Warhammer-style Careers in ACKS

I think it would be possible to create a career-style progressions system for ACKS, not unlike Warhammer 1e/2e. Each career would equate to 1 level in 1 class.

Here’s some examples:

Gain 1d8 hit points
10% chance attract followers if a fortress built/owned
20% chance 1 general proficiency*
20% chance battlefield prowess
33% chance 1 fighter class proficiency*
66% chance +1 attack throws with axes in any armor and fighting style*
66% chance +1 attack throws with bows/crossbows in any armor and fighting style*
66% chance +1 attack throws with flails/hammers/maces in any armor and fighting style*
66% chance +1 attack throws with swords/daggers in any armor and fighting style*
66% chance +1 attack throws with spears/pole arms in any armor and fighting style*
66% chance +1 attack throws with bolas/darts/nets/slings/saps/staffs in any armor and fighting style*
66% chance +1 saving throws*
Career Cost to Enter: 2,000xp ^ 2x(# of prior careers -1)

Gain 1d4 hit points
Gain 1 level of arcane spellcasting ability
Gain 1 level of magic research ability
10% chance to attract apprentices if a sanctum has been built/owned
15% chance 1 class proficiency*
20% chance 1 general proficiency*
33% chance +1 attack throws wielding quarterstaffs, clubs, daggers, darts in no armor either one-handed or two-handed*
33% chance +1 saving throws*
Career Cost to Enter: 2,500xp x 2^(# of prior careers -1)

Gain 1d4 hit points
Gain 1 level of thief abilities
10% chance to read and cast magic scrolls
10% chance to attract apprentices if a hideout has been built
20% chance 1 general proficiency*
25% chance to read languages
25% chance 1 thief class proficiency*
50% chance +1 attack throws wielding one-handed weapons, either one-handed or duel wielded, in leather or lighter*
50% chance +1 attack throws wielding missile weapons, in leather or lighter*
50% chance +1 saving throws*
Career Cost to Enter: 1,250xp x 2^(# of prior careers -1)

*Automatic if this is your first career.

EXAMPLE: Duran selects Fighter as his 1st career. He gains 1d8 hit points, 1 general proficiency, 1 fighter proficiency, +1 to saving throws, and +1 to attack throws in a variety of weapons. The cost to enter is 0. He chooses Fighting Style (Two Weapon Fighting) and Riding as his proficiencies.

After accumulating some XP, he selects Thief as his 2nd career. It costs 1,250xp to enter. He gains 1d4 hit points. He gains 1 level of thief abilities, so he is effectively a 1st level thief on the table. He rolls for other bonuses. A roll of 80 means no read magic ability; a roll of 64 means no read languages; a roll of 54 means no general proficiency; a roll of 66 means no thief proficiency; a roll of 39 grants +1 attack throws with one-handed weapons in leather single or dual wielded; a roll of 44 grants +1 with missile weapons in leather or lighter; a roll of 65 grants no save bonus.

Duran would now fight with…
Attack throw 10+ using an axe in plate armor (+1 from fighter)
Attack throw 9+ using a sword in leather armor (+1 from fighter, +1 from thief)
Attack throw 7+ using 2 swords in leather armor (+1 from fighter, +1 from thief, +1 from 2 weapons, +1 from proficiency)


not familiar with the Warhammer RPG, but this seems somewhat interesting for people who like a little more randomness. It’s also kind of a way to do multiclassing.

Are you familiar with Buy The Numbers by S.T. Cooley Publishing? It de-constructs the d20 classes into a la carte XP costs/levels. Just this week I thought about applying that approach to ACKS. I like ACKS’ custom class approach to “multi-classing” in general, and 1E-style dual-classing allows for the character that starts one way and then completely changes direction. However, a la carte* level advancement allows for the possibility of a character’s “class” emerging through play. The Warhammer career system revolves around this approach (Rat Catcher > Highwayman > Master Duelist > Dread Pirate, or whatever).

  • A la carte could mean selecting pre-constructed levels, i.e. 3E multi-classing, and/or pre-priced powers.

The ACKS PC custom class system lays out the framework for pre-constructed level costs, up through level 8. Perhaps the existing system continues to work above level 8 as well? In my early thoughts, race would be an “overlay”, where a character might or might not put XP into advancing racial abilities.

Having a % chance of gaining certain class features would be a new twist. That could be interesting, but I don’t think I would like it unless the % chance were ongoing or cumulative across future levels, until the feature is gained.

Also, for inspiration you might look at the free product DarkLore Campaign Primer by Malladin’s Gate Press. It applies d20 Modern concepts to fantasy roleplaying in a Warhammer-esque world. Like Modern, there are six (10 level) Basic classes for the six attributes, then various (3 level) Career classes for more focused development.

For a Warhammer feel, I think you need broad careers that everyone starts in – and could stay in across 14 levels, maybe – as well as very focused careers which might be limited, and/or lead to other focused careers.

And we definitely need a Small but Vicious Dog :wink:

I am not familiar with Buy The Numbers, but that sort of approach is very interesting to me. I’ll check it out.

My concern with complete “a la carte” purchasing is that it leads to hyper-specialization - “two-handed sword attack bonus” instead of a fighter’s “use all weapons” - it’s very hard to balance those two.

Having the % chance stack over time is an interesting idea.

I think having the chance stack over time would be my preference, but in the end, I think I would prefer a point system.

That is, leave it on the percent scale, but instead of rolling, add it up. When you reach 100%, you gain the thing in question.

It would make it a lot more reliable (which may or may not be a good thing depending on your point of view), and for me at least, it would make me much more likely to play classes with lower progressions of things instead of sticking to pures. (I imagine playing a Warlock-Ruinguard or similar character, with their non-100% chance to gain caster levels, could be extremely frustrating if you end up with Arcane Striking and Death Healing without the slots to power them.)

However, I never actually played Warhammer 1E/2E, so maybe the randomness is a large part of the charm of the system and I’m just missing something important.

My own thoughts on multi-classing is that it never quite works out as well as you hope it will. Even Paizo with pathfinder is discovering that their multiclass system just results in people taking a lot of “dips” and other oddball combinations just to produce broken combinations, while the intended purpose of letting you have things like “fighter-mage” or “divine archer” tend to fall flat, and so they instead have to design archetypes and, more recently their “advanced class guide” where they create partial and full hybrids whole cloth for players.

I think:

  1. Multi-classing in itself doesn’t lead to player combat optimization.

  2. In a well-rounded campaign, a combat optimized character is about as useful as a T-Rex – not so much unless you want to kill everything in sight.

  3. The crunch portion of Paizo’s publishing schedule is more about selling crunch to a segment of their customers that want crunch than perfecting class design.

Nevertheless, I think a career approach could be created that might dissuade the perception of catering to optimized builds and dips. ACKS already has the Adventurer Conqueror King “career path” model that may point to obvious decision points for career choices?

If I recall correctly, the randomness wasn’t there in 1E. Each career had a menu of skill or attribute boosts, and you spent XP to buy them before exiting to another career. Since career changes cost XP, it’s more efficient to buy wide than to constantly skip between careers trying to overspecialize, but if you aren’t interested in a particular facet of a career you don’t have to pursue it.

I don’t like the randomness in this model, although some people (particularly Zak @ playing D&D with porn stars) have done a lot of similar work. I think something closer to (my very old memory of) 1E could work for ACKS careers, you’d just have a different base cost per feature depending on class:

Fighters 175 xp / feature
Mages 312 xp / feature
Thieves 125 xp / feature

… and then do some exponential scaling as you level up, so it’s really:

Fighters 2000^2x(c-1)/12
Mages 2500^2x(c-1)/8
Thieves 1250^2x(c-1)/10

So a thief who didn’t want any particular combat ability could take + hp, + abilities, + class proficiency, + general proficiency for 600 xp (lvl 2).
Then do the same again for 600xp again (lvl 3). Then again for 1200xp (lvl 4), and 2400xp (lvl 5): having spent about 5000xp, they’re one level ahead of a standard character in hp and thief abilities, hugely ahead in proficiency count, and way behind in combat skills.

This is probably mildly abusable by syndicates if you let NPCs do it, given the complaints about syndicate gold income balance we’ve seen on the forums. You might also want to limit proficiency count, and perhaps attack bonus and all the other categories that don’t normally automatically improve every level. I’d consider requiring taking hp and saving throw improvements, and then it dissolves into a mass of balancing…

I have an aversion to complete point-buy systems, for several reasons.

  1. They reward min-maxing more than any other type of character generation and advancement system.
  2. They are the most disassociated type of character generation and advancement. Whereas randomly rolling attributes can reflect one’s genetic and environmental inheritance, and advancing through levels, careers (WH), or lifepaths (Traveller) has some association with the game world, point buy is just naked gamism.
  3. In virtually ever circumstance, point buy systems conflate character and equipment into one pool. In M&M, GURPS, Champions, etc., you purchase your equipment with points. This has huge implications for games in the style of D&D, where magical items are both an implicit part of character power but also explicitly not part of the defined level advancement system.

What I admire about the Warhammer career system is that it forms a mid-way between the linear structure of a class-and-level system and the open-ended nature of a point-buy system.

Alex, have you checked out the playtest documents for O.L.D. and N.E.W. ? it’s up on kickstarter now (I backed it) and my cursory reading of character generation shows it has some interesting ideas for career-style advancement in a fantasy environment.

As a random aside, your post suddenly blew my mind. I was about to say “why don’t people make gear a separate point-buy pool from skills” and then I realized gold pieces ARE a point by system. mind blown

My brain threw up a thought last night for an alternate way to maintain randomness without it being binary. I’m not sure if it’s any good but I’ll share it anyway.

When you get to 10 points in a feature, you learn that feature. An example would be “Arcane spellcasting +1 level” or “Attack throw improved by 1” or “Attack throw improved by 1 with specific weapon”.

Each class either gains flat points or rolls dice to determine points gained in each feature when they gain a level. (Dice can be flat or flat + modifier.)

In general, things that the class definitely gains every level they should just get 10 points toward, and things that they gain only some levels, they should roll dice for. (A mage would gain 10 in Arcane spellcasting +1, but a warlock would only get d6+3 because the warlock only gets spellcasting 2 out of 3 levels. A ruinguard would get d4+2.)

The Fighter class as an example (yes, I just C&P’d fighter from Alex’s initial post and then edited from % to dice or numbers)
Gain 1d8 hit points
1d2 attract followers if a fortress built/owned
1d4 1 general proficiency*
1d4 battlefield prowess
1d6 1 fighter class proficiency*
1d6+3 +1 attack throws with axes in any armor and fighting style*
1d6+3 for all the other fighting types
1d6+3 +1 saving throws*

No, I’m not familiar with O.L.D. and N.E.W. I’ll check it out on your recommendation.

With regard to point-buy and gear, one idea I had to reconcile the two was to have an equation wherein 1 gold piece exactly and precisely equaled 1 character build point as xp. Then the gp value of a magic item would equal the build point value of the magic item. If you sold the item for gold, you’d get build points from the gold you earned. If you kept the item then you’d get build points in the form of using the item. So magic items are essentially “crystallized” build points while gp are essentilaly “fluid” build points.

Neat approach!

I think “dual-classing” could work better in ACKS. Once the change is made, it’s permanent, and the character’s maximum level is the lowest maximum level of the classes they select (so a Vaultguard/Fury can reach a combined total of 13 levels between the two classes, while a Courtier/Nightblade can reach 11 total levels), while 9 hit dice would remain the maximum. The idea definitely needs more of a look at how advances would be accounted for, but I think it could work.