ALL BLOG POSTS AND COMMENTS COPYRIGHT (C) 2003-2016 VOX DAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Sinister Stone

I backed this kickstarter today from Autarch, The Sinister Stone of Sakkara. For the gamers here, you should check it out. They do quality stuff that isn't generic:

The default setting of ACKS, the Auran Empire, was also designed to support the player characters’ advancement from adventurer to king. The Auran Empire setting was inspired by the collapsing empires of earth’s Late Antiquity (250 – 750 AD), a turbulent era in which ancient glories were drowned in a torrent of violence. However, in the Auran Empire setting, the horror of civilization’s imminent collapse is worsened by the existence of nightmarish evils lurking in the world’s dark places, threatening to strike mankind at its weakest moment. The established leadership is too preoccupied by the empire’s political and military downfall to take these shadowy threats seriously, leaving them to be handled by adventurers, fortune-hunters, and would-be heroes. The adventurers’ success in dealing with such threats is, however, what garners them the fame, wealth, and strength they need to take power and restore order. Of course, the adventurers are not certain to win; indeed, the odds are stacked against them.

The premises underlying ACKS’ setting are evident throughout The Sinister Stone of Sakkara, most notably in its backstory. The adventure begins with local hamlets and villages suffering from beastman raids because the troops that ought to be protecting them have been sent to stem an invasion at another border. With the local military barely able to garrison its strongholds, it falls to the adventurers to deal with the monstrous threat.

The setting premises are also evident in the design of the dungeon itself. The upper level of the dungeon was inspired by real-world ancient architecture, and the brigands and beastly barbarians that populate it would not be unfamiliar to any Late Roman centurion (albeit the barbarians who menaced Rome were only figuratively beastly). Conversely, the lower level of the dungeon is a warren of weird horror wherein lurks an insidious evil that is far more threatening than mere beastmen. The dungeon thus represents the Auran Empire setting in microcosm – visibly endangered by mundane threats, appallingly imperiled by hidden horrors.


What I like about ACKS is the way it incorporates a military aspect into the role-playing. The world isn't all random events, and you get the sense that things happen for a reason there, even if you have no idea what that reason is.

Labels:

38 Comments:

Anonymous Brother Thomas April 16, 2015 12:24 PM  

I humbly request some board game recommendations from the readership. My family doesn't watch television and we enjoy playing board games. Any suggestions for "blue" board gaming? We'll be trying "Forbidden Desert" this upcoming weekend.

Blogger JartStar April 16, 2015 12:27 PM  

Brother Thomas, what ages? This is an excellent game:

Amazon.com: Forbidden Island

Anonymous Sevron April 16, 2015 12:30 PM  

I greatly enjoyed "Buck Rodgers and the Battle for the 25th Cebtury" when I was younger. It's like Risk on steroids. There are different types of units, and you have to fight across the inner Solar System. There's a solar system map where the planets and asteroids move, so you have to plan your interplanetary war efforts to properly account for the positions of the worlds. There are also leader tokens, which each has their own strengths and weaknesses.

Blogger Douglas Wardell April 16, 2015 12:34 PM  

Looks interesting. I just read a couple of reviews on ACKS and it sounds like they resolved some of the issues I've historically had with core D&D, plus expanded on the empire-building-type stuff which I always found lacking.

Anyone have an interest in running or playing in an online version of this or another RPG?


@Brother Thomas:

Depends, what do you like? Dominion and the expansions are good if you like CCG-like games and drafting decks, though it eventually becomes a game of whoever goes first wins once everyone gets good. Munchkin is good for a party game. Puerto Rico is worth trying if you are more strategy-minded.

Blogger JartStar April 16, 2015 12:53 PM  

Yes, the Kickstarter game looks cool . Only 2 RPGs I've played stood out as both an RPG and an Empire Builder. Basic D&D with the Rules Cyclopedia book had it all; levels 1-36 and rules to build and manage domains. The second, not as simple was the Birthright Campaign setting.

Blogger ajw308 April 16, 2015 12:57 PM  

@Douglas, Last Saturday I was out looking for a new game to throw into the mix of my son's fun education. Puerto Rico looked like a good candidate, but ended up not buying anything.

I may just go back and grab that one.

I was also surprised at the popularity of the new Star Wars mini ship game. About 1/3 of the guys playing that in the big back room were GI. That looks good too, but the additional ships looks like it could be a money sink, not that that's a bad thing.

Back to the kickstarter, I went and looked at the page, for a reasonable donation, you receive something of value. It's a good deal if one's inclined to help, play RPG games, or know someone who does.

Anonymous Athor Pel April 16, 2015 1:26 PM  

" Brother Thomas April 16, 2015 12:24 PM
I humbly request some board game recommendations from the readership. My family doesn't watch television and we enjoy playing board games. Any suggestions for "blue" board gaming? We'll be trying "Forbidden Desert" this upcoming weekend.

"



Go here.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/

Anonymous A.B. Prosper April 16, 2015 1:28 PM  

ACKS the system Auran uses is a modification of the old Basic/Expert system. Its solid, easily compatible with older material and offers quite a bit of new subsystems for proficiencies, mass combat, and kingdom building as well as a balanced spell and character class creation systems in the companion volume. It also has one fit thoroughly planted in history with prices, armies and a lot of stuff that is actually quite impressive in game with a D&D level of abstraction.

The only caveat is that it uses all the old legacy junk from the thief class, the low percentage chance of success, feeble hit points and rules from such things as lockpicking where understandable when originally written but IMO just are not very good.

Its still a good game though.


Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis April 16, 2015 1:38 PM  

I humbly request some board game recommendations from the readership. My family doesn't watch television and we enjoy playing board games. Any suggestions for "blue" board gaming? We'll be trying "Forbidden Desert" this upcoming weekend

Hard to tell what exactly you mean by blue board gaming since board games generally liver and die by their mechanics and I haven't seen any games that factor any of the social justice points into games for the most part. The only one I can think of that of the top of my headcould be construed that way is Munchkin, which allows for gender and race swapping and has a monster that ignores women characters and only attacks male characters, but at the same time I believe there is a monster that does the inverse as well. And frankly Munchkin is a fun game to play with people so I'm not going to knock it. Either way I think you need to clarify what you mean by blue? A game with no women warriors, a game that doesn't force social justice political message, a game that doesn't add random conditions that boost those losing to make the game more even/fair?

As far as recommendations here are mine:
Battle Lore 2nd Edition Two player only game best described as a miniatures light. The miniatures are high quality, the two factions feel very different in their abilities, and it comes with multiple terrain scenarios that allows for multiple play iterations.
Lords of Water Deep + the expansion Despite the D&D theme the game is very easy to Grok and does something most board games don't do well which is scale well depending on the number of players. Too many games say 2-6 but really only should be played with 3-4, or 2-3 etc.
Battle Line Two player game, it's pocker meets ancient warfare. A simple game that ends up having a lot more thinking and planning involved than you think.
Ticket to Ride Good intro to board gaming game for kids and non gamers while still be entertaining those who are seasoned.
CarcassoneBuild a world as you go and score points by occupying certain territories. East to learn and fun to play.
Shadows over Camelot A game where everyone is a knight of the round trying to defend Camelot from Barbarian invaders, the Black Night, a besieging army and a fell dragon. Completing quests and earning good points before they are overrun or the round table is filled up with evil points. There is also a twist where one of the knights could turn out to be a traitor. A good game if you like to play games where you are not sure who is an ally and who is not.
Coup Very simple game of bluffing. Each round lasts about 10 minutes.

If you like games where the theme is strong and don't mind okay mechanics then
Fortune and Glory Indianna style world treading game where you go on adventures and can punch the vile organization (Nazis/Mobsters/Crimson Hand) in the face.
Last Night on Earth Zombie survival game, one side plays the zombie and the other some towns folk trying to survive an outbreak of the undead.

OpenID jeffro April 16, 2015 1:54 PM  

"Blue" games will emphasize direct conflict, consequences, winning & losing, and not try to soften the blow of losing by adding a fog over the game that makes it so chaotic that player skill is not actually perceptible. They are "real" games, not some kind of multiplayer solitaire.

Carcassonne looks like a drab Euro game, but when played competitively it becomes brutal.

Pandemic seems like a cream puff cooperative game, but the hard line between winning and losing can really bring pink-leaning and blue-leaning players to the table.

Classic rpgs like Moldvay Basic D&D (and Alexander Macris's ACKS) also play to both sides by appealing to small unit raid tacticians, method actors, and world builders alike.

For a meaty game that is more to the "blue" end of the spectrum and that has a learning curve that is low enough that finding players is not as much of a problem, I recommend Commands & Colors: Ancients. The wooden blocks are gorgeous, the historical scenarios are informative, and the in game tactics are dramatic and fun. The fact that it is often not balanced means that players of varying skill levels can really go at it without one side having to pull their punches.

Blogger bob k. mando April 16, 2015 2:18 PM  

if you want to get into war boardgaming, Sink the Bismarck is a good entry level game that keeps the unit count from getting insane, especially on the German side.

Blogger Joshua Dyal April 16, 2015 2:27 PM  

Carcassonne looks like a drab Euro game, but when played competitively it becomes brutal.

Heh. Had some major drama at my house several years ago when I completely trounced the field at Carcassone and my mother-in-law was all upset. I've had a hard time getting anyone in the household interested in playing again, even if we house-rule away the effects of the fields.

Anonymous Pope Cleophus I April 16, 2015 2:30 PM  

@Brother Thomas

- The Mayfair railroad games British Rails, North American Rails, Lunar Rails are all good fun for a few hours.
- Settlers of Catan (the basic game supports 4 people and there is an add-on for 6)
- Merchants of Venus (old Avalon Hill game) that is easy to play and can support 6 players

These all have defined endings and play in around two hours or so.


Anonymous roo_ster April 16, 2015 2:31 PM  

Ran an RPG in a similar setting way back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. I much prefer such a setting to the usual high medieval settings.

Anonymous Eric Ashley April 16, 2015 2:41 PM  

Douglas Wardell, I run Multiverser as 'Worldwalker' at RPOL.net.

Just started playing in a Birthright campaign. We raided as Vikings without permission, so our lord demanded most of the loot. So we hired an assassin to kill him....now his son is raising taxes fifty percent, and we're fomenting rebellion.

As to board games....

Timeline...simple history trivia game with a very simple mechanic, place the beautiful cards before or after the initial card. Learn a lot of surprising things like when the toothbrush was invented....1708???

Munchkin...yes. Its popular enough that you can get Star Munchkin, Pathfinder, Legends, Axe Cop, Martial Arts....and more. I have about four of them. You may want to flip through the cards first to remove one or two.

Mayfair Railroad games use crayons and the building of rails lines for cost, and the delivery of goods for profit. Its a good way to learn more geography. They have a lot....Empire Builder, Eurorails, India Rails, British Rails, Nippon Rails, Russian Rails....and if you want to get fantastic....Lunar Rails, Mars Rails, and Iron Dragon.

Settlers of Cataan is considered along with Ticket to Ride and I think Carcasonne as the three intro games to Euro gaming. Your villages produce products if the area adjacent to them is rolled, and if you have the right combo of products you can build a road, and then at the end of the second road, another village, which will then help you as that gives you more items to get on the dice roll.

Chrononauts is a card game of time travel. The board is a set of laid out cards covering Causes and Effects. You can travel back in time to save the Lusitania which then has possible multiple effects. You can then fix those paradoxes, and create an alternate timeline that you came from, and win. Or there are a couple other ways to win.

Humerous, educational, will need a large clear table to play.

Sushi Go...very simple game. My five year old niece loves it. Take your hand, take one card, pass the hand to the left. Whoever once all cards are used has the best combo of wasabi sauce and egg rolls and what not wins.

Very quick game. Buy it if you want to take your kids to a Japanese restaurant for the first time.

Anonymous Yuanti April 16, 2015 2:42 PM  

Long time lurker, first time poster.

Easy to pick up games that are fun for gamers and non gamers:

Coup
The Resistance
Hanabi (cheap)
Love Letter (cheap)
King of Tokyo (or New York)
Robo Rally (don't take it serious)
Takenobu

Strategy games that are simple but require much thought (strategy):

Tigris and Euphrates
Space Alert

RPG style games:

Descent 2
Post Human (kick starting now, looks good)
Catacombs (weird printing runs but VERY simple game that is fun)

That is my A list recommends. All these games have been hits with casual gamers and non gamers, with the exclusion of the RPG and strategy games. Those ones you have to get the right people.

Anonymous anonymous coward April 16, 2015 2:53 PM  

I humbly request some board game recommendations from the readership. My family doesn't watch television and we enjoy playing board games.
The two I'd recommend after playing a bunch of boardgames are "Race for the Galaxy" and "Bohnanza".

Anonymous anonymous coward April 16, 2015 2:59 PM  

P.S. Because 'Race for the Galaxy' is one of the few games that is ruthless, quick, different every play and yet highly dependent on player skill. Also works well for two players.

'Bohnanza' because it actually supports more than one strategy and metagame; playing with four people when players are following different metagame strategies is fun.

Anonymous bluto April 16, 2015 3:00 PM  

I think everyone I've taught to play Ticket to Ride and Blokus have enjoyed both.

Anonymous Brother Thomas April 16, 2015 3:11 PM  

Thanks for the input (age range early teens to 40s).

Blogger Aquila Aquilonis April 16, 2015 3:12 PM  

Are there any reviews of the ACKS system anywhere?

Blogger CM April 16, 2015 3:12 PM  

Munchkin - i so badly want the baby oil card framed over our changing table.

We have been playing King of Tokyo. Our 5-6 year old loves it. Its mostly dice rolling, but has some strat built in With risk assessment and consequences.

OpenID jeffro April 16, 2015 3:23 PM  

Aquila,

I have reviewed ACKS for Castalia House here: http://www.castaliahouse.com/review-adventurer-conqueror-king/

That was just based on a read through, which is considered bad form in rpg reviewing.

This post of random thoughts after playing a great many hours was referred to as a review by my gaming pals: http://www.castaliahouse.com/a-few-observations-about-the-adventurer-conqueror-king-system/

That second one actually got a lot more attention and discussion...!

There is also a review of ACKS Dwimmermount at CH along with some session reports.

Blogger S1AL April 16, 2015 3:27 PM  

Brother Thomas -

The Classics:

Acquire (easy for anyone to learn, deep strategy)
Settlers of Catan (a bit more advanced, but scales with the player's abilities)
Axis and Allies (much more complex)


I also recommend Risk: Legacy. It's a one-of-a-kind board game in that the board and factions develop over time. Several long-time players I know said it was the most fun they've ever had playing a board game.

If you want the high-strategy stuff, Puerto Rico is good. Everyone should play Go at some point.

Beyond that most recommendations depend on taste. Some people like wargaming, others don't. Some people like everything, while others prefer to focus on a few games over several years.

Anonymous Pope Cleophus I April 16, 2015 3:58 PM  

I forgot Illuminati from Steve Jackson Games it's boatloads of fun for the Nephews of God.

Blogger tweell April 16, 2015 4:35 PM  

Somewhat OT
Howard Tayler has a kickstarter going for a RPG adaptation of his webcomic www.schlockmercenary.com, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/howardtayler/the-planet-mercenary-role-playing-game

If you haven't looked at his webcomic yet, expect to lose a few hours. Schlock Mercenary has been a daily for 15 years, and was the universe setting for John Ringo's Troy Rising series.

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis April 16, 2015 5:45 PM  

"Blue" games will emphasize direct conflict, consequences, winning & losing, and not try to soften the blow of losing by adding a fog over the game that makes it so chaotic that player skill is not actually perceptible. They are "real" games, not some kind of multiplayer solitaire.

Ah, so basically not games like Dominion, though there is some player conflict, or Machi Korro, or Iron Forge.

Note: do not get Machi Koro or Iron Forge.

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis April 16, 2015 5:50 PM  

Sushi Go...very simple game. My five year old niece loves it. Take your hand, take one card, pass the hand to the left. Whoever once all cards are used has the best combo of wasabi sauce and egg rolls and what not wins.

+1 for Sushi go.

I also have both King of Tokyo and King of New York. Both are good games though kings of New York has more components which make it more interesting in my opinion.

I'm personally not a fan of Vanilla Catan, hate it in fact, but it is a very easy game to understand and most everyone I have played it with like it.

Anonymous Will Best April 16, 2015 6:08 PM  

My board game group of friends typically plays the following
Smallworld, Dominion plus expansions, Princes of Florence, 7 Wonders plus expansions, Settlers of Catan, Powergrid, Munchkins plus expansions, Stone Age.



Blogger Douglas Wardell April 16, 2015 6:14 PM  

Eric Ashley April 16, 2015 2:41 PM

Douglas Wardell, I run Multiverser as 'Worldwalker' at RPOL.net.


Interesting. Play by post seems like it would be kind of slow, but how do you find it? I had more in mind something like a Google Hangout, possibly using some sort of virtual tabletop (maybe First Sword when it's released if it can be used that way).

Also, I don't know how I've not heard of Multiverser before. The premise sounds awesome.

Blogger CM April 16, 2015 6:23 PM  

kings of New York has more components which make it more interesting in my opinion.

We'll have to check that one out!

My personal favorite is asian style mah jong but i don't see enough of my family at s time to play it as often as i'd like :p

Blogger Feather Blade April 16, 2015 7:26 PM  

Ticket to Ride is excellent, there's a whole bunch of strategising you can do with that one, and the game mechanics are easy to learn.

Agricola isn't bad either, but if you don't manage your resources well early in the game, you will fall behind, and there's not much you can do to catch up. ... actually decent for teaching the economic importance of getting married and having kids early XD

Anonymous Mr. A is Mr. A April 16, 2015 7:35 PM  

Pandemic + On the Brink (1st expansion); Splendor (resource acquisition card-and-token game that plays quickly; rules are easy to master); Agricola (15th Century competitive resource acquisition game; game changes as you add players-- 2 to 5)

Anonymous Mr. A is Mr. A April 16, 2015 7:42 PM  

@Douglas Wardell
Interesting. Play by post seems like it would be kind of slow, but how do you find it? I had more in mind something like a Google Hangout, possibly using some sort of virtual tabletop (maybe First Sword when it's released if it can be used that way).


Our online gaming group uses Roll20.net. It supports audio, video, maps, tokens, and the base system is free. Essentially runs through Google / Hangouts. You can pay a subscription of additional features, though we do just fine with the free version.

Anonymous Anubis April 16, 2015 8:49 PM  

I was disappointed to find out that the new DND edition lacks create water, create food/water, leomond's secure shelter, continual light and some other essentials. A 20th level party would have a harder time crossing a desert to an area they are not familiar with than fighting a dragon. Your 8 member 20th level party used its last torch in a dungeon.

"blow of losing by adding a fog over the game that makes it so chaotic that player skill is not actually perceptible."
For some reason women have trouble understanding that changing the rules to add chaos lowers the skill cap.

Blogger Blume April 16, 2015 9:08 PM  

Fortunes and glory. Indiana Jones style pulp adventure. I play the Russian mad scientist a role play it add a series of clones.

Anonymous Godfrey April 16, 2015 10:38 PM  

"Blue" board games would be games that portray males and females with natural complimentary traits. Female characters would be feminine. Male characters would be masculine.

Anonymous Eric Ashley April 17, 2015 1:55 PM  

Douglas, no maps, 5-10 minutes a day Monday thru Friday.

Its different. Not so much slow as just different. Its a grace note in the day.

Agreed on the awesome.

Post a Comment

Rules of the blog
Please do not comment as "Anonymous". Comments by "Anonymous" will be spammed.

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts