Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Review & Commentary On AX4: Ruined City of Cyfandir by Simon Forster, & AX6: Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen (SoSQ) crowd funding effort by Autarch For The Adventurer,Conqueror, King Rpg

"Two hundred years ago, the elven capital of Cyfandir fell to the savage assault of the Great Dragon Aisoth, self-proclaimed goddess and sovereign of the lizardmen who followed in her wake. The elves, occupied with the ArgollĂ«an War, were unprepared for the attack and the city fell swiftly. The elven residents fled, many dying at the claws and teeth of the lizardmen who waited in ambush in the forest.
Now the city lies in ruins, its walls crumbled and alabaster towers fallen to rubble, and  the forest is crawling across its streets. Ivy and moss cover the walls of once-pristine  buildings, and piles of rubble mark the passage of the dragon. Only the majestic and imposing Great Hall still carries its ancient grandeur. It is there that the Great Dragon makes her lair, sleeping atop the a treasure trove of elven coins, jewels, and artifacts.

Only the bravest adventurers will dare to plunder the ruins of Cyfandir…"
Last night I bought my own pdf copy of AX4: Ruined City of Cyfandir by
Simon Forster, creator of the Book of Lairs and the popular OSR blog Sky Full of Dust, comes a new adventure for characters levels 5-7. Over the years I've said it before but I'll say it again the Adventurer,Conqueror, King rpg is a very different beast from many OSR retroclones & while it is a solid system. It takes the right group of players to actually make the game system come alive. Its not a hard system but its very nuanced compared with another retroclone like Swords & Wizardry. So why play ACK's as its known?  Well that's gonna take me back to AX4: Ruined City of Cyfandir (ROC). All of the AX series of modules plug into ACK's world setting & the fallen kingdoms of elves. There are not enough fallen Elven kingdoms & empires in the OSR for my taste.  The vast ruined city of Cyfandir ties directly into the empire building of the ACK's system. Designer and cartographer Simon Forster takes AX4: Ruined City of Cyfandir solidly molding it into a seamless whole of the late Roman Empire style Sword & Sorcery setting of  AX1: The Sinister Stone of SakkaraAX2: Secrets of the Nethercity, and AX3: Capital of the Borderlands. 

AX4: Ruined City of Cyfandir heart & soul is the ruined city's NPC inhabitants, encounters, & the clever way the thirty page mid level adventure plays with the PC's. The ruins are a deadly swirl of monsters & mayhem. The whole adventure  works very well because of the maps & cartography tying together everything in AX4: Ruined City of Cyfandir into a uniformed whole adventure package. This is one of the design & writing  approaches that Autarch sets itself apart from other OSR publishers. I'm not gushing here make no mistake AX4: Ruined City of Cyfandir is a deadly beast of an adventure. Do I think you should buy it? In a word? Yes absolutely.

That brings me to 
AX6: Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen (SoSQ) crowd funding effort by Autarch. This crowd funded adventure ties into the whole cloth world setting of Auran empire of ACK's; "Over a millenium ago, the Zaharan Sorcerer-Queen Semiramis reigned over a court notorious for its decadent arts and lavish opulence. The hidebound nobles of Zahar were troubled by the ascendance of the kingdom’s first female monarch. Semiramis was beset by over one hundred suitors, each one demanding that she marry him so that the kingdom might have a king. Many of these suitors were powerful spellcasters who wove enchantments upon her, but to no avail: The Sorceress-Queen wore the Ring of the Queen’s Heart, a legendary magic item gifted to her by the goddess Nasga that made her immune to her suitors' charms.
As beautiful and cruel as her goddess, Semiramis instead seduced her perfidious suitors into swearing eternal love to her – then had them slain. The Sorceress-Queen mummified and interred all one hundred suitors in her own majestic sepulcher, where they would serve her as loyally in death as they ought to have in life.
For over a thousand years the sepulcher of the sorceress-queen has lain hidden and undisturbed, its undead inhabitants slumbering in torpor until the prophesied time of the Awakening. But now a reckless warband of lizardmen has broken open the ancient tomb and disturbed evils not seen in centuries…"

AX6: Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen  brings whole cloth to the table is factions & new additional adventure possibilities. This is something that we see time & again in ACK's products  AX2: Secrets of the Nethercity, and AX3: Capital of the Borderlands. AX6: Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen  adds to this with its own adventure elements: 
  • A fully-stocked dungeon with 66 rooms filled with creepy undead, murderous lizardmen, diabolic traps, and more.
  • A faction of NPCs (Thrassian lizardmen) within the dungeon that can be allies, enemies...or bait.
  • A unique set of noise mechanics that determines whether and when the undead are roused from their slumber based on how well the adventurers maintain stealth and quiet.
  • A unique set of reaction mechanics that enable adventurers to distract, parley with, or even recruit the confused undead that have just been aroused from a millennium of slumber.
  • A legendary ring of power, the Ring of the Queen's Heart, that protects the ringbearer from charms.
  • A legendary weapon, the Harrower, a dread blade whose gift of death can never be undone.
  • A new spell, animate drowned corpse.
  • A pair of never-before-seen monsters, the Drowned Zombie and Skeletal Slayer.

This is the same style of Sword & Sorcery tie in that we've seen over & over again with other ACK's products. And that's not a bad thing. Because it serves to link & bind the over all  Auran empire of ACK's. Do I think that AX6: Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen  is worth your time & coin? In a word? Yes. Mine's there! Can't wait for AX6: Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen 

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