Idea: Advice for "taking the system one step at a time"

As I have years of experience with RPGs, I know I personally have no trouble looking at the 266-page document for ACKS and breaking it down into “rules that matter now” and “things I’ll look up when I need it”. Ultimately, it’s not a very complex system, but there’s a lot there that you can dig into later when you need it, which is great!
However, a lot of the people I play with don’t have that sort of experience with RPGs. Heck, I regularly play with people who’ve never touched an RPG before. If I hand over a 250-page book, they’ll possibly be intimidated by the bulk of it and be unsure where to begin. It’s not like it’s difficult to explain the game in-person, but they might want to look more into it later and be put off by the book’s size. Plus, the system clearly seems designed so newbies can understand it given it takes the time to define die rolls, etc.
With that being said, it might be worthwhile to have a short blurb on “how to tackle this book”. Something along the lines of “If you’re a player just getting started with the system, focus primarily on character generation and basic combat rules. GMs should also be sure to look into the basic rules for dungeon exploration - movement speeds, searching rooms, finding secret doors, etc.” That sort of thing. I think it would help people take things one step at a time, and I could point newbies at that section rather than throw a big book at them.

That, and cheat sheets are awesome for newbies. Cheat sheets help a lot for organizing information. But that’s another topic entirely :slight_smile:
Other random thoughts when looking at newbie-usability:

  • There are a crapload of short examples explaining how rules work - good!
  • I can’t find any lengthier examples of play - d’oh! Everything seems a bit self-contained; it may be hard to put things together
  • In the “don’t be intimidated by this book’s size!” blurb, it might be better to point out that it’s good to look at it more as a toolkit than a giant pile of rules. When I break it down, it doesn’t seem so intimidating when I look at it like this “over 30 pages are taken by spells, which you won’t have to take in all at once. on top of that, over 70 pages are listings of monsters. over 30 pages are dedicated to long-term campaign play - but to dive into the system at first, you don’t need to have all of that memorized” That effectively cuts out half the book from even having to be worried about offhand for someone just starting out - things they might want to skim/page through, but hardly a big tome of rules. (Sorry, that came off kind of stream-of-thought/ramble-y!)

I have been talking with Roger of Roles, Rules, and Rolls - - about making some cheat sheets and infographics kind of things. The two I suggested were a walkthrough of making a character and a flowchart for combat; what else would you like to see? Start a new topic if desired!
Also, a backer-written “how to tackle this” blurb would be IMO even more valuable than one we wrote. Volunteers for such a thing can email me at

IMO You also need cheat sheets for managing your domain, possibly for setting one up in the first place, management of criminal syndicates (and hijinks), and magical research (particularly item creation).
If not cheat sheets, then usable forms (maybe downloadable for offline use) that will automatically perform calculations to make life easier.


Thirded. I think forms for domain management are probably the most-requested supplemental material for ACKS.

I remember some discussion about a Chaosium-style character creation cheat sheet being included in the rulebook. Y’know, one that has a diagram showing how to fill in your character sheet. It looks like that didn’t make it in, but it would be a nice extra to include in a future publication or as a downloadable thingy.

As a GM, I would like to see a GM Screen with all as many charts on it as possible.

All good suggestions. I have to admit that at present my focus is on new product - there are so many products I have at about 70% completion that it’s unlikely I’m going to shift gears into creating a GM screen.

If someone is interested in creating a professional-level GM screen or domain management sheet for us, please email me: alex at autarch dot co.