Friday, May 11, 2012

Still Alive II: Electric Boogaloo

Finals complete, and now I'm just waiting for mechanical checks on my vehicule before I ship out for the summer.  As often happens during studying for finals, I came across a few distractions during the last week:
  • First, a fine gentleman by the name of James Jeffers put together a web app for generating random map regions for ACKS in pdf format.  Got me some no-terrain maps with a nice smattering of towns and dungeons in thought-provoking patterns (line of towns?  River, coast, or main road.  Area devoid of any settlements?  Inhospitable desert.  Cluster of dungeons?  Giant cave system).  Excited to by finally actually mapping stuff; sometimes a little inspiration via random table is all you need.
  • I was looking for this Black Company for summer reading, but found this Black Company instead, along with its knight-commander Florian Geyer.  He seems the historical instantiation of a PC if ever there was one.  This started a little more research in to the German Peasants' War, which also turned up Götz von Berlichingen, who is similarly very PC-like.  It looks like historical 1500s Germany would be a hell of a setting...  Guess I'll add that to the "To Run" pile, down there with Iron Heroes and Legend of the Five Rings...  (Whatever happened to historical settings, anyways?  That's probably its own post, but it'll take a little research first)
  • There's now a Stack Overflow equivalent for RPG-related questions.  It's mostly 4e and Pathfinder, but also a smattering of other systems and general GMing questions.  If you feel like imparting wisdom, or are wondering about something ("Why does the darkness spell block infravision, anyways?"), it's a good time.
  • Printed a copy of the ACKS pdf at 1AM while I was working on a research poster in a building with a printer, then picked up a pair of binders for it (one for the players section, one for the DM section).  I'd forgotten how nice gaming books in paper can be.  Need to print a second table of contents for the DM binder, and I should really graphics-up some covers for them (but that's tricky business without a mouse).
  • The ACKS Player's Companion draft 6 released on Kickstarter; more on that below.
But yeah...  I've started mapping for ACKS.  Guess we're playing in the Shieldlands; areas not detailed so far will likely get paragraph-length blurbs and class templates. 

I've also stumbled across a few balancing features for some of the Player's Companion classes which lead me to think that they might actually be balanced!  Notably, the Dwarven Delver, while better than a Thief at its various skills, able to use better weapons, and possessing better HD, lacks two important features: the ability to disarm traps with a roll, and the ability to backstab.  Likewise, the paladin, while receiving a number of supernatural features that fighters don't, has only d6 HD and is not proficient with ranged weapons.  Medium hit points + melee only...  looks like you might need Lay on Hands for yourself, never mind your friends.  Dwarven Fury compels me to allow it out of sheer force of dwarfsomeness (it's basically these guys minus mohawks) and, while powerful, has a pretty hefty XP-to-level, so it might be OK.  I also quite like the Priestess; better-than-cleric divine casting on a mage chassis (no armor, low HP, weak weapons).  There's definitely a niche for those.

Finally, a recent addition, the Venturer, intrigues me as a character concept.  It's not dissimilar to Traveller's merchant career; you get social bonuses, price cuts, and market class bonuses.  And d4 HD, thief to-hit, and not much in the armor and weapons department.  Such a character is a strategic asset, able to secure henchmen and needed equipment with ease, but a tactical liability.  Sounds like fun, and I'm really interested in how it fits into ACKS' mid-level region; I think at low levels, it'd be tough to survive and be useful, and at high levels I suspect that they become a bit less useful, but in that 4-8 range I think they could be a lot of fun.  As with all 'support' classes, they'd make good henchmen, too (though they drive a hard bargain in hiring...).  Kind of a pity they got stuck with a bland name, though.

There are a couple that I'm definitely not permitting, though: Gnomish Trickster and Thrassian Gladiator.  Reason: infravision.  None of the core races have infravision, in order to keep the party on the same level of light-usefulness (else elven nightblades would utterly outclass thieves, for example).  This stance makes light management a definite part of the game, regardless of party composition, unlike in 3e where most of the party would end up with low-light or darkvision except that one guy who played a human and ended up having to carry his own damn torch.  Gnome and Thrassian damage that dynamic which was solidly established in core, which is something I kind of want to preserve.  The other classes in the Player's Companion mostly leave me kind of eh, except for Barbarian, which has a very neat class feature regarding the Mortal Wounds table.  Said feature might make a very nice class proficiency available to most fighting classes, though; it hardly warrants the addition of an entire extra class.

And today, we fight the dragon, and Fjolkir finally dies (or worse).  Exciting times.

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