Create a campaign feel with 4 classes

The generic D&D feel comes from the four core classes - fighter, mage, cleric, thief. However, swapping those out for others can change the feel of a campaign from the very beginning, as it alters the assumptions and expectations of the group.


Example: the Ancient Races Core Campaign - core classes: Vaultguard, Craftpriest, Spellsword, Nightblade

This is an all dwarf/elf campaign, so it would probably involve ancient relics and protecting wilderness areas from humanoids. This one uses only classes from the core rulebook; adding the PC, there could be all-dwarf or all-elf campaigns.


Example: the Chaotic Campaign - core classes: Ruinguard, Assassin, Witch, Warlock

This campaign could either be centered around Zaharan ruins or the corruption of the Empire.


Example: the Holy Campaign - core classes: Paladin, Cleric, Bladedancer, Priestess

Possibly less combat-oriented, this would likely look at countering the corruption in the Empire


Example: the Wilderness campaign - core classes: Barbarian, Explorer, Shaman, Ranger

All classes that do well in the wilds.


Example: the Court campaign - core classes: Bard, Courtier, Machinist, Venturer

Classes that one could see working for a noble in their court.


What other themed campaigns can we come up with?

The Builders - Craftpriest, Machinist, Mage, Venturer (the idea behind venturer is that they would be building a merchant empire)

Shadows in the Night - Nightblade, Assassin, Dwarven Delver, Thief

Smash Puny Mages - Barbarian, Explorer, Fighter, Dwarven Fury

ACKS Magica - Mage, Wonderworker, Warlock, Elven Enchanter

I've wanted to do a thieves' guild campaign for a while now.  In ACKS that might be Thief, Assassin, Nightblade... Bard(?).

This is fantastic.All presented in fighter-ish/mage-ish/thief-ish/cleric-ish order.

Elves of Elfland: Elven Ranger, Elven Enchantress, Elven Nightblade, Elven Courtier

Dwarves of Dwarfland: Dwarven Fury, Dwarven Machinist, Dwarven Delver, Dwarven Craftpriest

Raiders of Jutland: Barbarian (northern), Antiquarian Witch, Explorer, Shaman

Kingdoms of Kemesh: Anti-Paladin, Warlock, Assassin, Chthonic Witch

Magical Masters: Elven Spellblade, Mage, Elven Nightblade, Nobiran Wonderworker




Wastelands: Thrassian Gladiator, Zaharan Ruinguard, Dwarven Fury, Mystic

A Song of Light and Law: Elven Courtier, Paladin, Nobiran Wonderworker, Bard


Dwarves of Dwarfland: Dwarven Fury, Dwarven Machinist, Dwarven Delver, Dwarven Craftpriest

I’d’ve called that setup Dwarf Fortress, myself :stuck_out_tongue:

Something worth considering with these alternate setups is prime requisite distribution. One of the strengths of the canonical Core Four is that they’re single-req with no overlap; even if you roll a lot of crap, the odds of any single set of stats qualifying for no class are only like 0.5%. If all of your classes have two or more prime reqs / min reqs, that ratio can rise significantly. If you’re playing Koewn’s Wastelands, (for example), if you roll Con 8 or lower, your only option is Ruinguard, in which case you need a 9+ in four of your other stats (~30% chance of that happening, so 70% chance that it doesn’t, times the 26% chance for a Con < 9 → about 18% of statblocks will be disqualified just on that basis). If you roll a Str 8 or lower, your only option is Mystic, which also requires 9+ in four of your other stats. It would be inaccurate to conclude that 36% of statblocks would be disqualified by adding those two probabilities (because of the inclusion-exclusion principle; it’d actually be closer to 27% I think), but you’re still looking at a rate of unplayable statblocks more than an order of magnitude higher than normal, to say nothing of the increased difficulty in getting prime req XP bonuses. Having 25% of random statblocks be unsuitable for a life of adventure isn’t deeply unreasonable (heck, more than that are unqualified to be heavy cavalry apparently), but it sounds like a pain in the ass for one’s players.

(Likewise, an all-dwarf campaign requires Con 9+ from everyone, disqualifying 26% of statblocks right out of the gate)

Anyway, all I’m getting at here is that if you want a class to be common, it helps if it’s easy to qualify for. If you make an alternate set “core” without changing their reqs and keep the old core available, players who roll poorly are still going to choose the old core instead (and dirty optimizers more concerned with leveling rate than flavor will still choose the old core too even if they roll well). If you make an alternate set core without changing their reqs and remove the old core, players are going to end up rolling more characters just to qualify and/or leveling more slowly because their prime req bonuses disappear (on top of the fact that most multi-req classes level more slowly than their core equivalents anyway).

I guess you could add a rule permitting swapping any ability score roll into a campaign-flavor’s “required” stat if you wanted to keep no-class-qualification rates down near normal (ie, if you’re playing Light and Law, permit swapping any stat with Charisma, since that’s a req for all of the classes), or a “drop some other score n points, raise the required score by 1 point before choosing a class and needing to qualify”, but it’s something to think about before running one of these.

i think for Dwarfs of Dwarfland specifically, you’d be assuming all stats you’ve rolled are for Dwarves, you might modify your rolling procedure to automatically discard any stat block that had Con < 9 and replace it with a new set of rolls until you get one. Alternatively, you could just reroll Con specifically, or raise it to 9 whenever it’s below.

The other ones, though, would be hard to fix without just either resorting to point-buy or accepting a high powerwed campaign.

That's a good point.

In certain cases it may be a feature and not a bug; with Wasteland I was necessarily thinking Dark Sun, which IIRC used 5d4 for stats, under (maybe?) the thought that a harsh world required tough characters.

It'd be interesting to backport the 'demographics of heroism' back to a few of these - perhaps Wasteland is less adventured in - nobody leaves their slowly deteriorating, increasingly dangerous arcologies from the World Before because technically they don't qualify for an adventuring class, while fictionally it's stupid dangerous to travel between them.

I'd point to Alex's reply about the difference between 'common' and 'remarkable' demihumans here:

to support a huddled mass of non-adventuring, non-"classed" demihumans in such a setting, a natural result of stat requirements. The humans are even worse off with the requirements for Mystic.


Improving slightly on the format by suggesting ACKS PC Templates.

The Heavy Metal Sword & Sorcery Campaign:

  • Assassin (Cutthroat, Bounty Hunter, Assassin-for-hire or Cult Deathbringer)
  • Barbarian (any, but seriously, DEATH DEALER) or Thrassian Gladiator (any)
  • Mage (Eunuch Sorcerer) or Warlock (Corrupted Scholar, Diabolist or Scheming Vizier)
  • Shaman (Wise Man, Runecaster or Nomad Shaman) or Witch (Dark Oracle, Death Mistress or Fetishist)

The Grim World of Perilous Adventure Campaign:

  • Bard (Charlatan) or Elven Courtier (Scion)
  • Cleric (Crusader)
  • Dwarven Delver (Pest Controller) or Thief (Outlaw)
  • Dwarven Fury (Tempest, Dirge Marcher, Vengeful Lord) or Fighter (Guardsman, Legionary or Mercenary)


  • Assassin (ninja)
  • Cleric (yamabushi) or Mystic (sohei)
  • Fighter (samurai)
  • Warlock or Cthonic Witch (onmyoji) or Gnomish Trickter reskinned as Tengu Trickster

Pretty cool!

You should post here (instead of over there) more often.


dare i ask where "Over there" is?

TheRPGSite, a wretched hive of scum and villainy if ever there was one. Probably why I like it so much.


Thanks, bob. I kinda want to but my attention is dispersed over at least half a dozen games at anytime. For all its faults theRPGsite is the one general-purpose RPG message board whose proclivities best line up with my own.

Also I am slightly embarassed that ACKS is my favorite version of classc/TSR D&D and I have yet to run it. But hopefully Sinister Stone of Sakkara will change this.​

Also, the Grim World of Perilous Adventure thing I posted above is giving me unclean thoughts of WFRP by way of ACKS.

All we need are stats for a Small But Vicious Dog.

I like the suggested templates. I don't have my PC with me right now, so I can't do templated ideas, but that is a great thought, to limit templates to fit tone.

Also, the Grim World of Perilous Adventure thing I posted above is giving me unclean thoughts of WFRP by way of ACKS.

Between that thread the other week here about designing a pre-built Domains at War campaign and working on ridiculous Domains at War units for my own game, I’ve half a mind to do just Warhammer Fantasy by way of ACKS :stuck_out_tongue:

>Between that thread the other week here about designing a pre-built Domains at War campaign and working on ridiculous Domains at War units for my own game, I've half a mind to do just Warhammer Fantasy by way of ACKS :P


Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Changing templates is a strikingly easy way to build in world-flavour for a campaign.