Friday, June 8, 2012

Star*ACKS

No, not that Star*Axe.  Well, not necessarily.

I was thinking recently about ACKS in space.  About the kind of game it would be.  For me, the elements which define ACKS as different from other games that I have played previously are a combination of simplicity and lethality, along with a focus at low levels on resource management and exploratory play, with high levels characterized by realm-building and 'other stuff'.

Sounds like a perfect system for grimdark sci-fi mercenary bughunters, a la Alien and Space Hulk meets Schlock Mercenary (especially the diamond razor beetles storyline, which began here).  At low levels, you're a grunt squad tasked with the exploration of derelict ships, abandoned ground stations, sewer systems, and similar with the objectives of "kill the bugs, get the goods, don't die."  Replace torches with hours of life support and rest turns with gear checks, and ACKS' dungeoncrawling practically converts itself.  At higher levels you get into the running of the company and setting yourself up as planetary generalissimo, crime lord, merchant magnate, or similar.  Again, should be a pretty straightforward conversion of the domain and hijink rules.

Classes are where it gets tricky.  Fighters stay pretty much unchanged, as usual.  Thieves kinda get shafted in the ranged era, so I'm not sure how to handle that.  Clerics and mages could either stick around via a psionic explanation, or I could also see spinning off variant fighters to fill their roles with specialized proficiency lists, restricted weapons and armor, and lower HP (a medic class with +healing proficiencies, a demolitions or pyro class with spike damage, and an engineer-y class riffing off of Dwarven Machinist for utility effects, or maybe as the thief replacement).  These would all run on equipment / encumbrance and money as a limiting factor, rather than hard-limit spell slots, I think.  Fortunately, the Player's Companion has classbuilding rules.  Those would make such a class conversion much, much easier.

Finally, henchmen would make excellent squadmates (making bards basically officer material), and the cleave mechanic + varying rates of fire for weapons could simulate automatic fire pretty nicely.  But now it is bedtime.

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