Adventurer-Kings is centered on characters. Each character has skill in at least one ability. Skill in an ability is rated from level 1 to level 9. Secret special spells and abilities are attainable at high levels of ability (skill level 5+ ).

Some special abilities are fairly minor, others are average, and others are potentially quite powerful. The usual percentages increases for an ability may or may not continue, and sometimes they'll only be given when you reach certain levels. Some advanced abilities will allow you to override a rules restriction in some minor way, so if you get a report of another player doing something that normally isn't allowed, that could be the reason why. Also if a special ability gained by someone else seems too strong, it may be because there are limitations that only the other player knows about. The special abilities can also vary from game to game.

Characters can raise their skill by practicing, or by performing actions related to those abilities (see the Experience Table for more details.) Each character also has an aptitude for each ability which determines how hard he has to work in order to rise in that ability. If a character practices an ability, his chances of success are lessened if he is trying to attain a level beyond his natural aptitude.

Characters also have a race (Human, Elven, Dwarven, Orcish), an Alignment (Divine, Good, Druidic, Neutral, Pagan, Evil, Undead) and a Temper (Cowardly, Cautious, Brave or Berserk). Temper affects the character's conduct in personal combat. Characters get along better with other characters of their own race, and each race usually favors one army type and terrain (for example, Elven armies fight better as bowmen and in forests.)

Each alignment has its own special benefits, shown in the Alignment Table. Alignment also affects victory conditions (if you can't win, it will improve your standing in the game if a King of a similar alignment wins.) Lastly, alignment affects hiring. Neutral characters have an advantage because a King can rarely hire a character with an alignment more than two steps removed from his own alignment. Undead and Divine Kings, while powerful, are disadvantaged as only about 40% of heroes will serve these alignments. To explain the essential beliefs of the seven alignments:

Characters may move freely on land or sea, and can move through enemy or neutral provinces without fear of capture if unencumbered by armies (the code of honor of this game-world forbids such capture.) They may carry any number of magic items. Armies can move only if they are with characters. If a character is given an order to move, and the move would be illegal for any of the armies led by him, the move is not allowed. There are two kinds of characters: Kings and Heroes.

[2.1] Kings

The 10 or so lowest-numbered characters in the game are Kings. No more than one King of Divine or Undead alignment is permitted per game. At the start of the game, the player assigns the King's name, race, temper, alignment and four ability levels. The King can have four abilities start at level 1, or 2 abilities at level two, and so on, but can't assign more than 2 points to any ability. If a player picks Naval ability for his king, the King will be given the Fleet army-type and placed in a province next to the ocean. When a player picks a race, he is guaranteed to get the preferred army type of that race, listed with the Army Type Table. Orcish Kings will always be given Warg Riders as their second army type, unless they have selected Naval ability.

Kings also automatically get a +1 modifier to their skill in Melee, Archery and Sage, which reflects their royal training and education. A Divine King receives a +1 modifier to his White Magic skill, and starts with zero aptitude in Necromancy skill. An Undead King receives a +1 modifier to his Necromancy skill, and starts with an zero aptitude in White Magic skill. The starting aptitude of a King is always 2 higher than his initial skill, to a maximum of 5. Undead and Divine Kings cannot start with any ability in a skill in which they have zero aptitude.

When two Kingdoms become adjacent, the Kings are given each other's phone numbers and addresses. Exception: some games are designated no-diplomacy games and players may not contact each other outside of the game. If a King does not have another King's phone number, he can still send a written message to another King through the referee, who will forward it to the other player. He may not include his real name, address or phone number in this message. If you become adjacent to a Divine or Undead King, you will be told of the King's alignment in your Diplomacy report.

[2.2] Heroes

Heroes start with an average of 2-3 ability levels. Kingdoms start with one hero of the same alignment as the king, and one hero of an adjacent alignment, except that a Divine king starts with heroes of Good alignment and an Undead King starts with heroes of the Undead and Evil alignment. Unemployed Heroes wander from one province to another, sometimes staying in the same province for a turn or more, until they are hired. They move at the end of a game turn, so if you are told the location of a Hero, you know he will stay there until the end of the turn. A King is notified when a Hero enters a province he owns, or may encounter him in other provinces of the world.

[2.3] ALIGNMENT TABLE

AlignmentReduction/ Alignment DifferenceMagic AptitudeSpecial AptitudeSpecial Abilities
Divine20%NoneNone50% Fanaticism
+1 White Magic
Resurrection to Good Alignment
Pay heroes as if Divine=Good
Good12%WhiteSage40% Fanaticism
Druidic15%PsychicDruidAutomatic Treat
Neutral20%IllusorySpyOrder of Duelists
Pagan15%ElementalExplorerOrder of Magicians
Evil12%NecromancyThief25% Fanaticism
Automatic Break
Undead20%NoneNone100% Skeletal Fanaticism
Automatic Break Treaty
Necromantic Charm Spell
+1 Necromancy

At first glance, the Reduction/Alignment Difference column seems to favor Good and Evil characters, but counteracting this is the fact that Neutral characters are, on the average, closer to the other alignments and can hire characters of any alignment.

Under "Magic Aptitude" and "Special Aptitude" are listed abilities which characters of the given alignment are especially good at. Their starting aptitude is doubled for these abilities, up to level 5.

Special alignments:

The following rules apply to both alignments:

[2.4] TEMPER TABLE

TemperSpecial EffectsFlight from CombatRefusal
BerserkRage
Intimidation
NeverNever
BraveElanWhen odds seem unfavorable and the risk of receiving a death blow seems largeNever
CautiousParrying
Fleeing
When the risk of receiving a death blow seems significant1 - 50%
CowardlyBegging for mercy
Bluffing
When death possible; may also flee after any harmful blow50 - 100%

Rage: The Berserker does not really notice a damaging blow, and this psychological fortitude gives him 1-4 extra hit points.

Intimidation: Opponents are cowed and have less chance to hit in melee (Brave -5%, Cautious -10%, Cowardly -15%.)

Elan: The man with Elan is bold in combat and never hesitates to instantly take advantage of an opening in melee. He gets a +10% chance to hit.

Parrying: The Cautious man is expert at parrying, and his opponents have a -10% chance to hit.

Fleeing: 10% is added to the chance of success when attempting to Flee.

Begging for mercy: In addition to fleeing, a Coward may plead for mercy in order to escape death. Begging works best against Good characters and characters of similar alignment. On the average, it has a 50-50 chance of working.

Bluffing: In battle duels, the Coward makes excuses 2/3 of the time ("warhorse is sick", etc.), thus avoiding the 25% demoralization. The coward's "Bluff" ability is only used when the character actually enters the duel (in other words, when an "FL" is not at the start of his encounter plan.) It is used only when the coward has "refused to enter combat" according to the temper table.

Note: A cowardly or cautious King will never refuse combat, although they may well flee from combat after they take damage.