Auran Empire Campaign Setting & Heroic Fantasy Handbook

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The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10
Auran Empire Campaign Setting & Heroic Fantasy Handbook


By now you will have had a chance to plumb the secrets of the Heroic Fantasy Handbook. The question I bring to you now is: Would you prefer to see the Auran Empire presented using ACKS Core, or ACKS Heroic Fantasy classes, spells, and rules?

In its earliest incarnation (pre-dating ACKS and using a heavily modified version of Runequest), the Auran Empire setting had a feel and flavor that was more akin to that presented in the Heroic Fantasy Handbook - the Tower of Knowledge was staffed by something more like Loremasters, the Temple of the Blade's bladedancers were akin to something more like Warmistresses, and so on. 

I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts. 


koewn's picture
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As far as I'm concerned, the bulk of the HFH is now my default ruleset, so I wouldn't be at all dissapointed to find the AECS adopting it.

But, it's your world - you present it the best way you feel you should.

Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

The Heroic Fantasy Handbook sounds more like an add-on to the ACKs core than the base of the system itself.  So having it use Heroic Fantasy would feel a little disjointed (and potentially required) given Auran Empire is presented as the default setting for ACKs core (as opposed to an addon to the core mechanics).

That said, minor notes could bridge the gap (provided word count allows), so for example they could be listed more as something like "the temple Bladedancers (Warmistresses) ..." or "The Tower of Knowledge's Mages (Loremasters) ..." when given class inclinations and maybe an appendix with the actual stats for either form (presuming stats are provided).  Though the reverse could work too.

I'm not really sure how the difference would impact spell variances for the gods between the two magic systems.

Either way I'd make do, so I guess it depends on which set of mechanics you really want to feel is the better default for the setting.

Aryxymaraki's picture
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This may be the least realistic option, but my gut instinct is to include both.

Perhaps the Tower of Knowledge is staffed by Loremasters, but Mages do still exist, while rare, for example. (As opposed to Nobiran Wizards, mages are normal humans with exceptional learning and talent. Perhaps the apprentices that flunk mage training become loremasters, which is a totally random thought.)

I do feel like the Auran Empire as a whole fits well into the HFH setting conceits, but I also feel like having a setting built around the HFH would significantly detract from its ability to be used for more standard D&D play, most notably in terms of the magic systems, which is why my gut inclination is some kind of compromise.

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Joined: 2012-02-22 22:34

I'd love to see it done for Heroic Fantasy and I think your preference is to make it a Heroic Fantasy product, but you would seriously cut down demand for the setting if you choose HC over Core, I'd think. It'd be nice as a stretch goal - a full chapter on it as Heroic Fantasy or a several page appendix.

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Joined: 2012-02-26 22:57

It's hard for me to give an opinion without seeing an example of how the setting would change, but I lean towards keeping it core for reasons others have already stated. Would it be difficult to have the setting incorporate both? For example, if death is meant to be final in the campaign setting, and reincarnate, restore life and limb, regenerate, and ressurection as written in core would ruin that concept, can you still have clerics but make those specific spells off limits or make them much more difficult to cast?

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Joined: 2013-10-07 06:44

I prefer core.

The main reason is I don't understand how ceremonialist casters can stand up to standard casters in combat, and I prefer a human-centered campaign. Maybe this is less of a problem when using eldritch spell lists because they are not as powerful in combat as core spells, I don't know.

Apart from that, I do like the feel of HFH. And I will buy it regardless.

Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

As much as I like the Heroic Fantasy Handbook, declaring that it's the ruleset used by Auran Empire campaign setting would be a big change. The Auran Empire is mentioned throughout the core rules, the Player's Companion, Lairs and Encounters, and Domains at War; a number of campaigns using the core rules already use the Auran Empire as their campaign setting; most existing examples of the non-HFH rules reference the Auran Empire campaign setting in some way... Suddenly saying "The Auran empire campaign setting actutally uses a bunch of different rules and assumptions to the ones you've seen it using previously" is kind of a big deal.

Now, if you were to repackage the Heroic Fantasy Handbook as "ACKS Second Edition," then I'd happily accept any changes you make to the rules and setting. But I'd probably keep playing first edition for most campaigns, because I'm a grognard and things were better in the old days...   :)

More seriously, you did mention somewhere (maybe in a comment on the kickstarter page) that you were considering making the campaign setting for Heroic Fantasy companion an earlier age of the Auran Empire campaign setting - and I'd be fine with that, too; A lot can change in a few centuries.

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I'm inclined to agree with the majority here and prefer ACKs core as the default assumption.

Would it be possible for Heroic Fantasy to represent a period of time later or earlier in the timeline than the default assumption? perhaps magical knowledge continues to erode alongside civilization as the empire continues to decline, and people lose the secrets of casting magic without corruption or ceremony.  If ACKs is roughly mimicing the world circa 400AD, perhaps HF could be closer to "800" or "900AD". 

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It is my opinion the presentation  in the preview was fine. 


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Joined: 2017-03-29 10:45

I like the idea of using the core rules as the default, with either a chapter or sidebar notes with information for those using the Heroic Fantasy Rules. This would allow those with only the core rules (or B/X or Labyrinth Lord or something similar) to use the setting easily, and might even encourage them to pick up the HFH if the extra stuff piques their interest. Another possibility would be to make the stretch goal we didn’t reach with this Kickstarter a stretch goal for the next one (the main book having standard rules and the stretch goal being a slimmer volume with the earlier age presented with Heroic Fantasy Rules).


The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

This is all really good feedback! Please keep it coming.

bestial warlust
Joined: 2017-04-04 08:15

I noticed the proficiency table list Class, General and Bonus but it doesn't reflect on the table when you get a bonus proficiency.

The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I noticed the proficiency table list Class, General and Bonus but it doesn't reflect on the table when you get a bonus proficiency.

-bestial warlust

Thanks, good catch!

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Joined: 2017-01-14 00:36

Chiming in here in favour of the core rules remaining the default assumption for at least most of the books moving forward. HFH is great, don't get me wrong, but it's distinctly not B/X and that sense of "old D&D updated" has been a big pull for many of the people I've found to be interested in the game.

Obviously sidebars, etc with HFH/BCK info would be great. 

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Another thing leaps to mind while reading the layout preview. Not including Guns of War, we now have equipment tables scattered across 4 books (Core, Players Companion, Domains At War, and Heroic Fantasy Companion) and a lot of that equipment is usable in any campaign.

Given the nature of the game, many campaigns are going to end up with significant armies and/or siege setups and military-oriented characters are quite common, so the military equipment costings are a big thing. In HFH, the thieves' tools are a good addition (just the rumour of their existence has perked up interest in playing thief-type characters in my campaign); and with the exception of Black Lotus, all the new herbs could be used in any campaign without very much difficulty. 

Now, while obviously we all can (and probably should) construct our own concatenated equipment lists, at this point I'm starting to wonder if perhaps a dedicated equipment/hireling/general markets supplement might not be a good idea. So much of early-to-mid level ACKS seems to come down to "score well in dungeon, escape with the loot, hire every available henchman, work out what else to buy" that the more options available the better.

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Concur strongly with Chalicier on both points. Recognizing that HFH has some great optional rules, on the whole, ACKS' chief draw for me is as a more rational B/X. Likewise, while I'm not certain a brand-new supplement is necessary, I would not feel cheated to pay for an Axioms article that provided a consolidated list of gear (and another for proficiencies), and I'm a $5/articlepatron).
Fabio Milito Pa...
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What rules do you need to implement? are you going to do a setting/rule book (with class and magic specific to the setting) or a stand alone game with an incorparated setting?

Jim Williams
Joined: 2012-02-16 05:23

Like many in this thread, I think you will get more traction if the supplement uses ACKS Core.  I would love to see HFH implemented in some fashion though (sidebars, dual-statted entries, a rider supplement, and Axioms article, etc.)

Joined: 2018-02-14 22:07

Another vote for "ACKS Core with HFH/BCK as presented options". I also get the appeal of making it an HFH/BCK setting, but from a product management/brand management standpoint, your core setting should showcase your core rules, first and foremost.

Joined: 2018-04-06 21:12

I don't think it makes good business sense to require more than the Core rules for the campaign setting book as you're substantially increasing the entry cost for new players to get involved.  Instead, it makes more sense to include just enough flavour/inspiration in the setting guide to actually entice people to buy HFH to enhance their experience.  So perhaps include some of the general rules changes that apply to the setting as a whole and provide plenty of sidebars and such that show how a particular rule/class from the HFH could be used in conjunction with what they already have.  That way they can get going right away and add the HFH as needed/desired.

The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Sounds like near unanimity on this! 

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Just noticed this thread. I'll add my voice to the chorus: Auran Empire should use ACKS Core, for all the reasons mentioned (brand dilution, ease of use, playability, cost of entry, portability, etc., etc.). I think sidebars with reference to how the use of the HFH would adjust the setting would be acceptable, as long as they don't become too intrusive, but it's a fine line; at a certain point it's probably better as a standalone conversion document, either free, through Patreon, or on DTRPG if it's meaty enough.

Joined: 2018-04-06 21:12

Or an issue of Axiom...