Lords & Wizards and Adventurer Conqueror King?

ACK CoverI have two players in my Sunday game who really like some of the ideas in the Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) from Autarch. They have been trying to talk me into using more ideas and material from it in Lords & Wizards than just the domain and campaigning material I have been playing to use. They would like to see me start with ACKS and use it to rebuilt the 0e/1e mix I often ran in the 1977-1982 era.

I’ll be honest, there are a number of things I like about ACKS. Like B/X, it only goes to level 14 which means it bypasses many of the high level play problems of 0e and 1e. It provides a relatively easy way to create a campaign world than hangs together economically (even with the piles of treasure adventurers add to the economy) while allowing PCs to engage in trade if they wish which was always a lot of fun in Traveller. Campaigning and domains are built in to the system. It is easy to create classes and spells that fit the system with the rules in the ACKS Player’s Companion.

However, there are also things I do not like about ACKS.

The proficiency system has the “feat problem” of sometimes limiting what anyone should be able to try to do to those who took the proficiency (e.g. the Trapping proficiency). One can remove the proficiency system completely, but doing so makes the game less ACKS and more B/X. However, trying to fit proficiencies on top of by Class/Background task resolution system would probably be awkward.

The spell building rules are nice for player created spells, but they do not work as well for standard spells which often have powerful spells like Sleep at a lower level than their point cost under the build system would place them. The ACKS build system does admit this and assumes that such spells are at lower levels than they should be because the people who created them long ago made breakthroughs when they were researching them. The main problem I would have with this, however, is using 1e spells. I’m really not interested in trying to figure the point costs for each and every one of them and possibly changing the levels of some from what 1e used. However, if I don’t do this, I suspect there would be loud complaints from some quarters.

I do not like the way ACKS handles “below zero” HP. Replacing this with my HP/Body Point system would not be hard, however.

While I love the idea of racial classes, especially the multiple classes that ACKS allows, in practice it is a pain in the ass to have to create two or three classes for each race for each campaign setting. For example, none of the non-human classes in ACKS would really fit the elves or dwarves in my Arn setting or my Hidden Valley setting. They might work for my Wilderlands campaign, provided no one minded that they were not quite how I have portrayed either race in the campaign so far. In practice I find that a separate races and classes are far less work for the GM. If I base Lords & Wizards on ACKS, the racial classes would disappear. However, races might have special racial proficiencies they could take than other races could not, however.

I’m not sure I like the ACKS attack throw and AC systems. They are no different from the standard TSR to-hit system or the modern Ascending AC system in effect, but they seem less compatible than either of the other two standard systems with TSR and OSR adventures.

In the end, I’m torn. I really like the idea of using ACKS to build Lords & Wizards on, but I’m not sure how well it would work out in practice. I’m sure the resulting game would work fine in play, but I’m afraid that many people would be expecting it to be more ACKS-like than it would end likely up being: in the end Lords & Wizards would not look or play much like ACKS (nor will like look or play much like S&W or Labyrinth Lord which are the other options for “starting rules”). I haven’t made any final decision one way or another yet. I’m carefully re-reading the ACKS core rules and Player’s Companion with an eye to seeing what could and could not be easily changed.

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6 Responses

  1. John says:

    As an ACKS DM, I definitely agree that producing a wide range of racial classes for custom races is a right royal pain. My take on Trapping is that it's for dealing with big game; it says up to elephant sized. Building a foot snare for a human-sized target might fall under Adventuring instead (which is our usual solution to most things; item value appraisal, swimming, and climbing non-sheer surfaces all fall under it as far as we're concerned). Not sure what you mean about 1e spells; could probably just leave them alone as 1st level and little ill would come of it.

  2. Randall says:

    @John: Separating race and class is no longer an issue. I found a thread late this afternoon on the Autarch forum about adding bloodlines to humans provided a method that should be easily adaptable to races.

    The reference to 1e spells is from the Lords & Wizards "project specs". My Sunday group has talked me into trying to create a modern version of the 0e plus stuff from 1e and B/X system I used back in the late 70s and early 80s. I started playing with OD&D and just added what I liked from AD&D and then B/X as they came out. More on L&W in this post: Early Plans for my Next Free RPG: Lords & Wizards

  3. Rachel Ghoul says:

    If nothing else ACKS is a fine game and worth mining for inspirational purposes.

  4. Hedgehobbit says:

    The primary advantage of racial classes is that each class is self-contained. You don't need to worry about how a new class interacts with established races. Because of this, you don't actually need to create all possible racial classes before play begins, you only need to create the ones that a player actually wants to play. And even then, you only need to create one level at a time.

  5. Well, that's only true if you don't plan to create very many NPCs. I usually detail quite a few NPCs at the start…and I can't speak for Randall but I certainly wouldn't be thrilled at having to create multiple new classes to account for them. That – plus the very awkward proficiency system – are the only two things I don't like about ACKS.

    I do agree with Rachel, however – ACKS is definitely a great source of inspiration.

  6. Rachel Ghoul says:

    Solution is simple: Have fewer demihuman NPCs.