Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Always two, there are.

An emphasis and strength of the Adventurer Conqueror King system is the “end game” – higher level game play typically marked by the establishment of a “stronghold.”  Interestingly, the Adventurer Conqueror King system provides a number of different approaches to building a stronghold, varying by class.  Also, the custom classes construction system in the Player’s Companion implies a hierarchy among the human strongholds, basically Fortified Church > Castle > Sanctum and Dungeon > Hideout.  (The dwarven, elven and gnomish strongholds may be between a Castle and a Sanctum.)

Something I want to explore in the campaigns I Judge is the possibility of mobility between these strongholds and their end game possibilities (as long as the character has the gold …).  The rules in the Player’s Companion would establish a character’s highpoint in the hierarchy, but the character could choose to “downgrade” (and later upgrade) if that meets the character’s goals.  Using an example from the Player’s Companion, an Explorer like Robin Hood might begin with a Hideout and later move up to a Castle when he recaptures his ancestral home.  (The Hideout might be transferred to a henchman, or broken up and abandoned.)  A necromancer might permanently “hide in plain sight” with a Hideout in a city and a network of thieves to bring him fresh bodies.

In light of the above, I wanted a stronghold possibility with as small a footprint as possible, below a Hideout in the hierarchy.

Master and Apprentice

In lieu of another type of stronghold, a character may build a safehouse.  A safehouse is similar to a hideout, but even more secret.  Building a safehouse does not require first securing a domain (although it is likely wise for the character to secure sole ownership of the safehouse).  Similarly, in no way may a safehouse be used to hold a domain.  A safehouse does not attract any followers at any time.  However, the master of a safehouse may hire ruffians who may be deployed on hijinks.  A master with sufficient gold may build more than one safehouse if he so desires.  Note that a safehouse need not be an actual “house” or building.  A safehouse might be a river barge or a carnival wagon amongst a travelling carnival.  A higher level character’s safehouse might be a hut that walks on bird legs or a mysterious, vanishing tower.

Additionally, the master may select a single apprentice (irrespective of the number of safehouses constructed).  This apprentice will be a level 5 henchman who makes himself known to the master.  The apprentice does not count against the number of henchman the master may hire.  Also, the apprentice will begin with a +2 on all future morale rolls, as if the apprentice had gained two levels while in the master’s service.

The apprentice will be of the same class as the master, and neither the master nor the apprentice may have henchmen of that class.  The apprentice must be paid as any other henchmen.

Should the master upgrade any of his safehouses to another type of stronghold, the apprentice will leave unless the master can hire the apprentice as a normal henchman.  The former apprentice now counts against the number of henchman the master may hire.  Should the master not retain the apprentice under these circumstances, the Judge should roll on the Henchman Loyalty table with a -2 adjustment, to determine if the apprentice leaves with hostility.


  1. I'm a little unclear on the apprentice concept. Is this individual basically the 'front' for the safehouse? And this line also confuses me "The apprentice will be of the same class as the master, and neither the master nor the apprentice may have henchmen of that class." Hm?

  2. Hello,

    Thanks for your questions! The safehouse is a base of operations, and in particular, it is where the master trains the apprentice. Mechanically, the apprentice is the alternative to a stream of entry-level followers that usually come with establishing a stronghold, providing another option for characters not interested in establishing a domain and stronghold. Regarding "The apprentice will be of the same class as the master, and neither the master nor the apprentice may have henchmen of that class.": this is partly flavor and partly compensation for receiving a bonus, higher starting level henchman. It reflects the master's commitment to training the apprentice and the apprentice's commitment to serving the master.

    I hope this helps!

  3. Oh, this is super.

    I'm making a custom druid, and I'm envisioning a handful of druidic groves, and the hijinks are all related to frustrating attempts to civilize the wilderness or to make the outlying forests seem haunted (forgo the assassination bounty for some sort of benefit to that end)

    Add in the old text (I'm copying from OSRIC) about a limited number of high-level druids, and all of a sudden I've got a built-in druidic hierarchy.

    Have you posted this to the ACKS forums? I think they (the authors) would dig it.

  4. Hello,

    I'm glad you like it! I could very much see this working with an order of druids -- thank you for the idea!

    I have not posted this on the ACKS forums. Some ACKS players aren't too concerned with high-level play, and others see the ACKS domain rules as an almost unique strength of ACKS.

    Those of us looking for a small footprint option seem to be in the minority.

    Thank you for your comments!