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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Digging Into the Adventurer Conqueror King System - Playing With Proficiencies

Non-weapon Proficiencies first snuck into AD&D with the Dungeoneer and Wilderness Survival Guides (Weapon Proficiencies were in the Player's Handbook) They added a bit of depth to characters, and were a full pledged part of the system with AD&D 2e.  The Adventurer Conqueror King System offers is own take on a Proficiency System.

This isn't a skill point system like D&D3x, where you get points every level and tweak.  Unless you get a bonus due to a high Intelligence Score, your character will start with three proficiencies.  Adventuring everyone gets.  This allows you to have a general idea on how to set a camp site, search a room, guestimate the value of items... the basic crap PCs do.

You also start with one General proficiency.  Some examples are Alchemy, various Crafting skills, Leadership, Mapping, Tracking and a bunch of others.  Everyone gets another General Proficiency every 4 levels.  Some General Proficiencies are also listed under a Class list, allowing some flexibility as to how you spend your limited points.

Everyone starts starts with a Class Proficiency, and depending on the class they earn one every third or every fourth level.  The interesting thing is that some of the proficiencies are combat related or casting related, but others may be more social, or at least non-combat related.  This can lead to a problem - obviously some proficiencies are more valuable then others.  Weapon Focus turns a natural 20 into a double damage crit (there are no criticals otherwise in the system that I've seen so far, but at 250+ pages, I could be wrong) or a Fighter could spend his point on Riding.  Alright, Riding is also a General Proficiency, but you get my point.

That being said, there are so many combat related proficiencies (and few points to spend) that add a little flavor or "umph" to your character, that it is quite probably that no two characters are going to be built with the same proficiencies.

I personally like "Sniping", which allows a Sneak Attack with a ranged weapon at up to short range.  Then there is Weapon Finesse, allowing you to use your Dex instead of Str for attack mod with one handed weapons.  There are a lot of choices like that.  It really does help make your character unique.

I know they say the Proficiency System is optional, but you would be doing yourself and your players a disservice if you didn't include it in your game.  Heck, you could easily port this section over to most any other OSR style game with minimal tweaking.

I'll probably skip the Spell section (as it should be close enough to what you already know) and move on the the Adventures Chapter next.  Figure Thursday or Friday if all goes well.

Critical Thoughts on Critical Hits

I think critical hits were the first thing I house ruled into AD&D back in the day. We felt they added flavor, and there was nothing like rolling a natural 20 and having the critical swing the combat's momentum back in the party's flavor. It didn't hurt that the DM often didn't remember to inflict the criticals on the PCs.

When we moved on to MERP / RoleMaster it was crit heaven. My God but they had the best criticals ever in a game. Some funny shit too. They also led to fairly frequent party member death, as the crits were quite lethal, and the GM never forgot to use them against the PCs.

Tunnels & Trolls 5e and prior didn't have crits. With the way combat is rolled, once the players had momentum going, it was all downhill for the monster side.

That changed with the advent of Spite Damage. Basically all 6's rolled resulted in a point of damage that automatically scored, despite the other side's rolls or armor. Suddenly, solo adventures that were hard were now impossible, as your PC was slowly whittled down (as most T&T solos lacked healing for the player, this was a huge change in game balance).

T&T got me thinking about criticals in RPGs in general. In any particular encounter, the monsters / adversaries are making just that one appearance. For the most part, the GM isn't concerned about any damage they suffer carrying over until later. Not so for the PCs. Whatever damage they take, whatever penalties that's linked to that damage, carries over from encounter to encounter.

Criticals are flash that look great on paper, but are actually a PC penalty.

Is it possible to make criticals fair for the PCs? Are criticals even needed?

Why the hell are we so attached to them? I know I'm guilty of liking criticals, even though I know are far more likely to screw with me than help me.

Damn Thoughts Pass Through My Mind Like a Sieve

I had some decent ideas for blog post topics last night lying in bed. My wife had dozed off, and I didn't want to turn on the computer to wipe them down, and now they are rattling around in my head, just out of view. Sigh.

I think i need to use a note taking app on my iPhone next time.

Good news is it's another Games That Can Not Be Named Night tomorrow in SoHo. Very nice way to break up the work week.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mini Review - Stonepick Crossing (OSRIC)

Stonepick Crossing is Advanced Adventures Module #22 from Expeditious Retreat Press.  It's an OSRIC (AD&D) module for a full party of 1st to 3rd level characters.  It actually says for 6 to 8  characters, but if I went above 6 (maybe 7 on a really good day) I'd probably never DM again.  So, like I said, it's for a full party of adventurers.

The adventure takes place in the tharp of Stonepick.  It will start in the town proper, and then lead on other dungeon like areas.  Which all sounds like old hat, but there is more then one thing going on in the Tharp of Stonepick.  I count at least 2 main plots and some sub-plots going on, and PC can get involved in any or all.  Which means that the DM needs to keep an eye on who the party has met and some events that may be going on behind the scenes.  A railroad this is not.  The party has a lot of freedom as to what they are going to accomplish and in which order.

Heck, they even throw in a new monster.  Not a bad way to start off a campaign if you are willing to flesh the town out and the immediate surroundings, as the party has much to do right from the start.

From the blurb:

Stonepick crossing is an OSRIC(tm) module designed for 6-10 adventures of levels 1-3.
The tiny town of Stonepick Crossing sits on top of an old dwarven dam holding built some 500 years ago to end a long war. Recognizing the futility of direct assault, the dwarves built the dam to flood the goblin caves, flushing the foul creatures out of their caves and into the slaughter of honest combat. Now 500 years later, the dwarves have moved on and a small thorp has sprung up.

Mystery surrounds the protected town and rumors abound: locals disappearing in the middle of the night, strange noises from underneath the dam and even rumors of a monster in the lake percolate through the community. Which rumors are true and which are the ale-addled ramblings of old men fearful of their own shadows?

If you enjoy this adventure, look for future releases in the Advanced Adventures line from Expeditious Retreat Press.

Has the Hobby Completed a 360 (Devils & Demons in D&D)

I had this thought while lying in bed last night after my Super Bowl viewing / eating / drinking. Are we returning to the early days of the hobby? Are be going to be re-experiencing the Jack Chick tracks?

AD&D had a demon on the cover of the DMG (I KNOW it was an Efrietee (sp), but the common man saw it as a demon). But even before that, the MM had whole sections devoted to Devils and Demons. Heck, I remember putting Asmoudeous (damn spelling) in a 20x30 room for my Monte Haul Campaign back in my High School years. Yes, the players killed his mortal form.

AD&D 2e exorcised Demons and Devils from Dungeons & Dragons and turn them in some jumble of nearly random letters. Solve the PR problem by filing off the serial numbers.

Since then they've been making a resurgence, especially with the OSR inspired games of late. We all remember LotFP Weird Fantasy is Porn, but it was also bringing back so
some fairly demonic images with it's art. Not saying it is bad or wrong, but I still feel it was done more for shock and notoriety then game purpose, especially in a system that intentionally has no monster section.

The Secret Fire was heavy on the demonic feel, almost as if the only way to harken back to Old School gaming is pentagrams and demonic art on every page. Which is a shame, as it obscures a nice game system.

Carcosa goes heavy (as in a ton of bricks heavy) on the evil rituals, sacrifices, raping and killing the kittens, but it almost treats such in a text book manner. If it was going for shock value, it was less effective then the art in the other books I mentioned. It's dark in the manner of making one think, not just going for the raw emotion of reaction.

It's almost like a 40 year old heavy metal fan putting up his poster of Iron Maiden's Eddie from the Piece of Mind Tour to prove he still knows his metal and it's still relevant.

I can still sing along with nearly every Iron Maiden song, but Eddie is no long relevant in my eyes.

In a few months we will have reprints of the 3 core AD&D 1e books, complete with the demons and devils, and the succubus with the really nice breasts. We actually find ourselves back at the beginning. I really need to find the Chick comic for D&D. Like so much else, its packed away somewhere.

BTW, not judging, just observing. I find it interesting that the hobby has moved in a circle in some ways.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Free RPG - Ancient Trails, Witness to History (Traveller Adventure)

Terra-Sol Games has released the first part of their next series of free adventures for Mongoose Traveller, Ancient Trails. It's always nice to get something decent for free.  Heck, they are even throwing in free audio enhancements.

From the blurb:

Once again you are contacted by the enigmatic Professor Elsie Itcher.  This time her strange pronouncements send you on a wild goose chase.  But if the goose chase pays off, it could make your career!

Ancient Trails, Witness to History is a Mongoose Traveller adventure set in the Twilight Sector Campaign Setting. This adventure will test your science and problem solving skills as well as testing your gun hand. This is the second in a three part campaign arc started with Ancient Trails, So it Begins.

Don't forget to pick up the Audio enhancements for this campaign as well.

Kickstarter - Monster Art & Minis

The Monster Art Kickstarter Project is now the Monster Art & (Laminated Paper) Minis Project.

I'm going to let the art speak for itself:

Be forewarned - if you opt into this Kickstarter, one of these buggers is going to have my face ;)

Here's some more from the page:

What is the Monster Stock Art project?

We're attempting to create a library of stock art for all the creatures in the 3.5 RPG SRD.  While initial goal is 100 images covering the most commonly used 50+ creatures, we'd love to do a much larger set of creatures with added funds.
Note: We're adding some extra rewards to this project from the related Monster Stand-Ins (Plastic-Card Miniatures) Project.  See the very bottom (just above the FAQ) for details.
It is a great resource for small print/PDF game publishers, video game authors, web sites that have anything to do with monsters (fantasy fiction, RPGs, etc.), writers who blog about games, etc.  How often have you written about a monster or need a graphic of a monster for your computer game or run into a similar situation where you need monster art? With this project, you'll get a vast collection of high quality Monster Stock Art.  You'll have them ready instead of having to pour through stock art websites, PDF collections, etc.
Plus, if you want if for personal use only there is a PDF option which has the monster images as print-them-yourself paper miniatures. Select this option by itself, or pick another reward and add $10 for this extra reward.
If our initial KickStarter goal is met we'll create 100 monster images, but if we exceed our goal, we'll keep adding more art to the overall collection.  I personally would love to make the collection match every monster in the 3rd Edition System Reference Document.

What size are the graphics?

The monster images will be created as mostly 1/4 page (5.5"x4.25" @300dpi) graphics.  Some (at least 20% and probably quite a bit more) will be done as full page graphics @300dpi or larger.  However, to keep your costs down, I'll scale them down to 600 pixels by roughly 400 pixels which is appropriate for most web site and other electronic uses.  These "web-size" graphics are available at less expensive reward levels.

Which creatures will be in the collection?

If we meet our initial goal, we'll have a little over 100 of the most common creatures:
  • 4 kobolds (when there are multiples of a creature, you'll get 4 versions where the weapons vary and/or the poses change slightly, etc.)
  • 4 goblins
  • 4 hobgoblins
  • 4 lizardfolk
  • 4 orcs
  • 4 drow
  • 4 mummies
  • 4 zombies
  • 4 skeletons
  • 2 stirges
  • 2 pixies
  • 2 will o wisp
  • 2 gnolls
  • 2 troglodytes 
  • 2 gargoyles
  • 2 ghouls
  • 2 vampires
  • 2 wights
  • 2 rakshasa
  • 2 worgs
  • 2 rust monsters
  • 2 centaur
  • 2 minotaur
  • 2 ogres
  • 2 trolls
  • 2 owlbears
  • 2 horses
  • 1 medusa
  • 1 dryad
  • 1 lich
  • 1 spectre
  • 1 hellhound
  • 1 werewolf
  • 1 werebear
  • 1 wererat
  • 1 cyclops
  • 1 griffon
  • 1 pegasus
  • 1 unicorn
  • 1 gelatinous cube
  • 1 treant
  • 6 dragons (black, blue, green, red, white, gold)
  • 4 elementals (air, earth, fire, water)
  • 3 giants (frost, hill, storm)
  • 1 to be determined
But of course, that's the tip of the iceberg.  There are more giant types, naga, metallic dragons, genies, angels, demons, and a slew more!  So for every $1000 we'll add 6 to 10 more creatures (the exact amount varies) that we exceed our goal, we'll add another creature to the collection!  As mentioned above, I'd love to have the project's artists do every creature in the 3.5 SRD.
If we get close to the initial goal, I'll post a poll to help determine the next 10-20 creatures.  If it looks like we'll be able to do all of them, I'll do another poll and so on.

Who is behind the project?

First, let me introduce the artists and which of the samples each artist created:

Super Bowl or Blood Bowl - Both Lead to Lowered Expectations

Today is Super Bowl Sunday.  Time for crazy commercials, an overdone halftime show and maybe even some football squuezed in between the above.

I might be a New Yorker, but I'm a Jets fan, and to tell the truth, neither New York team deserves to be in the Super Bowl.  Which is why I figure the Giants to win.  Go figure.

I'll be watching the game, even if it's more hope the Pats lose then root for the Giants.  Still, beer and noshie foods should make for a good time.

I'm still very disappointed with the Blood Bowl conversion to the PC.  Graphics were lame, gameplay was lame, and it seemd nothing like the 1st edition Blood Bowl game we used to play back in the day (and which is still packed away somewhere).

Now if someone could bring Chaos Marauders to the iPad and iPhone, or even the PC or the Mac, I think they'd have a nice seller on their hands.  God but we loved that game for times we lacked a full group to role play.

Alright, time for the obligatory "Go Giants, F' the Pats!" cheer.

Maybe I should be working on the next part of the ACKS overview ;)

Digging Into the Adventurer Conqueror King System - Covering the Classes (Dwarves & Elves)

The Adventurer Conqueror King System includes just two demi-human races - Dwarves and Elves.  If you are looking for halflings or gnomes (and who really looks for gnomes?) you'll need to import them on your own.

Each of the two included races have two adventuring classes that they can choose from.

Dwarven classes are the Vaultguard and the Craftpriest.  Time to take a closer look at them.

Vaultguards are similar to human fighters.  Same attacks, same saving throw progression (with bonuses due to being a dwarf - 3 to 4 points depending on the save type), same d8 for HD and stonework knowledge.  They require about 10% more expo to level than a human fighter and cap at level 13.

Craftpriests are similar to human clerics, and get the cleric's attacks, saves (adjusted for being dwarven), d6 HD and the dwarven stonework knowledge ability.  Additionally, they are consider "journeymen" in a particular craft and can attempt to identify masterwork and rare materials.

Next up are the Elven Spellsword and Nightblade.

The Spellsword is a Fighter / Mage combo class.  The use the Fighter attacks chart and combat abilities, D6 HD, advance in spell casting as a Mage of the same level, can cast spells in armor and the usual elven abilities of a surprise bonus in the wilderness, keens sight, immune to the ghoul touch and a bunch of languages that they can speak.

The Level progression for the Spellsword is the slowest in the game, and they max out at 10th level.

The last class we are presented is the Nightblade, a Thief / Mage combo class.   They fight and wear armor as thieves, get a D6 for HD and get the thieving abilities of move silently, hide in shadows, climb walls and backstab.  The also get "acrobatics", which if successful allows them to pop up behind their opponent, depriving them of a shield bonus and putting the Nightblade in position for a backstab.

Nightblades cast spells as a Mage 1/2 their level and progress is spell levels at a slowed rate (maximum spell level is 3).  They get the elven abilities the Spellsword gains.  Maximum level is 11 and the level progression isnt as bad as the Spellsword, it's a bit harded then the Mages.

For the next installment, we'll bypass the equipment section and move on to proficiencies.  This should be fun ;)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Comparing Google+ to Blogger For Posting Purposes

I've been cross posting my Blogger posts to Google+ for the past few weeks and I've noticed some differences in the comments between the two.  Blogger tends to get fewer (often much fewer) comments,  but the comments themselves are frequently longer.

Google+ tends toward more but shorter comments.  It's more immediate and less polished in general, but definitely more lively.

This post: What Are Your 5E Deal Makers / Breakers? had 9 comments on Blogger, 266 on G+.  Admittedly, the G+ thread had some cross talk going on, but that's still a factor of 1 to 26 in terms of comments.

I'm interested in the next integration step between G+ and Blogger, as I suspect it will blur the lines between the two.

Real or Memorex? - Short Comparison of the Tabletop Experience to Google+ Hangout

Although I have years upon years of tabletop roleplaying experience and a couple of recent years of playing roleplaying games via Fantasy Grounds (a VTT), it hasn't been until the last few weeks that I've actually had the opportunity to sit at a table and game AND sit at my computer screen and game (using an actual RPG) during the same week.

The experience, at least with Google+ Hangout, is strangely similar.  Same bad jokes (at least coming from my direction), similar excitement when the party overcomes a dangerous obstical, you get to see facial expressions (which can be preceless) - the list can go on.

There are some major differences.  Dice rolling is NOT the same.  Using an online die roller vs. chucking your own is definitely second place.  As for the voice part, you do tend to talk over others using G+.

Still, both are heads and shoulders over not playing, or playing a MMORPG.  Just sayin'.

Digging Into the Adventurer Conqueror King System - Covering the Classes (Human)

This is going to be the first part of a multipart look at the Adventurer Conqueror King System (as voted for by my friends at Google+).  I figure I'll attack the book pretty much in order, passing over the introduction and moving on to section 2 - Characters. (My quick mini review of ACKS is here).

The default method of character generation is definitely "Old School".  3d6 IN order!  An included optional rule allows one to roll up additional back-up characters to insert in the campaign when your current character dies (these characters can also be used by the Judge/GM as NPC in the meantime).  Yeah, run as written, even the character generation rules hint that it's a fairly lethal system ;)

Stats are listed in the "Old School" order of Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution and finally Charisma.  This is still the way I list my stats unless I make a conscious effort to do otherwise.  It's nice to have a system that matches my ingrained memory.

Hit Dice for the character classes range for a D4 for the Mage to a D8 for the Fighter.  Classes hit their max at 14th level and reach their last class title at 9th (ex: Warlord for fighters and Wizard for mages) and that's when HD max out.  THAC0 is slightly slower the AD&D (probably in line with B/X, but I can't confirm as they are packed away).  Saves are the typical 5 categories you see in the OSR.  All classes get proficiencies, which can be class based or general.  I'll focus on them with a later post.

Fighters are pretty basic.  They (as well as the other classes) will differentiate or specialize by their skill selection.  Mages can cast spells up to 6th level (upon attaining 11th).  Clerics can also cast spell of up to 6th level, and do not get 1st level spells until reaching ins level cleric.  Thieves get he usual list of thief abilities, successful use of which requires the roll of a d20.  The abilities are purely level based, there is no point pool like in some variations in the OSR.

Assassins fight as fighters and get HD, backstab and some stealth abilities as thieves.

Bards are masters of  lore and can inspire courage in their party (bonuses to most rolls).  They can also dabble with magic items usable only by mages, read languages and inspire loyalty in his henchman and hirelings at 5th level.

Bladedancers are a female cleric / fighter class.  d6 HD, turn undead, cast spells (limited to 5th level spells) and fight like a cleric.  Unlike clerics the can only use slashing and piecing weapons and are lightly armored.

Explorers are "almost rangers".  They fight like fighters, have a D6 for HD and get stealth abilities outdoors.  They are also useful in keeping the party from getting lost.

Alright, next up (maybe even later today if I can squeeze in the time) I'll discuss the non-human classes.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mini Review: The Secret Fire GM Screen - Keeper of the Unknown

I don't believe I've ever reviewed a GM / DM Screen before, let alone one available in PDF (you insert it into a blank GM screen available in fine hobby shops everywhere).  The Secret Fire - Keeper of the Unknown is my first attempt to do so.

It has 6 sides / pages, so even if you just printed it out for reference as the gaming table, the charts themselves should help expedite play.  It does not, however, list which pages should face the PC and which should face the GM.  My assumption is pages 1, 2 and 4 should face the players and 3, 5 and 6 should face the GM (as such I am is disagreement with the official lay out - sue me ;).  Kinda quirky, they should have been grouped together in my opinion.

The Energy Point Special Effects Cost Charts for Weapon Attacks, Spells and Exploration are on page 2, and are almost with the price on their own.  I suspect these charts are the most referenced in The Secret Fire, and will suffer wear similar to those that the Combat Tables suffered in the AD&D 1E Dungeon Masters Guide.

The rest of the included charts are used for movement, lighting, stat bonuses and penalties, combat and battle sequence and the aptly named Revenge of the Elder Gods.  Hmm, maybe I missed a few bits n' pieces, but you get the main idea.  The most commonly used charts are put at your finger tips, which is as it should be.

Do you need this to run The Secret Fire?  Of course not.  If you've been running the game since release, you have at least 6 months of campaigning behind you, and you survived without it.  Will it make it easier for you to run a campaign or game session?  Definitely.  It's a tool you don't absolutely need, but you will want.

Later on down the line there should be a physical GM Screen for The Secret Fire, but for now a print out of the PDF should serve you fine.

From the blurb:

This 6-page, printable screen for THE SECRET FIRE enables Master Creators to keep the secrets of the game hidden from the players and provides a quick reference to commonly needed material for both MCs and players alike:
The Players' Side features:
• Energy Point Special Effects for Weapon Attacks, Prayers & Spells, and Exploration
• Light source areas of illumination and durations
• "Revenge of the Elder God" tables for Critical Failures
• Effects of all States (Blind, Deaf, Pinned, Vulnerable, etc.)

The MC's Side features:
• Attack Matrix
• Ability scores and their associated Adjustments and Descriptors
• List of Skills and Difficulty Levels
• Daily, Exploration, and Battle Sequences
• Common attack adjustments
• The Montage System
• Wound Effects
• Damage description table
• Effects of all States (Blind, Deaf, Pinned, Vulnerable, etc.)

Note that the PDF is large (approximately 100 mg) to retain the highest print-quality possible. Pages can be printed out and inserted into generic game master screens available at local and online hobby stores or clipped to screens from other RPGs for use during SECRET FIRE game sessions. You can also save each of the six pages as a 72 dpi jpeg for use on iPads, iPhones, or other tablet or mobile devices.  In addition, the file was created for full-page bleed, so depending on your printer, you may have to shrink it to around 95%. (The file was created this way since a printed version of the screen will be released later in 2012.)

From Nada to Alotta - Balancing the Time

When the Castles & Crusades game I had been playing in via Fantasy Grounds came to an end early last year (and that had previously dropped from a weekly game to a monthly game) I was suddenly left with no regular gaming on the horizon.  If it wasn't for a session of play testing for White Haired Man, there would have been no gaming for me in 2011.

Truth to tell, by the time summer arrived, wedding plans, preparations and the like drove thoughts of gaming from my mind.  And so it was, until 2012.  Now I find myself married and in a steady game on Saturday Nights and steady gaming on Wednesday Nights.  The first game due to a fortuitous invite, and the second thanks to my wife, who told me to "Go Forth and Game!"  She has designated Wednesday night as her Yoga night.  The Saturday night game if via Google+ Hangout, so I'm still home.  I think my wife threw that one in as a freebie ;)

Dare I ask he for a third night?  I'm not sure if I can, but there is a Legends / RuneQuest campaign starting damn soon, and it looks cool.  Problem is, for the next few weeks it's on Saturday afternoons, and I have a contractor working on my kitchen the first saturday, a birthday party for my wife's brother and sister the following saturday, and a housewarming party I previously committed to the saturday after that.

Sigh.  My limit might be two nights without upsetting the balance of wedded bliss.

How many games can you squeeze in weekly / monthly before being shown the dog house? ;)

Pilfering the Podcasts

Thanks to an appeal I made yesterday on Google+, I now have a large selection of RPG related podcasts to download, listen to, digest and in the end, pilfer for blog post ideas. In all probability I won't know each time I'm pilfering, but I'm acknowledging it before the fact ;)

That being said, I'm more than happy for folks to add suggestions (even duplications) to the list, either on G+ or here on the blog. It doesn't hurt to understand why folks think certain podcasts are the best.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mini Review - Adventurer Conqueror King System (OSR)

For those that might (or might not remember) I first started talking about the Adventurer Conquer King System last summer, when I found it on Kickstarter.  I liked that it allowed one to change the focus to Kingdom building if you wanted to as the game progressed.  Heck, my first YouTube video (before the dragon got into the act) featured the GenCon Limited Release of ACKS.

What does this offer that the OSR books and rules already in your collection don't?  Four new racial classes: two for Dwarves and two for Elves.  Stats listed in the classic order.  A proficiency system.  The traditional four human classes and the assassin, bard, blade dancer and explorer.  Did I mention each class level is named, just like in AD&D?  Yep ;)

If you've played (A)D&D or any of the clones, you should be in fairly familiar territory.  Heck, and of the classes included should port fairly easily to Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord.

There are some fairly unique sections too.  Strongholds, domains, and even mercantile ventures are addressed.  Yes, your character may just outgrow the dungeon life.

If you are the do-it-yourself type of DM, there's a section on building your own campaign setting. It is full of charts dealing with populations, political divisions, revenue by realm type (and comparisons to historical data)... I could go on, but I won't.  This section is unique in my gaming experience, and could certainly be sold as it's own small universal supplement.  If you play in any fantasy type RPG and are interested in building your own campaign, many of the tools are here.  It is also very sandboxie in nature, which is a huge selling point in my eyes.

There is even a section (with random tables no less - can never have enough of them) on designing and placing your own dungeons.  Complete with wandering monster tables.  Whee!

I do have a question.  There are 8 human classes, 2 dwarves classes and 2 elven classes.  Dwarves and Elves are discussed as a race in their class descriptions (I didn't notice racial modifiers).  No halfling or gnome classes, but the races do appear on the starting age table and in the Monster Section.  Strange omission, especially as they are reference in a chart that deals only with player races.  Easy enough to fix and draft in from outside sources, but one shouldn't have to.

Overall a very nice addition to the OSR stable.  I just wish they hadn't overlooked the 2 shortest races.  Heck, even Raggi let the Halfling in Weird Fantasy ;)

edit:  forgot to mention the excellent hyperlinking in the Table of contents and the Index.  Makes up for shorting the short races.  heh :)

From the blurb:

Enter a world where empires totter on the brink of war, and terrible monsters tear at the fragile borderlands of men; where decaying cities teem with chaos and corruption, nubile maidens are sacrificed to chthonic cults and nobles live in decadent pleasure on the toil of slaves; where heroes, wizards, and rogues risk everything in pursuit of glory, fortune, and power. This is a world where adventurers can become conquerors – and conquerors can become kings.
Will you survive the perils of war and dark magic to claim a throne? Or will you meet your fate in a forgotten ruin beyond the ken of men?
The Adventurer Conqueror King System™ (ACKS) is a new fantasy role-playing game that provides the framework for epic fantasy campaigns with a sweeping scope. With the Adventurer Conqueror King System™ you can:
  • Play 12 different classes, including the fighter, mage, thief, cleric, assassin, bard, bladedancer, explorer, dwarven craftpriest, dwarven vaultguard, elven nightblade, and elven spellsword.
  • Easily customize your character using a unique, optional proficiency system. Make your fighter a berserker or your mage a necromancer!
  • Buy, sell, and trade common merchandise, precious silks and spices, and even monster parts and magic items in a balanced and integrated game economy.
  • Construct strongholds, establish kingdoms, and carve out a realm for your character.
  • Run a thieves' guild and send your minions to carouse, smuggle, steal, and commit other hijinks.
  • Establish a wizard's sanctum and explore the forbidden arts. Crossbreed horrific monsters in an underground laboratory, enact powerful magical rituals, build golems, craft magic items, or even transform yourself and your followers into undead monsters.
  • Build and run a living world for adventure on a grand scale. With game mechanics built to support emergent play, ACKS is the ultimate RPG for sandbox campaigns.
Whether you want to crawl through dungeons, trade with merchant caravans, run a merchant emporium, conquer an empire, or even raise an undead legion, ACKS supports your playstyle with simple, fast-playing game mechanics.
To learn more, visit the Autarch website.

To Grid or Not To Grid, Is That the Question?

At last night's game (not to be named) we used a battle mat and dry erase markers. It reminded me of using a whiteboard in the Fantasy Grounds 2 VTT.

It wasn't detailed, it didn't look like a board game, and distances weren't accurately measured but eyeballed for the most part.

So, you could visualize where everyone was in reference to each other (and the baddies) without being sucked into the battle map / grid / work of art and without being locked into "move 4 squares, then spend a 1/3 action pivoting, counting diagonal moves as 1.2 squares, rounds up... yadda yadda".

Grids make me feel like I should be breaking out my 1st edition Warhammer 40k boxed set, and doing some unit on unit combat. Needless to say my old group used to balk at that. It was never our style.

Could a whiteboard styled battle "map" be a working compromise in the Hatfields and McCoys - er, I mean the Old School / New School divide?

I doubt it will satisfy the extremists (most vocal fanboys?) on either side of the argument, but it might be a way for the moderates to meet in the middle.

Then again, the US Congress is a dysfunctional entity with uncompromising extremists on both sides of the isle - why should our hobby be any different? ;)

Another Successful "Games That Can Not Be Named" Night

Last night's "Games That Can Not Be Named" was held at the Brooklyn Strategist in, where else, Brooklyn.

The turnout was, dare I say it? Huge. Four full tables of role playing and a table in the back of board games. Easily over 30 people in attendance.

Another Non-Disclosure Agreement signed, so I can't talk about the game that was on the menu. I will say that I brought dice I could actually read, and got to use pretty much each of the standard dice, but the D20 was the one I used the most. If it was a gem die, I would have been fucked ;)

Tavis, our GM and one of the folks behind the Adventurer, Conqueror, King System was aces. The GM is always more important then the system in play, at least when he's a good one. Our's was great.

I wish I had been able to stay until 11PM, but I had a minor family emergency I had to handle at home.

No T&T talk this time around (my partner in crime was gaming at another table) but there was more then enough gaming talk to keep me satisfied.

Next week GTCNBN returns to SoHo on Sullivan Street. I'll be there, enjoying the next game on the list.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Do We Need 5E to Bridge the Different Editions?

D&D 5e is being billed as the Rosetta Stone for the different versions of Dungeons & Dragons. Is that what we need from it?

Yesterday's post asking readers (both on the blog and Google+) what they wanted and did not want in 5e generated some heated responses, especially on the G+ thread (250 comments - holy carp!).

It obvious that we know what we want, and what we dont want, in an RPG. Can a single game offer everyone in the hobby an experience that suits their tastes? Should one even try to bridge those gaps?

Monte's article on what each edition boiled down to was, in my humble opinion, a load of horse crap written by a marketing guy. Each edition has it's own feel, it's own personality that goes beyond mere rules. To think that you can capture such from each edition and combine it into a working whole, let alone a working whole that the majority of D&D players from all editions will flock to is a fools errand.

I think Monte, in his heart, knows that. He can either embrace the rules from 0e through 3e, or build them with 3.5e and 4e. He may be giving lip service to being all inclusive, but I suspect "certain restrictions will apply."

We don't need a new edition of D&D that tries to be everything and pleases no one. We need a game that respects the history of the brand.

None of us, from the Grognards through the fans of 4e NEED a new system. No one is obligated to play it, let alone but it.

If they want us, any of us, they need to decide which segment of their historical base they are looking to please, to bring back to the fold.

Judging from the success of Pathfinder, I think they've identified their target. Lets see how accurate they are in pulling it off.

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