Hello! Here’s some random questions for our patrons.
The original version of Blade Dancers had them in lighter armor with a variant of the swashbuckler proficiency to help make up the difference in AC. The current version has them in plate armor. I personally like the idea of lighter armored fighters but there’s been a backlash against them as well. Which do you prefer?
GM Information section:
You’ll have noted that the GM Information section is largely OGL material rather than ACKS material. What would you most like to see included there? Here’s some of our internal ideas:
a) info on the Auran Empire [world map, nations, timeline]
b) info on the Borderlands region of the Auran Empire [borderlands hexmap, list of areas of interest]
c) Wilderness random encounters table
d) Wilderness stocking rules
e) Sandbox creation approaches
f) Demographic info of the sort discussed under “Demographics of Heroism”
Other Playable Races:
For future supplements, we’re considering opening up the demi-human races beyond Dwarves and Elves. That said, I want to avoid “halfling-kender-annoying-small-people” and “uber-4e-super-races”. What races would you, as our patrons, like to see? Among the internal suggestions for playable races are Centaurs, Lizard-men, and Gnomes. (Note that the Reincarnation spell has rules for playing any monster as a PC).
The ACKS Player Supplement (TBD) has rules for creating new classes that mathematically balance quite well against the existing classes. I’m interested in learning what class archetypes you’d like to see us cover in the future. Barbarian? Druid? What else?
B,C,D & E please
I like the approach in the B/X Expert book, where there was brief map of the border region, and general information about the larger world. I would rather pages be devoted to Judges Guild style wilderness tables, then descriptions and maps (as lovely as they may be) of kingdoms the PCs will not be ever visiting. The Gazetteers approach is great.
What I would like though, is a page, or side bar in this section with specific factorids about the larger kingdom. The kind of details that can pepper the NPCs dialog in the tavern.
Expanding on my earlier thought, the setting details for the empire (history, maps, personages, etc) is best saved for the Gazeteer. For the core book focusing on a small region that is on the ‘Threshold’ of the wilderness has more relevance. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need details from the larger world, just a different type. Some details I would like to see in the core book might include:
Current events - Whose the local ruler? What do people think about him. What was the last stronghold rules - style event that folks are still talking about? What recent laws or taxes may be causing strife?
Have there been any wars in the last 50 years? Would there be any ex-soldiers with war stories to tell? Who were they fighting?
Heroes - are there any heroes of the realm whose fame has spread this far into the sticks?
Bugaboos - who do the local mothers use to scare their kids into eating their vegetables. yes this is a world with animated skeletons and goblins around every corner, but who is their Voldemort?
Coinage - What coins are typically used in the area. Where are the minted, and whose faces are on them. (So when the party returns with a sack of ancient gold coins from the crypts of the lizard lords, what will the local inn keeper think?)
Big City - Where is the city the local girls dream of escaping to, and meeting their prince? (The reality is it is probably a lot different of course…)
Also who do they look down on? What town or region do they think is a beneath them, and is the butt of their jokes?
General Gossip - Did you hear that the Duke’s mother no longer goes out in daylight? A bunch of bizarre rumors that is probably hokum, but just might be the seed for an adventure…
Stuff like that is much more useful at the beginning of a campaign, especially if I know that it is pulled from a fully detailed setting, and what the PCs will be encountering later in the campaign and will not become contradicted and have to be retconned.
I’d have to playtest the bladedancer before I can surely state whether she should be in leather or plate, but the “dancer” part suggests mobility and thus lighter armor. I understand that unless she takes Martial Training, she must be melee. In the changes in version between 13 and 16, did playtesting suggest that a light-armored melee-oriented character had less survivability than other classes?
My vote is on c-f. Could perhaps a better explanation of the “natural philosophy” of magic be included in or nearby “Demographics of Heroism”? It’s my understanding that our modern understanding of science and virtue does not fully mesh with the olden times and needs a little explanation.
I’ve always appreciated the “plane-touched” races like aasimars and tieflings, but I don’t know if they will be provided. I’m not certain if celestial and/or infernal forces appear around the Auran Empire or if wizards would make humanoids with those characteristics. Not too many small races, though. I can’t say I’ve ever liked the paltry differences between halflings and gnomes in later editions. I’d also like to say that I don’t find elves “small” considering that they’re taller than me by 2 inches on average. =P
No druid. The nature bent on divine always rubbed me the wrong way. A druid should just be a nature-themed cleric if that needs to be accomplished, but it should not a separate entity on its own. Come to think of it, it’s hard to think of classes that don’t embody martial, skills, divine, or arcane enough on their own to be a different class. They just all feel like tweaks to the previous classes. I’d probably be happier seeing guidelines on how GMs can create their own classes than specifically spelled out classes.
Regarding blade-dancers-- It was nothing related to the changes between 13 and 16 or to balance concerns at all. It actually was because the art-work for our bladedancer on the cover uses a lighter armor style, which reminded my wife (who played the first-ever bladedancer in my campaigns) that she preferred the light armored version. So then I thought I’d ask the group. It’s essentially an aesthetic question.
Regarding elf height-- I actually didn’t intend for elves to be seen as short! The rules list them as being on average 5’6" – that’s only 1" less tall than the median height for males in 21st century America. That’s not short at all! For whatever reason, people are very comfortable playing a human fighter who is 6’4" (even though median human male height is 5’7") but somehow they think an elf can’t be 6’. It goes to a basic human tendency to assume that everyone who is “different” is different in the same way. In short, we don’t need a separate high elven race to have tall elves.
Regarding various classes - thanks for the feedback. Rules for creating your own classes will be included.
Sounds to me like you guys are set on a Gazetteer or similar book, so I’d do a brief intro to either the Empire or the Borderlands (like the old Expert pieces on the Known World) and save the details for the Gaz.
I’d like to see C, D, and F developed in the rules. Demographics and economics is one of the ‘competitive advantages’ in ACKS vs other clones, so play to the strengths. I like how it’s taking D&D to its logical conclusions.
I get that you want to stay away from 4E races and classes, but calling things Blade-Dancers and Craft-Priests and Night-Blades isn’t helping. (I’ll either get over it, or use a Sharpie).
I like the idea of Lizard Men (or even better, Serpent People) as a race. I like the Lovecraftian flavor to things and some of the ideas in ‘Realms of Crawling Chaos’ get away from the standard Tolkien fare - Deep One hybrids and Sub-Humans and whatnot (a little darker tone than the ACKS default setting, but might be useful examples for the player supplement).
Really looking forward to the mass combat rules - I was glad to see Auran is like late Rome - I’d love to see the ability to model legions vs the barbarians (humanoid or otherwise) in a D&D setting.
Bladedancers - lighter armoured is a better fit - who goes round in plate all the time anyway?
brief map of the border region with trade routes, settlement data etc, and general information about the larger world, plus demographics.
3)Races - I’d prefer not to have playable monster races. especially if too medieval/Tolkien/Twilight. Keep monsters monstrous.
4)Classes - I’d rather not duplicate what you can already do with an existing class. Maybe you could tie them in with the setting - the Skysos riders and the proficiencies they’re likely to have, what Magi from the Sunset Kingdoms excel at. But maybe that’s getting a bit ‘Talislanta’.
Two classes :
Dwarven Herbwyfe - potions/poisons/prophecies/curses/disguises/shapeshifts herself into bat/rat/snake/crow/cat - prime stat: WIL
Atlantean High Elf - a sage descended from nobility of a vanished race, has a link to the old magic - you know in Bakker’s Prince of Nothing how the Mandate scholars have that ur-magic that is at the root of magic - maybe the AHF is a great dispeller, protector against othermagics - almost like a cleric. His very presence gives a penalty to others casting magic.
1.) I like the lightly armoured bladedancer.
3.) Orcs/half Orcs have always been my favourite races. To be honest, initally, I was disapointed that they were not included. I like Veketshian’s idea of plain touched races.
Seanwills I like your Dwarven herbwyfe idea. Not sure it works with my idea of a dwarf class, seems more elven to me. That said I would play something like that.
I see nothing wrong with the Bladedancer being restricted in the type of armor they wear. It would be nice to see the class moved further from the cleric in mechanics, for they certainly are far from the cleric in flavor.
It might be useful to include tools in the GM section to facilitate the passing rather large time increments. I think it is well within reason to foresee a game spanning a few hundred years, and it would be nice to have a guide on how to handle the planning of a campaign spanning such a large temporal scope.
I would love to see a race of “giant folk” added to the playable races. Maybe have them stand between six and a half to seven feet tall. Tall enough to make the peasants that haven’t survived a giant attack mistake them for giants or ogres, but not still far away from the nine to ten feet tall ogres. Mythological examples could include Goliath, possibly Ajax, and maybe Sha Wujing.
The dwarves could use a Lorekeeper class. The Elves would be the perfect class to get a druid like class.
‘Demographics and economics is one of the ‘competitive advantages’ in ACKS vs other clones, so play to the strengths’
I think Beedo’s advice is important because some people will prefer to use their own setting - so showing how you apply the demographics/economics to the Border area in the Auran Empire - would still be interesting and instructive - whereas loads of specific setting detail wouldn’t be - save that for the gazetter.
Sounds like the lightly armored bladedancer is a clear favorite. I’ll update accordingly.
Great suggestions on the classes, races, and GM information.
The idea of data on passing long period of time is great, but I don’t think I can include it in GM Information – that could be a whole sub-project in itself! ACKS Epic…
Another question regarding the setting- will the information be locked in time, (like in Harn where all published materials are tied to a specific year) or will the setting evolve gradual progress and new events and chances to the world be revealed, like Forgotten Realms?
You’ve already figured this out, but the lightly armored bladedancer makes more sense to me than one running around in plate-and-mail armor.
I’d prefer a brief overview, like a slightly more detailed version of the Karameikos info in the Expert set, with perhaps a more in-depth writeup of a “starting” adventure area (your Borderlands, for example). Judges Guild-style tables are cool too.
I’ll need to get into the monster section to get an idea of whether any of those critters might make decent character races. I will say that I’m not too excited by the idea of “half” races, whether they’re half-orcs, half-elves, half-angels, half-demons, or what have you: though not everyone will use it, the “ancient world” flavor of the Auran Empire setting seems a bad fit for that kind of thing. Centaurs seem like a good idea, though.
I do like the idea of a big, strong, giant-like race. (In my own still-unplayed campaign, I’m working on a race-class like that, based on the old idea of the forest wild man or wodewose mixed in with some good old sasquatch and yeti flavor. Think a “noble savage” version of Sweetums from the Muppets.)
I would also avoid nature-spellcasting classes like druids or old-style rangers, though a more witchy or shamanic mage variant might be cool. I’d actually be most interested in seeing more variants of the existing classes, as you’ve already done with the explorer and bladedancer. (More cleric variants would be especially welcome.)
Regarding the timeline of the setting – the current material I’ve written is built around a particular time period, so I suppose it’s more Harn-like. I think the evolving storylines generally should be left to the GMs. One thing we’ve discussed internally is doing different gazetteers at different time periods, representing the most “adventure worthy” era for that gazetteer. Or perhaps offering some discussion of how the setting might differ at different timelines.
re: Timeline: One of the things I like is a clear sense of what would happen, but for the PC involvement, without necessarily being “here is the timeline.” The problem with a classic “and what happened in the next year is…” approach is that it makes it very difficult to keep using new material if an actual campaign doesn’t match the presumed history of the published gameworld. But to my mind, settings, especially sandboxes, should be dynamic. (Gaz 1, Karameikos, is actually pretty close to a perfect example of this. We know that civil war against the Black Eagle Barony is likely in the near future; we can make educated guesses about the Archduke’s progression towards a royal title, and about which of his children might be designated heirs (and might be possible spouses for PCs or something similar). But all of that is a matter of what people are thinking, planning, and plotting, and the PCs might derail it or become the heroes in it.)
In terms of what I’m looking for in the GM section, it’s basically entirely items c-f. The reason I backed this project, and what I’m looking for, is help in running sandbox-y worlds with opportunities for the PCs to get involved in domain level play. Advice and tools on sandbox creation are thus the heart of what I’m looking for. Demographic analyses and thought is part of the value that you guys are adding to that sandbox creation–what level should that baron over there be? How common are mad 9th level necromancers with their own sanctums stocked with monsters? When you kill the local mad wizard, is the next one three miles down the road? Two counties over? In the next duchy? Across the great ocean? And of course, wilderness stocking advice and wilderness encounter tables (and wilderness encounter table design advice) then help run the wilderness part of the sandbox.
Also, to the extent that you have tools or advice for the GM-facing side of the domain/hideout/sanctum part of the game, that would be great.
I don’t have a strong opinion other than I don’t like game design that allows someone to play a lightly armored character with the same AC as a plate armored one. Heavy armor just becomes a skin-able “look” without actual benefits, I’m fine with lightly armored fighters, but I feel that it always ends up being someone who wants cake that gets to eat it as well. Same reason I dislike weapon finesse prof. Just make a thief with a high strength…
C through F perhaps utilizing a & b as examples) I agree strongly with ahstrongmorse and sean willis re: “‘Demographics and economics is one of the ‘competitive advantages’ in ACKS vs other clones, so play to the strengths’” and in regards to wilderness design and random tables. It is helpful besides having all the great tools to build a barony from the ground up, it’s nice for a GM to be able to pull a baron ‘straight out of the box’ as it were with a prefabricated example or list. Perhaps a list of example strongholds and barons? You could use your own world, but generic enough to plop down in the middle of my own hexcrawl if I want to introduce baron who challenges the PC fighter to a joust in order to pass through his hex for example.
3 & 4) I would like a breakdown of orc or goblin demographics and perhaps some words on their villages for use with “monsterous play” in a war-game setting, where one player may wish to take control of the forces of chaos. Or perhaps some discussion on if someone is playing a chaos fighter/mage/cleric/thief how a barony of monsterous humanoids might be run–after all you give a GP value for orc soldiers. Or pirates-kings, bandits-lords. Perhaps a section on “playing the forces of chaos”. I’m reminded of the anti-cleric and his fighter buddy in B2 keep on the borderlands. Have you read my google.doc where I put B2 into a FFC/chainmail type breakdown?
Kender and halfling armies are a joke. But to be able to “play chaos” would be hella cool. Since ACKs has mass combat rules, I would appreciate as much information for someone who wanted to play those forces and I suppose that includes classes and races and I would like them to feel different that just another class/race combo. Everquest comes to mind in that regard. If you’re going to include a war-game, might as well include strong demographic and class rules for playing chaos. I created another google.doc showing the “giant kin” progression from 0d&d which starts at kobold 1/2hd and progresses as a single class all the way through giants 14 HD. It’s listed under the “compiled 0d&d combat chart”. I made one for lycanthropes and undead as well. demons and dragons would be another “monsterous class” I’d like to see. A necromancer class. I do like lizard men.
You could start out as an orc (1st level) and goblins and kobolds would be considered 0-level, at 4th level you would “molt” into an ogre or begin as a skeleton and turn into different undead as you leveled. Or the accumulation of gold is what makes dragons grow bigger, not age–which is why dragons hoard their treasure so covetously.