ACKS Plans

Some time ago, I was working on a my own RPG Heartbreaker called Andras. With several campaigns over multiple rulesets, I was looking for a common game to convert them to.

Then, I found ACKS. It is probably the closest thing to the amalgam of B/X, AD&D, Spelljammer and Rules Cyclopedia I played with my high school group. Half of all the game worlds I've done are forms of that high school rule set. The other half are either d20-ish or Savage Worlds.

So, I set out to create a toolset that would allow me to fairly quickly create a bunch of ACKS material to share. I discovered Markdown and various Markdown editors and began to write. I thought that by using Markdown, I could save time writing. After everything was written in Markdown, I could convert it to odt files (with pandoc) and put it in LibreOffice to compile into a Master Document. From there, Calibre would churn out eBooks in various formats and Scribus would help me with the PDF.

After a month of trying to get Markdown, Textile and other markup scripts to work for me, I've discovered that it is just easier to use LibreOffice to begin with. OSR games have lots of tables. Markup languages either do not allow easy typing of tables, or do not have an app that allows a quick preview of what you're writing. Being dyslexic, I need that visual feedback to make sure the table itself is formed correctly. (LibreOffice can do spell checking.)

So, now I am back to setting up templates and Autotext entries in LibreOffice. I used mail merge to build the list of psionic powers. The psionic class has been typed up (with all tables except the one for psionic combat.) After tonight or tomorrow night, all of that should be in place.

So I apologize for the delay in releasing the ACKS Psionicist. I have been working the entire time, just on the wrong things. So it's time for content, content, content. The only interruption will be getting the Player's Companion and making sure the class fits into the system well enough.

Feel free to follow Sycarion Diversions on Google Plus. I've gotten help from two folks there to come up with name titles, explain psionic combat and talk about how the psionicist class got its XP Progression.

Aiming for Memorial Day for the Psionicist and Kelyn of Ilrion. Then Tiezerekan  or Tanah-Con-Ranh by the end of the summer.

Platforms and Other October Things

By now, I'm sure that many have read the recent buzz about creating platform instead of product. This has triggered a few things in the RPG set starting with Zak and then continuing in this and this.

Oddly enough, there has been criticism in the past where Labyrinth Lord called itself the Rosetta Stone of Old School Fantasy. Truth be told, it is the platform that created Original Edition and Advanced Edition. It also spawned Mutant Future and Humanspace Empires. All that's left is Alternity and Boot Hill and we got the whole shooting match. (Maybe if you're a completist, you'll want the Amazing Engine, too.)

But Swords&Wizardry has generated its own progeny as well. There's Ruins & Ronins, Ultima, and Battlemech (can't find the link). This isn't even mentioning the number of versions of the core rules and Brave Halfling's new rules in development.

Are there more clones that operate like platforms? Looking at other old school games, S&W and LL appear to be the two largest platforms. Microlite20 is a strong third, there are so many add-ons for it, that compiling them all generates a 600+ page document. Openquest is a great rules system, but no one that I know of is working on a space-based game with OQ as the foundation. The D6 game spawned all sorts of games in West End Games' hey day, but only one publisher is actively building on it. Both of these systems could be great for making all sorts of games. That's why I use part of the spell building system in D6 Fantasy and a variation of the OQ skill system in Andras.

So, what does this prove except the fact that I can add a boatload of links to a post? There a platform out there for whatever game you want to make and it is broader than the legacy of TSR.

Did you know that the STRength scale in the Action! System is setup so that the STR of a horse will scale to units of horsepower?  Give a STR value to a vehicle and you have the power rating for its engine. It also scales in powers of 10 so that you don't have to have a space craft with a STR 4200.

But I digress.

I don't believe that Andras will become the platform for gamers everywhere. What I do know is that I like a game that can help me define just about anything I want. Mechs? Sure. Interdimensional Self-Replicating Bismuth Golems? You betcha. Greyhawk? Not a problem. A Spelljammer version of Tekumel? Yes, but the rest of the internet will hate you for it.

I hope that with the fair number of systems presented, folks can find something to use for their game. Skill-based wizard? Roll d20+d10 under the INT score for a rules-lite game and a roll under Spell skill for a more nuanced approach. Spell Creation System? Here's a short version and a detailed version complete with an expandable table assigning effects to point values. Vancian Spell Name Generator? How about Hastra's Delicate Surfeit. Monster Builder? Here's some tables and an XP Chart.

More than that, I also want to provide spreadsheets. If someone wants to make their own spreadsheet based generators, lots of useful data will already exist in spreadsheet format. Better yet, convert the files into csv and build database apps. Go for it. I am intentionally building the various spell lists in a spreadsheet for this reason. Monsters will exist in a spreadsheet as well as the class builder. It's one thing to provide a text version of the rules, it's another to provide a dataset for folks to build with.

The ideal system for me would be 48 pages of rules and another408 of magic item tables, classes, spell lists, price lists, etc. The GM's guide would have a bunch of tools to make just about anything from a monster to a class to a demi-plane and everything in-between. A person could basically ditch everything after page 48 and use the GM guide to recreate anything needed.

Work continues very slowly in October - with birthdays, anniversaries and non-profit events, it's a very busy time. But I have the XP tables for monsters ready as well as the SRD versions of spells in the 2e PHB in a spreadsheet. This winter, I hope to get quite a bit of work done and have a playtest document before March.

Thanks for the six people that indulged me a bit of commentary.

Psionic Attack/Defense Modes

One of the things I really enjoyed about Psionics was psionic combat. I didn't like the method presented in the 1e PHB, but I did enjoy the Attack/Defense Modes. Although the bonuses and penalties weren't symmetrical, I always pictured it as a Rock, Paper, Scissors with no more choices. Had I known the rules, I probably would have used it as a mechanic to resolve psionic combat.

I knew that 2e expanded the numbers of powers and introduced MAC and MTHAC0. The guys and I wondered why this was necessary. After all, there is no Magical Armor Class nor To Hit Magical Armor Class 0. Spells got a saving throw, why not psionics?

In thinking about psionics in the OSR Project, I happened upon a good nugget of information that can provide some much needed OGL material. It turns out that under the 3.0 version of the SRD, psionic attack and Defense Modes were still in use. Better yet, the matrix of attack vs. defense mode were converted to use with saving throws already. Sure they were Will saves, but after an hour with some 'what if' scenarios, I was satisfied with the results. This bit of good news means that I have a way to describe and roughly stat the attack/defense modes from the srd. (I get nervous about how much the serial numbers are really filed off when I describe things, sometimes.)

One thing I had to add, though. Seeing as 2e Psionics (I mean Skills and Powers option, not the Psionics Handbook) had each attack mode represent a dice, I felt the need to add one more. No, I didn't add a d20 attack mode, I added a d2 attack mode. It's called Socrum's Needle. It is akin to the Slow Blade in the DUNE series. When a high level psionic scoffs at what he perceivesto be a small minded warrior with meager psionic talent, he had better hope that the warrior does not have the needle. It is available only to those with wild talents and it functions as a straight attack roll instead of a saving throw. It's main purpose is to open the mind of high level psionicists.

In my universe, you got to give the underdog a way to fight without relying on a natural 20.

Hopefully, I'll have a beta document up soon.