ACK Questions


Found out about ACK over on Dragonsfoot, and I’m very interested in its 3 tier system.

What’s the deal with AC, I hear it is different but doesn’t really add anything to the experience, other than make converting old school AC a bit of a pain.

With its eventual goal to have characters ruling their own patch of land, can this game be used with established settings like Greyhawk, or does it have to be one created from scratch?

Also, there’s a snippet of text on page 7 that goes

“The master of a thieves’ guild can send his followers out to track down rumors of hidden treasures, steal precious cargo, or determine the movements or intentions of friends and enemies alike. The rules for quickly determining the success of such endeavors can be found in Chapter 7, Campaign”

That’s all well and good, only that sounds like something I any my character would be very interested in doing. It seems like at higher levels, you are handing over the fun quests to the npcs whilst the pc sits in his halls of power ordering those npcs around.

Or am I missing something here?


EDIT: Is there a way to get email notifications for posts on the forum? I couldn’t find one

Not an Autarch, but then, none of these questions really need an Autarch ;-).

AC ascends from 0. How you feel about tends to be a very individual thing. Honestly, most people are more off-put by ACKS’ attack roll mechanic, which is another mathematically-equivalent but described-differently system.

Established settings: There’s a whole section on using existing settings. ACKS tends to produce reasonably sensible economic results (market classes, income, etc.) for whatever inputs you use. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

The forums are pretty sparse in functionality. So far as I know, email notifications is not on the list.

Regarding p. 7: The only thing you seem to be missing: the thieves’ guild is a force multiplier, not a force replacer. That is, high-level characters do all of those things, but can also have followers expand their reach. A lone thief can rob the baron of an enemy kingdom. A guild master can rob the baron and - on the same day - have followers hit the baron’s chief companions, caravans, and other geographically disparate targets.

To expand on that last: ACKS also supports multi-level play, where you play the guildmaster and the thieves the guildmaster sends on missions. That is, you could play out every mission as an actual adventure if you wanted. You are not required to use the shorthand rules and their quick, generic results.

When you say you play the guild master and the thieves, is the guild master the player’s main character, or another character apart from your main one?

You can do both. In a traditional campaign, at low levels the PC might be working for the guild master and you can use the hijinks system to quickly establish what the master and the other high-level thieves are achieving, to create context for the adventures roleplayed by the party. At high level the PC might have taken over the guild and be sending his henchmen to do lesser hijinks in support of the grand objectives roleplayed at the table.

In a campaign that uses the tiers approach described at the end of the appendix on making advanced characters, you can have each player control PCs at different levels. One could be the King-level guildmaster, one could be a Conqueror-level master assassin, one could be an Adventurer-level cleric of the god of thieves. In my ACKS afterschool class we use this approach to great effect; the kids really like having powerful characters, but then letting them do stuff offstage (e.g. through the hijinks system, magic item crafting, etc.) while they play Conquerors or Adventurers going on missions for these Kings. They much prefer this to taking orders from NPCs, and I like the way it creates greater investment in the setting and involvement at all levels of the campaign world.

How do you want to play? ACKS supports multi-level play in the sense that, if you do multi-level play, the economics and results scale between the different levels of play without breaking. Either of the options you mentioned would work fine.

There’s a brief paragraph on p. 254 (“Adventurers, Conquerors, and Kings”) with a suggested approach, but really, whatever your group enjoys.

Also from Dragonsfoot, the rationale for our take on AC is explained at, but you can convert to S&W/DCC by adding 10 to ACKS AC, or to TSR style by taking (9 - ACKS AC).

Thanks both for the information

Could I just deal with all the taxes and the economy side of things and still fully adventure, perhaps ‘mix’ the roles up a bit?

For example,could I

  1. Do all the things needed to run a domain/barony/kingdom/etc, things that are not tied into actual adventuring

  2. Go steal back the family heirloom from the devious baron

  3. Direct my thieves’ guild to destroy the bridge, cutting off the supply line to the baron’s forces?

Or, could I do all those three things and have the thieves’ guild to (a) nothing at all, or (b) doing something totally trivial to the adventure, less even than destroying the bridge?

If you get what I mean


Yes, you could do any of those things (also note that adventuring grants a small boost to population growth due to increasing reputation, excitement, and so on).


And are the players supposed to be rulers of one shared kingdom, or would they each have their own patch of land? If the latter, I’m thinking it would be slightly more difficult to arrange ‘adventures’ for them all as they’d probably have different motivations concerning their different needs as a magic user, fighter, cleric etc.

I also noticed the spell lists have been trimmed back a lot. What with the overly powerful creep of magic (quadratic wizards or something), I see this as a plus.

Were some of the more disruptive spells like Fly, Teleportaion, Scry etc toned down or removed as a result, or were they grouped under ‘Rituals’?


I can’t tell if they were “toned down”, but Fly and Teleport are in ACKs Core, and Scry is in the ACKs Player’s Companion, with which you can pretty much create most other spells anyway. If anything is toned down, I’d say it’s access to “buff” spells. It’s not even a category of spell you can create.

There’s been some discussion about this recently on the forums & various ACKS blogs.

One of the most popular Actual Play reports is the Chronicles of the Grim Fist, where the players by-and-large share one domain (IIRC fighter-type as ruler, cleric as prelate, wizard has a tower and a “domain” of monster settlements, thief has a city as well as running a guild).

There’s a poster whose players settled/took over several independent-but-nearby domains and whose campaign subsequently faltered; they ran into some trouble with the economic model as well (thief had way too much money), but the initial analysis was that with the players having different domains, there needs to be Judge attention on getting them to work together - in this case it sounds like the Judge was busy writing up hexes for them to clear and trying to deal with broken economics and so didn’t really manage external forces that could have caused the players to coordinate.

In the case of the Grim Fist, the politics with the other local & remote NPC dominions is really, really important, and I think you could transpose those storylines into a collection-of-friendly-domains campaign as well as a collection-of-rulers-in-one-domain mode.

It entirely depends on what the group decides. In the various campaigns I've run, what's normally happened is that they start in one domain and everyone supports that effort. Then as they level up, they expand into additional domains supervised by other PCs.


Some spells were definitely toned down; for example there's a limit on how many continual lights a caster can have active at once, so that cities are not brightly lit by the efforts of a single civic-minded mage centuries ago. Spells above seventh level (a category introduced in the Greyhawk supplement to OD&D) have been converted to rituals.

Gosh, I’m popular!

You got our line-up dead on. The cleric is working on a plan to open a separate domain, however, and the thief is making plans to expand to a syndicate ruling over the thieves’ guilds in other cities as well. It’s a moving target!

Could you link me up to that faltered campaign? I would be really interested to see what happened with the thief.

The post I was thinking of about party dynamicsz was; he’s posted other analyses on his blog, and I think there was also a forum thread here.

The hijinks post was probably

Thank you so much. Vulfelind and I are now discussing those.

Vulfelind was actively avoiding hijinks as too dangerous to mess with. I’m hoping I can manage something in the middle, and the hijinks discussion gives me some ideas.

Also, I had no idea my little campaign was generating discussion. I am obviously out of touch with the internets.