Does anyone here has experience with Monte Cooks Ptolus?
Its currently available via the bundle of holding and I wonder if its worth getting even if I never plan to play it with 3.5e. Is it mostly system neutral? Does it take a lot of work to use it within an ACKS campaign?
[Unhelpful Post from someone who hasn’t read Ptolus] It’s been my experience that ACKS takes a lot of work to use within an ACKS campaign, even if you build the setting from the ground up with ACKS in mind. I’m sure this Cook’s Books can’t be any harder.
I have it and read it, though I’ve never played it outright.
It is a 3.5E product, for sure, by which I mean it’s very 3.5E-ish, magic everywhere, plot-based demographics, etc.
Conversion wise, the potential hiccups (and I’m coming at this from a side project where I’m converting Red Hand of Doom to ACKS/D@W for fun):
PC races offered are varied; the usual 3-4 kinds of dwarves and elves, tieflings, centuars, lizardmen, lionmen. Nothing undoable in ACKS.
The NPCs that live the city are varied and complex, there’s dragons in human form and mages and tieflings and all sorts of things; it’s a ‘council of noble families’ sort of deal. The city is technically ruled by a representative of a far away Empire, and the hold is tenuous.
If you’re wanting to do a Ptolus campaign, you’d necessarily only be interested in the city itself, so you don’t really have to develop the extended realms those nobles may control (assume they have lands around the city, but live in Ptolus for political reasons) any more than what the defaults on the tables on pg 229 give you.
The city itself is 75,000 people, or, 15,000 families - only a Large City by ACKS standards.
Ptolus takes the haphazard demographics of 3.5 and ratches them up a notch, assuming that there are more classed folk than usual, as it’s an ‘adventurer’s city’ - there’s a dungeon underneath, a evil castle in residence, all sorts of fun - it’s up to you whether or not you’d want to change that - it’d be easy enough to take the Starting Cities table on pg 237 and just apply a multiplier to the count of NPC classes assumed in each city category, and then keep in mind those NPCs wouldn’t then be in other smaller settlements around the realm attached to Ptolus.
Most of the work, if you really want to ACKS-ify it, would be taking the listed NPCs and re-leveling them to ACKS standards. The Commissar, the Empire’s assigned ruler, for example, is an 18th level Fighter.
In ACKS, if you assume that he is in charge of Ptolus and the realm which it inhabits, he’d be 12th, or 9th if he’s just in charge of the city (ACKS pg 237, ‘Starting Cities’ table.
There will be a lot of NPC classes used; for the various bodies of town guards and such either make them normal men or if the text indicates they deserve veteran status, do that. A lot of the various nobles are the ‘aristocrat’ class - I’d suggest that doing the work to re-level them is enough, no need to give them a class. There’s several factions that could be converted to ACKS hideouts.
In fact, a full conversion may do just that - establish strongholds of various types for these various factions, and you’d have these domains set up all squashed into the city proper, and for a city campaign, the realms that support those domains would be obsfucated off into merely sources of income…just scrolling through the text, there’s a thieves’ guild that could be turned into a hideout, and from the flavor text, we’d know it’s a vassal/henchmen of a different noble house in the city.
There’s probably plenty of stuff like that. Set up an org chart of all this and it probably builds itself.
Thank you very much for this analysis!