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[ACKS] Mercenary, Liberator, Tyrant

Kiero

Retiring User
Validated User
This is a collection of my various tweaks, amendments and changes to Adventurer, Conqueror, King, for my upcoming game. It's titled Mercenary, Liberator, Tyrant, three terms more appropriate for the period, or alternatively Misthophoroi, Strategos, Basileus (guess which one everyone will use...).

The way I'll present this is references against the bits that are different, and some commentary as to why it's different. Once things have been discussed, I'll put the final draft on the wiki.

As a preface to this and to explain the design goals, this is for a historical game, set in the bowl of the world (ie the Mediterranean) in 300BC. This is the early Hellenistic era, the time when the marshals and other hangers-on of Alexander the Great battled it out to claim mastery of his empire. It's a historical game, couched very much in the bits and pieces we know about the period (with added license), and without magic, monsters or anything overtly supernatural. That obviously necessitates cutting out various bits, and changes the focus somewhat. Furthermore, there are no dungeons. None. Sure there's kurgans around and maybe the odd abandoned settlement, but there isn't anything like level after level of underground environments with their own bizarre ecosystems.

The main draw for ACKS doing this is the domain management and mass combat. I hope to make much use of both later on, but for the moment the PCs will be mostly responsible for themselves and their retinue, earning various things like a ship and territory to call their own.

We'll be podcasting on our site as usual, once things get up and running.



Chapter 2: Characters


Ability scores (p16)

No 3d6 in order. Instead we use the following scheme, which generates an array: Roll 1d6+12, 2d6+6 twice and 3d6 four times. Drop the lowest result from these seven rolls.

You may choose to use either your array, or that of anyone else at the table. Once you have your array, you may arrange them however you like.


Design note: My group aren't wildly keen on random rolls, but 3d6 in order is the worst sort of random, giving no choice whatsoever over what character you play. We don't do "work out what you have from the rolls", we come up with a concept then build a character. The players are happy to use this skewed sort of random, but with the proviso that they can allocate to taste. Furthermore, restricting everyone to whatever they personally roll creates unnecessary rancor, the solution to this was to treat everyone's rolls as an array, freely available for anyone else to use. Thus no one can luck out and get a "good roll", nor suck with a "bad roll".

I'll probably use a weaker one, without the 1d6+12 for henchmen, and straight 3d6, allocate at will for hirelings.



Classes (p18)

Choose a class from the following options: Aristocrat, Assassin, Bard, Diplomat, Explorer, Fighter, Thief.

Some classes have been altered to equalise XP (because XP will not be tracked using points). The following changes are applied to those classes:
  • Assassin: Add Skirmishing Proficiency as class power.
  • Bard: Add Performance (Rhetoric) and one additional Performance Proficiency as class powers, may wear medium armour and use shields.
  • Thief: Raise HD to d6, may use shields.

If desired, I’ll allow people to use Bard as a frame for an Expert-type class, by trading out the three Performance Proficiencies for three others and a level-linked bonus to particular Proficiency throws in place of the inspiration ability. They can also trade down their armour for another Proficiency.

There are two new classes, taken from the Autarch site, and modified. They are thus:

Aristocrat:

Spoiler: Show
Aristocrats are minor aristocrats who have chosen the path of a warrior to make their way in the world.

Prime Requisite: STR and CHA.
Requirements: None.
Hit Dice: 1d6.
Maximum Level: 14.

At first level, aristocrats hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack throws and saving throws by two points every three levels of experience (i.e., as fast as fighters), and use the saving throws of fighters. They may fight with all melee and missile weapons, and may fight with a weapon in each hand, weapon and shield, or two-handed weapon. They can wear any kind of armor, and use shields.

Aristocrats start with the Command proficiency, plus one of Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Seduction.

When hiring people (employees, mercenaries, henchmen, contracting a sage, and so on), aristocrats treat the market class of the city as one better (Class I markets remain Class I).

At third level, aristocrats automatically gain a second choice from Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Seduction.

At fifth level, battlefield prowess inspires followers. Any henchmen and mercenaries hired by the aristocrat gain a +1 bonus to their morale score whenever the aristocrat personally leads them. This bonus stacks with any modifiers from the Charisma or proficiencies.

At seventh level, aristocrats become immune to all natural and magical fear effects.

At ninth level, aristocrats can build a castle in the same fashion as a fighter. In addition, the aristocrat gains the Leadership proficiency automatically.

At 11th level, aristocrats gain the last choice from Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Seduction.

The 13th level, aristocrats are masters of their domain: increase the Land Value of their personal domain by +1 while they rule it.

Proficiency list: Alertness, Animal Training, Blind Fighting, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery (disarm, force back, knock down, overrun, sunder), Command, Diplomacy, Endurance, Fighting Style, Intimidation, Land Surveying, Leadership, Manual of Arms, Military Strategy, Performance (Rhetoric), Precise Shooting, Riding, Running, Seafaring, Siege Engineering, Skirmishing, Survival, Wakefulness, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus.


Diplomat:

Spoiler: Show
Diplomats are minor aristocrats who have chosen the path of diplomacy and intrigue to make their way in the world.

Prime Requisite: CHA.
Requirements: None.
Hit Dice: 1d6.
Maximum Level: 14.

At first level, diplomats hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack throws and saving throws by two points every three levels of experience (i.e., as fast as fighters), but use the saving throws of thieves. They may fight with all weapons, and may fight with a weapon in each hand, weapon and shield, or two-handed. They can wear any kind of armor, and use shields.

When hiring people (employees, mercenaries, henchmen, contracting a sage, and so on), diplomats treat the market class of the city as one better (Class I markets remain Class I).

Diplomats start with an additional Language, Performance (Rhetoric) and one of Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Seduction.

At third level, diplomats gain the ability to Move Silently and Hear Noise as a thief of the same level; and a second choice from Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Seduction.

At fifth level, the diplomat gains the third choice from Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Seduction. In addition, any henchmen and mercenaries hired by the diplomat gain a +1 bonus to their morale score if the character is there to witness and talk about their deeds.

At seventh level, the diplomat gains command of voice: The diplomat gains a +2 bonus to reaction rolls when speaking. If this bonus results in a total of 12 or more, the subjects act as if charmed while they remain in the diplomat's presence. Creatures with a WIS greater than the diplomat's CHA are immune to this power (the diplomat will know they are immune).

Diplomats at seventh level are immune to non-spell charm effects, including those of other diplomats.

Also at seventh level, diplomats learn to Hide in Shadows.

At ninth level, diplomats can build a castle in the same fashion as a fighter.

Also at ninth level, the diplomat gains the ability to perceive intentions: The diplomat always knows the exact reaction result (Hostile, Unfriendly, etc.) of creatures, even if the creatures attempt to lie or conceal their reactions. Creatures with a CHA greater than the diplomat's WIS are immune to this power (and the diplomat will know they are immune).

At 12th level, the diplomat gains Leadership.

Proficiency list: Acrobatics, Art, Bargaining, Bribery, Combat Trickery (disarm), Eavesdropping, Fighting Style, Gambling, Healing, Knowledge, Language, Lip Reading, Performance, Precise Shooting, Profession (advocate, merchant), Riding, Running, Seafaring, Skirmishing, Swashbuckling, Theology, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus


All characters start at 5th level, and have 8,000dr with which to purchase equipment, hirelings and henchmen, mounts and pack animals and possibly club together for a ship.

As 5th level characters, they will have an expected standard of living of dr/month. If they wish to establish some investments to begin to cover this, any money invested has a return of 3% per month for relatively secure investments, and d10%-d4% for riskier investments (which may make a loss).


Design note: Obviously without magic half of the standard classes make no sense. There were also some gaps, thus the addition of the two new classes. There was also a small job of equalising the XP of all the classes, to facilitate dropping XP tracking altogether, in favour of an alternative method of levelling.

This is a game intended to start with the PCs as experienced, capable people, thus we just straight to 5th level and skip the early incompetence. It also means they're at the stage of gathering their own individual retinues, which is perfect for this game. Four people wandering about unattended would look like vagabonds or bandits, not potential players in the great political games of the age.

I'm not yet sure about starting wealth in terms of monthly incomes that make sense.



Chapter 3: Equipment


Coins and Money (p39)

All economies are based on the silver standard. Halve all values quoted. Multiply all quoted gold piece values by 5 to arrive at a roughly accurate value in silver drachmae for all goods, services and living costs.

In ancient Greece, these were the main currencies:
8 chalkoi = 1 obolus
6 oboloi = 1 drachma
100 drachmae = 1 mina (or mnai)
60 minae = 1 Athenian Talent

1 Athenian talent is about 60lb of silver. In ACKS, there are 100 coins per pound, so 1 Athenian talent is 6000 coins. There are (100 x 60) 6,000 drachma per Athenian talent. Gold is worth ten times as much as silver (it was as much as 27 times as much, but the glut of Persian gold in the market has devalued it).

The only gold coins in wide circulation at this time are Persian gold darics, which are about four times the size of a silver drachma. Thus each one is worth 40 drachmae. Gold staters are twice the size of a silver drachma (thus are worth 20 each), and are beginning to be minted.


Standard of living (p39) – Income and investments

Assume that any investment of a lump sum generates on average a 3% monthly return. This assumes something relatively low risk like land, providing a steady stream of rents and a share of harvests. For riskier investments random return is d10%-d4%.


Design note: Conversion of money to the silver standard and period-appropriate coinage, based on discussion with Alex Macris.


Armour (p41)

The following items are removed from the table on p41: Chain Barding and Plate Barding.

The list is reworked as follows:
AC Armour
1 Hides, linen corselet (worn under breastplate)
2 Leather, quilted linen
3 Lamellar/scale corselet
4 Celtic mail
5 Full lamellar/scale, hoplite panoply
6 Hoplite panoply with thigh and arm plates
+1 Adding metal helm and greaves to no/light/medium armour (AC4 or lighter)

Adding greaves and a metal helm to anything lighter than mail adds +1AC (and count as two Items in calculating Encumbrance); it costs 25dr

Double the price of mail.


Design note: Rejigging the armour to fit what was available in the period. Mail was not common at all outside of a handful of rich Keltoi warlords and possibly some wealthy Etruscans.


Shields

Shields are amended as follows:
  • Cloak-wrapped forearm +1 AC vs one-handed melee
  • Buckler – Cost: 5dr +1 AC vs melee and thrown Enc: Item
  • Small shield – Cost: 10dr +1 AC vs melee and thrown, +2 AC vs missiles Enc: 1 stone
  • Medium shield – Cost: 50dr +2 AC vs melee and thrown, +3 AC vs missiles, -1 to athletic checks Enc: 2 stone
  • Large shield – Cost: 100dr +3 AC vs melee and thrown, +5 AC vs missiles, -2 to athletic checks Enc: 3 stone

The Persian cheires functions as a buckler.

In mass combat, small/medium shields give +1AC and large shields +2AC. When closing up, in addition to the usual +2AC in melee and +4AC vs missiles, troops uniformly armed with an aspis get an additional +1AC.


Design note: This is a major change from the flat +1AC shields usually give. In this period the shield was much more important than armour as a pieces defensive equipment. Traditional notions of Greek honour were attached to retaining your shield. Lots of warriors had little more than a shield, armour being both expensive and fatiguing to wear for long periods (heat especially). Bigger shields like the bronze-faced Greek aspis covered a warrior from eye to knee with a mobile barrier, making them all but immune to arrows and slings from the front. In close formation these gave coverage to the man to the left as well as their wielder. D&D is based in a lot of medieval assumptions, and in that period armour was more important and shields almost disposable. Thus shields aren't very effective where in antiquity they were.


Weapons (p41)

The following items are removed from the table: Arbalest, Morning Star, Silver Dagger, Two-handed Sword.

The following items are amended: Sling – damage 1d6.


Design note: Minor changes, removing weapons that didn't exist and increasing the damage of the sling, which was a much deadlier weapon than D&D implies. If a stone is used rather than a cast bullet, use the old damage/range stats.


Encumbrance (p48) - Increase (or decrease) Encumbrance values by the lower of a character’s Strength or Constitution.


Design note: I wanted to give stronger, fitter characters a boost here, but making it the lower of the two stops it becoming a free-for-all where having high Strength is a no-brainer for a warrior-type and having decent Constitution matters as well. Even with this change, you don't get full, unencumbered movement in the heaviest armour with Str 18 and Con 18.


Mercenary Troop Types (p52)

Troop TypeDrachmae/monthAvailability
Light Infantry (javelins, dagger, small shield)30
Slingers (sling, dagger, buckler)30
Archers (shortbow, dagger) 30As Bowmen
Medium Infantry (javelins, spear/shortsword, leather, medium shield) 45As Bowmen
Heavy Infantry (pike/spear, shortsword, leather, small/large shield)60
Elite Archers (composite bow, shortsword, leather, buckler)75As Longbowmen
Light Cavalry (lance/javelins, sword, medium shield, light warhorse)150
Horse Archers (composite bow, shortsword, hide, light warhorse) 225
Medium Cavalry (lance/javelins, sword, leather, medium shield, medium warhorse)225
Heavy Cavalry (lance, sword, hoplite armour, medium shield, medium warhorse) 300
Cataphract Cavalry (lance, sword, composite bow, full scale, scale barded heavy warhorse)375

Unless otherwise specified, Availability is the same as their equivalent type in the book.


Design note: Mine is a much simpler table than the standard, since there's only humans. But I also needed to augment for the period and its assumptions about arms and armour. There's a much more detailed version for mass combat here.


Chapter 4: Proficiencies


Starting Proficiencies (p56)

The Adventuring Proficiency is renamed Seasoned Campaigner. Characters start with two General and one Class Proficiency.


Gaining Proficiencies

All characters use the same progression, gaining a General Proficiency every even-numbered level, and one from the Class Proficiency list every odd-numbered level.

Languages: All characters start with their native tongue and koine Greek for free. If they are already a native Greek speaker, they get their native dialect and another language of their choice.

Available languages are: Arabian, Aramaic, Armenian, Dacian, Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Illyrian, Keltic, Latin, Libyan, Lydian, Nubian, Persian, Phrygian, Phoenician, Scythian, Thracian.

Phoenician and Aramaic are similar, as are Thracian and Phrygian.


New Proficiency: Pankration

This covers the Greek style of unarmed combat, which is also integrated into armed combat at higher levels of training. If taken once, it functions as Combat Trickery (Wrestling) and also gives Combat Trickery (Force Back, Incapacitate and Knock Down) with unarmed attacks only.

Taken a second time, the character may do lethal damage with unarmed attacks and may damage targets in metal armour. Kick attacks suffer only a -1 penalty to hit.


Remove the following Proficiencies: Apostasy, Arcane Dabbling, Battle Magic, Black Lore of Zahar, Collegiate Wizardry, Divine Blessing, Divine Health, Dungeon Bashing, Elementalism, Elven Bloodline, Familiar, Goblin-Slaying, Illusion Resistance, Laying on Hands, Magical Engineering, Magical Music, Martial Training, Mystic Aura, Quiet Magic, Righteous Turning, Sensing Evil, Sensing Power, Transmogrification, Unflappable Casting.


Design note: I wanted a lot more differentiation between characters than is assumed, especially with the absence of magic and non-human species. The easy way to do this was to simply give everyone more Proficiencies. I also needed to be specific about languages. The retention of the prophecy-related Proficiencies is intentional. It's not magic, but it's entirely genre-appropriate and prophecies can have a way of becoming self-fulfilling.


Chapter 5: Spells – CUT!


Chapter 6: Adventures


Time and Wilderness Movement (p93)

Remounts - if the party has two mounts per character (including hirelings), they may move at double the long-distance movement rates shown. This is double the speed of the slowest mount in the group. If the party has three mounts per character, they may move at 2.5 times long-distance rates. If the party has four or more mounts per character, they may move at triple the long-distance rates.


Design note: It's not often considered in dungeon-based games, but if you have more than one mount (which you should; you don't ride your warhorse for general travel, and you don't use a riding horse in battle) you can travel much faster than if you're keeping one mount relatively fresh.


Sea Vessels (p95)

Apply the following amendments:
Galley, large: Sailors: 10, Marines: 15
Galley, small: Sailors: 5, Marines: 5
Galley, war renamed to Galley, pentere.

Add
Galley, medium: Sailors: 5, Rowers: 120, Marines: 10. Ft per Round: 60’/135’, Mi per Day 90/55. Cargo: 3000 stone. AC 1. Shp: 80-105. Cost: 20,000gp (100,000dr)
Galley, tetrere: Sailors: 15, Rowers: 230, Marines: 30. Ft per Round 50’/120’, Mi per Day 75/50. Cargo: 5000 stone. AC 2. Shp 115-140. Cost: 45,000gp (225,000dr)


Design note: The ships listed broadly fit for the period, though most have far too many marines as standard. Space and weight were at a premium, and too many non-essential bodies aboard threatened the seaworthiness of the ship. I also needed to separate two of the most common war galleys, fours and fives from each other, and add a new category of medium galley.


Initiative (p100) – add Dexterity and Wisdom bonuses/penalties to 1d6. Roll at the start of an encounter.


Design note: I'm giving characters with good Wisdom something here. Plus rolling every turn would slow things down too much.


How to attack (p102)

On an roll of 1, roll d20 on the mishap table. If using a spear, polearm or javelin, take -4 to the roll.

1 - Weapon breaks
2-5 - Sunder attack on weapon; Reflex save to avoid breaking.
6-7 - Disarm; Reflex save to avoid losing your weapon.
8-9 - Slip; Reflex save to avoid falling prone.
10+ Nothing additional


Design note: Weapon breakage/loss is a thematically appropriate thing to happen, so here it might do 2.5% of the time.


Missile Attacks (p103)

Amendment: Javelin range 40’/80’/120’
Amendment: Sling range 50'/100'/200'


Design note: Once again, two weapons criminally undervalued by D&D, made more appropriate to the period.


Effects of Damage (p104)
If you go below ½ your maximum hit points, you are Bloodied and suffer a -1 penalty to attack throws and saving throws.

Healing (p105)
Natural healing is equal to your level in hp per day. This is halved if a character is Bloodied (once you are above ½ maximum you return to the normal rate). This is doubled if under the care of someone with the Healing Proficiency.


Design note: Dual-pronged change here. One turning hit points into actual measure of health - though you aren't meaningfully injured until you get to 0, and improving natural healing rates unless you've dropped into incapacitated.

I still need to think about healing rates for incapacitated characters, who have actual injuries rather than cuts and bruises.



Saving Throw Categories (p108)
Only three saving throws are used, translated as follows:
  • Petrification & Paralysis becomes Reflex. In certain circumstances, apply your Dexterity bonus/penalty to the roll.
  • Poison & Death becomes Fortitude. In certain circumstances, apply your Constitution bonus/penalty to the roll.
  • Staffs & Wands becomes Will. In certain circumstances, apply your Wisdom bonus/penalty to the roll.


Design note: My group much prefers the simpler three-save approach of D20, which is what we've done here.


Sunder (p109)
There is only a -2 penalty to sunder javelins, which suffer a -6 penalty to their save against breaking.


Design note: What javelins have gained in range, they've lost in durability.


Mounted Attacks (p112)

If hit by a mounted charge, fixed spear, or struck with a natural 20, a mounted character must make a Reflex save to avoid being unhorsed, taking 1d6 damage in the process. Knock Down attacks against mounted characters are treated the same way. Characters with the Riding Proficiency get a +2 bonus to this roll.


Design note: Simple addition here, it didn't feel like the standard rules had really considered how a character might be involuntarily unhorsed.


Experience (p113)

No award or tracking of experience points (XP). All classes have had their XP tables equalised by addition of class features, and instead we progress levels by achievement of Milestones. These act as prompts for things the players should be doing, and when the group collects enough of them, the PCs all gain a level.

[More later]

Design note: This is still a work in progress, my group are happy to ditch tracking experience points, but instead we'll have a milestone system.


Chapter 9: Treasure

Only use pages 204-210, ie the non-magical stuff.


Masterwork armour and weapons.

There are two better-than-normal qualities for weapons and armour (but not shields or ammunition), good and exceptional. Good items cost four times the listed price, have one special property and give +2 against Sunder maneuvers. Exceptional items cost ten times the listed price, have two properties, and give +4 against being Sundered.

The other mechanical impacts are as follows:
  • Good weapons: +1 initiative or +1 damage.
  • Exceptional weapons: +1 to hit and with either +1 initiative or +1 damage.
  • Good armour: Reduce Encumbrance by one stone.
  • Exceptional armour: Reduce Encumbrance by one stone and +1AC.


Design note: While there's no magic items, there is still well-crafted gear, available for a price. Thus as both loot and stuff to get, I've included them here. I do wonder if x4 and x10 might be too cheap, but on the other hand how would anyone afford it if they were too expensive.
 
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SaintTzu

New member
Banned
That is nicely done. I particularly like the weapon and armor tweaks and the way you incorporated pankration. I'd love to play something like this.
 

Evocatus

Registered User
Validated User
Damn, son! Clearly you've put some serious thought into the setting and, to second SaintTzu, this is my kind of game - dungeons and dragons are nice but, nothing compares to a serious alt-historical campaign, IMO.

I can't say I've read all of the information above but, based on your posts on this forum and elsewhere and the degree to which you've already developed your campaign ideas, I'm going to say that, if you're missing anything initially, you and your group will clearly hunt it down and kill it.

Wish I had some detailed feedback (I realize you weren't necessarily asking for blanket praise here) - I'll try and grok the above over the long weekend (in the U.S.) and respond.

Subscribing to your podcast and look forward to reading game reports. In addition, you've inspired me to be less half-assed now in my approach to my own alt-historical settings!
 

Kiero

Retiring User
Validated User
That is nicely done. I particularly like the weapon and armor tweaks and the way you incorporated pankration. I'd love to play something like this.
Thank you!

What I like about ACKS is the way that I can make shields markedly better, but they still aren't a no-brainer, since the boost to AC is also an increase in Encumbrance. It makes which type of shield you take just as much of a trade-off as which armour you choose. If you want the maximum protection of an aspis, you are going to either have to skimp on your armour, or accept being slower, no matter how strong and fit you are.

I should note, Pankration is not a replacement for the existing unarmed combat Proficiencies, but an intentionally superior one to go alongside them. Lots of other peoples didn't go in for all that naked training business the Greeks were so fond of, or didn't develop grappling and striking in the same integrated way. Thus there is a small benefit to having the sort of background where you had access to the gymnasium and palaestra.

Damn, son! Clearly you've put some serious thought into the setting and, to second SaintTzu, this is my kind of game - dungeons and dragons are nice but, nothing compares to a serious alt-historical campaign, IMO.

I can't say I've read all of the information above but, based on your posts on this forum and elsewhere and the degree to which you've already developed your campaign ideas, I'm going to say that, if you're missing anything initially, you and your group will clearly hunt it down and kill it.

Wish I had some detailed feedback (I realize you weren't necessarily asking for blanket praise here) - I'll try and grok the above over the long weekend (in the U.S.) and respond.

Subscribing to your podcast and look forward to reading game reports. In addition, you've inspired me to be less half-assed now in my approach to my own alt-historical settings!
Thanks, and I appreciate you taking the time to peruse what I've done. My players are sold on the notion and we'll get our first try in anger next week.
 

Kiero

Retiring User
Validated User
Talking of things missed, this time it's aging.


Aging and Death (p248)

Aging is not a fixed property. Instead the time in which penalties start to apply depends on a number of factors, which together are called Prime. To calculate Prime age, roll your hit die, add or subtract your Strength and Constitution modifiers and add/subtract this result to 35. This gives your Prime. This will range from 30 to 49.

Prime= 35 + (HD roll +/- Str and Con modifiers)

The reworked aging chart is thus:

Youth: 13-17
Adult: 18 - Prime
Middle Aged: (Prime +1) - (Prime +20)
Old: (Prime +21) - (Prime +40)
Ancient (Prime +41) - (Prime +60)

Furthermore, the effects of Middle and Old age are ameliorated somewhat. Those new ability score adjustments are as follows:

Modifier for Middle Aged: -1 Dex, -1 Con
Modifier for Old: -1 Str, -1 Dex, -1 Con, -1 Cha


Design note: Maybe it's that I'll be 35 next year, and I have two parents who will be 60 at the same time, but both the hurdle ages and the adjustments seem far too severe to me. People who are in good health, look after themselves and got lucky with their genes don't show the effects of aging the same as others less fortunate do.

Not only that, this is the era in which you had veteran phalangites still fighting in their 60s and even 70s, and commanders dying in battle in their 80s and 90s. These were not frail people with one foot in the grave, but still vital even into what we'd normally consider to be elderly. Not only that, strength doesn't drop off that much, it's fitness and flexibility that go with age.

This also inserts some variety into aging, and allows for premature aging as well as extended longevity.
 

Evocatus

Registered User
Validated User
Apologies in advance for a series of questions coming at you somewhat haphazardly, a.) that's kind of my MO and b.) trying to read your OP in pieces during downtimes over the weekend (kids!).

In any event, Chapter 2: Characters, Classes - any thought to breaking out social class, i.e. Aristocrat, and character class?

This may simply be too much work (especially if y'all're firing the game up next week), however, just thinking (as I've contemplated on this on my own) you could have social class as a theme and/or PC background, which involves its own individual skill package (or, a point buy, if your players want more flexibility) and then lay character class over the top, frex Aristocrat Bard and Middle-Class (or, whatever) Thief.

As above, I've struggled with this concept in some of my settings and, where I've included social class as a game element, I've settled on breaking these out as backgrounds as opposed to an actual character class primarily on the basis of lack of representation from middle to lower social classes, e.g. poor and/or slave classes. That is to say, many folks like to play a noble but not so much a prole. Clearly, not always the case, but I'm just going by things like the Cavalier in Unearthed Arcana or Jarl in Yggdrasill - there don't seem to be (m)any Peasant or Thrall classes.

Also, with regard to classes, any thought toward an Engineer or Scientist (I'm thinking along the lines of Archimedes or an Eratosthenes)? Again, might be too much work at this point but might be an interesting addition to the game, which could have ripple effects within the domain and army management systems.

BTW, if the comments above are not what you're looking for, please feel free to say - I'd prefer to provide feedback in the areas you want rather than simply muddying the water.
 

SaintTzu

New member
Banned
In any event, Chapter 2: Characters, Classes - any thought to breaking out social class, i.e. Aristocrat, and character class?

...
Also, with regard to classes, any thought toward an Engineer or Scientist (I'm thinking along the lines of Archimedes or an Eratosthenes)? Again, might be too much work at this point but might be an interesting addition to the game, which could have ripple effects within the domain and army management systems.
I had some thoughts along these lines as well. One of my first character ideas reading through the campaign notes was the young Plato and his journeys. That character seems somewhere between a Aristocrat, a Diplomat, and an Explorer. Probably closest to Diplomat, as I read you. How would you see someone like that working?
 

JonWake

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Banned
This sounds amazing. I was going to use ACKS for my Dark Sun campaign, but the start date got moved up and I didn't have time to customize the classes I'd need. This is what ACKS was built for. I look forward to hearing about the doings of these scoundrels.
 

Kiero

Retiring User
Validated User
Apologies in advance for a series of questions coming at you somewhat haphazardly, a.) that's kind of my MO and b.) trying to read your OP in pieces during downtimes over the weekend (kids!).

In any event, Chapter 2: Characters, Classes - any thought to breaking out social class, i.e. Aristocrat, and character class?

This may simply be too much work (especially if y'all're firing the game up next week), however, just thinking (as I've contemplated on this on my own) you could have social class as a theme and/or PC background, which involves its own individual skill package (or, a point buy, if your players want more flexibility) and then lay character class over the top, frex Aristocrat Bard and Middle-Class (or, whatever) Thief.

As above, I've struggled with this concept in some of my settings and, where I've included social class as a game element, I've settled on breaking these out as backgrounds as opposed to an actual character class primarily on the basis of lack of representation from middle to lower social classes, e.g. poor and/or slave classes. That is to say, many folks like to play a noble but not so much a prole. Clearly, not always the case, but I'm just going by things like the Cavalier in Unearthed Arcana or Jarl in Yggdrasill - there don't seem to be (m)any Peasant or Thrall classes.
It's probably too messy to do that at this stage; ACKS classes are pretty simple, and while I can certainly appreciate the appeal of having little packages based on class (you could have another based on origins), most characters are either going to be aristocrats (because those people have the time, money and inclination to train for combat) or poor commoners (people who have no other choice but to serve to eat). In antiquity, the middle classes such as they were, were traders or artisans, most of whom had little to do with the aristocracy.

I should add, the Aristocrat class is probably more accurately called "Officer" or "Warlord" or if we're using genre-appropriate language "Strategos". It's only because those people are almost always aristocrats that I think the class was called that. In fact, since you point it out, maybe I should rename it to remove any potential confusion?

Funny thing on social class, I always play a prole. It was a running joke in our WFRP2e game that we had a mage (who was at least middle-classed), a dwarf (from a powerful clan and prominent within it) and an elf (last survivor and prince of his people). Then there was my character, the peasant from Wissenland who'd been conscripted (out of jail!) and somehow survived the Storm of Chaos.

Anyway, while I like the idea, for the purposes of this game it's easier to just guide chargen in those directions. It sounds like the concepts so far are all over the place, from nobility (even royalty) down to salt of the earth.

Also, with regard to classes, any thought toward an Engineer or Scientist (I'm thinking along the lines of Archimedes or an Eratosthenes)? Again, might be too much work at this point but might be an interesting addition to the game, which could have ripple effects within the domain and army management systems.

BTW, if the comments above are not what you're looking for, please feel free to say - I'd prefer to provide feedback in the areas you want rather than simply muddying the water.
Easily done, I've got an "Expert" class in mind where you take the Bard and switch out the Performance Proficiencies for other Proficiencies of your choice (you need Engineering four times to be a military engineer equal to the hireling), get some bonus Proficiencies along the way, and get a class power providing an escalating bonus to a particular focus area. Not sure whether or not it will be needed for a PC, or if I'll keep it for the odd 0th level type who levels, but isn't a combatant.

I'm not sure if they'd necessarily need any other class powers; something gadget/jury-rig oriented?

I had some thoughts along these lines as well. One of my first character ideas reading through the campaign notes was the young Plato and his journeys. That character seems somewhere between a Aristocrat, a Diplomat, and an Explorer. Probably closest to Diplomat, as I read you. How would you see someone like that working?
The Expert mentioned above would fit. Apparently in the Players' Companion there's a Dwarven Machinist class that would also work, shorn of the dwarf-specific stuff.

This sounds amazing. I was going to use ACKS for my Dark Sun campaign, but the start date got moved up and I didn't have time to customize the classes I'd need. This is what ACKS was built for. I look forward to hearing about the doings of these scoundrels.
Someone elsewhere was talking about using ACKS for Dark Sun. Hope we don't disappoint, and one of the PCs is royalty, not some common scoundrel! Though another one definitely sounds like a scoundrel.
 
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Evocatus

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What system do you intend to use for "mass" combat - test version of Domains at War? How about ship-to-ship combat, i.e. how do you intend to represent oar shearing, ramming, and/or small, mounted artillery?

Do you have a campaign map?

With regard to Travel, any bonuses/penalties for forced marches, hazards, weather. Also, any rules for spies, informants, sappers, etc. (aren't there "hijinks" in ACKS)?

HP, recovery, and wounds - any thought to breaking this out into an Endurance/Vitality + Wounds system?

The One Ring has an awesome system for this but it doesn't map well to a d20 system. However, I really like it and have tried to incorporate it where I can. The details are such that Endurance is an easily recovered resource that emulates scrapes, bruises, and the like. It has a counter resource, Fatigue, which slowly increases over time and the interaction of the two can result in weariness conditions which affect the combat and skill systems.

Wounds are a result of a high roll on the Feat die (TOR has a dice pool with a d12 as your "Feat" and a number of d6s as "Success" dice), generally a 9+ dependent on weapon type. A PC then makes what amounts to a save, based on their armor type to avoid a wound. In your ruleset, it's probably more trouble than it is worth but, thought I would mention it.

Edit: Forgot to include that my workaround to the d20 v. dice pool mechanic (which I cannot recommend, ha!), it to simply replace d20 combat resolution with the dice pool but, this results in the slightly (slightly?!) distracting incongruity of core dice swapping. There are various knock-on effects, main among them that TOR is a classes, skill-based system (with weapons skill ranks purchased similar to general skills) vs. a class-based system where combat abilities increase as PCs advance. However, given ACKS has a skill system in addition to levels, perhaps there's something there (although, I readily note leveling in your hack are tied to milestones rather than a straight XP system so, maybe it's not a good fit).
 
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