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Adventurer Conqueror King System

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    Rules for Roleplaying in a World of Swords, Sorcery, and Strongholds

    Introduction

    It is an age when empires totter on the brink of war, and terrible monsters tear at the fragile borderlands of men; when decaying cities teem with chaos and corruption, where nubile maidens are sacrificed to chthonic cults and nobles live in decadent pleasure on the toil of slaves; when heroes, wizards, and rogues risk everything in pursuit of glory, fortune, and power. These are days when adventurers can become conquerors… and conquerors can become kings!

    About the Game

    The Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) is a set of rules for role-playing in a world of swords, sorcery, and strongholds, where you take on the role of an adventurer in an imaginary land drawn from the epics and legends of the past.

    The Adventurer Conqueror King System provides a complete toolkit for enjoying a wide variety of heroic fantasy settings. It covers character creation, spells and magic, encounters and combat, monsters and treasure, and all the associated game mechanics necessary for swords-and-sorcery adventure.

    Whatever setting your adventures inhabit, with the Adventurer Conqueror King System, you can seek fame, wealth, and power by conquering foes, gathering treasure, and accumulating land and followers. If you are skilled and lucky, you may rise to become a mighty overlord, a wizard-king, or theocrat, holding the destiny of thousands in your hands. If not, the wages of your adventures will be merely death…

    How to Use This Site

    This site contains the complete rules of the Adventurer Conqueror King System, organized into the following parts.

    • Home (this page), explains the concept of role-playing and defines the most important terms used in the rulebook.
    • Characters provides numbered, easy to follow steps to create a player character, along with lists of equipment.
    • Equipment provides prices and statistics for the various weapons, armor, and other equipment available in the game.
    • Proficiencies details the various proficiencies that characters may acquire, along with information on the game mechanics of all proficiencies.
    • Spells lists the various spells that different characters may learn and cast, along with a detailed description of each spell’s effect in the game.
    • Adventures provides rules for exploration, encounters, and combat in the dangerous and violent world that the player characters will adventure within.
    • Campaigns covers the long-range pursuits of characters as they adventure, including conducting magical research, building strongholds, and establishing domains and realms.
    • Monsters contains a roster of over 100 creatures, some malefic and others benevolent, arranged alphabetically.
    • Treasure contains descriptions and explanations of the different types of treasure, including rare and wondrous magic items, which adventures may find.
    • Secrets provides guidelines for the Judge on constructing campaign settings, designing dungeons, and judging the game.

    The Basics of The Game

    Read this section carefully! These terms will be used through the rules of the Adventurer Conqueror King System.

    When a group of people sit down to play using ACKS, the participants are called players, and they take on the role of a character (or, sometimes, more than one character). Characters played by players are referred to as player characters (PCs) or adventurers. The players act in the role of their characters in the world designed and presented by a special game participant referred to as the Game Judge (or Judge for short). It’s the Judge’s responsibility to prepare ahead of time to give the players opportunities for adventure, and to judge the results of their choices during adventurers fairly and wisely. The Judge is the referee of the game, and the final arbitrator of rules and rules decisions. He also narrates the action of the game, and plays the roles of all the various monsters in the world. A special type of monster is the non-player character (NPC). NPCs share many similarities with the characters played by the players, but the Judge determines their actions, personalities, and motivations. PCs, NPCs, and other monsters are collectively called creatures.

    Characters have ability scores, which determine how strong, smart, and otherwise talented they are. Based on their ability scores, characters each will select a class, such as fighter or mage, which might be thought of as a profession, and which dictates what sorts of training and capabilities characters can develop. Characters have levels of experience, or class levels, which measure how well-developed and powerful they are. Player characters begin at 1st level in a particular class. Normal people, lacking the call to adventure, are generally 0th level characters.

    Experience points (XP) are used to measure the progress of characters through their class levels. These points are earned based partly on how powerful defeated monsters are, but mostly on how much treasure is found and returned to civilization by the player characters. As characters accumulate experience points through fighting monsters and gaining wealth, they will reach higher levels (2nd level, 3rd level, and so on). Gaining a level is a special occasion, because it incrementally marks your success as your alter ego. Each time a character gains a level, he becomes more powerful and capable of taking on the dangers of more exciting adventures.

    Monsters also have levels, called monster levels, which are a direct measure of how challenging an opponent the monster is. Likewise, spell levels measure how powerful a spell is. For instance, some spells are 1st level spells, and some are 2nd level, and so on. Monster and spell levels do not directly correspond to class levels; they are only a relative measure of the power of spells.

    As characters go up in level, one thing that changes is their number of hit points (hp). Characters gain more hp as they advance in levels, and this allows them to endure more damage and survive. Characters most often take damage from monsters while engaged in an encounter. An encounter is a situation in which the PCs and monsters are interacting. Time and movement are measured in detail during encounters, with actions resolved in a precise order known as initiative.

    A series of encounters connected by time, location, and player choices is called an adventure. An adventure is often used to describe one play session, but it may also be used in reference to a full scenario that may take several play sessions to finish. Many published adventures will use the term adventure and module interchangeably. When many adventures are strung together, often with the same characters in play, this is referred to as a campaign.

    Most adventures the characters undertake will initially take place in monster-filled dungeons, underground complexes that are stocked with many monsters, treasures, and treacherous secrets. Dungeons may be large or small, but they are usually underground locations that are determined and described by the Judge. While the Judge may design these areas, published pre-made dungeons might also be used. Dungeons are divided into dungeon levels. A dungeon level could be thought of as a floor of a building. When characters travel into the top-most level of a dungeon, they are in the level closest to the surface of the earth. If the dungeon has multiple levels, the next level down is the second level, then the third, and so on. The deeper the dungeon level, the greater the dangers that await the characters.

    After many adventures, high-level characters will begin to construct strongholds, such as castles or towers.. Strongholds enable a character to attract followers and establish domains over which he exerts sovereign control. With careful play, a character may establish or conquer multiple domains and ultimately establish a realm. Being ruler of a vast realm is the ultimate goal of many characters in Adventure Conqueror King campaigns.

    Winning and Losing the Game

    No one “loses” when playing the Adventurer Conqueror King System. In the course of adventure, your adventurers will frequently die; this is a fact of the game, but it does not indicate failure or “losing” in the sense that someone loses at, say, a card game. One can measure “success” under the Adventurer Conqueror King System in many ways, such as acquiring treasure, levels of experience, or castles and followers. In some cases, a glorious death may be the greatest success!

    However, the one common measure of success that everyone should strive for is to have fun. Everyone can win at this game, because everyone can have fun playing it. So while a character may die, or riches may be lost, it is the game play itself that matters. Winning is in being able to suspend disbelief long enough to be immersed in the fantasy world you create with your party.

    Dice

    The Adventurer Conqueror King System primarily uses six different kinds of dice to determine the results of actions and situations, but these same dice might be used to generate numbers of varying ranges. These different dice and the terms employed to use and describe them are detailed below.

    The 20 sided die, or d20, is one of the most important dice in the game: it is used to resolve all attack and saving throws. As explained later, when making a throw, the die is rolled, and modifiers are then added or subtracted. If the total result equals or exceeds an assigned value, the roll is a success; otherwise it has failed.

    The 10 sided die, or d10, is used to generate numbers from 1 to 10; it is numbered 0 to 9, but a roll of 0 is counted as 10. A pair of d10s are also used together to generate numbers from 1 to 100, where a roll of 00 is counted as 100. The two dice should be different colors, and the player must declare which die is the tens digit and which die is the ones digit before rolling them! Rolling two d10s this way is called a percentile roll, or d100.

    The 4 sided die, or d4, is a special case. It is not so much rolled as “flipped,” and the number which is upright is the result of the roll.

    The other dice normally used have 6, 8, and 12 sides, and are called d6, d8, and d12. d6s may be made with either numbers or pips; it makes no difference which sort you choose.

    When multiple dice are to be rolled and added together, it is noted in the text like this: 2d6 (roll two d6 dice and add them together), or 3d4 (roll three d4 dice and add them together). A modifier may be noted as a “plus” value, such as 2d8+2 (roll two d8 dice and add them together, then add two to the total).

    NotationMeaning
    d2A result of 1 to 2 is obtained by rolling 1d6. A result of 1-3 = 1, and 4-6 = 2.
    d3A result of 1 to 3 is obtained by rolling 1d6. A result of 1-2 = 1, 3-4 = 2, and 5-6 = 3.
    d4Four sided die
    d6Six sided die
    d8Eight sided die
    d10Ten sided die, a “0” indicates a result of 10
    d12Twelve sided die
    d20Twenty sided die
    d100Percentile dice (a number between 1 and 100 is generated by rolling two different ten-sided dice. One, designated before rolling, is the tens digit. The other is the ones digit. Two 0s represent 100.

    Rolling and Throwing the Dice

    The Adventurer Conqueror King System has a variety of different systems and sub-systems that determine how situations are resolved. All of these various sub-systems rely on generating a randomized outcome by using dice.

    Rolling the Dice

    During the course of play, many situations will arise in which there are a range of possible outcomes. The players or Judge will make a roll of the dice to see which of the possible outcomes occurs. Thus, when a character meets a monster during an encounter, the Judge will make a surprise roll to see if either or both sides are caught off guard and a reaction roll to see how the monster reacts to the character, with results ranging from friendly to hostile.

    Likewise, when a character is in combat, the player will make an initiative roll to determine when he gets to act, with results ranging from last to first. When a character hits an opponent, the player will make a damage roll to determine how many hit points his target loses. When monsters begin to lose a battle, they will make a morale roll to determine if they flee, surrender, or stay and fight.

    To make a roll of the dice, you follow these steps:

    • Roll the appropriate die for the given situation.
    • Add any relevant modifiers to the number generated by the die.
    • Apply the total as required by the given situation.

    Sometimes a roll will be applied for an absolute result. For example, a damage roll is applied directly against the hit points of the target hit. Other rolls are relative to each other. For example, a character’s initiative roll is compared against the initiative rolls of other characters to determine who goes first during combat. An initiative roll of 6 has no absolute meaning other than being faster than an initiative roll of 5. Other rolls are compared to a table.

    Throwing the Dice

    One very common type of die roll is called a throw. A throw occurs whenever a character or monster is taking an action that will either succeed or fail. For instance, when a character attempts to strike an opponent in combat, his player makes an attack throw. When a character tries to avoid a catastrophic event, his player makes a saving throw. When a character attempts to open a lock or bash down a door, his player makes a proficiency throw. Most throws are resolved with 1d20.

    To make a throw of the dice, you follow these steps:

    • Throw the appropriate die for the action chosen.
    • Add any relevant modifiers to the number generated by the die.
    • Compare the total to a target value for the action, usually expressed as #+ (such as 12+).

    If the total equals or exceeds the target value, the outcome is favorable to the character. If the result is lower than the target value, the outcome is unfavorable to the character. The value required to succeed at different throws is usually based on the character’s class and level. For instance, fighters have easier attack throws than other than characters, while thieves have easier proficiency throws to sneak around.

    Example: Marcus has an attack throw value of 6+. When he makes an attack throw, he will roll 1d20, add any relevant modifiers to the die, and compare the total to his attack throw value. If it equals or exceeds 6, he will hit.

    If a particular throw is subject to a modifier that will always apply, it is often easier to record this modifier as an adjustment to the target value for the throw. Bonuses reduce the target value required, while penalties increase the target value required.

    Example: Joanna has an Open Locks proficiency throw of 16+. However, she has a Lockpicking proficiency that gives her a +2 bonus to Open Locks. For ease of play, Joanna can record her Open Locks proficiency throw as 14+, applying the +2 bonus as a 2-point reduction in the target value instead of modifying the die roll. Throwing the die and aiming for 14+ is mathematically identical to throwing the die with a +2 bonus and aiming for 16+.

    What Kind of Die Should You Use?

    The kind of die used for the various rolls depends on the riskiness and randomness of the situation character is facing. The rules will detail which die is used in each situation; below is some general explanation that will help frame the rules to come.

    In general, situations where the outcome is strongly influenced by both skill and fortune are resolved by using a twenty-sided die (1d20). Most throws use 1d20, with the usual target value for the throw being in the range of 10 to 20. When throwing 1d20, a modifier such as +2 or -3 has a significant but not overpowering impact on the outcome.

    Sometimes, the outcome of a situation will be heavily influenced by factors of skill or innate ability, with less scope for random chance. These situations are usually resolved by throwing or rolling a six-sided die (1d6). Surprise rolls, initiative rolls and many damage rolls use d6s. With a range of numbers of just 1-6, a modifier such as +2 or -3 makes a very big difference.

    Where a wide range of outcomes is possible, but some are much more probable than others, a roll of two six-sided dice (2d6) is used. A roll of 2d6 will generate a bell curve with common results centered on 6-8, and rare outcomes at 2-3 and 11-12. Reaction rolls and morale rolls both use 2d6. Monsters will generally react cautiously to adventurers, and generally stay and fight with moderate resolve, but may occasionally be very friendly or very hostile, fight to the death or flee in terror.

    Common Abbreviations

    Below are some of the most common abbreviations that will be found in this book or Adventurer Conqueror King supplemental books.

    AbbreviationMeaning
    Abilities
    STRStrength
    INTIntelligence
    WISWisdom
    DEXDexterity
    CONConstitution
    CHACharisma
    Other
    hpHit points
    shpStructural hit points
    HDHit Dice (or Hit Die)
    ACArmor Class
    XPExperience points
    PCPlayer character
    NPCNon-player character
    cpCopper pieces
    spSilver pieces
    epElectrum pieces
    gpGold pieces
    ppPlatinum pieces
    TTTreasure Type