Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Finally on the ACKS Bandwagon

I fought it. I rolled my eyes in disgust whenever I looked at my blogroll and saw all the new posts devoted to it. I was irritated by it at every turn. All that discomfort was due to one simple fact: self-inflicted ignorance. I was disgusted by Adventurer, Conqueror, King because I would not allow myself to learn its deeper mysteries.

In my own defense, I had already been disappointed by Dungeon Crawl Classics and, most bitterly, by Crypts & Things. I thought DCC was nothing but some nifty cosmetic hacks on a basic clone chassis. C&T is, in my opinion, misleading, to put it kindly. If they want to charge for their background and setting, fine, go for it. To take someone else's work, work that is freely available, and modify with someone else's free house rules, and have the audacity to call it yours and charge money for something they gave freely is reprehensible.

It was with those jaded eyes I viewed the release of ACKS. My apprehension was aggravated by the fact that one of the main selling points are the domain-type rules. Specifically, that ACKS returns the domain management end-game to fantasy gaming. That always sat a little odd to me. This is ostensibly an OSR title, and every OSR player worth his dice knows that the domain management end-game is part-and-parcel of any iteration of D&D from the LBBs through AD&D 1E and all points between. So, based on that thin exposure and hastily formed opinion, I avoided ACKS like the disappointment I was sure it would be.

I am very pleased to report that I was wrong. I finally broke down and picked up the PDF after reading a play report about a cleric getting his hand hacked off. Hmmm, thought I. A couple of Duck-Duck-Go clicks later and I learned that there is a critical hit system that comes into play when a character's HP are gone. That put me in mind of the excellent way WFRP 1E handles criticals, which is still my all-time favorite. After seeing that, it was all over but the crying.

I'll be reading this over the next few days. I'll definitely be posting my impressions, probably as I read, so they'll come in multiple parts. I'll try to make sure I see them all through and not leave it hanging. For now, though, I just wanted to let everyone know, I'm one of the cool kids now.


  1. I ordered the hardcover today. We'll see.

  2. ACKS does seem very cool, and in fact I've cribbed all the combat maneuvers from ACKS for use as house rules in my Labyrinth Lord campaign. I'm not using the entirety of ACKS at the moment because it has more complexity to it than I want for a campaign at the moment. I'd rather have the arguably more simple LL rules as a foundation and tack on stuff here and there from ACKS. I just have no interested with my current game to get into the domain management rigamarole. I also don't want to get into the crunchier ACKS character classes, and the ACKS skill system, etc. In all, ACKS is to me a more "advanced" form of Classic/Basic D&D. There's no irony meant here at all when I say that. When I say advanced I mean that there are more options that ACKS tacks onto Classic D&D than I'd care to use at the moment. But that doesn't mean that I might be tempted to use ACKS in its entirety someday...Anyway, glad you are liking it, and just wanted to tell you that you're not alone in that feeling...or in the feeling that DCC is not all it has been claiming to be. Note all the hype that Goodman pumped out for DCC, and compare it to the relatively quiet development and release of ACKS. I think that difference alone speaks volumes. ACKS didn't need the big ass hype maching steaming away all along, unlike DCC.

  3. I always post about DCC and C&T with some trepidation because my opinions on them are so negative, and they seem to get a lot of love. You're right, though, compared to all the build-up, they are very quiet post-release. I hadn't noticed that.

    1. Well, I was trying to say that ACKS was developed quietly, i.e. without all the DCC hype. DCC was hyped all over the place, and now...you're right, there's this silence all of a sudden. The people that preordered got the PDF, right? So where's the detailed reviews? And when is the print version finally coming out? Seems awfully suspicious...

  4. ACKS has become my favourite clone now; it does everything I want from a game, and is deep enough to get a lot from it. All the background mechanics blend together very well.

  5. I got the hardcover of DCC just this week and let me tell you it is amazing. It is a behemoth. I don't know that I will ever run or play in a game but I don't regret the 40 bucks in the least. If you like old school art, including the cartoons in the original DM's guide then you should pick it up for that alone. It is about 470 to 480 pages long and has at least that many pieces of art. Roslof, Jeff Dee, Jeff Easley, Stephen Poag, Erol Otus, Peter Mullen and many others contributed. This is without a doubt the single most artistically impressive rule book I have ever seen. It is very well written too. I wish I could comment more on the system but I just haven't had the time to read it over thoroughly yet.

    How is the art in ACKS and how long is it? I don't care much for the cover, but, I don't care much for the DCC cover either.