First impressions

I ran my first session of ACKS in what will be a monthly (can’t play much due to kids) campaign with some play by e-mail side quests. My first impressions:

-My favorite bits about ACKS so far has been the combat movement rules. Really simple rules like having to always move then attack, never attack then move make an incredible amount of difference and just work beautifully. So much better than dealing with AoOs or the like.

-In some cases which items count as heavy items and which don’t was confusing. I ruled that 50 feet of rope is a heavy item, which resulted in the PC who just had to have 300 feet of rope hiring someone who’s main job is to carry rope.

-One player really wanted to be a halfling (AFTER picking the explorer class interestingly enough :slight_smile: ) so to convert it back to being a halfling I’m thinking of capping the speed at 3/4 human max (short legs), giving penalties to escaping grapple and whatnot and +1 AC. Fair? For the first adventure I just used the Explorer stats and called it a halfling.

-Attack throws seem counter-intuitive on paper but worked just fine in actual play.

-The biggest hitch we ran into rules-wise were the initiative rules. I kept on forgetting to enforce the rule about declaring spells and running away before rolling. Also since I had a whole bunch of NPCs to keep track of (the troll going berzerk, the eight year old girl the PCs were trying to rescue/kidnap, the innocent bystanders, the dwarves that the troll was trying to kill, the hairless pitbulls, etc. etc.) I was rolling and rolling and scribbling down a lot of numbers before each round. I think this will get smoother as I practice but I might opt for side-based initiative on a case by case basis. But then the main combat of the session was such a massive pit of chaos (in the best possible way) that maybe that isn’t too representative.

-Looking forward to digging into the economics more in the future, we didn’t really touch on that yet.

-Loved going back to reaction rolls after so long. Was a nice change of pace from “I use diplomacy, I got a 19.”

Overall a very enjoyable session, am looking forward to more…

Sounds like you had a great time. Have you tried using tent cards for initiative? Do you use a DM screen?

Never heard of using cards for that. Might be workable but I’m still thinking of just using side-based initiative just to save time in at least some circumstances. Didn’t have a DM screen just printed out info with NPC stats on one page, treasure listing on a second page and a cheat sheet of important charts and info on a third page.

I'm glad you've enjoyed the game so far!

I'd encourage you to try agaian on individual initiative before switching to group initiative. There's a few game mechanics that plug into individual initiative that you lose if you switch to group initiative, in particular the spell-interrupts. With individual initiative, a high-Dex archer with Combat Reflexes is very valuable as a spell-interrupter....

Here's how I handle initiative. This method scales up very well for even large size battles.

1. You, as Judge, roll for each group of creature. This could be, for example "6 goblin archers," "ogre," and "anti-paladin", meaning you make 3 initiative rolls. You let the players roll and remember their initiative numbers.

2. Starting at 10, count down. "10... 9... 8...." When a player's PC has that iniative number, he says "I'm up," and acts. If one of your NPCs has that initiative number, you say "Ogre's up" or whatnot. 

3. When you get to 0, everybody rolls initiative again and the round starts over.

The virtues of this system are (a) you don't need to write down or remember the PC initiatives, (b) it creates a sense of ominous tension as you go through the countdown, and (c) it aesthetically meshes with the 10-second combat round.


As for keeping track of monster initiative, here’s something I’ve done in the past:

If you don’t already have the monsters in a list somewhere, write them down when combat begins.

Roll all of your monster initiative dice at once, and without thinking about it, push the dice into a line.

The first die goes to the first monster in the list, the second to the second, etc.

Repeat the rolling and pushing each round and otherwise do like Alex says.

That eliminates the need for writing anything down after the first round (and if you already have the monsters in some kind of order in your notes, then there’s no writing at all!)

Agreed. This is the best way I’ve found to run initiative that changes every round.

Good idea, I’ll do that in the future. What made the initiative a bit annoying to run was that the main combat in the session was a three-way (or possibly four-way depending on how you slice it) brawl with a bunch of bystanders.

Yeah that’s what I did, on the PC end of things it worked well (and good point about the spell interruption) but it was time consuming to roll and scribble down the initiative values for 4 or so different groups of NPCs each round. However, pre-rolling those values (as suggested below) should help with that.