Let's Read ACKS Core at RPG.net

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thirdkingdom
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after I said my piece on cost of living on the thread, I went to talk to my players since it seemed like a necessary assumption and it turns out they've all been paying the appropriate (though minimum) cost for adventurers levels 5-7.  Even doing this, they were eager to spend something in the realm of 3 months on downtime activities, so I'm not sure why Thirdkingdom's game seems to have so much more heavy of a push to constantly adventure.


-Jard

 

I don't know!  I think part of it is because we started off with the intent of having it more of a hexploration type of game, instead of dungeon crawling, and they've been pretty cautious while exploring, as well.  They've got a pretty massive mercenary army and henchmen trees, as well as a bunch of workers they've hired, so their cash outlay is pretty substantial.  All of them set 25k aside for this three month downtime, and will mostly burn through that.  However, the Company itself has another 100k in the bank, so it's not like they're going to go broke immediately.

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

This has been a really fascinating thread to read, because it reveals to me the areas where people find friction in the rules. A few notes:

1. I should have done a better job of explaining the benefits of exploration speed in the rules, and making it explicit what the penalties are for not moving at exploration speed. When I run ACKS, characters moving at exploration speed gain the following advantages: (a) because they are watching their footing, they only set off traps on a 1-2 on 1d6; (b) because they are counting paces and estimating distances, they are given explicit dimensions of rooms and hallways and permitted to map their progress; (c) because they are moving cautiously, they are not automatically detected by passively alert creatures; and (d) if Elves or other characters with Alertness they can spot secret doors. It was not my intent that it allowed automatic searching for traps, though it merits playtesting to see if that should be the official rule. It would require some re-engineering of other mechanics, though.

2. Changing spell repertoire was deliberately made costly and time-consuming. It's not intended to be like the Wizards or Sorcerers of 5E; it's unique to ACKS. The idea is that any given mage has a bundle of spells he's "in practice" with and then a larger set he could practice. Learning those takes time and money, and you can't stay practiced in everything because there's only so many hours in the day and so much space in working memory. The reason it is cheaper to learn spells when your repertoire increases with level/INT is analagous to why it's easier to learn a foreign languae when you're living in a country versus studying it in school on the side - the former is organic learning that happens naturally, the latter is not.

3. The costs of living are not intended to be required in the same way that, e.g., attack rolls are required. Much of the ACKS system is economic guidelines and expectation-setting, not rules-as-physics. One of the things I intend to explore in AXIOMS is explaining exactly what is being spent.

Jard
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Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

This has been a really fascinating thread to read, because it reveals to me the areas where people find friction in the rules. A few notes:

1. I should have done a better job of explaining the benefits of exploration speed in the rules, and making it explicit what the penalties are for not moving at exploration speed. When I run ACKS, characters moving at exploration speed gain the following advantages: (a) because they are watching their footing, they only set off traps on a 1-2 on 1d6; (b) because they are counting paces and estimating distances, they are given explicit dimensions of rooms and hallways and permitted to map their progress; (c) because they are moving cautiously, they are not automatically detected by passively alert creatures; and (d) if Elves or other characters with Alertness they can spot secret doors. It was not my intent that it allowed automatic searching for traps, though it merits playtesting to see if that should be the official rule. It would require some re-engineering of other mechanics, though.

2. Changing spell repertoire was deliberately made costly and time-consuming. It's not intended to be like the Wizards or Sorcerers of 5E; it's unique to ACKS. The idea is that any given mage has a bundle of spells he's "in practice" with and then a larger set he could practice. Learning those takes time and money, and you can't stay practiced in everything because there's only so many hours in the day and so much space in working memory. The reason it is cheaper to learn spells when your repertoire increases with level/INT is analagous to why it's easier to learn a foreign languae when you're living in a country versus studying it in school on the side - the former is organic learning that happens naturally, the latter is not.

3. The costs of living are not intended to be required in the same way that, e.g., attack rolls are required. Much of the ACKS system is economic guidelines and expectation-setting, not rules-as-physics. One of the things I intend to explore in AXIOMS is explaining exactly what is being spent.


-Alex

To me, the "traps only trigger on 1-2 on d6" is the extent of the "automatically searching for traps".  If you're moving faster than exploration movement, every trap triggers without warning.

thirdkingdom
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Joined: 2013-07-07 09:01

This has been a really fascinating thread to read, because it reveals to me the areas where people find friction in the rules. A few notes:

1. I should have done a better job of explaining the benefits of exploration speed in the rules, and making it explicit what the penalties are for not moving at exploration speed. When I run ACKS, characters moving at exploration speed gain the following advantages: (a) because they are watching their footing, they only set off traps on a 1-2 on 1d6; (b) because they are counting paces and estimating distances, they are given explicit dimensions of rooms and hallways and permitted to map their progress; (c) because they are moving cautiously, they are not automatically detected by passively alert creatures; and (d) if Elves or other characters with Alertness they can spot secret doors. It was not my intent that it allowed automatic searching for traps, though it merits playtesting to see if that should be the official rule. It would require some re-engineering of other mechanics, though.

2. Changing spell repertoire was deliberately made costly and time-consuming. It's not intended to be like the Wizards or Sorcerers of 5E; it's unique to ACKS. The idea is that any given mage has a bundle of spells he's "in practice" with and then a larger set he could practice. Learning those takes time and money, and you can't stay practiced in everything because there's only so many hours in the day and so much space in working memory. The reason it is cheaper to learn spells when your repertoire increases with level/INT is analagous to why it's easier to learn a foreign languae when you're living in a country versus studying it in school on the side - the former is organic learning that happens naturally, the latter is not.

3. The costs of living are not intended to be required in the same way that, e.g., attack rolls are required. Much of the ACKS system is economic guidelines and expectation-setting, not rules-as-physics. One of the things I intend to explore in AXIOMS is explaining exactly what is being spent.


-Alex
Do you have any comments on spells being different from B/X,?
jedavis
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>> I'm not sure why Thirdkingdom's game seems to have so much more heavy of a push to constantly adventure.

> I don't know! I think part of it is because we started off with the intent of having it more of a hexploration type of game, instead of dungeon crawling, and they've been pretty cautious while exploring, as well. They've got a pretty massive mercenary army and henchmen trees, as well as a bunch of workers they've hired, so their cash outlay is pretty substantial. All of them set 25k aside for this three month downtime, and will mostly burn through that. However, the Company itself has another 100k in the bank, so it's not like they're going to go broke immediately.

Wow, when I run low-wilderness-level (5-7) games my players usually struggle to make payroll and dump any remaining cash into boats, more mercs, rarely reserve XP, mostly fortifications (a favorite because they yield immediate, threshold-exempt domain XP for spending gold with no chance of failure and very small ongoing costs). If they took a month off (or just had a bum haul on an adventure), their hirelings would start deserting. And that's with zero cost of living - nearly every gold piece they earn gets pumped into something as soon as it's available (except for one or two kgp per player kept on hand for RL&Ls - 25k per player is an order of magnitude more disposable gold than I'd expect to see).

My suspicion is that this behavior is partly just personality (group dominated by optimizing tech nerds), and partly a reaction to slow leveling rates and high mortality. The logic goes that if you have 500gp, you can hold onto it and maybe die before getting to spend it, or you can spend it on castle and get 250 XP that might let you level sooner and live longer. Buying magic items is very dependent on availability (and hidden in the Secrets chapter), spell research is so unreliable and gametime-expensive that payroll costs dominate, you're probably already functionally capped out on henchmen (and the utility of one more henchman must be balanced against the ongoing wages and XP-share costs), mercenaries have ongoing costs, limited availability, and limited utility, and trade goods have a combination of limited availability, high gametime-costs to buy and sell, and high hassle-factor. Agricultural investment is a sound long-term approach (costs roughly 182gp/family on average, which yields 6-7gp/mo and pays for itself in 24-30 months), but unreliable at low volumes and the XP gain is very much dependent on campaign XP threshold. Historically we've found ourselves with mostly sub-threshold wilderness domains and campaigns ranging from 12 to 18 game-months, such that on the margin 250XP now is better than the possibility of 20XP/mo later (if you ever cross the threshold). Fortresses-for-XP is definitely the sort of pit that a greedy algorithm would fall into, but I'm not sure it's actually bad play under the circumstances.

But we're probably doin' it wrong.

thirdkingdom
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Joined: 2013-07-07 09:01

>> I'm not sure why Thirdkingdom's game seems to have so much more heavy of a push to constantly adventure. > I don't know! I think part of it is because we started off with the intent of having it more of a hexploration type of game, instead of dungeon crawling, and they've been pretty cautious while exploring, as well. They've got a pretty massive mercenary army and henchmen trees, as well as a bunch of workers they've hired, so their cash outlay is pretty substantial. All of them set 25k aside for this three month downtime, and will mostly burn through that. However, the Company itself has another 100k in the bank, so it's not like they're going to go broke immediately. Wow, when I run low-wilderness-level (5-7) games my players usually struggle to make payroll and dump any remaining cash into boats, more mercs, rarely reserve XP, mostly fortifications (a favorite because they yield immediate, threshold-exempt domain XP for spending gold with no chance of failure and very small ongoing costs). If they took a month off (or just had a bum haul on an adventure), their hirelings would start deserting. And that's with zero cost of living - nearly every gold piece they earn gets pumped into something as soon as it's available (except for one or two kgp per player kept on hand for RL&Ls - 25k per player is an order of magnitude more disposable gold than I'd expect to see). My suspicion is that this behavior is partly just personality (group dominated by optimizing tech nerds), and partly a reaction to slow leveling rates and high mortality. The logic goes that if you have 500gp, you can hold onto it and maybe die before getting to spend it, or you can spend it on castle and get 250 XP that might let you level sooner and live longer. Buying magic items is very dependent on availability (and hidden in the Secrets chapter), spell research is so unreliable and gametime-expensive that payroll costs dominate, you're probably already functionally capped out on henchmen (and the utility of one more henchman must be balanced against the ongoing wages and XP-share costs), mercenaries have ongoing costs, limited availability, and limited utility, and trade goods have a combination of limited availability, high gametime-costs to buy and sell, and high hassle-factor. Agricultural investment is a sound long-term approach (costs roughly 182gp/family on average, which yields 6-7gp/mo and pays for itself in 24-30 months), but unreliable at low volumes and the XP gain is very much dependent on campaign XP threshold. Historically we've found ourselves with mostly sub-threshold wilderness domains and campaigns ranging from 12 to 18 game-months, such that on the margin 250XP now is better than the possibility of 20XP/mo later (if you ever cross the threshold). Fortresses-for-XP is definitely the sort of pit that a greedy algorithm would fall into, but I'm not sure it's actually bad play under the circumstances. But we're probably doin' it wrong.

-jedavis

 

Well, that 100k in the bank is largely due to the timely sale of two magic items.  My players are settling an area with no human habitation, so I'm also making them spend the money to import both settlers and workers.  They've dropped about 20k on inducing settlers so far.

ZeroSum
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Joined: 2016-06-12 23:52

To me, the "traps only trigger on 1-2 on d6" is the extent of the "automatically searching for traps".  If you're moving faster than exploration movement, every trap triggers without warning.


-Jard

Agreed. A 1/3 chance instead of automatically blundering into whatever spiked pit or tripwire is in the way is plenty enough.

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

 Do you have any comments on spells being different from B/X,? 

-thirdkingdom

Most of the spells are similar to those in B/X. However, there were some subtle changes, largely ignored, that were hugely impactful.

  • Continual Light was changed so that only a particular number of lights that can be sustained, and only for the life of the caster, with truly permanent light requiring ritual magic or a magic item. This was to avoid magically lit streets and other setting-ruinous problems.
  • Raise Dead was replaced with Restore Life and Limb to better work with the mortal wounds system. I won't dwell on this as it was already covered in the thread.
  • Teleport was made more dangerous. "Too High" was replaced with "Off Target", which could send the caster in any direction, including into areas of solid ground, causing instant death. "Too Low" was replaced with "Lost", sending the character into oblivion. These changes make Teleport much more dangerous. Very dangerous teleports keep distance meaningful and allow for localized freedom from reigning power, and avoid a world of instantaneous travel and communication. 
  • Animate Dead animates double the number of dead in ACKS as in B/X. However, in B/X animated dead last indefinitely, while in ACKS animated dead only last for a day, unless 25gp of holy water is expended per HD. This was important because if undead could be freely animated without cost, it would wreak the economy! Instead, the costs of undead approximate the cost of slave labor. A slave-laborer costs 40gp, so a 1HD skeleton costs 62% of a living slave, while a 2HD zombie costs 20% more.
  • Fireball had its area of effect reduced. In BX, fireball had a 40' diameter, while in ACKS fireball has a 20' diameter. That means the area of effect was divided by four, decreasing from 1,256 square feet to 314 square feet.There were two reasons for this change. First, I concluded that fireball was an overpowered spell (an intuition I later confirmed with the mechanics of the spell design system). Second, and more important, playtesting showed that 40' diameter fireballs were absolutely devastating in mass combat. A company of 120 men occupies a frontage of 60' x 40', or 2,400 square feet, meaning that a 40' diameter fireball will strike half of the entire company, while a 20' diameter fireball destroys just one-eighth of the company. When the demographics of ACKS mages are taken into account, this one change kept mass formations viable in ACKS. This was thus a huge and world-changing revision but it's one that almost no one ever notices!

*Why does each unit take up 60’ x 40’? Man-sized troops in close order each occupy a frontage of 3’ and a depth of 6’.  A unit of 120 men represents a formation 20 men wide and 6 deep. So the formation is (20 x 3’) 60’ wide and (6 x 6’) 36’ deep.

 

 

GMJoe
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

1. I should have done a better job of explaining the benefits of exploration speed in the rules, and making it explicit what the penalties are for not moving at exploration speed. When I run ACKS, characters moving at exploration speed gain the following advantages: (a) because they are watching their footing, they only set off traps on a 1-2 on 1d6; (b) because they are counting paces and estimating distances, they are given explicit dimensions of rooms and hallways and permitted to map their progress; (c) because they are moving cautiously, they are not automatically detected by passively alert creatures; and (d) if Elves or other characters with Alertness they can spot secret doors.

-Alex

Thank you for this clarification, Alex! I completely missed the connection between exploration movement speed and the high failure rate of traps; I was just assuming that most traps were unreliable because they depended on people just happening to step on the right stone, and such. I'll clerify this to my players immediately.

3. The costs of living are not intended to be required in the same way that, e.g., attack rolls are required. Much of the ACKS system is economic guidelines and expectation-setting, not rules-as-physics.

-Alex

And thanks for clarifying this, as well - It's good to know I wasn't 'doing it wrong.' (I actually find my players spend significantly more on luxuries and living it up than the expected lifestyle costs for their level suggests. I suspect it might be something to do with the high death rate they had for the first few sessions...)

tgcb
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Joined: 2013-09-30 19:25

Skimmed through the rpg.net read through (no way I have time to read 4000 posts) ...some interesting discussion, but also I wonder sometimes:  Do these people even like playing games?   :)

Meaning, at the beginning of a game session, I just want to make an interesting character and play them - I don't worry about what they're going to be at 5th Level compared to some other class I could have picked.    I guess we don't do a lot of "meta-gaming"- just make a character and get going - let the role-playing direct the story from there not the rules.   We hit a confusing rule - make something up and move on.  Actually, much of it is the way most play now ends up being one-shots or very short campaigns, so few of these issues are probably ever going to come into play anyway - we're all married with kids, etc. so a long, multi-year campaign is never going to happen. Ever.

Also - chatted friends today because I saw the "Gamergate" comment - none of us had a clue what it was (even my video game addict friends) - so a non-issue for us.    Did make me wonder though:  What is stopping Alex from creating another rpg.net account and posting stuff there as "another person"?   :)

Anyway, thanks for starting the rpg.net thread - hopefully it will generate more well-deserved interest in ACKS.

 

Jard
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Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

Skimmed through the rpg.net read through (no way I have time to read 4000 posts) ...some interesting discussion, but also I wonder sometimes:  Do these people even like playing games?   :)

Meaning, at the beginning of a game session, I just want to make an interesting character and play them - I don't worry about what they're going to be at 5th Level compared to some other class I could have picked.    I guess we don't do a lot of "meta-gaming"- just make a character and get going - let the role-playing direct the story from there not the rules.   We hit a confusing rule - make something up and move on.  Actually, much of it is the way most play now ends up being one-shots or very short campaigns, so few of these issues are probably ever going to come into play anyway - we're all married with kids, etc. so a long, multi-year campaign is never going to happen. Ever.


-tgcb

The number of questions I'm asking on these forums tends to be directly proportional to how active the current game I'm running is, and the questions are things that either came up or had the chance to come up but didn't require a ruling on the spot, or the ruling we went with felt weird.  We're all adults and are willing to accept the possibility of "hey, we did it this way, but after some advice from the forums, it seems like that will break down farther down the line" and change it.  

I can attest to the power of this: we played the Kingmaker pathfinder campaign many years ago, and we used the default PF/3.x assumptions of magic availability and created fairly absurd scenarios pretty quickly.  My favorite was when the gunslinger provided dozens of barrels of gunpowder for other members of the party to carry after magic users cast invisibility and fly so that we could stealth bomb some river-ships that were carrying troops towards our capital.

Also - chatted friends today because I saw the "Gamergate" comment - none of us had a clue what it was (even my video game addict friends) - so a non-issue for us.    Did make me wonder though:  What is stopping Alex from creating another rpg.net account and posting stuff there as "another person"?   :)

Anyway, thanks for starting the rpg.net thread - hopefully it will generate more well-deserved interest in ACKS.


-tgcb

Most places on the internet frown VERY heavily upon making alternate accounts, commonly called "sock puppeting", and a statstically significant % of the RPG communityonline will drag your name through the mud if they suspect you are or ever have been a sock puppeteer.

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

Most places on the internet frown VERY heavily upon making alternate accounts, commonly called "sock puppeting", and a statstically significant % of the RPG communityonline will drag your name through the mud if they suspect you are or ever have been a sock puppeteer.


-Jard

Hah. I have an account on RPG.net in good standing - cunning concealed under the username "apmacris". I've known the owner for years and was one of the corporate donors to their recent membership drive. I post on the site as an ordinary citizen on occasional topics of interest, and for the most part no one notices (or says anything if they do notice). 

I felt it would be counter-productive of me to post in the RPG.net thread about ACKS primarily because my presence there would create a tendency to inspire questions about me instead of about the game. I think ACKS speaks for itself. I have my politics, philosphies, quirks, and charms, and surely they have affected the game, but the game itself is not allegorical or political. 

tgcb
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Joined: 2013-09-30 19:25

 cunning concealed under the username "apmacris".


-Alex

Ha!  Hide in plain site - I love it!   Like Kal-El putting on glasses to become "Clark Kent".

 

bestial warlust
Joined: 2017-04-04 08:15

 

I felt it would be counter-productive of me to post in the RPG.net thread about ACKS primarily because my presence there would create a tendency to inspire questions about me instead of about the game. I think ACKS speaks for itself. I have my politics, philosphies, quirks, and charms, and surely they have affected the game, but the game itself is not allegorical or political. 


-Alex

I think that is a good decision to stay away. The game is good and does stand on it's own. RPG net however always has to drag in an author's/creators personal politics that have nothing to do with the product. I've been following the thread since it started and surprisingly it's been really good and is still focused on the game at hand. I'm still surprised it hasn't devolved yet into pointless political bickering.

nemomeme
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Joined: 2015-07-15 19:02

It was not my intent that it allowed automatic searching for traps, though it merits playtesting to see if that should be the official rule. It would require some re-engineering of other mechanics, though.

-Alex

I have the house rule for automatic searching of traps while using exploration speed so long as one PC in the party has a 10' pole out. Without looking into it too closely, I didn't notice the need to re-engineer any other mechanics though, so I'd welcome someone pointing out any obvious issues with this tweak either in this thread or elsewhere.

Traps trigger on a 1-2 for each PC, no? Someone in a party of any size will almost certainly then trigger the hallway trap regardless. So the effect of this rule in play is often to spare the high h.p. frontline PCs a bit of damage at the cost of actually killing the lower h.p. PCs in the middle ranks. The 33% trap is actually deadlier than the 100% trap. That infamous pit trap in the Caverns of Thracia, for example, has only ever killed PCs from the middle or even last ranks in my experience. The 2-in-6 trap has the interesting effect that the front line is not always the most dangerous place to be, a feature I always appreciated about some of Grimtooth's more... creative traps.

Machpants
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Yeah I like reading many RPGNet threads, but it could really do with a RPG Meta sub forum, where all the 'stuff that is not about gaming/games but gamers/writers' bile can be spilled. And I don't have to see it! Anyway I'm enjoying the thread and especially thoughts from thoe who don't really know ACKS

thirdkingdom
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Joined: 2013-07-07 09:01

Hey Alex, where'd you get the rule that magic missile weapons have the plus applied to the throw, and ammunition to the damage?

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

Hey Alex, where'd you get the rule that magic missile weapons have the plus applied to the throw, and ammunition to the damage?


-thirdkingdom

I made it up when one of my players acquired a +2 bow with +2 arrows and became game-breakingly dangerous.

 

Jard
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Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

aaaand I'm banned for using the term "newer-edition weenies" to describe my own players.  No wonder there are so many designers and bloggers banned from big purple.

edit: just for a day, but honestly shocking what a hair trigger it was over.  Honestly I got missed initially and thought about editing my post, I guess I should have!

Aryxymaraki
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The best part about RPG.net moderation is that I 100% guarantee you it would have been ignored if you had been commenting on older editions instead :p

Jard
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The best part about RPG.net moderation is that I 100% guarantee you it would have been ignored if you had been commenting on older editions instead :p

-Aryxymaraki

 

well, volunteer force and all that. 

but yeah, if instead of talking about appeasing "later-edition weenies" I had instead suggested not being beholden to "grognard sensibilities" I wonder if I would have evaded his wrathful eye.  In fact I wonder if they get pinged every time the word "edition" is used and I could have stayed under the radar by saying "later-era".  The mind reels at the possibilities, really. 

It was also odd since someone on these forums is also a mod there and was participating.  Maybe they have a policy of not moderating threads they participate in.

bestial warlust
Joined: 2017-04-04 08:15

That's why I stopped visiting that site long ago. I've never been banned but their moderation and forced politics are too much. My eyes nearly rolled out of my skull when I saw that you were suspended over something so trivial. I'm still following the thread though besides this one stupid incident it has been really interesting.

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

I'm enjoying the lets read, ive picked up a few tid-bits ive otherwised missed reading the rules too :)

Wow, those bans were massivly un-called for, and sounds like the mod didnt even read the posts they were attached to.  Especially when I've read far more volitile conversations on there and not a single ban handed out for them.

koewn
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I like that he got the person who restated Jard's phrase before he took out Jard.

I'm proud of everyone that participates in these forums for keeping this place away from becoming another "Argument Clinic".

I also really like how Harrowed wrote out his example of working the mortal wounds table. Kinda feels like there's a way to goose the table around a bit to support that format/flow.

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

Indeed, was a rather interesting take on it that felt like it just fit with everything else.  For me that is what makes a great house rule :)

123456789blaaa
Joined: 2017-07-01 16:11

aaaand I'm banned for using the term "newer-edition weenies" to describe my own players.  No wonder there are so many designers and bloggers banned from big purple.

edit: just for a day, but honestly shocking what a hair trigger it was over.  Honestly I got missed initially and thought about editing my post, I guess I should have!


-Jard

The RPG.net forum has had a history of extremely nasty DnD edition warring in the past. That's why the DnD section was seperated from the general RPG section. The Mods are thus particularly sensitive about the subject. 

Harrowed
Joined: 2017-01-03 22:04

I also really like how Harrowed wrote out his example of working the mortal wounds table. Kinda feels like there's a way to goose the table around a bit to support that format/flow.

-koewn

Thank you. I had to write something like that out to work out how it functioned to my players. I believe I referred to it as Schrodinger's Status.

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

I think this has some interesting theological implications about gods and divinities in ACKS. Since divine power can be harvested by convincing people to worship a deity, it seems logical to assume that faith is itself what provides the motive energy, and not the deity itself. Likewise, the divine energy from blood sacrifices comes from the creature being killed.

It seems like this implies a world where belief gives rise to the gods, rather than the other way around, and that a god's puissance varies dependent upon their worshippers, and idea I like very much. I've always been a fan of the Terry Pratchett "Small Gods" approach to deities, and think this fits in nicely.

The metaphysics of the Auran Empire setting are, more or less, that physical life creates soul-energy and sustains its coherency, where otherwise it would be drawn off into a collective or world-soul. (You might think of soul energy as a wave that life particularizes). Most living things actually generate a bit more soul energy than they need to maintain the coherence of their own soul, and that surplus can be "spent" on worship, devotion, or magic. When a creature's body dies, its soul begins to reconfigure to transmigrate into another creature (Empyrean) or begins to dissolve back into the world-soul (Chthonic), unless some external method is found of maintaining its coherence. As the soul transmigrates or dissipates it gets harder and harder to resurrect the dead (hence the timeline). A meager amount of the soul does linger in the remains, enough to speak to with Speak With Dead or to use for spell components.

One of the methods of maintaining a coherent or particularized soul is if other creatures send you some of their ambient soul energy through worship of you or sacrifice to you. So, for instance, if Alexander the Great dies, his soul begins to dissipate. But if Alexander is worshipped as a god, that will maintain his soul energy even though his body isn't around to maintain it. If enough creatures worship Alexander, then he'll have enough soul energy to maintain his own existence and have a surplus to use for magic. The implication is that at least some of the gods are actually heroes and kings of the ancient past who were deified and worshipped.  

Another method of maintaining a coherent soul is to become undead and drain the life energy of other living creatures, either by eating their flesh (ghouls) or draining their souls directly (wraiths, spectres, vampires, etc.) Or you can seek to preserve the body in a magical way that keeps the soul present even though it otherwise would dissipate (mummies). Note that it's possible to receive soul energy from worship while still alive (a "living god") and while undead.  

What is unknown is whether, when a birth occurs, a specific soul is reborn from the world-soul, or whether it the sould dissipates entirely so that new souls are essentially a random collection of soul-energy. The Empyreans believe that souls are kept more-or-less intact in reincarnation while the Chthonic believe its dissipation into nothingness before rebirth. Conflicting interpretations of the facts above lead to the Empyrean and Chthonic theological systems. The Empyreans burn the body and seek to release the soul for reincarnation unless it was so exalted as to deserve worship (Imperial Cult, etc.) while the Chthonic seek to preserve the body and soul in undeath until enough spiritual energy is available to their gods to restore everyone to life (the Awakening).

 

 

thirdkingdom
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Huh, that's cool. So, quick question about how this interacts with undeath: do free-will undead retain their own souls? What animates the lesser undead (skeletons, zombies, etc.)? Is it just a small amount of random soul energy? The implications for the question of "what happens to the soul after death" are that at a certain point the souls of the dead are absorbed back into the primordial soul cloud, which explains the duration limits of spells such as Speak with Dead; and Restore Life and Limb, although it appears that Reincarnation has no time limit, except for the requirement of having some physical piece of the subjects body.

 

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

As you can see, it encompasses a pretty fucking huge area. 281 6-mile hexes are considered to be Civilized, while 332 6-mile hexes are Borderlands. That means that 10,624 sq. miles are considered to be Borderlands and 8,992 sq. mile Civilized. The book will explore further implications of Civilized v. Borderlands v. Wilderness from here on out, but for right now what we learn is that Explorers can only found their domains in Borderlands or Wilderness, while demi-humans (elves and dwarves) must found their domains either in the Wilderness or Civilized/Borderlands areas of domains founded by their own race.

Wales is 8,016 mi², for comparison.

During the Middle Ages, the largest town in Wales was Cardiff, with a population of 1,500 to 2,000 inhabitants - 300 to 400 families in ACKS terms, making it a Large Village (Class V). Cardiff would not be big enough to evenmake Wales "civilized", in other words.

Even as late as the 14th century, there were only six towns large enough to qualify as ACKS Large Towns in the whole of the British Isles - London (4,500 families), York (1500 families), Bristol (1,200 families), Coventry (960 families), Norwhich (800 families), and Lincoln (700 families). There's 94,525 square miles in the United Kingdom. If we assume 8,992 square miles per town, with no overlap, that's 53,952 civilized square miles, still leaving half the islands uncivilized. But of course most of these towns are actually clustered near each other in an arc across the east and south of England, with Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland virtually absent of urbanization. In ACKS terms, England would be largely "Civilized", while Cornwall, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and the smaller isles would be Borderlands and Wilderness. The rules tend to create urban clusters with borderlands and then wilderness and assume adventure is happening at the borderlands. This is in contrast to the "points of light" in contemporary D&D, where cities seem to dot the landscape with huge wilderness in between. 

Since Every Campaign is a Law Unto Itself, you can, of course, assume a smaller radius of civilized and borderlands territory if desired. An approximate downward limit of size that an urban settlement can control is a number of hexes equal to (urban population / 31), based on a 10:1 rural:urban ratio and an average population density of 310 families per 6-mile hex (50 per square mile). London would need 145 6-mile hexes or 4,500 square miles just to feed itself and the peasants who feed it, excluding any smaller towns in its orbit. Anything less than that and you get into bad simulation - where does the food come from?

 

Aryxymaraki
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I liked how the thread mentioned that Neutral clerics do not have their divine power acquisition defined.

For me, this means that it's up to their deity. I'd think that most Neutral deities would probably collect congregations, but a more savage deity might have blood sacrifice instead. Some deities might have both (perhaps they accept sacrifices of nonintelligent creatures, but not of intelligent creatures), or perhaps they have restrictions on it that Chaotic deities do not (since Chaotic deities accept only willing Chaotic sacrifices, perhaps a Neutral deity accepts only willing sacrifices of any alignment). Or perhaps they have fewer restrictions; a deity purely of death merciless might accept any sacrifice, while being Neutral instead of Chaotic due to their complete lack of any sort of caring about the living.

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

Interesting stuff, thanks for the further info :)

koewn
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I'm sure Alex will chime in, but once that was brought up, I was thinking maybe there just *aren't* Neutral clerics, or Neutral gods. (a text find in the Primer for "neutral" reveals no results)

It kinda makes sense - the experience of being/achieving godhood perhaps necessitates 'picking a side'  - there's no way to be a diety and be 'meh' about things - you're pure will and ego, and there has to be a focus for that. It'd follow then that the cleric also must pick a side in order to channel that.

The cleric of death merciless may still be Chaotic, just not, you know, cackling, finger-steepled evil - uncaring but for what he or she wants seems to still fall under Chaos. The classic Nature God could fall either way - the reincarnation of souls (the ciiiiiiircle of liiiiife) and such could be argued as Lawful - there's a cycle, don't mess with it, don't build that dam, don't mine that mountain - while still a bit anti-civilization.

What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?

thirdkingdom
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I'm sure Alex will chime in, but once that was brought up, I was thinking maybe there just *aren't* Neutral clerics, or Neutral gods. (a text find in the Primer for "neutral" reveals no results)

It kinda makes sense - the experience of being/achieving godhood perhaps necessitates 'picking a side'  - there's no way to be a diety and be 'meh' about things - you're pure will and ego, and there has to be a focus for that. It'd follow then that the cleric also must pick a side in order to channel that.

The cleric of death merciless may still be Chaotic, just not, you know, cackling, finger-steepled evil - uncaring but for what he or she wants seems to still fall under Chaos. The classic Nature God could fall either way - the reincarnation of souls (the ciiiiiiircle of liiiiife) and such could be argued as Lawful - there's a cycle, don't mess with it, don't build that dam, don't mine that mountain - while still a bit anti-civilization.

What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?


-koewn

 

My assumption is that most Men are Neutral; it is those that are Lawful or Chaotic that are the outliers, those who have made the choice to participate in the cosmic struggle between disorder and anarchy. Regarding the worship of deities, I like the idea that most individuals worship a multitude of gods within a pantheon; those who worship a single deity are, like those Lawful or Chaotic characters, the outliers. That allows the average man to give offerings to both the gods of Law and Chaos, depending on which one they are attempting to propitiate.

Jard
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Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

Since Every Campaign is a Law Unto Itself, you can, of course, assume a smaller radius of civilized and borderlands territory if desired. An approximate downward limit of size that an urban settlement can control is a number of hexes equal to (urban population / 31), based on a 10:1 rural:urban ratio and an average population density of 310 families per 6-mile hex (50 per square mile). London would need 145 6-mile hexes or 4,500 square miles just to feed itself and the peasants who feed it, excluding any smaller towns in its orbit. Anything less than that and you get into bad simulation - where does the food come from?


-Alex

 

This is extremely relevant to me, as I started my regional map with the assumption that i would make a class II market city, and the resulting spread of civilized vs. borderlands meant there was very very little actual wilderness for the players to muck about in within the region.  I might assume a highly urbanized pattern to try and make some little pockets of wilderness to play in.

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