Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Mistakes Were Made, ACKS Supplement Creep

If it was my honest aim to quit gaming, I went about it wrong.  Gaming constituted my sole source of regular, non-coworker socialization, and I failed to find a replacement for this (apparently important!) function.  Attempting to do nothing but work has been...  unpleasant, and ultimately unsuccessful.  My productivity has not increased, and I have had several unhealthy videogaming binges, which have been inferior to proper gaming on all fronts (solo activity not regulated/self-limited by social availability/norms, ultimately comparable in time expense).

Recognizing that gaming did serve a useful function, I am forced to reevaluate my decision.  DMing is still an expensive proposition in terms of time and attention (but apparently I was going to continue thinking about it anyway unless it were superceded by another social activity, as evidenced by the last month or two of posts).  It probably makes sense to both pick gaming back up (as casually as possible - open-table, low-consistency low-level slacker-mode DMing, or, god forbid, playing in someone else's game) and also to find another weekly-ish regular social activity.  These may have to wait until after the upcoming work deadline in early August, as a practical matter, but the introspection has been had.

(On reflection, the utility of gaming as a social activity may be part of what I enjoyed about running the first ACKS campaign in the open-table style; in a fixed party, you see the same three to five people every week, but the open table facilitates making new friends in the social context that I'm most familiar with.  I wonder if this is part of what my father likes about Pathfinder Society.)

I find that I'm still angry about things, though.  Things like domains, and thieves.  I could probably take "ACKS minus the Campaigns chapter" with just a few spot-fixes as a satisfying game up until 8th level or so, but that's a hard sell to players (though better than the bait-and-switch "Get a domain, it'll be fun!" currently going on, I guess).  ACKS' continued development also seems to be away from its slick, usably-abstracted B/X roots and off into what the forums jokingly call Advanced Adventurer Conqueror King, with more detail and more rules.  It's getting fiddly, and I don't like it.  Having realized this, I believe that I will be happier and run a more enjoyable game if I just stop paying attention to ACKS supplements and the patreon.  The core almost stands alone, and the parts that don't work mostly do so because they are too complicated.  They need simplification rather than expansion.  The only supplement that fills a real hole in the core rules is Domains at War: Battles, because mass combat is one of the few emotional draws of domain play that ACKS has addressed well.  Even DaW:B could probably stand a little simplification, but its central mechanics are solid and not substantially more complex than dungeoneering combat.


  1. If you want the leading armies and maybe magical research bu without the most boring parts of domain management you could take away the idea of "making my domain in the wyldernes" and give domains as rewards for important missions, recover of ancient artifacts and the like.
    Then give the players some pre made domain, fixed population, and tell them: this land gives you X gp to spend as you like, if you want more you can keep doing things for your superiors and ask for more lands or go conquering. PD: conquering is fun.

  2. Yeah, that's been more-or-less the plan since I posted . I'm considering calculating out the costs in GP to turn a wilderness domain into something reasonable if players want to pursue that option, but I suspect it will be prohibitively expensive.