Thursday, October 16, 2014

Running Adventurer Conquerer King System (ACKS)

With my oldest two sons getting out of school early every Wednesday, I decided to run a few games that have been sitting on my shelf just collecting dust. One game I’ve always wanted to give a try is Adventurer Conquerer King System, a “neo-clone” that takes an OD&D base and adds some cool house rules, new classes, and a neat system of economics and domain management. It’s cool stuff and I may write at length about why I was drawn to ACKS to begin with.

My first hurdle to running ACKS was finding a suitable adventure. I’m traditionally a build-your-own rules kind of GM, but with adulthood comes way less time to design D&D stuff. Besides, I’m not sure that I fully grok all the trade modifiers, hex management, and other fun bits that ACKS brings to the party, so a pre-made dungeon of some kind would let me more effectively focus my prep time. I had set my sights set on Barrowmaze, another cool product I’ve been meaning to get some use out of, but I realized that I owned a megadungeon that was already written for ACKS, no conversion necessary: Dwimmermount.

If you’re not familiar, Dwimmermount was James Maliszewski’s OD&D megadungeon (of the late A printed version of Dwimmermount was funded on Kickstarter back in 2012, but it languished in apparent limbo after a series of unfortunate personal matters nearly killed it mid-creation. Thanks to the guys from Autarch, publisher of Adventurer Conqueror King, Dwimmermount is finally seeing the light of day, both for Labyrinth Lord and ACKS. While I’m still waiting for the ACKS version in print, what I do have is the final PDF, plus the PDFs of the illustration book, map booklet, and dungeon tracker. In other words, more than enough to run the dungeon.

The boys rolled up a single character each, a mage and a thief. Here are the background handouts that I wrote for their characters, based on conversations we had during character creation. These include information from the Dwimmermount rumor tables.

ZAZIK THE ARCANIST - 1st level mage (played by my 14 year-old son)
Background: You first learned of Dwimmermount during your apprenticeship at the Tower of the Silver Pentacle, where you spent countless hours studying dusty tomes in the order’s extensive library. The mountain fortress is supposedly sealed and locked from within, but if you could gain access, it’s likely one of the greatest unexplored depositories of lost knowledge in the world!

Lore Book: Before you left, you had Norson the bookbinder craft you a journal where you plan to record whatever lore you can learn from exploring Dwimmermount. On the first page, you’ve carefully written a few notes, gleaned from your research at the Tower’s library.
  •  Dwimmermount was the home of a number of portals to other worlds. A place filled with magic portals is unlikely to be totally sealed to the outside world. There must be more than one way in.
  • The Thulians, an ancient human empire tied with the history of Dwimmermount, were capable of hiding powerful curses in written words. Beware anything written on the wall!
  • It is further written that the Thulians somehow removed Dwimmermount from the sight of the gods. Cleric magic is likely weakened within the fortress.
  • Dwimmermount was mentioned in a list of the lineage of various dragons, suggesting that an entire brood of dragons may still nest there.
KILLIAN GOODPIPE* THE FOOTPAD (aka the Cave Snake) – 1st level thief (played by my 11 year-old son)

The Seven Snakes of Misdor
Most every sneak and pickpocket knows of the Misdor Vipers, an infamous gang of tomb-raiders who deal in antiquities taken from some of the world’s most dangerous ruins. The leaders of this shady organization are known as the Seven Snakes of Misdor, skilled thieves whose true identities are known only to one another. Each “Snake” carries a special medallion, a custom-made talisman in the shape of a mithril serpent. Supposedly, anyone who can slay one of the Seven Snakes and steal his medallion can take his place as a member of the Seven Snakes. The catch, of course, is that the Snakes are dangerous and secretive to the extreme. Finding out who they are is difficult; slaying them is even harder.

Background: Fed up with your mistreatment at the hands of your mentor, the Master Thief Crannok Coinspinner, you tailed him to a seedy inn near the outskirts of town to confront him. By the time you built up your resolve, it was well past dark. As you crept into Crannok’s dark room, you found that you were not the only person with a grudge against the Master Thief. Crannok was slumped over his bed, his wineskin on the floor next to him in a pool of purple liquid. He was apparently poisoned by his own personal supply of wine. Whoever did this must be a very skilled assassin indeed!
Clutched in Crannok’s fist was an even more shocking discovery: a mithril talisman in the likeness of a striking cobra. Without hesitating, you snatched up the medallion and fled. If you’re correct, your old master was actually one of the Seven Snakes of Misdor, and that means that you’re now in possession of a very dangerous object. You plan to keep it, and that means you’ll need to gather a strong group of like-minded individuals to protect you.
You have to make a bold move before Crannok’s assassin comes searching for you. Gathering up your gear, you immediately fled Misdor. Crannok often spoke of a place called Dwimmermount, a sealed fortress from ancient times, only a few weeks journey from Misor. If half of what Crannok suspected about the place is true, Dwimmermount could be the answer to your problems. First, of course, you’ll have to find a way inside. Crannok once mentioned a hidden back entrance, supposedly known only to a handful of dwarfs who reside somewhere in shadow of the ancient fortress.

*Killian’s last name, Goodpipe, was the creation of the 4 year-old, who was listening from the backseat as we discussed characters on the way home from school. No idea where that came from.

Next: Wednesday Dwimmermount, Session 1

1 comment:

  1. Nice backgrounds! I'm reading the ACKS version of Dwimmermount now. It's a great setting :). Good luck to your adventurers!