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about Aquelarre

sidhe vicious

lvl. 5 Murderhobo
Validated User
I was skimming through a stack of old Dragon Magazines when I came across a review (issue #186) for a Spanish game called Aquelarre. The game's subtitle is "The Demoniacal Medieval role-playing game". The book is a well made hard cover chock full of medieval style woodcuts and presents a magic system that reflects historical belief. The game doesn't focus entirely on the demoniacal, however, and appears to support an authentic medieval setting.

Now, what bothered me about the review was that the reviewer was asked by a US publisher about the suitability for the game to be published in English and he found that it wasn't. His reasons were that,

"it presents a strong medieval Spanish feel, one that would leave most American readers cold, I think. More important, the Aquelarre game approaches fantasy in a way that many Americans would find offensive."

The basis of the offense would stem from the full frontal nudity found in the illustrations and the grim magic system.

I was so bothered by this I had to point this out here. Here's a potentially nifty game that I have to miss out on because I know no Spanish and people are afraid to publish it in fear of offending some one.

Anyway, I dug up some links that pertain to Aquelarre if anyone who can read Spanish is interested.


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gone play
Validated User
If you want, you could even check out that game here :http://www.pandora.jazztel.es/

"La Caja de Pandora" is the publisher of the second edition of Aquelarre.

By the way, i like this game, but i must say that my Spanish isn't up to the task...


RPGnet Member
Validated User
Actually, the current legal status of Aquelarre is unclear. Caja de Pandora is supposed to have gone bankrupt, but another company is going to take the game. That's what the owners of Caja de Pandora say, at least.

I don't know if the game would be so offensive to american gamers as to not get published (I mean, Kult got published, right?), but it's true that Aquelarre has a strong emphasis in sexuality, both in illos and setting. It's a gritty game that tries to give a "realistic" portray of medieval times (demons and supernaturalism aside). I would agree that the spanish feel may not appeal to american gamers, though.

sidhe vicious

lvl. 5 Murderhobo
Validated User
Thanks for the additional information.

I believe that the spanish feel of the game could be helpful to people running Ars Magica or Vampire the Dark Ages games set in Spain.

I guess that I'll have to teach myself some Spanish.


Registered User
Validated User
I own all of the 1st edition Aquelarre books, and have translated the majority of them into English for my own use.

I would say that the portrayal of the supernatural is probably less objectionable to an American audience than the game's portrayal of Medieval Spain's Jewish population.

Adventures which treat the "Blood Libel" as fact are very distateful, and there are more than one of those in the Aquelarre books.

Mind you, spells which require baby fat, or the voluntary sacrifice of an innocent (in other words, drive them to suicide) would probably get howls from the Religious Reich, but given the outrage over some of White Wolf's portrayals of the Holocaust & Gypsies, I'd say the portrayal of medieval Jewish life in Aquelarre really precludes it from being accepted by an American audience.

Happily, I don't think this aspect is as integral to the game as the magical system.

Just an overview - the author of Aquelarre, IIRC, worked on the Spanish translation of Call of Cthulhu, and the game mechanics show such influences - d100 skills, few hit points, Rationality/Irrationality roughly corresponding to Sanity. There's limited use of hit location, and armor protecting specific body regions. Like CoC or Harnmaster, the game makes use of Critical Successes & Failures based on a fraction of the percentage of success.

I haven't seen the 2nd edition, but what I've heard (rationality = catholicism, irrationality = satanism & magic) I'm not pleased by. It doesn't sound like the basic rules have been dramatically changed however. The mechanics remain decidedly... late 80's/early 90's in scope.

The setting, however, is nicely grim, and each book is packed with adventures, and many of them are nicely done. I particularly like the book advancing the setting from the late middle ages into the Renaissance - sort of a historical version of Warhammer. There's another supplement moving the setting into the swashbuckling era of the 17th century.

All in all, a refreshing setting, but it would require revision for an American audience, both for content and to bring the rules "up to date." It could easily be done as a d20 setting for example.


GB Steve

Coat-tail rider
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I'm not from the US but the rather more robustly minded UK;) I don't mind baby sacrifice in a game if it makes sense. Who says the world is a nice place anyway. So any chance of getting hold of your translations?

Mind you UA and Glorantha have a fari amount of unpleasantness in them and the US doesn't seem to mind them. Mind you they are minority games.


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