Adventurer Conqueror King v16 Rules Discussion

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Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10
Adventurer Conqueror King v16 Rules Discussion

Hello!
This week we are updating with v16 of the rules. (Don't worry - you didn't miss 3 versions. The numbers are simply the number of separate times I've updated the document).
Major updates in this version:
* The addition of spell caster availability under specialists
* The addition of proficiency rules for normal men
* Updated the phantasmal force and stone to flesh spells
* Updated the land surveying proficiency
* Updated class descriptions to include attack and saving throws at level 1
* Many minor grammatical, spelling, and formatting changes

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

BUMP! Bumping this up because people missed v16.

blizack
Joined: 2011-07-16 15:35

Alex, I've noticed references to 1st level "elf NPCs" and "dwarf NPCs". Are these assumed to be elven spellswords and dwarven fighters, or would the elf and dwarf "monster" stats be more appropriate?
Was there ever a point where a more flavorful term for dwarven fighters was considered? I don't have a problem with the class being called the dwarven fighter, but it looks a little out of place next to grandiose names like elven nightblade and dwarven craft-priest. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay had dwarf "shieldbreakers" as the generic underground goblin-killing guys. Maybe dwarven tunnel-fighter? Dwarven slayer?
Also, halflings are mentioned repeatedly in the monster and gamemastering sections. Obviously halflings aren't available as PCs, but are they present in the game world? (I'm pulling for "no", personally, but that's beside the point.)

Undercrypt
Adventurer Conqueror King BackerPlayer's Companion ContributorDwimmermount BackerDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:40

Some thoughts based on my first impression of the classes. I'm still reading through the rules, so some of this may be addressed later, but I wanted to jot down the initial ideas.
I quite like the Creating a Character 10 step summary. It might be nice to have a table in the vicinity showing the classes available and their prime requisites/minimums. Ideally, it would be great if everything you need to generate a character was conveniently located on two facing pages, so you could open the book to pages 12-13 and roll up a dozen characters without flipping about (once you've got a basic grasp of the classes and proficiencies). Even if some of that information is duplicated and those two pages aren't part of the normal flow of the text, I could see that being the place where a well-used book naturally falls open.
Splitting the classes between Core, Campaign, and Demi-Human is interesting. The Campaign classes kinda-sorta feel like they don't belong here and should be bundled with whatever other setting information gives them a context... but obviously putting all of the class information in one place makes sense. If other chapters have similar setting extensions (Auran-specific proficiencies, monsters, treasures beyond the "core"?), maybe setting those aside as end-of-chapter campaign examples would make sense. Or maybe not - implicit setting and all. Just seems odd.
When the demi-humans have more than one class, it seems hard to avoid thinking of characters in a race/class matrix - at which point it looks like humans have 8 classes to choose from while demi-humans each have two. I like the demi options; again, it feels like there's a core/campaign bleed-through happening.
Structurally, the demi-human classes feel like a set of separate Campaign classes, which isn't a bad thing at all - maybe it would make sense to bundle them that way. The four Core classes provide all of the mechanics (and beginning players might be encouraged to start there), then you've got three sets of Campaign classes - Imperial Humans, Dwarves, Elves. That would be a convenient framework for adding similar things later.
There's an odd discrepancy in level caps. Humans all cap at 14, but dwarves cap at 12 or 10, while elves cap at 10 or 11. Why aren't the demi-human level caps as consistent as the humans?
In the hope of more demi-human classes eventually, having every demi-human class be a "Demi _____" seems like it might not be necessary or desirable. If only elves can be Spellswords, we don't really need to call them Elven Spellswords. Only the dwarf fighter would need a different name as it currently looks.
Dwarf perils: "Due to their short height, dwarven fighters cannot use human-sized two-handed weapons (such as two-handed swords or pole arms) or longbows, but they can use any other weapon or armor." Implying a dwarf-sized pole arm would be fine? "Dwarven craft-priests may wear any dwarf-sized armor. They can wield any of the traditional weapons of their people, including the battle axe, hand axe, warhammer, flail, spear, and mace." I notice the two-handed weapons included can all be used one-handed, but they're not specifically called out as dwarf-sized... so it seems like the craft-priest can use a human warhammer while the fighter can't, but the craft-priest requires dwarf-sized armor while the fighter doesn't. Is it the intent for weapons and armor to come in sizes? (I hope not.) I'm guessing the intent is something like "dwarves cannot use long weapons that always requires two hands to use, but weapons listed as either one- or two-handed may be used by dwarves as two-handed weapons." I'm hoping the "dwarf-sized armor" is just flavor so I don't need to populate my treasure tables with "chain mail, only smaller."
A human cleric can eventually craft golems and animated statues, but a dwarven craft-priest never can? Oh, cruel world. I imagine that's a side effect of keeping them away from the 6th and 7th level spells.
The harsh spells known limitation on mages would seem to make all of them extremely specialized, which is interesting and keeps mages from being completely interchangeable. It also makes the INT bonus very, very important. Having to erase a spell from your spell books to add a new one seems like a very counterintuitive meta-rule - "I wrote it down so I wouldn't have to remember!" I hope the Spells section addresses that somehow - maybe with the spell book being seen as some kind of vital extension of the mage's power, or living grimoires that become self-willed abominations if inscribed with too much eldritch lore, or some other version of "bad things happen if you gather more power than you can handle."
What is it with elves and ghouls, anyway? I never understood how that "nature connection" resulted in an extremely specific resistance to one particular undead's special attack. Always seemed like a tacked-on afterthought after someone observed that rolling ghouls on the wandering monster table always resulted in a TPK. Nice to see it expand to a generally better paralysis bonus. Still odd, though.

blizack
Joined: 2011-07-16 15:35

I second Undercrypt's suggestion of a two-page character creation spread, and for possibly organizing the campaign-specific material in one place. (Incidentally, this would make the organization kind of like Chaosium/Avalon Hill's RuneQuest III rulebook, where all the Glorantha-specific stuff was in the back of the book.)
"There's an odd discrepancy in level caps. Humans all cap at 14, but dwarves cap at 12 or 10, while elves cap at 10 or 11. Why aren't the demi-human level caps as consistent as the humans?"
I think the idea here is that demi-humans are more powerful than humans, so they need some sort of balancing mechanism. (This is the old "Why make a fighter if I could be a dwarven fighter with extra abilities?" nugget.) This seems a very clunky solution. I dislike this concept in any version of D&D and generally houserule it away. If demi-human characters are really that much more powerful, there have to be better ways to balance them other than making their players stop playing the game early.
In other words, I vote for balancing the demi-human classes in another way.
"A human cleric can eventually craft golems and animated statues, but a dwarven craft-priest never can? Oh, cruel world. I imagine that's a side effect of keeping them away from the 6th and 7th level spells."
I agree again. If anybody should be able to craft a golem, it'd be a dwarven craft-priest, I'd think.
"What is it with elves and ghouls, anyway? I never understood how that "nature connection" resulted in an extremely specific resistance to one particular undead's special attack. Always seemed like a tacked-on afterthought after someone observed that rolling ghouls on the wandering monster table always resulted in a TPK. Nice to see it expand to a generally better paralysis bonus. Still odd, though."
Wasn't this originally inspired by something from Tolkien? Elves not being affected by Nazgúl or something like that?

Beedo
Beedo's picture
Patreon SupporterLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu ContributorACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Contributor
Joined: 2011-07-12 13:55

Elves and ghouls came out of Chainmail - a metagame balancing thing - and got institutionalized into D&D.
Why no love for the halfing? ACKS is otherwise fairly tight to the BX / BECMI core.
Thanks for the bump on v16, I'll grab it.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Hi guys! All sorts of great comments. I will try to address/respond/reciprocate.
When the demi-humans have more than one class, it seems hard to avoid thinking of characters in a race/class matrix - at which point it looks like humans have 8 classes to choose from while demi-humans each have two. I like the demi options; again, it feels like there's a core/campaign bleed-through happening.
There's an odd discrepancy in level caps. Humans all cap at 14, but dwarves cap at 12 or 10, while elves cap at 10 or 11. Why aren't the demi-human level caps as consistent as the humans?
ALEX: To answer these two points, I need to explain how the ACKS classes were built. Building on work started at Pandius.org, we have a character creation engine that uses a point allocation to build each class. Points can be allocated into HD, Combat, Arcane, Divine, Skill, and Race. Humans can have up to 4 points of powers. Demi-humans can have up to 7 points of powers – of which no more than 4 can be spent on HD/Combat/Arcane/Divine/Skill. The Elf Race category gives increasing magical powers while the Dwarf Race category gives increasing proficiencies and proficiency bonuses. However, the more points you spend above 4, the lower your level cap. This represents the ‘specialist’ v. ‘jack of all trades’ trade-off. So the Elf and Dwarf class caps weren’t arbitrarily selected, they are based on the point allocations.
ALEX: One virtue of this system is that it’s easy to adapt to create new races (you just create a Racial category for them with powers at the different point totals). Another virtue is that different classes for the same race can have different level caps.
In the hope of more demi-human classes eventually, having every demi-human class be a "Demi _____" seems like it might not be necessary or desirable. If only elves can be Spellswords, we don't really need to call them Elven Spellswords. Only the dwarf fighter would need a different name as it currently looks.
ALEX: Makes sense to me.
Dwarf perils: "Due to their short height, dwarven fighters cannot use human-sized two-handed weapons (such as two-handed swords or pole arms) or longbows, but they can use any other weapon or armor." Implying a dwarf-sized pole arm would be fine? "Dwarven craft-priests may wear any dwarf-sized armor. They can wield any of the traditional weapons of their people, including the battle axe, hand axe, warhammer, flail, spear, and mace." I notice the two-handed weapons included can all be used one-handed, but they're not specifically called out as dwarf-sized... so it seems like the craft-priest can use a human warhammer while the fighter can't, but the craft-priest requires dwarf-sized armor while the fighter doesn't. Is it the intent for weapons and armor to come in sizes? (I hope not.) I'm guessing the intent is something like "dwarves cannot use long weapons that always requires two hands to use, but weapons listed as either one- or two-handed may be used by dwarves as two-handed weapons." I'm hoping the "dwarf-sized armor" is just flavor so I don't need to populate my treasure tables with "chain mail, only smaller."
ALEX: I need to re-write this to make it clearer.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I've noticed references to 1st level "elf NPCs" and "dwarf NPCs". Are these assumed to be elven spellswords and dwarven fighters, or would the elf and dwarf "monster" stats be more appropriate?
ALEX: Unless otherwise noted, 1st level dwarf and elf NPCs use the generic elf and dwarf monster statistics.
Was there ever a point where a more flavorful term for dwarven fighters was considered? I don't have a problem with the class being called the dwarven fighter, but it looks a little out of place next to grandiose names like elven nightblade and dwarven craft-priest. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay had dwarf "shieldbreakers" as the generic underground goblin-killing guys. Maybe dwarven tunnel-fighter? Dwarven slayer?
ALEX: It wasn’t something I considered, but let’s do it! I’ll open up a separate thread to re-name the Dwarf Fighter.
Also, halflings are mentioned repeatedly in the monster and gamemastering sections. Obviously halflings aren't available as PCs, but are they present in the game world? (I'm pulling for "no", personally, but that's beside the point.)
ALEX: I personally would be happy to remove Halflings, as I hate their existence. The whole point of Hobbits (which, let’s not kid ourselves, are the origin of Halflings) was that they were *the least likely adventurers imaginable*. But because they showed up in the Fellowship of the Ring they became a standard adventuring class. By similar logic, if Tolkien had decided that making Frodo a blind paraplegic made him an unlikely adventurer, I fear that we’d have a race of blind paraplegics. Since having a race of unlikely adventurers as adventurers doesn’t make sense, D&D evolved Hobbits into the current incarnation which plagues fantasy gaming. Understood from a niche protection point of view: The short, tough niche is better filled by Dwarves and the short, cunning niche by Gnomes. What’s left is the short, irritating niche. Because I have a nasty sense of humor, I left Halflings in as a monstrous cross-breed of men and dwarves that has the worst characteristics of both, who tend to their body hair like dwarves tend to their beards, etc.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Splitting the classes between Core, Campaign, and Demi-Human is interesting. The Campaign classes kinda-sorta feel like they don't belong here and should be bundled with whatever other setting information gives them a context... but obviously putting all of the class information in one place makes sense. If other chapters have similar setting extensions (Auran-specific proficiencies, monsters, treasures beyond the "core"?), maybe setting those aside as end-of-chapter campaign examples would make sense. Or maybe not - implicit setting and all. Just seems odd.
ALEX: The idea was to offer the core classes that everyone loves, plus a set of classes that were a little more niche, and wouldn’t exist in ever setting. Since we have an implicit setting, we went with ones that fit into that setting. Any set of niche classes will create an implied setting, I think – if you say Druid, it suggests something, etc.
A human cleric can eventually craft golems and animated statues, but a dwarven craft-priest never can? Oh, cruel world. I imagine that's a side effect of keeping them away from the 6th and 7th level spells.
ALEX: Dwarven Craft-Priests of max level are supposed to be able to make Constructs. I must have lost this in translation from my notes to typing the rules.
The harsh spells known limitation on mages would seem to make all of them extremely specialized, which is interesting and keeps mages from being completely interchangeable. It also makes the INT bonus very, very important. Having to erase a spell from your spell books to add a new one seems like a very counterintuitive meta-rule - "I wrote it down so I wouldn't have to remember!" I hope the Spells section addresses that somehow - maybe with the spell book being seen as some kind of vital extension of the mage's power, or living grimoires that become self-willed abominations if inscribed with too much eldritch lore, or some other version of "bad things happen if you gather more power than you can handle."
ALEX: I actually didn’t go much into the “lore” of how magic works in the rules at all. In my own campaigns, having a spell in your spellbook means you are keeping track of the complex astrological movements and star signs that need to be constantly calculated, the various ghosts and spirits that need to be placated, taboos that need to be obeyed, etc., all of which vary with the season, weather, location, etc. It’s an ongoing effort. If you stop maintaining that formula and start maintaining a different formula, you very quickly can no longer cast the spell. When you come back to it later, you have to start from scratch recalculating everything.
What is it with elves and ghouls, anyway? I never understood how that "nature connection" resulted in an extremely specific resistance to one particular undead's special attack. Always seemed like a tacked-on afterthought after someone observed that rolling ghouls on the wandering monster table always resulted in a TPK. Nice to see it expand to a generally better paralysis bonus. Still odd, though.
ALEX: No idea. But after taking away their infravision, I was afraid to touch the whole ghoul thing, lest I get beat up in the night by elf-lovers.

Bargle
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:39

RETAINERS:
1) parahprase: "4th level or higher are generally not available in cities." I like 3rd+ personally as in chainmail this was the first "hero" level as hero-1. I always considered "normal men" to be 0-2nd level (bandit through neanderthal).
2) I'm sure you are aware that in 0d&d retainers (leveled npc's) could not be "hired" but had to be found in dungeons/adventures. These were subdued dragons, friendly elfs, or sprites or a 3rd level fighter. Furthermore these "heroic retainers" are a nice way of deciding what kind of FFC/Arnesonian "special units" any army has. If you want a dragon for your army, go get one and it should count against your retainer maximum. This hiring of heroes in cities seems a bit banal. The short story that gygax wrote, "THE GAINT'S BAG" as a great example of the retainer rules from the LLB's. It seems you've fallen into the bland ad&d hiringling section and have abandoned the 0d&d wimsical one where a subdued manticore could then become a henchmen that guards your castle. Just look at the henchmen available to lords/wizards/patriarchs in the wilderness and dungeon exploration section of the LLB's. Here's the relevant section (I'm sure you all have read the story as well as the short story of the wizard and the magic ring where gygax states in the epilogue that that it was a textbook example of henchmen morale rules).
----------
"Are you come with peaceful intentions?" the mage shouted. "Duhhh..." the giant replied. Somewhat relaxed by this friendly greeting, the men invited him into their camp. As soon as the great oaf was sprawled at ease by the fire, Nestre inquired if the giant was on any important business. The big fellow said that he was simply out for a month's stroll in the greenwood, so the mage immediately sought to enlist the services of their guest: "We are, good Giant, here with a purpose. We have with us a map leading to a fabulous store of wealth! Things in this forsaken land, however, seldom turn out as planned, o we are willing to share the treasure with you in return for your aid in gaining it! Do you consent?" "Duh, sure, duh," the giant replied indecisively. And so the bargain was sealed."
---------
3) MONSTER REACTIONS: here again, a friendly result and no mention that such dungeon denizens may(?) become a retainer if properly propositioned.
4) does a charmed person/monster count against your retainer limit? (it should imo).
PROFICIENCIES:
1) I like the NPC proficiency rules (5, 10 etc years).
2) I don't like the PC version. Why not make it a GP cost instead of a certain amount granted at certain levels? After all, this game is about finding gold, not leveling up. The same reason behind letting lower level PC's build castles and strongholds and not setting an arbitrary level where a castle can be built is that if the PC's are getting all of this loot, the game must provide means for them to spend the gold! You guys are doing such and awesome job integrating the gold the PC's acquire and the domains around them, why not open it up a bit for non-canonical things like proficiences? Simply make new proficiences gained after 1st level cost a PC X amount of gold and time? This way if a PC wishes to emphatically not become a baron or lord, but instead wants to be an engineer/sage he can sink his fortune into training.
This way, taking proficiencies becomes like researching spells. i.e. money and time sinks for players to effect their character and the world around it. Much more logical to spend 3000gp and 2 months learning to ride with the nomadic horse riders in the east, rather than just grant the player horsemanship at 3rd level. YAWN! If you get the cost right, it might even end up exactly the same as what you have now. Furthermore, the starting proficiencies act as a "character background" upon which--through in game actions, the character can further learn new things. Gold is Player Empowerment (to paraphrase a very smart person...) the more choices players can make with their gold the better--especially things not tied to the character archetype.
MONEY: do we really need electrum and platinum?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

1) parahprase: "4th level or higher are generally not available in cities." I like 3rd+ personally as in chainmail this was the first "hero" level as hero-1. I always considered "normal men" to be 0-2nd level (bandit through neanderthal).
ALEX: Duly noted. Others agree? Disagree?
2) This hiring of heroes in cities seems a bit banal.... MONSTER REACTIONS: here again, a friendly result and no mention that such dungeon denizens may(?) become a retainer if properly propositioned.
ALEX: In the Auran Empire campaign we had plenty of monster henchmen, including an Ogre Shaman and a Juvenile Gold Dragon. I should be explicit that monsters who react at Friendly could become Retainers because that's definitely the intent.
4) does a charmed person/monster count against your retainer limit? (it should imo).
ALEX: I've always said "no" but it raises a good question. How have others played it?
PROFICIENCIES:
2) I don't like the PC version. Why not make it a GP cost instead of a certain amount granted at certain levels? After all, this game is about finding gold, not leveling up. The same reason behind letting lower level PC's build castles and strongholds and not setting an arbitrary level where a castle can be built is that if the PC's are getting all of this loot, the game must provide means for them to spend the gold! You guys are doing such and awesome job integrating the gold the PC's acquire and the domains around them, why not open it up a bit for non-canonical things like proficiences? Simply make new proficiences gained after 1st level cost a PC X amount of gold and time? This way if a PC wishes to emphatically not become a baron or lord, but instead wants to be an engineer/sage he can sink his fortune into training. This way, taking proficiencies becomes like researching spells. i.e. money and time sinks for players to effect their character and the world around it. Much more logical to spend 3000gp and 2 months learning to ride with the nomadic horse riders in the east, rather than just grant the player x-amount of proficiencies at 3rd level. YAWN! If you get the cost right, it might even end up exactly the same as what you have now.
ALEX: That's a cool idea. That said, it raises problems...
First off, the comparison to spells is only partly correct. There is a limit to the number you can know based on your level (in ACKS, at least).
Second, I don't think a character really could learn that many proficiencies from investing time and energy. In real life, most people simply can't do this, because each proficiency they learn has a certain amount of upkeep it demands to stay competent.
Third, why could't NPCs do the same? If they can, why aren't all rich people amazing at everything?
Fourth, would we then need to separate class proficiencies, which would be unbalancing to learn in an unlimited degree?
ALEX: Bottomline: I certainly can see the argument for why proficiencies should cost time and money to learn, but I think that unhinging them from character class to allow for unlimited learning potential is too great. On the other hand, demanding that PCs spend time and gold for them, but not for e.g. training seems odd.
MONEY: do we really need electrum and platinum?
ALEX: I think they provide a useful value:weight ratio that's between silver and gold and between gold and gems. Electrum has a similar value:weight ratio to fine wine, rare wood, linen, and glassware, while platinum has a similar value:weight ratio to rare books, rare spices, and fur clothes.

Bargle
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:39

Thanks for the response. I hadn't thought of the problem of unlimited proficiencies, I guess as I figured they would be limited by gold of course! Just as we are limited in real life regardless of our wealth. The high level baron can't just run off for months at a time to learn archetecture. For example a general proficiency is granted at 5th 9th and 12th, my thought was further proficiencies cost instead 5k, 10k, 20k gold instead. If a 5th level fighter can build a castle, why couldn't another 5th level fighter learn 2 levels of engineering instead, both are spending gold and both actions may take a year to complete.
In either case, having 2 extra general proficiencies may only be feasable for a PC in the 9th level range, but tying it to gold and not level--even if the gold requirement almost requires a certain level, allows some latitude for the player and his goals.
I understand the points you made, however and I don't really have a good answer for your point on not having to pay for training, other than I don't see tying proficiencies to gold as a "demand" but more as a freedom. In your method a fighter must acquire 12,800gp (80% of xp coming from gold) before being able to "buy" a general proficiency at 5th level. I could see how this could be a slippery slope; why not "buy" better saving throws, or attack throws--all of which may work in a XP/GP game without levels, but that isn't d&d, so point taken. Easy enough for me to house rule (I haven't even tested it in my own campaigns so who knows how well it works anyway).
I'm only half way through this draft, I look forward to reading the rest. Needless to say, It looks stellar so far.

Undercrypt
Adventurer Conqueror King BackerPlayer's Companion ContributorDwimmermount BackerDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:40

...having a spell in your spellbook means you are keeping track of the complex astrological movements and star signs that need to be constantly calculated, the various ghosts and spirits that need to be placated, taboos that need to be obeyed, etc., all of which vary with the season, weather, location, etc. It’s an ongoing effort.
Yes, that. Brilliant. I hope that's explicit somewhere (haven't reached Spells yet), because then the limited spellbook and having max spells tied to INT bonus makes a lot of sense.

Undercrypt
Adventurer Conqueror King BackerPlayer's Companion ContributorDwimmermount BackerDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:40

Equipment lists... there's some dry reading. I like the reminders (like in Rations) of how horrible and disgusting dungeons are.
It might be nice to group the descriptions similar to how the table is grouped, putting the armor together for comparison and so on.
I like the multicultural examples as reference points. An option to "the usual" lined-up artwork of weapons and armor might be to have set pieces of different characters from the same campaign region displaying what's typical for their culture - like a Kushtu adventuring party showing off three or four armor/weapon sets.
Has all of that wonderful economic modeling trickled down into the equipment table yet? Some of the prices are surprising. (Chain mail armor seems like it would require a lot more in materials, craftsmanship and time than two suits of leather armor, a barrel probably made by a cooper seems more valuable than a 10' pole, a big stick is 2cp if you light it on fire but 1gp if you hit someone in the face with it, etc.)

Tavis
Joined: 2011-07-01 15:40

I think equipment lists make for dry playing as well. I was thinking about putting together an Excel spreadsheet to make some sample packages - maybe six, formed by the interaction of unarmored/leather or heavy armor x low, medium, or high starting gold - which could then be automatically updated if the prices get tweaked.
Is that something someone else would enjoy doing? Normally I love doing this kind of thing, but my time is woefully overcommitted.

jedo
Adventurer Conqueror King ContributorDwimmermount BackerDomains At War BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2011-07-07 17:26

I can take a stab at it this weekend. Are the prices already in excel, or only in the document?
Also, i was thinking over the idea of equipment kits. On the one hand it is very handy to speed up getting your stuff, but on the other hand it feels really 'modern' and not very fantasy to me. To the merchants in this town make up bundles of adventuring tools like a back-to-school sale at Target?
I was wondering if in the Equipment section there was room for side bars, where examples of equipment taken by different types of characters are given. Like Sandra the level 1 Magic-User took the following equipment and why, and how much it came to.
Part of the problem of the equipment list has been that there has never been any reasoning given for what you should get and why. should you spend all your money, or hang on to some? Is it better to blow all your cash on arms and armor, or should you be loading down with 10-foot poles and and 30 days of iron rations? and how about wolvesbane or that silver mirror? Do I need that? If it is on the list it must be important, right?
So showing players what is typical for different character types, and why they would want certain things before going adventuring would be useful- its still kits, but in a form that feels more natural.

blizack
Joined: 2011-07-16 15:35

Didn't 3rd edition list standard starting equipment for each class? I seem to remember an option to either go with the standard kit or to roll up your money and buy everything. Palladium RPGs usually have starting equipment kits for each class, too. It definitely helps new players.

Undercrypt
Adventurer Conqueror King BackerPlayer's Companion ContributorDwimmermount BackerDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:40

If all characters start with the Adventuring proficiency - "the character is well-equipped for a life of adventure" - having every character start out with a small sack containing the basic tools of the trade (flint & tinder, torches, rope, and a week of rations) seems reasonable. Then the initial shopping can focus on the class-specific tools, weapons, and armor, and beginning players won't end up starving in the dark.
Experience can teach them why they need iron spikes, etc., and I think gaining that kind of knowledge is part of what makes the game fun.
I like the "shopping trip" sidebar. (RPG Haul Video!)

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

One of the things I've been writing for the Player Companion is "quick start" characters. Here's an excerpt:
***
Selecting equipment and specializations can be time-consuming, especially for new players. As a faster alternative, we offer 8 pre-generated templates for each class, with weapons, armor, equipment, specializations, and spells ready for play. If you want to use these templates, you can skip step 8 (picking specializations and spells) and 9 (rolling for starting wealth and purchasing equipment) of character generation, and just roll 3d6 on the template table for your character’s class.
3d6 Roll Quick Start Character
3-4 Barbarian
Proficiencies: Berserkergang, Survival
Equipment: Double-bladed battleaxe, throwing axe, leather armor, thick wool cloak, wool shirt and trousers, boots
5-6 Thug
Proficiencies: Dungeon Bashing, Intimidation
Equipment: Huge flail, crossbow, case with 20 bolts, scarred leather armor, large sack, tunic, iron-toed boots
7-8 Corsair
Proficiencies: Swashbuckling, Seafaring
Equipment: Scimitar, shortbow, quiver with 20 arrows, 2 well-balanced daggers with boot-sheathes, leather armor, wineskin with good wine, 50’ rope, grappling hook, hammock, large sack, colorful silk girdle, high boots
***
I have completed the core classes. It would be very useful if anyone were so inclined as to imagine 8 different quick start templates for the assassin, explorer, bladedancer, bard, spellsword, nightblade, vaultguard, and craftpriest.

Tavis
Joined: 2011-07-01 15:40

jedo, your idea for samples as a way to present kits is great - especially if they also appear on a table that shows how each is the permutation of whatever factors you think are important (spending a lot, spending a little, armor level, preparedness vs traveling light, etc.) The values are only in the document.
Alex, I also really like the templates. Do we imagine there is room for each approach - one in the core, one in the companion?
Autarch may have an intern who'd work for college-application recommendations (qualifications include getting a 5/5 on his history AP test and playing Chrystos in the White Box campaign) who could help with some of the data-entry kind of stuff - I'd also love to see a spreadsheet of monsters, for example.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Undercrypt, you asked "Has all of that wonderful economic modeling trickled down into the equipment table yet? Some of the prices are surprising. (Chain mail armor seems like it would require a lot more in materials, craftsmanship and time than two suits of leather armor, a barrel probably made by a cooper seems more valuable than a 10' pole, a big stick is 2cp if you light it on fire but 1gp if you hit someone in the face with it, etc.)"
The answer is "yes and no". Some of the prices have been adjusted, but others have not. Items for which we have commonly recorded prices from the classical and medieval ages are usually more accurate than esoteric D&D items. Items where the price has been noticeably reduced are usually more accurate. D&D notoriously inflates the prices of equipment. For example, a shortbow or longbow was a peasant's weapon, but D&D has traditionally made them more expensive than swords. In ACKS, bows are much cheaper than in other versions of the game.
In order to keep ACKS's prices somewhere similar to traditional D&D prices, I made the decision to assume that the equipment on the lists was good quality. The treasure section has information on low-quality weapons. For example, a knight's sword is 10gp. A peasant's sword is probably rusty, off-balance, and shoddily constructed, and therefore 4gp. Leather armor is 20gp, but a peasant's makeshift rattling leather armor is only 12gp.
That said, we could certainly use another pass through if anyone sees any prices that seem seriously off-key.

Bargle
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:39

"In order to keep ACKS's prices somewhere similar to traditional D&D prices"
can you explain that a bit more to me. What would a "peasants" plate armor cost? What in game effect does a 4gp sword have against a 10gp one and why wouldn't a 1st level PC opt just to buy the 4 gp one? Is 12gp leather armor actually, "leather armor -1?". Isn't a high quality weapon or armor exemplified by a +1 weapon? When I think of Arya's sword "Needle" in Game of Thrones, I think, "ok...+1 sword, high quality delineated from a "common" weapon.
The only rational I can see for making 1st level PC's (nay, 1st level fighters specifically) buy a 10gp sword, is that ACKs wants to put an understandable limit on what 1st level PC's can start with; with that said, isn't the best approach to adjust starting gold, rather than "break" a defining feature of ACKs, which is to provide a workable system for the costs of items in-game?
In CHAINMAIL's man to man section (pg. 26), describes the "leader" as having a +1 on all dice and, "the best weapons and armor available for their origin and period." This "leader" became the "veteran" 1st level fighter in d&d (getting +1 hp, saves, and damage over 0-level men). So, I don't see the rational for trying to "price out" plate armor and a good sword and shield from a 1st level fighter; after all, the 1st level fighter is head and shoulders above 0-level men in prowress and has already proven himself in battle.
Inflated costs to weapons and armor only effect 1st level fighter PCs, not NPC's and not really any other classes. What am I missing? It doesn't even seem to effect all 1st level PC's, just the "first" 1st level PC's as second generation PC's (those taken from the list of hirelings, henchmen, nephews of retired PC's, presumably would have had their equipment bought from the blacksmith hireling of the original PC, who's equipment costs are different from those on the equipment table!

Undercrypt
Adventurer Conqueror King BackerPlayer's Companion ContributorDwimmermount BackerDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:40

Ahh, right then. "Show us the good stuff, lives are on the line." (And, of course... http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0122.html )
Given that, the only things that jump out are a few odd supplies.
Barding ranges from twice as expensive as comparable armor (leather) to ten times as expensive as comparable armor (plate). The 10x side of the spectrum seems to make sense, making a rough guess on the surface area of a horse - are the low ends too cheap?
Super-expensive herbs. 5g for a pound of garlic makes baby Romans cry. 5c puts it in the same class as cheese. Saffron, super-expensive import, sure... and maybe Belladonna and Wolfsbane are rare and take skill to identify (and hopefully aren't showing up on toast).
Grappling Hook (25g) seems like three or four Crowbars (1g) worth of material/effort.
If I think of the 10' pole as a particularly strong and well-balanced piece of wood used for moving your barge and that could serve as a Lance in a pinch, then, sure, 1g. It really looks like a peasant's get-rich-quick scheme, though - "For your cow, I give you not 10, but 11 long sticks! You get a deal!"
If I've got the right impression of the time period, the Spellbook looks super cheap at 2s/page. I suppose a realistic price might put it out of the hands of the 1st level casters, though. Maybe wealthy mages are subsidizing the book industry.

blizack
Joined: 2011-07-16 15:35

"What in game effect does a 4gp sword have against a 10gp one and why wouldn't a 1st level PC opt just to buy the 4 gp one? Is 12gp leather armor actually, "leather armor -1?". Isn't a high quality weapon or armor exemplified by a +1 weapon?"
I think high quality weapons are represented on the standard equipment list. Low quality arms and armor actually have mechanical drawbacks, as described on page 237 of the v16 ACKS document. Maybe the equipment section needs an explanation that characters can opt for lower quality arms, but that they will have penalties like scavenged weapons.

Slycne
Adventurer Conqueror King Backer
Joined: 2011-07-08 22:13

@Bargle: I can think of two other possible solutions to this.
"Peasant" arms and armor simply have a chance to break and need repairs. Weapons break on attack throws of 1 and armor will break if struck with a natural attack throw of 20. The item then needs to be repaired to return to working order. Weapons and armor of quality are obviously not immune to wear and tear, but it's assumed they are being mended and cared for between combat. Items of lower quality are on top of that prone to more catastrophic failure (blade shatters, pommel cracks, straps break, etc).
I also think that some of this can also be handled by the DM at the table. For example, clothes offer no mechanical benefit, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player willing to save his coin by wearing a 5cp loincloth when all his fellow companions are splurging on "resplendent red silk with golden threads".

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

BARGLE: Can you explain that a bit more to me. What would a "peasants" plate armor cost? What in game effect does a 4gp sword have against a 10gp one and why wouldn't a 1st level PC opt just to buy the 4 gp one? Is 12gp leather armor actually, "leather armor -1?". Isn't a high quality weapon or armor exemplified by a +1 weapon? When I think of Arya's sword "Needle" in Game of Thrones, I think, "ok...+1 sword, high quality delineated from a "common" weapon.
It's all about where one puts the baseline. My assumption is that the baseline should be a well-made weapon or armor for a man-at-arms. Masterfully made weapons would be above that and shoddily made weapons below it. Peasants would use shoddy weapons.
Historically, a peasant's sword might cost 50 pence (2 shillings) while a knight's sword might cost 500 pence (2L). Since 1 pence = 1sp (approximately) in ACKs, that's a range of 5gp to 50gp for a sword. ACKS puts a baseline sword at about 10gp with no modifiers. Using the rules for Scavenging Treasure in the Treasure Section, a 4gp sword (off-balance, loose hilt, shoddy construction) would be -1 to attack, -1 to initiative, and break on a roll of 1d20. Obviously an adventurer would prefer to use the 10gp sword, but if you're outfitting 10,000 peasants, 40,000gp might be more affordable than 100,000gp.
So while one might find historical evidence that "10gp is too much for a sword - that's 3 times the monthly wage of a peasant, and we know peasants could and did own swords." But the sword they owned was a 4gp (shoddy) sword, not a 10gp (well-made) sword.
This is one major problem with assessing historical prices - one can't always tell quality and quality makes a huge difference. Horse prices, for instance, varied as much as car prices do in our own day. Nowadays you can buy a used clunker capable of driving yourself around for $5,000, or you can buy a Ferrari for $500,000. Likewise, in the Middle Ages you might see a horse go for 500 pence and another horse go for 500,000 pence. We've provided a reasonable range at 30gp to 250gp, which in modern terms is something like a Honda Civic to a Lexus. But that obviously leaves off nags and brokedown gimps on the one side and Bucephalus King of Horses on the other...
I hope that explains it.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Good notes on those prices, Undercrypt.
Blizack, thanks for pointing out the mechanics in the rules! I don't think most folks have gotten that far yet.

Bargle
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:39

Edit: I apologize if I'm missing some information from the v16 rules, like the stuff blizak mentioned in the above post, until I get my desktop's Internet working, I'm stuck reading the rules on my old Mac laptop that doesn't read .doc files well so I haven't been able to get into the weeds as well as I'd liked--don't worry, I won't let that stop me from mouthing off about the direction of your game.
1) Regarding 4gp-250gp swords: That's a little too much detail for what I would use I think, but as long as I can hire a blacksmith and can make 100 "generic" 10 gp sword for my high level PC without the math coming out wrong (i.e. It costs more to hire a blacksmith than it does to just go around to random shops, I'm cool with it.
As I mentioned, my preference is for a single number (long sword = 10gp) and have the math work out rather than get bogged down in the difference between a 4gp sword and a 10gp sword. I just don't want to be playing 'papers and paychecks'--cause it's not just swords, I would rather not have an inventory of 23 ogre toes, 13 spleens, 3 bags of grain for my peasants on the north side of the slope, etc, etc. I just want to outfit my army with my adventuring loot saved up over 10 levels and not be counting pennies and individual body parts. I've read some writing by you or tavis toward not getting too bogged down in the minutae, so I trust your direction.
2) Honestly, when it comes to equipment, I'd be happy if nothing cost less than 1gp (and if that means garlic is sold by the bushel, so be it, or if the equipment list for 10' poles are 1gp for a faggot of 10. Anything to make the math easier to do in my head. Too me, that's one of the beautiful things in the FFC. Everything is in GP, makes for easy army construction on the fly--more 0d&d less ad&d (I shudder at the thought of trying to build a castle from the DMG). It means I can just hand a player a 9th level baron with 100,000gp and have him build a barony for a war-game in 15 minutes.
3) unrelatedly. I notice that 1st level fighters are called, "men at arms". You aren't worried about people confusing 0-level hirelings with "men at arms" by using that level title? Are all, "men at arms" suppose to be 1st level fighters in ACKs?

jedo
Adventurer Conqueror King ContributorDwimmermount BackerDomains At War BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2011-07-07 17:26

It is almost like there are two equipment lists- one for shopping (appearing in the Player Character section) that is geared toward 'baseline' items. And then another one that is more in the DM section that covers the full range of objects the PCs might encounter. Like if they decide to attack a peasant village and loot them for all their peasant swords.
Differing quality items only come up as finds, and a Referee could choose to ignore that rule entirely. But as far as streamlining the gearing-up phase for a new character, only presenting them with relevant information makes sense.
Personally I am a huge fan of in depth equipment lists, and also the silver standard for FRPGs. I like the idea that in a desperate brawl my character might be able to grab that 5 copper cast iron frying pan from his pack and clock a kobold with it. But that can just be an alternate equipment list where the prices still match the overarching price model.

ahstrongmorse
Adventurer Conqueror King BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara Backer
Joined: 2011-07-13 02:05

I think the list prices for standard items with price modifiers for scavenged or otherwise shoddy items works fine. I do wonder if there should be masterwork/superior quality items for weapons and armor. There's a huge gap between a normal sword at 10 gp and a sword +1, with an indeterminate value but a minimum fair value of well more than 10,000 gp (5000 gp for the enchantment cost, 5000 gp for the monster parts, plus 1 month (or half a month with a formula) of time by either a spellcaster of 9th level or a spellcaster working under the supervision of a 9th level caster). The 2L (=50 gp) knight's sword might be worth including; certainly, real world swords made by master smiths or using unusually high quality metals were greatly prized and treated as worth more than an average, non-shoddy sword, and that's without the power that an actually magical weapon would add.
On a related note, according to the scavenged equipment rules, shoddy armor can break when a character rolls a 1 on an appropriate check... but I'm not sure what that means for armor. (I understand a shoddy sword breaking on a 1 on an attack roll). Is that about saving throws? Roll a 1 on an appropriate saving throw and your shoddy armor breaks makes sense, although it's likely relatively rare. Maybe shoddy armor should break when an opponent rolls a 20 on an attack roll?

Bargle
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:39

Personally, I don't like fiddly bits between magical and non magical swords. An wonderfully crafted sword (250gp) with a gold dragon Mahogony hilt with sapphire eyes (2000gp gems) works for me. Giving one of those to a trusted retainer for services rendered might increase his loyalty/morale by +1, but doesn't go as far as a magic sword would (perhaps loyalty increase and +1 hit/dmg)
What's the GP sale value of a +1 sword? You mentioned the creation cost, they aren't the same right?

ahstrongmorse
Adventurer Conqueror King BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara Backer
Joined: 2011-07-13 02:05

I don't think a sale value is listed for magic items. I presume that the creation costs set a floor for a magic item--presumably, it's worth the time and energy to make magic items despite their costs, and that implies that PCs are expected to value magic items at more than their creation costs. But it doesn't directly tell us what they end up being worth, just that it is presumably at least equal to the creation costs. (Applying the rule of 33 suggests that a sword +1 with 10K in creation costs might be worth 10,300 gp... but I'm skeptical. I bet it's worth more than that.)

Undercrypt
Adventurer Conqueror King BackerPlayer's Companion ContributorDwimmermount BackerDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:40

I haven't reached the number-crunching economic goodness yet, but with a creation cost of 10K+, just how big is the market for magic swords? How many people in the city (barony, empire) can afford to drop that much on something like a sword? How many mages/priests are there powerful enough and rich enough to create them? If the answer to either of those questions is "extremely few," then magic swords aren't mass market items that will be bought and traded like common goods - they'll be treated like great works of art. Extremely valuable far beyond the creation cost, traceable histories, lists of known owners, auctioned off when necessary to absurdly high bids, named (the Hope Diamond, the Messiah Stradivarius), etc.
I guess a better question might be at what level of magic does that occur, because I suspect there's a point where it undoubtedly would. If the Magic Sword +1 is a diamond - expensive, yes, but there are enough people who can afford them to make a trade of it - at what point is the magic so rare and powerful that it reaches Stradivarius level? Is it +3? +5?
That wonderfully crafted but non-magical jewel-encrusted sword sounds like a candidate for the Reserve Experience Fund. I don't think I mentioned how much I like that rule. Using role-playing spending to soften the blow of mid- to high-level character death is gleeful.

Fabio Milito Pa...
Patreon SupporterAdventurer Conqueror King BackerDomains At War BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu ContributorACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Contributor
Joined: 2011-07-10 16:06

Do we really need generic +x magic swords?
I have to review the monster section but I would like to see no differentiation between "pluses" needed to hit a monster, I mean instead of +1/+2/../+5 or better I would just like "hit only by magic" and for really special monster "hit only by a weapon forged in the pools of wisdom on the moon" or something like that... :)

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Regarding magic item sale, the way I've handled it is to treat magic item sale something like the sale of a stolen used car: Very suspicious. Most magic items were looted from somewhere. Who has a prior claim of ownership? Who is going to come looking for it? Many magic items are cursed. Is this one cursed? The only way to know for sure is a lengthy and expensive ID process (costing 1,000gp). In short: "You found this WHERE?" and "if this magic item is so great, why are you selling it?"
Finally, market prices would tend to be depressed by the fact that with a sample or formula prices are halved. The very best (most efficient) manufacturers would set the prices. So, for instance, if someone were to want to sell a magic sword, I'd start with the cost (5,000gp), halve it (2,500gp) and then subtract the cost for an ID to make sure its not cursed (1,000) and make that the opening offer.
There's obviously no real world economic example of magic items, but most high-value hard to appraise items in our world (cars, jewelry, fancy watches) function similarly. You don't get nearly what it's "worth". As a result, only desperate adventurers sell their items. Most with an item they dont want give it to hirelings, or give it away as a gift (for back-up XP for the back-up PC).
I haven't been explicit about this in the ACKS rules...should I be? Let me know what you think.

blizack
Joined: 2011-07-16 15:35

I never much liked the idea of buying and selling magical items, either. It works in certain settings, I suppose. I would recommend explicitly spelling out the objections to the idea in the rules, but maybe providing simple guidelines to prices for people who absolutely must have them.

Beedo
Beedo's picture
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Joined: 2011-07-12 13:55

Alex - I think you should go for it, even it's a simple blurb like what you have here. If the DM has a list of creation costs (or if that could be included in the item lists), the DM would have everything he needs to adjudicate magic sales.
I'm not a big fan of magic shops either - my world's are usually "low magic". But I see part of the premise of ACKS as 'D&D taken to it's logical conclusions' - rulers are powerful, the economy makes sense, tactics and the military rules will take into account the existence of magic. It's only sensible that adventurers will eventually stockpile enough magic items to sell (if not the PC's, then certainly some of the other NPC adventuring companies in the world).

ahstrongmorse
Adventurer Conqueror King BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara Backer
Joined: 2011-07-13 02:05

If a sword +1 only has a value of ~1500 gp, why do mages ever make them? If making magic items doesn't produce value for the spellcaster, why is there a functioning (and expensive) market in monster parts? Also, isn't the cost of a magic sword 10,000--5000 in gold plus 5000 in monster parts? Sure, that gets halved to 5000, but why halve it again? Why would a mage ever buy monster parts to make into a magic item that's worth less than the monster parts were?
I agree that magic item markets would be illiquid, full of information problems, and so forth. I'm not suggesting that you can walk into your local magic item shop and buy an off the rack sword +1. I'm also not suggesting that PCs can sell magic items that they find in a dungeon for top gold piece values. But if spellcasters regularly make magic items, enough to create a liquid market in monster parts, they must be doing that for a reason. When the Exarch Lazar's vassal's eldest child comes of age, and the Exarch decides to give a princely gift (partly to demonstrate his wealth and power, partly to secure the vassal's loyalty, partly to secure the vassal's child's loyalty, partly because it's socially expected), I would think that giving the young noble a magic sword would be a perfectly normal gift, bearing in mind that the Exarch's realm gives him something like 1.4 million gold pieces in revenue per month. Actually, an exarch with a treasury of millions of gold pieces probably gives a much better gift to a relatively close associate than just a +1 sword, because a +1 sword doesn't demonstrate much wealth and power, but let's continue the example. So, where does the Exarch get that magic sword? One possibility is that he has a mage retainer make the sword, at a cost of 2500 gold plus 2500 gold in monster parts. That makes sense if Exarch Lazar values a magic sword at more than 5000 gold plus the mage retainer's time. Of course, if there are scads of magic swords in the dungeons of Southern Argolle, then he might simply have an existing sword IDed to make sure it's not cursed, and give that instead. So it only makes sense for him to have his vassal mage make a sword if the sword is worth at least 5000 gp--perhaps in part because he wants a magic item with a known provenance so that he can assure his vassal, "don't worry, there aren't any curses, this was custom made for your child." And consider the mage's perspective. A mage has to have a good reason for doing the work--otherwise, why buy all these monster parts and spend all of this gold?
I would expect that to produce a bifurcated market, much like the real-world market for cars. On the one hand, you have brand-new cars, which have a high cost, substantially higher than the costs of manufacture. The analogy to that is the made to order magic item market--if you go to the right wizard's tower, and plunk down a large enough bag of gold, she'll make you a magic item, but you'll have to pay her for her time as well as the full cost of the components (i.e., 2500 gp for the gold cost, 2500 gp for the monster parts, plus compensation for her very valuable time). You're going to end up spending a small fortune. There's also a highly illiquid and messy market for used cars, which sell below their manufacture costs but have problems associated with them. And some of them may have clouded titles, because they were stolen or whatever. (This raises the question of whether there are doctrines like market overt, where magic items sold openly come with good title even if they were previously stolen, but that's besides the point.) That's the equivalent of selling a magic item you found in a dungeon. And those may sell at substantially below manufacture costs, at least if you need to sell it now (if you're willing to do lots of merchantly legwork, you might get a higher price). But if the market for the second set of items is really depressed--if magic swords have an actual market value of something like 1500 gp, because you also need 1000 gp for the mechanic (I mean the mage) who IDs them, then it's probably because characters don't actually value magic items very highly. They'd much rather have the cash. And if that's true, then the made-to-order market probably also doesn't exist--you destroy value when you turn some cash and some nice ogre skulls into a worthless old magic sword. And mages probably don't make magic items for their own purposes either, because they'd rather have the cash to hire a bigger army or something. But that implies that the whole monster parts economy collapses.
And what about the refurbished market? If I were a high level spellcaster who could sell a newly made magic sword for 10,000 gold or whatever, I bet that I could sell a pre-identified, guaranteed safe used magic sword for 8,000 gp. At that point, I'd certainly be willing to buy your used magic sword for 4000 gp or something, contingent on the identify process coming out okay, at least if I had plenty of ready cash. That's like the factory certified, dealer sold used car market.
The traditional way to handle this in fantasy gaming is, I believe, tails I win, heads you lose. "You want to sell your magic sword? Oh, no one wants to buy a used magic sword... they're not that valuable and it could be cursed. And even if you made it from scratch, they don't trust you and won't pay you even what you spent on making it. I guess you could get 1000 gp for it." "Oh, you want to buy a magic sword? Well, they're really valuable, and the people who have them don't want to sell them. I guess you could get a high level mage to make you one, or pay a desperate noble a fortune for an existing one... but it will run you like 15000 gp." In a sense, that works. It forces the PCs to adventure for wealth. It means that when they find a magic sword in the treasure hoard, it's extra exciting, because they can't buy it. And it means that magic items don't get treated as another form of gold. But it doesn't make a lot of sense. I believe that it's directly contrary to the "the whole economic system makes sense" ethos of ACKS.
I think you should be explicit about your economic assumptions about magic items, but I think you should also check whether they hold together with the idea of markets in monster parts and making magic items as a core part of the spellcaster endgame.

Bargle
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:39

Great post astrongmorse.
I try and look at CHAINMAIL. Why is a magic sword worth 10 points? Obviously to the "player" the 10 point army buy is worth it so that you can make a "Demi-hero" out of an elf.
20 elves cost 4 points
Magic sword costs 10 points
Hero costs: 20 points
So it's cheaper to buy a magic sword and use an elf from the 20 you've already bought. Sure an elf with a magic sword doesn't attack 4x and doesn't fight as well as a hero on the FCT, but the again if the opposing player buys a troll, or wraith, dragon, or has a hero you need *something* and if you are cashed starved a magic sword is a cheap force multiplier.
For those who can afford a hero (henchmen in d&d parlance) for you army a 10 point sword only improves upon your investment.
-------
What's the lesson then? The lesson is that the cost of a magic sword needs to be worth it's price. If I'm building an army with 100,000gp (10,000 points in the FFC), a 5000gp sword (500points) must be worthwhile. Obviously used/second hand swords complicates this. If a magic sword is worth 500 points for the purposes of army building, by the mere fact that it is bought used, shouldn't lower the point cost to 250, or raise it to 750 withought a good reason.
The FFC talks about buying additional "special units" beyond what is typically allowed (normally 15% of budget) at an inflated price (double cost+spells). Which is kind of like buying "used" perhaps. Translated into ACKs, if you didn't find the magic item/henchman while adventuring or make it yourself, it's going to cost you extra to add one to your army. Dragon subdul comes to mind as well. In 0d&d the sale price of a subdued dragon is 500-1000gp per hit point, the offer made by an NPC is determined by rolling a d6. 1 = 500gp per hit point, 2 = 600gp per hit point, etc. For some people it's obviously less costly to go subdue your own dragon, rather than spend 66,000gp on an 11 HD red.
Similar to your rules for wizard spells/spell books the verisimilitude might only need the right language to describe it in order to make the rule palatable enough to, "suspend" the requisite "disbelief" if you will.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

ALEX: This is what I get for doing a brief response over my morning coffee! Thoughts below.
If a sword +1 only has a value of ~1500 gp, why do mages ever make them? If making magic items doesn't produce value for the spellcaster, why is there a functioning (and expensive) market in monster parts? Also, isn't the cost of a magic sword 10,000--5000 in gold plus 5000 in monster parts? Sure, that gets halved to 5000, but why halve it again? Why would a mage ever buy monster parts to make into a magic item that's worth less than the monster parts were?
ALEX: Several responses here! First, let me be clear that I was talking about the value of unidentified magic items found by adventurers in dungeons. The value of a sword +1 in other contexts could vary dramatically.
I agree that magic item markets would be illiquid, full of information problems, and so forth. I'm not suggesting that you can walk into your local magic item shop and buy an off the rack sword +1. I'm also not suggesting that PCs can sell magic items that they find in a dungeon for top gold piece values.
ALEX: Agreed in full!
But if spellcasters regularly make magic items, enough to create a liquid market in monster parts, they must be doing that for a reason.
ALEX: I think there are three main reasons why spellcasters would make magic items. First, they may do it for the experience. This may seem silly, but consider that every year, millions of doctoral thesis are written at enormous time and expense, almost none of which ever have market value or even see a market at all. They are created simply for the experience gained in creating a doctoral thesis. Likewise with the many experiments of Renaissance and Enlightenment gentleman-scholars, or the many odd pieces of code and script written by modern hackers. Let’s call this “experiential creation”.
ALEX: Second, they may do it for their own utility. For instance, a mage may desire to have a ring of protection in order to protect himself. Let’s call this “personal creation”.
ALEX: Third, they may do it on commission – let’s call this “bespoke creation”.
When the Exarch Lazar's vassal's eldest child comes of age, and the Exarch decides to give a princely gift (partly to demonstrate his wealth and power, partly to secure the vassal's loyalty, partly to secure the vassal's child's loyalty, partly because it's socially expected), I would think that giving the young noble a magic sword would be a perfectly normal gift, bearing in mind that the Exarch's realm gives him something like 1.4 million gold pieces in revenue per month. Actually, an exarch with a treasury of millions of gold pieces probably gives a much better gift to a relatively close associate than just a +1 sword, because a +1 sword doesn't demonstrate much wealth and power, but let's continue the example. So, where does the Exarch get that magic sword? One possibility is that he has a mage retainer make the sword, at a cost of 2500 gold plus 2500 gold in monster parts. That makes sense if Exarch Lazar values a magic sword at more than 5000 gold plus the mage retainer's time.
ALEX: This is a great example of bespoke magic item creation.
Of course, if there are scads of magic swords in the dungeons of Southern Argolle, then he might simply have an existing sword IDed to make sure it's not cursed, and give that instead. So it only makes sense for him to have his vassal mage make a sword if the sword is worth at least 5000 gp--perhaps in part because he wants a magic item with a known provenance so that he can assure his vassal, "don't worry, there aren't any curses, this was custom made for your child." And consider the mage's perspective. A mage has to have a good reason for doing the work--otherwise, why buy all these monster parts and spend all of this gold?
ALEX: I don’t think that there has to be an “open market” price of 5000gp in order for a mage to be able to justify charging well more than 5,000gp for a bespoke sword. The bespoke sword doesn’t even need to be functionally better. It can make sense for Lazar to spend at least 5,000gp if doing so creates an item with social status. I would assume that the hilt of the Lazar sword would be adorned with the silver and blue colors of the Lazar family, and perhaps it would have a motto etched in runes on its blade. The pommel might be fastened in a shape of a tower, which is the Lazar family symbol. The blade could have the wizard’s mark who made it – perhaps a famous wizard. It could come with a scroll announcing the day of its creation and the parts used to make (“Its edged was quenched in the blood of ogre champions slain by Marcus Odysios during the Great Invasion.”) All of this adds enormously to the value of something. It’s like buying a ROLEX, or a Porsche, or a bespoke suit from Saville Row.
I would expect that to produce a bifurcated market, much like the real-world market for cars. On the one hand, you have brand-new cars, which have a high cost, substantially higher than the costs of manufacture. The analogy to that is the made to order magic item market--if you go to the right wizard's tower, and plunk down a large enough bag of gold, she'll make you a magic item, but you'll have to pay her for her time as well as the full cost of the components (i.e., 2500 gp for the gold cost, 2500 gp for the monster parts, plus compensation for her very valuable time). You're going to end up spending a small fortune.
ALEX: I agree completely!
There's also a highly illiquid and messy market for used cars, which sell below their manufacture costs but have problems associated with them. And some of them may have clouded titles, because they were stolen or whatever. That's the equivalent of selling a magic item you found in a dungeon. And those may sell at substantially below manufacture costs, at least if you need to sell it now (if you're willing to do lots of merchantly legwork, you might get a higher price).
ALEX: I agree completely.
But if the market for the second set of items is really depressed--if magic swords have an actual market value of something like 1500 gp, because you also need 1000 gp for the mechanic (I mean the mage) who IDs them, then it's probably because characters don't actually value magic items very highly.
ALEX: Not necessarily true. With used cars, part of the reason a used car’s value plummets when you drive it off the lot is that the market assumes that if you want to sell such a new car, there must be something wrong with it. This is also true when business owners try to sell their business – if you think it’s such a great business, why great rid of it? I believe this would be the case with magic items. If you want to sell them, there’d be an immediate assumption that there’s something wrong. So it’s not necessarily that characters don’t value items, it’s that buyers assume sellers don’t value the item for suspicious reasons. OR that they are desperate for cash and can be taken care of. And keep in mind that these aren’t just *used* items. They’re stolen used items that got dug out of some godforsaken crypt where they’ve lingered in the clutches of the dark powers.
They'd much rather have the cash. And if that's true, then the made-to-order market probably also doesn't exist--you destroy value when you turn some cash and some nice ogre skulls into a worthless old magic sword. And mages probably don't make magic items for their own purposes either, because they'd rather have the cash to hire a bigger army or something. But that implies that the whole monster parts economy collapses.
ALEX: I disagree with you here. There would continue to be a market for monster parts because of experiential, personal, and bespoke magic item creation. I also assume monster parts have a trophy/decorative function, similar way to the ivory trade, ostrich feathers, bear skins, etc. “This couch is made with real Naga hide? Wow!”
And what about the refurbished market? If I were a high level spellcaster who could sell a newly made magic sword for 10,000 gold or whatever, I bet that I could sell a pre-identified, guaranteed safe used magic sword for 8,000 gp. At that point, I'd certainly be willing to buy your used magic sword for 4000 gp or something, contingent on the identify process coming out okay, at least if I had plenty of ready cash. That's like the factory certified, dealer sold used car market.
ALEX: I agree with you here somewhat here. In the Auran Empire campaign, a chapter of wizards that operates something called the Tower of Knowledge will buy magic items for cheap, evaluate them, and re-sell them at a higher price later. I’ve contemplated whether there should be some system in place to evaluate what sort of items might be for sale on the secondary market.
The traditional way to handle this in fantasy gaming is, I believe, tails I win, heads you lose. "You want to sell your magic sword? Oh, no one wants to buy a used magic sword... they're not that valuable and it could be cursed. And even if you made it from scratch, they don't trust you and won't pay you even what you spent on making it. I guess you could get 1000 gp for it." "Oh, you want to buy a magic sword? Well, they're really valuable, and the people who have them don't want to sell them. I guess you could get a high level mage to make you one, or pay a desperate noble a fortune for an existing one... but it will run you like 15000 gp." In a sense, that works. It forces the PCs to adventure for wealth. It means that when they find a magic sword in the treasure hoard, it's extra exciting, because they can't buy it. And it means that magic items don't get treated as another form of gold. But it doesn't make a lot of sense. I believe that it's directly contrary to the "the whole economic system makes sense" ethos of ACKS.
ALEX: Perhaps this is the crux of our disagreement. I think that sort of price disparity makes total sense! “Tails I win, heads you lose” is how most markets operate. Have you ever tried to buy jewelry? Let’s say you buy jewelry from Tiffany’s for thousands of dollars. Later, you try to resell that jewelry. You will be lucky to sell it for hundreds of dollars. Or look at Gamestop’s used game practices. Sell a used game to Gamestop and they will pay about $5. But if you buy the same used game from Gamestop it will cost you $30. (And that’s despite the existence of eBay markets for both!) In an ancient/medieval world filled with force, fraud, curses, information asymmetry, and more, this will be even worse.
ALEX: The strange thing about our modern economy is that we’ve managed to eliminate this price asymmetry in some places, with eBay and so on, not that this price asymmetry exists. Price asymmetry should exist. For most of history, everything other than commodities has by and large been priced like jewelry. We take for granted in our modern eBay economy that anyone can sell anything and get something approaching a market price, but in fact, most of the time, markets have been characterized by deep information asymmetries. If Marcus the Fighter finds a magic sword +1 in dungeon and tries to sell it in town, he’s not going to get anywhere near what it would cost Quintus the Mage to make a sword +1. On the other hand, if Marcus realizes that the sword is Surdigan, blade of the Surdius family of Arganos, and he has the blade cleaned, identified by a sage (1,000gp), and transported to Arganos, where a merchant meets with the Surdius family on his behalf (10% commission), maybe they’ll pay for it. Or maybe they’ll demand it as a right, as stolen property…

Bargle
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:39

Rough notes, starting from the end of ACKs and working backward. I'm doing this from my iPhone, so apologies for it's rough state.
Game master section
1. Roll wandering monsters 3-4x per day for over land travel seems much. Overland hex crawling long distances seems impossible.
2. Dex "check?" or is it throw?
Magic swords:
3. No % for having intelligence
4.Magic staves
Wizardry and magi. Like arneson's original creation of wizard sword and hero swords, why not introduce a random power mechanic for random versions.
5. Shouldn't the giant squid have a giant sea shell on it's back granting this portion of it's body AC 2? Help differentiate between octopus, otherwise why bother?
6. Can manticores chose the target w/spikes or is it random? Good recent dragonfoot thread on this.
7. Lycanthropy as 0d&d elf split class, why not, using your xp table from reincarnation spell, force the player to decide which class gets the xp. Keeps lycanthropes playable.  
8. Wish Orc villages had an option for dragon wizard/lord. The gygaxian naturalism gets to be tedious and repetitive for every beastman and it's nice to see monsters ruled by something other than chieftains in light of the fact that you include them in the hireling rules--after all they are all created monsters in ACKs, not evolved Darwinian forms--Orcs in Tolkien were ruled by wizards and balrogs after all, not chieftains. Only the goblins had goblin kings.
9. How much can gargoyles carry, if any.  
10. Elf villages have 100% and 5% females and children. What do think of saying 100% adult non-combatants" instead?
11. How many stones can an elephant carry?  Mammoth? Triceratops...?
12. How about a note: "at the GM's discretion any creature that can be communicated with may become a retainer..."
13. Dragon breath: note that the same "mistake" when translating fireballs and lightning bolts from CHAINMAIL to d&d apply here as well. Given the size of d&d dragons (perhaps 15-20 feet body length--using the same basing as giants in CM and S&S) a 100 foot long breath weapon is incorrect. Red dragon breath in CM was 9 yards long and 3 yards wide at the end. 27x9 feet. Really only enough to deal with a hero or small body of men and not devour whole armies. Especially in light of their # appearing and use in mass combat. This is a big deal in my opinion. Dragons weren't expected to be 300 foot monstrosities. Even the starting point of 1/2" puts their mouths at 1 foot 6" inches wide, not 5 feet wide! Think how big a dragon with a 5 foot wide mouth would have to be!
14. "Humanoids" the way it reads is that even Humanoids above 5hd are subject to charm person, at odds with the spell description. 

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Game master section
1. Roll wandering monsters 3-4x per day for over land travel seems much. Overland hex crawling long distances seems impossible.
2. Dex "check?" or is it throw?
ALEX: Gamemaster Section isn't actually written yet. The material there is just OGL material from Basic Fantasy & LL.
Magic swords:
3. No % for having intelligence
ALEX: Sentient swords have their own line item in the Swords sub-table. 1 in 100 swords are sentient. This is actually much lower than the number of sentient swords in the Auran Empire campaign so we might change this.
4.Magic staves
Wizardry and magi. Like arneson's original creation of wizard sword and hero swords, why not introduce a random power mechanic for random versions.
ALEX: I didn't follow you. But it sounded cool. Could you elaborate?
5. Shouldn't the giant squid have a giant sea shell on it's back granting this portion of it's body AC 2? Help differentiate between octopus, otherwise why bother?
ALEX: Hah! Good point.
6. Can manticores chose the target w/spikes or is it random? Good recent dragonfoot thread on this.
ALEX: I always let them target with their spikes. Do others play it differently?
7. Lycanthropy as 0d&d elf split class, why not, using your xp table from reincarnation spell, force the player to decide which class gets the xp. Keeps lycanthropes playable.
ALEX: Neat idea. Let me chew on it.
8. Wish Orc villages had an option for dragon wizard/lord. The gygaxian naturalism gets to be tedious and repetitive for every beastman and it's nice to see monsters ruled by something other than chieftains in light of the fact that you include them in the hireling rules--after all they are all created monsters in ACKs, not evolved Darwinian forms--Orcs in Tolkien were ruled by wizards and balrogs after all, not chieftains. Only the goblins had goblin kings.
ALEX: Funnily enough I just wrote rules for Chaotic Domains and so on for the upcoming v17. I'll have to consider if that has any retrograde implications for the demographics of beastmen. That might be something best left for hand placement.
9. How much can gargoyles carry, if any.
ALEX: Good catch
10. Elf villages have 100% and 5% females and children. What do think of saying 100% adult non-combatants" instead?
ALEX: Hmmm -- Do you not like the idea that they have so few women, are not like the idea that elven females are non-combatants?
11. How many stones can an elephant carry? Mammoth? Triceratops...?
ALEX: "How many stones can an elephant carry" sounds like the beginnings of a good Monty Python skit. But yes I should include that. I actually have that data somewhere in my notes...
12. How about a note: "at the GM's discretion any creature that can be communicated with may become a retainer..."
ALEX: I just updated v17 under the Hirelings rule to reflect that creatures whom you achieve Friendly relations with can become retainers. I probably need to tighten that up a bit but the idea is now formally included in the rules.
13. Dragon breath: note that the same "mistake" when translating fireballs and lightning bolts from CHAINMAIL to d&d apply here as well. Given the size of d&d dragons (perhaps 15-20 feet body length--using the same basing as giants in CM and S&S) a 100 foot long breath weapon is incorrect. Red dragon breath in CM was 9 yards long and 3 yards wide at the end. 27x9 feet. Really only enough to deal with a hero or small body of men and not devour whole armies. Especially in light of their # appearing and use in mass combat. This is a big deal in my opinion. Dragons weren't expected to be 300 foot monstrosities. Even the starting point of 1/2" puts their mouths at 1 foot 6" inches wide, not 5 feet wide! Think how big a dragon with a 5 foot wide mouth would have to be!
ALEX: There is a big fight brewing about this over on the Mass Combat thread on the blog. Could you please check that over there?
Your point on dragon size is interesting. I think dragons are larger in ACKS than perhaps envisioned in Chainmail. I usually put full-sized dragons at about 40' long, ie the size of a tyrannosaurus rex.
14. "Humanoids" the way it reads is that even Humanoids above 5hd are subject to charm person, at odds with the spell description.
ALEX: Can you point this out to me? That sounds like an error I need to fix. What page/section/chapter...

ahstrongmorse
Adventurer Conqueror King BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara Backer
Joined: 2011-07-13 02:05

Re: gender: One of the things I noticed on my read through was that there seems to be a default assumption of traditional gender roles. It's not that the rules are inconsistent with female fighters, or with noncombatant males. But the rules seem to assume that gender roles will be followed. I would prefer a stronger tilt towards egalitarian assumptions, especially with regard to PC gender assumptions, but also with regard to gender of NPCs. The historical pattern of patriarchy isn't a fun thing to assume in a setting for me--I sometimes play in games that have patriarchal assumptions because they're planning on directly addressing issues of gender, but as just a background assumption, it's a negative thing for me. Also, some of the players I often game with have refused to play games that they found insufficiently welcoming to the idea of female characters. I doubt they would refuse to play ACKS based on the gender normative assumptions, but they would find it negative.
Re: magic item pricing: I actually think that we're a lot closer in position than I, at least, thought we were this morning. The big things I would like to see are a set of guidelines for buying and selling that include both a base value, and then modifiers. For example, it might say: The base value of a magic item is its manufacture cost, but characters will rarely be able to buy or sell at that cost. Magic items found in dungeons, or otherwise of questionable provenance, will typically sell for no more than 25% of the base value. PCs may occasionally have the opportunity to buy magic items at that price, but 50% of the magic items will be cursed, have false enchantments, etc. Magic items can typically be made to order by an NPC mage, if one can be located, for twice the base value. Mages who have their own sanctum and regularly make and sell magic items can find X orders for bespoke magic items per year in markets of size Y; they will be paid twice the base value for these sorts of tasks. Mages who regularly make and sell magic items may also try to sell "used" magic items at normal base value, by identifying them and placing their reputation behind the items; demand for these sorts of items can be determined by...
Basically, it's not the idea of a spread between the price you'll get selling a sword +1 found in an ancient crypt and the price you'd pay to have one made from scratch that bothers me; it's the lack of any guidelines to figure out how that works.
(Also, I think you have the economics of dissertations wrong; in my view, while people learn from writing dissertations, the reason that they do it is significantly because of credentialing--a PhD opens many doors that would otherwise be closed--and because of competing in a prestige market that will then allow the PhD candidate to get status and jobs. I don't have a PhD, but when I write academic articles, a major part of my motivation is career advancement, although I do of course learn from the process. I could imagine a wizards' guild or similar society that created prestige markets like this, like how historical craft guilds would require the construction of a masterpiece to advance to the rank of master, but then I want guidelines for that sort of social process. :) )

Undercrypt
Adventurer Conqueror King BackerPlayer's Companion ContributorDwimmermount BackerDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:40

Notes on the spell list:
There's a mostly-consistent thread of Arcane getting plant spells and Divine getting animal spells. Interesting.
Animate Dead: With no cap on total number of undead animated and controlled via multiple castings, raising an undead army is a very viable option. Excellent.
Conjure Elemental: I haven't gotten to any cosmology yet, but it's nice to see the Elemental Planes.
Contact Higher Plane: As an Arcane spell, I wonder if "Other" rather than "Higher" might be appropriate, what with the dark sources of knowledge and insanity and all. The table column listing the entity's "Don't Know" percentage rather than its "Knows" percentage seems backward. Taking both columns into account, the actual chance of getting a true one-word answer ranges from 12.5% for three questions up to 90.25% for 12 questions; for an Archmage, 21% actual chance of true answers on 5 questions with no chance of insanity makes it a pretty good "throw me a bone here" spell. The lose/lose proposition built into the spell playing Knowledge against Sanity has a very Lovecraft feel, especially compared to Commune - the River of Wisdom vs the Firehose of Knowledge. As a possible elaboration of the 3-12 week insanity, this would be an excellent place for a Horrific Results table a la the Restore Life & Limb side effects table, with levels over 11 and weeks of insanity being modifiers on the roll.
Dispel Magic: A brand new 5th level Thaumaturge has a 55% chance of ripping down an Archmage's spell, making it useful right away. Makes Permanency very vulnerable (maybe too vulnerable given its cost) and item creation even more important.
Glyph of Warding: The Spell Glyph variant says that the cleric must be of high enough level to cast the spell stored, but doesn't make explicit whether they have to cast the stored spell or not - I'd read it as not.
Haste: Is using Haste aggressively to age your enemies enough of an edge case not to specify the target gets to save vs. spells?
Locate Object: I'm seeing a market for gold boxes.
Restore Life & Limb: Love the table.
Reincarnate: There's no level cap mentioned for characters reincarnated as monsters. That's one mean goblin.
Teleport: The 5% chance of instant death in the best possible scenario makes this a panic button (or interesting offensive option) rather than a generally useful tool. Effective way to limit magical travel.
Tongues: Does Garble interfere with spellcasting, I wonder?
Ventriloquism: Fun synergy with Mimicry.
Wall of Ice (Arcane 4) appears in the spell descriptions but not in the list of Fourth Level Arcane Spells. Wall of Iron (Arcane 6) appears in Sixth Level Arcane Spells but not in the spell descriptions.

Bargle
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:39

Apologies for my excessive posts on the blog in the mass combat post, I just now got my laptop back up and running. I fear my posts are unreadable.
3. magic swords 1% intelligent. Wow, that's a huge difference the original incarnation. 100% were assumed to be intelligent in 0d&d; this was the fighters big benefit, what do you see as balancing this class wise for the fighter?
3. magician swords in the FFC: In the FFC Arneson wrote the chart that later informed the intelligent sword category in d&d, originally the referee rolled like a d6 and a 1-2 indicated a "magician's sword" and a 3-6 was a fighters sword. Everyone knows what an intelligent sword in d&d looks like (ego, spell like abilities etc), to see what the magicians sword looked like (remember in CM wizards could wield swords) simply look at the three examples brought over into d&d, the staff of wizardry, power, and the staff of the magi. What I am proposing is, of course to leave in those two great staves, but to allow for random creation a la intelligent swords for different powers and abilities. Variations on the staff of power, wizardry, and magi in other words. Does that make sense? Why only three awesome staffs? I'm not saying make staffs intelligent, I'm just saying make up a table for random powers perhaps. If only to give wizard PC's ideas on different types of staffs they might create.
6. Manticores: Well, spikes are missile weapons and missile weapons cannot be aimed in melee at specific targets once enemies are engaged, just like sword blows cannot be assigned once melee with multiple foes begins. (maybe acks has decided not to use that rule?)
10. female elfs. doesn't bother me, but it doesn't account for the weak and infirm. Non-combatants should include old men as well and combatants should leave room for women like that chick from LotR who killed the witch king as well as female body guards of orc leaders in B2. Female kobolds in B2 fight the same as males, while most orc females do not (with the above noted exception). Better just to say non-combatants and children imo. But I do like the flavor of the only 5% elf children, so it wouldn't bother me if you didn't change anything. I just happened to notice it for some reason.
12. Dragon breath. As I mentioned in the blog. D&D scales are as screwed up as the economy is. Fact is d&d mixes 10 yard/10 feet/3 feet scale all over the place. With figure basing at 1" = 1 yard, time scale at 10 yards and movement underground at 10 feet. It's a mess. in chainmail there were multiple rounds of melee per minute for example, but changed in order to keep wizards attacking as often as a fighter swings his sword (if you ask me melee rounds should be 6 seconds and spells should remain on the 1 minute time table which is what CHAINMAIL effectively had as there would be 3 or more rounds of melee every 1 minute turn).
If you guys are going to fix the economy, you might as well fix the scale. So pick your dragon breath, but make sure figure basing in a 10' corridor works as well and that movement rates underground blah blah blah...
14. pg. 129 monster types, "humanoid". "humans...do not cease to be humanoids even if they achieve 5th level or higher. All humanoids are vulnerable to charm person..."

Bargle
Joined: 2011-07-21 00:39

re: 1% intelligent magic swords. Really makes the clerics weapon restriction more for flavor rather than any thing else. 99% of the time a mace is just as good a weapon as a sword now. So to me it appears as a weaker fighter and a stronger cleric by this ACKs rule. Intelligent swords is *the* reason wizards and clerics have weapon restrictions.
STRONGHOLDS
1. Man I would love me a sample type I, type II, and type III castle drawing with prices. I like building strongholds, but I don't like counting doors and windows...it's what arneson did right in the FFC and 0d&d, but was sadly missing from the gygax DMG. I need to be able just pull a generic stronghold off the shelf. Just as you have an awesome "average monthly profit" chart for merchant caravans (I don't see myself selling each barrel of spice individually, though I'm glad it's there for those who want it). I would love to have a generic stronghold. It's important for me to be able to say, "ok. buy a 10,000gp sailing ship and you get 275gp per month in profit from trade. Leaving the option open of course for detailed arbitrage or what have you. But if my design is just to figure out how big an army two players can raise, I don't want the nuts and bolts. If those generic rules could all be in the same place, that would be awesome as well. What would a simple wizards tower cost to build that would hold 6 apprentices and 12 men? Including engineer costs? Or perhaps a primer on drawing simple stronghold plans? Is it just like drawing a small dungeon? Level 1, 2, 3?
2. how does "domain land revinue" effect the generic profit of merchant ships--if at all, If I use the 'average monthly profit' table?
3. Pg. 111 Paying expenses. The reading confused me a little bit. Are you saying a lord must hire 2-4gp worth of mercenaries per peasant family? Can these mercenaries be mustered into the army for a war, or must they stay behind to protect the land? What happens if the former happens and nobody's there to protect/restrain the peasants?
4. What % of the male population can be pressed/hired into an army? FFC says 30% but only 15% at any one time is under arms.
5. Would a Lord granted land pay his 20% tribute to the king or to the baron above him? Does it flow up the pyramid as it were? Does the tribute of the baron to the earl include the profit from the 20% of the vassal below him?
MAGIC ITEMS
1. If magic swords are 1% intelligent, is this rolled for when a PC makes a sword? What happens if a PC makes a sword with permanent effect detect magic 3x per day then the sword turns out to be intelligent and can detect magic...?
2. whats the loyalty of constructs? What if my magician wants to create a beautiful female construct what's her loyalty? Chance to disobey? Do they count as retainers? Does a created vampire from a retainer still remain loyal?
3. do wizard apprentices count as retainers?
4. thinking ahead here to the war-game. If creatures of 3-4+ hit dice count against your retainers, how do you field an army of 25 giants? (I'd post this in the war-game blog post, but I'm mortified at how many posts I made within 1 hour...)
5. given the extremely small # appearing of 4+ hd creatures (reminicient of both the FFC 15% of budget limit, and the fact that fantasy creatures were 1:1 scale while goblins and elves were 1:20 and therefore in d&d have much higher # appearing; given this, given that giants have # appearing as 1-3, how do you get to 25 giants or more for a stand in the army? Can those 25 giants all throw rocks? Will they act as a battery of catapults? I personally like the individual nature of magical creatures in armies (which would count as retainers). How do you handle a battalion of basilisk?
COMBAT SPECIAL MANEUVERS:
1. subdue pg. 99: subdual was to force surrender (and then make an offer of service) or force surrender to sell as a slave. In ACKs it seems it's purpose is to knock the victim unconcious, is this right? It sounds boring.
2. wrestling. Man, I loved the overbearing rule from the mule abides. Where is it?
SAVING THROWS:
0- level man? I suggest 1 point worse than 1st level fighter.
INVULNRABLE MONSTERS:
In CM this was hero-1 (3hd or more) could harm fantastic foes that required a magic weapon to hit. ACKs pegs it at 5HD.
pg. 94 missile weapon ranges.
1. Ok. This looks like ad&d. CM and 0d&d took a different approach. Think of a mass combat. What range would 90% of arrow fire come at? short or long? Long of course. Arrows are a distance weapon. +2 to hit at short range, +1 at medium range, +0 at long range. This is balanced by the fact that at short range chances are, A) you're going to be in melee soon and wont get many arrows off, B) if you are firing at short range, chances are you're firing into melee and will hit your companions, C) can't pick your target. Ad&d was wrong with this. CM and 0d&d had it right.
2. Now, if you're talking about hitting a "specific" target at short medium or long range. Fine. 0/-2/-5, but not for just shooting at arrow at a host of goblins or firing into a melee. But you have "precise shooting" that adds another -4 on top of that. 0-level Mercenary archers are worse than storm troopers...
INITIATIVE:
Personally, I like the 6 second round as each second can correspond to a pip of the die. and since most mvt. 12/9/6 is divisible by 6, it is easy to say a charging character moves 2/1.5/1 inch per segment. When still works in mass combat at 1 min turns. This is close to what elderitch wizardry did. So a 4th level spell takes 4 segments and if the thief (12') is less than 8' away, he gets his charge attack before the spell takes place. I mean, you max out at 6th level spells as well, so it works perfect.
As it stands, you have 10 second rounds...but you use d6 initiative, and max at 6th level spells. Ad&d went to the 10 segment round because of 7-9th level spells; something ACKs doesn't worry about in combat. If you're going to switch to 5' move squares and 10 second rounds, you might as well use d10 initiative, but if not...
Sell me on the 10 second round with a d6 initiative dice and 12' mvt. rate.

blizack
Joined: 2011-07-16 15:35

I was under the impression ACKS was built on top of a Labyrinth Lord (Moldvay B/X) skeleton, which might explain a lot of the divergences away from older editions like Chainmail, OD&D, and Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign. Is that assumption correct?
(My knowledge of pre-B/X D&D is very limited, so forgive my ignorance.)
Not being able to pick your targets when in melee with multiple foes would definitely make cleaving (if they're dropping, keep chopping) problematic. I'm thinking that the intent is for combatants to be able to select their targets when in melee. Was the "non-aimed sword blow" rule Bargle mentions intended to simulate the fog of war in a highly abstract combat system? The way cleaving is written in ACKS certainly suggests that the GM would be keeping track of combatants' positions during a fight.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Re: gender: One of the things I noticed on my read through was that there seems to be a default assumption of traditional gender roles. It's not that the rules are inconsistent with female fighters, or with noncombatant males. But the rules seem to assume that gender roles will be followed. I would prefer a stronger tilt towards egalitarian assumptions, especially with regard to PC gender assumptions, but also with regard to gender of NPCs. The historical pattern of patriarchy isn't a fun thing to assume in a setting for me--I sometimes play in games that have patriarchal assumptions because they're planning on directly addressing issues of gender, but as just a background assumption, it's a negative thing for me. Also, some of the players I often game with have refused to play games that they found insufficiently welcoming to the idea of female characters. I doubt they would refuse to play ACKS based on the gender normative assumptions, but they would find it negative.
ALEX: I wasn't sure how to answer this without writing an essay, so I'm writing an essay! First let me say that I'm sensitive to the issue. My two weekly groups are 25% and 33% women respectively, and Greg Tito's group is 50% women. As a result, I avoid running campaigns set in environments which leave little room for female characters, such as A Song of Ice and Fire's Westeros, or RECON's Vietnam, as its distinctly un-fun for a third of my players.
Now, let me distinguish this into separate issues:
Rules Text: The rules text uses third person masculine as the default pronoun. Where a female gender is relevant (e.g. bladedancer), she/her is used.There were occasional glitches in v16 but these are fixed in the recent draft. I find "he or she/him or her" to be clumsy and hard to parse, and third person plural even worse. The only other option is to alternate between "he" and "she" in the text. But then the writer has to constantly decide what gender to use for each passage. ("If I use 'she' for the Riding proficiency, am I playing to the stereotype that girls love horses??"). That way lies madness.
Level Titles: The level titles use third person masculine as the default pronoun, except where a gender specific title is relevant. If a female character would prefer to be called a "sorceress" instead of a "sorcerer" that is up to her. Even if I wanted to adopt gender-specific titles more broadly, 21st century gender norms here are almost useless. For instance, "actor" is now the preferred term instead of "actress". Generic third person masculine is the simplest and cleanest approach.
Game Mechanics: There are no mechanical differences between male and female characters. All classes are open to female characters. One class is female-only. (In the Auran Empire as a whole, there are some male-only priestly orders and some female-only priestly orders but I only included the bladedancers in the core rules).
Demographics: ACKS assumes that the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid is filled with peasants who largely toil in gender specific roles, with women of necessity devoted to childbearing in order to maintain the labor pool. (Beastmen societies are worse, as they are polygamous, with the strongest chief keeping all the women as a harem.) ACKS assumes that the merchants, nobility, military, priesthood, and mages in society are egalitarian with respect to gender, and that specific orders and institutions exist as outlets for high-caliber young people to advance in these positions.
To understand how I reached these demographic assumptions:
1) In pre-industrial societies, death rates are high, and need for labor is great. Women must be oriented towards childbearing or the society will demographically collapse.
2) In societies with gender equality, birth rates invariably plummet because free women with career opportunities prefer not to spend their lives childbearing.
3) If magic is so common that it replaces technology and creates industrial-like societies, the labor pool could be smaller and infant mortality substantially lower, so this could alter the demographic implications. This is not the case, however, for the commoners in ACKS. Only the rich and noble have access to sufficient magic that they could overcome the constraints of labor and illness. As a result historical norms will largely apply to the agricultural commoners.
4) In pre-industrial societies, men tend to gain political power because both labor and military might are dependent on physical strength, which men have more of (and perhaps also because men tend to be more competitive and power-hungry than women due to the effects of testosterone, but let's assume ACKS women are equally ruthless!)
5) If magic is common enough that it is useful in war and politics, possession of it can guarantee power regardless of their physical strength or lack thereof. This is assumed to be the case in ACKS.
6) Therefore, power in the middle and upper stratas is likely to be far more evenly distributed in an ACKS setting than it has been in any historical society.
7) There will be some trickle-down from above such that women are unlikely to be anywhere as oppressed and degraded as they have been during history's worst periods (except in vile societies such as, e.g., beastmen).
From these thoughts, I designed the Auran Empire as follows:
1) It is politically and economically egalitarian with regard to gender for those that have political and economic power. It is stratified on the basis of wealth and class (noble, armiger, commoner, or indentured).
2) The middle and upper professions are assumed to be made up of a mix of genders. The agricultural masses are assumed to be largely stratified by gender roles with regard to labor out of necessity, although not necessarily patriarchal in politics.
3) Because women with options pursue those options, the middle and upper classes are assumed to have a lower birth rate than the lower classes, partly but not entirely made up by magical healing (e.g. modern Europe still has a lower birth rate than developing countries). As a result, there are provisions for social mobility to allow the lower classes to move up to maintain the army, priesthood, etc.
So the Auran Empire setting is definitely more egalitarian than, e.g., the historical Roman Empire, or JRR Tolkien, R Scott Bakker or George RR Martin's worlds. I hope that makes sense and answers (over-answers?) your question.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Animate Dead: With no cap on total number of undead animated and controlled via multiple castings, raising an undead army is a very viable option. Excellent.
ALEX: Muhahaha!
Conjure Elemental: I haven't gotten to any cosmology yet, but it's nice to see the Elemental Planes.
ALEX: I’m not sure if we’re going to include the Auran Empire’s default cosmology in the rules.
Contact Higher Plane: As an Arcane spell, I wonder if "Other" rather than "Higher" might be appropriate, what with the dark sources of knowledge and insanity and all. The table column listing the entity's "Don't Know" percentage rather than its "Knows" percentage seems backward. Taking both columns into account, the actual chance of getting a true one-word answer ranges from 12.5% for three questions up to 90.25% for 12 questions; for an Archmage, 21% actual chance of true answers on 5 questions with no chance of insanity makes it a pretty good "throw me a bone here" spell. The lose/lose proposition built into the spell playing Knowledge against Sanity has a very Lovecraft feel, especially compared to Commune - the River of Wisdom vs the Firehose of Knowledge. As a possible elaboration of the 3-12 week insanity, this would be an excellent place for a Horrific Results table a la the Restore Life & Limb side effects table, with levels over 11 and weeks of insanity being modifiers on the roll.
ALEX: How about Contact Outer Plane? Great idea on the insanity chart.
Dispel Magic: A brand new 5th level Thaumaturge has a 55% chance of ripping down an Archmage's spell, making it useful right away. Makes Permanency very vulnerable (maybe too vulnerable given its cost) and item creation even more important.
ALEX: “A permanency spell lasts until it is dispelled by either the caster or a higher-level spellcaster.” It’s not as vulnerable.
Glyph of Warding: The Spell Glyph variant says that the cleric must be of high enough level to cast the spell stored, but doesn't make explicit whether they have to cast the stored spell or not - I'd read it as not.
ALEX: No, they don’t.
Haste: Is using Haste aggressively to age your enemies enough of an edge case not to specify the target gets to save vs. spells?
ALEX: Wow. I’m going to call that an edge case…
Restore Life & Limb: Love the table.
ALEX: Greg Tito wrote that. It’s very, very fun. We still have some gaps in the boxes so if you have ideas, share them.
Teleport: The 5% chance of instant death in the best possible scenario makes this a panic button (or interesting offensive option) rather than a generally useful tool. Effective way to limit magical travel.
ALEX: Yeah, that’s by design. Freely available Teleport essentially destroys any semblance of a medieval economy.
Tongues: Does Garble interfere with spellcasting, I wonder?
ALEX: I’d say “no”. Magic probably sounds like gibberish anyway.
Wall of Ice (Arcane 4) appears in the spell descriptions but not in the list of Fourth Level Arcane Spells. Wall of Iron (Arcane 6) appears in Sixth Level Arcane Spells but not in the spell descriptions.
ALEX: Thanks, good catches.
ALEX: I’m surprised you had no comment on the big changes to Protection From Evil and Continual Light!

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

3. magic swords 1% intelligent. Wow, that's a huge difference the original incarnation. 100% were assumed to be intelligent in 0d&d; this was the fighters big benefit, what do you see as balancing this class wise for the fighter?
ALEX: Fighters in ACKS are considerably mightier than in other versions of the game. At first level, they get a +1 bonus to damage, and this increases again at 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th level. They also can attack again any time they kill an enemy, up to one per level. A high-level fighter doesn’t need an intelligent sword to compete.
3. magician swords in the FFC: In the FFC Arneson wrote the chart that later informed the intelligent sword category in d&d, originally the referee rolled like a d6 and a 1-2 indicated a "magician's sword" and a 3-6 was a fighters sword. Everyone knows what an intelligent sword in d&d looks like (ego, spell like abilities etc), to see what the magicians sword looked like (remember in CM wizards could wield swords) simply look at the three examples brought over into d&d, the staff of wizardry, power, and the staff of the magi. What I am proposing is, of course to leave in those two great staves, but to allow for random creation a la intelligent swords for different powers and abilities. Variations on the staff of power, wizardry, and magi in other words. Does that make sense? Why only three awesome staffs? I'm not saying make staffs intelligent, I'm just saying make up a table for random powers perhaps. If only to give wizard PC's ideas on different types of staffs they might create.
ALEX: Ah, that’s a cool suggestion.
6. Manticores: Well, spikes are missile weapons and missile weapons cannot be aimed in melee at specific targets once enemies are engaged, just like sword blows cannot be assigned once melee with multiple foes begins. (maybe acks has decided not to use that rule?)
ALEX: Ah, I see. Yes, melee blows are targeted at specific opponents in ACKS. Missile weapons are aimed at specific targets prior to melee engagement, but cannot generally be fired into a melee unless the character has the Precise Shot proficiency and even then there is a penalty.
10. female elfs. doesn't bother me, but it doesn't account for the weak and infirm. Non-combatants should include old men as well and combatants should leave room for women like that chick from LotR who killed the witch king as well as female body guards of orc leaders in B2. Female kobolds in B2 fight the same as males, while most orc females do not (with the above noted exception). Better just to say non-combatants and children imo. But I do like the flavor of the only 5% elf children, so it wouldn't bother me if you didn't change anything. I just happened to notice it for some reason.
ALEX: In ACKS there are no old and infirm elves. They are ageless until they die. I suppose some might be crippled from battle, but I’m not sure if that’s worth representing. Beastmen are an awful set of races where the alpha males keep harems of submissive women for breeding purposes.
12. Dragon breath. As I mentioned in the blog. D&D scales are as screwed up as the economy is. Fact is d&d mixes 10 yard/10 feet/3 feet scale all over the place. With figure basing at 1" = 1 yard, time scale at 10 yards and movement underground at 10 feet. It's a mess. in chainmail there were multiple rounds of melee per minute for example, but changed in order to keep wizards attacking as often as a fighter swings his sword (if you ask me melee rounds should be 6 seconds and spells should remain on the 1 minute time table which is what CHAINMAIL effectively had as there would be 3 or more rounds of melee every 1 minute turn).
ALEX: It is a mess, yes…
If you guys are going to fix the economy, you might as well fix the scale. So pick your dragon breath, but make sure figure basing in a 10' corridor works as well and that movement rates underground blah blah blah...
ALEX: I think Delta’s mathematics on this front have made a good justification for why the interior feet / outdoor yards scale makes sense; that’s what we’ve retained. ACKS rules allow 3 man-sized figures to fight side by side per 10’ corridor, and allow characters with spears to fight from the second rank. The implicit size of the squares would therefore be about 3’ rather than the 5’ that 3.5 D&D uses. But the game doesn’t assume you’re using miniatures… I certainly do not.
14. pg. 129 monster types, "humanoid". "humans...do not cease to be humanoids even if they achieve 5th level or higher. All humanoids are vulnerable to charm person..."
ALEX: Good catch, thank you.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

re: 1% intelligent magic swords. Really makes the clerics weapon restriction more for flavor rather than any thing else. 99% of the time a mace is just as good a weapon as a sword now. So to me it appears as a weaker fighter and a stronger cleric by this ACKs rule. Intelligent swords is *the* reason wizards and clerics have weapon restrictions.
ALEX: The cleric’s weapon restriction is not as important in ACKS as it is in some other versions of the game, that’s correct.
STRONGHOLDS
1. Man I would love me a sample type I, type II, and type III castle drawing with prices.
ALEX: Great suggestion!
2. how does "domain land revinue" effect the generic profit of merchant ships--if at all, If I use the 'average monthly profit' table?
ALEX: If you’re just using the generic profits for merchant ships, don’t worry about the domain land revenue. The merchant ships are assumed to go where they can make money.
3. Pg. 111 Paying expenses. The reading confused me a little bit. Are you saying a lord must hire 2-4gp worth of mercenaries per peasant family? Can these mercenaries be mustered into the army for a war, or must they stay behind to protect the land? What happens if the former happens and nobody's there to protect/restrain the peasants?
ALEX: They needn’t be mercenaries, per se, but the lord has to maintain a fighting force costing 2-4gp worth of soldiers. For instance, if a Borderlands lord has 1,000 families, he’ll need to spend 3,000gp. That could be 50 knights (60gp/month) or 250 heavy foot (12gp/month). If he doesn’t maintain the fighting force, domain morale drops. If he takes the fighting force off onto a military campaign, domain morale drops. Reduced domain morale means less revenue and more peasants lost to various causes. A lord who is away at war for a long time may return to a domain in shambles.
4. What % of the male population can be pressed/hired into an army? FFC says 30% but only 15% at any one time is under arms.
ALEX: FFC’s 15%/30% seem to be based on the historical Roman Republic, which kept 10% of its males under arms at any times, and raised this to about 33% during the Punic Wars. However, this is among the HIGHEST rate of military participation of any settled population prior to the Industrial Revolution. Military participation rate was much lower in most other kingdoms, including the Roman Empire.
ALEX: In any event, in ACKS’ Domains at War, I assume that 20% of the population is men of fighting age (1 in 5), and that 10% of the men of fighting age can be impressed into the army, so 1 soldier per 10 families. This number can be increased but doing so will reduce domain morale and revenue.
5. Would a Lord granted land pay his 20% tribute to the king or to the baron above him? Does it flow up the pyramid as it were? Does the tribute of the baron to the earl include the profit from the 20% of the vassal below him?
ALEX: The baron’s 20% goes to his earl. The earl’s 20% goes to his duke. Etc. The tribute of the baron to the earl would include 20% of the profit of the baron’s vassals, yes.
MAGIC ITEMS
1. If magic swords are 1% intelligent, is this rolled for when a PC makes a sword? What happens if a PC makes a sword with permanent effect detect magic 3x per day then the sword turns out to be intelligent and can detect magic...?
ALEX: I didn’t include any provisions for a PC making an intelligent weapon, actually. That doesn’t mean I didn’t think it should be possible, I just hadn’t thought about it.
2. whats the loyalty of constructs? What if my magician wants to create a beautiful female construct what's her loyalty? Chance to disobey? Do they count as retainers? Does a created vampire from a retainer still remain loyal?
ALEX: These are great questions! Constructs are assumed to be loyal and don’t count as retainers. (Neither do charmed creatures). I didn’t understand your vampire question.
3. do wizard apprentices count as retainers?
ALEX: No, followers are not retainers.
4. thinking ahead here to the war-game. If creatures of 3-4+ hit dice count against your retainers, how do you field an army of 25 giants? (I'd post this in the war-game blog post, but I'm mortified at how many posts I made within 1 hour...)
ALEX: As an evil overlord, you’d hire them as mercenaries. A retainer represents a very close relationship, a personal bodyguard, a henchman. I’ll need to be explicit about this.
5. given the extremely small # appearing of 4+ hd creatures (reminicient of both the FFC 15% of budget limit, and the fact that fantasy creatures were 1:1 scale while goblins and elves were 1:20 and therefore in d&d have much higher # appearing; given this, given that giants have # appearing as 1-3, how do you get to 25 giants or more for a stand in the army? Can those 25 giants all throw rocks? Will they act as a battery of catapults? I personally like the individual nature of magical creatures in armies (which would count as retainers). How do you handle a battalion of basilisk?
ALEX: As above, you’d have to actively recruit them as mercenaries. (12 Hill Giants would be a Unit). It’d be fairly hard to field many Units of Giants. That said, in Domains at War, you can have Units of monsters, but large or tough monsters can also act as Heroes. Heroes can either support Units (leading them and fighting with them) or act as Independent Units, moving on the battlefield on their own.
ALEX: A Unit of Giants can hurl a ton of rocks. Hill Giants hurling rocks at medium range against, say, plate armored cavalry would probably wipe them out in one Battle Turn.
COMBAT SPECIAL MANEUVERS: 1. subdue pg. 99: subdual was to force surrender (and then make an offer of service) or force surrender to sell as a slave. In ACKs it seems it's purpose is to knock the victim unconcious, is this right? It sounds boring.
ALEX: I can count on one hand the number of times anyone ever has used subdual-to-slavery. On the other hand, people constantly want to deliver knock-out blows to “take them alive”. For what it’s worth, I think enslavement is better handled with the reaction rolls table and role-play than with OD&D’s subdual mechanics.
SAVING THROWS: 0- level man? I suggest 1 point worse than 1st level fighter.
ALEX: Thanks for noticing that. They got deleted somehow.
INVULNRABLE MONSTERS: In CM this was hero-1 (3hd or more) could harm fantastic foes that required a magic weapon to hit. ACKs pegs it at 5HD.
ALEX: Yes.
pg. 94 missile weapon ranges.
1. Ok. This looks like ad&d. CM and 0d&d took a different approach. Think of a mass combat. What range would 90% of arrow fire come at? short or long? Long of course. Arrows are a distance weapon. +2 to hit at short range, +1 at medium range, +0 at long range. This is balanced by the fact that at short range chances are, A) you're going to be in melee soon and wont get many arrows off, B) if you are firing at short range, chances are you're firing into melee and will hit your companions, C) can't pick your target. Ad&d was wrong with this. CM and 0d&d had it right.
2. Now, if you're talking about hitting a "specific" target at short medium or long range. Fine. 0/-2/-5, but not for just shooting at arrow at a host of goblins or firing into a melee. But you have "precise shooting" that adds another -4 on top of that. 0-level Mercenary archers are worse than storm troopers...
ALEX: As I noted earlier, the rules assume you are picking a specific target. If you’re shooting into a melee, it’ll likely be at 0 for range, but -4 for the melee. But you are right that we don’t have is a provision for shooting at a large group of targets and not caring which one you hit. I like that idea – basically you could reduce the range penalty if you are willing to let the arrow randomly hit.
INITIATIVE: As it stands, you have 10 second rounds...but you use d6 initiative, and max at 6th level spells. Ad&d went to the 10 segment round because of 7-9th level spells; something ACKs doesn't worry about in combat. If you're going to switch to 5' move squares and 10 second rounds, you might as well use d10 initiative, but if not...
Sell me on the 10 second round with a d6 initiative dice and 12' mvt. rate.
ALEX: The d6 is modified – with the + 3 DEX adjustment and +1 for Combat Reflexes proficiency, the maximum initiative roll you commonly see is around 10. The 10-second round works perfectly with this, should you care to think about it that way!

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