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jueves, 5 de enero de 2012

Review of the Blue Box of Aventuras en La Marca Del Este

Today I will introduce the review of the Blue Box of Aventuras en La Marca Del Este.

The Blue Box contains the Campaign Vademecum with the game world background and a full colour map printed in both sides. In one of those sides there’s a world map with the three world continents (Valion, Cirinea and Ziyarid), in the other one there are two maps, one of the La Marca del Este and one of Robleda, the main civilized nucleus of La Marca.

Let’s see the content of the Vademecum, structured in the following chapters::


The preface is written by Francisco José Campos, editor in chief of Dragón magazine (a translation by Google can be found in this link) during the time it was published in Spain by Ediciones Zinco in the mid 1990’s. In this preface highlights the good work carried out by members of La Marca del Este and how they have managed to recover the eagerness for this kind of products.


The introduction give us a brief presentation of the game world, its mythical origins, a short historical chronology and its cosmology, represented mainly by the struggle between Light represented by Valion god and his wife Aneirin (the Sun and the Moon respectively) and Darkness embodied by Penumbra, with Silas the Indifferent representing Chaos between them.

Valion, Cirinea and Ziyarid

The information presented in the chapters devoted to the three continents is organized as a travel guide because it gives data about ecology, history, politics, military organization and people of every nation in the vademecum (in some cases also offers game statistics for characters and creatures to be used by referees). This information though is not very exhaustive, so we have free reign to develop our own contents.

The distinct cultures and people of these continents are based in typical fantasy tales and worlds and in original Dungeons & Dragons, but in this case authors wanted to make clear the influence of writers as Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan the Barbarian) recreating our world civilizations in an imaginary environment.

With this reasoning previously exposed Valion represents the eurasian continent with nations like Reino Bosque (Forest Kingdom, clearly inspired by the Roman Empire), Visirtán (of Arabic and Muslim inspiration), Nirmala (based in India), Kang (Imperial China) or Endo (Japan of Samurai).

Cirinea’s continent represents Africa and we can find Neferu (Ancient Egypt) and Barambali (corresponding to the Black Africa civilisations) plus civilisations like la Selva de Ofir (Ofir’s Jungle, with Snake Men) and Reino Cobra (Cobra Kingdom, both clearly inspired by the writings of Howard).

To finish this geographical tour there’s Ziyarid, the Lost Continent, inhabited by mysterious people (Tiger Women among others) and prehistoric monsters (dinosaurs), there’s also the rumour that in this continent exists Xorandor, the most important city of dark elfs, the first born under the cover of Penumbra.

The Ancient Ones

The chapter devoted to the Ancient Ones recovers one characteristic of the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons, consisting in the influence of Howard Phillips Lovecraft writings. The authors intended this influence to be apparent contributing their own vision of the Mythos creatures, but in a completely optional manner to the game’s background.

Creatures presented in the vademecum are divided in two types: Absolute Ancient Ones (Great Old Ones and Outer Gods) and Syncretic Ancient Ones (minor races, avatars, etc.). As in the previous chapters dedicated to describe the continents there are game statistics for using them during the game.


The chapter devoted to adventures offers two modules. First one, Cantemos junto al fuego en el Camino de la Mantícora (Let’s sing by the fireside at Manticore’s Lane), it’s an adventure where inquiry is important and the second one, Rapto en la Hacienda Labardía (Abduction from Labardía Estate), a typical dungeon crawling that can be used as an introductory adventure.


Appendix N contains the set of literary works and films that have inspired Pedro Gil (Steinkel) to create the world of La Marca.

In this section you well find, besides the works of Lovecraft and Howard, some classic fiction authors like Edgard Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle or Robert Louis Stevenson among others.

As for movies you will find The Vikings (by Richard Fleischer, with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis), Jason and the Argonauts (with special effects by Ray Harryhausen) and many others...

The epilogue offers a reflection about the important role of fantasy and imagination in our lives and how it helps us to regain our status as persons.

What else can be said about the Blue Box? When you have it in your hands, unwrap it and carefully review its contents some ideas will emerge on their own and start dancing in your mind. In my case there are some struggling to take shape, so who knows?, perhaps I will be lost in the trails of La Marca soon...

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