So, my previous ACKS campaign died (largely due to uncontrollable circumstances; with the coming of the school year, the group scattered to the four corners of the globe, and our foray into running an online game failed miserably)despite enjoying considerable popularity during its run, and so now as summer comes around again I’m ready to go back to GMing.
So I thought I’d seek the community’s wisdom on a few topics that eluded me last time.
First off, I was hoping to get a better sense of the distribution of cities and rulers. How many Class I’s should a nation have? Is there an easy rule of thumb, like that there should be X cities of this size for every Y number of hexes in the kingdom, and that for every Q cities of that size, there should be N cities of a smaller size, and so on down the chain?
My first attempt at worldbuilding the scale ended up being a bit off, so when I’d drawn the hexes we ultimately had an empire the size of a kingdom, and a handful of kingdoms that were much, much too small, and I’d like to avoid that this time.
Second topic: Random encounters. I came across two issues with these:
First, our group defaulted to rolling for every hex travelled through that didn’t contain a city. (There’s an option for Civilized lands, which I took as tacit reassurance that you were indeed meant to roll even in Civilized Lands. Thus, an encounter on a 6+ means that 1/6th of all Civilized hexes contain a random encounter, and 1/8th of those encounters will be Dragons. That’s 1/48. That means that if the group travels four hexes a day (quite possible with roads) they’ll probably see at least one huge monster over the course of a two-week journey. For a low level party trying to play it safe, this seems really brutal. My group only made it to level 3-4 (2 for the wizard) and they had already hit a gorgon, a basilisk lair, and a green dragon. (Of course, they successfully ran away from the first two, and talked the dragon into a riddle game for their lives (The wizard’s familiar spoke Draconic)so these ultimately did add to the story, but there was a vibe of “WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING” amongst the party. Particularly after wandering into a nest of snakes.
Second, I wasn’t sure exactly what a random encounter constituted. Say I roll the dice and this determines that there’s a bear 400 yards away. I’m assuming it’s 400 yards ahead of the party, because if it’s behind them they can safely walk away. Does the bear make a throw to notice them? Do they make a throw to notice it? What happens if one of the party members is scouting ahead; is the bear 400 yards from him or from the party? Should a reaction roll be made to determine whether the bear is hungry or not, or is that only made if the PCs attempt to perform bear diplomacy?
Third Topic: Mortal Wounds, Death:
Sometimes the Mortal Wounds table gave results that made no sense. The party’s very first death was the wizard’s level 0 butler. He was bitten by a venomous snake, and since he only had 1 hp that kicked him into the negatives (and since he only had one hp, that kicked into the largest possible penalty.) One low Mortal Wound later, and all that was left of him was a red stain and bits of bone. The players laughed it off (except the wizard’s player, who was heartbroken) as the snake having exploded him, but it did seem vexing. I’m assuming most of you would’ve used common sense to overrule the chart, but I thought I’d mention it.
I also had a player die and be resurrected with the “Came Back Wrong” result, so he had a bear arm, which gives a -4 to reaction rolls. He wanted to know why he couldn’t just wear long sleeves, and furthermore, why having a bear arm was all that detrimental to his social skills. Surely “The Bear Lord” was an imposing title that people would respect, rather than be likely to attack?
Another player wanted to know why, if Raise Dead is so cheap, lords ever die of anything but old age. High level clerics not raising people left and right could be explained religiously, but there’s no philosophical reason why a high-level wizard might not fund himself with a “Life Ensurance” business, where he keeps bits of clients and casts resurrection on them if the client ever dies. Repeated deaths would accumulate resurrection errors, but most people die quite infrequently; you wouldn’t have to worry if you only got assassinated once or twice throughout your life.
Finally, is there an ETA for Domains at War? It’d be awful nice to be able to design the game world with that sort of thing in mind. I realize that the beauty of ACKS and D@W is that the rules should conform to reality well enough that a fort that would be imposing logically will also be imposing by the rules, but still. I haven’t been able to find any information on how its been progressing. (Also, is there any way I can preorder it?)
PS: ACKS is a lot of fun, and this thread isn’t meant to be complaining so much as wanting to smooth out a handful of wrinkles in a game that everyone was enjoying, and which I feel brought out better roleplaying that any RPG my group has played yet.