So, my impression of ACKS is that, as a retroclone, most of its DNA comes from B/X. Handily, that’s one of my favorite subspecies of D&D.
But one thing I’ve noticed is that there’s a shift in the balance of power between characters and monsters. That is, it seems that monsters in ACKS frequently do a lot more damage, maybe even “unrealistically” to much damage, as compared to their B/X equivalents. Whereas PCs don’t necessarily have better defenses.
A few examples:
Lizardmen: In B/X, lizardmen do 1d6+1 (natural weapons) or weapon +1. In ACKS, they do weapon +1 or 1d3/1d3/1d8 (They’re crazy to use weapons, IMHO.)
Constrictor snakes: ACKS’ Giant Python is 20’ long, and I think is probably based on the African Rock Python or similar. It does 1d4 on a bite, and if I’m reading the description correctly begins to constrict for 2d8 immediately. That is, any successful hit is going to do 1d4+2d8, with the 2d8 continuing automatically on subsequent rounds. The critter has 5 hit dice, and a damn good movement rate. The B/X version has the same special attack, but it only does 2d4 constriction damage. (If you use the Cleave rules as written for constrictor snakes, they can probably kill three or four peasants a round with constriction.) This is also pretty highly out of bounds with reality for a natural animal - I don’t think there are records of real-world pythons, even of that size, managing to kill adult humans who aren’t alone. It takes them too long to constrict someone to death for it to be a practical tactic against someone with help. But that’s okay; I’m alright with interpreting the creatures in the monster section as being more like horror-movie monsters than natural animals. Like, there are probably “normal” pythons in the world that are like real-world ones, but they’re window-dressing rather than encounters. The ones in the monster section are the kind where a den of three of them could terrorize a small village, racing through the streets and killing peasants left and right.
Not every monster equivalent gets a damage upgrade in ACKS, but it seems that enough of them do that it was a conscious design decision.
So, I’m a little curious if anyone else sees this, or if I just happen to have rolled on the random monster charts the creatures that got the upgrades.
Incidentally, for these reasons, I’m working on character generation that gives PCs some collateral bonuses to make them feel a bit more competent.
(I use Adventurer-style stat generation with five sets, but don’t allow point trading; I’ve never liked point trading. I make PCs roll HP at first level, but I let them reroll all HD each level and take the new score if it’s better; they can also get a reroll of all HD by spending a week in town living it up, but in that case they have to take the new result. I’m thinking about letting PCs have more proficiencies than the RAW, but I’m not sure how many. I’m making available some weird-science devices that are a bit better than normal equipment but not as good as magic items, which gives PCs something to spend money on at low-to-mid levels. I’ve also put healing potions at 500gp, which I think is really low RAW, but doesn’t seem to be game-breakingly low.)