Astonishing ACKS!

I’m calling my current campaign Astonishing ACKS. It’s an old-school RPG mashup set in the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (AS&SH) campaign world using the Adventurer, Conqueror, King System (ACKS) ruleset.

Here’s the setting in a nutshell:

Hyperborea is the default campaign setting for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. This “flat earth” realm is hemmed in by the mystical boreas (“North Wind”), and under the scarlet light of a bloated, dying sun, its roiling seas spill eternal over the world’s rim. Hyperborea is in a perpetual state of decay, populated by disharmonious men, hostile monsters, and weird, alien beings.

To learn more about the campaign, use the menus at top and right (on the desktop view) or click on the following links:

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ACKS Vivimancer


Vivimancer Illustration Copyright 2014 Cadanse D., from the Complete Vivimancer

Continuing with yesterday’s biotech theme, I’m presenting an ACKSified version of the Vivimancer from Theorems & Thaumaturgy and the Complete Vivimancer.

Vivimancers (also known as fleshcrafters) are mages who study the arcane manipulation of biological life. They typically evince the qualities of cold, scientific inquiry and ruthless dedication; seeking, through their studies and experiments, to dominate the processes of life, twisting them to their own ends.

The Vivimancer takes inspiration from the opening story of The Dying Earth by Jack Vance. There we meet Turjan of Mir as he struggles to master the forgotten principles of life that will enable him to produce intelligent beings from his vats.

The class is built on my Specialist Mage chassis, with my favourite Vivimancer spell choices available as signature spells. In my campaign, Ophidians and Hyperboreans are the true masters of vivimancy, with human Vivimancers understanding only a fraction of the Ancient secrets.

Because of its extreme weirdness, the Vivimancer is really intended as more of an NPC class. Also, I would need to tweak some of the spells in play to reflect ACKS rules.

Hyperborea HR


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Hyperborean Biotechnology

engineer_armour_helmetI’m still on an Alien/Prometheus kick and am really digging the Hyperboreans as Promethean Engineers thing.

I’m thinking of playing up Hyperborean Biotechnology in my game. I’ve got a draft put together for an ACKS Vivimancer class, based on the supplements from Necrotic Gnome. It also gives me a chance to finally tie in some stuff from the 3e-era Chaositech sourcebook, which I’ve been meaning to use for over a decade now.

But let’s start with something easy, like armour…

Hyperborea HR

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Hyperboreans as Promethean Engineers

I did my very first Astonishing ACKS post over three-and-a-half years ago on the topic of Hyperborean Custom Classes.

HyperboreansAt the time, I had in my mind an image of the race from the Dark Horse Conan comics; specifically the Hyperboreans first shown in “Ashes and Dust” (depicted at left).

They were tall, gaunt, and pale – but looked sufficiently inhuman to be “weird”. They also fit well with the pointy-headed Melnibonean armour styles suggested by early Moorcock covers and the AS&SH artwork. (Not to mention early Warhammer High Elf imagery.)

Lately, however, I’ve been having second thoughts. What if the Hyperboreans look like the Engineers from Prometheus?


Hyperborea HR

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Sightless Serpent – NPCs

(We’ve started our next Astonishing ACKS adventure; I’ll post some of the NPCs here to help the players keep track of things…)

reimarReimar the Red (Scout): The Keltic scout is some 60 years of age, missing a hand, toothless, and blind in one eye. He wears a soiled red sash around his neck. Reimar discovered the lair of the Sightless Serpent in the Lug Wasteland and there recovered several valuable sapphires (subsequently spent on revelry). For a share of further gems, he will lead a party to the site.

basilisk_croppedThe Sightless Serpent: The Sightless Serpent is an 8-legged, 14-foot long unique basilisk; a garish and bloated monstrosity. There are no eyes in its massive skull; only deep empty sockets remain. When angered or disturbed, the creature weeps faceted pyramidal sapphires (each worth 100gp). Before it was slain by the Murderhobos, the Sightless Serpent lived within a limestone tor in the swampy Lug Wastes.

nill_rhultosNill Rhultos (Sage): A registered member of the Sage’s Guild of Khromarium, old Nill specializes in Hyperborean artefacts and lore. He charges the standard rate of 125gp per week for research and study and sometimes buys rare items if they interest him. He is known to operate discreetly and has friendly relations with both the Xathoqquan Orthodoxy and the Thieves’ Guild.

Hyperborea HR

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Back in Khromarium

Khromarium & Environs.jpg

At the end of the the Serpent Isles adventure, the PCs managed to escape via teleporter back to Khromarium. The surviving Murderhobos will now have an opportunity to recover and regroup, and I’ll need to get ready for their next adventure…

(The beautiful map above is by Glynn Seal and is from the AS&SH 2e Kickstarter. There’s still a week left in the campaign; check it out if you haven’t already.)

Hyperborea HR

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Saturn’s Hexagon

Saturn hosts a bizarre, massive hexagon at it’s northern pole:


The hexagonal cloud pattern is a persistent six-sided jet stream with winds above 300km/h. The sides of the hexagon are about 13,800 km long, which is more than the diameter of Earth.

So, basically, it’s the North Wind (Boreas) from Hyperborea, except bigger and on Kyranos (Saturn). (Oh; and also real life.)

I imagine the astronomers of Khromarium observing the pattern, wondering how it relates to their own hexagonal realm…

Hyperborea HR

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Specialist Hirelings

I spent some time creating potential hirelings/henchmen using my Astonishing ACKS house rules. The intent was to have a range of low-level specialist NPCs available for hire when the party needs a “wilderness scout” or “lockbreaker” or “healer/medic”, etc.

These hirelings are available for hire in Khromarium to the Hyperborean Murderhobos (my current adventuring group).

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