Review: Autarch – Adventurer Conqueror King System

Adventurer Conqueror King System
Adventurer Conqueror King System is a complete sword and sorcery, retro fantasy system written by Alexander Macris, Tavis Allison, and Greg Tito and published by Autarch.
By Aaron T. Huss

Adventurer Conqueror King System is a sword and sorcery-flavored system wrapped around old-school mechanics given a new life. It is many things all at the same time that can be summed up in one simple statement: adventuring as a career. Adventurer Conqueror King System is not a retro clone, but it does take mechanics from BD&D and AD&D with some ideas found in 3E. It takes much of what old-school players enjoy and gives it a new look. Characters are taken from lowly adventurers delving into dungeons to collect a little loot to controlling their own domain and ruling the population.

Adventurer Conqueror King System is a basic roll-over d20 system against a known target number according to the character’s level plus or minus modifiers for attributes and opponent’s AC. Character classes are very traditional fantasy archetypes and the only races available are human, dwarf, and elf. Throughout are mechanics familiar to Basic and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons along with new mechanics designed around the idea of achieving greatness through continual adventuring.


Character creation in Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) follows parts of standard OSR “models”. As typical, you start by rolling your abilities and determining the modifier according to the chart. Based upon the stats of your character, certain classes become available (each one has a prerequisite for a given attribute(s) value). You then choose your alignment, choose your equipment, choose your proficiencies, and pick your spells where applicable.

There are only three options for races: human, dwarf, and elf. Each one has their own classes with humans having the most. The core classes are extremely standard and include fighter, mage, cleric, and thief. Of course, these are the generic archetypes and actual character types are expected to be fleshed out through proficiencies and character concepts. From here you get campaign classes which are more specialized versions of the core classes and include: assassin, bard, bladedancer, and explorer. Again, these are generic archetypes and not character concepts. Dwarves have two classes as do elves. Each class carries a list of titles that are assigned to the character as they progress through the levels. Each level carries improved modifiers along with the opportunity to gain your own domain and stronghold upon reaching the appropriate level. Experience levels are not the same throughout so each character may advance at different rates.

To keep things interesting, each class is given a unique structure considering their stronghold and the followers they attract. This aspect of ACKS is what makes it stand out significantly from other OSR systems, especially the retro clones. Add into this the proficiencies system and you get a system that attempts to stand above the rest instead of simply mimicking what’s already been done. Proficiencies are similar to feats from 3E that make your character more unique and conforming to that character concept you created.

Rounding off character creation is spells, which are fairly typical of all fantasy systems. Nothing that really stands out here to me.


Adventures is the section where you learn the ins and the outs of playing ACKS. Here you learn all about movement, overland travel, lighting, traps, sea travel, encounters, and running combat. At its heart, ACKS is very much a dungeon delving system. There is no shortage of saving throws, wound mechanics, maneuvers, morale, experience, and even combat at sea. Like I previously stated, ACKS is about adventuring as a career.


Campaigns in ACKS really focus on the growth of your character and his wealth (not just physical wealth, but political as well). The driving factor of ACKS is to become the master of your own domain and the greatest at what you do. Of course, what you are able to do at such high levels is truly dependent upon your character class. The Campaigns section goes into a wonderful amount of detail about what it means to advance to high levels and what it means to become the master of your own domain. It contains many mechanics for constructing and running your own stronghold along with growing your village into a large city, and everything involved in the upkeep.


Game Masters in ACKS are called Game Judges or just Judges. The last sections of the book are meant for the judges eyes and include an extensive bestiary, lots of treasure including random generators and a list of magic items, and a list of tips and tactics for judges running ACKS games. There are lots of tools for quickly creating a setting to adventure including a look at supply and demand, population, balancing, and filling the setting with interesting locations. This section wouldn’t be complete with tools for constructing your dungeon. After all, what would OSR be without a dungeon delve?


Adventurer Conqueror King System was funded by Kickstarter, and you can tell the money was fully spent and taken advantage of. The publication quality is superb for an indy publisher, the writing is solid, albeit very crunchy, and the mechanics are well-thought out. One thing that needs to be pointed out is that all the mechanics blend together well, seemingly considering each one as how they interact as a whole. I can see ACKS taking much of the OSR community into new, exciting directions. And considering it’s powered by an OGL, you just may see some fantastic products from third party publishers.


Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Adventurer Conqueror King System is a beautiful book. The layout and format is simple yet extremely efficient and effective. The illustrations are all black-and-white and look fantastic, truly accentuating the old-school feel. Everything within this book is easy to read and the PDF is extensively linked with a veritable landslide of links amongst the pages going back-and-forth to make referencing different sections quick and easy.

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
The mechanics have a truly old-school feel and are most are extremely familiar with OSR fans. I do find some of them quite restrictive, especially the racial classes instead of separating class and race. I also found it odd that only humans, dwarves, and elves are represented, but I’m sure additional supplements will address that. The character classes are good and very retro, albeit a bit lackluster at times. Proficiencies help to alleviate the cookie-cutter feel of the classes, giving some of the creativity back to the player. The mechanics for building your own domain and stronghold are quite extensive and great for building your “king”. The one thing I find the most troubling is the high number of charts necessary for game-play and character advancement. You will have to write down a lot to avoid referencing the charts and update those notes every time you increase in level. This is opposed to a basic formula that is consistent throughout every class meaning you don’t have to reference the book every single time you fill out your character sheet.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10
From the perspective of old-school game play and a pulp fantasy feel (not in theme but with mechanics), this is a great game to add to your library. While many OSR games attempt to replicate the games of old, Adventurer Conqueror King System takes mechanics from multiple systems, blends them together, and adds new mechanics to enhance them. Sort of a progression from AD&D to ACKS. Not an actual progression, but that’s what it “felt” like to me. I personally think OSR fans will really like Adventurer Conqueror King and find that they can go back to the days of delving into dungeons for the purpose of building wealth and creating your own kingdom.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Adventurer Conqueror King System is all about dungeon delving, wilderness cleansing, hack-and-slash, hoarding gold, amassing wealth, and building an empire. While I don’t see extensive stories with lots of role-playing opportunities or the chance to save the world being a part of the system, it’s not really designed to recreate that style of game-play. It is classic fantasy with heavy medieval influences, bringing role-playing back to its roots. There are a lot of retro fantasy and retro clone systems out there, but this is one you HAVE to check-out. In fact, you could probably take a lot of those retro fantasy and retro clone adventures and convert them to ACKS fairly easily.

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