ACKS and 3.x

Quick question for Alex and the gang - have you thought ahead to whether you’d ever do an optional ‘advanced tactics’ book or something similar that might incorporate more of the 3.x style tactical combat (the grid, full actions, 5’ steps, AoO, stuff like that). Just curious. Abstract combat is a big part of old school play, but ACKS is already part of the way there with the proficiency system and codification of combat maneuvers through proficiencies.
I’m wondering if you polled the backers, how many are purely old schoolers vs how many have a foot in newer editions.

Looking at the backer response survey & talking to people at Gen Con, I heard directly that a number of people were planning to use ACKS economics in other editions of D&D, or that ACKS was inspiring them to try old-school play when they were used to other things. And a number of people said they heard about ACKS at and, where old-schoolers are an important minority.
My feeling is that combat tactics is the easiest thing to port over. Changing assumptions about the lethality and survivability of average people is more difficult. I once tried to run a 3.5 campaign in which the heroes were first-level Greyhawk PCs who were all turned to stone by a meteor impact, and then hundreds of years later reanimated by bandits who had a flesh-to-stone antibasilisk on a leash to keep themselves fed. These low-level PCs captured the basilisk and could use it to thaw out the denizens of the castle in which they started, so the premise of the game was that they found themselves in possession of a stronghold far beyond their means, situated in the middle of once-familiar territory where the map still applied but its denizens were now unknown.
All this was great fodder for an ACKS or old-school game, but I kept being flummoxed when the players insisted that the first-level barbarians they’d thawed had max HP at first level and could be revived after the fight at up to -10 HP. A game in which it takes 22 points of damage to cause attrition in a castle’s basic defenders is quite different than one in which 1d6 points of damage will take out a man-at-arms; it became really hard to do resource management challenges that weren’t also a serious TPK risk.
So I think conversion notes and guidelines for combat would be more useful than combat rules per se, but I could be proven wrong.
The other thing I think would be useful would be guidelines for integrating new-school features like skill DCs into the economy. I posted about this at’s D&D ghetto and EN World’s general discussion area, and got some good suggestions about how to integrate player expectations that having a +22 Diplomacy will get them a good price on wool without allowing this to totally throw the fantasy economy out of whack.

more tactical combat has be done and redone… I would love a more abstrac combat system :slight_smile:
it would help also in G+ and similar chat games :slight_smile:

I run a 3.5 campaign as well as an ACKS campaign each week, so I’m certainly comfortable with tactical combat.
Is anyone playing ACKS on a grid right now? I had assumed that some people would. The key to remember is that rather than 3.5’s threat ranges and attacks of opportunity, ACKS uses engagement at 5’. The ranges and movements are all easy to convert.

We currently do. Anyone fmailiar with current systems (3e, 4e) should have no problems adapting this to a grid system.

We do use a grid and miniatures for relative placement, but don’t currently use 3.5 style 5’ steps or attacks of opportunity. Of course it would be easy to pull in some new school tactical combat techniques via house rules; my OP was whether this is something Autarch is already planning (formally). Unlike a lot of retro clones that preach only to the converted, ACKS has elements that could appeal to more of the new school crowd as well, and 3.x tactical combat is part of it.

We actually like that there are no Opportunity attacks. Placement is no big deal and for us this is a part of the charm for ACKS - it isn’t too tactical in this regard. It means players don’t have to agonize over placement - where is the best flank position, how do I avoid Opportunity attacks, etc. Really, if a group wants it, then it just gets added on but I don’t think ACKS itself needs to include those rules.

Tacking it on is pretty trivial.

My players really like being able to move before or after combat, but having the OA when leaving a threat zone and the 5’ step to maneuver out makes them a lot less mobile than you would otherwise expect.

When I tried the abstract combat with my group they got confused with how I was picturing the situation. Having the battle map is just too conveinient for us.

It’s very easy to use miniatures with ACKS as desired. Use 5-foot squares and adjudicate movement on the grid. Instead of Attacks of Opportunity, you have Engagement, which is akin to each figure exerting a 5’ zone of control around itself. If you enter a figure’s ZOC, or begin your round in the ZOC, you cannot exit the ZOC except by using Defensive Movement.

@Fabio – Funny you should mention this… I’ve been working on just such a creation and porting the combat system over to it. My basic thought process goes like this. When I was a teenager playing AD&D, the games (and fights) I remember more than 25 years later were the games that DIDN’T use highly tactical fighting. In fact, most of the time we didn’t use miniatures at all. Now the problem there was that we would get into fights when your imagination said I was at place X and my imagination said I was at place Y. Moreover, after a number of years in the SCA as a heavy fighter – in more than a few wars – the way games represent fighting and the way fighting actually occur really aren’t aligned.

These things in mind, I’ve designed a battleboard which allows the combat to flow pretty naturally between “zones” – it still allows for some tactical activities, but it doesn’t allow for the silliness of “manuvering into this square here so I can get the gang up bonus”. At the same time, I’ve got some early reason to believe it can be used at any scale, but that may end up being wishful thinking.

The whole thing has survived alpha testing, and goes into beta in a couple of weeks with my gaming group. If you’re interested, if it survives contact with real play, I’ll happily post it here.


When I played the Dwimmermount playtest at Brooklyn Strategist with Tavis as GM, he used simple description and some illustration for the outdoor events, then used miniatures and maps for the dungeon proper… but that was as much for setting the scene as anything. It was much more fast and loose than a 4e combat grid for instance, but it did help to create the environment and understand positioning.

Of course he was using the Dwarven Forge stuff, which was perty to look at anyway.