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.

I’m running online sessions via Google Hangouts and have set up a Community for the campaign (it’s a private group so you’ll need to ask to join):

When I get some free time I’ll create a campaign page like I did for my previous Affiliation game. For now, check out my Astonishing ACKS posts.

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Hyperborean Languages

I’ve started organizing information from my Astonishing ACKS campaign into actual pages on this gameblog. I’m posting this fragment today so I don’t misplace it…

All PCs are assumed speak Common and their cultural dialect. Degree of literacy depends on the character’s Intelligence score:

INT 8 or lower: Illiterate.
INT 9-12: Semi-Literate.
INT 13+: Fully Literate.

In addition, PCs can speak a second language based on their cultural background. Characters of Common/Mixed stock may select their second language, or if INT 9-12 can instead upgrade to full Literacy.

The following languages and dialects are common in my Hyperborea:

  • Common (Spoken across Hyperborea.)
  • Hellenic (“Old Common”; spoken by Amazons & Atlanteans.)
  • Old Norse (Spoken by Skandiks.)
  • Keltic (Kelts & Kimmeri-Kelts.)
  • Pictish (Picts and Pict Half-Breeds.)
  • Tlingit (Pict Half-Breeds.)
  • Kimmerian (Kimmerians & Kimmeri-Kelts.)
  • Thracian (Ixian and Subterranean Kimmerian dialects.)
  • Eskuit (Coastal and Tundra dialects.)

Keltic and Pictish are mutually intelligible, as are the Coastal and Tundra Eskuit dialects. Interestingly, so are the Thracian dialects spoken by Ixians and subterrannean Kimmerians.

In addition, there are a number of rare or secret languages that PCs may be exposed to:

  • Hyperborean (Can be selected by PCs with INT 16+)
  • Thieves’ Cant (Actually an instance of the Signaling proficiency.)
  • Druids’ Cant (Secret language of the Keltic Druids.)
  • Pnathic (Hissing, meeping language of the Ghouls.)
  • Valusian (Spoken in the Serpent Isles.)
  • Parseltongue (aka Ophidian; language of the Snake-Men.)

Hyperborea HR

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Gorilla Vikings


(Courtesy of Marvel Comics Planet of the Apes #26, found on Hunter’s POTA archive page, via Brutorz Bill.)

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The Many Faces of Xathoqqua

(I feel that I’ve neglected Xathoqqua thus far in my home campaign. Although I’ve provided house rules for followers of other deities, I haven’t shown the diversity available to disciples of the sloth-bodied toad god.)


As befits a deity of Chaos, the worship of Xathoqqua is split into many sects, the strongest of which is the Xathoqquan Orthodoxy based in Khromarium. Focusing on the Old One as the chief among Hyperborean deities, Clerics of Xathoqqua spread the faith and root out heresy.

Some servitors venerate Xathoqqua for his mystical insights. To his Sorcerer-Priests and Cultists, the Old One grants antemundane secrets from the outlying planets and realms extra-dimensional.

And there are others who recognize Xathoqqua in his aspect as the Frog God. Apostate priests and swamp Witches conduct strange ceremonies and croak obscene rites in the night under the light of Kyranos. (Considered heretical by the Orthodoxy.)

This post outlines the many faces of Xathoqqua, presenting custom classes, background templates, and spell lists…

Hyperborea HR Continue reading

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Kimmeria – Valley of the Five Fires


A world-building post today… Valley of the Five Fires is a Mongol-inspired sandbox-style module from New Big Dragon Games. (You can read the review at tenfootpole.)

I picked up the pdf when it first came out and have been thinking of how to integrate it into Hyperborea. My proposal – the Valley of the Five Fires is the Kimmerian ‘homeland’, and their legendary subterranean city of can be found therein.

Hyperborea HR Continue reading

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Voyage of the Altered Priest

It has been several months since our heroes’ adventures in Brigands Bay. Here’s what you’ve been up to (follow the numbers on the map):


(1) Turas Tem (in Brigands Bay), where Wulfgar gifted the Murderhobos with a knarr (sailing vessel) which the group named the “Altered Priest”. They gather a crew, but are unable to find a captain an navigator who can handle the open ocean.

(2) The Murderhobos sail to Khromarium, where they hire a captain and navigator, meet with the Lord of Secrets, and trade addictive lotus to a blind armourer who can work enchantments. The ship is provisioned for the long voyage to the Serpent Isles.

(3) Cape Calencia. This forested horn is peopled by mixed-blooded Picts. Their village is built on 40-foot stilts from which they remain ever vigilant to the threat of ape-men. Although their customs (particularly their eating habits) are rather eccentric, they are generally hospitable to your crew.

(4) Narath. After several days of sailing, you land on the Island of Narath. You hear shouts and howls from the dark woods – the island is inhabited by hostile cave-men – and observe luminous aurorae in the sky.

(5) Skarag Coast. For many days you are lashed by rain and wind. The ship is unable to land and you must spend each night fighting the waves. One of your sailors catches fever and dies. Once the weather improves you are able to rest on a small island at the edge of the Hyperborean mainland.

(6) After many days on the open ocean, you land at isolated island that is home to thousands of nesting birds. You gorge on their eggs. Atop a cliff you discover a giant idol of black basalt. The weathered statue depicts an insectoid creature.

(7) The storms return, and you must fight against heavy currents. The ship passes near a rocky island. Despite the howling of the wind, you can hear a beautiful voice calling from the rocks. You ignore it and continue on.

(8) After many weeks at sea – at the very rim of the world – you at last near the Serpent Isles! We will begin our next session when you are in sight of the Serpent Pillars…

Hyperborea HR

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I saw a juggalo downtown this afternoon. I’ve never seen one before “in the wild” (so to speak). It lent a surreal edge to the rest of the day.


He was reading a book; I didn’t get a chance to see the title. It got me thinking about scary clowns in general. Juggalos would make a good replacement for orcs in a gonzo campaign. I’m going to have to dig out my copy of ASE.


On an unrelated note, the Hyperborean Murderhobos campaign restarts next week.

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Wrath of the Ape King

I stumbled across another rotoscoped wonder from Gorgonaut, the creator of Exordium (which I praised earlier). This one is an earlier video, entitled “Mongrel & the Wrath of the Ape King“:

(There’s also a “prelude” video: Mongrel: Prelude to the Wrath of the Ape King)

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