The Sinister Stone of Sakkara
The Sinister Stone of Sakkara is a ready-to-play adventure scenario presented for use with the Adventurer Conqueror King System™ (ACKS™). It is readily compatible with other fantasy role-playing games built on the same core rules, but is specifically designed to highlight the features and mechanics of ACKS.
The adventure is intended for six to ten characters of 1st to 3rd level, with a combined total of 8-12 levels of experience in the party. In the tradition of classic TSR adventure scenarios such as The Keep on the Borderlands and The Village of Hommlet, The Sinister Stone of Sakkara features a detailed starting base and small wilderness sandbox in addition to a dungeon.
- The adventure scenario is approximately 40,000 words.
- The starting base includes a villa, headquarters, hospital, chapterhouse, infantry barracks, cavalry barracks, bathhouse, traveler's inn, and forum, all mapped and keyed.
- The dungeon features two levels, the first with 75 rooms and the second with 39 rooms, mapped and keyed, along with two custom wandering monster tables.
- Additional delights include the "Adventurer Motivation Table", "Random Philosophical Meditations Table", "Profligate Imperial Banquet Table," and "Settlement Demand Modifiers Table" (for the mercantile venturers!), as well as a menu of options available at an Auran fast-food restaurant, excerpts of Zaharan prayer-verses, and more!
The scenario is our first published adventure scenario set in the Auran Empire, the implied setting of ACKS. It can be easily adapted to other campaign settings if desired.
Since this is our first adventure specifically designed for ACKS, it’s worth reviewing some unique aspects of the game that have guided our design of this adventure scenario. ACKS was designed for campaigns in which the player characters strive to advance from novice 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 adventure's starting location, Türos Tem, is presented as the stronghold of a realm controlled by a high-level NPC, with its maps, buildings, 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 a solid foundation to build on in your own campaign.
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.
The premises underlying 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.
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 leaves you as excited for The Sinister Stone of Sakkara as we are, and are grateful to everyone who decides to help us bring the excitement and challenge of The Sinister Stone of Sakkara to gamers everywhere!
With the core book funded, now it's time to unveil our bonus goals:
BONUS GOAL #1 - PRE-GENERATED PARTY ($7,500): If we reach $7,500 we will add an appendix with a party of 8 pre-generated adventurers. The adventurers that appear in the module will be drawn from the characters created for our Patron Deity, God-Emperor, and Legend tier backers in our ACKS and Player's Companion kickstarters. (" Your PC will be included in the roster of pre-generated characters for adventure modules to come.")
BONUS GOAL #2 - FULL COLOR MAP SPREAD ($10,000): If we reach $10,000, we will upgrade the book to include a pair of full-color landscape paintings, one of the fortress of Türos Tem and one of the buried temple. Concept artist JEFF BROWN is on tap to do these paintings. You can check out his work here: http://www.jeffbrowngraphics.com/
BONUS GOAL #3 - AURAN EMPIRE PRIMER ($11,500): 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.
BONUS GOAL #4 - SAKKARA 5E ($15,000): We love The Sinister Stone of Sakkara so much that we want you to play it even if you use it with the Fifth Edition of some other game. If we hit Bonus Goal #4, we will provide a free, separate PDF conversion document with NPCs, monsters, treasure, and magic items ready for your use. (Domains and other ACKS exclusive mechanics will not be converted, however.)
I hope you'll spread the word because we'd love to see the adventure party and full-color paintings appear in the book, and the primer and conversion guide drafted and published!
ADVENTURER ($5): You get a PDF copy of the adventure when it launches, complete with the illustrations and layout your support made possible and your name in the credits as an Adventurer.
ADVENTURER WITH HENCHMEN ($20): This is a special bundle for gamers who are just discovering the Adventurer Conqueror King System. In addition to the Adventurer benefits above, you also get PDF copies of ACKS and ACKS Player's Companion. It's everything you needCONQUEROR ($25): You get a softcover copy of The Sinister Stone of Sakkara with your name in the credits as a Conqueror. You also get a special sneak peak of the adventure draft when the Kickstarter funds and a PDF copy of the adventure when it launches.
This is a special backer level designed for international backers, as print-on-demand houses offer international printing and fulfillment which will be less expensive than shipping from our own US-based fulfillment house. PLEASE NOTE that you will be responsible for paying the cost of printing ($6) and shipping the book directly to DTRPG.
CONQUEROR WITH VASSALS ($75): This is a special bundle for new fans who want to dive into the Adventurer Conqueror King System. In addition to all the benefits of Conqueror level above, you get the ACKS hardcover and PDF, as well as the Player's Companion hardcover and PDF.
KING ($100): Describe a scene featuring characters, events, or locations from the Sinister Stone of Sakkara and our project artist will create a half-page black & white illustration to your specifications. If it's harmonious with our collective vision of the game's look - and we'll work with you to help that happen - the art you ordered will be a part of the finished product. You also get all the benefits of Conqueror level above and your name in the Credits as a King.
KING FROM FOREIGN LANDS ($94): This is another special backer level designed for international backers, as print-on-demand houses offer international printing and fulfillment which will be less expensive than shipping from our own US-based fulfillment house. You get all the benefits of King and Conqueror from Foreign Lands level above and your name in the Credits as a King. (As with Conqueror From Foreign Lands above, you will be responsible for paying cost of printing and shipping directly to DTRPG.)
KING WITH ARMY ($200): Seize the entire library of ACKS books in your iron grip! In addition to all the benefits of King level, you get the ACKS hardcover and PDF, the Player's Companion hardcover and PDF, the Domains at War: Battles softcover and PDF, and the Domains at War: Campaigns softcover and PDF.
EMPEROR ($500): As an Emperor, you get all the benefits of a King - and then some! The illustration you specify can be a full page piece rather than just 1/2 page, and you'll receive the signed original artwork once it's complete. In addition you'll get a copy of the adventure signed by the designers, your name in the credits as Emperor, and an invitation to a private online play session run just for you and your fellow Emperors. We have room for but 8 Emperors. Will you be one?
Shipping costs will be applied by Kickstarter when you make your pledge. The cost of shipping depends on your address and the number of books you are receiving. Shipping is typically $6-$10 to the United States, $20-$50 to Canada, and $25-$70 to the rest of the world.
Risks and challenges
This will be the fifth Kickstarter that Autarch LLC has run.
All of our prior Kickstarters have funded successfully, and have delivered well-received products to our backers, including the platinum best-selling Adventurer Conqueror King System and the enormous Dwimmermount.
In the past, however, we have encountered substantial delays in product development and delivery, which put us well behind schedule in getting them to our backers. These delays have resulted from either (a) unexpected challenges in product development; (b) complexities in fulfilling special backer rewards or bonus goals; or (c) logistical mistakes.
Having learned from past experience, we are adopting a different approach for this Kickstarter:
1. The product has already been written. All of the text and maps for the adventure are finalized. As soon as we are funded, Conqueror-level backers and above will get the texts and maps so they can immediately begin enjoying the product.
2. Backer rewards have been streamlined into a small number of tiers with clear-cut rewards without a large number of special cases that can complicate and confuse our logistics.
3. Bonus goals have been carefully plotted out to be delivered within our overall framework without causing delay.
4. The Kickstarter as a whole is less ambitious in scope than the sprawling Dwimmermount mega-dungeon and entire rules sets of our two prior projects.
We are very thankful for the support to all the backers who supported us in our prior Kickstarters, delays and all, and we look forward to a far smoother and swifter delivery from this crowdfunding than from our last.
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