Friday, December 28, 2012

ACKS Half Value Spellcasting

The Strategic Review and 1E Ranger (I don't recall a Basic DND Ranger?) would gain spellcasting in later levels as both a Cleric and a Magic User (Druid and M-U in 1E), something that's not easy to model with the ACKS Player's Companion.

The SR Ranger ended up starting at 9th level as a 1st level cleric with 1 spell. It then alternated between gaining access to Magic-User and Cleric spells, and using a combined spell slot matrix to contain both - at 8th and 9th, 1 first level spell, 10th and 11th, 2/1, and at 12th and 13th, the matrix is 3/2/1 (3 1st, 2 2nd, 1 3rd). As comparison, a 5th level OD&D Magic User would cast at 4/2/1, and a 5th level Cleric at 2/2.

The 1E ranger gave the ranger a more regular pair of progressions starting at 8th in Druid and 9th as a Wizard, and ended up at Druid 2/2/2, and Wizard 2/2. A 3rd level Druid in 1E clocks in at 3/2/1, and a 3rd level Magic User is 2/1 (4th is 3/2).

We're going to be a touch more limited than that. ACKS provides us a framework of Arcane and Divine build points, starting at 1/3 level for Mages, and 1/2 level for Clerics. We'll do 1/4 level on each side (one could argue that we'd do 1/6 for Mage, since it's half of 1/3, but the Arcane point progression is 'broken' anyway, since it goes 1/3 to 1/2 to 2/3 to 1, so 1/4 is one-half of 1/2 which works better.)

Half Value Spellcasting

For the price of a single build point, a class may split its casting ability between Divine and Arcane. This single point grants the class the ability to cast as a Mage and Cleric of 1/4 its level, rounded up [ceiling()] for Divine and rounded down [floor()] for Arcane.

The class may Turn Undead as a Cleric of 1/4 its level.


A class may delay availability of its spellcasting. The class may alternate gaining spellcasting levels (first Divine, then Arcane) starting at Level 8 with Divine casting, as in the table below.


This is intended to even out and spread out the spells available to the Arcane and Divine sides, as in the Strategic Review Ranger. The fact that ACKS uses the B/X concept of Cleric not receiving spells until 2nd level causes us to grant one non-casting level of Cleric before we start the alternation.

Whether or not the class can cast Arcane spells in armor is a matter left to GM preference.

The class's Divine repertoire is based on 3 Divine spells per level.

Half Value Spellcasting costs 425 experience points. A class may not take more than 1 point in Half Value Spellcasting.



ALTERNATIVE 1: A class may choose only one of Arcane or Divine to advance as a 1/4 level caster. If so, allow the class 1.5 proficiency slots to be filled by the class designer as normal. The class may trade in Turn Undead (if the Divine half value is kept) for another half a proficiency point.


ALTERNATIVE 2: A class may delay spellcasting in the regular manner, by gaining a level of each class starting at 11th as in the table below.

The class gains another Arcane spell level here in trade for the long, long wait.


ALTERNATIVE 3: The GM may opt to match the Divine progression to the Arcane by bumping the effective Divine level by 1 at levels 4, 8 and 12, as in the table below.






Saturday, December 22, 2012

Assassinating Adventurers, Conquerors, and Kings

This post has been updated! Tywyll of of Autarch boards and author of the excellent 'A Writer's Journey' blog linked over to the right noted I was a bit off as I'd multiplied the damage bonus by the backstab multiplier, which is incorrect, by the book. And I'm extremely pleased someone paid enough attention to my wall-of-spreadsheet to note that error ;)

I know, I know. Assassination charts aren't exceedingly popular. But, let's go through what ACKS already gives the assassin. In fact, there's an assassination table hidden in the system!

First, let's look at Blackmoor's Assassin. For clarity of purpose, I'm capping levels at 14, and separating out the columns into individual levels.



Let's see what 1E does for us:



Bit wider of a spread there.

ACKS's Assassin is a d6 fighter, essentially, that can sneak about. The important part about that is the Damage Bonus ACKS supplies to it's classes - the "Fighter" classes in particular. That ties into ACKS's succinct Cleave system that replaces the old system of multiple attacks vs low HD opponents.

The Assassin is getting that Damage Bonus, and Backstab (backstab being a prerequisite for assassination attempts anyway). How often are we likely to outright slay our target with just the Assassin as is?

A statistician would probably be able to toss out some sort of equation that would let us know. I'm not one, so, I'll brute force it instead. I'm a man of the times, and I let computers think for me. That, and Stats wasn't my best of classes in college.

I've taken a single Assassin, and, for each level from 1 to 14, I've pitted him against 10 million opponents, for each level from  1st to 14th (140 million opponents per level, 1,960 million NPCs attacked in total). He's backstabbed them all, and we've counted how many he's dropped in one hit. (we assume he always hits).

This was using a d6 weapon, with no bonus from Strength or magic. As I later found, only the d6 roll is multiplied, the damage bonus is static.

And that will tell us our "natural" assassination table for ACKS. Voila:



My color coding there is from an earlier model, in which I'd simply pitted average and maximum backstabs per level versus average and maximum HP per target level.

I rounded down always, unless I could round up to 1%, to make the table look better.

So there's that. It's nowhere near the original source material. On a lark, let's allow the Assassin to double his damage bonus during backstabs:


Not much change, as expected.

I've got a better idea though. What assassin wouldn't use poison during an assassination? The one that's bad at her job, that's who. You're already murdering someone, they're not going to hang you any harder for using poison if they catch you.



Here, then, is an ACKS Assassination Table, presuming the assassin is using poison. This is the chance the target will die based on (first) damage, from the natural ACKS table above, and if not, failing the poison save. I've turned the save around from something the target (DM) rolls to a percentage chance on the players part. I'm using Fighter saves in this table, as it's worst-case-scenario, in general. A 14th level Fighter saves vs Poison & Death on a 5+, so that's a fail on a 1->4 on a d20, or, 25%.

It looks a bit more like the Blackmoor table.


For comparison, here's a table of how the Assassination Hijink from a Hideout goes. Note there's a -1 penalty per level the assassin is lower than the victim, but not the other way around, by the book.


Note a roll of "1" for the 14th level assassin, while a success, also means they've been caught.


This last table  is what a "natural" assassination table looks like for a Thief, who doesn't enjoy a Damage Bonus. I don't recall what the backstab progession was in Blackmoor or 1E, but you can sort of see how much of advantage was given to the Assassin comparing this with the tables at the top.


Anything useful here? Not really. If a player was having an adventure which culminated in an assassination, I might let him roll against the "Base ACKS With Poison" table above, just since it might feel more dramatic than a low damage roll and then hoping for the DM to fail the save vs poison.

Which reminds me I should throw down a players-roll-all-the-dice conversion, just because I'd always wanted to do it.







Sunday, December 16, 2012

Apprentice, Journeyman, Foreman, Part 2

In our previous installment, we built up a system that combines ACKS's craft/profession related proficiencies and Skills - The Middle Road, a 'training' system for D&D that allows for free-form skills.

We ended with two charts, essentially, that told us how long it takes our craftsmen to gain experience in their craft, and how long it takes those pesky adventurers to come in and pay-to-play with a Focused Apprenticeship.

Let's combine the two tables.


You'll note some numbers have changed, I've put this into a spreadsheet so the math's right this time ;)

From left to right, the monthly income level if you're self-taught or in an apprenticeship, the time it will take you to advance from "nothing" to each tier for the same, then, the cost for a focused apprenticeship if  you want just the identification proficiency throw, or the ability to actually work the trade. Lastly, the 'Profit' line is what the tutor makes off of your labors. (UPDATE: Whoops, I'm going to have to go back and fix this. That should be Time * Monthly Income)

Art, Craft, and Performance all use the same income level, so it makes sense to combine them - a well crafted sword is as much art as a statue, and performance is art, so we're all on the same page.

Again, my assumption with how I'd use this is as a complete replacement of the 'profession' proficiencies in ACKS. A starting PC would perhaps choose a background, which may include being at a Journeyman level of skill in some profession - the young warrior-weaponsmith or rogue-dancer out to make his or her mark upon the world, and maybe survive long enough to make it to Big City and train with the masters of their chosen craft.

Somewhere in here there's a story of a largish lad who started out as an limner of illuminated manuscripts before his clerical betters found out he was good with a sword and sent him off to be a paladin, and as soon as this evil is vanquished he's going to trade his sword for his brush back.

Anyway - to the rest of the proficiencies, starting with Animal Husbandry, for which I made up monthly incomes.


Note the 'Value Multiplier' cell. The way I did this has an unintended side effect where the more you make, the quicker you advance, and that's not always the way it should go. That multiplier raises the cost of the "Identification Skill Only' training, which then (because of the spreadsheet setup) extends the length of time it takes to go through each level.


Here's where that starts showing up - takes a bit longer to be a master Chirurgeon.

That multiplier system falls apart with the next skill, Knowledge, since Sages make so darn much. It took less time to go from Professor to Sage than from Student to Professor.


So I fixed that thematically, by making Sages parsimonious with their knowledge after a certain point. They're not going to train you past Professorial level, as you're going to have to make your own discoveries and further the field on your own after a certain point. It's like getting tenure - they'll still tutor you, but it's still gonna be a long slog to the end. Read PHD Comics.

For myself, I'm also combining the three skills that map back to the old 3.5 concept of Knowledge(Arcana, Divine, Nature) into Knowledge, since I don't see why an old Wizard, Cleric, or Druid ought not be Sage-level in their various spheres if they choose to be. I also realize at this point I've gotten Naturalism and Beast Friendship all mixed up in my mind, so I'd probably just punt and combine them under Knowledge(Nature).

It's likely you could also roll Military Strategy into Knowledge, trading the income levels for the mass combat initiative bonus. You could then either hand wave the advancement, or, convert the necessary GP milestones into "units defeated" or "battles won", perhaps.


Alchemy had the same problem Knowledge did with the pay rates - I fixed it here by reversing the order of the training times.



I dropped both training and tutelage here after 'Sailor', as once you're experienced enough to be a Captain you're on your own. There's an undocumented step in here where our intrepid Sailor took Navigation and earned 25 gp/mo for a while, which probably got him to Captain earlier.

Of course, that also means someone has to give you command of a ship, or  you've commissioned your own, to be a Captain. I'd assume here the ~7 years spent on deck gets you to the point where you wouldn't be bad at it.

Alex, if you read this, I hope there's enough economics around running a fleet of ships (maintenance, ports, etc.) in Domains At War that I can take that above table and run a combination of D&D and Sid Meier's Pirates!.

A wet sandbox, as it were. 

Finally, Engineering:


what with the making-up of income levels and the fourth 'tier' to get to the level required to be a Specialist. It's interesting to note that since you have to take Engineering 4 times to be a working specialist, the "identify engineering" portion of the proficiency is on a roll of -1+, which is fun to look at.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Resolution of a Die Roll, Part 2


So, here's an eyechart.

d100 through d3 Conversion Chart Without Delta (PDF)

Pretty sure I succumbed to Chart Madness somewhere around d14, so, excuse any errors.

What this should serve as is a conversion table to get from some X in Y or percentage chance on one die to another.

For example, if I'm looking at a table where a Thief has a 35% chance to Hide in Shadows at 5th level,  I know that's:

  • 11:30 on a d30 (or 19+)
  • 8:24 on a d24 (or 16+)
  • 7:20 on a d20 (or 13+)
  • 6:16 on d16 (or 10+)
  • 5:14 on d14 (or 9+)
  • 4:12 on d12 (or 8+)
  • 4:10 on d10 (or 6+)
  • 3:8 on d8 (or 5+)
  • 2:7 on d7 (or 5+)
  • 2:6 on d6 (or 4+)
  • 2:5 on d5 (or 3+)
  • 1:4 on d4 (or 3+)
  • 1:3 on d3 (or 2+)
I attempted to minimize the delta for each die percentage chance from the "master" d100 chance - for example, from that 35% chance on the d100, 2:7 on d7 is 28.57%, a 6.43% difference. If I would have called that 3:7, it would have been a -7.86% difference. 

I made no attempt to "smooth" this conversion by minimizing the rate of change - for example, from the d7 break on 2:7 and 3:7  -

3 42.86% -6.86%  (from 36% on a d100)
2 28.57% 6.43%   (from 35% on a d100)

That's a ~12% jump. I may have been able to smooth that out a bit by moving the change from 2 to 3 around, but I would have deviated a lot more from the d100 chances.

I will say one thing - the odd dice from DCC make me sad, since there's no 25%/50%/75% markers.



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Adventurer Conqueror King Proficiencies (Part 1)


Proficiencies! Not that there's not enough, but I've been puttering about with a lot of class-work with the ACKS Player's Companion, and there was one old fondness for the 1E Ranger I felt I needed:

  • Toughness: Classes with an HD Value of 1 gain an additional HD at level 1, and enjoy an additional 1d6 HP. Classes with an HD Value of 2 may gain a second die of d8 HP, but this costs two powers. Constitution modifier, if any, is applied to both die.

The next four are from Astonishing Swordsman and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Look it up! I had a compatriot with the box set inform me of some of the unique class powers in the book, and I've ACKS-fied them. (hence my previous post on converting d20 to d12)

  • Draw Poison: The character has been well inured to the dangers of poison, and is skilled in drawing it out from a sting, bite, or other shallow puncture. A proficiency throw of 11+ will draw the poison within 2 rounds of the attack, 14+ within 4 rounds, and 18+ within 6 rounds. Ingested poisons or poison from envenomed blades are untreatable with these methods.

  • Sense Magic: The character may recognize the presence of magic at work, whether as a sense of foreboding, a taste in one's mouth, or other visceral reaction. A proficiency throw of 14+ reveals the presence of magic in the immediate area, but no details as to it's type or function. Minor magical items, dweomers, or effects are too slight to be detected, and this in no way replaces Detect Magic. <unsure whether this should count as only 1/2 a power>


  • Fighting Style: Mounted: The character is particularly adept at mounted charges; you gain an extra +1 to-hit when making a charge, and will triple your damage on a successful hit.

  • Wilderness Stride: The character may negotiate tricky natural undergrowth (briars, thorns, vines, etc.) at normal speed, without leaving a discernible trail if desired. The character may also conceal the tracks of a number of people equal to his/her level when moving at half speed.