The Sinister Stone of Sakkara

I am putting the finishing touches on The Sinister Stone of Sakkara, a two-level dungeon designed by the forum’s very own Tywyll with maps by uber-cartographer Chris Hagerty. I hope that Autarch will be able to publish this in the fall.

Here is the introductory text I wrote to introduce Tywyll’s dungeon. (JUDGES ONLY - spoilers!)

AX1: The Sinister Stone of Sakkara is a ready-to-play adventure scenario presented for use with the Adventurer Conqueror King System™ (ACKS). It is compatible with other fantasy role-playing games built on the same core mechanics, but plays best in conjunction with the features and mechanics of ACKS.
The scenario is designed to serve as an introductory adventure for a campaign starting in the Auran Empire, the implied setting of ACKS™. It can be easily adapted to other campaign settings simply by simply subsisting new character and place names where appropriate. As an introductory adventure, it is intended for four to eight characters of 1st to 3rd level, with a combined total of 8-12 levels of experience in the party.
If you have already played or run adventurers using the Adventurer Conqueror King System, feel free to skip ahead to the adventure itself. If this is your first experience with ACKS, it’s worth reviewing some unique aspects of the game that have guided the design of this introductory adventure scenario.
ACKS was designed for campaigns in which the player characters (PCs) strive to advance from lowly adventurers to rulers of their own realms. Unlike other games, where the adventurers’ rise to worldly power must be improvised by the Judge or handled narratively, ACKS supports these aspirations with game mechanics embedded at every level of play. For this reason, the starting location of this adventure, Türos Tem, is presented as the stronghold of a realm controlled by a high-level NPC, with its population, revenues, costs, and morale score all detailed and provided. The stronghold can serve as an example of what a moderately successful adventurer in your campaign might aspire to rule by mid-levels; and if your adventurers do end up in command of Türos Tem (or a domain like it), you will have everything you need to adjudicate their exploits.
The default setting of ACKS, the Auran Empire, was also designed to support the player characters’ advancement from adventurer to king. The Auran Empire setting was inspired by the collapsing empires of earth’s Late Antiquity (250 – 750 AD), a turbulent era in which ancient glories were drowned in a torrent of violence. However, in the Auran Empire setting, the horror of civilization’s imminent collapse is worsened by the existence of nightmarish evils lurking in the world’s dark places, threatening to strike mankind at its weakest moment. The established leadership is too preoccupied by the empire’s political and military downfall to take these shadowy threats seriously, leaving them to be handled by adventurers, fortune-hunters, and would-be heroes. The adventurers’ success in dealing with such threats is, however, what garners them the fame, wealth, and strength they need to take power and restore order. Of course, the adventurers are not certain to win; indeed, the odds are stacked against them.
These premises of ACKS’ setting are evident throughout The Sinister Stone of Sakkara, most notably in its backstory. The adventure begins with local hamlets and villages suffering from beastman raids because the troops that ought to be protecting them have been sent to stem an invasion at another border. With the local military barely able to garrison its strongholds, it falls to the adventurers to deal with the monstrous threat. If they do not, no one else will, until it is too late. The setting premises are also evident in the design of the dungeon itself. The upper level of the dungeon was inspired by real-world ancient architecture, and the brigands and beastly barbarians that populate it would not be unfamiliar to any Late Roman centurion (albeit the barbarians who menaced Rome were only figuratively beastly). Conversely, the lower level of the dungeon is a warren of weird horror wherein lurks an insidious evil that is far more threatening than mere beastmen. The dungeon thus represents the Auran Empire setting in microcosm – visibly endangered by mundane threats, appallingly imperiled by hidden horrors.
We hope that this overview improves your understanding of this adventure, and that you and your players find The Sinister Stone of Sakkara an exciting, challenging, and rewarding experience.

Would “Ia! Ia!” be an appropriate response at this point?

This sounds like the kind of adventure I’ll enjoy, although overall my favorites are the sandbox or semi-sandbox classic adventures (Keep on the Borderlands, Isle of Dread, Savage Coast, Test of the Warlords).

definitely a day 1 purchase!

Looking forward to it!

I’ll definitely buy it!

Awesome! Will there be a Kickstarter for it or will it be published in the traditional way?

No Kickstarter. We already have the art, layout, and writing paid for. We’ll just release it.

So, so excited! :smiley:

This sounds awesome. I can’t wait!

This sounds great! I’m glad we’re starting to get some good examples of ACKS adventures, domains, and other such things. Between this and Dwimmermount there should be some really great examples for people to pull from when trying to really understand the ACKS system. (This also sounds like a great adventure in it’s own right!). Very much looking forward to being able to purchase this!

Thanks! I really hope you enjoy it.

BONUS GOAL #3 - AURAN EMPIRE PRIMER ($12,500): Based on backer feedback, we have integrated an additional 2,500 words of information drawing on the Auran Empire into The Sinister Stone of Sakkara. This rich information is already in the draft and ready for your enjoyment. But if we hit Bonus Goal #3, we will supplement the material in the adventure with an additional 5-page PDF with top-down information sourced from the upcoming Auran Empire Campaign Setting. This will be a free PDF distributed separately from the adventure with information on the geography, history, culture, and theology of the setting.

I'm doing a read through of my print version of AX1, and a question occurred to me. (Actually several, but I'm focusing on 1 right now.) When the adventure describes someone as a 'servant' is it safe to assume that these are slaves? Would that be a correct default interpretation as to their status within the Auran Empire?

There are no slaves in the Auran Empire. "Servants" are either hirelings or indentured servants. You can choose for yourself as I didn't specify.

Slavery and Indenture

Slavery, as it is practiced in Celdorea, Somirea, and Kemesh, does not legally exist within the Auran Empire. However, foreign nobles mock the Auran pretension that “there is no slavery in Aura”, because lifelong indentured servitude is widespread and fulfills a similar economic and cultural role.

Indenturing is the process of selling oneself into servitude, and indenture is the state of being a servant. At any time, any man or woman may sell themselves into indenture; the proceeds of the sale may be assigned to the indentured servant’s spouse, parents, or children, to the satisfaction of his creditors, or otherwise as the indenture agreement dictates. Indenture is generally for one year, seven years, or for life, though in principle any term may be devised. Eternal indenture is not unknown, which gives the master and his heirs the right to the servant’s services as a spirit after death.

 A person may sell their minor children into indenture, although in this case the indenture is limited to lasting until the children reach majority. A person may also be placed involuntarily into indenture to his creditor as a result of debts, and remain indentured until the debt is repaid; or be placed into indenture to the state as punishment for commission of a crime, remaining indentured until the sentence is served. Truly terrible criminals are punished with condemnation to the mines and eternal indenture.

Indentured servants must obey any and all commands of their master, provided these commands do not violate Imperial law or place the servant in certain danger. (Servants indentured as bodyguards, soldiers, and certain other high-risk jobs, and those indentured eternally, are exempted from this latter provision). The servant must be provided food and lodging adequate to his or her needs and station, and while he may be punished at the whim of his master, may not be permanently harmed. If any permanent harm is inflicted on an indentured servant, compensation for the injury is applied against the term of the indenture. (Eternal indenture is again excepted).

Indenture dissolves all marriage, contracts, and other obligations. While indentured, the servant may not own property, make contracts, marry or divorce, receive inheritance, or pursue legal disputes in court (except against his master). Any property the servant may come to possess or inherit becomes the property of his or her master, who applies the value of the property against the term of the indenture.

Indenture is not hereditary, so the children born of indentured servants are not themselves indentured. However, the cost of raising an indentured woman’s child may be added to the length of her indenture, if she does not make other provisions, or she may indenture the children to reduce her own length of indenture. 

Thanks. I had temporarily lost my copy of the Auran Primer. Having found it again I note that the information you gave above is much more than what's in the Primer. Was that from your draft for the Auran Setting book? Also, do you have a date for your next kickstarter?

Yes, that's from my draft for the Auran Empire campaign setting. There's way more written than I've ever shared.

The next Kickstarter will launch as soon as I send the coupons for the final TSSOS book - next week.