A Modest Proposal

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The Butcher
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A Modest Proposal

Hi everyone! Long time fan here.

I have been playing very little, and most of it D&D5. Yeah, yeah, I know. If ACKS is a Porsche, D&D5 is calling an Uber — not nearly as finely crafted or as evocative, but it gets you there. It does its job and does it with very little fuss. And it’s really grown on me since we started playing in earnest two years ago.

I am actually looking forward to the D&D5 conversion of Sinister Stone of Sakkara, less out of desire to run it with D&D5 and more out of curiosity as to how it fares in translation.

Anyway, only recently have I had the opportunity to truly peruse the Heroic Fantasy Handbook and by God did I enjoy it.

You could reasonably argue that it’s a whole new game altogether, working off some fairly distinct assumptions from core ACKS.

And that, plus the ongoing revision of the domain management system, got me thinking two (somewhat provocative) things.

1. Will we ever see a new edition of ACKS with the Heroic Fantasy Handbook material baked into the core game, plus revised domain management?

2. Is it too wild a dream to imagine that a new edition — or more accurately, a whole new game — might one day come out, using the HFH ethos for characters and the thorough economic work we have seen for ACKS... but built on a D&D5 chassis rather than a B/X one?

Now don’t get me wrong! ACKS is a brilliant game and I have nothing but enthusiasm and fond memories of TSR D&D in general. But like I said, D&D5 has really grown on me, there are some intriguing D&D5 hacks out there already (such as Adventures In Middle-Earth) and I’d love to bring a little ACKS magic to the D&D5 table!

Aryxymaraki
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I experimented with a spreadsheet to do something inspired by ceremonial magic in 5E.

I had more of a 5E lens with it at that point, since their 'stigma' equivalent recovered on a short rest, and they were designed as more of a variant warlock than a variant mage.  I think in 5E design it works better as a warlock. 

I also did actually write a 5E "XP for GP" hack that was inspired by ACKs (Loot and Fortune on DM's Guild).

So basically what I'm saying is that it is totally possible, in theory, since I've done some tiny bits in this direction myself.  Just a matter of whether or not Autarch thinks it's worth it and wants to get it done.

bestial warlust
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BURN THE WITCH!!!!!!!!!! 

With the new editions of WoTC D&D 5e is a better iteration and with the hacks such as middle earth I agree it can make for a better game. I've played a few times to give it a fair shot but I still run and prefer ACKS, but 5e is still a bit too super-heroey for my personal taste to run as a GM. I would however sit down and play a game of it where as 3.x/pf I would not. 

I'm not an Autarch at all but as far as a possible second edition Axioms issue 6 actually has a letter from the future with a theoretical version of 2e ACKS that does incorporate some stuff from Axioms and Heroic fantasy. I see it would be easy to bolt on stuff from the Heroic companion to any base ACKS game.

Kiero
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I don't know if it's a statement of essential design philosophy, but something that really bugs me about D&D5e is the absence of the Warlord class. It seems too much like a deliberate slight against D&D4e for it's omission to be anything else.

Aryxymaraki
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I don't know if it's a statement of essential design philosophy, but something that really bugs me about D&D5e is the absence of the Warlord class. It seems too much like a deliberate slight against D&D4e for it's omission to be anything else.


-Kiero

It isn't.  They tried many times in betas to get a playable Warlord class.

It's just a very difficult class to get to feel right outside of the framework of 4E, and given how popular it was, they didn't want to release a half-assed job of it.  (Which they ended up doing anyway later with a fighter subclass, sort of, but I don't think Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide went through the normal playtesting and editing process, it seemed rushed and the quality control wasn't there in terms of mechanics.)

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

The answer is "I don't know". 

It's been seven years, almost eight, since ACKS was released so we are well overdue for a second edition. The open question is what to do with it.

- Core rules without Heroic Fantasy - fix various flaws and loopholes, add improvements from Axioms

- Revised core rules re-built around Heroic Fantasy

- Completely new game built around Heroic Fantasy, perhaps adapt it to feel a bit more like 5E (attack bonuses instead of attack throws or whatever)

I think about it a lot but I'm not sure what would be best to do.

 

GMJoe
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- Core rules without Heroic Fantasy - fix various flaws and loopholes, add improvements from Axioms

-Alex
I guess this is the default assumption about what a second edition of ACKS would be: Not a new game, but the core game we all know and love, only with the rough edges that've been discovered in the years since its initial release smoothed over, the holes in the rules filled in, and a fresh lick of paint.

This sounds like it would be great for people who (like me) are already running ACKS campaigns by the book and don't want to change much, but would welcome some slight tweaks that improve rule clarity, fix up the more awkward mechanics, and give us a few more options without taking anything away. On the other hand, I imagine it might not be the most useful book you could release; since the changes are likely to be small, people who are already running ACKS campaigns might not feel that the new version is really needed. I guess it's hard to predict which of those would be the bigger group.

- Revised core rules re-built around Heroic Fantasy

-Alex
Ah, so basically Heroic Fantasy, but written as a standalone game rather than as a set of modifications and additions to the core rules.

That sounds like it would be great for people who (like me) yearn to run heroic fantasy because it's awesome and does a great job of capturing all the tropes of the heroic fantasy genre, but are reluctant to do so because it means having to juggle and adjudicate a two sets of rules that interact and override each other in complex and occasionally tricky-to-remember ways. Also, the need to juggle two sets of rules makes the learning curve steeper for players and GMs who aren't already familiar with ACKS, and a version of ACKS with the Heroic Fantasy changes baked in to the core game would solve that.

On the other hand, Heroic Fantasy already exists, and is still fairly new; a new second edition probably wouldn't introduce many changes that aren't already in the existing heroic fantasy handbook, so again, this wouldn't necessarily introduce much in the way of content that GMs and players feel they need.

- Completely new game built around Heroic Fantasy, perhaps adapt it to feel a bit more like 5E (attack bonuses instead of attack throws or whatever)

-Alex
I'm not sure what you mean by "completely new game." Are we talking about throwing out all of ACK's existing mechanics and starting from the ground up by making an entirely new game deisgned to support heroic fantasy plots rather than the "first you adventure, then you conquer a realm, then you reign and defend your throne against all comers" progression that ACKS is built around? Or do you mean to keep that progression from ACKS, but substantially redesign all the mechanics from the ground up, abandoning some of the proud nails of OD&D in favour of D&D 5e's... Uh... Actually, I don't know a lot about 5e, but I assume it has features which people like, and which are superior in some respect or another to the way OD&D did certain things.

I guess that'd please the 5e fans. Me, I'd have to see what the changes actually were before I could make up my mind. I really like ACK's focus on hexcrawl logistics and realm management and detailed economy and internally-consistent setting justification for everything beneath the winged sun, to the point where I tend to adapt them in some small measure whenever I run anything else... So, I'd be a little hesitant to play a game that deliberately distanced itself from those things. On the other hand, if you made a game that still included those things, it'd also need some improvement or new feature that made it significantly superior to ACKS, or there wouldn't be any point in making the switch.

Then again, "customers want what they know," and all that. Perhaps if you made something completely different to ACKS as it currently stands, I'd rapidly realise I wanted it.

At the end of the day, I'm likely to back nearly any kickstarter project Autarch announces, so my views probably aren't the most important one to take into account when making this decision.

James C. Bennett
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I support replacing throws with d20 + modifiers vs. DC. After a year running 5e at my FLGS, I've started building another ACKS campaign. Since anyone I'm likely to recriut is going to be coming from 5e, I'm going to present the rules as d20+mod vs DC to make it easier to transition. I'm going to keep the math the same though. Naked AC will be 11, for instance, so a level 0 character still hits on an 11+. For saves, thief skills, proficiencies, and anything else that comes up, I'm using a fixed DC of 20 and calcualting the bonuses back from that.

KingofElfland
Joined: 2018-12-06 18:25

 

Okay this is my first post on this forum. I always seem to find cool things after they are on the way out. I really like ACKS. I am looking forward to expanding my ACKS library and integrating it into my game. What appeals to me is the BX chasis and I would hate to see it go. I don't mind the attack throw system (it seems to me that its only problem is that it is a third system, but if 3e had used it instead then the current ascending system would seen odd), I don't like BAB/proficiency modifiers and the old descending system and the ACKS throw system neither need it. 

However, I realize I am a late comer. If a 2e is what is desired, maybe with the integration of the Heroic Fantasy Companion. But new editions should be editions, not completely new games: Chaosium and TSR, not WotC. Also, if it's more like 5e, why not just play 5e. 5e's greatest value is the many people playing it. If they don't want to learn a second cousin ruleset they probably don't want to learn a first cousin set either.

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

As it stands the attack throw actually fits well with the rest of the major rolling mechanics in ACKs (aka rolls with a d20), thus would feel a bit disjointed being an attack bonus if everything else was still a throw result.  Then comes the notion of do you change all of the rolls to bonuses, personaly I dont really think its worth while, the throw mechanic is solid and helps keep ACKs distinct from D&D 3rd - 5th.  It also helps keep it apart from ability score bonuses/penalities.

Core rules as Heroic vs Traditional would really be up to how you want ACKs to be seen.  Both versions have their perks and flaws depending on the individual group's prefered asthetics/mechanics.

Jard
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just chiming in that in my game, my players and i immediately converted the attack target throw reduction into an attack throw bonus (so 10+ is +0, 9+ is +1, etc.) and then treating what you roll over 10 as what AC you hit (IE: you roll 15 you hit AC5). it's been pretty easy to mentally convert on the fly.

golan2072
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I think that ACKS' main strength is bringing robust high-level/domain play rules to the OSR ecosystem. It means that you can use bits and pieces of ACKS with your favorite OSR system, so you have use of ACKS even if your main ruleset is, say, Labyrinth Lord. This creates a wide market for ACKS beyond those interested in ACKS per se (such as myself). Thus, compatibility with other OSR rulesets is a selling point and you should be careful not to distance ACKS too much from the OSR ecosystem in order to maintain that market segment.

So, I think that keeping the current core magic system is a necessity. However, transplanting other HFH rules, such as the healing and Fate Point rules, would be excellent and will not harm compatibility too much.

Also, D20-type attack throws (roll high w/ bonus/penalty vs. a fixed DC) will work well; Sword & Wizardry: White Box has these, as does BFRPG. These are easy to explain to newcomers and are, as I noted above, compatible with several OSR games. I'd use the same basic system for saving throws as well.

That said, a stand-alone "high level play and economic rebalancing" book for D&D 5E would be awesome. There are already some products along these lines IIRC, but ACKS has the best economics and high-level play in the market.

RandyB
Joined: 2018-02-14 22:07

From an information management perspective, two main rulebooks would be best. One, ACKS 2.0 Standard, and the other, ACKS 2.0 HFH. Each would be a standalone core book, the former being a version update of the existing ACKS Core and the latter a core rulebook using HFH rules.

From a product management perspective, that would be a nightmare. First, you'd either be dividing your product line into two competing lines, cannibalizing your own sales, or supplementary products would have to be larger, to include Standard- and HFH-specific content side-by-side.

Suggestion: for ACKS 2.0, keep the main product Standard, with HFH 2.0 as a supplement. As a special, separate Kickstarter, offer ACKS HFH 2.0 as a special one-off publication for those who want an integrated HFH.

<snip>...a stand-alone "high level play and economic rebalancing" book for D&D 5E would be awesome. There are already some products along these lines IIRC, but ACKS has the best economics and high-level play in the market.


-golan2072

This, too. :)

CharlesDM
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On the topic of a new ACKS core rule book, I previously stated in another thread: *I* dream of a glorious 10th Anniversary Deluxe edition -- largely the same as ACKS core, but with a wealth of clarifying sidebars and cross-references. And a few key bits from D@W, maybe. And an integrated Auran Campaign primer. And a Judge's Screen, darn it.

As much as I love, love, love the Heroic Fantasy Handbook, I would not create an HFH core rule book at this time. Instead, I would create a Heroic Fantasy Basic book, with integrated rules in an introductory, low level focus. If successful, I would follow up with a Heroic Fantasy Expert book, and ideally Heroic Fantasy adventures/gazetteers.

wmarshal
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I guess I'm a dissenter here. I'm somewhat wary about an ACKS 2.0. If a new edition is released it seems there would be a large catalog a associates products that would also need a second edition. Autarch is pretty much a 1 man operation, and that would mean Alex spending quite a bit of effort on pretty much the same material. I do like the HFH as that provides a different framework to use with ACKS core. What I'd find most interesting is if autarch created other frameworks built upon ACKS. Maybe there could be a post-apocalypse handbook or a cyberpunk handbook? I recall at one time Alex mentioned creating a sci-fi version of ACKS to simulate space opera, but he also likened it to Traveller, which confused me as I think of Traveller as not being very much like space opera. Maybe he could prove me wrong on that score, or create a handbook(s) that address one and/or both approaches.

Such "framework" handbooks wouldn't have to be limited to just supporting the genre they were written for in isolation. I am currently lifting material from White Star and SWN to replace the Astral Reavers in my Dwimmermount campaign.

I think an ACKS 2.0 would be more viable if and when ACKS gains a larger presence, and Autarch has more resources available in terms of man-hours. My 2¢ as someone never professionally involved in game publishing.

Korean Kodiak a...
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Hi,

Currently right now I am using the Core Book, The PC, several issues of Axiom and bits of HFH for my ACK that has been running close for two years now.

That is a lot, but over the last two years alot has come out and it has influence my campaign.

ACK does not need an 2nd Edition per say. It needs a Complete Edition.

The heart of the game is fine, what it needs is all of the errata and updates that have come out incorporated into it.

Combine the Core Book and the Companion Book, update the sections with the new stuff from Axioms

I would also take a lot of the Auran specific stuff out of the rule book and roll it into an authentic Auran Empire Sourcebook.

HFH deviants so far from ACK it really is its own game and should be treaterd as such.