Thursday, December 03, 2015

Recommended Kickstarter

I just backed an excellent RPG Kickstarter called Lairs & Encounters by Autarch. It's only $600 away from lift-off, so if you're any sort of gamer, take my advice, throw in, and put them over the top.
Lairs & Encounters is the ultimate supplement for fantasy RPG sandbox campaigns. Designed for use with the Adventurer Conqueror King System™ (ACKS™), it is readily compatible with other fantasy role-playing games built on the same core rules. In Lairs & Encounters you will find:
  •     More than 135 ready-to-play monstrous lairs - that's at least one lair listing for every possible monster lair mentioned in the Adventurer Conqueror King System. The lair listings are designed to be used both as dynamic points of interest that can be discovered while wandering through the wilderness and as obstacles to a would-be ruler’s attempt to secure land for a domain.
  •     New subsystems for sandbox play, including rules for populating 6-mile hexes with lairs based on the terrain and extent of settlements in the region, and rules for searching for lairs in the wilderness factoring in terrain density, aerial reconnaissance, splitting up to cover more ground (never split the party!), and more.
  •     Additional mechanics for monsters, including ability scores for monsters, proficiencies for monsters, and young monsters.
  •     A complete system for taming and training monsters, with details on the lifespan, roles, tricks, trained and untrained value, supply cost, training period, and the trainability modifier of every monster in the game. 
  •     A complete system for creating your own unique monsters. In the ACKS Player's Companion we gave you mechanics to create balanced new character classes and new spells; now we bring our same rigorous attention to balance and customization to monsters.
It's roleplaying with a wargame flavor. Reminds me a bit of fantasy Traveller.



Blogger The Kurgan December 03, 2015 8:06 AM  

Dammit man, you need to share your cloning technology with other masters of evil! I can't even keep up with your posts, never mind my own nefarious schemes!

Blogger Physics Geek December 03, 2015 8:18 AM  

"Reminds me a bit of fantasy Traveller."

For the record, I still have my Traveller books lying around my house, along with my complete collection of original, 1st edition and 2nd edition D&D books.

Blogger Salt December 03, 2015 8:20 AM  

Evil Overlord? Hahaha. That has Vox written all over it.

Blogger Gaiseric December 03, 2015 8:21 AM  

For the record, I still have my Traveller books lying around my house, along with my complete collection of original, 1st edition and 2nd edition D&D books.

Which Traveller books? I have the original black book, but I somehow inherited a fairly comprehensive MegaTraveller collection too. I've only played it a handful of times, but it's fun reading.

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau December 03, 2015 8:52 AM  

I used to have a fairly nice traveler campaign. My gaming group in college was run by a professor who beta tested for GDW and we played the Ashanti High Lightning several times.

I didn't really like the setting of traveller and just created my own Universe based on Classic BSG with the names changed to keep Glenn from sueing. I ported it to Tracy Hickman's Starshield Online Campaign back in the 90's as a minor empire.

I loved Traveller more than D&D back in the day as I'm more sci-fi than fantasy. My manuals are all lost somewhere back at my dad's house. I widh someone would republish the rules and modules.

OpenID jeffro December 03, 2015 8:53 AM  

ACKS is one of the best designed rpgs on the market.

Blogger Nate December 03, 2015 9:05 AM  

The nerd is over 9000.

Blogger MidKnight (#138) December 03, 2015 9:55 AM  

I never got the original black books, but stumbled into the full "Traveller Book" - Traders and Gunboats, High Guard, Mercenary, etc. were a given after that....

Blogger MidKnight (#138) December 03, 2015 9:56 AM  

You can also get the complete CT on DVD from Far Future Enterprises.... including rules/etc. for all the derivative games, and Striker rules

Blogger MidKnight (#138) December 03, 2015 9:59 AM  

Also - I've run 4 sessions of ACKs within the Sakkara module, starting from when the final beta PDF's were available. It's been a blast.

Blogger pdwalker December 03, 2015 11:33 AM  

@6 Jeffro: What makes you say that?

Blogger Gaiseric December 03, 2015 12:14 PM  

@11: Here's the product blurb: "Autarch's Adventurer Conqueror King SystemTM fulfills the promise of the original fantasy role-playing game by providing comprehensive, integrated support for play across all levels of a campaign. Any referee who has ever checked for random encounters, and every player who has rolled a twenty-sided dice to hit a wandering monster, will find the rules of Adventurer Conqueror King as elegant, familiar, and comfortable to wield as an heirloom sword. The system's cutting edge is the way every table, chart, and assumption in the game encodes Gygaxian naturalism, Arnesonian barony-building, and the designers' own experience of hundreds of sessions playing and running old-school games. With Adventurer Conqueror King, you get both the verisimilitude and consistency of thorough world-building with the power of improvisation and discovery through play. We look forward to seeing what you do with these tools!"

That's not really up my alley exactly; I'm more a fan of the 0e or B/X style with rules that aren't so wonky. But for those who's preferred playstyle if caters to, I've heard nothing but good things about ACKS.

OpenID jeffro December 03, 2015 12:16 PM  

1) It makes the sketchy domain game elements of AD&D into a first class element of B/X D&D. In other words, it takes the most played version of D&D as its chassis and then solves longstanding game design issues related to the least played aspects of the game.

2) With the Player's Companion, you get what is essentially a GURPS-like build system for the games classes.

3) With Domains at War you get a "Commands & Colors" style miniatures rule set that can accommodate pretty much anything from the game. High morale units lead by clerics behave differently than Roman-type legionnaires which behave differently from the mobs of beast men. This is a 3d6 in order game by default, but fighters will be glad to have high stats in things besides strength and constitution because they will matter a great deal in this context.

4) The best megadungeon on the market: Dwimmermount. This masterpiece is infused with themes and material inspired directly from the Appendix N books-- including a very big nod to A. Merritt. Also, people will play it long after the snacks are gone.

5) The proficiency system makes sense of the differences between player characters, zero level humans, and npc "specialist" types.

6) Clerics don't get spells at first level and thieves have d4 hit dice... which is the CORRECT way to play D&D. However, if that doesn't suit you players can also choose to play the Priestess and the Assassin class right out of the box. Having balanced alternatives to these often house-ruled classes shows what you should really have to give up in order to get what people *think* they want here.

7) The cleave rules make fighters the premier class of the game. Extra proficiencies tend to make mages better at their thing, but their lack of cleave skill keeps them in their place. The proficiency system puts things that are commonly house ruled into play in a place where the players have to give something up to get them. (Stuff like a cleric type cantrip, doing extra damage on a natural 20, and being a little better at a particular thief skill.)

8) The initiative system strikes a good balance out of the zillion ways it could be done. Players roll for it individually, but monsters of the same type roll as a group. This speeds things up... and allows the high dex thief character to have a chance to shoot the enemy mage with his crossbow, saving the party from instant TPK. Just as the cleave rule makes the fighter into a force to be reckoned with, this particular rule gives the thief a chance to be awesome.

9) For an old school DM, this is a game that can do all the old stuff while holding up to the demands of the new crowd. The fact that this game somehow meets both old school and newer school requirements about halfway means that it can stick in practice. There's some kind of sweet spot this hits and people will play this game to death.

Anonymous Richardthughes December 03, 2015 12:18 PM  


Blogger pdwalker December 03, 2015 12:36 PM  

@12 Gaiseric: yes, it struck me as very old school D&D ish.

@13 jeffro: thanks for the feedback, from your description, it seems worth taking a longer look at. Time to draft the kids into service.

@14 Richardthughes: everyone should have one of those. say goodbye to reloads.

@5 Skylark Thibedeau: a traveller story - one day, we returned to my friends room where he had all his travelller books scattered under his turntable. I forget how many books there were, but there were over 20. My brain wants to say 50 because there were just so many supplements, guides, adventures, and other books. We noticed a funny smell coming from the pile and upon a closer look found that his cat had taken a dump on one of the books.

The book?

Animal Encounters

I shit you not.

Blogger Chris December 03, 2015 2:42 PM  

Far Future Enterprises also offers the newest version of Traveller v5 (not Mongoose version). It is an improved version based on the black books and much better.

Blogger Gaiseric December 03, 2015 2:58 PM  

yes, it struck me as very old school D&D ish.

Yeah, it's one of the flagships of the OSR, or so-called Old School Renaissance. I admit my own sense of being in touch with the industry right now is at a bit of a low the last 4-5 years or so, but I had thought that the originally kind of wild and woolly OSR movement had settled down, consolidated to a handful of "flagship" titles and generally lost a bunch of its initial burst of energy. But like I said, I don't pay much attention to it. My own tastes I tend to refer to as old-fashioned without being old school. A lot of the implicit assumptions about how the game is to be played were set in my in the very early 80s, often based on rules that were older still, but a lot of the specifics of how it's done often irked me.

Curiously, I've been reading Jeffro's Appendix N posts recently. I think at least in one respect he's wrong; fans of the genre of my generation, the original D&D generation, if you will, still read a lot of the material that was in the Appendix N. Almost everyone I knew who was a fan did. And it also sparked a renaissance of the books being back in print—of at least the most iconic of the works, anyway. I clearly remember seeing all kinds of Burroughs, Lovecraft, Howard, Zelazny, Farmer, Anderson, Moorcock, Vance, etc. being on book shelves in both my public library and my local book stores.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper December 03, 2015 4:49 PM  

Autarch has some good products and if you like Basic/Expert D&D and don't mind the slightly weird "throws" system variation, you'll love it

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau December 03, 2015 9:45 PM  

PD. That's pretty funny.

Blogger Herb Nowell December 03, 2015 9:48 PM  

Actually, I was very disappointed with their first three KS in terms of estimated time versus actual delivery (I exclude them from my disappointment on Dwimmermount as they weren't the primary party and pulled it out when he flaked) so I skipped the last one. I might look at this as the last one was more timely.

For anyone interested in old school RPG Kickstarters I heavily recommend following Sine Nomine Games (creator of the free "Stars Without Number" among others) and BRW Games (producers of "Adventures Dark & Deep") for quality product and timely delivery.

For someone looking to do any kind of RPG Kickstarter I recommend studying their work. It has always been released earlier than estimated. I see Autarch is taking a page from their book and having the manuscript completely written prior to the Kickstarter which is a good sign.

Blogger Robert Loblah December 04, 2015 12:46 PM  

They (Autarch) really turned things around in terms of timing on the last Kickstarter (the Sinister Stone of Sakkara). Looks like they've taken their lumps, learned their lessons, and upped their game. I enthusiastically backed Lairs & Encounters.

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