Using ACKS for a historical game?

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Kiero
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Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13
Using ACKS for a historical game?

Greetings!

Initially the mass combat system caught my attention, and now following subsequent discussion elsewhere, I'm interested in possibly using ACKS the whole of my game, not just the battle-scale stuff.

For a little bit of background, what I'm intending is something set in the Hellenistic era (note this is not "mythic Greece" or even "ancient Greece", but the time after Alexander the Great), possibly around 300BC when lots was still in flux and every Macedonian aristocrat fancied themselves king of the known world. There's an explosion of Greek culture amid incessant warfare and intrigue - in other words an era ripe for roleplaying in. If you haven't already seen it, check out the (free) BRP game Warlords of Alexander which is a great sourcebook even if you don't use the system.

The impact of this is that there's no magic, no monsters and no dungeons. I'm not interested in playing an alt-history game of "it's like the real world, but there's magic" and it would make a nice change from our usual pace to have a game without those usual tropes. Same goes for monsters, I'd hope the players might be a little more hesistant about wanton slaughter when their opponents are people. The third is my own personal preference, I can't stand dungeons and don't want to run them. Besides which, between raiding, trading and sellsword-ing there should be plenty of opportunities to make money.

Obviously what I'm planning is a pretty significant hack of the system, including dropping swathes of content. But I think the base of ACKS is robust enough to survive my ministrations.

Let's get on to some specifics that I'm curious about...

Classes and XP

Obviously, the Cleric and Mage classes are binned, along with anything else magic-oriented (and the non-human classes). That leaves me with Fighter, Thief, Assassin, Bard and Explorer. In the Homebrew forum, someone's done an Aristocrat, which seems to perfectly cover the D&D4e Warlord, which I was hoping to cater for.

How easy would it be to come up with an Expert/Scholar class, that covers things like philosophers, tutors, engineers and so on?

Onto a more fundamental question, the second part of this subsection: XP. I don't do beancounting and I refuse to get dragged into calculating, awarding and tracking the stuff. I like unified XP (ie it costs everyone the same amount to level up) precisely because it allows me to drop XP altogether and simply award levels at sensible-seeming intervals or junctures.

Given the rules for creating your own classes in the Player's Companion, and the rumoured expertise over here, what would you need to do in order to balance the Thief, mechanically, with the Fighter? Ie bring them up to the same XP progression. Same goes, I guess with anything else built on the Thief frame that assumes faster level progression.

Or alternatively, could I let everyone simply make up their own class, but with the same XP progression as the budget?

Saves

Relatively brief one. I'm not a big fan of the old-style five saves; is there an easy way to map them to the three used later on, ie Reflex, Fortitude and Will? If there isn't I'll just have to suffer them, but it's worth seeing if anyone has considered it.

Treasure

Next one isn't a major one, just an admin/housekeeping sort of thing. I'd like to use period-appropriate notations of wealth; silver owls and Persian gold darics, significant wealth measured in talents of weight, that sort of thing. How easy would that be to do, and has anyone considered an exchange rate?

A gross simplification would be to just call gold pieces silver pieces and shift everything along a category, but I thought I'd check first.

Levels and rulers

I really like the demographics that have been built into assumptions about level and frequency. They're a good benchmark for how good a character is. I've got a strong inclination, for the purposes of this game to cap level advancement at 9th. Will that cause any problems?

Something that doesn't quite sit well with me, though, is the automatic assumption that a ruler is high level. The tyrant who hires a group of PCs might be 0th level, but connected and with the political nous to keep themselves in their post. I could easily see the sort of situation arise where a PC is individually able to squash some lord like a bug, but that lord is connected and has bodyguards and armies at their beck and call, who could ruin the PC's stuff if they tried it.

Am I going to break anything by severing this connection, ie a lord could be any level whatsoever, the captain of their guard might be a higher level than them, members of the assembly would be all over the place from 0th level up and so on?

I'm not saying there aren't exceptional rulers, because this period is full of them. But there are also puppets and figureheads, politicians who've never handled a spear in anger, children being run by their regents and so on. What I'm arguing for here is variety. For every Demetrius Poliorcetes there's several Amyntas the Milds, non-entities who've ended up on the ivory chair with a diadem on their head because the assemblies of soldiers and coteries of powerful men decided to install someone pliable with the right heritage rather than split the kingdom in civil war.

Unarmed Combat

In the period I'm looking at, pankration is an essential part of a warrior's training. Are there any Profiencies for unarmed combat, so that the warrior who has spent lots of time on the sands of the palaestra is notably better than less-trained people at striking and grappling?

How easily can it be used in armed conflict? I'm thinking particularly of stuff like grappling a close opponent after you've been disarmed/broken your spear/lost your sword, or doing things like grabbing enemies shields and attacking them with them (twist to break their arm or slam it up into their jaw).

Armour

Another brief one, how would you map period-appropriate armours? I see them vaguely in three categories:
Light - leather or linen corselet.
Medium - light armour with greaves and vambraces; scale corselet, back and breast plate, mail (which is exceptionally rare outside of a few rich Celts).
Heavy - Full hoplite panoply, full-body suit of scale armour.

A brief question on shields, do they work against missile weapons? Reason I'm asking is there's a Persian arm protection made of lots of iron rings worn over the shield arm. In melee it functions as a shield, but of course it's useless against missiles.

Print availability

I'm in the UK. The only way I'm getting a print copy is if I can buy it here (shipping is extortinate). So far as I can see, Leisure Games seems to be the only UK company that stocks ACKS. Is there anyone else?

Asaris
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"How easy would it be to come up with an Expert/Scholar class, that covers things like philosophers, tutors, engineers and so on?"
It's not too hard, I wouldn't think, but it may be difficult to come up with one that players would want to play. Most of this stuff is covered by proficiencies in any case. It depends on what you want the class to be able to do.

"I like unified XP (ie it costs everyone the same amount to level up) precisely because it allows me to drop XP altogether and simply award levels at sensible-seeming intervals or junctures."
It probably depends on your players, but if they're reasonable people, I'd just do this and not worry if everything's exactly balanced. Without mages, and especially without elves, I'm not sure that there's enough of a difference in power levels between the classes to worry too much about it if you don't want to do the math.

Saves: I'm not sure you save enough energy in going to three saves for it to be worth the effort.

Armor: My understanding is that the ACKS armor table is already appropriate for the time period. But I'm no historian, so I could be wrong about this.

Asaris
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One more comment, on the level of rulers: Note that using the rules as written, a first level character ruling a domain is going to be getting scads of experience for it, and so won't be first level for long -- they'll be dead or they'll be an appropriate level.

Kiero
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Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

The Scholar/Expert doesn't have to necessarily be appealing to a player (though I never know with my lot whether someone might actually want to try it), but it would be useful as an NPC class if nothing else. I want them to be primarily a skillmonkey, one with loads of Proficiencies.

Given the Player's Companion gives you the guts of making a class, surely it's fairly simple to just alter the Thief, or make a new class to fill that role with the same XP progression?

I won't be awarding XP for anything, so I'm not seeing any reason to preserve the "ruling gives you XP" rule. Thus we could have 0th level rulers who've been there a long time - if it doesn't make sense for them to be anything else.

Ludanto
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I tried to resist, but I'm going to go ahead and be "that guy". Ahem.

This may not be the droid you're looking for.

ACKs is a well-oiled machine, and while it's also pretty durable, at its core its XP-for-treasure, bean-counting, and 14th-level-rulers. All of the politics and maneuvering and such are emergent from the rules, not the other way around.

Maybe I'm completely off base, but it seems like a lot of work for little gain, while simultaneously gutting what makes ACKs special.

Bah. I don't know. I'm a bad roleplayer anyway, and I don't see the point in leveling at all if it's just an arbitrary thing that happens for no real reason, so maybe my opinion isn't meaningful.

Um, anyway, ACKS does have "Combat Trickery (Maneuver)", which adds +2 to a certain maneuver (trip, grapple, etc) and penalizes the opponent's save by -2.

As for saves, if there's no magic and no dungeons, you'll hardly ever use them anyway. You might, however, map Petrification & Paralysis to Reflex, and Poison & Death to Fortitude. Without magic, there'd be no call for a Will save, but if you had to have one, I'd go with Staffs & Wands.

Anyway, good luck.

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

I agree with Ludanto. For the most part, the stuff you're pulling out is the stuff that ACKS added in. Have you considered just running something like E6 with Domains at War tacked on?

Or, you could abandon your quasi-cinematic, story-gamey, everyone-who-isn't-a-PC-or-a-villain-is-a-schmuck, I-don't-do-beancounting-we-level-up-whenever-the-mood-strikes-me style and embrace player agency and actual consequences. I did, and it's great over here.

I agree with you about saving throws though. I houseruled those.

Kiero
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Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Or I could, you know, play what I know I actually enjoy, based on over two decades of RPGing experience.

Ludanto
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I used to be right where Kiero is now, then I fell into the "system matters" story-game crowd, which led me back, by way of its cohesive system, to ACKs. I personally don't like "old-school" games. Their piecemeal nature and lack of focus are painful. I like ACKs specifically because it's better than that. :)

Of course, if I was going to do a high-drama, hand-wavy, game of thrones sort of thing, I'd use Reign or Burning Wheel or something. Right tool for the job and all that.

That's not to say that Kiero shouldn't do what Kiero wants, or is even really in an analogous situation. It's just that I see myself there, and feel compelled to offer what I feel is my insight to the situation.

(I also feel weird dissuading a sale on the Autarch forums. Everybody should buy ACKs, just because it's awesome.)

Kiero
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Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Ludanto - thanks for the saves-mapping, that's really helpful. Looks like I'll have to make up some Proficiencies for pankration, shouldn't be too hard.

I don't agree that it's a lot of work (frankly it's much less work than trying to bash Saga Edition's Feats into something sensible), and of course if I didn't think there was much gain, I wouldn't even be doing it!

I can certainly see that treasure is pretty essential (feeding into trade, domain management, building armies and so on), can't see that XP really matters, though. It's ultimately a pacing mechanic and nothing more.

LibraryLass
Joined: 2013-04-25 17:47

I might have said this on the RPGnet thread, but I'd add the unarmed combat proficiency from the player's companion onto other class's lists besides the Mystic if you want to make pankration a major feature.

Ludanto
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Ooh. Forgot about the PC.

Ludanto
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(Just as an aside, XP in ACKs isn't just a pacing mechanic. It's a score. You can't just show up and expect to live past a couple of levels. When played as written, you have to earn that XP. Having a 10th level character doesn't mean you've played a lot, it means that you've played well.)

Kiero
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Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Sorry Ludanto, that's the typical sort of old school thinking about levels I don't subscribe to at all. I'm intending this game to start at 5th level, I've go no time for shepherding a bunch of incompetents through the early levels. Neither I, nor my group have to "earn" anything in our entertainment time. The only yardstick that matters is our enjoyment, and low level D&D is far from fun for me.

Nerdnumber1
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Joined: 2013-03-08 18:02

I agree that xp calculation can be a tedious exercise, but it "earning" something doesn't mean that it isn't fun. In fact, many get more attached to their character having dragged them from a humble adventurer to a heroic conqueror. XP gives the party a sense that they are increasing in power gradually, through their own accomplishments and efforts, not just because the GM feels that (s)he wants to play with higher level monsters now so is arbitrarily handing you a level. I'm not saying you have to go with an xp system, only pointing out that there are reasons for it to exist.

One difficulty with dropping xp for ACKS is the different leveling speeds of the different classes. If you are looking to make classes with uniform leveling, consider different races as a possible model. Dwarves, for example, have little mechanically that can't be explained as a different skill set, but add skills and xp cost. Make a dwarf-thief type class to make a class with lots of different skills and proficiencies (maybe your scholar class?)

Look at the Venturer class in PC. It does have a little magic to take out, but it is an interesting mostly-non-magical class. Variety something you will need to boost if you take out half the classes in the game.

Ludanto
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I totally understand. I don't mean to imply that you have to "earn your fun" or anything, just that it's a score, just like in nearly every other game out there. If you're just out there tossing the ball around and not keeping score, that's fun too. I'm just saying that it's a design consideration that you'll want to take into account.

Kiero
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Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Indeed, didn't mean to come out as harsh as that, I've just heard this argument many, many times over the years. :)

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Kiero - Great to see you giving ACKS a try! Hellenistic Greece is one of my personal favorite eras of history, and is ripe for ACKS-style gaming. As it happens, I've also given some thought as to how you can introduce high level characters into a plausible historical world. So here's my advice!

CLASSES
You absolutely can have your players use the Player's Companion to design their own classes.

If you have the Player's Companion, you should include the Barbarian and the Venturer into your campaign. You'll need to modify the Venturer so that at higher level he gains bonus proficiencies instead of spells.

You might also consider introducing a version of the Machinist (removing the Dwarven racial powers) that could simulate a character like Archimedes of Syracuse or Hero of Alexandria. Allowing the PCs to field some of the wonders of Hellenistic technology could be justified from the history. Archimedes is attested to have built marvelous weapons such as "the ship shaker" and the "heat ray", Hero to have built a working steam engine, and of course Demetrius I built a "taker of cities" (125' siege tower) and 180' long battering ram. Not to mention the marvelous anthykera mechanism.

The Mystic, with minor tweaking, could be an exotic character class hailing from the mysterious kingdoms beyond Bactria.

XP
In terms of balancing the classes, one thing that's worth noting is that plate armor is less common in this setting, so the ability of fighters to wear plate is less useful. Therefore fighters are probably only at about 1,850xp/level instead of 2,000xp/level. That means the thief, assassin, and bard need to be increased to about the range of 1,850xp.

Therefore, if you want to put all the classes on the same foot XP-wise, without rebuilding everything from scratch using the PC, the following "hacks" could help:
1) Thief: Increase thief HD from d4 to d6 and allow thieves to fight with weapon-and-shield.
2) Assassin: All assassins get Skirmishing as a class power.
3) Bard: Allow bards to wear medium armor and use shields. All bards begin with Performance (rhetoric) as well as one other Performance proficiency.
These are not perfect, but certainly very close.

With regard to XP as "book-keeping", in ACKS at least XP is intended as an *incentive*. The assumption is that all player activities are driven by a desire to get XP, so that real-world behavior of getting XP drives in-game behavior of accumulating wealth, establishing kingdoms, conquering domains, etc. If you have players who will "do what makes sense" in the context of your setting without this incentive, you can certainly do without it, but I've found that in an ACKS-like sandbox the XP is a meaningful incentive.

If you want something more rules-light that allows you to increase the character's level while still incentivizing them, you might try a staged system like this...
- To reach 3rd level, you must have accumulated at least 50% of that level's XP in wealth and possessions
- To reach 5th level, you must have at least 4 henchmen (or max by CHA)
- To reach 7th level, you must have established a domain
- To reach 9th level, you must have established a realm (domain with vassals)
- To reach 10th level, your realm must be at least county sized
- To reach 11th level, your realm must be at least
- To reach 12th level, your realm must be at least principality sized
- To reach 13th level, your realm must be at least kingdom sized
- To reach 14th level, your realm must be empire sized

TREASURE
ACKS prices were actually designed to be historically accurate, although because precious metals and various items varied in price in time and place, it's not perfect for any particular era. That said, it's *really easy* to convert ACKS to Hellenistic Greece.

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

1 Athenian talent is about 60lb of silver. In ACKS, there are 100 coins per pound, so 1 Athenian talent is 6000 coins. There are (100 x 60) 6,000 drachma per Athenian talent.

However, during the Hellenistic era the average soldier received 1-2 drachma per day in pay. We can associate this with D@W wages of 6gp (light infantry) to 12gp (heavy infantry) per month. With 1gp=10sp and 1 month = 30 days, that translates to a wage of (60/30) = 2sp/day to (120/30) = 4sp/day.

Therefore, you can convert ACKS to historical prices simply by halving all prices, wages, and loot drops; or by saying there are 200 coins per pound instead of 100 coins per pound while keeping the ACKS numbers the same (so the same weight of silver has equivalent value).

UNARMED COMBAT
An Unarmed Fighting proficiency is available in Player's Companion. I've excerpted it below for your convenience.

Unarmed Fighting: The character is an expert in striking with fist and feet. When brawling (see ACKS p.109), he may deal lethal damage. He can punch or kick characters in metal armor without himself taking damage.

Combat Trickery (Force Back, Incapacitate, Knock Down, Overrun, and Wrestling) would also be appropriate.

RULER LEVEL
By default, ACKS assumes that every normal man possesses the ability to become 14th level. To have rulers who aren't high level, change this assumption. Maximum level is a characteristic rated 0 to 14.

When a character is created, roll 1d100 to determine max level. Add the character's CHA bonus and his father's maximum level to the die roll.

01-77 1st level
78-91 2nd level
92-97 3rd level
98-99 4th level
100+ Roll again on Heroic Level table (1d100), adding any value above 100 to next roll

01-60 5th level
61-75 6th level
76-83 7th level
84-88 8th level
89-91 9th level
92-93 10th level
94-95 11th level
96-97 12th level
98-99 13th level
100+ 14th level

EXAMPLE: Alexander of Macedon (CHA 18) is born to Philip of Macedon (13th level Fighter). Alexander rolls for his maximum level. He rolls an 94 on 1d100, for a total of (94+3 CHA bonus + 13 father's level) 110. That means he gets to roll on the Heroic Level table at +10! He rolls 1d100 and gets a 90, +10 = 100. Alexander can achieve 14th level. Everyone who interacts with him at a young age can tell he has great promise of greatness.

ARMOR
The ACKS armors are already correlated with historical armors of antiquity. No modification is necessary. Plate Armor could, in theory, be worn (it would be a full hoplite panoply plus arm armor) but the heaviest armor is usually AC 4 (chain) or AC 5 (hoplite panoply without armor armor, or lamellar armor).

Kiero
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Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Alex - thank you for a great game! I never thought I'd be looking at an OSR-type game, but I guess there's a first time for everything.

Classes - good thoughts there, lots to work with. As you say, there's plenty of historical precedent for inventors and the like. I just finished Christan Cameron's Tyrant: Destroyer of Cities today, which features the siege of Rhodes.

XP - those tweaks to existing classes are really useful. Does anything need to be done about their variant save/Proficiency progression?

With regards XP-as-incentive, my group doesn't need it. But having progression milestones (have this much wealth, gather this many followers, etc) isn't a bad idea at all.

Treasure - thanks for that. Rather handily, once the treasuries of Persia had been opened onto the market, for a goodly time the silver:gold exchange rate was conveniently around 10:1. So I have an idea how much the odd bit of Persian gold is worth, when it turns up.

Unarmed combat - those two are probably more than sufficient to turn the pankrationist into an engine of destruction, even without a weapon.

Ruler level - that works. Part of the fun is that rather than always assuming a ruler is going to be high level, the player simply won't know. Is the guy who seems to be an ineffectual puppet really a fool or just a good actor with a setup that catches out potential enemies?

Armour - I figured as much, there isn't really much conversion necessary in any of the D&D standard armours. There isn't much mail around, though, unless someone's playing a rich Celt.

Kiero
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Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Oh, and one other thing. The only UK outlet that seems to stock ACKS is Leisure Games, and they seem to be all out. When is the second printing planned?

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

Thanks for the kind words on the game. I'm glad you are digging it. I haven't read Christian Cameron's Tyrant, but it sounds awesome! I was an Ancient History major as an undergraduate, and did my senior seminar on siege weaponry of the ancient world.

XP - I don't know how to account for the variant saves, really, in the XP progression; given no magic, no giant scorpions, no giant spiders, etc. saves will be less important, so I wouldn't worry about it. You might consider giving every class the Fighter proficiency progression (the fastest one) - that will enable your players to have more proficiencies with which to differentiate their characters in the absence of magic and magic items.

As far as UK retail, we are working on the second printing right now. We are probably 1-2 weeks from going to print, which means 8-12 weeks from distribution. If you need a hardcopy ASAP, I could ship you one of our 1st printing books from here in the office if you can Paypal us the price + shipping; but with freight charges being what they are these days it's an expensive option.

Incidentally, I worked this up a while back:

ALEXANDER THE GREAT, 14th level Fighter
Strength 14
Intelligence 18
Wisdom 12
Dexterity 18
Constitution 18
Charisma 18

Alignment: Lawful
AC: 9
HP: 82
Languages: Greek, Macedonian, Persian, Thracian
Class Proficiencies: Combat Reflexes, Command, Endurance, Manual of Arms, Running
General Proficiencies: Adventuring, Diplomacy, Knowledge (Philosophy), Leadership, Military Strategy 3, Riding (Horses)

Equipment: Lance, short sword, shield, lamellar armor, heavy helm

Domains at War Characteristics
Leadership Ability: 8
Strategic Ability: 6
Morale Modifier: 6

Notes:
Strength: Alexander is notably fit and strong but not overly so.
Intelligence: Alexander's undeniable brilliance in war and politics certainly place him in the top 0.5% of human intelligence. Whether he was solving the Gordian Knot, capturing the Sogdian Rock, or besieging Tyre, his ingenuity knew no bounds.
Wisdom: Alexander was strong-willed and confident, but also prone to bouts of drinking and emotional excess. I have assigned him a Wisdom which is above average, but not high enough to help him avoid his nemesis.
Dexterity: Alexander frequently accomplished great feats of dexterity. As a child he mastered a powerful warhorse. He famously beat his own bodyguard, Cleitus the Black, in a key initiative roll. He was reputed a very swift runner who might have competed in the Olympiad 200m but refused because the other runners were not kings.
Constitution: Alexander's endurance is legendary. He survived wound after wounds that would have killed most men. He survived the march through the Gedrosian Desert when all around him men dropped dead of sunstroke and dehydration.
Charisma: One of the few historical figures labeled The Great, he was worshipped as a god in his own lifetime and proclaimed 'master of the Universe' by the Egyptians. One doesn't rate Alexander's Charisma relative to an 18. One rates Charisma 18 relative to Alexander.

Proficiencies: Combat Reflexes, Command, Diplomacy, Manual of Arms, Leadership, and Military Strategy 3 are all self-evident from his historical accomplishments. Endurance represents his almost super-human stamina on the march. Running reflects his reputed Olympic-level speed. His taming of Bucephalus and lifelong positions as a cavalryman justify Riding (Horses). (He probably merits Animal Training, too, but alas Alexander had no more proficiency slots.) Knowledge (Philosophy) is from his tutoring by Aristotle.

Domains at War Characteristics: These are all at the maximum possible rank. Simply put, you do not want to face Alexander on the battlefield.

[People on the forums mostly think that I rate Alexander too highly, but I say they're just jealous they didn't roll 4 18s. :P]

Kiero
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Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

XP - I was wondering about just giving everyone the Fighter progression for Proficiencies, now I'm convinced I should.

Given my inclination towards capping advancement at 9th or maybe 10th level, I'm wondering about giving out a General Proficiency every level, since that does a nice job of rounding people out without making them demigods of battle (well, except mass combat if they go with Military Strategy).

UK retail - I can wait; our group is waiting to reform after a birth-related hiatus, and even then it's back to historical Mage: the Awakening before I get a slot. Unless the GM is too knackered to run anything.

Alexander - he makes an appearance in the second Tyrant novel, and gets beaten for his troubles (this is against the Scythians). Cameron also wrote one of the many, many historical fiction novels about Alexander's life.

Ever thought about statting up the equally colourful (if not as brilliant, due to how erratic he was) Demetrius Poliorcetes? I've heard of fewer figures from history who could have been described as dying from boredom.

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

RE: Demetrius Poliorcetes, I'd have to refresh myself on the details of his history, but from what I remember he certainly merited a high INT and CHA, but perhaps a WIS that was not as high as one might like...

One of the bonus goals for Domains at War is a series of historical battles. I wonder if doing the assault on Rhodes should go in there. That would be amazing to play on a tabletop at brigade scale.

 

Cgeist7
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Hi Alex / Kiero.

I'm very new to ACKS as well, love the system and am planning on running Microscope type "zoom in, zoom out" against the backdrop of conquering Brittania and political machinations in Rome.

Anyways, just wanted to say that I'm really enjoying this discussion.

Alex, have you worked up any Roman historical figures?

CG7

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

I haven't, no! I was thinking that I'd start with Scipio Africanus so I could pit him against Hannibal. Of course, there's so many awesome Roman generals to pick from!

LibraryLass
Joined: 2013-04-25 17:47

Yes, dude, yes.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Alright, so reading over the treasure conversion again; couldn't I halve the values, call them silver drachmae rather than silver pieces, and just assume the weights are adjusted so there's still 100 coins to the pound of weight?

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

Yes, you should just be able to conver to SP, reduce the prices by 1/2, and have close-to-historical prices. So, for example, a heavy infantry makes(12gp x 10sp/gp x 1 drachma/2sp) 60 drachma per month. A warhorse costing 250gp (2,500sp) becomes 1,250 drachma. 

Going the other way, Bucephalus, at 13 talents, costs 7,800 drachma. That would then be 15,600sp or 1,560gp in normal ACKS.

 

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Another random one. Ships and naval combat are an extremely important part of this era. How easily do the polyremes (trireme, quadrireme, quinquireme, etc) map to the generic ships listed?

Does naval combat account for stuff like rower condition (how well motivated, fit, well-fed and fatigued)?

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

ACKS offers 3 types of galleys:

Small Galley - 60 rowers. This is a bireme or penteconter.

Large Galley - 180 rowers. This is a trireme.

War Galley - 300 rowers. This is a quinquereme.

You could probably extrapolate from the structural hit points and speeds of these three to cover any other galley types you'd want to include.

There are no specific rules for rower condition. By default, ACKS assumes you can engage in 50 minutes of physical activity and then need to rest for 10 minutes. You could easily modify these rules, I think, to get the effect you want. 

One thing about rower condition that I find interesting is that, in re-enactment tests, modern athletes cannot sustain the routine rowing speeds described in the ancient sources (or wear hoplite armor long enough to fight a battle). You'll have to decide if you want to base your fatigue rules on what the ancient sources say, or what the modern re-enactments suggest. I personally think th ancient sources are right (why would they lie about the day-to-day?) and that modern athletes are just epigenetically weaker.  The book Manthropology has some great information on this. 

Antiquities
Joined: 2013-07-05 19:55

.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

Excellent. A hemiola is also a Small Galley (since it's also 60 oars).

As you say, from those you can extrapolate others; the trihemiola is neatly between Small and Large, having around 120 rowers. A four is probably about the same sort of size (apparently they were around 60 tons to a fives 100 tons). So there's a Medium Galley category that could be slotted between the two.

On the modern rowers conundrum, one interesting tidbit I saw was that there may be an issue with the size of the reconstructed vessels - namely that modern people are bigger than their ancient counterparts, making using ships designed for shorter people more tiring. I agree, though, that it doesn't make sense for ancient sources to lie about something so ordinary.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13
I've just realised, a four is between Large and War, not between Large and Small. So there is a Medium Galley category needed, but also a fifth one (possibly by splitting War Galley).
 
 
I'm looking at the excellent Judges Screen, which has some nice summaries of stuff (I remember making one of these back when I was GMing AD&D2e), and noting something that stands out to me.
 
 
Encumbrance - I think I've seen a houserule applying Strength to it. Add (or subtract) your Str mod to each category?
 
Saves - would it skew the maths badly if I allowed Dex mod to apply to Reflex (Petrification/Paralysis), Con mod to apply to Fortitude (Death/Poison), and Wis mod to Will (Staffs/Wands)?
 
Overland travel - and remounts. Do the overland travel rates account, at all, for having remounts? Because if you've got spare horses for everyone, you can travel a lot faster than you would if you were trying to preserve one mount.
 
Nerdnumber1
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-03-08 18:02

The reason ACKS encumbrance is strength independent (save for dealing with maximum load) is because fighter-types were running around as quickly as thief types in play-testing, and it was determined that this was far too silly. I'm not saying you can't change it, but Alex has often surprised me with intricate explanations when there is a question about why the rules are what they are.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

I've gone with the lower of Str and Con is the bonus, which should reduce that. In any case, not even the strongest, fittest character can wear the full panoply and run around in my game (because shields). So it's more peripheral than anything else.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

One of the neat things about older games was the possibility for unplanned encounters while out and about in the world. While the existing tables are already helpfully divided into wilderness and dungeon (thus I can happily ignore the latter), if the Expert set is anything to go by, there’s still some fantastical in the tables that do still apply. They being Animals and Men, which have giant and fantastical creatures in the former, and things like magic users and clerics in the latter.

I wonder if it’s worth genericising the animal tables, for example to say “herd, large” or “predators, small pack”; then I could adapt on the spot to whatever is appropriate for the terrain. Or is that too much messing about?

I could also do with a Natural Events table, which might describe things like floods, landslides, earthquakes, eruptions and so on. In the case of the extreme ones, I’m imagining coming upon the scene of one that has already happened is more likely than one occurring while the PCs are in the area. Maybe those tables might be split into aftermath and active or something?

Anyone given this any thought?

Maticore
Dwimmermount BackerDomains At War Contributor
Joined: 2012-04-16 15:29

If you've ever gotten a look at the 1e Oriental Adventures book, it has excellent tables for randomly generating events like wars, earthquakes, assassinations, deaths from old age, and such. You roll out large events for the year, then roll out monthly events from sub tables.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

You can't have a game involving Hellenistic cultures without consideration of ships, they were vital for trade and warfare. I'm looking at the Expert set which I'm presuming ACKS hews fairly close to in terms of stats and such.

There's some obvious, easy mapping of types (discussed with Alex on the Autarch forum):

  • Small Galley - bireme, hemiola, pentekonter
  • Large Galley - trireme
  • War Galley - quadrireme/tetrere, quinquireme/pentere

To which I need to add a new category of Medium Galley, covering trihemiolas. These were smaller, fast vessels, favoured by Rhodes in particular as pirate-hunters. Length 90'-120', Beam 10'-15', Draft 2'-3'. Standard crew is 120 rowers, 15 sailors, 10-20 marines, 1 captain. Capacity 30,000cn plus crew. May have a ram (1/3 extra cost). Movement rate: Miles/day: 18/72, Feet/round: 90/135. Hull points 90-105.

Some alterations to the stats there (at least as far as what I can see in the Expert booklet):

  • All ships: artillery are not installed as standard. Ballistae (actually torsion engines) might be installed on warships, in place of light catapults.
  • Small Galley: Crew: 5-10 marines.
  • Large Galley (trireme): Crew: 10-30 marines - smaller complement was more usual for a trireme. Always has a ram.
  • War Galley (quadrireme): Use the lower end of size/hull points estimates. Movement rate: Miles/day: 15/72, Feet/round: 75/120 - fours were notably fast and maneuverable for their size. Crew: 230 rowers, 20 sailors, 50-75 marines. Capacity: 70,000cn (whatever the conversion is to stones in ACKS).
  • War Galley (quinquireme): Use upper end of size/hull points estimates. Crew: 20-30 sailors, 70-120 marines - fives could carry bigger marine complements than fours.

Essentially we're splitting the War Galley into two classes. There were, of course, even bigger ships (the Ptolemies and Antigonids liked their "sixes" and "sevens"), but they'll be dealt with individually, as special cases because I don't think there was any kind of consistency when it came to those monsters.

What I'd also like to discuss is more customisation of vessels; if my PCs get hold of a ship or two, I'm expecting they might want to spend their loot to make their trick ride even spiffier. I remember AD&D2e's setting Spelljammer had stuff about modifying ships, which might have been based on some stuff from the AD&D2e PHB/DMG.

Broadly there's two dimensions upon which to apply customisation: crew and ship. Changes to crew are a tricky balance, more people means more weight (people and provisions), which means slower travel. But it might also mean more fighting capacity (if you add marines), fresher crews (if you can rotate rowers and sailors). It would be nice to be able to consider the condition of rowers too; their fitness, skill, fatigue and morale. There should be a difference between one ship with a crew of well-motivated and experienced free men at the oars, an another with some beaten-down slaves chained to their benches. Similarly a well-oiled crew used to working under their trierarch should be snappier than one comprised of new hires under a novice captain.

As far as ship goes, again more weight generally means slower travel. There's a wealth of things you can do here. Decking is one; having it means it's easy to get around on top and the uppermost deck of rowers are protected from missiles and the elements (though they're also much hotter). Not having it means you save on some weight and the rowers get better ventilation. Towers for artillery or platforms (or baskets in the rigging) for archers. Thickening or thinning the hull. Topping out the rigging, or stripping it away. For certain variations you could remove the masts entirely or change the internal arrangements for transport.

Has anyone given any thought to expanding on ships?

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

I've posted my mostly-complete hack in the House Rules forum, but for some reason it isn't displayed on the forum view.