Saturday, July 27, 2019

Some Thoughts On Adventurer, Conqueror, King, Rpg's Heroic Fantasy Handbook

"The Heroic Fantasy Handbook is a rules supplement that brings the flavor of heroic fantasy to your favorite role-playing game. Cleaving away decades worth of assumptions and expectations about how characters heal, fight, and adventure, how magic works, what spells do, and more, the Heroic Fantasy Handbook offers a fresh way to play with familiar D20 fantasy mechanics."

Its been over a year since I looked over the Heroic Fantasy Handbook from Autarch for the  Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg.  Looking back over the events surrounding this game still raises bile in the back of my throat. I love the denseness of ACK's & mentally began to quickly read through   the Heroic Fantasy Handbook. There's so much to love about this book from the corruption system to the density of the classes. But this is not an easy book for the faint of heart but this is a tome for the players & their dungeon master. The Heroic Fantasy Handbook is its own tome with 16 new character classes inspired by the archetypes of heroic fantasy but what they really do is straddle the line someplace between Robert E Howard & Tolkein. But this book is very much its own beast & closely tied in with the domain rules from ACK's. Now this isn't a bad thing at all & I've probably gonna have the physical book printed out at some point.
This book is a stand alone piece of the ACK's system & this ties in closely with the entire ACK's line of products. Looking in from the outside of this book I can't help but once again be drawn into the spell that the system weaves. I feel like grabbing my copy of the 
ACKS Player's Companion then go to town on a one shot adventure!

Its here before a single dice is cast that the DM is going to have to decide what systems from ACK's & these books are gonna see use at the table top level. ACK's presents lots of options for the DM to pick & choose that they'll need to bring the game that they want. This can be quite vexing for the newbie DM but with a bit of practice things should fall easily into place. Why because its all about domains. If it was a game that focused a lot on managing domains, I'd go with ACKS because in that particular element of the rules it's better (and note that the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia   did the best job with domain management of any official D&D ruleset). But we're not talking about that instead I'm here looking to bring a Sword & Sorcery domain game to life. This is where  the Heroic Fantasy Handbook shines because of its magick system & well thought out PC classes. 

The  entirely new magic system, eldritch magic, designed to capture the flavor of heroic fantasy does an excellent job of doing just that. It takes the forms of Vancian & twists it to suit its own needs but in a quite clever way; "Magic in heroic fantasy is more subtle than the spectacular effects which are commonplace in traditional ACKS games. Spells tend to work with the existing environment, rather than conjure effects from thin air. Enchantments and illusion are commonplace, while elemental blasts are less so. This subtle, but powerful magic, is called eldritch magic, and it constitutes a new type of magic that has facets of both arcane and divine magic. The spells on the three Eldritch Spells lists (on p. 120) represent the common spells known to the practitioners of the eldritch arts. These are by no means meant to be complete lists, for eldritch spellcasters are a secretive lot that do not share their knowledge easily; and many spells that were once known have been forgotten, existing only in dusty tomes and rare grimoires, or in the minds of slumbering undead lords. Note: Some spells which could be built with eldritch magic under the rules in the Player’s Companion have been purposefully left off the Eldritch Spells lists because we felt they did not fit with the flavor of heroic fantasy. The Judge has the ultimate say over whether a particular eldritch spell exists in his heroic fantasy setting. Any spells on the Eldritch Spells list can be learned when advancing in level. Spells not on the Eldritch Spells lists cannot be learned when advancing in level, only by studying with teacher, reading a book or scroll, or researching the spell in the campaign world."
All of this builds on what was put forth into  The Auran Empire Primer  & you get the sort of free flowing weirdness that we've come to expect from Adventurer,Conqueror, King. The question is where do I as a dungeon master take it?

The one thing that I've found with many of the products of  Autarch is how they fit together as pieces of a mosaic system modular in execution. And how well defined as a whole they really are. For domain level play there is no other system that I'd use for OSR play. Please note that I have little interest in OSR kurfuffles or other controversies that seem to surround & confound my hobby. The only thing I'm interested in a fantastic game at the table top level 

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