Over at nerdNYC, Deliverator reminded me
to post at S-G about the Kickstarter for a game I'm helping create
, the Adventurer Conqueror King System.
The goal of ACKS is to support all the kinds of things players have wanted to do in my White Sandbox campaign, some of which I talked about in my Canon Puncture advocacy of OD&D
- dungeon crawling, wilderness exploration, spell research, stronghold building; devising heists to rob a giant's treasury, then investing the proceeds in mercantile ventures, recruiting an army for mass combat, or blowing it all on wine, women, and song. It reflects years of steeping in the old-school renaissance by myself and lead designer Alexander Macris. Co-author Greg Tito has been a PC in campaigns run by both Alex and myself and keeps us on track for making sure this is going to be fun for players, just as I keep Alex's simulationist, world-building tendencies focused through my own oracular power of dice improvisational style.
For me, the promise of ACKS is that because its tables thoroughly encode an integated economic backbone, I can discover the setting at the same time the players do and still have the results add up to the kind of imaginary space that's consistent enough with itself and with real world intuition that players can get enough traction to anticipate the likely outcome of their schemes.
I think it's not entirely wack to say that ACKS also fulfills the promise of the original fantasy roleplaying game. Everything that we're doing is tantalizingly implicit in the early-70s notes Arneson published as the First Fantasy Campaign, rudimentarily worked out in OD&D, elaborated inbetween all the baroque ornamentation of AD&D's Dungeon Master's Guide, and done a boxed set at a time in B/E/C/M/I. What we've done is to use the advantages of modern scholarship to reconcile some inconsistencies in Arneson's starting assumptions, and then re-build the framework that governs everything from hiring a henchman to building a wizards' tower so that all the activities that revolve around gold - and one of the key insights of the OSR is that gold is a nearly universal way of making all player goals concrete and achievable in a discrete set of steps - hang together so that the progress of a campaign from buying war-dogs to equipping an army flows organically from player choices on how to spend their treasure, not as a pre-defined "end game".
ACKS is a second-wave retroclone, not a fantasy heartbreaker. That is to say that, rather than assuming folks are going to give up playing the game that's burned into their cortexes already for the sake of something that's much the same plus a few design innovations, we build on the work of the first-wave retroclones (which reverse-engineered the d20SRD to make it possible to publish stuff compatible with specific older editions) to produce a specific classic play experience. Second-waver LotFP's focus is encountering the Weird; the DCCRPG's is emulating '70s Appendix N fiction; ours is supporting the flow of a campaign from start to finish, and all the activities that entails.
If this sounds like something you're into, check out our Kickstarter - if you know someone for whom this might be their cup of tea, spread the word! Your help is much appreciated either way.