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Author Topic: Adventurer Conqueror King System: Player's Companion  (Read 5778 times)

The Butcher

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Adventurer Conqueror King System: Player's Companion
« on: January 09, 2013, 10:14:20 PM »
The first thing one notices is that the Autarch people seem to be mantaining the excellent production values we saw with the ACKS core rulebook. The cover is beautiful, the B&W illos inside are great, the layout is still clear, and the PDF is well annotated. I wonder what the physical book is going to look like, but if the PDF is any indication it should be pretty good.

The biggest chapter is right upfront, the 18 new Character Classes. Let me preface this by saying that I have the weirdest love/hate relationship with character classes. On one hand, I like broadly-encompassing, archetypal character classes because they make my life as a GM easier. Barbaric berserker? Fighter. High-and-mighty knight? Fighter. Scruffy mercenary? Fighter. Disciplined legionnaire? You get the idea. On the other hand, having a smorgasbord of character classes to choose from appeals to me on a visceral, fat-kid-in-a-candy-store level, because even as a GM I vicariously enjoy my players' excitement at the new toys; and on another level, as a GM who’s into building and running worlds that behave reasonably like our own, because broadly defined classes inevitably require some handwaving; one recurring issue back in the day, playing TSR-era D&D was the Fighter in light armor – while it could be situationally useful (e.g. when stealth is called for, when you're at sea, or when the climate is very hot), in most situations the system didn't reward you for playing a nimble, lightly-armored melee combatant. And don't get me started on Clerics and polytheism! Having specific classes for certain “corner cases” that exist in fiction but I feel aren’t adequately covered by D&D's usual archetypes can be very appealing.

Most new classes are human classes. We have well-loved classics like the Paladin, the Barbarian, the Mystic (monk) and the Shaman (druid), and plenty of novelty. There’s the Nobiran Wonderworker that's supposed to be a mixed arcane and divine caster with divine or angelic blood (think demigods, Nephilim and Aasimar here). There's a Priestess that's effectively a divine "pure caster", i.e. a cleric minus armor and several weapon selections; do away with the gender restriction and you have a decent all-purpose non-combatant divine spellcaster. There's a Warlock with interesting and flavorful mechanical bits, but that mostly reads as “mage, plus extra evil on top” (not that this is a bad thing). There's a Witch that feels fairly fairy-taley but which I had a hard time placing on the game world. The Venturer is a merchant-adventurer type that inexplicably (to me) gains spellcasting abilities at high levels (granted, they gain their first spell at 8th level, but I'd rather give them something like the bard's “charm person on a 11+ roll on 1d20” at 1st level and be done with it). The Thrassian Gladiator is big lizard-man slave-warrior from the default setting’s decadent sorcerous empire. And the Zaharan Ruinguard gives the Anti-Paladin a run for his money and further clogs the market for evil spellcasting black knights; they're not quite identical, but occupy the same niche in my eyes.

Of course, demihumans haven't been left out. Elves get the bard-like Elven Courtier, the sorcerous Elven Enchanter and the inevitable Elven Ranger. The Dwarven Delver is pretty much a dwarf thief with an emphasis on dungeoneering and I love it. The Dwarven Fury and the Dwarven Machinist look fun to play, if a tad more WFRP-ish than I generally prefer my dwarves. There's also a Gnomish Trickster, which is okay, I guess; I’d still rather have a Halfling Burglar, but maybe it’s just a matter of reskinning or minor alterations.

Next we have tables of Templates. Templates are ready-made “kits” for each class that pairs an evocative name (e.g. Corsair, for the Fighter) with a preset choices of Proficiencies (in this case, Seafaring and Swashbuckling) and a gear list (leather armor, scimitar, colorful tunic, silk sash, etc.). Useful for those who want to whip up a 1st-level PC or NPC in little time; and better still, nicely arranged in random tables. There are also a couple of gamer culture Easter eggs and some very subtle humor hidden in the entries (PM me if you can't spot them and I'll tell you).

The following chapter lays bare the guts of the ACKS class system and offers extensive guidelines on building and balancing new character classes, that is validated by reconstructing the very classes presented in this book. Now, I confess to not being a huge rules guy, but what jumps to attention is the level of attention given to it. I know of no version of D&D that ever offered such precise and voluminous guidelines to do-it-yourself class creation. I found the specific guidelines on racial character classes particularly interesting, as they pave the way to come up with race-specific versions of just about every character class, though at that point one might as well play AD&D with select ACKS subsystems tacked on for good measure.

Magic is the theme of the next chapter. First we are given expanded rules on magical research and experimentation, complete with random tables for sorcerous mishaps, and sub-tables for magical mutations and spell signatures borne of mishaps that wouldn’t look out of place in the DCC RPG. And what follows is the inescapable list of new spells, which includes Rituals (arcane level 7-9 spells and divine level 6-7 spells, which, ACKS being capped at level 14, require ceremonial magical effort to cast). Some of the spells are a bit more over-the-top than I usually prefer (call dragon? Really?) and some make you wonder why is it that you've never seen them in a D&D rulebook before (can’t believe we had to wait over 30 years for a choking grip spell), but most are traditional D&D fare like cone of cold or spider climb. Detailed rules for creating and balancing new spells are given as well.

The book rounds up with a “supplemental rules” chapter that provides guidelines for character aging, short lists of new equipment and new Proficiencies, and random tables for followers.

Page-count-wise, the meat of the book is the new classes, and like I mentioned in the beginning, I'm somewhat ambivalent towards it. Nevertheless, even placing aside the new classes (some of which I loved, some of which I didn't care for) and the class-building guidelines (which deserve a bit more attention and scrutiny on the reader’s part, but superficially look like a godsend to the DIY enthusiast GM), the expanded magical research rules scream “play with me!” and the last chapter's notes on aging and followers should have been on the ACKS book (probably cut out for space).

If you're running ACKS and you want new classes, or if you're really really into DIY classes and spells, this is a must-buy. If you're not running ACKS… I'm not sure. Maybe some of the new classes can be made to work with B/X or BECMI/RC and similars, but some tweaking will definitely be necessary.

amacris

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Adventurer Conqueror King System: Player's Companion
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2013, 11:17:09 PM »
Quote from: The Butcher;616549
The first thing one notices is that the Autarch people seem to be mantaining the excellent production values we saw with the ACKS core rulebook. The cover is beautiful, the B&W illos inside are great, the layout is still clear, and the PDF is well annotated. I wonder what the physical book is going to look like, but if the PDF is any indication it should be pretty good.


Thanks for the very kind words!

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The biggest chapter is right upfront, the 18 new Character Classes. ... There's also a Gnomish Trickster, which is okay, I guess; I’d still rather have a Halfling Burglar, but maybe it’s just a matter of reskinning or minor alterations.


Many of the character classes were contributed by backers and members of the community, including the Anti-Paladin, Dwarven Fury, Gnomish Trickster, Thrassian Gladiator, Venturer, Witch, Zaharan Runeguard, and Nobiran Wonderworker. This gives the book a bit more content and variety, but obviously the outside creative juice means that some of the classes 'feel' a bit different than the others (e.g. the Dwarven Fury feels very much like a WFRP class, the Witch feels very fairy-taley).

Because of the long production cycle of the book, we were able to playtest all of the classes in actual campaign play and I'm very confident that they're all fun and viable.

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 There are also a couple of gamer culture Easter eggs and some very subtle humor hidden in the entries (PM me if you can't spot them and I'll tell you).


I'm so glad someone noticed. I had a lot of fun creating those. Would you PM me the ones you noticed?

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I know of no version of D&D that ever offered such precise and voluminous guidelines to do-it-yourself class creation.


Thanks!

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 Some of the spells are a bit more over-the-top than I usually prefer (call dragon? Really?) and some make you wonder why is it that you've never seen them in a D&D rulebook before (can’t believe we had to wait over 30 years for a choking grip spell), but most are traditional D&D fare like cone of cold or spider climb. Detailed rules for creating and balancing new spells are given as well.


We had a couple goals in mind when selecting which new spells to add. First, we wanted to make sure that every magic item in ACKS had a spell associated with it, for mages engaging magic research.

Second, we wanted to address the "sleep/stinking cloud/fireball" problem, by which I mean the overwhelming utility of a small number of spells. Thus at 1st level you see burning hands, choking grip, and summon berserker, all of which compete with sleep as really effective 1st level choices. At 2nd level there's deathless minion, summon hero, and uncanny gyration. And at 3rd level there's dismember, earth's teeth, and skinchange.  In playtest, this really "opened up " the spell repertoires.

Third, we wanted to add depth in a few areas of magic that we thought merited it, especially necromancy, summoning, and transformations.

Finally, we wanted to add some never-before-seen spells, such as angelic choir, choking grip, deathless minion, invulnerability to evil, oblivion, scouring wind, summon berserker, summon fantastic creature, skinchange, swift sword, undead legion, and winged flight.

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If you're running ACKS and you want new classes, or if you're really really into DIY classes and spells, this is a must-buy. If you're not running ACKS… I'm not sure. Maybe some of the new classes can be made to work with B/X or BECMI/RC and similars, but some tweaking will definitely be necessary.


The class creation system is 95% compatible with B/X and Labyrinth Lord. It is actually derived originally from insights gleaned from the Pandius.org character creation system for BECMI. So most of the classes should be able to drop into any B/X style D&D without any issue.

Thanks so much for your thorough review! We really appreciate it.

Persimmon

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Re: Adventurer Conqueror King System: Player's Companion
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2021, 10:49:58 PM »
Gonna necro a super old thread here, but I've been planning a sort of throwback campaign reviving some of our original B/X characters from 1981-82 in a time travel scenario.  But I wasn't sure about using OSE or something else.  Now I'm kind of leaning towards picking this system up since there will be some major warfare and domain action in the campaign.  So is this easy enough to just bolt onto OSE if we decide not to incorporate all the system rules?  Looking at the character sheets it looks like that would be pretty simple.  But I'm definitely interested in some of these new classes and spells to liven up the standard OSE fare.

wmarshal

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Re: Adventurer Conqueror King System: Player's Companion
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2021, 05:21:06 PM »
Honestly, I think you’d be better off going with ACKS as a system than to try to bolt ACKS on to OSE. You could do the hybrid, but I don’t see what you’d gain as opposed to just going with ACKS. Does OSE have proficiency rules, and are they compatible with those in ACKS?

Between ACKS and the Player’s Companion you have all that you need to run a B/X style campaign with the exception of the mass combat system, which is in Domains at War. You’d have plenty of classes, plus the rules to build your own classes. You can build and run domains with just the ACKS core book, and pick up Domains at War later if your campaign gets that far. My 2¢.

RandyB

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Re: Adventurer Conqueror King System: Player's Companion
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2021, 05:45:46 PM »
Honestly, I think you’d be better off going with ACKS as a system than to try to bolt ACKS on to OSE. You could do the hybrid, but I don’t see what you’d gain as opposed to just going with ACKS. Does OSE have proficiency rules, and are they compatible with those in ACKS?

Between ACKS and the Player’s Companion you have all that you need to run a B/X style campaign with the exception of the mass combat system, which is in Domains at War. You’d have plenty of classes, plus the rules to build your own classes. You can build and run domains with just the ACKS core book, and pick up Domains at War later if your campaign gets that far. My 2¢.

There is even a free PDF called Domains At War: Starter that handles mass combat at an abstract level.

Persimmon

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Re: Adventurer Conqueror King System: Player's Companion
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2021, 07:51:50 PM »
Well, the main rationale for bolting ACKS onto OSE was the fact that we've been playing OSE for the past couple years and my players, all family members, are pretty comfortable with the rules.  But with all the current nonsense surrounding OSE/Exalted Funeral and their Discord BS, I may just get rid of my OSE stuff and use ACKS on its own, or with my Rules Compendium. 

The systems are pretty close anyhow.  They have proficiencies in the RC, and the armor class thing is easy to swap either way.  I like the ACKS rules, though the silhouette monster pics are weak as hell.  And the couple adventures I bought for it are pretty sweet. 

Persimmon

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Re: Adventurer Conqueror King System: Player's Companion
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2021, 07:00:23 PM »
After going through the ACKS books a bit more, I'll definitely mash it up with my current OSE/DCC game.  I really like the new race classes and additional spell lists & spell mechanics.  We'll use proficiencies, but BECMI style.  But I'll keep the standard descending AC from B/X, augmented by the DCC crits & fumbles but adding the damage bonus for certain classes from ACKS.  Also plan to bring some of their domain rules in.  For awhile I've been thinking about running a Blackmoor campaign using my old 80s DA series modules.  This combo looks like it will work great with that, especially some of the Chaotic PC/NPC options.  Thinking a Witch Queen servitor of the Egg of Coot sounds pretty fun.....