Come the ACKS-pocalypse

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Come the ACKS-pocalypse
I imagined (dreamed/thought at night, in fact) a post-apocalyptic ACKS. Not necessarily an all-out Gonzo apocalypse - Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu does the Gonzo job wonderfully well - but rather an apocalypse after which Humanity regressed to a medieval technological level and to feudalism.
Domain management works as in vanilla ACKS, as does the rest of the economy and society.
Possible use of "exotic" (or "quantum") weapons alongside the usual nuclear and biochemical weapons led to various mutations and possibly "magic" as well. 
Instead of magic items, most of what you get are high-tech pre-war artifacts, as well as S.T.A.L.K.E.R-style Chaotic artifacts created by the "exotic" weapons. Monsters/mutants are results of pre-war advanced bio-engineering and the "exotic" weapons.
Possible invasion of Lovecraftian entities due to use of "exotic" weapons.
There is the Blight - a collective term for radiation and bio-contamination, as well reality-wrapping Chaotic effects of the "exotic" weapons. The Blight causes mutations and can cause sickness and death. This is similar to Kelly Roberge (K-Slacker)'s Creep rules.
Fighters, thieves, explorers, assassins - work as per the base rules.
Mages, clerics, and other casters - removed and replaced by psychics and sorcerers. Both use traditional spellcaster rules, similar a bit to a mage. Psychics use psionics, which are quite limited in scope and power but safe to the caster; mostly divination and charm-type "spells", very little actual damaging spells. Psychics cannot create "magic items".
Sorcerers, on the other hand, take risks and mess around with Chaos, which is nasty; they follow the Shades of Magic rules from Axioms 1. Anything damaging or mind-controlling, among other similar things, is Black Magic. Using black magic invites Chaotic influence, and thus Blight. Thus, sorcerers seek pre-war artifacts to gain power from rather than risk frequent use of black magic. They may assemble all sorts of contraptions from scrap, but these are expensive; without the pre-war industrial infrastructure, building even a simple automatic weapon is a major undertaking, even if there is pre-war scrap at hand. Building such devices uses the magic item creation rules in ACKS.
Both psychics and sorcerers can heal; in fact, this is a safe white magic spell.
Machinist rules are perfect for the tech-artificer who builds robots from scratch! But this time in a human rather than a Dwarf.
Mutants are a race - and one with low XP cost. They gain two rolls on a beneficial mutation table and one on a negative mutation table. Each mutation is a Power as per the Player's Companion. Thus, the negative mutation evens out one positive mutation, and what we are left with are one positive mutation and blight resistance - 2 powers, 100XP. Higher levels of the Mutant race grant more mutations.
Robots are also a race - but much, much more expensive. Very tough at low levels, but progressing through levels at a snail's pace. They need no food or water and are resistant to Blight, but normal healing magic or stim packs do not heal them - they need repairs (as automatons?).
You can justify almost any monster by the combination of radiation, pre-war bio/cyber-technology, and invading Chaotic entities.
Between this and my Elysian Empire, my head is full of ACKS ideas!
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I wrote here about my new setting idea for ACKS: a far-future post-apocalyptic setting which I now call Blighted Future. This takes place an indeterminate number of centuries into the future, after an apocalyptic war involving nuclear, chemical, biological, nanotechnological, and "exotic" quantum (read: reality-bending) weapons. The world regressed to a medieval society, where the majority of resurgent humanity toil in the fields in meager subsistence farming, ruled by feudal lords. The wilds are vast and dangerous, and ancient technology awaits in long-forgotten bunkers. In other words, this is "usual" ACKS set in an apocalyptic future.
The subject of this post is that of technology. Before the war, humanity was very advanced - capable of producing highly durable goods, energy weapons, wonder drugs, semi-sentient (or sentient in some cases) robots, and reality-warping "exotic" quantum weapons.
All of this went up in radioactive smoke when the bombs fell.
Current blighted future technology ranges from stone age to early Renaissance. The average, and most common, technological level resembles the Dark Ages. Dark ages with shields made from old traffic signs and plate armor made from pre-war boilers, that is. Crop rotation and stirrups, but nothing mechanized beyond the windmill and arbalest level. Bloomeries for smelting scrap metal, but rarely blast furnaces.
In terms of arms and armor, some city-states can manufacture firearms out of scrap, but these never exceed the flintlock level. Even then, unreliable trade means that the various materials necessary to manufacture good gun powder and firearms are expensive and in short supply. Most people use swords, bows, and spears - which are far easier to make from low-grade scrap or local materials. Scrap also allows primitive armor, but high-grade plate mail is rare as it requires better steel and craftmanship, which are uncommon.
Scholars, particularly sorcerers, sometimes learn how to manufacture wondrous technology resembling pre-war achievements. However, these are expensive and complicated beyond imagining. This has two reasons.
The first is that modern technology requires a vast manufacturing infrastructure. A village in early 21st century Afghanistan can manufacture AK-47s. However, this requires parts and materials produced by industrialized countries. Low-grade scrap is common in the blighted future. However, materials and tools good enough to assemble pre-war technology - even a good revolver, not to mention a laser rifle - are exceedingly rare and no living person or organization can produce them. The only exception are sorcerers in their abodes - and even they require high-grade pre-war parts for any complex technological project.
The second is a cargo-cult attitude to science and technology. Science is a way of thinking, and so is engineering. A modern-day scientist or engineer approaches problems in a skeptical and rational manner. Based on scientific knowledge, he knows how to deduce solutions from evidence. Not so in the blighted future. Centuries of primitive subsistence eroded this crowning achievement of modern thought. Instead, people approach problems from a mystical point of view and cannot separate superstition from fact. This includes sorcerers. Thus, they approach problems not from their underlying principles, but from their appearance.
For example, Blattus, a 9th level sorcerer, wants to build an assault rifle. He spends many sacks of gold on excellent scrap parts brought by adventurers from old ruins. He then researches the many texts written by previous post-war sorcerers on this subject - as pre-war blueprints are both impossibly rare and baffling to the sorcerer. Such tomes arose from experimentation. This experience includes a vast amount of superstition. For example, a previous sorcerer built an assault rifle, but during its construction he prayed to a dread idol. The gun worked, so he wrote down that this prayer helped. Add many layers of such flawed "deduction", and the entire production process becomes arcane.
In short, the lack of a technological base and magical thinking (which sometimes works! notice the "exotic" quantum weapons and their effects...) makes advanced technology indistinguishable from magic.
Thus, making technological items follows the magic item creation rules in ACKS.
The other way to acquire advanced technology, of course, is to delve into ancient ruins and bunkers...
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I love this setting very much! You're at grandmaster rank +4 in Knowledge (setting design).


Patreon SupporterPlayer's Companion BackerDwimmermount BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2012-01-14 14:14


Patreon SupporterPlayer's Companion BackerDwimmermount BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2012-01-14 14:14


Thoughts about mutations in the Blighted Future (AKA Come the ACKS-pocalypse):
Every character, at level 1, chooses if they are baseline human, or a mutant.
Baselines receive a free proficiency - Blight Resistance (+4 to all saving throws vs. Blight - the post-war contamination).
Mutants roll twice on the Beneficial Mutation table and once on the Malign Mutation table.
(each option is equal to one free Power/Proficiency.
Both mutation tables are 1d20. Mutations are each equal to a Special Power of Proficiency. Malign mutations are equal to one negative Special Power. However, on a roll of 20, they lead to a Major Mutation table of 1d8. These are equal to multiple Powers or Mutations, typically 2 powers each, but one or two are more powerful. Beware the Major Malign Mutation table!
Generally speaking, you have humans, mutants, and androids. No sentient humanoid plants or animals.
Mutants aren't a "race" per the race creation rules; androids are.
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Thoughts about androids in the Blighted Future (AKA Come the ACKS-pocalypse):
Androids are a "race", as per the ACKS race creation rules.
They don't require food, water, or air and do not mutate from exposure to Blight. They do take damage from Blight in certain cases due to EMP effects but enjoy a +4 bonus to saving throws vs. Blight.
Androids need a 8-hour inactivity cycle per 24 hours to recharge and repair.
They can also create (purchase?) repair kits for (relatively) fast use, equivalent to Comfrey in baseline ACKS.
They use the normal Mortal Wounds table. "Resurrecting" an android means salvaging data from their data core and will use a variant table.
An expensive laboratory (as per magical item research, including the costs) can restore lost limbs or other android parts. Data core recovery also uses the magical research rules.
There are three android models (classes): work (craft skills and some thief skills), combat (combat skills, obviously; tough like a Dwarven Fury's Flesh Runes), and pleasure (diplomatic and errr... "other" skills).
Sinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2016-02-17 00:16

I've been keen on an Android/Robot/Construct race for ACKS for a long time - I wanted one to replace Dwarves in my take on Dwimmermount and (belatedly) thought it'd be a good race suggestion for Barbarian Conqueror King.  I got as far as collecting all the previous 0D&Dish attempts at Robot/Construct online. 

As I recall I started trying to convert the key abilities drawn from the list into ACKs racial abilities but I am quite the novice at rules stuff and then my second daughter was born so it's been on the backburner.  If I get time I'll try and dig up my notes.

Anyway, I am not sure if it is helpful but here are the links to all the Robot/Construct class attempts I found:


The "Victorian Robot":

The "Mechanical Bastard":

Warforged (Dungeon Crawl Classics):

Robots (Anomalous Subsurface Environment):


B/X Basic Warforged:

X-Plorers (Alien and Robot Design):

Warforged (for 0D&D & Labyrinth Lord):

Warforged (for BECMI D&D - scroll down):

Warpforged (for ACKS)

Droid (for Lamentations of the Flame Princess):



Warforged Race Ability (ACKS):

Robot (White Star):

Tinman (ACKS)

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Joined: 2012-01-14 14:14

Wow! Thanks for the extensive list.

Sinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2016-02-17 00:16

No worries - hopefully it is of some use. 

So I found the notes I made after looking through what other people had done before, thinking about what the key elements of a robot/construct race would be.  The consistent themes which made them standout were IMMUNITIES (e.g. to poison), VULNERABILITIES (e.g. to rust monsters  - these varied a LOT :-) ), MECHANICAL HEALING (vs. std. recovery and magical healing), INBUILT ARMOUR (natural AC), NATURALATTACKS/INBUILT WEAPON, and LIMITED SOCIAL SKILLS.

However, there was a fair amount of variation in the way these were interpreted - I compiled the different approaches taken (as below):

IMMUNITIES (these varied widely but comprised some or all of the following - I liked the idea of all but this seemed very powerful)

  • Immune to fatigue
  • Immune to poison
  • Immune to disease
  • No need to eat or drink
  • No need to breathe

VULNERABILITIES (necessary to offset immunities - but varied even more)

  • Max damage from electricity (and stunned for 1d6 rounds) (though I think one example had electricity HEALING robots)
  • Cannot consume potions
  • Liquid attacks do max damage and cause to be stunned for 1d6 rounds
  • Double damage from metal affected spells (heat metal)
  • 2d8 damage / round from rust monsters

MECHANICAL HEALING (variants below)

  • No natural healing allowed
  • Half HP from magical healing only
  • NO HP from magical healing
  • Robot/Construct has ability to repair self – options included:
    •  heals 1d6 / 2 character levels
    • Repair self 1 hp/level for 8 hrs
    • 8 hr repair cycle – 1d6+1 repair (replaces sleep?)
    • Robot creates healing salve – heals 1d6+1, costs 250 gp
  • Robot heals by eating gold coins
    • Healing – 1 hp / gp eaten, to a max of Con per day
  • Or a combination of the above
    • 10 gp / hp to self-repair, 1d3 hrs / hp in safe well lit repair space OR mechanic repair 15 gp / hp

INBUILT ARMOUR (pretty powerful for ACKS if taking Thrassian as model?)

  • Tended to vary from +2 to +3 natural armour class (advantage)
  • Some required special armour for further AC - suggestions were armour had to be custom built and cost 2-5x the cost (limitation)
  • Some said NO further armour avail (limitation)
  • Always considered wearing metal armour for magical effects, swimming etc (limitation)

NATURAL ATTACKS (this was a little less common)

  • fists - 1d4 damage

LIMITED SOCIAL SKILLS (this one was pretty consistent and a nice, flavourful disadvantage)

  • reduced encounter reaction with non-constructs
  • increased encounter reaction with constructs (?)

Anyway, that was the consistent stuff which I thought would form a basis for the 'basic' construct race.  Then there were other bits which could be used for 'race as class' differentiation later on.  Honourable mentions I thought fun included:

  • options to 'internalise' weapons/equipment (e.g. swords embedded in arms etc.)
  • One of the products (White Star as I recall) had different builds for different types of construct - e.g. the War-Construct, the Diplomat-Construct and the Mechanic/Specialist construct which seemed like good models for class options

I didn't get much further than this other than to start trying to match the Construct/Robot abilities to existing ACKS abilities and build points - but this is really not something I have a lot of experience with - anyway below are the existing ACKS approximations I noticed:


  • Immune to disease [divine health – 1 custom power]
  • Wholeness of Body: The character is immune to all forms of poison, including magical poisons. [1 custom power]

Not sure how to allocate points for not sleeping or eating...


  • Scaly Hide: The character has a scaly hide which increases his unarmored AC to 1 or more. A heavy scaly hide may reduce the character’s base movement rate. [This custom power counts as 1 or more custom powers if selected, depending on the AC]. (3 AC = 3 pts., 60 ft. mv)


  • Inhumanity: The character suffers a penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demi-humans.

And that's as far as I got :-)


CharlesDM's picture
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Joined: 2012-03-01 22:31

Perhaps you’ll find my tinmen of some value:

Be sure to click “Older Posts” to see them all.

Also, they make a cameo appearance in D@W. So, we have an intelligent construct rule for D@W.

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Joined: 2017-09-04 12:05

One word - awesome!

Patreon Supporter
Joined: 2017-09-04 12:05

One word - awesome!

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Sinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2016-02-17 00:16

CharlesDM - your "Tinmen" take on the robot classes are great - and yes, most useful.  Thank you.  For completeness I'll add them to the list of Robto/Android classes above :-)