Extending level progression?

Hi folks.

I bought ACKS because I like the concept of progressing from nobody to ruler, and was especially interested in the domain and guild rules. I look forward to the Domains at War book.

There is one thing I dislike about ACKS, to the point that I don’t try to play it - the low level cap. I understand why the 14th level cap is in place, but I strongly prefer an uncapped progression. Does anyone have any house rules for extending it? Anyone see any harm to the balance of the system if we just use another system’s progression tables?


If you extend the level cap, here’s what you need to take into account:

  1. Demi-human classes have their level cap based on (14-X). So for instance for Elven Spellswords X is 4, and their level cap is 10. If you increase the maximum level for humans it might need to increase.

  2. Level correlates with the XP Threshold in Campaigns chapter. If you increase the maximum level, you need to extend the XP Thresholds.

  3. Because of how XP Thresholds work, level tends to correlate with the size of domain ruled. If a level 14 character rules an empire, what does a level 20 character rule?

  4. The most powerful dragons, at about 20 HD, are intended to be more powerful than any mortal hero. If you extend the level cap you’ll need to increase dragons’ power and similar monsters.

  5. ACKS does not use spells higher than 6th level for mages and 5th level for clerics. If you extend the level cap, will you keep this rule, or switch to allowing higher level spells?

Hope that helps in thinking about how to make the switch.

I think if I were to try to push ACKS up past 14, I’d basically do something like enworld’s Epic 6th ( http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?206323-E6-The-Game-Inside-D-amp-D ). Earn another hundred thousand and odd XP past 14th, get another proficiency (maybe alternating general and class with odd/even levels), repeat. This would allow some degree of continued progression without continuing to raise anyone’s core numbers past the fairly-balanced spot they’re at at 14th. Or you could use the monster progression from the Transformation sections of the core book, which has no HD cap but whose XP costs never stop doubling either; in theory you’re never hard-capped, but in practice eventually earning enough XP to level is impracticable.

Once you get past 14th, you run into a couple of problems I can think of pre-coffee: first, if you continue to allow saves to progress, they will eventually approach 0+ for all saves (particularly for fighters), and then your casters are not really useful. Magic items become essential to AC-based survival as to-hit throws shift down past 0+ and fighter damage bonus continues to grow. Likewise, what do you give casters for spells after 14th, since all the typical content for those levels has been shifted into rituals and made available at 11th or 12th or so?

My suggestion I think would be to give it a shot and then deal with the level cap if and when you hit it. I ran ACKS for a solid year and nobody came close to hitting their caps. I think by the time they reached that level, character advancement would be more through fulfillment of grand ambitions, the expansion of empires and the establishment of dynasties than through mechanical growth.

and of course, there is a big difference between level caps in theory and level caps in practice. For example, Pathfinder supposedly has classes capable of reaching level 20, but in practice 75% of Paizo’s published material never goes beyond 12th level, and nothing goes beyond 16th level. Even though it says you can go up to 20th level, if you actually tried to play at high level, it becomes incredibly unweildy and a few key dice rolls can cascade into either a cakewalk or an impossible fight.

mmmh. you can go with immortality. i have started to work on some immortal rules and have preliminary doc, although many aspects and ideas are missing. in general, after your max level, you begin to walk the path towards immortality, adding immortal levels (beginning at level +1 up to +7) to your existing class, base abilities based on former class and adjusted by immortal level and gaining immortal “powers”. This will not affect domain threshold or domain size…

ups: if anyone takes a sneak-peak i’ll send the word-doc. but beware its not not not complete !!!

I’d concur with jedavis; handing out proficiencies every so often would be more than sufficient, in fact, they’d be the most wonderful thing in the world.

When I read D@W and the domain rules in ACKS, I’m thinking a lot less about to-hits and saves than I am about how to spend a limited number of proficiences to make sure my presence in my realm and on the battlefields is notable - the bonuses you can get to morale, initiative, and leadership ability through proficiencies are extremely effective.

As an extra, for very large empires, you could very well treat the extra # of proficiences reached as a ‘virtual level’ for things like relative power to NPC/hireling/henchmen - so, eventually, you’ll have a number of 14th level henchmen who hold their own empires as your vassals; etc, etc; until you could very well have a multitude of empires underneath you, World Emperor style.

Without judging sources, I’m getting multiple sites saying there’s around 12 million sq miles of arable land on earth. At the top range of the table on pg 229, that’s 6-12 empires on a planet; give or take.

Though, if the campaign style allows for it, using those virtual levels to begin some sort of apotheosis a-la the Immortal set would be fun.

Based on my own understanding of how ACKs “plugs in” to real world demographics, it seems you could only reasonably add another 1 or 2 levels before “The world is not enough” and you would need to branch out into the multiverse, which could be pretty neat. Good luck raising an army capable of sieging the City of Brass, though. Sheer numbers don’t do you much good when the environment itself immolates your basic troops.

as a random aside, seeing how many proficiences suddenly have new and exciting uses in D@W has me contemplating a way to allow proficiency retraining, possibly modeled after spell libraries.

That’s a really good idea. Eventually give up that Weapon Style for Military Strategy.

Given ‘time’ actually happens in ACKS with domain management and army raising, etc; your PC getting old and losing that personal combat edge but gaining a leadership edge fictionally works.

And, pursuant to all the above, I think Alex has enough Maths™ in his divine power/spell power spreadsheets that an actual method to apotheosis alongside the rules already extant in the transmogrification & spell research bits that a subsystem for doing Immortality could very well be developed.

I tend to agree with the prevailing opinion that directly extending the level caps are not necessary.

Divine apeothesis, dragon-king or avangion transformations, becoming an extremely high-powered golem, undead, or crossbred monster; these are all things that extremely high-level characters can do for themselves, and most of the rules are covered under Transformations in the ACKS Core book. Especially since once you transform, you can theoretically advance in HD without limit (though in practice, let’s face it, 20 million xp or more per level means you are not gaining any more levels).

If you want characters to progress in personal power past level cap, I also would go with the E6 method of every X XP gets you a new proficiency. I would probably say that every X XP gets you a general proficiency and every Y gets you a class proficiency (not sure whether or not I would want to alter the Y value for class prof by class. On the other hand, that value is different for classes normally; on the other hand, this is a unified progression in that no class gets anything other than the class profs, it’s not like the fighter is getting more attack throw value or the wizard is getting more spells).

Because of the mechanics of saving throws and attack throws, I definitely would not allow those to continue to progress past the values for a 14th level character. Characters should never reach a point where they are essentially immune to magic, nor a point where foes cannot evade their attacks.

Finally, given that a 14th level character tends to be am emperor or at least a very powerful domain ruler, I’m not sure that they ever need to increase in personal power past that. They are already one of the most powerful mortals in the world (if not THE most powerful), and as a player, you can continue to feel advancement by growing your domain, your army, and so on, even if your character himself is no longer advancing in personal power.

I guess one complication with the E6 approach would be demihumans, possibly? I’ll have to go check the rulebook when I get home, but if they start pulling “E14” proficiencies before other characters have capped it could get a bit weird.

a quick eye-balling of the core rules seems to suggest the biggest disparity in the core rules is 410k from the max (10th) level Dwarven Craftpriest to 1,060,000 for a 14th level mage.

I’m not sure that that’s actually a problem, though.

The uncapped characters are continuing to advance in their actual class progression, which presumably is much more effective at power gain than the extra proficiencies. The capped demihuman is only getting a proficiency every so often.

Certainly if you get something silly like a proficiency every 2000 XP it would get silly, but I was thinking something more along the lines of a proficiency every 500k xp or so. (And to be fair, apparently as Jard points out, the biggest discrepancy in core is 410k, so if you give a proficiency every 500k then the human character will always reach 14th level before the demihuman gets his first bonus proficiency in. 500k might be too expensive, though; this is purely a number off the top of my head that I have not done any math or research to figure out the feasibility of.)

The goal here isn’t to get you fast power advancement, after all; you had that already when you were low level. The goal is just to let you continue to feel that you’re making progress towards a goal, and it doesn’t need to be a very easy goal.

actually 410k is what it takes for the dwarven craftpriest to max out, so he needs 650k less XP than the wizard to reach max level. To be fair, just about everyone needs less XP than the wizard to max out.

Great answers. Thanks all!

Misunderstanding! My bad.

The rest remains true, though; gaining a proficiency is generally less valuable than gaining a class level.