Caverns of Thracia and ACKS

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demoss
Joined: 2012-02-04 10:44
Caverns of Thracia and ACKS

I was interested to read that CoT was part campaigns ACKS grew out of: http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/309988-caverns-thrac...
I have both the 3.5e version and the original one, and I'm looking forward to running it soonish. So, some questions...
I see that people seem to be running the original one using old-school rules and starting with 1st level rules just fine, but the remake is recommended for levels 3+. Any idea what gives there? Just changes expectations re. character mortality, or something else?
Over at Mule Abides, Tavis tells how his players hit a bit of a wall: https://muleabides.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/when-players-frustrate-thems... I'm wondering if this was using the extra treasure as recommended in the EN World post above, or with the standard stocking?
I also see that the Wandering Monster tables from the original CoT and the remake seem pretty different -- which can go some ways towards explaining the differences, as can different schools of "Wandering Monsters Have/Don't Have Treasure". Hm. Any ideas?

Tavis
Joined: 2011-07-01 15:40

Alex used CoT in his Auran Empire campaign too. One of the key moments in ACKS' development was at Gen Con '09, when Greg and I got together at Gen Con after he'd moved from NYC to Durham. He was telling me about the awesomeness of the old-school campaign he was playing in, and I was like "hmm that sounds a lot like Thracia, must learn more!"
I think the best thing about the remake is the clarification of the maps. I like Jaquays' original cartography style, but cross-comparing with the Necromancer version of the maps and using them to mark up the originals with (for example) which areas a staircase went to was very helpful.
We ran it using 3rd level OD&D characters and initial mortality was still high, which is fine my me. The most obvious entrances to the dungeon tend to have organized resistance, which leads to some bloody battles on both sides. In an ACKS game you might want to give characters a patron who can supply them with gold to hire men-at-arms to take out this aboveground resistance. You might also let them discover a way into the dungeon that's less defended, for example by following the underground river that runs beneath the bridge of Grastic the giant gnome. I would strongly recommend creating a town nearby to provide a home base, and also a place to find patrons or rumors of dungeon entrances, sell treasures taken from the caverns, carouse, etc.
The wall-hitting happened before Alex suggested the 4:1 ratio of XP from treasure to combat in a comment at the Mule, which was another key event in ACKS' development; starting to play that way both made my campaign a proto-ACKS and caused everyone to have more fun.

demoss
Joined: 2012-02-04 10:44

Cool stuff!
Nice to know that 4:1 XP should help prevent the overly bloody noses.

Alex
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

In the Auran Empire campaign, I used a heavily modified Caverns of Thracia for portions of Old Zahar and its predecessor kingdom, Thrassia. (Thrassia obviously inspired by Thracia, but the double s makes it more evil!).
If you stick with the 4:1 gold to xp ratio, your players will not hit a wall in leveling. There are definitely peaks and valleys in advancement, but the ratio works from 1st to 14th level. In the early campaign you'll see level advancement at about 1 level per 3 sessions. By about 6th-7th level the rate will have slowed, such that it will be 1 level per 4-5 sessions. By 14th level the rate will have been about 1 per 5 sessions.

Veilheim
Joined: 2012-02-17 20:39

Dredging up an old topic -- Alex/Tavis, do you mean hold the ratio of experience gained from gold to 4 gold equals 1 experience point?

Tavis
Joined: 2011-07-01 15:40

No, that there should be about 4 gold to be found for every 1 XP worth of monsters to be fought. If you don't want to add more treasure to the dungeon per se, you might create a market for Thracian artifacts, maps of the Caverns, etc. so that retrieving artifacts and gathering information helps make sure ACKS characters are profiting appropriately from the challenges they face.

demoss
Joined: 2012-02-04 10:44

For what it's worth, the way I've been doing this in my game is using mostly the stocking in the original Caverns of Thracia module, but multiplying the value of things by 1.5-5 (whatever seems appropriate) whenever I see amount of XP from fights exceeding the 4:1 ratio.