Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Game Reports - ACKS and LOTFP

York 1630 - F*ck Around and Find Out

I'm a few weeks behind on game reports for this one.  Our players, the magic user Allister, cleric Blackburn, Yuri the Elf, and Remy Knotwise the Halfing, have been exploring a puzzle dungeon called The Grinding Gear, a dungeon beneath an abandoned inn within the woods west of Aldfield.  Allister has two henchmen as well, a fighter named Wood and a specialist named Toby.  Rather than post a dull play by play, I'll just focus on some highlights.

At one point they encountered a set of stairs that led up to a landing, the passage turned right, and the stairs continued up.  The landing was one large pressure plate trap, and anyone that triggered the trap got launched in the air by a spring-loaded wall that threw them off the top of the stairs, like a giant pinball bumper.  The players avoided the trap and straddled the corner to avoid the pressure plate - that's not the interesting point.  Later in the dungeon when they ran into some "fast zombies" (ie, ghouls) the cleric used a scroll of turn undead to drive them down the same hallway - he quickly reasoned he could make them flee down the stairs and let the pinball bumper take care of them.  There was a moment, much later in the game, when they went by that way again and found the broken bodies of the zombies at the base of the steps, horribly mangled after being launched into the air.  I think one of them was still snapping it's jaws futilely at anything that came near, unable to even crawl with it's broken body.

They were running low on water and needed to leave the dungeon and return to the surface (they hadn't yet found the water source in the dungeon).  So they returned to the surface and carefully retrieved water from the well, cautious that there were still mosquito bats in the vicinity living in the attic of the inn.  It had been several days since the players first smoked them out.

A random encounter while the players were staying top-side brought some inquisitive bandits into the area of the inn, and they caught sight of some of the players fleeing into the inn and barring the door.  The bandits gave up investigating the statue and bodies in the clearing to mess with the players in the inn.  "You better leave us alone - don't f*ck around and find out", yelled one of the players through the door.  (We're from Philly where Gritty - the Flyers mascot - is basically the mayor of f*ck around and find out).  One of the quick thinking players ran up stairs with a pot and pan and started waking up all the mosquito bats in the attic with a huge racket, while the players continued to goad the bandits into yelling back at them through the front door.  This picture perfectly captures the moment the bandits got swarmed by angry mosquito bats while the halfling and elf laughed at their misery from the safety of the inn.  I love how this group repeatedly figures out how to use the environment as a weapon.

Here's a pic from a previous session when they were exploring an area with pits, and the halfling went down to explore after they killed a ghoul safely from outside the pit.  The halfling player was over the moon with the way his character has been depicted in these game vignettes.  He's even got a tiny pin with The Pillories logo on his hat.

ACKS Greyhawk - Let's Look Fabulous

In Greyhawk news, they did it.  The players finally had enough of Temple of Elemental Evil level one and started exploring the second level.  They seem to be figuring this D&D thing out.  They murdered a minotaur, and cut through a lair area with room after room of bandits wiping them out with a barrage of sleep spells and scooping up the spoils.  As an impartial observer, I believe they'll start getting more experience and leveling up... their insistence on grinding out all of level 1 was getting a little tedious.  Note - there is a horrifying room in the top center of level 1 with like four Earth Elementals patrolling it... the players learned about this place by interrogating some bad guys, and astutely decided to leave if for now.  They found a scroll of protection vs elementals on level 2, so now the wheels are turning.

Their fabulous moment came when exploring a junk-filled room with chests and wardrobes... full of many garments, clothes, dresses, and other sartorial accoutrements.  Old Gary (or perhaps Frank) was being generous when he wrote, "If care is taken in sorting, adventurers can fill three large sacks with good garments, worth 500gp per sack".  This was the last thing the players did on their way out of the dungeon for the night, and many jokes were made... "gee, we barely get any experience for fighting in deadly combat, but bargain hunting for clothes in the bandit's thrift store and suddenly my mojo is pointing up".  Like my son the football player always says about his "drip", look-good, play-good.  That's 1500xp of looking good for you, fellas.

In other ACKS news, I just learned that ACKS 2.0 (second edition) will be hitting the kickstarter later this month.  Oof - I love the compactness of the original book, it's an all-in-one, but ACKS 2.0 will have a player's books, judge's book, and monster book.  It's a great rules set for combat heavy, oldish school heroic fantasy, but a three book set is not an auto-buy for me - I have questions.  We may stick with first edition, we'll see.  Anyone else in the same boat or you diving in?


  1. Personally, I'm super excited for ACKS II and will be basing my level of support mostly on cash flow - having said that, I believe it's intended to be largely backwards compatible, the Imperial Imprint being mostly a way to integrate all the new subsystems from the official 'zine.

  2. Diving in. The revised rules are amazing (available in preview on Autarch’s patreon), clean up every rough edge and clear every ambiguity, and fill in the few missing parts. The books themselves will be beautiful (they’ve got previews).
    I’m never playing another edition of DnD again.

  3. As someone who has been playtesting ACKS II as a DM, there was a lot of back and forth on the number of books and the length of the books. ACKS II was meant to just be ACKS with the supplementary books (PC, HFH, Axioms) baked in since it was getting hard to run a game with three books and half a dozen magazines.

    Then Archon decided that he was not happy just republishing with prior material, so he decided to revise the rule language to make it clearer on some topics.

    Then he decided that some of the mechanics were at fault and kept leading to the same issues across groups so they needed revising.

    Then he decided that the rules were incomplete since people kept asking for certain topics to be addressed so he added them.

    Then the OGL fiasco happened and he rewrote the entire god damn thing in like four months to split from the OGL.

    The decision to split them out was because of the size. The Revised Rulebook is 550 pages without art or formatting. The Judge's Journal is 500. The Monstrous Manual is 450. This isn't including the things that have been cut.

    Autarch's Patreon has the rules there, but if you drop Archon a message on the Discord he might send you the test documents: https://discord.gg/cRpNcse2kv