ACKs without Ability Scores

ACKs tends to minimise the need for ability score bonuses compared to other systems, as such I have been considering rules without them.

Not much really needs to be changed and I have a few possible ideas.  These generally revolve around that in many cases characters overall end up with about a +2 bonus across the board on average (this presumes the 5 character start up).  This gives some modifications but not really a huge number.

Prime Factors:
This essentially works on the basis that a character is better than average in what the character does.  Essentially characters get an equivlent of +2 across their prime requsites to determine the alterations of that ability score to other values.  Thus a fighter would gain +2 to melee hit and damage, +8 to open doors and +2 stone to overloaded (all the things strength tends to add).  A mage gains +2 general proficiencies, +2 languages and +2 repertoire spells per level (ie. bonuses +2 intelligence would give). While a Spellsword would gain +1 to melee hit and damage, +4 to open doors, +1 stone to overloaded, +1 general proficieny +1 language and +1 repertoire spell per level (all the things +1 strength and +1 intelligence would modify).
The downside to this however is that classes become rather homoginised in their core aspects where ability scores are concerned and still have some minor link to ability scores.

Random Factors:
Similar to Prime Factors, this works on the basis that characters get the alterations to other stats that an ability score bonus would otherwise give.  However a character rolls a d6 twice, and gains the equivlent of +1 to that ability score for the derived values. 1. Strength, 2. Intelligence, 3. Wisdom, 4. Dexterity, 5. Constitution and 6. Charisma.
Thus if a character rolled a 2 and a 6, they would get +1 general proficency, + 1 language, (+1 repotiore per level), +1 to reaction rolls and 1 additional henchman they can employ.
The downside to this is it has some link still to ability scores.

My preferred method however is traits.  This gives a small package of bonuses to the various alternate stats often modified by ability scores. A character rolls for these twice and the trait bonuses can stack (or not if that is desired).
As part of this though arcane casters miss a little in their repertoire (often having an intelligence bonus), thus Mages (and other pure arcane casters) gain 2 additional repertoire spells per level, while hybrids (like the spellsword and nightblade) gain 1 additional repertoire spells per level.

Traits: (roll a d12)
 1. Alert: +1 to avoid surprise and +2 to Hear Noise or other awareness throws
 2. Deft: +1 to Armour Class and +1 to initiative
 3. Hardy: +1 to hit point per level and +2 bonus to poison and death savings throws
 4. Intuitive: +1 to avoid surprise and +2 bonus to savings throws vs spells or magic items
 5. Nimble: +1 to Armour Class and +2 bonus to breath and blast savings throws
 6. Perceptive: +1 to hit for missile attacks and +2 when searching (eg, traps, secret doors, tracking and so forth)
 7. Prowess: +1 to hit for melee and missile attacks
 8. Resilient: +1 bonus to all savings throws and +2 to Mortal Wound rolls
 9. Savvy: +1 general proficiency, +1 language and +2 to any lore or knowledge throws
10. Strong: +1 to melee damage, +4 to open doors and +1 overloaded encumbrance
11. Suave: +1 to reaction rolls and +2 to maximum Henchman
12. Willful: +2 bonus to savings throws vs charm, fear, illusions and resisting intimidation or any other composure throws

Adept: +2 Cleaves and +1 level for spell casting effects
Bulwark: +1 Armour Class and +1 hit point per level
Heirloom: You start with a magic or special item of considerable value (discuss with GM as to specifics)
Linguist: +1 to reaction rolls when you speak, +4 languages
Lucky: Twice per day you can re-roll any failed Throw, but must take the result of the second roll.
Talented: +1 Proficiency from any list 

I like the traits a lot, but I worry about a few things with these systems.

For prime factors, how do you account for classes with more than two prime requisites? (Like mystic, which has four, or chosen, which has six).

For all of them, how do you account for ability score requirements to enter classes?

Some of the traits seem much more powerful than others, but I’m not sure that’s actually a problem even if it wasn’t an early thing; since they’re replacing stats, this is where randomness in power enters into character creation anyway.

One possibility that would replace rolling stats, but not replace stats entirely, would be to say that all level 0 characters start with 11 in all stats, and every time a character gains a level (including 1st level), they can add +1 to a stat of their choice. This would allow a 14th level character to have two 18s, or two 16s and two 13s, or six 13s, if I have done my rapid napkin math correctly.

I honestly hadn't taken into account classes with more than two prime requsites (being only in companion).  I guess they could choose the two '+1' options where the bonuses are for the most part, as prime requsites tend to only be a limit on shifting attributes anyway so arent much of a factor if you just remove them.

As to ability requirements: They have not been an issue I've ever really come across in the many years I've had gaming with them. 
For ACKs, most are generous at 9+ (11+ for only one of the companion classes if I recall) so a player would on average roll that.  Also most players would pick a stat combo that would allow them to meet the minimus if they really wanted to play a certain class when rolling for stats as well, or pick a class that suits the stats if they didnt have a major prefrence.

Traits: While some traits do seem a bit more powerful, I dont expet they would be so while in play as they arent all that much different when compared to a respective bonuses you could get for a +1 in an ability score or that could be gained with a proficency (a +2 bonus to an ability score suited to the class would give more, and often not that hard to actually get).
I have generally tried to keep the traits to a theme (or just close to what a +1 stat bonus would give anyway), while taking into account how often the bonus would come into play.  So just looking at the bonuses while some are higher, they would see much less frequent use than lower bonuses.  Attribute scores often have an issue where some are clearly used much more frequently than others, but give the same bonus and those used less frequently.
The additionals are just some extra ideas along the same lines (though not really sure on their balance overall as they tend to be further from what attributes give).

Your Attribute option could work as an alternative to rolling, but the idea for me is to not have attributes at all, so having them defeats that purpose.

Another option I'm playing around with would be aspects like the templates but give bonuses based on what is chosen (though that would have a similar issue to Prime Factors, in that those with the same template have the same bonuses), though that would require removing them from being connected to the starting funds roll as well.

Many classes are 9+ in one or two stats, this is true, but again with Mystic and Nobiran; Mystic requires 9+ in four specific stats, and Nobiran requires 11+ in all six stats. These aren’t things that you’re guaranteed to roll, even in five tries. (Dwarven Machinist requires 9+ in only three specific stats, and the last time I rolled up an ACKS character with my five tries, not one of the five qualified with a 9+ in all three of those stats.)

The ability score requirements are a big deal; Some classes are simply better than others, and ability score requirements are the main way of gating access.

Also, you're not taking into account backup characters. Remember that when making five character sheets, only two of them are given as tribute to the Judge It's true that only one of them is used by the player initally, but remaining two are kept as backups to be used in the event of the first character's horrible untimely death or retirement, and in an OSR game like ACKS, death and retirement are reasonably plausible events. This means that only a player's first character, fourth character, seventh character, tenth character and so on will be in the top 20%; The remaining two-thirds of actually played characters are likely to have stats closer to the average. (Also, some ability score combinations may lead to characters being of classes that the player prefers not to play and so gives to the judge even if their stats are theoretically numerically superior.)

While I agree it is possible for characters to die it really doesnt happen all that often from my experience, unless the GM (or individual players) want it to be so.  Instant death situations usualy happen later on as well when it is just much more feasable to take up a henchman than start with a much lower level character.  While 6+ months down the track, it is unlikely players even have or recall those stats they rolled as well, though that may vary from group to group.

Also I've found a player usually has a more rigid concept for thier first character so the requirements matter less so on the characters after that.

All in all few GMs are going to force players to play a class they have little interest in.  I certaintly wouldn't, and its why I give them the 5 options to start with.

I do understand the purpose of the ability stat requirements in limiting everyone being the one class (and frankly if all the players are taking that one class I'd be questioning why, rather than caring about the sat requirements) as a mechanical purpose to say that certain classes are just fewer with-in the setting than others (and it is not like the requirements are 15+, so rather unlikely). 
If some classes simply are clearly better, for their xp costs, then that is an issue in their design.

All in all I'd say if you are not a fan of the baggage stats bring to actually want to remove them from play, the stat requirements aren't going to matter much to you for the limitations either.

[quote="Loswaith"] While I agree it is possible for characters to die it really doesnt happen all that often from my experience, unless the GM (or individual players) want it to be so.  Instant death situations usualy happen later on as well when it is just much more feasable to take up a henchman than start with a much lower level character. [/quote]

Really? Huh. In my campaign, the PCs averaged one death per session for the first three sessions. Then they got lucky, and the bararian with beast friendship managed to steal some trained white apes from a morlock lair, which allowed the party to survive encounters significantly above their level for a while.

This is quite interesting, and I may steal it for my game. I am using a bonus table that only gives bonuses for a 15+, so this may make for some good variety.