What have your players praised about ACKS?

I thought I'd start a thread where we can share whatever aspects of ACKS you've heard praised by your players. I think it would be interesting to read what other players are enjoying about the game. I don't think it should have to be  mechanical in nature, but could also relate to setting into, how the game has been experienced, etc.

I was inspired to start this thread by one of my players raving about the initiative system used by ACKS. Specifically he likes that the initiative die is a d6 as that makes modifiers a lot more impactful than if a d20 was used instead. In our group is a Mystic with an 18 Dex who about 50xp from 3rd level. At that point his initiative modified will be +4 (+5 if he uses meditative focus), and he is almost always the first to act in any round. My players see this as  an advantage to ACKS as the PC was geared to being quick in combat and the use of a d5 helps to reflect that. If we were using a d20 with a +4  modified then the character's build would not be as effective. Sure the +4 modifier is nice, but it would be quite possible for him to roll a very low number on the d20 and have to go last. That's a much rarer possibility in ACKS. 

What have been the praises you've heard at the table?

For my current group in LA (which is only up to 5th level):

  1. Cleaving. The excitement of a glorious series of cleaves delights them endlessly, and they've said that after ACKS, other RPG combat feels anticlimactic for the fighters, because they can't mow down the opposition.
  2. The Mortal Wounds and Tampering With Mortality tables. These create a real risk of death, yet the surety that your character could come back, yet the risk of how he'll come back. The bonus from healing a comrade in one round also stirs the souls of the healer-types, who enjoy rushing into danger to be battlefield medics.


I'm in a different position to most, because the campaign I'm running is for players who've never played a tabletop RPG before. Most of them have played electronic RPGs, but polyhedral dice and papar character sheets are new experiences for them.

That said, what I've heard them praise is the openness of everything, and the fact that the game supports pretty much everything they do, not matter how strange it is. They love that they have a map, and can (if they choose) simply pick a random direction to walk in in the hopes of finding something interesting. They love that they can, if they want, abandon their current dungeon and head to another town on the map in the hopes of finding a less dangerous quest. They love that they were able to hire one of the bandits they captured as a henchman, who's now become the best archer in the party. They love that they were able to put their money together and form a very small assassins' guild (with only one level 1 assassin), that could theoretically act as a seconary source of income while they're off adventuring...


Cleaving hasn't worked out for my group as much as I'd have hoped. They're hitting the 2nd level of Dwimmermount and last week was the first time it really worked for them. I'm hoping it's been mostly a matter of bad luck on their part, which they seem to have a lot of.

(The Bladedancer with an AC 6 got hit by 2 giant rats the same round. They both rolled maximum damage, and they both rolled under 5% for transmitting disease. Finally she failed one of the saving throws and only had two days to live. Too short to make it back to a town with a high level caster. The mundane healer in the party hade to burn a fate point to roll high enough on the healing roll to stop the disease.)

The cleaving finally worked out when the bladedancer and spellsword were able to take out 4 hobgoblins in one round before they even had a chance to raise an alarm. Hopefully more of that will happen going forward.

my players have loved reading all the horrible things that can happen to their players on the various tables.

I ran a meatgrinder campaign last year. My players did enjoy the spectacular lethality, but not as much as I did, lol.

One less obvious but common area of praise has been the arcane caster rules. Pretty much every mage-oriented player I've introduced to ACKS has had a very positive opinion of the mages-as-3E-sorcerers-with-modifiable-repertoires approach.

Oh, and one old player (not exactly OSR, but he goes back at least as far as 2E) was very favourable about the encumbrance system, especially the "armour enc = AC" bit.

For me, the thing that drew me to ACKS was that it was put together from the ground up to accommodate domain play. Before I happened to see the book sitting in my local gaming store, the idea of this had never really occurred to me, but I immediately went home and bought myself a copy. This has led to me spending the last 2 or so years researching and investigating domain play in RPGs. I've got at least half a dozen that I've now purchased and read through, and you know what... if you're looking for a simulationist system that allows you to do a lot of things without the GM having to make rules up on the fly, there is nothing else that comes close to ACKS. Throw in the Domains at War system, and... wow.

I ran a relatively traditional D&D campaign with domains as a late-game goal last year. I'm not really one for dungeoneering, as I prefer politics, intrigue and wars as my subject matter, so I suspect my next attempt will skip straight to that part. (Or, I must confess, I may use a set of custom rules that I'm cribbing heavily from ACKS domain rules, but applying to another RPG which I prefer for its personal-level rules).

Speed of combat was an eye-opener, compared to D&D4e we'd been playing immediately before. In the time it took us to do a little fight involving 4PCs and 6 enemies in 4e, we managed a skirmish with almost 100 participants in ACKS.

Yes, speed of combat! I’ve played a lot of systems, and even Savage Worlds isn’t as fast. Once everyone knows their AC, they can just roll one die and call out the number they hit - “AC 5?” “Hit.” “AC 2?” “Miss!”. One of my players even rolls damage dice with his attack, so he has the number right away. I can roll 20 attacking goblin archers and instantly see which hit. No complicated touch AC vs ranged, or weird armor piecing, or what have you. It’s awesome.

My personal favorite part is how well everything fits together. Treasure tables, random encounters, even random magical items carried by roadside thieves are all laid out. I could delete all my plots and run everything from random tables, and I doubt my players would notice for months!