To that end, I would like to highlight the one RPG-related purchase that I have spent more time using in the last year than any other — the ACKS Players Companion (ACKS PC). As with all things B/X, the guys at Autarch reverse engineered all of the core classes (minus the halfling) and then came up with a system with which to create all kinds of classes, including those same core classes. It is rather ingenious, actually, because it is now possible to create campaign-specific classes for a B/X-type of game.
This is important for me, because when I started my Lost Colonies campaign, I only allowed Fighters, Clerics, Magic-Users, Dwarves and Elves. As the campaign evolved, not only did players want to explore different class options, but the campaign world itself demanded it. At the time, however, I didn’t have a lot of options for dealing with these needs other than introduce Advanced Edition classes, which didn’t quite fit.
With the ACKS PC, I am now able to create those classes exactly the way I want to and still have them express some kind of balance according to the logic of the B/X core classes. There is only one issue with the whole system that I am struggling with: weapon damage.
ACKS elegantly divides weapons into various categories where each has a one-handed, one-and-a-half handed and two-handed version. These do from 1d6 to 1d10 damage. This isn’t an issue if the world can logically supply all these types of weapons; however, Lost Colonies is a metal-poor setting where iron, especially, is quite rare. Swords are normally bronze and there is no such thing as a long or two-handed bronze sword. This throws a kink into the ACKS damage system.
To boot, I also normally use universal d6 damage at my table for a variety of reasons; however, using weapon selection is a key element to the custom class design presented in the ACKS PC. Therefore, I need to somehow make weapon choice or damage meaningful in order to properly implement the custom class system.
The ACKS PC has four levels of weapon selection:
- Restricted (as with a Magic-User)
- Narrow (as with a Cleric)
- Broad (as with a Thief)
- Unrestricted (as with a Fighter)
When it comes to weapon damage, there are those who like to emulate Gandalf, the sword-wielding magic-user. They advocate damage by class, where every class can use any weapon, but the damage will vary from class to class:
- Magic-User = d4
- Cleric/Thief = d6
- Fighter = d8
With a little tweak, this class-based damage system can be ported over to the ACKS PC weapon selection:
- Restricted = d4
- Narrow = d6
- Broad = d8
- Unrestricted = d10
This would be a simple solution save for a couple of concerns. I wonder if d10 damage too powerful? Elves and Dwarves would also do d10 via this system and, in the case of elves I do think that is too much.
There are three solutions to this potential problem:
- The first would be to dial back all the damage by one die, where Unrestricted is d8 and Restricted is d3. That poses the question of whether or not the magic-user and cleric are too weak.
- The second option is to use the ACKS PC system to hack the fighter, elf and dwarf to have Broad d8 damage with some kind of weapon specialization/combat bonus; however this would add to the XP total necessary to advance. Fighters would need 2150 XP, elves 4150 and dwarves 2350. It doesn’t seem like much, but especially with elves it certainly feels that way.
- The third option is to use Unrestricted = d10, etc. for human characters and Unrestricted = d8, etc. for demi-humans.
So, my question (especially to those of you who have used class-based damage) which of these options do you like best?