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viernes, 21 de diciembre de 2012

Review of La Puerta de Ishtar

As you may already know as fans of role-playing games and assiduous Internet users patronage is becoming a quite common way for financing interesting projects, one of these projects is La Puerta de Ishtar, the role-playing game located in a fantastic version of Ancient Mesopotamia created by Rodrigo García Carmona, and whom I have been one of the many sponsors.

Today I bring you the review of the book of La Puerta de Ishtar and some photographs of part of the complements which are part of my rewards as a participant in the patronage.

La Puerta de Ishtar it's divided in the following chapters:

La Puerta de Ishtar (The Gate of Ishtar)

In this first chapter there's an introduction to role-playing games for people beggining in this kind of hobby, were game conventions are explained (using dice, typical mechanisms, etc.) and there is a brief introduction to Kishar, the world where the game adventures are developed, and its main nation, the Akkadian Empire, ruled by Sargon the Alchemist.

La Forja de un destino (The Making of a Fate)

In the second chapter we have rules for creating the characters of the game, a fact that implies to choose a kind of character, assign points to characteristics and decide about his story, his nature and jobs throughout his life, that will establish which skills he has. In this chapter is also most important players deciding about the motivation that changed their lives forever (known as the turning point) and how are they related among themselves.

The character types available are divided between the Akkad inhabitants and those of the territories closer to the Empire.

Inside the Empire we can choose between Awilu Noblemen, Mushkenu slaves or Wardu Guardians (very similar to Minotaurs), those two last ones created by Sargon using magic and dark arts to serve the Awilu.

Outside the Empire we can choose between Free Cimmerian Men (an offspring of fugitive Mushkenu slaves) and Uridimmu Nomads (humanoids with jackal head) inhabitting the Eria desert.

As a last option we can choose to be merchants of the city of Assur, whom can be Awilu or Mushkenu, with a bit more freedom than the other Akkadians and yet part of the Empire.

Finishing the chapter there's a completely developed sample character to take as a reference to create our own.

Conflictos y emociones (Conflicts and emotions)

The third chapter is devoted to the game's basic rules, based in a system with difficulty numbers to overcome with the roll of the dice, being 9 for the easiest and routine tasks and 21 for the almost impossible ones; for the rolling 3 or 4 standard dice are used according to the situation.

With the basic description of the ruleset there also rules for using the character's traits and Passion, Determination and Heroic Sacrifice. Traits define the caracter's nature and can be used positively or negatively (may favor their actions or be harmful), Passion and Determination help the character to gain an oportunity to achieve what he wants using his willpower and Hero Sacrifice can be used in extreme situations where characters need to be successful albeit they can die.

Sangre y Arena (Blood and Sand)

The fourth chapter brings us rules to be used specifically in combat and are divided in two types: skirmishes and confrontations.

Skirmishes are designes as fast combats to be used when fighting with non player characters (so they are of swift resolution) while confrontations are more complex and are used when characters fight with important enemies (like the main antagonists in the adventure they are playing); actions (manouvers of different types) can be used in confrontations achieving different effects depending of the taken action (trying to disarm the oponnent, immobilize him, etc.).

In addition to explaining the basics of combat a list of weapons and armor is also provided along with an example of combat.

Un día más (One day more)

If in the previous chapter were the combat mechanics in this one we will have the necessary info for the character's recovery regarding physical injuries mood (reflected in Passion and Determination).

In addition to the above there are also rules to account character's experience and how to use it to improve characteristics and skills.

Entre los ríos (Between the rivers)

This chapter aims to tell the story of how Sargon founded the Akkadian Empire after defeating the Anunnaki (the old Gods of Sumer) with the aid of the Igigu (the Gods from the Stars), and describe the Empire, its people, its customs and its culture (based in historic Mesopotamic cultures). Furthermore there's a list of the city-states ruled by the Ensi (the Sorcerer Kings) in which the Empire is divided, telling how are organized and which is its internal situation.

Dioses y Brujos (Gods and Sorcerers)

Here we reach the chapter devoted to the cosmology of the world of Kishar and the magic.

The gods of the game are of two types, on one hand the Anunnaki (the gods of Ancient Sumer) and for the other the Igigu (The Gods from the Stars), clearly inspired by Lovecraft works and that with names like Kogu-Shogtossu, Kuthulu or Shuk-Nippurash should be certainly familiar to players and referees who played with rulesets related to Cthulhu Mythos.

Regarding the magic of teh game is necessary to reamrk that it is composed of sorcerer enchantments not having to envy those from Call of Cthulhu regarding its description and its effects, so the author advises to be used only by non playing characters.

Más allá del Imperio (Beyond the Empire)

The Akkadian Empire isn't the only land where the adventures of La Puerta de Ishtar can take place, so this chapter briefly describes the territories of the Cimmerian (Mushkenu slaves running from the Sargon rule), Babylonia (the city founded by Sumerians fugitives from Akkad and the Igigu domination) or the Eria desert (inhabited by the Uridimmu) among other kingdoms and places.

Un gran poder (A great power)

This chapter is exclusively devoted to the Game Master and is full of guides for creating characters, adventures and campaigns and also with advices and good practices to be a good referee, a fact that could be applied to La Puerta de Ishtar and also any other role-playing games.

Los males del hombre (The ills of man)

Every fantasy game is provided with Non Playing Characters and a a bestiary fitting the setting. La Puerta de Ishtar of course includes them, so in this chapter there's advices and game stats for more common human enemies, animals and other supernatural beings.

Esclavos de sus Deseos (Slaves of their Desires)

Game books usually have an introductory adventure serving new players to test them, this is the case of the Esclavos de sus Deseos module, although it's not a completely developed adventure but rather a very complete schema to adequate it to the characters created by players (it's important to remember that in La Puerta de Ishtar they are the main narrative engine). In the module you will find information about the city of Kish (the scenario where the action take place) and fully NPC info (including gaming stats) and advice regarding how to integrate it in a campaign.

El final del camino (The end of the road)

In the last chapter Rodrigo shares with us his thoughts about the game creation and the myriad of details of the setting that really come form the cultures of Ancient Mesopotamia (with a brief guide of the Akkadian language and a specialized bibliography), and how other role-playing games, literature (with pulp authors like Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith among many others), Conan and Grey Mouser comics and fantastic adventures cinema of the eighties, with films like Conan the Barbarian or Tygra: Fire and Ice, and the peplum movies of the sixties have shaped La Puerta de Ishtar.

To finish this review only remains for me to recommend La Puerta de Ishtar to neophytes willing to try role-playing games and veterans wanting to try something new in their game tables, if you want to acquire it you can find it in physical format for Spain through Ediciones Sombra and in electronic format through DriveThruRPG.

This entry it's also available in the following languages:
Castellano Català

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