Those Are Not Our Adventurers (Or Conquerors, Or Kings)!

Over at The Mule Abides, contributor Charlatan has posted a system using the ACKS rules to “make the dungeon itself a resource to be managed: If the PCs appear to be hauling loot up risk-free, others will be emboldened to try their luck in the dungeon’s depths.”

I spent a lot of time with my head in ACKS’ wandering monster tables thinking about what random events mean in the setting and how they reinforce classic dungeoneering styles of play. It is thus my expert opinion that what Charlatan has whipped up here is a remarkably ingenious use of core ACKS/old-school design principles to procedurally generate a dynamic world that responds organically to a key element of the adventuring routine.

When the PCs in my White Sandbox campaign emerge battered from a dungeon with ill-gotten gold burning a hole in their pockets, I get endless mileage out of having rival parties try to jack them on the way back to town, or slip into the subterranean entrance the characters have just left and see if they can make off with anything left behind. However, until now it’s been up to my fiat as a Judge to decide when this happens. This is dangerous ground; it is difficult to trust that my judgement is objective because I really really enjoy screwing with the players this way.

I am thus delighted that Charlatan’s tables allow me to fully relish (for example) sending four light infantry and two peasant spearmen into the dungeon the PCs have caused to become an attractive nuisance, where they will get turned into wights and both level-drain and guilt-trip the players, since I am now just doing what the dice tell me and can chortle and twirl my moustache with a clear conscience.

Those who find Charlatan’s work as impressive as I do will be glad to know that he is working on a forthcoming ACKS supplement chock-full of more procedural goodness focused on seafaring, another hugely flavorful and often-ignored part of the classic adventuring regime.

“Bill and Ron mortgaged their farms to hire those infantrymen. They said it couldn’t be dangerous, because of how cavalier you adventurers were! We’ve got nothing left! NOTHING!”

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