Importing from Pathfinder

I’ve been running D&D games in my homebrew setting since the early 1990s. I began with 2nd Edition, switched to 3rd when it came out, then to 3.5. For the last few years, I’ve been running in Pathfinder, which all my players seem to love.

I, on the other hand, am tired. Thirteen years of dealing with the rules crunch of the 3.x iteration has worn me out. I’m interested in simplifying things, and have been investigating earlier editions.

The main thing that has held me back from just grabbing the old B/X rules and diving in is that I’m not ready to give up the stories and mythology of my homebrew setting. It represents almost 20 years of my DMing life, after all. To switch over to B/X from Pathfinder would require me to either reskin, rewrite, or eliminate entire concepts from my world as it currently stands (especially those which affect existing PCs).

That’s where ACKS caught my eye, particularly the Player’s Companion. Having some guidelines for creating custom classes in a B/X mold goes a long way towards making this a feasible switch for me. That said, I need a little advice from those with a bit more experience in the system (or preferably, both systems).

First, I intend on keeping Vancian prepared casting, at least for the actual wizards. I like the free casting for clerics and other divine types, but it just rubs me wrong for wizards, especially when I still have sorcerers with which to contend.

Ultimately, that’s my first real challenge. A few very important existing characters in my world (both PC and NPC) are sorcerers, and I need a better way to model them than just making them mages and calling it a day. The fluff of the sorcerer as distinct from the wizard is too intertwined now with my setting to be handwaved away, so I need to figure out how to properly model that in ACKS.

Mechanically, I’d like them to still feel more or less like they do in 3.x, as arcane casters with a seriously limited spell selection, but more daily casting than a wizard. What would be the best way to achieve this while keeping the basic balance between classes intact? How many XP could such a character expect to require for leveling up? Would it throw the world off its axis if the ACKS sorcerer used Charisma instead of Intelligence as their prime requisite and casting stat?

Any insight or advice is welcome.

Switching mages back to the way magic users cast spells in B/X shouldn’t be a problem. I’m sure the change was made to make mages more versatile in ACKS, but if your players expect a certain way of casting from mages and sorcerers, then it shouldn’t be a problem changing it back. I might increase the number of spells the wizard is allowed to keep in his book. In fact, there probably is no good reason to make an upper limit if he has to pre-choose his castable spells each day.

Building a 3.x style sorcerer shouldn’t be too hard. The witch in the PC is a lot like a divine sorcerer in many ways.

Yeah, my thinking was that wizards wouldn’t be restricted to a repertoire, while sorcerers would. My main concern was how giving sorcerer’s more spells per day and CHA based casting at the expense of a more restricted repertoire might muck up the balance assumptions of the system. As such, I wanted to solicit some opinions and advice before I just dove into peeling apart a system I haven’t played yet.


I faced a similar challenge as I've ported my own campaign world from 3.5 to ACKS back and forth a few times. Here's how I did it:

Sorcerer: Use the existing Mage rules. Their repertoire equals spells cast per day, plus their CHA bonus instead of INT bonus.

Wizard: Use the existing Mage rules. They must prepare spells in advance as per B/X. They have an unlimited number of spells in their spellbook.

These two options are more-or-less equivalent and I wouldn't adjust XP costs at all. 

To differentiate the classes a bit further, give Sorcerers and Wizards a different selection of class proficiencies. 

Wizard Proficiency List: Use mage list; e.g. Alchemy, Battle Magic, Beast Friendship, Black Lore of Zahar, Collegiate Wizardry, Craft, Diplomacy, Elementalism, Elven Bloodline, Engineering, Familiar, Healing, Illusion Resistance, Knowledge, Language, Loremastery, Magical Engineering, Mapping, Mystic Aura, Naturalism, Quiet Magic, Performance, Prestidigitation, Profession, Sensing Power, Transmogrification, Soothsaying, Unflappable Casting 

Sorcerer Proficiency List: Add Apostasy, Contemplation, Divine Health, Magical Music, Sensing Evil; remove Black Lore of Zahar, Collegiate Wizardry, Loremastery, Magical Engineering.


You have to love it when the lead game designer helps you out with your homebrew. Thank you, sir!

In addition to adopting your suggestions, how would it strike you if I were to add +1 spell per level to a Sorcerer’s daily casting, but reduce their repertoire by the same amount?

Contemplation proficiency helps with that quite a bit (might even consider seeing if you can a trade-off (maybe some crafting) to make it a class-feature instead of an optional proficiency). As for trading spells known for spells/day, I’m not sure I like the balance of that option at lower levels, especially considering the comparison to wizards preparing a single specific spell (which do you want one sleep and another spell you never prepare, or two sleeps?)

ACKS casters have few enough spells in their repertoire to start eliminating them. I assume we at least would say minimum 1 spell per level?

Also, in ACKS, starting spells and free spells are normally generated semi-randomly, how were you thinking of doing it? I would hate to have a sorcerer stuck with spells they dislike, yet random spells do give a sense that that their powers develop on their own accord (maybe let them chose some and randomly determine the rest?)

If I recall correctly, the sorcerers in Pathfinder have different sources of power. You may create separate spell lists for those sources with the limited selection of spells that you wish, and follow the same rules as the ACKS mage.

As a potential house rule, you could make the repertoire one spell smaller than the maximum spells per day, and give them an extra casting for that spell level when they reach that point. High charisma will make characters reach that point earlier.

I’m not 100% certain that I’m following your meaning on the second part. Could you clarify?

Sure. For example, a mage can cast a maximum of 4 level 1 spells starting at level 11. The spell list will have only 3 spells, and when it is time for the sorcerer to learn the 4th one, either by high charisma or by reaching level 11, she gets an additional casting of spells of that level, bringing it to one more than the mage progression, but not from the start.
Does this make sense?

Honestly, individual spells are more potent in old school games I think, than they are in 3rd ed. Especially blast spells, but sleep, and web and others with no saving throws end fights cold. Sorcerers don’t really need more spells, and I think the flexibility will make up for not having to memorize, while having infinite spells on tap is always it’s own reward.

I could be wrong, but aren’t sorceror powers the result of some kind of bloodline in the fiction? I’d suggest, if you want them to have extra spells, use a modification of the elf race to give them arcane 5 or higher. They will have more spells per day, but it will cost them in max level and XP cost. Essentially, you sacrifice endgame power for extra power in early levels.

DrPete, that might be a nice way to do that. It can open them up to a little more power, but having them lag behind mages a bit is a good idea in exchange for that power. I also like the idea of a mage ending with a level or two advantage over sorcerers.

Also, changing up the proficiency lists and limiting or adjusting what sort of magic items a sorcerer can make to also further separate them. I could easily see a sorcerer being unable to scribe scrolls because their power is intuitive and not scholarly.