Every wargame design must balance simulation and playability. Achieving this balance is often quite hard, and most games end up tipping towards one or the other end of the range. Balancing Domains at Wars was even harder than other wargames I’ve designed, because I was actually attempting to simulate two things – an ancient or medieval battle, and a battle fought by characters from an ACKS game.
While designing Domains at War, I frequently tested my game mechanics against available real-world examples. Nowhere was this more challenging than in the area of siege warfare, which is akin to the PhD level of ancient warfare. Below are a few of the historical reference points I relied on in assessing whether the construction and siege mechanics had a reasonable level of versimilitude.
The mechanics of siege warfare, both at the battle and campaign level, presented the most challenging part of the design of Domains at War. Pitched battles are glorious in their simplicity; sieges revel in complexity. Artillery, arson, assault, location, mining, supplies, treachery – all play their part.
Welcome, everyone! The Domains at War kickstarter has just launched, and after just 48 hours we’re already close to meeting our initial goals. It’s an exciting time for me as a designer, as the rules pass from a small closed circle of testers into the hands of the larger gaming community.
Why are magic items so expensive to make in ACKS, and why is it so hard to sell them? That's the topic of today's blog post.
When veterans of other fantasy games, particularly D&D 4th Edition and Pathfinder, begin to play Adventurer Conqueror King System, almost all of them express shock at how expensive and time consuming it is to create magic items. A simple potion of healing, for instance, requires 500gp and 1 week to create. The exact same item in D&D 3.5 requires 50gp and 1 day. Magical research in ACKS is 10x as expensive!
We've gotten glowing reviews on the cover for the Player's Companion. The piece, called "Inheritance," was created by Michael C. Hayes. While you've doubtless seen his work on books, games, and Magic cards, today we thought we'd introduce you to the artist himself.
AUTARCH: Many RPG players are influenced to buy a book based on the cover artwork, but cover artists don't get as much recognition for their work as the designers do. Could you please tell us about yourself?
The Autarch designers are going to be at GaryCon with print editions of ACKS and with playtest versions of the Player's Companion. We've got four different ACKS scenarios running - a linked series of adventures running Thursday to Saturday, plus a late-night Saturday session of swampy mayhem.
Thursday 6pm: Adventurers in the Borderlands (Tavis Allison)
Friday 6pm: Conquerors of the Borderlands (Greg Tito)
Saturday 2pm: King of the Borderlands (Alex Macris)
Saturday 8pm: Night of the Walking Wet (Tavis, Greg, and Alex)
We are excited to announce that the final draft of the Adventurer Conqueror King System went to the printers today. We are now merely weeks away from the game hitting stores. Thank you again to all the backers and supporters who have made this possible.
I once had the pleasure of lunch with John Zuur Platten, the business partner of Flint Dille, Gary Gygax's old friend and collaborator. Through Flint, John had had the chance to learn much about Gary Gygax and the origins of D&D. John explained to me that "to understand D&D, you have to understand that Gary thought like an insurance actuary. D&D is fantasy fiction through actuarial science."
“Adventurer Conqueror King adds a new wing to the Old School with its epic-scale world construction rules, which help the Judge develop an entire setting, logically and organically, in the sandbox spirit of the hobby's earliest campaigns.”
— Allen Varney
“The Player's Companion extends the core rules by adding a series of new classes, the dwarven machinist and spelunker, the elven ranger, and some human classes - mystic (monk), shaman (druid), and priestess. I'll come out and say it though, the thing that got me fired up with the book-love was the extensive list of templates. (I think they claim there are 144 of them). An ACKS template is basically some pre-selected options that speeds up character generation and gives the character a bit of early flavor. ACKS supports the old school roll-and-go - it's got basic 3d6 in order for abilities and simple classes, like classic D&D. The templates take it the rest of the way, by adding a preconfigured set of starting equipment, starting money, and suggested proficiency selections.”
“It makes good on D&D's largely unfulfilled promise to take characters from lowly insignificance to the heights of power. There are rules for building castles, establishing and ruling domains (as well as wizard's sanctums and thieves guilds), and trading -- just about anything a high-level, power-hungry fantasy character might be interested in pursuing. Adventurer, Conqueror, King is a very cleverly designed game whose rules are quite compatible with most retro-clones, particularly Labyrinth Lord, making it extremely valuable to any player or referee looking to add any of its rules to their existing campaigns. This is good stuff and well worth a look.”
“What does this offer that the OSR books and rules already in your collection don't? Strongholds, domains, and even mercantile ventures are addressed. Yes, your character may just outgrow the dungeon life. If you play in any fantasy type RPG and are interested in building your own campaign, many of the tools are here.”
“This is what a rationalised 21st century dungeoncrawling RPG can look like: enough old school aspects to appeal to grognards, but with enough mechanical crunch to appeal to new(er) school players. The systems maths is robust enough that it doesn't fall to pieces if you breathe on it, but simple enough that you only need to do simple-addition-up-to-20 in play. And we did it crowdfunded and with substantiative fan base interaction and customer feedback.”
“I've been running this game for months now using an open world sandbox game, similar to Ben Robbins' West Marches game, and it's downright amazing. Love the comprehensive rules for everything economic and the B/X framework with layered extras, like proficiencies and special maneuvers (disarm, wrestling, etc.). If you're at all into D&D, I would check this out.”