[19:02] <+LesterSmith> Greetings. I’m Lester Smith. You can find out pretty much anything about me at (Link: http://www.lestersmith.com,)www.lestersmith.com, or (Link: http://www.popcornpress.com.)www.popcornpress.com. But tonight I’m representing Nocturnal-Media.com (Stewart Wieck’s company) for the translation of Aquelarre to English!
[19:04] <+LesterSmith> Aquelarre is a medieval RPG set in the Iberian peninsula (what’s now Spain and Portugal mainly). It’s a sort of a fantasy game, though very historical and legendary, and fairly grim (given the time period).
[19:05] <+LesterSmith> The game is originally in Spanish. It’s been around for about 30 years and has developed quite a following in Europe. Stewart negotiated the rights to translate it a couple of years ago, and I volunteered to do the translation.
[19:05] <+LesterSmith> I think that’s probably enough intro.
[19:05] <~Dan> Thanks, LesterSmith!
[19:05] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions. 🙂
[19:05] <+PedroElCruel> Lester this is great material for role-play. Congrats to Martin for securing the rights. They were in limbo a number of years.
[19:06] <~Dan> What sets Aquelarre apart from other historical fantasy RPGs, like Ars Magica and (sort of) Pendragon?
[19:07] <~Dan> Or the more recent Keltia?
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[19:07] <+LesterSmith> The Pendragon part is fairly easy to answer…
[19:08] <+LesterSmith> Pendragon being Arthurian, with perhaps French overtones, due to the legendry.
[19:09] <+PedroElCruel> Aquelarre raises horror past mortal danger IMHO, into a realm of morality, by introducing a Satanic dimension. Do you see this as the primary difference Lester?
[19:09] <+LesterSmith> Let’s see.
[19:09] <+LesterSmith> I’m not familiar with Keltia. (Now on my research list. Thanks.)
[19:10] <+LesterSmith> Ars Magica, as I recall, pretty much focuses on magicians, with other characters playing supporting roles.
[19:10] <~Dan> (By the folks who make Yggdrasill, the Norse game. Same system.)
[19:11] <+LesterSmith> Pendragon and Aquelarre are similar–to my mind–in that each seeks to represent the distinct time and culture of its subject.
[19:11] <+LesterSmith> With Pendragon, that means following a family tree, nobility, knighthood and chivalry.
[19:12] <+LesterSmith> With Aquelarre, it’s representing the whole of the culture of Iberia–which includes knights, of a sort, and courtly life, but also poverty, disease, war, the clash of Christian and Moorish cultures…
[19:13] <+LesterSmith> And beneath it all, magic that is most powerful when Satanic.
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[19:13] <+LesterSmith> So you can be a mage, and you can even be a “good” mage, doing white magic…
[19:13] <+LesterSmith> But the real power lies in trucking with demons.
[19:13] * ~Dan nods
[19:14] <+LesterSmith> Angelic presence is a reality, too…
[19:14] <+PedroElCruel> Lester is their any treatment of saints?
[19:15] <+LesterSmith> But tied firmly to the Catholic church (or to some extent with Judaic or Muslim traditions–following those requires a bit more modification on players’ parts).
[19:15] <+PedroElCruel> Does the core book make available more conventional conflicts, such as Castile versus Aragon?
[19:16] <+LesterSmith> Yes. That historical conflict is built into character creation. Where you come from, and what people, has an effect on how life treats you in your travels.
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[19:16] <+PedroElCruel> There’s also the ecclesiastical conflict of Roman versus Iberian Catholicism. Or is this submerged for the sake of gameplay into Rationality?
[19:16] <~Dan> (Howdy, FaerieGodfather!)
[19:17] <+LesterSmith> Sorry. Had to let a Chihuahua in.
[19:17] <~Dan> 🙂
[19:18] <+LesterSmith> From what I’ve seen in my digging through the text, Roman Catholicism vs. Iberian isn’t highlighted.
[19:18] <+LesterSmith> Which is to say, the main assumption is Iberian.
[19:18] <+PedroElCruel> The first edition hints at the difficulties characters may have transgressing their social class. Has the third edition made this more accessible in your opinion to an American audience?
[19:19] <+LesterSmith> From there, players can extrapolate the effects of pursuing other faiths.
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[19:19] <+LesterSmith> I think social class is pretty firmly set from character creation, which is part of the reality players face.
[19:19] * ~Dan nods
[19:20] <+LesterSmith> But adventurers can transcend that sort of thing to some extent.
[19:20] <~Dan> By doing great deeds and so forth?
[19:21] <+LesterSmith> For me, there are echoes of the Horn of Roland in this…but also the possibility of Count of Monte Cristo adventure (if I can borrow a later piece of literature).
[19:22] <+LesterSmith> What strikes me, I suppose, is that in battling evil (sort of the default assumption in the game), characters must navigate their way through all the historical troubles and dangers. But heroes can still transcend, as in any age and culture.
[19:23] <+LesterSmith> I hope that answers the first vs. third edition question to some extent.
[19:23] <+PedroElCruel> Does the third edition make plain how they transcend their social class without the costs of ostracism or prejudice?
[19:24] <~Dan> It almost sounds like the historical fantasy cousin of Warhammer FRP.
[19:24] <+LesterSmith> I don’t think third edition emphasizes that rigidity.
[19:25] <+LesterSmith> It introduces it in character backstory, and the world you travel. A Jewish or Moorish sage will still face bigotry.
[19:26] <+LesterSmith> Maybe I should address it this way…
[19:26] <+PedroElCruel> Except in Toledo..
[19:26] <+LesterSmith> Third edition seems to emphasize Game Directors creating adventures that suit the station, abilities, and interests of the characters themselves.
[19:27] <+PedroElCruel> Lester can you detail your process of translation? Obviously Google Translate. Will you assemble a team of editors to check and verify?
[19:27] <+LesterSmith> If you design a lower class character, you’re sort of voting against adventures of courtly intrigue.
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[19:28] <+LesterSmith> Thanks for the question, Pedro. I’ve actually outlined my process in a recent post on my blog.
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[19:28] <~Dan> (Howdy, Lin_Chong!)
[19:29] <+PedroElCruel> Cool
[19:29] <+LesterSmith> Once I hand things to Stewart, his company has its own production process.
[19:29] <+LesterSmith> He’s mentioned a second editor, just for smoothness.
[19:30] <+PedroElCruel> Smart. Luis Gil perhaps?
[19:30] <+LesterSmith> And we’ve been discussing ways to involve the audience in general.
[19:30] <+LesterSmith> To be honest, I find Google Translate nearly useless.
[19:31] <+PedroElCruel> I look forward to comparing your translation to the original. Capturing real color can be a challenge.
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[19:32] <+LesterSmith> Especially those narrative sections.
[19:32] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest06!)
[19:32] <~Dan> I’ll bet!
[19:33] <~Dan> Can you address the fantastical side of the setting? You’ve mentioned the angels and demons, but what sorts of creatures from folklore appear?
[19:34] <+LesterSmith> Folkloric creatures play a lesser role, but they do have their section, and the’re pretty much specific to the locale.
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[19:35] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Fruny!)
[19:36] <+Fruny> hi, thanks
[19:36] <~Dan> (Here for the Q&A? 🙂 )
[19:36] <+LesterSmith> That’s one of the sections I’m looking forward to tackling…
[19:37] <+LesterSmith> In the US, much of our mythology is drawn from Great Britain…
[19:37] * ~Dan nods
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[19:37] <+LesterSmith> Or from Germany (Grimm’s fairy tales)…
[19:38] <+LesterSmith> Recently for L’Académie des Arcanes, I had cause to investigate French folklore, and found it unfamiliar…
[19:39] <+LesterSmith> Except for what France had imported from Greece, which put me back on more familiar footing…
[19:39] <+LesterSmith> I mention this, because I feel the same is true of Iberian folklore…
[19:40] <+LesterSmith> We’ve not been much exposed to it in the US, which makes that section both fun and educational.
[19:41] <+LesterSmith> The same could be said for Iberian history, of course. We’re much more familiar with British, perhaps French and German. But not so much Spain.
[19:41] <~Dan> Right, right…
[19:42] <+LesterSmith> The game being set in such a turbulent time of history there, the setting will be an education to English-speaking players. It certainly is for me.
[19:43] <~Dan> Can you give us some examples? What’s the Iberian take on faeries, for example?
[19:43] <+LesterSmith> Hmmmm.
[19:44] <+LesterSmith> It’s not the fairy lords and ladies of France, which to some extent found their way into England.
[19:44] <~Dan> I saw that the promo text in the KS mentions elves, for example. I’m assuming they aren’t much like… yeah, exactly.
[19:45] <+LesterSmith> They might better be characterized as the sorts of bogies and boggarts of Irish mythology, or German gremlins, though with distinctly Spanish twists…
[19:46] <+LesterSmith> Without giving you specific examples, I’m hard pressed to carry it across in a chat session. And as mentioned, I’ve not dug deep into that section yet. But…
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[19:47] <~Dan> (Howdy, open_sketch!)
[19:47] <+LesterSmith> One mention that comes to mind is a valley of people who are all immune to that nasty fungus spell shown on the Kickstarter, because “everyone knows” they’re all lepers from birth.
[19:47] <+open_sketch> hi dan
[19:48] <+LesterSmith> And there are little magical creatures of the forest of different types to be appeased or avoided.
[19:49] <+LesterSmith> Some imported from Arab tales, from Northern Africa.
[19:49] <+Fruny> so, basically, the people in the next valley over aren’t quit right and that’s why we don’t mix with them, you mark my words, young lady
[19:50] <+Fruny> must be fairies, I tell you.
[19:50] <+LesterSmith> Yeah. 🙂 Most people didn’t travel far in that setting.
[19:51] <~Dan> Are there any “flashier” creatures, like dragons and giants?
[19:52] <+LesterSmith> So you have all sorts of magical serpents. But also magic horses. And big black dogs that must be magic. And little red creatures. I mean, the book gives specific names.
[19:52] <+LesterSmith> I’ve not run across dragons and giants. (French mythology has a paucity of those, as well.)
[19:52] <+LesterSmith> Djinns exist.
[19:53] <+LesterSmith> Now that I think of it–the bestiary so far seems less “big scary crushy” things, and more “little, annoying, spiky, or poisonous” things.
[19:54] <~Dan> What about ghosts and their ilk?
[19:54] <+LesterSmith> I’m looking at a Gailan entry right now…
[19:54] <~Dan> What’s that?
[19:55] <+LesterSmith> It’s sort of a large cat with a human face, living in the forests near Granada, with evil cunning, dedicated equally to killing people or animals.
[19:57] <~Dan> A singular creature, then?
[19:57] <+LesterSmith> It can walk on two feet or four, and if my quick reading is correct, can crack its tail like a whip.
[19:57] <+LesterSmith> Well, apparently the forests near Granada are crawling with these things.
[19:57] <~Dan> Sort of a Spanish manticore, sounds like.
[19:57] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[19:58] <+LesterSmith> I mean, who would want to ever travel to Granada, right? What with all the Gailans.
[19:58] <+Fruny> I’d go for ‘the cat with hands’ kind of creepy horror
[19:59] <~Dan> They don’t have Gailans there anymore since adopting Metrics. Now they have Leeters.
[20:00] <+LesterSmith> Second glance: It may be a singular creature. Looks like just one Gailan. As opposed to the Dips that precede it, which are a number of big black dogs.
[20:00] <+LesterSmith> Nice, Dan.
[20:01] * ~Dan bows
[20:01] * +Fruny guns Dan down
[20:01] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:01] <+LesterSmith> But notice, you go right to manticore, a Greek myth.
[20:02] <+LesterSmith> No scorpion tail here.
[20:02] * ~Dan nods
[20:02] <~Dan> True.
[20:03] <~Dan> So can you describe the game system? What’s the core mechanic?
[20:03] <+LesterSmith> Before that is a Corrupia, from Castilla, which a quick read reveals as a sort of two-headed lion.
[20:05] <+LesterSmith> The game system has been compared to Chaosium’s Basic Role-Playing, at core. Percentile system. Skill based. With modifiers from a set of seven main attributes.
[20:06] <+LesterSmith> I’d go so far as to say the Rationality/Irrationality duality reminds me somewhat of Call of Cthulhu’s pairing of Sanity/Mythos Knowledge–though RR/IRR is more firmly tied to every character.
[20:07] <+LesterSmith> Polyhedral dice go up to d8. No d12s or d20s.
[20:07] <+LesterSmith> Lots of rolls are one or more d6s, especially for damage or spell duration, etc.
[20:07] <+LesterSmith> And lots of percentile checks, of course.
[20:08] <~Dan> Is there a character sheet we can see?
[20:08] <+Fruny> It’s 3AM… I’m off. Best wishes with the translation work. 😀
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[20:10] <+LesterSmith> The Kickstarter page has a link to one. Though I must warn you, a transcription error on my part resulted in a wrong Attribute in one spot. It was something I did right before the KS launch, my mistake.
[20:10] <+LesterSmith> But you can still see what a thing of beauty the sheet is.
[20:11] <+LesterSmith> And the Spanish version includes it in both Spanish and Latin (for those who care to take that layer to heart). We’re talking three versions for the translation: English, Spanish, and Latin.
[20:11] <~Dan> Hmm… Do you have a link? teh only one I see appears to be a dead link.
[20:11] <+LesterSmith> I’ve not checked in awhile. Just a sec.
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[20:15] <+LesterSmith> Hmmm. Here’s a temporary Dropbox link to my initial translation, just so you can see the graphic layout: (Link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/j9ktz47usc56g5q/Aquelarre%20PJ%20Sheet.pdf?dl=0)https://www.dropbox.com/s/j9ktz47usc56g5q/Aquelarre%20PJ%20Sheet.pdf?dl=0
[20:17] <+LesterSmith> That doesn’t really do it justice, as my PDF editor doesn’t preserve the original fonts. And we were debating what Spanish terms to keep, and what to change.
[20:18] <~Dan> Interesting… What is the relationship between attributes and skills?
[20:18] <+LesterSmith> Initially, I leaned toward teaching players the actual Spanish terms for Personaje Jugador, etc.
[20:19] <+LesterSmith> There’s a formula in the character creation section, which gives starting percentages for some skills, based on natural abilities (the characteristics).
[20:21] <~Dan> I see the ranges for criticals and fumbles up to 100%… Can the game handle scores in excess of 100%?
[20:23] <+LesterSmith> Some things, like RR/IRR, can actually carry beyond that range. A creature of IRR (nonhuman) might actually have a negative RR score, for example, and a IRR over 100, but together they still sum to 100. (-50 RR and 150 IRR, for example).
[20:24] <+LesterSmith> That becomes important when something imposes a half penalty, for example.
[20:24] <+LesterSmith> So a spell rating of 150 might be halved to 75% in certain situations.
[20:25] * ~Dan nods
[20:26] <~Dan> Speaking of which, can you describe the magic system?
[20:27] <+LesterSmith> Well, there’s magic (the realm of IRR) and rituals of faith (the realm of RR)…
[20:28] <+LesterSmith> Magic “spells” may be alchemy, black magic, enchantments, etc. It’s all considered magic, though each “spell” indicates an origin (alchemy, folk magic, infernal magic).
[20:28] <+LesterSmith> They’re ranked into groups by difficulty.
[20:29] <+LesterSmith> And learning a spell requires a book or a teacher–neither easy to find in this setting.
[20:29] * ~Dan nods
[20:30] <+LesterSmith> Casting–for a human–generally requires components, incantations, and gestures, as well as expenditure of magical energy innate to the person (20% of your IRR).
[20:30] <+LesterSmith> Fail a spell, and you can try again, though it takes more time, components, and energy.
[20:31] <+LesterSmith> Rituals of faith include baptism, marriage, and (more importantly) various rituals that acquire an angelic blessing or other sort of help.
[20:32] <+LesterSmith> Those rituals tend to be less flash-bang than spells, and it takes a special player to want to design a character to follow that path.
[20:32] <~Dan> Lots of demands on behavior, I’m guessing?
[20:33] <+LesterSmith> Exactly. 🙂
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[20:34] <+LesterSmith> Just as really powerful magic means dealing with Satan, really powerful faith rituals require adherence to the church, avoiding violence, no family or wealth, and so on.
[20:34] <~Dan> Are any spells/rituals useful in combat, or are they too slow for that?
[20:34] <+LesterSmith> Actually, that sort of goes to a core assumption of the game…
[20:34] <+LesterSmith> Combat is for people who want to get maimed or die.
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[20:35] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest22!)
[20:35] <~Dan> Pretty unforgiving, eh?
[20:35] <+LesterSmith> I mean, the combat intro says basically that, “Smart people find a way to avoid combat.”
[20:36] <+LesterSmith> “But if you have no other option, here’s how to risk life and limb for a fight.”
[20:37] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[20:37] <+LesterSmith> Yup. It’s a wonderful world of encroaching madness, war, lots of disease, opportunities for death or dismemberment, and encroaching effects of age. But *somebody* has to fight the darkness!
[20:38] <~Dan> Based upon the character sheet, I take it that combat involves hit locations?
[20:39] <+LesterSmith> Yes. One of the rolls made with an attack determines where it hits, which can determine if there’s a damage multiplier, as well as identifying any armor there.
[20:40] <+LesterSmith> And enough damage to a particular location can maim that location even if you survive the blow.
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[20:40] <+LesterSmith> (Combat also has rules for targeting a specific location, at a penalty.)
[20:40] <~Dan> I’m assuming armor reduces damage?
[20:41] <+LesterSmith> Yes. Exactly.
[20:41] <+LesterSmith> And slows you down.
[20:41] <~Dan> Reasonable.
[20:42] <~Dan> It also appears that governing attributes vary greatly by weapon type.
[20:42] <+LesterSmith> Lots of reasons to plan carefully before acting.
[20:43] <+LesterSmith> Well, some depend more on strength (fuerza), others more on dexterity (habilidad), or even agility (agilidad)
[20:44] <+LesterSmith> Knives and swords (if you’re cultured enough to actually possess a sword) require more deftness, while axes and such are more about brute strength.
[20:45] <+LesterSmith> Something about the grimness of it all really appeals to me. 🙂
[20:45] * ~Dan nods 🙂
[20:45] <+LesterSmith> It’s a different sort of challenge than D&D’s “power up, smash the door, kill the monsters, grab the loot.”
[20:46] <+LesterSmith> Much more about investigation, planning, threatening exposure, and fighting in a pinch.
[20:46] <~Dan> Are demons the Big Bads of the setting?
[20:47] <+LesterSmith> Satan definitely tops the list of “monsters.” As angelic hosts do the other direction.
[20:47] <+LesterSmith> So much so, that stats aren’t given for them. They’re forces to be reckoned with or placated.
[20:48] <+LesterSmith> Lower-level demons are statted out, as are normal beasts, and fantastical ones.
[20:48] <~Dan> How do PCs battle demons? Are they physical threats?
[20:49] <+LesterSmith> Hmmmm.
[20:49] <+LesterSmith> Physical, yes.
[20:49] <+LesterSmith> But also with magical powers (creatures of IRR find spellcasting comes naturally).
[20:50] <+LesterSmith> And with that threat of just seeing them makes you slide more and more toward IRR, which then makes you more susceptible to magic.
[20:50] <+willows> what to RR/IRR stand for?
[20:51] <+LesterSmith> So, you see a minor demon leading a band of ghouls.
[20:51] <+LesterSmith> First, let’s discover how much Rationality score you lose.
[20:51] <~Dan> (Rationality/Irrationality)
[20:51] <+LesterSmith> Then, let’s see if they use any magic against you.
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[20:52] <+LesterSmith> And finally, you can duke it out with them physically. (Defeating them might even recover some of your RR.)
[20:53] <+LesterSmith> Back to your “big bads” question…
[20:53] <+LesterSmith> I’d say this is more a matter of what sort of villain is suggested by your character choices.
[20:54] <+LesterSmith> If the players all make courtiers, adventures should be more about court intrigue–in which a sorcerer or witch might be working behind the scenes.
[20:55] <+LesterSmith> That villain might be drawing upon darker forces yet.
[20:55] * ~Dan nods
[20:56] <~Dan> So in what remains of regular Q&A time, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[20:57] <+LesterSmith> But as player, your character will face the evil courtiers, then maybe discover the villain and confront him/her (or expose that villain to the Church). If somehow you end up encountering the villain in his/her lair, where Satanic powers can be drawn upon, you’ve sort of done it wrong and deserve your horrible death. 😀
[20:57] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:58] <+LesterSmith> Final thoughts: It’s a beautiful game, set in a fascinating time, though a grim one. We’re just changing the text from Spanish to English. To do that well, I need some months to work–hence the Kickstarter project.
[20:59] <~Dan> Oh, did you post the link to the KS earlier?
[20:59] <+LesterSmith> But Stewart has made that KS project include some truly special items as well. (I can’t wait to get my hands on that box, for example.)
[21:00] <+LesterSmith> (Link: http://kck.st/1MSkQuU)http://kck.st/1MSkQuU
[21:00] <~Dan> Excellent.
[21:01] <~Dan> Also, just a quick note that for those reading this, if you enjoy the Q&As, please consider donating to my virtual “tip jar” on my blog. 🙂
[21:01] <~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, LesterSmith!
[21:01] <+LesterSmith> We’re nearing $35k, with 427 backers, and 3 days to go.
[21:01] <+LesterSmith> Thank you, Dan.