Recently, I sent this email to my brother:
"""Hey! So I was cruising around looking at various game systems and came across this again. I have seen it before, but have now compared it in relation to all the other game systems coming out as of late. Recall our discussion of story based games? That's kind of what led me down this latest route. But The Adventure Conqueror King System isn't really a different mechanic than we are used to. In fact it's very much D&D-esque. Take a gander at its front page blurb:
"In a world of fallen empires, some relics of the past are good only for a beastman's bludgeon; others make ruin delvers rich. You may start out with no higher ambition than a sack full of ancient coins, but each gold piece you spend ties you into a dynamic realm of commerce and carousing, driven by the hidden engines of court intrigues and distant wars. As you grow in power, will you fight to hold back the darkness looming at the borderlands of an aging civilization, or will you pull down the last decadent barriers to the coming of a new dawn?
Autarch's Adventurer Conqueror King SystemTM fulfills the promise of the original fantasy role-playing game by providing comprehensive, integrated support for play across all levels of a campaign. Any referee who has ever checked for random encounters, and every player who's has rolled a twenty-sided dice to hit a wandering monster, will find the rules of Adventurer Conqueror King as elegant, familiar, and comfortable to wield as an heirloom sword. The system's cutting edge is the way every table, chart, and assumption in the game encodes Gygaxian naturalism, Arnesonian barony-building, and the designers' own experience of hundreds of sessions playing and running old-school games. With Adventurer Conqueror King, you get both the verisimilitude and consistency of thorough world-building with the power of improvisation and discovery through play. We look forward to seeing what you do with these tools!"
And if you doubt how D&D-like it really is check out a sample character sheet: ACKS Character Sheet
I personally love their "Demographics of Heroism"
Yep, Merlin a 12th level Mage and Bilbo a 6th level Thief. Not 30th level Astral Walker/Death Knight/Angelic Archon with Nuclear Explosion Dailies.
Old School Mechanics?
Their take and rationale on Vancian Magic
And I love their thoughts on what a campaign world should be and allow--very Gygaxian. Even if you didn't run their world, the idea is the game is set up to support a game world like this.
If you want to hear what the designer says about the game and their purposes check out his old kickstarter video.
I really like the idea of not starting out as some big bad *** but picking a direction you want to get to and working your way towards that. For the longest time I struggled with how to give players a say in what they want without jacking them up in power level from the start, and this game really seems to aim for that. This is what we've talked about again and again--getting players invested in the storyline! Now they are of course invested, because they have to be to achieve their aspirations. They don't come to the table saying they want to be a sword wielding elementalist and get to start that way. They start as a rather humble 1st level wizard, better than most in their village and set out into the world with a dream to become such. Through hard work, bravery and luck they might just get there! Does this RAWK or what?!
Just check out the sample file of the first ten pages. I'm sending it as an attachment. The storyline is boss! At first I didn't quite follow, but then he explains it as the results of an 80+ session campaign they had, with their actual characters. Their characters are Lords and Ladies of the realms having worked their way up from adventurers with aspirations to conquerors to kings and queens. They are wrapped up in the storyline of the realms in ways I hve never personally played, but that D&D always said was possible. The story possibilities are awesome! Anyway, they don't show much of the actual game rules, but it gives you a pretty good feel for what it's like.
Pretty awesome huh? Remember the old school books promise of running a thieves' guild? Or building a wizard's tower? Or having massive battles with armies run by a fighter warlord? All of it is here:
And remember all those rules for spell research and creation of magic items? I never used 'em--but they're here too, and as an integral part of the game.
See the thing is, I was going around looking at various games and their focus on storydriven mechanics. I really haven't liked them, as they seem to "fall apart as soon as you breathe on them" as one guy put it. Some examples are Dungeon World and 13th Age--but though they have gotten good reviews, I'm just not into "soft" mechanics. And then I ran across ACKS (pronounced Axe) again and decided to give it a closer look. And here is a game that is pretty much updated classic D&D with a focus on developing a character's story within a greater fantasy world in truly Gygaxian-Arensonian manner. It's really got my interest piqued.
I just got the wife's go ahead to spend $10 on the PDF. The hard copy is $40, and I can't swing that now anyway. I'm ordering it as soon as I send this off to you. I'll let you know if my interested stays high a few more pages into it.