Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mini Review - Adventurer Conqueror King System (OSR)

For those that might (or might not remember) I first started talking about the Adventurer Conquer King System last summer, when I found it on Kickstarter.  I liked that it allowed one to change the focus to Kingdom building if you wanted to as the game progressed.  Heck, my first YouTube video (before the dragon got into the act) featured the GenCon Limited Release of ACKS.

What does this offer that the OSR books and rules already in your collection don't?  Four new racial classes: two for Dwarves and two for Elves.  Stats listed in the classic order.  A proficiency system.  The traditional four human classes and the assassin, bard, blade dancer and explorer.  Did I mention each class level is named, just like in AD&D?  Yep ;)

If you've played (A)D&D or any of the clones, you should be in fairly familiar territory.  Heck, and of the classes included should port fairly easily to Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord.

There are some fairly unique sections too.  Strongholds, domains, and even mercantile ventures are addressed.  Yes, your character may just outgrow the dungeon life.

If you are the do-it-yourself type of DM, there's a section on building your own campaign setting. It is full of charts dealing with populations, political divisions, revenue by realm type (and comparisons to historical data)... I could go on, but I won't.  This section is unique in my gaming experience, and could certainly be sold as it's own small universal supplement.  If you play in any fantasy type RPG and are interested in building your own campaign, many of the tools are here.  It is also very sandboxie in nature, which is a huge selling point in my eyes.

There is even a section (with random tables no less - can never have enough of them) on designing and placing your own dungeons.  Complete with wandering monster tables.  Whee!

I do have a question.  There are 8 human classes, 2 dwarves classes and 2 elven classes.  Dwarves and Elves are discussed as a race in their class descriptions (I didn't notice racial modifiers).  No halfling or gnome classes, but the races do appear on the starting age table and in the Monster Section.  Strange omission, especially as they are reference in a chart that deals only with player races.  Easy enough to fix and draft in from outside sources, but one shouldn't have to.

Overall a very nice addition to the OSR stable.  I just wish they hadn't overlooked the 2 shortest races.  Heck, even Raggi let the Halfling in Weird Fantasy ;)

edit:  forgot to mention the excellent hyperlinking in the Table of contents and the Index.  Makes up for shorting the short races.  heh :)

From the blurb:

Enter a world where empires totter on the brink of war, and terrible monsters tear at the fragile borderlands of men; where decaying cities teem with chaos and corruption, nubile maidens are sacrificed to chthonic cults and nobles live in decadent pleasure on the toil of slaves; where heroes, wizards, and rogues risk everything in pursuit of glory, fortune, and power. This is a world where adventurers can become conquerors – and conquerors can become kings.
Will you survive the perils of war and dark magic to claim a throne? Or will you meet your fate in a forgotten ruin beyond the ken of men?
The Adventurer Conqueror King System™ (ACKS) is a new fantasy role-playing game that provides the framework for epic fantasy campaigns with a sweeping scope. With the Adventurer Conqueror King System™ you can:
  • Play 12 different classes, including the fighter, mage, thief, cleric, assassin, bard, bladedancer, explorer, dwarven craftpriest, dwarven vaultguard, elven nightblade, and elven spellsword.
  • Easily customize your character using a unique, optional proficiency system. Make your fighter a berserker or your mage a necromancer!
  • Buy, sell, and trade common merchandise, precious silks and spices, and even monster parts and magic items in a balanced and integrated game economy.
  • Construct strongholds, establish kingdoms, and carve out a realm for your character.
  • Run a thieves' guild and send your minions to carouse, smuggle, steal, and commit other hijinks.
  • Establish a wizard's sanctum and explore the forbidden arts. Crossbreed horrific monsters in an underground laboratory, enact powerful magical rituals, build golems, craft magic items, or even transform yourself and your followers into undead monsters.
  • Build and run a living world for adventure on a grand scale. With game mechanics built to support emergent play, ACKS is the ultimate RPG for sandbox campaigns.
Whether you want to crawl through dungeons, trade with merchant caravans, run a merchant emporium, conquer an empire, or even raise an undead legion, ACKS supports your playstyle with simple, fast-playing game mechanics.
To learn more, visit the Autarch website.


  1. Will ACKS be available in print?
    Maybe using the print option of RPGnow?

  2. Thanks for the super-fast mini-review, Tenkar!

    @Greyhawk Knight, we recommend that everyone who's going to use it in play have ACKS in both print and PDF. If you get the $9.99 PDF first, it has a coupon for $10 off the hardback. If you get the print version at your local game store, or from our sales partners online, you always get the PDF for free through Bits and Mortar. We expect to have the books in print in time for Gary Con IV.

  3. Oh, and @Tenkar Alex famously hates halflings; the illustration where the griffon is terrifying some of 'em is an in-joke from one of the backers who has played in his campaigns. Being Alex he has a very convincing argument for why they don't make sense as a player race. Being fallible human, we all forgot to remove them from the open content we used as the basis for the starting age table.

    As you say, porting in halflings from another game will be no problem, and will likely fix Alex's main complaint; your halflings will be exceptions to the rule that they don't normally risk their lives on adventures, which is what makes Frodo special.

  4. Can you give us more info on the mechanics, and how the classes feel? I'd like to hear more about that stuff, rather than everyone talking about how great the higher-level realm-control mechanics work (since that's what everyone's talking about for the most part on the blogs). Thanks.

  5. @Drance - i'll give and overview on the classes, skills and lasting damage charts (for whenyou go to negative HP) fairly soon, as per your request ;)

    May or may not be this weekend - there are a couple of things on the burner here and in real life that are occupying time.

  6. I'll post a review of it in a few days. It's definitely a different animal than I'm used to seeing in the OSR. I'm curious to see if anyone actually plays it or just cherry picks bits from it for their campaigns.

    The world building stuff is just inspired. I'll definitely be yoinking that.

  7. I'm looking forward to your take on it.

    I actually played in a RPG game run by Tavis last wednesday (on of the writers of ACKS). I can see his influence on he game rules.

  8. (Sorry to be annoying in the comments sections, but:) Quick question: does your pdf of ACKS do a weird freezing thing when you reach a full-page illustration. I've never had that happen before, and it's kind of frustrating.

  9. haven't had that happen to me. OSX Lion and Adobe Reader.


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