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It's The Final Countdown!
Seven Days to Go in the ACKS II Kickstarter
It's the last week of the campaign! With 7 days to go, we stand just shy of $300,000. It's anyone's guess where we'll be when the campaign terminates. Wherever we end up, it's been a triumph for Autarch and the ACKS community. Please enjoy this celebratory music by the popular Auran Imperial all-bard party, Aurëpos:
Once you've experienced the Final Countdown, read on for a sneak peek at the new rules for Nautical Encounters. In ACKS I, the oceans merely confronted adventurers with a few sea monsters and the occasional bad roll on the Wind table. In ACKS II, intrepid seafarers face far more dangers -- and opportunities.
Each time a vessel enters a new ocean hex, the Judge rolls to see if it encounters a Civilized Sea Encounter (such as a merchant ship), a Sea Monster Encounter (such as a sea serpent or triton village), or a Nautical Encounter. Nautical Encounters are divided into three types, Beneficial, Dangerous, and Unique. Below are the Unique Nautical Encounters in the Judges Journal.
Unique Nautical Encounters
Unique Encounters (1d12)
1 Colossal Statue
2 Damned Mariners
3 Deafening Mist
4 Ghost Ship
6 Magical Resource
7 Marine Formation
8 Message in a Bottle
9 Place of Power
10 Sunken Treasure Ship
11 Truly Unique
Colossal Statue: A colossal statue of a god of the sea emerges from the water here. The statue is large enough to stretch to the sea floor below, while its highest point (head, trident, tentacle, or other feature) juts out from the waterline by 2d6 x 10’. If the colossal statue appears along a trade route, then it has only recently emerged in the last 1d3 days due to tectonic movement of the sea bed, and its exposed portions will be covered by strands of kelp and seaweed. Mark down the location of the colossal statue on your campaign map, as it will remain there going forward.
The appearance, magical powers, and significance of the statue is left to the Judge’s discretion. It could be anything from a curiosity to a dungeon crawl into the depths. In the Auran Empire campaign setting, roll 1d6 to determine which god the statue represents: 1-3 it’s Naurivus, Empyrean god of the high seas; 4-6 it’s Lammala, Chthonic god of the oceanic abyss. In either case, such a colossus could only have been built before the apocalyptic Day Without Night.
Damned Mariners: A mysterious vessel with tattered sails becomes visible on the horizon. Roll 1d10+5 on the Vessels sub-table to determine the type of vessel. However, this is no ordinary vessel – this is a ship crewed by the damned! Each mariner and marine is a haugbui while the navigator is a 7HD draugr and the captain is 9 HD draugr. (You can substitute other undead if desired.) The ship has lost 2d10% of its SHP to battle damage, monster attack, weather, or other causes, but this does not reduce its movement while the undead crew it. The damned crew are automatically hostile and will attempt to intercept the party’s vessel and board it.
Treat the ship of the damned as the draugr’s barrow for all purposes; once the ship of the damned has grappled the party’s vessel, the party’s vessel is part of the barrow. The ship as a whole is a blighted sinkhole of evil, which can only be purged by scuttling it. The ship of the damned will be laden with treasure – roll twice for treasure type Q.
Deafening Mist: The air falls still and mist suddenly shrouds the vessel. But this is no ordinary mist – it not only creates Foggy weather conditions that reduce visibility to just 20’, it also deadens all sound. All characters are considered deafened while in the mist. Does something lurk in this silent shroud? Maybe! Roll for an additional random encounter, treating a civilized encounter as no encounter. After resolving the encounter (if any), the vessel emerges from the mist one hour later, having traveled at its voyage speed in a random hex direction. The navigator must make an additional Navigation proficiency throw at a -4 penalty to avoid being lost.
Ghost Ship: The vessel spots a derelict drifting in the water. Roll 1d20 on the Vessels sub-table to determine the type of vessel. The vessel has lost 5d10% of its SHP to battle damage, monster attack, weather, or other causes. However, unlike an ordinary derelict, the vessel is a ghost ship. All of the mariners and marines are haunts confined to the vessel in endless repetition of the tasks they were doing just before death. The vessel as a whole is a shadowed sinkhole of evil. If the haunts are destroyed, the ship can be salvaged and its cargo claimed. For every 5 haunts, roll once on Treasure Type A.
Leviathan: A monstrous leviathan of some sort dwells in the depths. Roll a sea monster encounter to determine the type of leviathan, re-rolling any humanoids. If the encounter includes multiple monsters, only one of them is the leviathan, and it leads the others. The leviathan is always in a lair - even if its type does not normally make lairs. If the leviathan has less than 20 HD, increase its HD to 20 as a result of the powers it has been infused with. For each HD of increase, the leviathan’s AC improves by 1 and it deals an average of 2 hp more damage divided among all its attacks. Increase the monster's size by one category, to a minimum of Huge. If already Colossal, increase its HD by (another) 4 instead. If its alignment is Lawful or Neutral, change it to Chaotic. The leviathan’s lair is a shadowed sinkhole of evil. If it is slain, the sinkhole of evil will disperse in 1d4 days. The creature rarely goes far from its lair, but considers any vessels which traverse the vicinity to be prey. The lair will have normal treasure for the monster’s type, plus additional treasure type O. Mark down the location of the leviathan’s lair on your campaign map, as it will remain there going forward.
Magical Resource: The vessel comes upon a naturally-occurring magical resource worth 3d6 x 1,000gp. The resource might be eldritch coral, magic kelp, mana-infused fish, etc. Roll on the encounter table to find out what creature it counts as a component from. The magical resource does not require metamphora to store. It weighs 1 stone per 10 gp value. Mark down the location of the magical resource on your campaign map, as it will remain there going forward. If the vessel returns later to the magical resource, they will find that more has grown; you can assign a growth rate (a reasonable average is approximately 33 months to restore the full amount) or reroll its value.
Marine Formation: The vessel comes upon marine formation of sublime beauty and vast extent. It could be a blue hole, a colorful coral reef, a kelp forest, an underwater waterfall, a seamount, etc. The marine formation has a 25% chance of also being a well of elemental water; roll on the table above for power. The marine formation has a 50% chance of being occupied by sea creatures; roll for a Sea Monster encounter and place a monster lair in the marine formation. Mark the location of the marine formation on your campaign map, as it will remain there going forward.
Message in a Bottle: The vessel spots a sealed bottle floating in the water. If the bottle is recovered and opened, it reveals a message within. The exact nature of the message is left to your discretion but often such messages contain cryptic hints to the location of a valuable buried treasure. Roll 1d6 to determine the treasure type the message points to. The treasure is 1 hex away per 1,000 gp value (you can use the average value and roll the actual contents of the treasure later).
Place of Power: The vessel travels over or through a place of power of some kind. Roll to determine the type and power. The existence of the place of power will be evident from observable phenomena, such as strange swirling air currents, smoky water from subterranean vents, a huge blue hole in the sea floor, etc. Mark down the location of the place of power on your campaign map, as it will remain there going forward.
Portal: The vessel discovers a portal linking two locations. The portal might transfer only sensory information (sight and/or sound), or might allow travel through it. The portal might be always active, or might be limited in some fashion (such as functioning only during an eclipse). A portal that allows travel is always limited in some fashion (though a portal might be always active for sight and/or sound, but allow travel only in limited circumstances). You should choose a location for the other end of the portal that is appropriate for your setting. Note that the two ends of the portal can have different conditions for when they activate – for instance, one end could activate during a lunar eclipse while the other end activates during a solar eclipse – and the other end is not guaranteed to be a safe destination, making travel through an unknown portal extremely dangerous. At your discretion, the portal link might manifest in other ways than an actual portal (such as treating the two locations as the same for the purposes of spellcasting range). Mark down the location of the portals on your campaign map, as they will remain there going forward.
Sunken Treasure Ship: The vessel spots a shipwreck visible 100’ + 1d6 x 10’ below. If the vessel is currently in deeper water, then the shipwreck is on an atoll, coral reef, seamount, or similar structure. Roll 1d20 on the Vessels sub-table to determine the type of shipwreck. The shipwreck will contain treasure equal to its maximum capacity. Roll 1d100. On 1-90, the treasure is common metal ingots (such as bronze, copper, iron, lead, or tin) worth 2gp per stone. On 90-99, the treasure is 90% common metal ingots and 10% of the cargo is precious metal ingots (such as electrum, gold, platinum, silver, or tumbaga) worth 100gp per stone. On 100, the treasure is entirely precious metal ingots. A sunken treasure ship has a 75% chance to be the lair of a monster. Roll on the Sea Monster table.
Truly Unique: The vessel discovers something truly unique. This category is a catch-all for anything you want to place in the hex (for instance, something you saw in a third-party product and thought was awesome). If you (justifiably) feel that the point of a random table is to keep from having to invent things whole cloth like this, choose another result or reroll!
Double: Roll twice and combine the results, which may be a single terrain feature with two powers or two different terrain features, at your discretion. If the result is rolled again, ignore it and reroll (there cannot be more than two Unique effects in a hex).
A similar set of tables (first published in Axioms and now revised and expanded) also covers overland encounters! In ACKS II, ocean and wilderness adventurers are just that -- adventurers. They're not time sinks punctuated by occasional random encounters.
The ACKS II Promo Tour
The ACKS online promotional tour continues.
Completed: Interviewed by ZSum716
Completed: Stream with Nerdcognito
Completed: Stream with Howard_RyanGreg
Completed: Stream with DunderMoose
Completed: Stream with thetshirtedone
Completed: Stream with legionofmyth
Completed: Stream with MrMaxBoivin_RPG
Completed: Stream with MildraTheMonk
Completed: Stream with WeeWheaton
Completed: Stream with UandURPGReview
Completed: Stream with Tenkar's Tavern
Completed: Stream with @Neckbeardia
Completed: Stream with Geek Gab
Completed: Discord Chat with Randomworlds
Completed: Stream with Iconic Production
Nov 17 (7 PM ET): Stream with legionofmyth again!
If you have a podcast, stream, or show that covers RPG topics and you’d like to have me on as part of my ACKS II promo tour, please reach out via email or Twitter (@archon). It is, after all, the final countdown!
What Happened to the Videos?
I had every intention of maintaining Arbiter of Worlds and The Grey Brotherhood during the Kickstarter period, but alas, events intervened. My family has been wrestling with some substantial challenges on two fronts, and it has left both me and my brother (who edits the videos) with too little time to tackle it. (He and I would both appreciate any prayers you would like to direct towards the Macris family.)
We have recorded a 15th and 16th episode of The Grey Brotherhood and will release those as soon as possible. New episodes of Arbiter of Worlds will resume in December.
Actual Play of ACKS
With the help of the Autarch Discordians, I compiled some links to some other ACKS campaigns:
And here’s our flourishing Substack community:
If you have a blog or third-party product that supports ACKS or Ascendant, please let me know and I’ll be happy to include you in my next round-up.
Support the Community
Once you’ve pledged for the Discord, head on over to these community links:
I'll close out by saying thank you once again for your support. If you've liked what you've seen on ACKS II so far, please tell everyone that we're in the last 7 days of the campaign so we can enjoy that last-minute burst of enthusiasm!
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