November draft discussion

"For example, a level 1 cosmonaut with his usual first aid training will function as if he has Healing 2 when using the kit."
What normal first aid training is that? There's no first aid training listed in the Terran Cosmonaut's class description.

"Multiscanner (AKA Tricorder!)"
Is that text going to appear in the final version? No objection from me if it is; I'm just surprised there's not a copyright issue or something.

Scout flying saucers may be encountered in a dungeon. This knowledge makes me happy.

On that note, the flying saucer monster entry doesn't specify the maximum range of an abductor's tractor beam.

The gloom crawler's description states the amount of damage required to cut off one of its tentacles, but not haow many tentacles it starts with. Admittedly, it's also described as resembling an octopus, but so was the Watcher in the Water, and it had at least twenty-one. (The description does specify that it gets 10 tentacle attacks, however. Is that the total number?)

"When am unrepentant lesser sorcerer"
When who am? Heh. I'm guessing that's a typo for 'an.'

"he serpentile machine has two horrid capabilities used to murder those who dare enter their masters' They may use bows and crossbows as well as spears and polearmsold homes"

I notice that while spare parts and energy crystals now have listed prices, other items of visitor technology do not. Presumably they're at least equal in value to the spare parts that could be reclaimed by scrapping them. Is there any other guideline?

"any additional dose of anagathics will force the character to save. Death or die within 1d6 rounds from system shock"
I think a "vs" is missing from that sentence.

"requires 40 energy crystals for 24 hours of operation – one per each of its four cylindrical reactors located on its lower level"
Should that be 4 energy crystals for 24 hours of operation, or ten per each of its four cylindrical reactors? I'm guessing the latter.

A workbot requires four energy crystals (worth 400 gp in total) and 24 hours to produce 10 gp worth of construction. Is that correct? (It's definitely impressive, and I could see it being useful in niche situations where other craftsmen aren't readily available or wouldn't be quick enough, but I figured it was best to check).

I don't think the bugman praetor is reasonable compared to other fighting classes. A character with +5 AC, 4 light weapon attacks per round and monster to hit progression will probably leave players of normal fighting classes wondering why they bother to play a fighter.

Great catch about the Tricorder! My design notes slipped into the book, so I will (of course!) remove it.
Also good catch about the old (now removed) First Aid ability.

And yes, you can encounter flying saucers in larger dungeons - i.e. big cavernous ones. Such as a secret underground alien base!

I think I will remove the AC ability. Will this balance the class? Or should I apply a penalty to four-arm attacks as well?


I don't think the bugman praetor is reasonable compared to other fighting classes. A character with +5 AC, 4 light weapon attacks per round and monster to hit progression will probably leave players of normal fighting classes wondering why they bother to play a fighter.


I haven’t looked at the latest draft yet, but I’d hope for broader playtesting before major changes to a new class. If we accept that the class construction system is “in the ballpark”, then appropriate XP costs for any new powers is key.

I don't know what will balance the praetor. I don't even know if balance is the goal, but I think it is currently too good. In my mind, it's like this:

AC: +5 AC while wearing any armor*. Also dex prime allows pumping max dex. This adds up to a potential level 1 starting AC of 15 (plate + shield, dex, bonus). You need a 7 HD monster to hit this AC on anything but a 20. The other class that gets close (AC 14) is a thrassian gladiator, but he has to roll a nat 18 dex and will move extremely slowly.

I think the easiest way to mitigate this is to restrict the bugman praetor to no armor. * it might be that is how the power is intended, as it says "increasing its unarmored AC to 5", but then why can he use all armor?


4 arms = 4 weapon attacks. This I don't think meshes with the system. Regular people with 2 arms do not get 2 attacks from wielding 2 weapons. I think it should be modeled as 4 natural/claw attacks. The closest we have is again thrassians with "claw and bite". Disregarding that 4 attacks is better than 3 attacks because you add damage bonus to every attack, the "claw and bite" table on p 94 of the players companion tells us that 4 1d4 attacks should be 5 powers (1d4+1d4+1d8 is 5). We could extrapolate that table (each die increase is 1 extra power) and come up with 4 1d6 attacks (short swords) being at least 9 powers, probably more.


I kind of disagree with CharlesDM on appropriate cost solving everything. Xp cost only differentiates level by max 1-2 levels. If a 1st level character of some class is much better at what it does best than a 3rd level character of a class having the same focus, then one of the classes are off the mark.

The bugman praetor is currently best at both defence and offence in melee combat. I think the deadly assassin image would be better served by having good attacks but not also having excellent AC.

Clarifying my thoughts:

As background, I didn’t design the bugman praetor, but I did sponsor it with a high-level pledge. The primary goal of the class is to add a four arms ability to ACKS. Yes, that’s really, really hard to design. There’s very little left that I would like to add to ACKS that is easy to design. If this is impossible, then I am very sad that playable Green Martians or Thri-kreen can never appear in ACKS.

Yes, XP costs are not a panacea to “balancing” anything we might imagine. I don’t like the word balance - it’s one of those words that means different things to different people, instantly generating conflict. I aim for compelling play experiences over time. I hope that players have a really tough time deciding what character they will try to keep alive through a campaign.

Because of the inherent challenges of the bugman praetor, I think we have to compare it to something like the bugbear character class from Axioms. Starting with 3d8+1 hit dice is clearly superior to any core class. As Judge, I doubt I would ever have a bugbear PC start out with normal humans. More likely, either the bugbear class would “unlock” at some point in the campaign, or I would start a campaign at higher than 1st level.

From a “feel” view point, I think starting the bugman praetor with a low AC which increases at perhaps levels 7 and 13 (bladedancer-like) would make the class more compelling. I don’t know that I want to rule out armor, but I lean toward armor being not the best choice, and really expensive to create or re-size for a six limbed creature.

In summary, the bugman praetor is a challenge, but I think the ACKS community is up to the challenge.

I think that might be an interesting tack to take with it; instead of removing its abilities outright, add some disadvantages to them. The racial/class system allows for negative powers, so this would offer a few additional class powers in exchange for them, but could still be done in an interesting way.

For example, perhaps the strange structure of their hands, while extremely effective, requires them to wield custom-forged weapon grips, increasing the cost of all weapons for them or inflicting a penalty. As a random number off the top of my head, double or triple cost for all weapons would not affect them at all once they had some money under their belt, but would prevent a first-level character from walking into the game with four weapon attacks a round. The same thing could be done with armor; perhaps they can wear any armor, but don’t get an AC benefit from it unless it is custom-fitted and extremely expensive.

(Note: I have not yet had the time to read the November draft so my ideas might be insane and/or terrible, I don’t know.)

You could have a 4 armed race, it just doesnt mean need to have 4 attacks (just like you dont get 2 attacks with 2 arms), even a single attack roll can represent all 4 arms striking. 
Those arms can be used for other things as well, and still keep the flavour of having 4 arms.  Like letting them use their hands for other bonuses, say holding a  light source, using heavier weapons more easilly (thus giving bonuses to defence, damage or attack, or even wield a shield as well), quick use of potions and the like or any number of non-combat uses for having additional limbs.

Personally I've never really been a fan of the Bite/Claw/Claw combo creatures get in many RPGs, as just the notion of attempting to do that physically (within the small window of time) just doesnt fit well and I tended to adjust them as needed (as such making them different and go with claw/claw/claw, or just more damage for the claw/claw or bite, much like the damage combos for natural weapons are broken down into a damage average).

My thoughts about fixing the bugman praetors:

  • I'll replace the natural armor with an in-born "swashbuckling" proficiency, possibly combined with the "blade-dancing" power. Cumulative - so AC 2 at level 1, AC 4 at level 7, and AC 6 at level 13 (if the class reaches level 13 - which is unlikely). The class will also be unable to wear armor.
  • Instead of four attacks, I'll extrapolate from the two-weapon fighting rule in ACKS core. So four arms with light weapons will grant only one attack, at +2 to-hit, with an additional 1d6 to damage. If they only use 2 hands for weapons, they only get the usual +1; if they use three hands, they get the +2 but not the bonus damage.