Exotic Units

Some of you queried how to handle exotic troops, such as wyverns or dragons or who-knows-what, in ACKS D@W. Here's some rules that wll go into the final rulebook!



Exotic Mercenaries

From time to time, characters might hire exotic types of mercenaries, such as high-level adventurers, fantastic creatures, or trained animals. The nature and type of exotic troops available is strictly at the Judge’s discretion. The Judge should adjust or amend the availability of exotic mercenaries based on his particular campaign setting. In a savage and pre-historic world, packs of trained sabre-tooth tigers might be available; in a steampunk setting, golem mercenaries might be available.

To determine the number of exotic mercenaries available, find the row for “Exotic” mercenaries on the Mercenary Availability tables. Divide the number available by 2 to the power of the level of the character or HD of the monster type (round to the nearest whole). To determine the monthly wage for exotic mercenaries, cross-reference their level or Hit Dice on the Henchmen Monthly Fee table (ACKS p. 51). When determining the availability and wages of creatures with special abilities, add the number of * to the number of HD it possesses.


EXAMPLE: In ancient legends, flights of lammasu served the Auran Empire’s legions. The Tarkaun decides he wants to raise a unit of lammasu for his legions to prove he has restored the Imperial glory of old. The Judge decides this is reasonable given the context and history of the Auran Empire campaign setting.

The Judge first checks to see how many lammasu are extant in the empire. The Judge consults the Mercenary Availability by Realm Size table and cross-indexes “exotic” and “empire”. He sees there should be 5,500/HD2 exotics available. Lammasu have 7+7*** HD. Because they have three special abilities (* by their HD), lammasu will be treated as 10 HD monsters (e.g. three HD higher) for purposes of availability and wages.  2 raised to the 10th power is 1,024, so there are (5,500 / 1,024) 5.37 lammasu available, rounded to 5.

The Judge then determines how expensive lammasu are to hire.  Consulting the Henchmen Monthly Fee table in ACKS, he notes that 10th level henchmen cost 12,000gp per month. Therefore the unit of 5 lammasu would cost 60,000gp per month. The Tarkaun reconsiders whether the empire is that glorious…



Mercenary Availability by Realm Size

Mercenary Type

















That’s a clever mechanic. I might also imagine that the process of going out and recruiting those exotics would make for an adventure or two. Nice addition to the toolkit.

I wonder how much you have to, or should, pay custom (lawful or neutral) crossbreeds or at least how much you need to supply them.

(Half way through this first example I figured that this would probably end up going with you dire-wolf supply rules from the goblin wolf-rider thread, skip it if you’d like). Perhaps Tarkaun thinks that making true-breeding semi-intelligent Lion/Roc crossbreeds (called “Imperial Lammasus” in the propaganda, most peasants can’t tell the difference) might be a less expensive substitute. The crossbreeds are 6* HD (stats are basically that of a small roc with more ground movement, less fly speed and easier taming), but since they are intelligent, mystical beasts they will work for meat.

Now for a better example: Say Tarkaun wants to have angel (or angel-like) infantry, to silence the bards who scoffed at his lesser-lammasus. He takes some of his most loyal archers and asks for volunteers for a new “Seraphim squad.” They are, of course, sworn to secrecy before he reveals the project. The scheme is to make human-roc crossbreed archers. Participation is completely voluntary. Those who do become the first in a line of elite flying longbow-men, revered (or feared by the masses as a symbol of imperial might (say 2HD and a fly speed but otherwise human). Now the question: How much do the new units demand to be paid? Twice normal seem good, or do they start to get a big head about the whole thing?

(epilogue: After a small scandal involving a drunken Seraphim archer and a number of prostitutes, Tarkaun tires of the bards’ taunts and decides that flying lions solve a number of problems…)

Nerdnumber1, you ask some of the most outlandish, yet awesome, questions of anyone on this forum. Your ACKS group must be quite fun to play in.

As far as paying custom crossbreeds, I think it will have to be left up to the Judge on a case-by-case basis.

I would presume that the soldiers would have to be paid more to agree to be “mutated” in the first place.

Don’t use the word “mutate”. Go more along the lines of “transform into an angelic being, revered throughout the land.” If you sell it right, people would pay YOU to get wings. :wink:

My current group is still at level 1~3 and our GM is currently too busy to devote his normal focus to the game, so we’re playing modules for the time being (we are still having quite a lot of fun as it is, which I would give credit both to our GM’s skill/humor and ACKS’s interesting and streamlined rules). I just get easily excited by ACKS’s high level content.

We do have a bard that is fixated on having pegasus cavalry, a nightblade who is too paranoid to ever want any nightblade followers (“I don’t want trained assassins just hanging out in my home!”), and a female necromancer in training who dreams of lichdom. High levels are going to be FUN!

My Auran Empire group had a squadron of pegasus cavalry. Being too lazy to actually capture and breed real pegasi, they just bought young foals of the normal un-winged variety and used "Polymorph Other" to polymorph them into pegasus foals. Then they raised and trained them accordingly. All was well until one day a Dispel Magic wiped out the entire squadron...


Persistent enchantments are easily countered, but I have wondered, if it might be easier to re-make certain rare magical creatures using crossbreeds (or make a budget form as with the “Imperial Lamassu” above), rather than hunting out such elusive creatures. The efficiency of this tactic seems to boil down to how much control a mage has over certain aspects of a crossbreed that are independent of combat statistics, such as fertility, time to mature, and temperament. For example, could I make 2nd-generation neo-pegasi by mixing 1st-generation neo-pegasi (roc or hawk + med or heavy horse) and rabbits making a winged horse that is as prolific a breeder as a rabbit? The temperament might suffer for purposes of a war mount, but 3rd-gen neo-pegasi might have a little wolverine added in…

Another concern would be how those cross-breeds still capable of interbreeding with one of their parent species pass on their genes. I’d love to be able to make just one neo-pegasi and then put it out to stud to get more. Of course this means that the less-tame pets other mages might make could get somewhat out of hand. “Why on earth would you cross rust monster and pigeon!”* This is certainly a “GM discretion” area, but I think your lairs book might have room for a fun little chart of crossbreed breeding with original species effects…


Hum. That makes me wonder how thorough Polymorph Other really is. I mean, if it’s changing the creature, it’s changing the DNA, the biological systems still have to function. So once you’ve polymorphed a sufficient number for a diverse flock, you spend a spring letting nature be nature, and then that’s all built in mundanely.

It’d be easier to combine a rust monster and a moth, anyway. The antenna-fronds don’t change that much, and think of the market in rustmothballs you’d have for armories! An alchemist’s wet dream.

Step 1: Invent rust-mothballs
Step 2: Create and release rust-moths
Step 3: Profit

Ooo! OK: so, keep the moth’s reproduction method.

Release the rusterpillars into ore mines.

Man, you’d be on the dwarven sh*tlist so fast, they’d king an elf if he brought your head.