Friday, September 12, 2014

Hey, There's A New Edition of D&D Out - So Of Course I'm Running ACKS...

I run two weekly games. One is currently slogging its way through the Great Pendragon Campaign. The other found itself, a couple weeks back, "in between campaigns" after a couple false starts (first RIFTS and then a Savage Worlds space opera campaign that ended in a TPK).

The fact of the matter is that we had given the new D&D Starter Set a spin and quite liked it, but none of us quite wanted to pull the trigger on starting a 5e campaign until the full set of core books has been rolled out. So I figured I'd offer to run a little short campaign arc of something else to fill the gap until November rolls around.

I guess we were all in a fantasy mood still from all that D&D talk, because we ended up settling on the Adventurer, Conqueror, King System. This came as a real surprise to me, as I didn't even own ACKS at the time of discussion. I was only aware of it by reputation. But we were talking about the old 2e Birthright setting, and one of my players in particular expressed a fondness for that setting's attempt at bringing domain-level play back into the game, and I mentioned ACKS and that was that.

Here's the thing, though: I am now seriously in love with this system.

It's really inspired me to just jump in and start designing my own sandbox. Of course, I'm stealing liberally from a bunch of different sources, from GURPS Tales of the Solar Patrol to Vornheim to bits of the Wilderlands to Ralph Bakshi's Wizards to a variety of Appendix N authors (Vance and Burroughs in particular), all in the service of creating a sort of science-fantasy mishmash that's maybe a bit reminiscent of JRPGs like Phantasy Star.

And after I'm done setting up this sandbox, I want to take a crack at adapting the old AD&D HR1 Vikings supplement into an ACKS historical fantasy sandbox. The combination of the system's toolkit approach and support for world-building has proven an unexpectedly heady brew for me, such that I'm going to be focusing all my FRPG efforts for the short-term in that direction.

In the meantime, we're still planning on playing 5e starting sometime this winter. One of the other folks in my group is going to run Hoard of the Dragon Queen, so I get to get some actual time in as a player after running ACKS for a couple months. Win-win!

Incidentally, here is the precis for my current setting, if you're curious...

Billions of years in the future, the sun is expanding into a red giant and the inner planets are uninhabitable molten wastelands. But life carries on out past The Belt. On Jupiter’s four primary moons, in fact, life is thriving.

  • Io is a volcanic land covered in lava seas and massive basalt mountain chains, home to the City-State of the Jovian Overlord, nominal ruler of the Moons, and the silicate-based Dwarves.
  • Europa is a water world, less than five percent of its surface covered by land. In the seas swim the froglike Thrassians, while the islands are inhabited by sea-faring Amazons.
  • Ganymede is a world of deep, misty canyons and gorges, and much travel is done by airships piloted by the Gnomes, a race of little furry creatures not unlike winged squirrels.
  • Callisto, the most remote moon, is a former prison world and remains a harsh land of hot deserts dotted with oases and caravansaries. The world’s primary settlement, Vornheim, the City of Spires, is also an interplanetary spaceport, and gateway to the mineral mines of the asteroid belt and the deeper, demon-haunted reaches of solar space…

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