One of the donation tiers on our Kickstarter page is that of 'Visionary', and its unique perk is the chance to give me the art order for an illustration that will be included in the final ACKS book. We've only got one visionary so far: a Mr. Justin Clouse (thanks Justin!) and I just completed his art order today!
He wanted to see an illustration for the Assassin character class, and had a few ideas about how it might look:
Of the many challenges of developing a mass combat system for Adventurer Conqueror King, the greatest challenge is the one that Valamir points out on the Story Games forums: Namely that the military tactics of a society where wizards can hurl fireballs would be very different from those of the ancient or medieval world. It is easy to imagine a world where 20th century tactics developed, with magic as the equivalent of air strikes, rangers moving in loose squad-based formations, and so on.
In assembling the mechanics for campaign play, we wanted to make sure that all of the different classes had enjoyable opportunities for activity that reflected their class. Fighters and Clerics, for example, tend to be the most focused on domain-building and mass combat, while Mages focus on magical research and building dungeons filled with exotic beasties. Thieves... Thieves get to run thieves' guilds!
A secret ratio recurs repeatedly throughout ACKS. It is 1:33, and it is implicit in many of the game mathematics. Interestingly, the 1:33 ratio *emerged* from the assumptions of the system; it wasn't initially designed in. The first place the secret ratio appeared was in the average rate of return on gold invested per month in support of mercantile activities, which is 3% (3/100 or 1/33). I noticed the ratio when I was building spreadsheets to model landlords and merchants.
As the illustrator, I thought I'd throw in some pictures here to show my process for creating an illustration. This is the illustration for the Cleric character class, and I've done it in an ink wash. I'll be doing some line art for the book as well, but I wanted to start off by developing a great greyscale technique for some of the illustration. I'll do another post later about creating the painting on the cover - that was a big long crazy and awesome project!
Perhaps the biggest difference between 1est edition and Classic versions of our favorite fantasy game was "race as class". In 1e and its descendants, race was a selection made separately from class. You could choose to be an Elf, and then choose to be a Fighter, Magic-User, etc. In Classic (B/X, BECMI, and Rules Cyclopedia), the various races were actually classes - Elves were of the Elf class, Dwarves of the Dwarf class. These differences have manifested again in the various retro-clones.
Fantasy gamemasters attempting to create historical plausible game worlds are faced with a major problem whenever and wherever they include elves: The elven lifespan. Tradition dating from the middle ages carried into D&D by way of Tolkien has elves as immortal, or nearly so; the 1st edition D&D had lifespans as long as 2,000 years from some elven sub-races.
“What does this offer that the OSR books and rules already in your collection don't? Strongholds, domains, and even mercantile ventures are addressed. Yes, your character may just outgrow the dungeon life. If you play in any fantasy type RPG and are interested in building your own campaign, many of the tools are here.”
“Adventurer Conqueror King adds a new wing to the Old School with its epic-scale world construction rules, which help the Judge develop an entire setting, logically and organically, in the sandbox spirit of the hobby's earliest campaigns.”
— Allen Varney
“This is what a rationalised 21st century dungeoncrawling RPG can look like: enough old school aspects to appeal to grognards, but with enough mechanical crunch to appeal to new(er) school players. The systems maths is robust enough that it doesn't fall to pieces if you breathe on it, but simple enough that you only need to do simple-addition-up-to-20 in play. And we did it crowdfunded and with substantiative fan base interaction and customer feedback.”
“The Player's Companion extends the core rules by adding a series of new classes, the dwarven machinist and spelunker, the elven ranger, and some human classes - mystic (monk), shaman (druid), and priestess. I'll come out and say it though, the thing that got me fired up with the book-love was the extensive list of templates. (I think they claim there are 144 of them). An ACKS template is basically some pre-selected options that speeds up character generation and gives the character a bit of early flavor. ACKS supports the old school roll-and-go - it's got basic 3d6 in order for abilities and simple classes, like classic D&D. The templates take it the rest of the way, by adding a preconfigured set of starting equipment, starting money, and suggested proficiency selections.”
“I've been running this game for months now using an open world sandbox game, similar to Ben Robbins' West Marches game, and it's downright amazing. Love the comprehensive rules for everything economic and the B/X framework with layered extras, like proficiencies and special maneuvers (disarm, wrestling, etc.). If you're at all into D&D, I would check this out.”
“It makes good on D&D's largely unfulfilled promise to take characters from lowly insignificance to the heights of power. There are rules for building castles, establishing and ruling domains (as well as wizard's sanctums and thieves guilds), and trading -- just about anything a high-level, power-hungry fantasy character might be interested in pursuing. Adventurer, Conqueror, King is a very cleverly designed game whose rules are quite compatible with most retro-clones, particularly Labyrinth Lord, making it extremely valuable to any player or referee looking to add any of its rules to their existing campaigns. This is good stuff and well worth a look.”