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Old 05-02-2011, 06:57 AM   #1
Azel
 
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Default I am intrigued by Aquelarre (rpg from Spain)

Obviously I am on the slowmobile because I only recently heard of this rpg from Spain and it's been out since 1990s. However, it piqued my interest because the setting sounds right up my alley and very relevant to In Nomine.

Summary: A Basic Role Playing (BRPs) influenced system (remember CoC percentile?) where humans play in 15th Century Iberian peninsula. The setting is a heady mix of Christian, Moorish, and Jewish Iberia where the five kingdoms vie for dominance. However, the real war is behind the scenes with scary cryptid monsters -- vampires and werewolves and ghouls, oh my -- and, you guessed it, the celestial war between angels and demons.

The game (as I understand it from bilingual fans) stands out for its surreal mood and heavily researched setting. Sorcerous spells are derived from the folk-magic and satanic medieval recipes. Components end up with macabre lists and rituals that tread into mutilated dead babies territory. Rationality and faith are paired character statistics that guide players through mortal and moral danger. The atmosphere draws upon the horror of Call of Cthulhu Dark Ages, but with celestials as top of the heap of monstrous antagonists.

It sounds like a hoot and a half.

And yet I'm left wondering. How amazing it would be to have an In Nomine production line deal with all those epic past ages: pre-Reconquista Iberia, Rise of Babylonia, Silk Road, Age of Rome, etc. And here's a work that has a fanbase clamoring to get this game the respect they feel it deserves in the English speaking world. At simplest, basic translation sounds like a real opportunity for either BRPs or GURPs to pick up fan appreciation.

But in my heart of heart I dream of an In Nomine conversion...

Anyone else heard whispers of this game? For those who know, is it perhaps too "hardcore" for our US palate? Is it beyond imagining SJG pulls off another coup and imports another 'blasphemous' European RPG with a respectful hand to both source material and delicate national sensibilities?
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Old 05-02-2011, 01:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: I am intrigued by Aquelarre (rpg from Spain)

Hm, sounds interesting. Will check it out.

(And it probably goes without saying that I -- and probably any of the few of us who comment regularly on these forums -- would almost certainly buy any new In Nomine-related material that comes out from SJ Games...)
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Old 05-02-2011, 02:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: I am intrigued by Aquelarre (rpg from Spain)

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Originally Posted by Jason View Post
Hm, sounds interesting. Will check it out.

(And it probably goes without saying that I -- and probably any of the few of us who comment regularly on these forums -- would almost certainly buy any new In Nomine-related material that comes out from SJ Games...)
hint HINT!!!
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Old 05-02-2011, 03:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: I am intrigued by Aquelarre (rpg from Spain)

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hint HINT!!!
Keep persuading people to buy the old In Nomine stuff (and buy as much as you can yourself) and maybe miracles can happen. :-)
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“It's not railroading if you offer the PCs tickets and they stampede to the box office, waving their money. Metaphorically speaking”
--Elizabeth McCoy, In Nomine Line Editor

Author: "What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stronger"
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Old 05-03-2011, 06:20 AM   #5
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Default Re: I am intrigued by Aquelarre (rpg from Spain)

Yeah, the old material does have to move before. Sadly, business is business; people in the creative arts have to eat, and usually can't run a charity. Besides, Marc smiles upon trade. ;)

What I find strange is where people are finding challenge in running In Nomine. I often hear comments that it was too hard (or even unimaginable) to run because things were so complex. Now, out of all the books, only Ethereal Players Guide got so heady at points that I had to set it down and digest. So, I'm sort of at a loss where the confusion is from.

Mechanically IN is pretty simple. In fact, a lot of rules medium-to-light players state that they prefer bell curves, roll at or under systems, and degree of success determiner. 2d6 roll at/under + 1d6 DoS, done. That last 1d6 is a touch divorced from Target Number roll, and thus swingy, but whatever, d666 is pretty stylish in name, thus forgivable.

What I fear is it may be one of two things: First, the 1st edition layout was an alphabet soup of sometimes sloppy in-text embedded rules, errata, and jargon. And second, body-swapping, three-layered reality beings -- especially Kyriotates -- blew many a would be gamer's mind. Considering I don't have the current core pdf (for shame...) I just assume it's far better in the editing. As for the latter, I don't think there's a cure... sometimes neurons are fragile. (But to be fair, Kyriotates are a kick in the pants for just about everyone to grok at first.)

But if I were to promote the game, I'd sell up (what I thought were) the easily accessible mechanics. Like GURPs light, even lighter, with degree of success die and a gentle sloping bell curve. And just run a few missions based on mortal humans and their struggles, before introducing the aliens with mind-blowing powers.

Still in wishful thinking mode about Aquelarre. But it is a bit of an incentive to "evangelize" IN product. If people in US dig such a genre setting more, who knows what could happen?
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Old 05-03-2011, 06:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: I am intrigued by Aquelarre (rpg from Spain)

Azel,

I've played and GMd Aquelarre (First Edition, the one from the 90s) a few times. I don't have it with me ATM, but I think I remember enough for a review.

Overally, it's a simple but pretty good game. The mechanics are BRP-based and, while not being particularly remarkable, do their job well. There is the nifty detail of splitting Dexterity into separate characteristics: one for fine hand coordination and another for overall agility and reflexes, which I like a lot and miss almost everywhere else. There are two special characteristics, RATionality and IRRationality, which fulfill a role similar to SAN in CoC: Specifically, IRR goes up whenever you learn or cast magic (which in turn demands a high IRR score), are in contact with the supernatural for a long time, etc. The sum of both is fixed, so increasing one decreases the other; when your IRR reaches 100 (I think), you become a NPC and abandon the game.

I wouldn't call the setting "extensively researched", at least in the core book --it's quite short after all. There is information on the five kingdoms in the 1350s Iberian Peninsula, along with descriptions of the main social classes and professions: enough to give interesting backgrounds and plot hooks for most conceivable characters, and no more. Regarding the mythology, it reflects actual Medieval European beliefs a lot more faithfully than the sanitized, PC interpretations that you see in other games, specially those from the US (no offense intended to US game designers, but European players do perceive the difference). This is, if you are repulsed by the mention of bodily functions, sex or disease in a RPG, maybe you shouldn't be playing. We used to play Ars Magica --which we like a lot, but whose background is too made-up for our taste-- with an Aquelarresque (what a word!) setting, and it was a blast.

The magic system consists of spell lists sorted by levels according to their in-game potential. This could have been very cliche and cheesy, but here it works because the level mechanics are very low-key and don't allow for much munchkinism, and because spells are rare, mysterious rituals that require time, energy and exotic ingredients --evil eye charms, love potions, divination rituals...-- instead of monster-killing tactical weapons. Therefore, magic-wielding players are less concerned with optimizing their characters for maximum killing potential and more with playing along. I don't remember any spell requiring mutilated babies; the most "hardcore" ingredients are stuff like menstrual blood and ISTR a human heart for one of the highest-level, never-seen-in-game spells; if you can handle that, you'll be fine.

I like Aquelarre. The rules, while not inspiring, are simple, easy to learn and don't get in the way; and the setting is a superficial but essentially correct rendition of the age it is set in. If you have access to a Spanish-speaking GM, I highly recommend you give it a try.

I hope this was useful,

M.
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Conversion of the supernatural skills in the Basic Set to Powers.

Last edited by Mercator; 05-03-2011 at 07:47 AM. Reason: Rearranged the text more logically.
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Old 05-03-2011, 07:44 AM   #7
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Default Re: I am intrigued by Aquelarre (rpg from Spain)

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Originally Posted by Azel View Post
At simplest, basic translation sounds like a real opportunity for either BRPs or GURPs to pick up fan appreciation.
As a translator, I'd love to do such a thing, but I wonder if the potential market would support it.

M.
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Conversion of the supernatural skills in the Basic Set to Powers.
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Old 05-03-2011, 11:40 AM   #8
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Default Re: I am intrigued by Aquelarre (rpg from Spain)

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Originally Posted by Mercator View Post
As a translator, I'd love to do such a thing, but I wonder if the potential market would support it.
I've been thinking on that, and it'd probably require a revision of pdf contracts so that translators would get nothing, or next to nothing upon finishing the work and would only get paid a small subset of the royalties...

I keep thinking about doing it for some of the pdfs out there, though if we don't get paid for the work up front the customers don't think our work is worth anything, catch-22.
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Old 05-03-2011, 05:03 PM   #9
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Default Re: I am intrigued by Aquelarre (rpg from Spain)

Maybe I should buy a copy while I am in Spain this summer?

I'm visiting multiple European countries, in fact. Perhaps I ought to pick up a few foriegn RPGs? I won't be in Finland for Ropecon, sad to say. :(
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Old 05-05-2011, 06:11 AM   #10
Azel
 
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Default Re: I am intrigued by Aquelarre (rpg from Spain)

Thanks Mercator for clearing things up!

Yes, Rationality and Irrationality definitely sounds like the paired (as in, as one goes up, the other must go down) coupling of Sanity and Mythos Knowledge in Call of Cthulhu.

Dexterity being divided into what sounds like Precision (fine hand coordination) and Agility/Reflexes... interesting. I do know AD&D 2e Player Option had a way to split all 6 attributes into paired sub-attributes. Dexterity ended up with Aim (top half of body) and Balance (bottom half of body) -- I'm sure a house ruling where Aim covers (or is replaced) by Precision-based functions could work. In Nomine has Agility and Precision already split, but being decoupled and paired with Strength and Intelligence has its own system conceit which may not work for what you're envisioning.

Well, before I make this too long (too late!), thanks again for an experienced perspective. Glad to know the part about setting grittiness -- it sounds more accessible to this market now (and a lot more tame than from what I'm hearing in 2nd or 3rd edition. But who knows what's being lost from translation in those other reviews). Sadly I fear perhaps even the menstrual blood, brutal living conditions, and setting appropriate bigotry is far too much for our delicate American sensibilities. It's a market with its own confusing expectations, isn't it?
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