Friday, July 8, 2011

ACK! Adventurer Conqueror King (System)

ACK - it was inevitable...
ACK - Adventure Conqueror King System, another wordy sounding "I'm not a retro clone" game has shown up on the radar, with a name almost as unfortunate as Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying - which I tend to just abbreviate as LOTFP these days, and refer to it as Lamentations with the group - as in, "When we're done with this campaign, the next one will be back to using Lamentations rules".  So now I can foresee a future where we're referring to the ACK rules like so; "We're still using Lamentations for classes, but I love the ACK system for economics and dominions".  Maybe saying it A-C-K (Ay-See-Kay) will work.  (Hopefully it's as good as LOTFP too).

After seeing a note on Mule Abides, I started following the new blog for it here ( ).  It's been super interesting reading so far and I highly recommend checking it out; as a world builder I love systems that address background demographics and economics, and so far the designer has focused on tackling those issues right up front.  The post on "The demographics of heroism" is excellent.

It's funny, a few weeks ago I remarked how this is such an amazing time in the RPG hobby for D&D players - the suits have left the building, and in the post-OGL world we can build the games we want and redress the omissions perpetrated by the corporate machinery.  James can put his frisky Medusa art in LOTFP, and build a better thief and a better magic-user spell list and beat the tar out of the cleric with the nerf bat, and Goodman can wallpaper Rolemaster-style critical and spell effect tables all over the place, and now these ACK guys can put together a rules set that fulfills D&D's early promise about castle building and army building and ruling your own kingdom and having it all make sense.

Anyway - it's way too early to say whether we'd play ACKS or just borrow from it, and it's even unclear if they'll get off the ground (unlike a lot of hobbyists, they're going with a kickstarter event up front to raise money).  But I'm willing to check out any rules-set that marries old school D&D classes, sandbox gaming support, beaucoup random tables, and dominion economics (done right).  After playing LOTFP, the old school percentile-based thief is a drag, and so is old style encumbrance - I want to port that stuff into every D&D game I play.  I foresee people's home games becoming more and more like "Frankensteins", as designers create incremental improvements to old school D&D - we'll pick and choose the best rules bits and subsystems for home use, not married to any one rules set.

Good luck ACKS guys, it looks promising so far.

PS:  I didn't realize the Hill Cantons domain game was going to be a print product too - looks like there will be two supplements in the near future that support name level dominion play!


  1. the suits have left the building

    Love it. Exciting times indeed.

  2. Let's be fair: ACKS (which rhymes with "axe") is more metal (and thus, less unfortunate) than "Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying". ;)

    I too foresee a glorious future of LL/S&W/LotFP/DCC/ACKS mashups.

  3. Good one, ACKS = Axe is definitely less unfortunate than trying to say LOTFP WFRP.

    I gotta think if the whole kickstarter (sight unseen) is worth it - though I am going to Gencon and could crash the playtest party. But I like the idea of an old school game built to support the DM's world building efforts.

  4. Beedo, we're looking forward to seeing you at Gen Con!

    I agree that the foundation of the open game license and the work of the first-wave retroclones is going to make "Frankensteinian" gaming the way to go not only for home games but also for published systems. This is why I quibble that in talking about ACKS I don't think we've ever given off a "not a retroclone" vibe because being part of the retroclone gene pool is essential to doing this kind of mixing, which we've done a lot of already and expect you will carry further to your taste. I do want to talk about "not a fantasy heartbreaker" one of these days, because the idea there is that a heartbreaker expects you to give up playing D&D for something that's just like it except for a few innovations. In Ron Edward's original essay about fantasy heartbreakers he excludes things using the OGL; he didn't foresee retroclones but he did recognize the potential for taking those few innovations, grafting them onto the corpse of the thing you want to bring to life, and bringing the lightning.
    - Tavis

  5. Yep - the premise for ACKS was intriguing enough I took the KickStarter plunge and became an official supporter. Pretty amazing to see you guys already cleared your target goal (ie, the book will be made). Once I get a handle on the rules I'll put up a follow-up blurb with some first impressions - besides, now I want to see those mass combat rules!

    I'm sure I'll make it by the suite to see how the live play-testing is going.