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miércoles, 13 de marzo de 2013

Review of Saqueadores de Tumbas

Today I will show you the review of the seventh game of the Cliffhanger line of publisher Ludotecnia: Saqueadores de Tumbas (Tomb Raiders).

This game, written by Pedro Gil and Cristóbal Sánchez (both part of Aventureros Errantes de la Marca del Este collective), takes us to Ancient Egypt taking advantage of the fascination exercised by the mistery surrounding tombs of pharaohs and architecture of Nile lands.

Along 10 chapters (or papyrus using book terminology) authors unfold a game covering both the historical aspect of Ancient Egypt, with the assorted dynasties of rulers and many gods, and the fantasy aspect of pulp or similar stories. In the latter case is suggested the possibility of crossing the game with other ones in the series, take as inspiration classics as those refering Carcosa, like An Inhabitant of Carcosa by Robert W. Chambers and The King in Yellow de Ambrose Bierce, or Under the Pyramids (written jointly by Howard Phillips Lovecraft and Harry Houdini) and also contemplating the possibility of taking the action to more recent eras like decades of twenties and thirties of past century (to do it the referee needs to adapt the rules for more modern times, a fact that shouldn't be difficult given the system used).

You can create up to five different types of characters: slaves, scribes, soldiers, priests and looters. Each character class will have their strengths and weaknesses (the priest, for instance, is the only one who can use magical spells) and will have access to equipment and weapons, each one also will evolve in a level and experience points system.

the game system uses a variation of Sistema Madre (the same one shared by all titles of Cliffhanger series) where all actions have an associated difficulty (4 for easiest actions and 18 for truly legendary ones) to beat making a roll of 1D10 adding the used ability score. the system also contemplates the possibility of gamers failing the roll with a natural 1, though a 10 it's not necessarilly an automatic success (regarding this matter I think that alternative rules can be created exploring the chance to obtain critical sucesses, in other words, involving getting a significant advantage for characters).

Drawings by Virginia Berrocal

After character creation and rules system the next important matter to review is the design of tombs in wihich characters will want to get into, a fact that takes us to traps difficulting characters progress, creatures that will be inside and treasures they hope to take.

traps can be of two different types: mechanical and magical. Mechanical ones are typical of these cases (slabs that activate arrow launching when steps into them, rocky balls that can crush raiders...) and the magical ones include all types of spells, like the famous curse of the pharaoh.

Creatures can be animals, like crocodriles and snakes, or supernatural monsters like guardian skeletons or mummies that, of course, don´t want tombs to be raided by avid treasure looters.

And speaking of treasures, inside tombs it's possible to find other kind of treasures, not only gold or precious stones, so it's possible to find magic objects like amulets or texts like Book of the Dead, with which you can learn magic...

Finally, the game presents us an introductory adventure for four level 1 characters that exposes all said previously in the book, that of course can be adequated for every gaming group.

As I said at the beggining of this post the authors think that the game's action can be taken to more recent times, it can be done using pulp style rulesets or settled near this years (in fact one of the first titles of the Cliffhanger series, the game Dogfight, that starred the first review of my blog is a perfect candidate). If you need some inspiration I recommend the following film proposals:

The Mummy (1932): Wikipedia | IMDB
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Wikipedia | IMDB
The Mummy (1999): Wikipedia | IMDB
The Mummy Returns: Wikipedia | IMDB

And finally I present you a little aid for Saqueadores de Tumbas: Three diferent models of character sheets decorated with egyptian motives for not having to photocopy the one at the end of the book (as you can see all are written in Spanish, but if any of my English-speaking readers buys the game and needs them in English I will gladly translate them).

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

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