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Scowling Dragon
2013-07-05, 12:29 AM
This is a separate thread more to do with me not getting it, as not too but into the thread filled more with fond discussions.

Whats so great about ACKS? Its alright I guess. Sometimes a bit on the bland side, but whats so "WOW DUDE" about it?

Keep in mind I have not played more classic Basic, and 1st ed D&D.

shadow_archmagi
2013-07-05, 12:47 AM
This is a separate thread more to do with me not getting it, as not too but into the thread filled more with fond discussions.

Whats so great about ACKS? Its alright I guess. Sometimes a bit on the bland side, but whats so "WOW DUDE" about it?

Keep in mind I have not played more classic Basic, and 1st ed D&D.

The name pretty much sums it up. I got into D&D starting with 3.5, and it was a persistent frustration with me that the players always ended up being, as the board so commonly puts it, "murder-hobos." D&D's 3 and 4 really just don't do much for what I generally refer to as world integration. Sure, you can roleplay the PCs as becoming vassals, but you run into a lot of problems trying to justify a traditional kingdom (See: Tippyverse) and also there's the fact that there are simply not very many rules for how vassaldom works, how much money you can collect from taxes, how to raise an army, etc. In fact, most GMs in 3.5 will try to push players away from characters with minions, because even dealing with an extra 4 characters in each fight slows the game way down, much less trying to simulate thousands. ACKS's primary "WOW DUDE" factor is that it does for P&P RPGs what Mount and Blade did for PC RPGs (Except that I kinda hate M&B's actual game design and gameplay, but golly, what a beautiful core concept!) Being able to smoothly upgrade from a local hero to a leader of men to a leader of nations is a really cool concept.

The secondary factor for me is that it's my first real foray into older-edition type stuff, but it's been much updated to try to take the good things already present, and add good things on top. I really like, for example, the Mortal Wounds and Tampering with Mortality charts- they make near-death situations memorable events, and also make raising the dead always an option but never trivial.

Or, take the whole XP for GP thing- I always thought it was a really strange thing to have in the older editions, but I read an article by the ACKS authors explaining it, and now I really like it. If you reward XP only from killing monsters, then suddenly PCs are getting in fights for the sole purpose of getting in fights. If you reward PCs for gathering treasure, then that becomes their primary goal, and the rewards for cunningly avoiding battle are much higher, and your PCs act more like adventurers should.

Scowling Dragon
2013-07-05, 01:01 AM
So nothing I haven't done before on my own, except with a system I don't like. Hmm. Still not getting it.

SiuiS
2013-07-05, 01:13 AM
You may not just be interested in the concept.

In 3e and forward, all PCs are special. Government is anachronistic renaissance Europe. You can be special because you have access to a spell or ability.
In ACKS survivors are special and you have to earn that. Government is closer to Greek city states, and pulp adventure is the default emergent property of the rule system. You can be special for achieving things and no one cares about your class.

It's like playing WoD, or GURPS. It scratches a different itch. The appeal of ACKS is that it does the things that 1/2e AD&D promised and never delivered, and gives the things 3e left behind. If you look at ACKS and wonder how it can cater to your 3e tastes, you're wastin your time 3e already caters to those tastes.

Scowling Dragon
2013-07-05, 01:20 AM
In 3e and forward, all PCs are special. Government is anachronistic renaissance Europe. You can be special because you have access to a spell or ability.
In ACKS survivors are special and you have to earn that. Government is closer to Greek city states, and pulp adventure is the default emergent property of the rule system. You can be special for achieving things and no one cares about your class.

Stop right there. Can you explain it further? Often times this stuff is thrown around like buzzwords and the truth often varies from the fantasy.

JustinA
2013-07-05, 01:36 AM
So nothing I haven't done before on my own, except with a system I don't like. Hmm. Still not getting it.

This may come as a shock for you, so you may want to sit down for this:

Some people like that system.

Scowling Dragon
2013-07-05, 01:47 AM
This may come as a shock for you, so you may want to sit down for this:

Some people like that system.

I know I know. Its just that ever once in a while I hear somebody say that its "SO REVOLUTIONARY", and then rush to convince me of how wrong I am that "You just simple have bad taste. This is better".

So sorry for coming off as pushy. I just wan't to know WHY people like that system.

Yora
2013-07-05, 02:15 AM
It's like the D&D some people remember from when they were 12 years old. That kind of seems the reason anyone loves any retroclone game, no matter which one. (Including up to Pathfinder.)

shadow_archmagi
2013-07-05, 07:27 AM
So nothing I haven't done before on my own, except with a system I don't like. Hmm. Still not getting it.

Wow rude.



So sorry for coming off as pushy. I just wan't to know WHY people like that system.

I've given my reasons. I really like the idea of a campaign that operates at different scales at different times (Lord of the Rings, Erfworld, Game of Thrones, Conan, etc all do this.). If you have a system that does that at all, please mention it, because I'm not aware of any game that supports it.

With regards to being "special" I suspect that comes from the fact that death is actually a thing that happens, and so characters who last a long time will be few and far between, thus giving them specialness by rarity.

Of course, you've given us absolutely no information about what you've played before (beyond that whatever it was, you're apparently a great deal more fond of it) and what you think ACKS should be delivering that it isn't, so for all we know, the only other RPG you've played is Dragon Age and your problem is that there isn't enough witty banter written into ACKS. It's really hard to sell to a vacuum.

Yora
2013-07-05, 07:42 AM
I think the issue is that some people want rules for certain things, while others simply do such thing entirely by roleplaying without any mechanics for it.
Personally, I don't see the need for dedicated mechanics either, but that applies to a very wide range of things that people are frequently demand to be "supported" as well.

Madfellow
2013-07-05, 08:04 AM
I have to admit I share some of Scowling Dragon's skepticism. ACKS to me just seems antiquated and bland, and I don't feel any drive to invest into a character that's 70% likely to die in the first session.

shadow_archmagi
2013-07-05, 08:26 AM
I think the issue is that some people want rules for certain things, while others simply do such thing entirely by roleplaying without any mechanics for it.

You could say that about any aspect of RPGs, though. You don't really need to roll dice to hit- You can just sort that out with your DM by describing your swordplay, right?

I've had several experiences where I ended up playing a character who was a leader of men, but no matter how hard I tried to roleplay it, the GM rarely treated them as anything more than redshirts: Totally ineffective and prone to dying to show off how deadly the big bad is. I could argue, sure, but ultimately the problem was that we had fundamentally different assumptions about how tough and useful these men were supposed to be, which is precisely the kind of situation you have rules for.

Lapak
2013-07-05, 10:18 AM
I have to admit I share some of Scowling Dragon's skepticism. ACKS to me just seems antiquated and bland, and I don't feel any drive to invest into a character that's 70% likely to die in the first session.Like others have said, it scratches a different itch. To address your concern about investment directly, games with more frequent death build investment differently. The rest of my post addresses lethality generally, and isn't specifically ACKS-focused, just as a heads up.

The fact that you may see three characters die in their first adventure before you get one that lives means that the you will be hellaciously invested in the one that lives to level 3 - the one that skated through four or five deadly situations on his last hit point, the one who was the sole survivor and got out of the Hall of the Skeleton King which claimed four of his companions. That guy you'll grow awfully attached to indeed, and find yourself reaching for strategies and gambits and scrambling to preserve him in a way that you might never feel compelled to do in a less-lethal game. That doesn't make games in which character death is a threat inherently better, just different - but I promise you that character investment is definitely a part of it.

In general, games that have more frequent and/or permanent character death end up de-emphasizing backstory in favor of, well, in-game story. No, it makes no sense to craft a full fictional history for each character, because there IS a good chance that they'll die... but the one that survives will have a built-in story of times when she almost didn't. As an example, it's just plain easier (in role-playing terms) to play a paladin who always throws themselves between villains and the weak when you're playing in a system where death is less likely and less permanent; when there's a very real chance that stepping up boldly to prevent injustice will mean the permanent loss of the character you've spent the last three years playing, such a moment has a lot more oomph.

Like I said earlier, it's different, not better or worse. I'm playing in a 3.0 campaign right now where character death is barely even on the table and having a great time where I'm fully invested in the game on both the tactical and emotional level. Similarly, you might be surprised how much you enjoy it when a character in a more lethal system clicks in just the right way to survive.

Madfellow
2013-07-05, 10:35 AM
The fact that you may see three characters die in their first adventure before you get one that lives means that the you will be hellaciously invested in the one that lives to level 3 - the one that skated through four or five deadly situations on his last hit point, the one who was the sole survivor and got out of the Hall of the Skeleton King which claimed four of his companions. That guy you'll grow awfully attached to indeed, and find yourself reaching for strategies and gambits and scrambling to preserve him in a way that you might never feel compelled to do in a less-lethal game.

You say that, but I get the impression that I'd just learn to expect that my character is going to die. If I've lost 3 characters over the course of 3 adventures and my 4th character has only 1HP, I'm not going to futilely try to save his life, I'm going to throw him between the party and the monsters so that he can actually accomplish something before he does inevitably die.

And that brings up another point. How is a DM supposed to craft adventures and campaigns and stories with villains to thwart if all of the protagonists keep dying? If there's a TPK at least once over the course of the campaign (more than likely, the way I've heard this system described), then who's going to oppose the villain? The DM will have to re-introduce the villain multiple times to every new character that comes along to replace a dead one.

Yora
2013-07-05, 10:38 AM
As I understand it, these old editions are not really ment to give you a character that you keep. You just keep on fighting until you die and then replace the character with a new one.
The idea of having big storylines with investigations and mystery came later.

Scowling Dragon
2013-07-05, 10:40 AM
I guess the reason why I (You may feel differently, and MORE POWER TOO YOU) dislike easy character death is the low amount of control whether he lives or dies.

D&Ds dice rolling shtick means that in the end, my characters life just depends on probability. And its not fun too die over and over because of probability.

The simpler the situation, the more things depend on probability. In an area with many factors, I could pit against one another thats of course great. But more times then not (For me) its as simple as "This monster wants too kill you".

The Tomb of Horrors isn't a Dungeon that makes you think. Its a dungeons that DEMANDS you not think and just try out every random key and noggin on every random nook and cranny that randomly kills you. Its one of the most dumb dungeons ever.

Im oversimplifying of course.

What Roleplaying games meen too me is the reverse. The Dice are like a Drama teacher that FORCE you too act out situations you won't act out normally.

A low roll is an opportunity for you too role-play failure, as a high roll is an opportunity to roleplay success.

In a videogame I like some challenge because I have direct control over his death, and get more skilled at preventing it.

Yora
2013-07-05, 10:47 AM
Tomb of Horror is not a adventure in any sense of the word. I think it's even actually called a dungeon module, or something like that.

Lapak
2013-07-05, 10:58 AM
This might need another thread, as we're wandering off the topic, but I'll say this last on the subject of lethality.

You say that, but I get the impression that I'd just learn to expect that my character is going to die. If I've lost 3 characters over the course of 3 adventures and my 4th character has only 1HP, I'm not going to futilely try to save his life, I'm going to throw him between the party and the monsters so that he can actually accomplish something before he does inevitably die.You might be surprised. The thing is, characters can and do survive in high-lethality systems, but only if you overcome the 'he's just gonna die anyway' and start thinking about 'how can he not die'. I'll talk a bit more about this below.

And that brings up another point. How is a DM supposed to craft adventures and campaigns and stories with villains to thwart if all of the protagonists keep dying? If there's a TPK at least once over the course of the campaign (more than likely, the way I've heard this system described), then who's going to oppose the villain? The DM will have to re-introduce the villain multiple times to every new character that comes along to replace a dead one.'Lethal' doesn't mean 'all the protagonists die', and most of them - old-school clones included - get markedly less lethal as you get some resources under your belt. The one-ambush-kills-you factor never goes completely away in most cases, but as you get further in and gain more ablative resources (in terms of spells, hit points, and so on) it becomes less about 'instadeath all the time' and more about 'learning to recognize when you're in over your head and finding a way to back out when it happens.' And this is true as soon as a couple of charcters have these resources; a higher-level character can do a lot to shepherd a lower-level character through the danger zone.

That said, you're not totally wrong, and this may be part of why old-school clones also tend away from overarching plots and towards sandboxiness. Again, different, not better or worse.

As I understand it, these old editions are not really ment to give you a character that you keep. You just keep on fighting until you die and then replace the character with a new one.
The idea of having big storylines with investigations and mystery came later.Yes and no; story campaigns were around from early days (but less prevalent) and as I was saying to Madfellow there, while it's still entirely possible to lose a high-level character it's not as easy.

I guess the reason why I (You may feel differently, and MORE POWER TOO YOU) dislike easy character death is the low amount of control whether he lives or dies.
***
Im oversimplifying of course.
***
In a videogame I like some challenge because I have direct control over his death, and get more skilled at preventing it.(This is where I expand on the question of whether you're doomed in high-lethality systems.)

There is skill to it. You recognize that yes, absolutely, probability will stack up against you sooner or later if you let it - so you *do not let it.* When you have a choice between stacking the deck and rushing in, you always stack the deck. When you could do something that involves rolling a die or do something else first that doesn't - and might improve your odds - you do the other thing first. You try negotiating before fighting. You arrange ambushes rather than straight-up fights, or you avoid fights altogether. The more resources you still have in the bank, the more you can play fast-and-loose, and a key skill is recognizing that switchover point where you have to really buckle down and calculate risks before acting. It's like, oh, playing Nethack to take a relevant video game example: when you first start playing death seems completely random and arbitrary and vastly annoying, but if you switch gears into the right mindset you can win the game consistently.

It's absolutely not something that everyone enjoys, and if you don't I totally get that. But I'm just trying to explain why some people do, and how even in systems where the dice-and-stats portion can be very cruel statistically there is a skill set that allows for survival.

shadow_archmagi
2013-07-05, 11:02 AM
And that brings up another point. How is a DM supposed to craft adventures and campaigns and stories with villains to thwart if all of the protagonists keep dying? If there's a TPK at least once over the course of the campaign (more than likely, the way I've heard this system described), then who's going to oppose the villain? The DM will have to re-introduce the villain multiple times to every new character that comes along to replace a dead one.

Players generally assume the role of one of their henchmen, so when Sir Steve dies, his squire should know most of what he knew, and will have participated in most of the same events. Even if not, characters can just take a moment to play the information game one way or another "I am going to what may very well be my death. If you do not hear from me in three weeks, open this letter. You are the only one I trust." or, if there's no reason the information was a secret, just "My lord kept talking about the threat the baron posed. We haven't heard from him in six weeks. I should go looking for him, and any man here with a spine would do the same!"

Unless, of course, literally everyone the character trusted was in the party when the TPK happened, in which case that's less of a game design flaw and more of "why are the PCs roleplaying a sociopathic hive mind?" issue.

Scow2
2013-07-05, 11:06 AM
Whenever you get into a situation where axes or swords are pointing your way, there is a chance of death. Otherwise, those axes and swords pointing your way might not exist. You DO have absolute control of whether your character lives or dies in your choices. Just don't take a self-entitlement approach, and you should survive just fine.

Knaight
2013-07-05, 11:55 AM
I've given my reasons. I really like the idea of a campaign that operates at different scales at different times (Lord of the Rings, Erfworld, Game of Thrones, Conan, etc all do this.). If you have a system that does that at all, please mention it, because I'm not aware of any game that supports it.

REIGN does this (it has two interacting rules sets, one of which is for sizable groups up to and including nations), and it's a pretty solid game for a number of reasons. That said, if you don't like rules heavy stuff you won't particularly like REIGN - it's crunchy, though perhaps less so than D&D.

shadow_archmagi
2013-07-05, 12:07 PM
REIGN does this (it has two interacting rules sets, one of which is for sizable groups up to and including nations), and it's a pretty solid game for a number of reasons. That said, if you don't like rules heavy stuff you won't particularly like REIGN - it's crunchy, though perhaps less so than D&D.

Cool. I've bookmarked the REIGN website and I'll take a look at it the next time I want to run a game like this.

Slipperychicken
2013-07-05, 12:18 PM
Whenever you get into a situation where axes or swords are pointing your way, there is a chance of death. Otherwise, those axes and swords pointing your way might not exist. You DO have absolute control of whether your character lives or dies in your choices. Just don't take a self-entitlement approach, and you should survive just fine.

I like this aspect of it. I feel combat is approached too casually in other systems I've played, not risky or chaotic enough to be a true danger unless you're doing something truly suicidal.


Also, it lacks the assumption that the PCs aren't special snowflakes who can't ever die or lose. I started on 3.5, and it's one of the things which irks me in-game; PCs acting like ***** because they don't need survival instincts to survive. But in ACKS, it seems like combat is random and deadly, and hitting zero hp is sufficiently punishing (although not automatic instant death).


EDIT: Dungeon-crawling is one of the main reasons I first got into dnd (If I was so keen on roleplaying, I'd join an acting club); I know now that I expected an older style of game, and ACKS seems to fit the bill.

Craft (Cheese)
2013-07-05, 12:21 PM
The fact that you may see three characters die in their first adventure before you get one that lives means that the you will be hellaciously invested in the one that lives to level 3 - the one that skated through four or five deadly situations on his last hit point, the one who was the sole survivor and got out of the Hall of the Skeleton King which claimed four of his companions. That guy you'll grow awfully attached to indeed, and find yourself reaching for strategies and gambits and scrambling to preserve him in a way that you might never feel compelled to do in a less-lethal game. That doesn't make games in which character death is a threat inherently better, just different - but I promise you that character investment is definitely a part of it.

To make a video game analogy, my problem with this mindset is my same problem with Don't Starve: I think the interesting part of the game comes later, after you've built up your resources and are mostly interested in planning ahead to deal with long-term problems (like surviving through winter) rather than just relying on your wits and blind luck to survive short-term problems (like hound attacks). This early game was interesting at first but it's relatively shallow and thus I exhausted its interestingness after only a few attempts at the game.

But, when you screw up in the later game, you have to start again on day 1, and it's back to the boring and lame part of the game where you scramble around trying to find berry bushes and fend off the hounds. That's like 20 minutes of time that's effectively wasted before you can get back to the interesting part of the game.


As such, my problem with the "old school" character lethality is that I don't want to be a 1st-level character. I've been a 1st-level character many many times, and I'm bored of that now. I want to skip ahead to the interesting parts that come later. But the old-school gaming philosophy tells me this isn't allowed: That the low levels are what give the high levels meaning. Enabling skipping ahead in a way that works requires the trappings of 3rd edition that the OSR crowd explicitly rejects: Wealth by level tables. Point-buy stat generation. Pre-written character backstories.

Twilight Jack
2013-07-05, 12:54 PM
To make a video game analogy, my problem with this mindset is my same problem with Don't Starve: I think the interesting part of the game comes later, after you've built up your resources and are mostly interested in planning ahead to deal with long-term problems (like surviving through winter) rather than just relying on your wits and blind luck to survive short-term problems (like hound attacks). This early game was interesting at first but it's relatively shallow and thus I exhausted its interestingness after only a few attempts at the game.

But, when you screw up in the later game, you have to start again on day 1, and it's back to the boring and lame part of the game where you scramble around trying to find berry bushes and fend off the hounds. That's like 20 minutes of time that's effectively wasted before you can get back to the interesting part of the game.


As such, my problem with the "old school" character lethality is that I don't want to be a 1st-level character. I've been a 1st-level character many many times, and I'm bored of that now. I want to skip ahead to the interesting parts that come later. But the old-school gaming philosophy tells me this isn't allowed: That the low levels are what give the high levels meaning. Enabling skipping ahead in a way that works requires the trappings of 3rd edition that the OSR crowd explicitly rejects: Wealth by level tables. Point-buy stat generation. Pre-written character backstories.

It's probably worth mentioning that ACKS explicitly includes rules for beginning at higher levels of play, and also for introducing new characters to an existing higher level group after the death or retirement of your previous character.

One of the chief features of the old-school gaming philosophy, in my experience, is that your game is yours. It exists to be tweaked and morphed to your own specifications. It's much easier to mitigate the high-lethality of Basic D&D than it is to reintroduce that lethality to 3.5 or 4e.

Distaste for some of the hard-coded assumptions of newer editions may cause OSR proponents to overstate themselves with regards to preferred levels of character lethality and "player skill," but such elements are less intrinsic to the old-school experience than its detractors seem to believe.

Scowling Dragon
2013-07-05, 01:06 PM
One of the chief features of the old-school gaming philosophy, in my experience, is that your game is yours. It exists to be tweaked and morphed to your own specifications. It's much easier to mitigate the high-lethality of Basic D&D than it is to reintroduce that lethality to 3.5 or 4e.

Highly highly highly disagree.

Twilight Jack
2013-07-05, 01:09 PM
Highly highly highly disagree.

As is your right.

Zombimode
2013-07-05, 01:18 PM
You say that, but I get the impression that I'd just learn to expect that my character is going to die. If I've lost 3 characters over the course of 3 adventures and my 4th character has only 1HP, I'm not going to futilely try to save his life, I'm going to throw him between the party and the monsters so that he can actually accomplish something before he does inevitably die.

And that brings up another point. How is a DM supposed to craft adventures and campaigns and stories with villains to thwart if all of the protagonists keep dying? If there's a TPK at least once over the course of the campaign (more than likely, the way I've heard this system described), then who's going to oppose the villain? The DM will have to re-introduce the villain multiple times to every new character that comes along to replace a dead one.

As it is sadly mostly the case in discussions like this, you seem to equate "high lethality playstyle" with "more character deaths", which is not necessarily true. In fact, it even may lead to less character deaths.

The key difference is the attitude the characters (and by extension the players) have towards the situation they are confronted with. If you think "level appropriate encounter! what is the worst that could happen? We can win by just running the numbers, tactics are just there to reduce the loss of resources" in a high-lethality game, you probably won't make it far (and maybe take you party mates with you...). The point is that kind of thought may backfire in non-high-lethality games too.
If the characters are in general more thoughtful to stack the odds in their favor, they have higher chances of survival in general.

Also, because it seems that this is misunderstood by some people in this thread, too, a high-lethality playstyle is not system-dependent. The system might support certain playstyles better then others, though.

The type of campaign (story/character-driven vs. exploration/dungeoncrawling) is also not directly correlated to a playstyle.

My campaigns are always something between character-driven and story-driven (with healthy doses of exploration mixed in). Currently it is heavily character-driven, the system is D&D 3.5 E6, and I would call my playstyle "high-lethality".

Knaight
2013-07-05, 01:34 PM
One of the chief features of the old-school gaming philosophy, in my experience, is that your game is yours. It exists to be tweaked and morphed to your own specifications.

That is about as far from my experience as it is possible to get. Sure, tweaking is to some degree acceptable, provided that you are playing in a particular way, but the attitude appears to be closer to "the game, and for that matter the hobby, is the property of Gary Gygax. Provided that you are playing things his way, you can think of yourself as a guest of sorts, if you are playing anything new in any way (e.g. any game with any connection to the Forge) you are a trespasser with no place in the hobby. Get out."

By contrast, the newer attitudes appear to be along the lines of "Gaming is a pretty big hobby, you'll find something you like in it somewhere, have fun with it." The game is yours, but if you change it too much people will probably point out that there are likely better ways to go about your goal - the same way that, if someone is trying to make a souffle by tweaking a pie recipe, you'll probably point them towards something that at least starts you at pudding.

1337 b4k4
2013-07-05, 01:39 PM
That is about as far from my experience as it is possible to get. Sure, tweaking is to some degree acceptable, provided that you are playing in a particular way, but the attitude appears to be closer to "the game, and for that matter the hobby, is the property of Gary Gygax. Provided that you are playing things his way, you can think of yourself as a guest of sorts, if you are playing anything new in any way (e.g. any game with any connection to the Forge) you are a trespasser with no place in the hobby. Get out."

It is unfortunate that you have had such bad experiences with OSR games or players, especially when such experiences are very counter to the entire push that started it. But while you may have had those experiences, I should point out that one of the flagship OSR games, Swords and Wizardry, has a version which is available for download not as a PDF, but as a Word Doc / RTF for editing. If that isn't an open invitation to make it your game, I don't know what is.

shadow_archmagi
2013-07-05, 01:50 PM
As such, my problem with the "old school" character lethality is that I don't want to be a 1st-level character. I've been a 1st-level character many many times, and I'm bored of that now. I want to skip ahead to the interesting parts that come later. But the old-school gaming philosophy tells me this isn't allowed: That the low levels are what give the high levels meaning. Enabling skipping ahead in a way that works requires the trappings of 3rd edition that the OSR crowd explicitly rejects: Wealth by level tables. Point-buy stat generation. Pre-written character backstories.

I think that this is a completely valid point, and I think that it's definitely the approach to gaming that I will take the overwhelming majority of the time. However, I think that the old-school philosophy of in-game stories is definitely meaningful, and every so often I absolutely love to indulge in a game that fosters them (and this generally manifests as a computer game, too (X-COM, XCOM, Dwarf Fortress, etc)). There's definitely something beautiful about being able to point to your men and say a little something about each of them, because in the course of surviving, they've created stories more elaborate and beautiful than most backstories.

But yeah, I totally get that playing Don't Starve all day every day would rattle your nerves. It's definitely worth popping back to 3.5 for a breath of air, or indeed, you might be one of those people that almost exclusively breathes air. But there's still wonderful things to be seen beneath the sea of lethality.

Craft (Cheese)
2013-07-05, 02:40 PM
But yeah, I totally get that playing Don't Starve all day every day would rattle your nerves. It's definitely worth popping back to 3.5 for a breath of air, or indeed, you might be one of those people that almost exclusively breathes air. But there's still wonderful things to be seen beneath the sea of lethality.

Don't get me wrong, I love Don't Starve to death after that initial 20 minutes of pain is over. I just wish I had some way to skip it or it were made to be just as interesting as the main body of the game.

Madfellow
2013-07-05, 03:27 PM
OK, I can understand the appeal of a game that lets you play as a conquering warlord commanding an army. And I can (conceptually) understand the appeal of a more lethal game. However, there are other issues with ACKS. Whenever the game is described to me, this is what I hear:

"Roll all your stats. In order. Here's the algorithm you use to determine your ability modifier. You need to be at least this strong to be a fighter. Oh, you're not strong enough? I guess it's rogue for you. OK, you have three characters? They're all going to die. That is a thing that is going to happen, and there's nothing you can do about that. Oh, and be cutthroat. Non-cutthroats just die faster."

I can see two obvious appeals to this system: playing a conquering warlord with an army and dealing with the risk of losing a character. But why oh WHY would anyone want to put up with so many antiquated, counter-intuitive, un-fun game mechanics? I mean, the whole reason 3e and 4e were created was to replace those outdated mechanics.

Surely there has to be a better way to get the kind of gameplay you want. One that doesn't involve so much pain.

Lapak
2013-07-05, 03:47 PM
Whenever the game is described to me, this is what I hear:

"Roll all your stats. In order. Here's the algorithm you use to determine your ability modifier. You need to be at least this strong to be a fighter. Oh, you're not strong enough? I guess it's rogue for you. OK, you have three characters? They're all going to die. That is a thing that is going to happen, and there's nothing you can do about that. Oh, and be cutthroat. Non-cutthroats just die faster."Two disclaimers: ACKS is not a game I play regularly, and it is by no means something that you should feel at all bad about not enjoying. There are plenty of good games to play!

That said, if you read my post #18 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=15559351&postcount=18) and took away 'your characters are going to die and there's nothing you can do' or my paragraph in post 13 talking about how genuinely heroic moments have "more oomph" when there's real danger attached to heroism and took away 'be cutthroat', then it may be that you're hearing what you expect to hear to some degree when people talk about it.

shadow_archmagi
2013-07-05, 04:48 PM
"Roll all your stats. In order. Here's the algorithm you use to determine your ability modifier. You need to be at least this strong to be a fighter. Oh, you're not strong enough? I guess it's rogue for you. OK, you have three characters? They're all going to die. That is a thing that is going to happen, and there's nothing you can do about that. Oh, and be cutthroat. Non-cutthroats just die faster."

But why oh WHY would anyone want to put up with so many antiquated, counter-intuitive, un-fun game mechanics? I mean, the whole reason 3e and 4e were created was to replace those outdated mechanics.

Surely there has to be a better way to get the kind of gameplay you want. One that doesn't involve so much pain.

In many cases, "new" doesn't inherently mean better (See: The overwhelming amount of bile in the 5e thread, last time I checked). Doing stats randomly helps eliminate "dump stats" and thus allows for the occasional intelligent or charismatic fighter without forcing the player to explicitly say "I am going to deliberately choose to play a fighter who is less good at fighting because I want him to be better at something else too."

The bell-curve stats (Algorithm? Nobody mentioned an algorithm. Also, what's wrong with a little math during character creation?) produce a more average set of results, so that there's a smaller gap between really good rolls and merely good rolls.

A world where you can just about survive early levels if you play as cutthroat as you can means that if you do decide to stick your neck out for someone it'll be remembered, whether you keep that neck or not.

NichG
2013-07-05, 05:37 PM
In terms of my own experiences, my first tabletop game was D&D 3.5, but then I played in a summer campaign of authentic 1ed D&D run as a 'by the book' experiment by a DM who was interested in figuring out what the fuss was about. So we had all the crazy stuff - pummel charts, insta-kill giraffes, etc.

I played three characters over the course of maybe 12 sessions, most of which were marathon 8 hour-10 hour sessions. My first character survived the campaign, the second died pretty quickly, and the third got rotated in a few times but mostly ended up being a backup. See, this was in part because we were playing with 'it takes weeks to months of training to level up' stuff, so I had to bring in a new character while my old one was training. So thats somewhat high lethality by the numbers, but honestly not as high lethality as e.g. 3.5ed Tournament modules. It certainly felt more lethal though, leading to more cautious play, leading to lower overall lethality.

The other interesting thing about the experience was that my first character ended up having the stats for an Assassin, so I said 'sure, what the hell' and went for it. First time I played an evil character. But the system kind of made it work in a weird way. Normally when people play evil in things like 3.5ed I see them work a bit too hard for it, like they have to kick puppies to prove their alignment. In the 1ed game, I never actively sought out evil things to do, but when we were in swampy terrain with three random encounter rolls per hex, and our porter got sick and slowed us down by a factor of four, it really was 'either we off this guy or we die here' and there was a natural moment for an evil act driven by desperation and survival. I don't think I could really have had that kind of thing in a D&D 3.5 game at comparable level - there are just too many ways to be in control of your situation. Something similar happened when we were stuck in a dungeon with a handful of hp left and no healing - we had to barricade ourselves in a dungeon room and try to stay the night there to have any chance of surviving the trip back to civilization. I could see that happening in a low-level 3.5 game, but I think the range of levels over which it can occur is broader in the older editions.

There's also something visceral about the unsteady rate of progression. We sat at Lv1 for a few sessions getting a handful of xp here or there. Then suddenly, we defeat something worthy of a roll on the Hoard chart. The unscaled Hoard chart, where it doesn't matter if you just defeated a couple of orcs or a dragon. And so we suddenly shot up a few levels with that one score. It made it feel less like 'business as usual' and more of a big deal, especially when we knew we had to get that gold back to civilization to redeem it as XP (a convoluted process that involved burying it and coming back for it, since we were on our last legs at the time).


Anyhow, those are just my experiences with it. Its a very different game, but you have to approach it open-minded and taking it as what it is to really enjoy it. I think if you play it for exploring a complex character, or because you like the high level play, it'll be disappointing. If you play it for the same reasons you might play a survival horror game, that might work better.

Madfellow
2013-07-05, 07:13 PM
In many cases, "new" doesn't inherently mean better (See: The overwhelming amount of bile in the 5e thread, last time I checked).

The 5e thread is filled with bile because when the thread started the "I don't like this aspect of 5e" people were more vocal than the "I do like this aspect of 5e" people. A lot more vocal. Eventually the pro-5e crowd (myself included) slowly started to leave the thread due to the slow buildup of bile. Now only anti-5e sentiment remains. I myself have thoroughly enjoyed the 5e playtest so far; more than I've enjoyed 4e, which I enjoy more than I did 3e.

That being said, I do want to apologize if my previous post sounded overly whiny or hateful. I may have gotten carried away a bit. It's just that there are many aspects of the system that feel like they could be replaced with something simpler and more efficient. They were, in fact, in later editions of D&D. I just don't understand why the creators decided to undo decades of game development for their system. It's like they were trying to recreate a relic.

thirdkingdom
2013-07-05, 07:29 PM
As such, my problem with the "old school" character lethality is that I don't want to be a 1st-level character.

p. 253 of the ACKS core rulebook:


Because of the many options that ACKS offers for high-level play, some Judges may wish to begin their campaigns with the player characters already at an advanced level of experience. The following guidelines are suggested for campaigns where the players begin the game with advanced characters.

And it goes on to give rules for starting wealth, starting magic items and starting henchmen.

Kiero
2013-07-05, 07:36 PM
As I understand it, these old editions are not really ment to give you a character that you keep. You just keep on fighting until you die and then replace the character with a new one.
The idea of having big storylines with investigations and mystery came later.

Which is why in my heavily-hacked ACKS game, we started at 5th level with less-random chargen and loads of henchmen for all. Skipped the early high-lethality and went straight for the Big Damned Heroes (and leaders of their people). Course there's also no dungeons in my game, which avoids that part of the meatgrinder, too.


As such, my problem with the "old school" character lethality is that I don't want to be a 1st-level character. I've been a 1st-level character many many times, and I'm bored of that now. I want to skip ahead to the interesting parts that come later. But the old-school gaming philosophy tells me this isn't allowed: That the low levels are what give the high levels meaning. Enabling skipping ahead in a way that works requires the trappings of 3rd edition that the OSR crowd explicitly rejects: Wealth by level tables. Point-buy stat generation. Pre-written character backstories.

I agree with you entirely, I have no time for 1st level characters (except as sidekicks) as a player or GM. There's a more important philosophy of old-school games, which is change the stuff you don't like.

Course I'm not actually a member of the OSR crowd, I just like ACKS.

Premier
2013-07-05, 07:37 PM
That being said, I do want to apologize if my previous post sounded overly whiny or hateful. I may have gotten carried away a bit. It's just that there are many aspects of the system that feel like they could be replaced with something simpler and more efficient. They were, in fact, in later editions of D&D. I just don't understand why the creators decided to undo decades of game development for their system. It's like they were trying to recreate a relic.

You have to understand that OSR games run a gamut, and you CAN find some new elements in otherwise old-school systems. You want a game that, while being verifiably old-school, has there sensible saving throw categories instead of five non-sensible ones and where beginner characters don't die quite as easily? There's one. You want a system where higher AC is better? There are several. You want one where you have 3E Sorcerer-style spellcasting so you don't have to pre-memorise? There very well might be one out there.

On the other hand, quirkiness is also good, because it leads to creativity. Just the other day, I and someone else had a conversation going on on Google+ and we came up with an idea on how to turn into the Turn Undead table into a quick and interesting fistfight-resolution chart by re-labeling the axes. That couldn't have happened without that quirky chart.

Not to mention that quirkiness is relative, and new-school games are equally guilty of it. Just consider this: in an OS game, you have a Level 15 Paladin. In many 3E games, you have a Lvl 1/3/2/4/3/2 Fighter/Hulking Hurler/Ashwyrm Destroyer/Divine Defender/Warblade/Strikedancer. Neither is comparatively more powerful or more useful to the party in its own system than the other one. And yet, one took a single class from a single book, and the other took half a dozen prestige classes from the same number of books. Now, don't get me wrong, if you like fiddling around with that sort of thing, there's nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to "quirkiness" "inelegance" and "lack of simplicity", new D&D easily matches old, only in different areas.

Craft (Cheese)
2013-07-05, 07:44 PM
p. 253 of the ACKS core rulebook:

And it goes on to give rules for starting wealth, starting magic items and starting henchmen.

That's good to know, but I wasn't talking about ACKS specifically (indeed I haven't even read the books). I was criticizing a playstyle that I'm not interested in, namely, the "Start at level 1 so that your level 9 character will have an emergent backstory" part of it.

thirdkingdom
2013-07-05, 07:59 PM
That's good to know, but I wasn't talking about ACKS specifically (indeed I haven't even read the books). I was criticizing a playstyle that I'm not interested in, namely, the "Start at level 1 so that your level 9 character will have an emergent backstory" part of it.

See, I get that. You don't want to start at 1st level. What I don't get is how the above playstyle is conflated with the OSR movement. I mean, one of the selling points of the older games is that they do not explicitly spell out every last detail* in the rules. I've started plenty of older games at above 1st level, both nowadays and when I they were still new. ACKS is actually one of the few I'm aware of that specifically gives rules for starting out at levels above 1st, but because the others lack rules by no means implies that starting at 1st is required.



*Mike Mornard, known as "Old Geezer" on rpgnet and one of the original players of D&D in Gary's Castle Greyhawk campaign, is writing a book called "We Made up Some S*** we Thought Would be Fun". So it's not in the rules? Make something up.

Kiero
2013-07-05, 08:33 PM
That's good to know, but I wasn't talking about ACKS specifically (indeed I haven't even read the books). I was criticizing a playstyle that I'm not interested in, namely, the "Start at level 1 so that your level 9 character will have an emergent backstory" part of it.

Again, I agree with you, but that isn't a necessary part of OSR games - especially "second generation" ones like ACKS, which aren't slavish clones of older games, sneering playstyle assumptions and all.

thirdkingdom
2013-07-05, 08:40 PM
Again, I agree with you, but that isn't a necessary part of OSR games - especially "second generation" ones like ACKS, which aren't slavish clones of older games, sneering playstyle assumptions and all.

You know, Kiero, that's something I've always liked about your posts, from what I've read on the Big Purple. You play as many new school games as anyone, but I've found your posts to be nothing if not thoughtful, balanced and open-minded.

SiuiS
2013-07-06, 04:24 AM
In 3e and forward, all PCs are special. Government is anachronistic renaissance Europe. You can be special because you have access to a spell or ability.
In ACKS survivors are special and you have to earn that. Government is closer to Greek city states, and pulp adventure is the default emergent property of the rule system. You can be special for achieving things and no one cares about your class.

Stop right there. Can you explain it further? Often times this stuff is thrown around like buzzwords and the truth often varies from the fantasy.

which part?
If I play a 3e or 4e game, some mechanic becomes a defining point. If I am a wizard, then gameplay focuses on my spellcasting ability, not my penchant for metaphysics, not my mad science, not my desire to play god and unleash frankensteinian horrors on the land in an attempt to create the perfect man, not philosophical debates about the nature of the planes, but whether I'm gonna blast, buff, conjure or what. I've left three groups because there was a driving need to know my class, so much that players ground the game to a halt asking in character and out "so what powers do you have?"

This can and does show up in ACKS, especially with the players companion. But the signature ability of an elven assassin is a proficieny; Anyone can take it if they want. This takes some pressure off of your class (because if you want to berserk, any fighting class with the berserk proficiency can do so, for example) and the other background shift, that XP comes from money, means you don't want to get into fights. If fighting is the sole advancement strategy then fighting equals winning and you make characters and who focus on fighting. Remove the base of that and that entire psychology falls away. So you aren't famous for your fireball and ebing able to wipe a field with a blast, you're remembered for that clever use of your familiar in a specific dungeon, or for consistently using lateral thinking along a theme, or similar.

I'm playing with a thief who is currently novel for being the main guy to try and blend in with a foreign people instead of proudly stick out. And that has nothing to do with his powers at all. He is achieving success which doesn't relate to his class or mechanics in any way. I may not recall the classes of most of my fellows, but I do know that Pesha is interesting and contrasts with the party and with the people of the current city.


I have to admit I share some of Scowling Dragon's skepticism. ACKS to me just seems antiquated and bland, and I don't feel any drive to invest into a character that's 70% likely to die in the first session.

If you die in the first session, you generally learn from it and don't do it again. You're not supposed to die. You're also not supposed to decide to rush through a dungeon without checking for traps, get cornered and fight your way out. It's actually like World of Darkness; The "combat simulator" is more of a murder engine at low levels. The reason is to teach you not to get into fair fights because a 50% chance of losing means you're a sucker.


You say that, but I get the impression that I'd just learn to expect that my character is going to die. If I've lost 3 characters over the course of 3 adventures and my 4th character has only 1HP, I'm not going to futilely try to save his life, I'm going to throw him between the party and the monsters so that he can actually accomplish something before he does inevitably die.

From this side of the fence, this sounds like saying since things are hard and you have to strive, you'll take your ball and go home. I trust that isn't what you mean?


And that brings up another point. How is a DM supposed to craft adventures and campaigns and stories with villains to thwart if all of the protagonists keep dying? If there's a TPK at least once over the course of the campaign (more than likely, the way I've heard this system described), then who's going to oppose the villain? The DM will have to re-introduce the villain multiple times to every new character that comes along to replace a dead one.

The notion that there is One Villain and One Plot and that is all that is important is silly, and frankly I look at it as bad DMing. I actually have a standing deal with half my game group that if a DM runs us into some nefarious organization that will end the world and only we can stop it, we are joining that organization rather than stopping them, because after a while the same tired formula of rote evil with no critical thought gets old.

You have a party of X PCs, usually 1.5X henchman, and 2X to 4X paid retainers. If you get into a situation where they all die, you probably had it coming. If you playa game based around groups of retainers thinking you can just be a solo hero or a party of adventurers with no retinue, you're acting entitled and not actually playing the game or milieu as presented.

A TPK ends with your henchmen swearing revenge, going to town, blowing all your loot on liquor and funerary services in order to level up, and look, nothing has changed except the pitch and drama level of the current tale. Tragedy is fun, sometimes. Avoiding it because of an overarcing metaplot that the Bad Guy can't follow through on because Plot is missing the point.


It's absolutely not something that everyone enjoys, and if you don't I totally get that. But I'm just trying to explain why some people do, and how even in systems where the dice-and-stats portion can be very cruel statistically there is a skill set that allows for survival.

Yeah, kinda brutal attribute generation. I look at it as a challenge, but there is no reason not to use say, 4d6k3 if you want.


To make a video game analogy, my problem with this mindset is my same problem with Don't Starve: I think the interesting part of the game comes later, after you've built up your resources and are mostly interested in planning ahead to deal with long-term problems (like surviving through winter) rather than just relying on your wits and blind luck to survive short-term problems (like hound attacks). This early game was interesting at first but it's relatively shallow and thus I exhausted its interestingness after only a few attempts at the game.

But, when you screw up in the later game, you have to start again on day 1, and it's back to the boring and lame part of the game where you scramble around trying to find berry bushes and fend off the hounds. That's like 20 minutes of time that's effectively wasted before you can get back to the interesting part of the game.


As such, my problem with the "old school" character lethality is that I don't want to be a 1st-level character. I've been a 1st-level character many many times, and I'm bored of that now. I want to skip ahead to the interesting parts that come later. But the old-school gaming philosophy tells me this isn't allowed: That the low levels are what give the high levels meaning. Enabling skipping ahead in a way that works requires the trappings of 3rd edition that the OSR crowd explicitly rejects: Wealth by level tables. Point-buy stat generation. Pre-written character backstories.

This is interesting, because the games I've seen account for it. If you remember the 5e thread, it was actually the more new edition focused groups who felt that you had to start at level 1. That whole line got me thinking, along with some stuff Kiero said elsewhere; We lost the equations and were left with the heuristic. In OD&D, you became a hero (literally, that was your class title) at 4th level. A superhero at 8th. This continued into 2e and 3e based on math alone, but it was a conscious design decision at one point; That if you made it far enough, the game changed qualitatively. A 4th level character wasn't really playing the same game as 1st-3rd level characters were. Same in AD&D, and in 3e you get the "sweet spot" of 5th level+ where you can still be challenged but play like a superhero. It's also theoretically the goal behind 4e's tiers, but I haven't played those enough to be sure.

If the purpose of your game is to be a Hero, then start at hero level! No OSR thing I've yet seen says otherwise; I've read three or four blogs in the last two weeks that point out the very places in rulebooks and creator commentary where they actively encourage you to do so. The difference is, you don't really need wealth by level to do this; requiring magic items and similar gear came much later, and with GP=XP, you already knew how much GP you had on hand!


OK, I can understand the appeal of a game that lets you play as a conquering warlord commanding an army. And I can (conceptually) understand the appeal of a more lethal game. However, there are other issues with ACKS. Whenever the game is described to me, this is what I hear:

"Roll all your stats. In order. Here's the algorithm you use to determine your ability modifier. You need to be at least this strong to be a fighter. Oh, you're not strong enough? I guess it's rogue for you. OK, you have three characters? They're all going to die. That is a thing that is going to happen, and there's nothing you can do about that. Oh, and be cutthroat. Non-cutthroats just die faster."

I can see two obvious appeals to this system: playing a conquering warlord with an army and dealing with the risk of losing a character. But why oh WHY would anyone want to put up with so many antiquated, counter-intuitive, un-fun game mechanics? I mean, the whole reason 3e and 4e were created was to replace those outdated mechanics.

You lost me when you went from story quality to declaring un-specified mechanics unfun and counterintuitive. They are, as far as I've seen, very intuitive, both in that they make perfect sense for the game they are used in, and that they give an impression which the game they are used in aims for.

You do not NEED any ability above 9. Attribute bonuses are not required, or even really that game changing. Fighter? STR 9. If you can't roll STR 9 in five tries, then that sucks, but by starting at level 1 you've already agreed to the social contract of playing by handicap to see who and what survives. If you don't want to do this, you don't have to.

I also want to point out that the difference between thief and fighter +1 damage every 5 levels, versus backstab and weaker armor, the end*. As I said above, your class is far less important. You want to be a paladin? Ask the DM if you can get the Animal Companion and Lay On Hands proficiencies as a thief.


Surely there has to be a better way to get the kind of gameplay you want. One that doesn't involve so much pain.

What pain? It's only painful if you compare it to 3e and your rubric is how third edition it is.


In many cases, "new" doesn't inherently mean better (See: The overwhelming amount of bile in the 5e thread, last time I checked).

So much bile... :smallfrown:


The 5e thread is filled with bile because when the thread started the "I don't like this aspect of 5e" people were more vocal than the "I do like this aspect of 5e" people. A lot more vocal. Eventually the pro-5e crowd (myself included) slowly started to leave the thread due to the slow buildup of bile. Now only anti-5e sentiment remains. I myself have thoroughly enjoyed the 5e playtest so far; more than I've enjoyed 4e, which I enjoy more than I did 3e.

not entirely full of dissenters. I more dislike the designer's voices than anything else.


That being said, I do want to apologize if my previous post sounded overly whiny or hateful. I may have gotten carried away a bit. It's just that there are many aspects of the system that feel like they could be replaced with something simpler and more efficient. They were, in fact, in later editions of D&D. I just don't understand why the creators decided to undo decades of game development for their system. It's like they were trying to recreate a relic.

Efficiency is task-specific, sweetie. What is efficient in 3/4e would be inefficient and clunky when applied towards ACKS' goals. Oftentimes, it's more familiarity rather than actual efficacy that drives these comments, so we do - or, I do - trend towards addressing that.

There are occasionally devices which are just better, but I don't believe ACKS lacks any of them.


I agree with you entirely, I have no time for 1st level characters (except as sidekicks) as a player or GM. There's a more important philosophy of old-school games, which is change the stuff you don't like.

Course I'm not actually a member of the OSR crowd, I just like ACKS.

I do appreciate your thoughts on that, by the way. Changed how I see things, and it was a very thoughtful conversation. :Smallsmile:


That's good to know, but I wasn't talking about ACKS specifically (indeed I haven't even read the books). I was criticizing a playstyle that I'm not interested in, namely, the "Start at level 1 so that your level 9 character will have an emergent backstory" part of it.

Yeah, that blows. I'd like to take a character from 1st up to high levels (WITHOUT an OMG SAVE TEH UNIVERSE!!1! plot, for once :smallsigh:) because I've only ever done it once, and the DM almost robbed me of my joy at the end. But as a requirement? no, that's arbitrary. You should play the game from level 1 once, to calibrate, but that is about all they should expect.


You know, Kiero, that's something I've always liked about your posts, from what I've read on the Big Purple. You play as many new school games as anyone, but I've found your posts to be nothing if not thoughtful, balanced and open-minded.

Seconded. You're very nice to speak with.

Scowling Dragon
2013-07-06, 08:49 AM
which part?
If I play a 3e or 4e game, some mechanic becomes a defining point.


No it doesn't. You just listed some VERY anecdotal evidence.

Right now in my PBP game a focus for our Magus Character is finding some way to make his race more accepted in the eyes of the Universe, and both raise his people too be something better then envious cave dwellers.

shadow_archmagi
2013-07-06, 08:52 AM
No it doesn't. You just listed some VERY anecdotal evidence.

Right now in my PBP game a focus for our Magus Character is finding some way to make his race more accepted in the eyes of the Universe, and both raise his people too be something better then envious cave dwellers.

Of course it's anecdotal evidence. That's the only kind of evidence there is in this sort of conversation. You can't say things like "Well, in a study at Oxford, 32% of characters end up being solely defined by their class in ACKS, vs a 67% rate in new-age systems."

Scowling Dragon
2013-07-06, 09:24 AM
Of course it's anecdotal evidence. That's the only kind of evidence there is in this sort of conversation. You can't say things like "Well, in a study at Oxford, 32% of characters end up being solely defined by their class in ACKS, vs a 67% rate in new-age systems."

So don't LIST anecdotal evidence! Thats EXACTLY what I meant. Where broad generalizations are made. Pretty much everything Suis listed has nothing to do with systems at all but more to do with individual groups. GMs and all.

shadow_archmagi
2013-07-06, 09:30 AM
So don't LIST anecdotal evidence! Thats EXACTLY what I meant. Where broad generalizations are made. Pretty much everything Suis listed has nothing to do with systems at all but more to do with individual groups. GMs and all.

Systems can influence groups pretty strongly, though. If I ask my group to play Shadowrun, I'm definitely not going to see very many heroic paladin types who want to kick in the door and fight bad guys, because players can recognize that what 3.5 encourages, Shadowrun discourages.

SiuiS
2013-07-06, 09:36 AM
So don't LIST anecdotal evidence! Thats EXACTLY what I meant. Where broad generalizations are made. Pretty much everything Suis listed has nothing to do with systems at all but more to do with individual groups. GMs and all.

Sure, but hey; what's your counter evidence? Your one game is just as anecdotal. Game tendencies across a decade across three states personally verified and game data across a decade taken on faith from a much wider net here. I'm not saying anything about "in these few games I've played", I'm summarizing and providing only the most cogent examples. You don't have to take me on faith, but you do have to apply the same rigorous standards to yourself. Start at neutral and see which way things swing, don't start from "I'm right" and see if you can be swayed from it

The 'nothing to do with systems' isn't exactly correct either. Game systems are psychology. I can point to where I see the natural result being to lean one way or the other, but that's a long convoluted process.

Scowling Dragon
2013-07-06, 09:59 AM
Sure, but hey; what's your counter evidence? Your one game is just as anecdotal. Game tendencies across a decade across three states personally verified and game data across a decade taken on faith from a much wider net here. I'm not saying anything about "in these few games I've played", I'm summarizing and providing only the most cogent examples.

I don't exactly have a decade, but 7 years of my own personal experience is also pretty close. Unless your saying "Well my Anecdotal evidence is much better then YOUR Anecdotal evidence because mine is better".

In all honesty Im just becoming more annoyed with this sort of system based thought.

Conclusion:

ACKS. I don't get you, and probably never will, as I don't see much arguments in its favor that I think hold weight.

Knaight
2013-07-06, 12:27 PM
Systems can influence groups pretty strongly, though. If I ask my group to play Shadowrun, I'm definitely not going to see very many heroic paladin types who want to kick in the door and fight bad guys, because players can recognize that what 3.5 encourages, Shadowrun discourages.
For that matter, look at the generics - FATE, GURPS, Fudge, and Savage World all encourage pretty dramatically different play styles (though Fudge is way more of a toolkit game than even the earliest D&D, so it varies), even if you are using the exact same setting. Look at Burning Wheel vs. Chronica Feudalis, both of which can work for a historical fiction game just fine - where the mechanics are emphasized are different, as is the detail involved, and they play completely differently even with the same group and same setting.

Raineh Daze
2013-07-06, 02:02 PM
I'm a bit confused, what is this conversation even about any more? :smallconfused:

Only contribution I can think of right now: I'd never play this, because I suck at keeping track of retinues, soldiers, underlings, lackeys, and who knows what else.

Or I clump everything together and get surrounded and massacred. Generally my main failing with RTS's. XD

Tetsubo 57
2013-07-06, 02:47 PM
The name pretty much sums it up. I got into D&D starting with 3.5, and it was a persistent frustration with me that the players always ended up being, as the board so commonly puts it, "murder-hobos." D&D's 3 and 4 really just don't do much for what I generally refer to as world integration. Sure, you can roleplay the PCs as becoming vassals, but you run into a lot of problems trying to justify a traditional kingdom (See: Tippyverse) and also there's the fact that there are simply not very many rules for how vassaldom works, how much money you can collect from taxes, how to raise an army, etc. In fact, most GMs in 3.5 will try to push players away from characters with minions, because even dealing with an extra 4 characters in each fight slows the game way down, much less trying to simulate thousands. ACKS's primary "WOW DUDE" factor is that it does for P&P RPGs what Mount and Blade did for PC RPGs (Except that I kinda hate M&B's actual game design and gameplay, but golly, what a beautiful core concept!) Being able to smoothly upgrade from a local hero to a leader of men to a leader of nations is a really cool concept.

The secondary factor for me is that it's my first real foray into older-edition type stuff, but it's been much updated to try to take the good things already present, and add good things on top. I really like, for example, the Mortal Wounds and Tampering with Mortality charts- they make near-death situations memorable events, and also make raising the dead always an option but never trivial.

Or, take the whole XP for GP thing- I always thought it was a really strange thing to have in the older editions, but I read an article by the ACKS authors explaining it, and now I really like it. If you reward XP only from killing monsters, then suddenly PCs are getting in fights for the sole purpose of getting in fights. If you reward PCs for gathering treasure, then that becomes their primary goal, and the rewards for cunningly avoiding battle are much higher, and your PCs act more like adventurers should.

Even in the days when 1E was the current system I thought XP for gold was stupid. I gave out XP for overcoming challenges. Any way that achieved the goal of overcoming the challenge. The party still often killed anything that moved. For their treasure and or body parts. But you don't need to give out XP for gold. Just give it out for overcoming challenges.

SiuiS
2013-07-06, 02:56 PM
You say that, but I get the impression that I'd just learn to expect that my character is going to die. If I've lost 3 characters over the course of 3 adventures and my 4th character has only 1HP, I'm not going to futilely try to save his life, I'm going to throw him between the party and the monsters so that he can actually accomplish something before he does inevitably die.

And that brings up another point. How is a DM supposed to craft adventures and campaigns and stories with villains to thwart if all of the protagonists keep dying? If there's a TPK at least once over the course of the campaign (more than likely, the way I've heard this system described), then who's going to oppose the villain? The DM will have to re-introduce the villain multiple times to every new character that comes along to replace a dead one.

Here is a thing that feels relevant. (http://initiativeone.blogspot.com/2013/07/integrity-randomness-and-improvisation.html?m=1)


I don't exactly have a decade, but 7 years of my own personal experience is also pretty close. Unless your saying "Well my Anecdotal evidence is much better then YOUR Anecdotal evidence because mine is better".

Not at all! There's no right answer, really. I'm just pointing out that my response isn't arbitrary or preference based a much as it would seem at first blush. The decade was only because we were comparing 3e; I have more data but its less coherent and less relevant.



Conclusion:

ACKS. I don't get you, and probably never will, as I don't see much arguments in its favor that I think hold weight.

That's cool. If what you want out of a game system is everything 3e does, then switching is silly; I still play 3e for that fix.


I'm a bit confused, what is this conversation even about any more? :smallconfused:

Information. Always good!


Only contribution I can think of right now: I'd never play this, because I suck at keeping track of retinues, soldiers, underlings, lackeys, and who knows what else.

Or I clump everything together and get surrounded and massacred. Generally my main failing with RTS's. XD

Yeah. I haven't gotten there yet but from experience, this usually defaults to "terrain with morale". You guys, pike wall! Keep X enemies back, and you! Crossbows! And that's the henchman for the battle.

thirdkingdom
2013-07-06, 03:01 PM
See, this is what I don't get about this conversation. There're a bunch of people saying negative things about the system that totally don't relate to the experiences I've had with it. I mean, are people really saying that in order to play ACKS you've got to have a hundred hirelings, or that PCs spontaneously combust right after creation or that you must start at 1st level?

ACKS is a clone. Specifically, it is a clone of the Moldvay/Cook Basic/Expert rules from 1981, with an endgame added. See, B/X was supposed to get a "Companion" set that was to address things like castles, and armies and fiefdoms and stuff but never did until the BECMI revision happened. ACKS integrates this endgame into the 14 levels of character development. So, if you don't like old-school type games this is probably not for you. The arguments I am hearing against it in this thread, however, seem almost second-hand ("I heard it from a friend who said that PCs die a lot in ACKS").

ACKS changes some things. It goes to an ascending AC, magic-user spell-casting is like 3e sorcerers, etc. It expands the crunch in some areas -- spelling out in great detail trading routes, or stuff thieves can do at higher levels, or whatever. But like any OSR game these parts can be used as desired. Yes, it does recommend using 3d6 in order for stats, but it also suggests an alternate system that I have taken up, which allows for the rolling of five sets of stats using 3d6, and picking the set you desire. And anyway, as has been pointed by someone else out but was drowned in an avalanche of noise, amazing stats are not needed to play a successful character.

I don't know, empirically, if death is more likely in ACKS than in any other OSR game. It is probably not as deadly as Dungeon Crawl Classics, for instance, but probably more so than Labyrinth Lord. I do know, however, that if you play any older game with a 3.5-4 mentality you're most likely going to suffer character death. I don't care if it is 0e or BECMI or ACKS or DCC or whatever. It is simply a different style of play.

Kiero
2013-07-06, 03:03 PM
We had an emphatic demonstration of how awesome well-lead henchmen can be in our last session. The heavy infantryman PC with his mini-phalanx of close buds went through a shield wall of enemies like a hot knife through butter.

I should probably add, I don't give out or track XP in my game, everyone just levels at pre-agreed intervals (I also altered the packages in each class to equialise their progression so on one gets stiffed). Ie we say "enough stuff has happened, how about a level?". Haven't reached that point yet, and the players don't seem to be in a hurry to get to level 6.

thirdkingdom
2013-07-06, 03:21 PM
We had an emphatic demonstration of how awesome well-lead henchmen can be in our last session. The heavy infantryman PC with his mini-phalanx of close buds went through a shield wall of enemies like a hot knife through butter.

I've found your experiences pretty interesting, Kiero, and when I read the above I couldn't help but think of Old Geezer's descriptions of their play back in the day; how dungeon movement was done in close formation with pikemen in the second row. Obviously inspired by their wargaming backgrounds. I'm curious, have you started using Domains at War yet?

Kiero
2013-07-06, 06:37 PM
I've found your experiences pretty interesting, Kiero, and when I read the above I couldn't help but think of Old Geezer's descriptions of their play back in the day; how dungeon movement was done in close formation with pikemen in the second row. Obviously inspired by their wargaming backgrounds. I'm curious, have you started using Domains at War yet?

Not yet; the first big combat last session was probably at the upper limits of the personal-scale stuff (80-odd combatants all told), but I think it would have lost something if we'd jumped to skirmish scale (30 infantry/15 cavalry per unit).

I do have Domains at War, and intend to use it, though I'm not sure how soon we'll need it. The PCs need to raise the necessary troops as an organised force before we can start messing with it.

JustinA
2013-07-07, 01:07 AM
So sorry for coming off as pushy. I just wan't to know WHY people like that system.

Well, the appeal of ACKS really is "this game you already like + a bunch of other awesome stuff". You seem to understand the awesome stuff, so let's focus on the "game you already like" portion of the equation.

I'm not necessarily the best person to argue that position. (I prefer 3E.) But there are a few key features of the older games which explain their appeal:

- Character creation is much, much faster.

- Character advancement is clear cut, which preemptively takes character optimization off the table as a primary focus of play.

- The rules generally much simpler than 3E or 4E. (This wasn't actually true of AD&D, but the retro-clones like ACKS generally feature a streamlined set of rules that's probably closer to how the game was actually played at most tables.)

For me, I find it significantly easier to introduce new players to RPGs using these systems because the learning curve is considerably gentler. For similar reasons, they're also ideal for open game tables (http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/1223/roleplaying-games/opening-your-game-table).

If none of those things are important to you, then it's unlikely that these are games which are going to find a place at your table. But this shouldn't preclude your ability to understand their appeal.


The Tomb of Horrors isn't a Dungeon that makes you think. Its a dungeons that DEMANDS you not think and just try out every random key and noggin on every random nook and cranny that randomly kills you.

Look, I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but you're making it difficult.

First, The Tomb of Horrors was designed as a special tournament module that was specifically designed to be a slaughterhouse. It is completely non-representative of how the game was typically played. What you're saying here is basically the equivalent of picking up a copy of Reverse Dungeon and saying, "Well, I guess everyone was supposed to play orcs and ogres in 2nd Edition!"

Second, the outcome of "trying out every random key and noggin on every random nook and cranny" in the Tomb of Horrors is that you rapidly end up dead. If you were actually thinking in any capacity whatsoever, you would quickly reach the conclusion that (a) things that make you dead are things you shouldn't be doing, and therefore (b) you should stop doing that.


I guess the reason why I (You may feel differently, and MORE POWER TOO YOU) dislike easy character death is the low amount of control whether he lives or dies.

Speaking to lethality in general: When played in the style it was intended, pre-3E D&D isn't particularly lethal.

First, players tend to start playing smarter instead of just pulling out their swords and assuming that the random number generators have been weighted in their favor.

Second, mixed-level parties are the assumed norm. Yes, an entire party of 1st level characters can be pretty fragile. But in actual practice, new characters are often given considerable protection behind sturdier, high level characters.

Third, often a player would be responsible for multiple characters (in the form of hirelings and so forth). These secondary characters level up in the "shadow" of your primary character, with the net result being that any given player often controls a troupe of characters. If their primary character does die at some point, they've usually got multiple higher level "back-ups" or alternates that will become their new primary.

So, basically, once a campaign (in the broad, old-style sense of the word (http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/3891/roleplaying-games/reactions-to-odd-the-scope-of-the-game)) has been fully established, there simply isn't going to be a scenario where a bunch of fragile 1st level characters go out into the wild and get slaughtered.

Now, if you move away from the intended style of play problems can easily arise. Fortunately, the solution is also simple: Start play with higher level characters.

Saph
2013-07-07, 04:51 AM
Well, after all the praise it's been getting on these boards, I bought a copy and took a look.

I have to say, it was kind of a let down. All the reviews I heard focused on the 'endgame' aspects, but most of the rules just feel fiddly and annoying. They've kept a bunch of stuff from old-ed D&D that they really, really shouldn't have kept, like the bizarre saving throw categories. Armour Class and attack bonus are apparently something like THAC0 but not really didn't understand it on the first reading, and didn't have enough motivation to try again.

For the domain rules, I got as far as "Every month, roll 2d10 to see how many families join the domain and another 2d10 to see how many families leave the domain" before giving up. This feels like some weird medieval accountancy simulator.

The art is ugly, and something about the way it's formatted into the PDF makes the viewer stutter and hang whenever you try to scroll down past the full-page illustrations.

I dunno. Maybe it's more fun than it looks, but colour me disappointed so far.

Kiero
2013-07-07, 07:23 AM
Well, after all the praise it's been getting on these boards, I bought a copy and took a look.

I have to say, it was kind of a let down. All the reviews I heard focused on the 'endgame' aspects, but most of the rules just feel fiddly and annoying.
...

For the domain rules, I got as far as "Every month, roll 2d10 to see how many families join the domain and another 2d10 to see how many families leave the domain" before giving up. This feels like some weird medieval accountancy simulator.

This is a matter of taste, quite simply. If you like to have something comprehensive that feels nice and detailed in how a domain develops, what the impact of war, trade, religion and so on is, then it's great. If you'd prefer something simpler and less number-crunchy, then this isn't for you.


They've kept a bunch of stuff from old-ed D&D that they really, really shouldn't have kept, like the bizarre saving throw categories.

I ditched the old five in favour of the D20-onward Fort/Ref/Will, by converting three (Death and Poison is Fort; Paralysis and Petrification is Ref; Staffs and Wands is Will) and dropping the other two.


Armour Class and attack bonus are apparently something like THAC0 but not really didn't understand it on the first reading, and didn't have enough motivation to try again.

Attack Throws work, it's kind of like THAC0 except you don't need a table. You take your base number, add the AC of the opponent to it, and that gives you the number you need to equal or beat in order to hit them. That's all there is to it.


The art is ugly, and something about the way it's formatted into the PDF makes the viewer stutter and hang whenever you try to scroll down past the full-page illustrations.

I don't care about artwork, so I can't comment. The front cover does make my reader lag every time I open the PDF, though.


I dunno. Maybe it's more fun than it looks, but colour me disappointed so far.

Lots more fun than it looks, I particularly like all the overland travel related stuff, which later editions paid less attention to. Of course I've also heavily hacked it to suit what I'm trying to do, so I'm seeing stuff that isn't there.

Murphy80
2013-07-07, 07:25 AM
Does ACKS stand for "Adventurer Conqueror King System"?

Yora
2013-07-07, 07:29 AM
Yes, that's it.

Jerthanis
2013-07-09, 04:39 AM
I was surprised how close it is to Basic D&D... down to spell progressions, experience tables, Morale rolls, practically word-for-word equipment lists and descriptions. It's really at that point where I wondered if they had actually bought the rights to B/X D&D. If you've ever played B/X D&D, you've played ACKS as it functions before level 9.

I haven't really played with or really read comprehensively the Domain segments, but what I've read about hirelings, Henchmen, Mercenaries and lifestyles leads me to think the gold piece costs of the most basic kingdoms are simply astronomical. Like, I wouldn't be surprised if a 14th level character's large and powerful nation had budgets in the 10 million plus gold piece/month range.

That said, I really like B/X D&D. I've said that every edition of D&D has ideas that are worth mining out and inserting into your favorite edition, and several of the examples that spring first to mind are of B/X origin. The Domain system's heavy crunch is nice, since you can abstract the ideas involved in any system, so if it presented only heavy fluff and suggestions for how to abstractly represent ruling a country, it'd really not be giving much of value.

Kiero
2013-07-09, 06:26 AM
I was surprised how close it is to Basic D&D... down to spell progressions, experience tables, Morale rolls, practically word-for-word equipment lists and descriptions. It's really at that point where I wondered if they had actually bought the rights to B/X D&D. If you've ever played B/X D&D, you've played ACKS as it functions before level 9.

One distinctly noticeable difference is Proficiencies, which while "optional" add a lot to the depth of characters and differentiation between them.

Especially in formalising things like command ability. And if you get more than one PC with the Healing Proficiency, you can probably get away without a cleric.

thirdkingdom
2013-07-09, 05:36 PM
One distinctly noticeable difference is Proficiencies, which while "optional" add a lot to the depth of characters and differentiation between them.

Especially in formalising things like command ability. And if you get more than one PC with the Healing Proficiency, you can probably get away without a cleric.

I also prefer the ACKS Proficiencies over the skill system introduced in the Gazetteers and Rules Cyclopedia.

Kaun
2013-07-09, 06:21 PM
I know I know. Its just that ever once in a while I hear somebody say that its "SO REVOLUTIONARY"

I wouldn't ever say ACK's is revolutionary. It just focuses on elements of DND that were left behind with the release of 3e.

It's more polished and simpler the 1e and 2e for my mind.

It doesn't have the annoying illusion of freedom feat mini game that 3x and PF have.

And the combats aren't as slow as 4e.

Thats why i like it anyway

It's all personal taste really and its not surprising that many don't like the idea of it.