Running Castles & Crusades with ACKS

I hope this won't be viewed as inappropriate. I've been a big fan of ACKs for two years now and have the core rules, however the rules are just a bit too retro for me and I doubt my players would give it a try. That said, I have certainly used the world building rules and guidelines for my D&D 5th edition campaigns and I'm thinkin about using much more of ACKs in a potential upcoming Castles & Crusades game (I think C&C may be modern enough for my players to at least give it a chance).

To that effect, I'm eyeing up the Lairs & Encounters kickstarter and I was wondering if anyone has had any experience in using ACKs Supplements and rules with C&C? Obviously the player classes and races aren't compatible. But what about the stronghold building? Monsters? Domains at War? And ideally Lairs & Encounters?

Given both games are reminiscent of AD&D/BX era gameplay, are the rules fairly transportable? Or is the math simply too different?

Hello John! I have not played Castles & Crusades, so I can't speak directly to that. I will say that I have been able to dynamically convert ACKS material to and from 1E, 2E, BX, and BECMI D&D on the fly; and that I used the entirety of L&E in a 3.5 campaign. So I suspect that with a little effort you could absolutely use it. 


A quick primer to converting to/from ACKs:

1) Armor Class: if your armor classes ascend/are reminiscant of 3rd edition and later, add 10 to an ACKs AC.  If your armor classes descend, subtract the ACKs AC from 9.  

2) Levels: there are at most 14 levels in ACKs. most games go up to 20. IMHO this is wishful thinking and you can probably use levels as is, but if you wanted to, you could change certain level based moments to be in proportion to how many levels your game has.

3) XP: the baseline ACKs character is a fighter, who needs 2000XP to go from level 1 to 2, roughly doubling from there.  If your game has the same XP value for all characters, use the fighter as a ratio between the two.  If you have multiple XP levels, figure out the ratio to go from fighter to fighter and use that for other classes.

4) ACKs: 1GP = 1XP when that money is looted from a monster hoard and returned to civilization.  The assumption is that 4/5ths of a character's XP will come from this source.  This means our example level 1 fighter should have held around 1600gp before hitting level 2.  If you want to be specific, you can use the ratio between 1600gp and the expected level 1 wealth in your system to figure out how many GP need to be looted for 1XP, and use this to convert other XP granting ACKs mechanics.  For example, if you determine that in your game you'd need to loot 2GP to get 1XP, then when it comes time to build strongholds, ACKs says you gain 1XP for every 2GP spent on strongholds, but in your game you would require 4GP.

4a) Similarly, you can use that ratio to scale up/scale down ACKs treasure hoards to avoid flooding your characters with money.

4b) That being said, all of this can be ignored if it sounds like a lot of work, because GP as XP is an inherently self-balancing mechanic. To paraphrase: "mo' money, mo' problems".  Your characters may get lucky and rocket through the first few levels quickly, but this will result in them taking on more challenging encounters appropriate to their wealth level.

5)ACKs assumes potions and scrolls cost roughly 500gp per spell level, and that you can sell it for twice that price.  You can change this to fit with your game's prices, but it will affect magical research XP gains, as well as the availability of magic. If your system of choice has baked in the assumption that even low level characters are quaffing a healing potion or two every single adventure, sticking to ACKs prices will increase lethality.  Other than that, the price you pick should depend on how closely you're choosing to follow the economics.

Ok, that's all I've got.  You'll notice the economics ones get pretty complicated. Here's a dirty little secret though: most D&D clone's economics are total bullshit and make no sense.  How can any town suffer from a drought if they have even a lone level 1 cleric who can cast "create water", a level 0 orison, at will every 6 seconds?  You'll ultimately find that the ACKs economic rules just make sense, and rolling with them as is will add less weirdness than it removes.

I've got no experience combining them, but I have the C&C core and Monsters and Treasure from years ago.  They look compatible.  Thinking out loud:

ACKS uses d8 hit dice for monsters (mostly, except a few 1d4 hit point creatures) and occasional pluses, where C&C uses a spread from d4 to d12 depending on size and toughness (but still commonly d8).  Similar results in many but not all cases, really.  I'd use C&C entries where available, but to convert an ACKS monster keep the number of hit dice and eyeball a die type based on size and any pluses (if you're even worried about that).  Attacks and damage look close enough they shouldn't need altered.  Convert AC and you're done.

C&C doesn't have a % in Lair number!  That's a weird lack for a semi-clone of AD&D, but "Goblins, 2-12/40-400" show there's room for it.  Just use ACKS % in Lair numbers when you need them.

Monster xp comes out pretty close.  A little more generous in C&C (and a little more fiddly), but close.

Class xp requirements start the same for 2nd level (for the fighter, thief, mage and assassin, but not the cleric, but C&C clerics gets spellcasting at 1st) and stay similar up until name level where they start to climb higher in C&C (which has no hard level cap, so that's how they're putting the brakes on instead).  Similar, but C&C's are a few points higher in the mid levels, but C&C's scheme for monster xp gives out a hair more, so back to rough parity.

I'm not going through treasure types line by line :), but keep in mind treasure xp equal to 4 times monster xp on average and you should be fine.  Do use xp for gold, which is technically optional in C&C but holy carp would that be a slow grind without it.

Given both xp to level and xp from monsters are in the same range in both games, you should be able to use ACKS treasure assumptions and ACKS campaign chapter prices (ships, castles, domain income and expenses) as is, without trying to find a conversion rate.

I see that equipment chapter prices are different; C&C prices have a higher high end than ACKS for the best weapons and armor, and some classes start with more gold.  If you want to be very thorough, you can re-price those to ACKS standards before the game starts.  You're on your own there though, as I don't see an obvious conversion rate.  I don't think anything breaks too badly if you don't (unless and until your players take up arms smuggling in the trading game), it just avoids a "gear shift" later on.  In theory I would prefer ACKS prices across the board so everything hangs together, but practically, the higher the price the more important you use ACKS' numbers.

Scrolls and potions are cheaper in C&C, so you'll have to make a choice there.  If you do switch, at least item creation pricing is off in Monsters and Treasure, not the Player's Handbook.

I've only read DaW, and haven't dug into it the way some have on this board, so I'd welcome input.  My own impression is you could use it out of the box and be pretty close to the results of a mass battle in C&C 1-to-1 scale, probably closer than any other mass battle system I know.  But if you get into building your own custom units you'd probably want to first convert C&C monsters to ACKS stats.

TL;DR - You should be able to use C&C rules on the player's side and ACKS campaign rules (strongholds, domains, hexcrawling encounter odds and % in lair, etc.) on the GM's side with no problem.  Lairs and Encounters should be useful for you if you're planning any kind of a sandbox or hexcrawl game.

[quote="Dave R"] You should be able to use C&C rules on the player's side and ACKS campaign rules (strongholds, domains, hexcrawling encounter odds and % in lair, etc.) on the GM's side with no problem.  Lairs and Encounters should be useful for you if you're planning any kind of a sandbox or hexcrawl game. [/quote]

Thanks everyone :slight_smile: Great to hear it’s all cross-compatible. Now to work out how to get money from paypal into my bank account so I can back the kickstarter :wink: