Sunday, July 28, 2013

Top 10 Troll Questions - 5AK

It's been a long day.

But a good one. I mean, we made it back to Seattle safe and sound and found our house hadn't burned down and the beagles hadn't run away and because of a small bout of food poisoning my wife gets to put off flying to South America for at least one more day.

[even sick time with the family is better than no time]

We got up at 6ish after being awake and active till close to three so that we could make the early ferry ride back to Seattle. All went as planned and I managed to keep my eyes open the entire drive (the rest of the fam were crashed out in the back seat) which is, of course, a good thing.

However, even with a siesta this afternoon it's been a looong day. And, yes, I realize no one really wants to hear about that.

We're on a countdown now till the release of 5AK, my only (current) entry into that category of games called D&D Mine or (more prosaically) Fantasy Heartbreakers. That's right: it's really difficult to consider 5AK something much more than a "fantasy heartbreaker," though it bears fairly little resemblance to 1st edition AD&D (the mark of many FHBs)'s still just another fantasy adventure game with a "team-up and step-up" mentality that does NOT bear the "D&D" stamp of name recognition and so is destined to for second-class (or third-class) status.

Which is fine. The train has left the station, so to speak (or rather, the car is rolling down the hill with the keys locked in the ignition) and there's really no stopping it. I've got a bunch of dice manufactured for the thing, filling bags in my office. The manuscripts are at the printer for their first print run and I will be charged for it, using the money made in my earlier publishing ventures (no "kickstarter" for me!). And...well, that's it. The rewrites are done...I can't change what will be coming out of the print shop at this point. The first printing is going to be as good (or as bad) as it will be and it's pretty much out of my hands.

All I can do now is hock my wares.

To this end, I've decided to dedicate the next few days (and next few blog entries) to talking about 5AK, using topics of conversation I might normally take but solely applying them to the subject of my own game. This will, of course, irritate some of my good readers who could care less about a new fantasy heartbreaker and who want more D&D style subject matter (and who are already tired of my random digressions on all things that pull my attention). So be it. One thing I did NOT do a whole helluva' lot of with my 2nd book (The Complete B/X Adventurer) that I did with my first book (the B/X Companion) was talk about it much, or blog about it much, or mention it in other peoples' blogs or on various forums or whatnot. And you know what? It didn't sell half as well (even counting "print only;" the B/X Companion has sold far more electronic copies than it ever sold in print). Even though there's stuff in TCBXA that is useful to most folks B/X or LL campaigns (unlike the B/X Companion which is mostly only useful to high level campaigns).

So, yeah, I think I'll have to talk it up a bit (or talk about it anyway). I'll try to do a post a day until it comes out, but...well, we'll see what time allows of me.

To start off, we'll try a softball post: Random Wizard threw up a ten question poll on his blog that a bunch of people have been using as fodder for their own blogs, and I'm going to do the same (I did say, "softball," right?)...except that I'm going to apply all the questions to 5AK. This should be at least a little fun, because RW tried to take the most contentious topics for his list of questions. Perhaps it will pique the interest of folks who are curious. Here goes:

1) Race (Elf, Dward, Halfling) as a class? Yes or no? There are no "races" in 5AK, only classifications of adventurers, and there are no "demi-humans" in the default setting, solely in an appendix of optional rules. If the optional rules are used, each is a subclass of a main adventurer class.

2) Do demi-humans have souls? All sentient beings in 5AK have souls, including jinni. Demons, as fallen angels, technically are souls.

3) Ascending or descending armor class? There is no "AC" stat in 5AK, ascending or descending. A character's class of armor (light, heavy, or none) makes it tougher for an opponent to inflict damage (i.e. "to hit" or make a successful attack) but combat is based on the original CHAINMAIL rules, not the alternative combat tables first seen in Book 1 of OD&D.

4) Demi-human level limits? If the optional rules are used, the demi-human subclasses are limited in the maximum level they can achieve.

5) Should thief be a class? Thief is a major class; it has two subclasses.

6) Do characters get non-weapon skills? Thieves (and thief subclasses) have non-weapon, "thief skills." New characters start the game with random advantages that can sometimes resemble (or are, i  fact) "skills."

7) Are magic-users more powerful than fighters (and, if yes, what level do they take the lead)? This is an apples-oranges question. Magic-users use magic. Fighters fight. If you want to do something magical, call on a magician; if you want to kill something, call on a fighter. They have different arenas of specialty in 5AK with very little over-lap. A mage can swing a sword or axe (and if they want to attack/kill something, that's the best way to do so)...but a hero is a lot better at it.

8) Do you use alignment language? No.

9) XP for gold, or XP for objectives (thieves disarming traps, etc.)? Define "objectives." There are some XP bonuses in 5AK (usually for one-time experiences), including "milestones," that might be an objective of play, but no one gets XP solely for disarming a trap. XP is awarded for gold and monsters, but the amount of XP awarded diminishes as PCs gain experience (i.e. "go up in level").

10) Which is the best edition: ODD, Holmes, Moldvay, Mentzer, Rules Cyclopedia, 1E ADD, 2E ADD, 3E ADD, 4E ADD, Next? Well, I'd like to think 5AK is pretty good. Many early editions have their own special charm to them. To answer "which is the best" I need to know "the best what?" Different editions are better (or worse) depending on what you're looking for.

Bonus Question: unified XP level tables or individual XP level tables for each class? There are three distinct XP level tables in 5AK, though thieves and clerics share the same one.

All right...well, that was fun. Tomorrow, I hope to do something a little less softball, and a little more weighty. But right now, it's time to hit the hay. Later!

; )


  1. For question 10, I love the fact you propose 5AK, and I think you're justified. Why not the D&Ds Mine?

  2. I watched The Golden Voyage of Sinbad yesterday, so I'm all fired up for some 5AK action! ;-)

  3. Very much looking forward to 5AK. Also hoping to pick up Complete B/X Adventurer as soon as it appears in electronic form (not to whine, but it has been nearly a year....)