've missed.