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:

Posted in Astonishing ACKS, Campaign Setting | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Brigand’s Bay Mud Flats

Short post today. I spent some time in Nova Scotia this summer and travelled along the Bay of Fundy:


I’m not really a “water person” – I grew up about as far as you can get in North America from an ocean – so the tides caught me by surprise. I mean, I had read about tides and how there were two of them a day – but it still blew my mind to see the shoreline slosh around so much.

It got me thinking a bit about Brigand’s Bay. Given the influence of Kyranos on Hyperborea’s weird astronomy, I can’t say what the tides would be. But I figure that the northern end of Brigand’s Bay is analogous to the Bay of Fundy, with a 15-metre tidal range.

Which means that Türas Tem looks like this twice a day during low tide:

Tidal Flat

(Good luck sailing through that shit.)

Hyperborea HR

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Purple Planet as Underborea

Peril on the Purple Planet

Peril on the Purple Planet is an excellent mini-campaign from Goodman Games. I got the boxed set as part of the Kickstarter, plus all the add-on modules (either in print or pdf).

I could run it pretty much as-is, as a distant world accessed via a portal or magical mishap.

However, I think that it could also be a good fit for Underborea. The Hyperborean Gazetteer describes Underborea thusly:

This is the mythic realm of legendry, a vast subterranean kingdom where dwell gods, dæmons, monsters, and otherworldly beings. Poets and madmen relate wild tales of vast cities populated by untold races. Although men of learning find wholesale acceptance of these claims troubling, they can agree that evidence supports the existence of subterranean societies of indeterminate origins, including the uncanny ghost-men called the oon.

Sounds pretty awesome, eh?

Hyperborea HR Continue reading

Posted in Astonishing ACKS, Campaign Setting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Astonishing ACKS – Skandik Deities

(This post has been brewing for a while – since the PCs were in Brigand’s Bay, in fact. I tend to view the Skandiks of Vikland as “asshole Vikings”, typifying the worst stereotypes from Old Earth history. The reason, I figure, is that their most powerful gods are complete dicks.)

The Skandiks on the whole have abandoned worship of the gods of Old Earth and have turned to the darker deities of Hyperborea. Their new sagas recount the tales of Ragnarök where Ymir and the frost giants (served by the ice-wyrm Yikkorth) stood triumphant over the old gods, with only the “chosen few” (namely, the Skandiks of Hyperborea) worthy to carry on in this age. Their religion is fierce and bloodthirsty, glorifying violence and victory in combat. Only the maligned followers of Türas remain as a throwback to previous days.

In addition to the Clerics described here, Skandik deities are served by Skalds and Valkyries, as well as some Shamans and Witches. Many non-Skandik Berserkers follow Ymir, and Cryomancers of all races oft observe Yikkorth. The snake-cult of Jörmungandr has made some inroads even in Vikland, while Khalk-Xu and Auroros are venerated by scattered cults in mainland Hyperborea.

Hyperborea HR

Continue reading

Posted in Astonishing ACKS, Campaign Setting, Classes, House Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

ACKS Grimoire – Xathoqquan Spells


(The following three spells are for followers of Xathoqqua. I’ve posted them before, but they were hidden in the comments.)

Hideous Laughter
Arcane 2 / Divine 2 (Xathoqqua) ench
Range: 30 ft
Duration: 1 round per level

This spell afflicts the target creature with uncontrollable laughter, forcing it to fall prone unless it makes a successful saving throw versus Spells. The target can take no actions while laughing, but is not considered helpless. After the spell ends, it can act normally.

Because hideous laughter relies on its target possessing a sense of humour, only sapient creatures can be affected by this spell. If the target creature’s type is different from the caster’s, it receives a +4 bonus on its saving throw versus Spells, because humour does not “translate” well.

(Adapted from ACKS Dwimmermount, p.337.)

Tadpole Transformation
Divine 2 (Xathoqqua)
Range: Self
Duration: 3 turns.

The caster’s body distorts into a disturbing human/tadpole hybrid. The character gains a swimming movement rate of 120′ per turn and may breathe water for up to 1 turn at a time.

Bottomfeeder Bond
Divine 3 (Xathoqqua) ench
Range: 60′
Duration: Special.

This spell reinforces the caster’s bond with the denizens of the swampland. Treat as charm monster, but only affects creatures such as amphibians, crocodiles, catfish, venomous snakes, biting flies, etc.

Hyperborea HR

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ACKS Grimoire – Mage Armour

(I think I’m on a roll. This one’s popular with Warlocks, since it stacks with armour.)

Mage Armour
Arcane 1
Range: self
Duration: 1 turn per level

The spellcaster speaks an arcane ward of protection and is surrounded by a shimmering nimbus. Attack throws against the caster are at -2.

Hyperborea HR

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ACKS Grimoire – Flame Blade


(I’ve got a few custom spells in play already; I figured I should post them online, so here’s the first one – flame blade is a Pyromancer spell that transforms the spellcaster’s weapon.)

Flame Blade
Arcane 2 elm(fire)
Range: touch
Duration: 1 turn

The caster must grip a scimitar to cast this spell. Upon reciting a sibilant incantation, flames spring from the blade. The flame blade functions as a +1 magical scimitar, +2 against regenerating or avian monsters and +3 against undead or plant-like monsters. The flame blade can also be used to ignite oil and other combustibles (cloth, paper, parchment, wood, etc.).

Hyperborea HR

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Revised Excel Character Builders

I’ve recently updated my Excel character creation tools for Astonishing ACKS. Linked below are the latest “Character Builder” files:

They’re Excel spreadsheets; you’ll need a version that can handle slicers (2007 and later, I believe). I’ve made two versions; one for 1st-lvl characters, and another for 2nd-lvl PCs (since most of my campaigns now start at 2nd).

The first “Options Summary” tab lists available classes and cultures for my Hyperborea. The second “Character” tab is the actual builder.

Provide your Name and Culture (from a dropdown menu); then input your Attributes. Next, pick a Class and Template – and a stat block for your character appears below.

(If you’re already familiar with ACKS you don’t need to pick one of the prepared templates; they’re just intended to speed things up – especially with equipment selection.)

These files are edited from the “ACKS Simple Character Generator”, by Miguel Zapico. Full credits go to him; I just fiddled with it to incorporate my Astonishing ACKS house rules.

Hyperborea HR

Posted in Astonishing ACKS, Classes, House Rules | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment