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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Revisionist Theology Pt. 3 – Artemis

This is my third Revisionist Theology post, converting the Empyrean gods of the Auran campaign to the Greek gods of AS&SH.

Today I provide guidelines for Artemis. This one was tricky; Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, but I want to keep her followers distinct from Shamans and Druids.

I originally used Bladedancers to reflect followers of Ianna/Artemis. This revised version highlights archery and hunting, while still recognizing her martial skills.

Hyperborea HR

Artemis deity is associated with hunting, forests, hills, chastity, fertility, and independence. She manifests as a regal warrior-woman and is reputed to favour huntsmen and matriarchal societies. As the twin sister of Apollo, Artemis is said to dwell amongst the forests of Hyperborea – especially those of New Amazonia and the Floating Island of Paradoxon.

Artemis is served by Huntresses, Shieldmaidens, and Priestesses. Apollo and Artemis were both esteemed by the Hyperboreans of Old Earth, before the race turned to Xathoqqua. The pair are still often worshipped together – except by the Amazonians, who scorn Appollo.

Hyperborea HR

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Revisionist Theology Pt. 2 – Apollo

As I mentioned in a previous post, I now regret replacing the classical Greek gods of Hyperborea (Apollo, Artemis) with their Empyrean equivalents from the Auran campaign setting (Ammonar, Ianna).

I’m considering a ret-con, swapping all previous references of Ammonar and Ianna with Apollo and Artemis instead. This will bring the religions in my campaign closer to the “baseline” AS&SH Hyperborea.

Originally, I treated Clerics of Ammonar/Apollo as standard ACKS Clerics. This revised interpretation emphasizes inspiration and prophecy, with less focus on melee combat and the undead.

So here’s my revised take on Apollo and his followers…

Hyperborea HR

This deity is associated with light, healing, archery, swordsmanship, music, poetry, and prophecy. He is the twin brother of Artemis and is said to walk amongst men, oft feigning mortality as a golden-haired youth whose wont is to join the common ranks.

When depicted with the lyre in hand, Apollo is identified with music, poetry, and dance; with a bow, he is identified with death, distance, terror, and awe. Some scholars posit that Apollo has taken many mortal women as his lovers and that his demigod progeny are scattered about Hyperborea.

Apollo is served by Clerics, Bards, and Priests. Veneration of Artemis alongside Apollo is common, and the two faiths often work closely together. The pair were esteemed by the Hyperboreans of Old Earth, before the race turned to Xathoqqua.

Hyperborea HR

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Draining Characters of their Hard-Earned Gold

I’ve been running some low-level games for my kids lately. They’re really keen on knowing what they can buy with their ill-gotten loot. This came up as well in my previous Sakkara game, and I figured I should highlight “interesting things that you can buy for 1000gp or less”.

This post provides guidelines for revised armour costs, high-quality arms & armour, potions & quacksalves, and alchemical items in my Hyperborea.

In most cases, the standard Equipment Availability by Market Class still applies (ACKS Core Rules, p.40), so you’ll need to go to Khromarium to buy the good stuff.

Hyperborea HR

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Revisionist Theology Pt. 1 – Mjölnir

I’ve been running my Astonishing ACKS campaign for a few years now. I’m pretty happy with how things are going, and am glad that I’ve archived a lot of my thoughts on this gameblog, but there are a few things now that I wish I could go back and change…

One thing that I’ve wrestled with is how to represent Hyperborean gods using the ACKS rules. In some cases, I took the lazy route – swiping the deities from the ACKS Auran Campaign and dropping them directly in Hyperborea. This is how Türas – Auran god of justice & valour – ended up being conflated with Thor.

If I could go back, I’d like to replace Türas with Mjölnir in my campaign…

Hyperborea HR

Cleric of Mjölnir

Mjölnir

Thor fell in battle during Ragnarok, and is no longer worshiped by the Skandiks of Hyperborea. However, the legendary hammer Mjölnir was retrieved by his sons Móði and Magni. They now wield it against the otherworldly enemies threatening humanity.

Clerics of Mjölnir seek to emulate the strength of Móði, Magni, and fallen Thor. Devotion to this faith is strongly discouraged in Vikland itself, but is preserved on the remote island of Thur and has recently become popular in New Vinland and Brigand’s Bay.

Requirements: WIS 9+, STR 12+. Lawful or neutral alignment.
Custom Weapon Selection: Axes; swords/daggers; club, spear, warhammer. (“Narrow” weapon selection, plus one tradeoff for Broad Armour.)
Broad Armour Selection: Chain armour or lighter (including shields).
Two Fighting Styles: Weapon & shield, two-handed weapons.
Proficiencies: As Cleric; minus Righteous Turning, plus Endurance.

Granted Powers: Clerics of Mjölnir cannot Turn Undead. Instead, they are granted the following benefits:

  • Brute Strength: The Cleric of Mjölnir receives a +4 bonus on throws to open doors and similar acts of brute strength. (This is equivalent to the Dungeon Bashing proficiency.)
  • Otherworldly Enemies: The sons of Thor wield Mjölnir against eldritch horrors. Clerics receive +1 on attack throws against aboleths, crab-men, elder things, fish-men, the Great Race, mi-go, night-gaunts, spore-men, and tentacular horrors. At level 7, this bonus increases to +2, and at level 13 it increases to +3.

Spell List: Clerics of Mjölnir are Divine 2 casters with the following spell list:

Hyperborea HR

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Ysabel of Jörmungandr

In my earlier Stone of Sakkara game, I threatened the PCs with rival adventuring parties; specifically, the “Five Delvers” and the “Seekers”. Whenever the PCs left booty behind, they would return to find it looted by these enterprising competitors.

Now that the Murderhobos are based in Khromarium, they are again facing rivals in their delves. I re-used the Seekers (as recurring villains) and last session they finally met up with the PCs inside the dungeon.

Murderhoboism ensued and the Seekers were defeated – except for their leader, named Ysabel, who managed to escape. She’s gained a level now, and I’ve redone her stat block in Astonishing ACKS style…

ysabelYsabel was raised in the Skandik capital of Eriksgaard, but always felt different from others. Perhaps it was her keen intellect and compelling allure. Or maybe it was her snake-like eyes.

As a young woman, Ysabel decided to take a gap year to “find herself” in mainland Hyperborea. Landing in Brigand’s Bay, she caught the interest of cultists of Jörmungandr who recognized her as being “touched” by their god.

Inducted into their ranks, Ysabel found her true calling and rose quickly in power as a Cleric of the Midgard Serpent. She became obsessed with seeking out ruins and lore related to the ancient Serpent-Men, and formed an adventuring party (the Seekers) to support this cause.

Called by the Sinister Stone, Ysabel’s quest eventually led her to Türas Tem. Unfortunately, a group of ruthless brigands (the Murderhobos) were already active in the dungeon there. The fools thoughtlessly destroyed the ancient relic found therein, and Ysabel swore vengeance against them.

Ysabel was in Khromarium the following year, and heard a rumour that a group of “Murderhobos” had discovered an ancient Hyperborean facility. Paying off the guide who had led them to the site, Ysabel set out to the dungeon with her Seekers…

Character: Ysabel, 6th-lvl Skandik Cleric of Jörmungandr
Stats: STR:9 (+0), INT:16 (+2), WIS:13 (+1), DEX:12 (+0), CON:11 (+0), CHR:17 (+2)
Saves: Petrification&Paralysis:10, Poison&Death:7, Blast&Breath:13, Staffs&Wands:10, Spells:12
Combat: AC:5, HD:6d6 (24hp), Initiative +1, Base Atk 8+, Movement:90′ (30′)
Attacks: Mace (2H) (7+,1d8+1), Dagger (8+,1d4+poison), Dagger (thrown) (8+,1d4+poison)
Class Features: Ambushing (+4 Atk, ×2 dmg on surprise), Familiar (viper; bonus Battle Magic proficiency), Cast Divine Spells, Magical Research (minor)
Proficiencies: Snake Blood (infravision 15′), Combat Reflexes, Leadership, Seduction, Theology, Knowledge (Ophidian Lore)
Equipment: Chain mail (+1), marble-headed mace with cuneiform inscriptions (+1), dagger (coated with viper poison), silver unholy symbol of Jörmungandr, backpack (mirror, tinderbox, 6 torches, 2 small sacks, 1 weeks’ iron rations, waterskin), ring of invisibility, scroll (Cure Light Wounds, Resist Fire, & Cure Disease)
Encumbrance: 5½ stone; MV 90′ (30′) [encumbrance thresholds 5/8/10/20]
Divine Spells: 1st-lvl (2/day) – Command Word, Darkness, Spider Climb
  2nd-lvl (2/day) – Choking Grip, Hold Person, Silence (15′ radius)
  3rd lvl (1/day) – Hypnotic Pattern
Actions: Open Doors (18+), Detect Secret Doors (18+), Hear Noise (18+), Find Traps (18+)
Languages: Common, Skandik, Hellenic, Parseltongue [Literate]

Snake Totem: Viper; MV 90′, AC3, HD3 (hp 12), #AT1, D1d6+poison (death after 1d4+2 turns), always has initiative, Save C3 [Bonus proficiency: Battle Magic]

Hyperborea HR

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Hedge Wizards & Village Wisdom

frog_woodcutA quick post while I prep for tonight’s game… Autarch’s Patreon program releases monthly playtest documents (which are subsequently bundled into the Axioms releases). The latest one is entitled Hedge Wizardry and Village Wisdom and details cantrips and other minor magics.

It’s a neat implementation of folk traditions that fleshes out “peasant magic”. Not much of it really affects adventuring PCs, but I can see a few minor house rules that I might implement:

  • Antiquarian Tradition: Replace the 1st-lvl Antiquarian Witch “Healing” bonus proficiency with “Village Wisdom”.
  • Mages & Cantrips: Mages in Astonishing ACKS have the Overcasting special ability (from Axioms #1). Characters may substitute Hedge Wizardry, if they wish, to represent spellcasters from more humble backgrounds.
  • Dabblers in the Art: In Astonishing ACKS Hedge Wizardry may be selected as a class proficiency by Mages (including all subclasses), Thieves, Assassins, Warlocks, Xathoqquans, Bards/Skalds, and Spellfilches. Village Wisdom may be selected as a class proficiency by Clerics (including all subclasses), Beastlords, Monks, Valkyries/Shieldmaidens, Xathoqquans, and Purloiners.

If you haven’t already, you should check out the Autarch Patreon program and the already-published issues of Axioms.

Hyperborea HR

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Weapon Master Custom Class

Here’s a custom class that I put together a while back but forgot to post. The Weapon Master is a HD 1 / Fighting 3 variant who trades heavy armour and missile weapons for specialization with a favoured weapon.

  • Download: Weapon Master Class Description
  • Unlike some of my other custom classes, this one should work well in most campaign settings.

    Hyperborea HR

     

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