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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

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× Talk about the latest and greatest AT, and the Classics.

Adventure favorites

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24 Jan 2022 19:41 #330078 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Adventure favorites
Shellhead brings up something interesting that I think is worthy of its own topic. I’ll start that rather than bog this one down.
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28 Jan 2022 10:45 - 28 Jan 2022 11:13 #330206 by Dschanni
Replied by Dschanni on topic Adventure favorites
Great thread. I have always been interested in games that tell narrative-based stories.

I currently enjoy Dark Venture and Dungeon Degenerates. When the stars align, I find Tales of the Arabian Nights very entertaining.


Dungeon Degenerates - busy and distractive, complex, fiddly and messy, but also fresh and inspired. It succeeds at capturing some aspects of role playing games. Events and actions are embedded in an overall story arc and create persistent world alteration in between the missions. The choices of the players have implications on the progression of the story, which supports the illusion of a living world.

Dark Venture - it's fiddlyish and not exactly multi-player friendly. I like the fact that it gives players the ability to exercise control over the plot, as they choose to create locations and NPCs. It makes the game world feel realistic and responsive. Narratively, it was always memorable and full of weird stuff.

Tales of the Arabian Nights - light thematic romp intended to be experienced as a time waster with a few good friends. The rules can explained quickly, there is no planning, no fairness, no optimisation, no bureaucracy and the game doesn't care about "plots". For me, TotAN feels responsive enough to the decisions that the players make during the the game. It is only working against our cultural conditioning to assign meaning to decisions that don't bring us further to achievement. I especially like the fatalistic sense of humour. My only real issue is that TotAN runs too long with rules as written.


I find stories emerging out of the unexpected interactions fascinating and entertaining. This includes investing imagination, filling in the blanks and feeding the story with in-game actions. Pre-planned stories always have been a disappointment to me.

At the same time, I am at loggerheads with the sort of encounter-driven adventure games which are so bloated with random flavor text snippets that it actually says nothing at all. I'm not pointing fingers at a specific game, but (insert FFG license) games often fall in this category. The constant flipping of event cards and murdering waves of monsters is something that wears out quickly when it happens each turn and when it's disonnected from any of the character's actions who did the uncovering. This means things are happening, but not as a consequence of any particular decision. This is no luck or randomness issue - I love drawing a lot of cards and rolling a lot of dice - but there should be a sense of agency. Otherwise it's hard for me to stay invested.

For the future, I am looking forward to Sleeping Gods, maybe Shadows of Malice. Android is on my extended radar (compelling but not sure, because I didn't like Arkham 2e too much).

I read the reviews on this site, but I would be very grateful for more opinions, because many of the latter have been mentioned in this thread. How do they compare in terms of world-buidling, player agency and accessibility?
Last edit: 28 Jan 2022 11:13 by Dschanni.
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28 Jan 2022 11:29 #330207 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Adventure favorites
Dschanni, if you value player agency and don't mind tackling a very complex set of rules, you should look into Magic Realm. It is an adventure game that offers an unusual degree of control for a careful player. You secretly choose your victory objectives at the beginning, with some mixture of points for killing things or gaining spells or treasure. At the start of the game, you will know the general layout of the terrain, and you might seek certain areas because the terrain is advantageous, like a dwarf seeking caves or a spellcaster with a lightning spell seeking mountainous terrain. Entering a previously unexplored map tile allows you to see the sound and warning chits for that area, giving you an immediate understanding of the potential monsters that you can encounter there.

In addition, you can buy better gear and hire locals to help you fight. You can trade with or even team up with other players, and potentially betray them later on... even in the middle of a fight.

In combat, your armor, weapons, and combat chits will determine your ability to survive hits from opponents and your ability to hit and kill your opponents. Or you might be able to cast a spell if you have the ability and have a spell ready to cast. Or maybe you can just stay hidden or even run away. Sometimes you won't be able to do some of these things because a monster is too fast or too tough. Or you might just be seriously outnumbered, like 3 to 1 or even 6 to 1. In general, unarmored characters will rely on speed or magic to run away or cast spells that quickly eliminate the opposition. Heavily armored characters tend to be too slow to run away, and rely on hitting hard with heavier weapons before they exhaust themselves. The combat system also incorporates ranged attacks, weapon length, shields, and horses. Both damage and fatigue will restrict your access to your 12 chits. Your best chits fast and/or strong blows tend to exhaust you, so you may eventually be too slow to dodge attacks or too weak to swing your weapon.
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28 Jan 2022 11:32 #330208 by Michael Barnes
Replied by Michael Barnes on topic Adventure favorites
So there’s an interesting concept in your post- the difference between an emergent narrative and a proscribed one. Increasingly, I don’t care for proscribed, flavor text-laden specific narratives. I very much prefer the squishier emergent ones, where the game throws disparate elements at you and you sort of work out the storyline internally. Why did the troll turn good, get his ass kicked by a lion, find the Crown of Solomon, and then wind up penniless in the city streets? Like you said, you feed all of that with player actions and it’s fueled by the random availability of props, events, and characters. That, to me, makes for great adventure gaming more so than heavily written storylines. I prefer random bullshit to carefully scripted scenarios for sure.

A really neat study on this is in the Talisman: Origins digital game. They actually went in and applied scenario design to it. So the Warrior’s first quest is to find the princess. Turns out she’s in the woods being held by Bandits. So you basically play Talisman with all the randomness but there is a specific goal other than COC or whatever. But you still get that sense of emergent, random narrative connected by the player. And the app -supports- this by offering achievements/objectives for accomplishing tasks in various ways. For example, there is an “Evil Delivery” one for if you get the Princess back to the castle while you have an Evil alignment. It’s really pretty brilliant, and it provides a new way of looking at Talisman as a game system.

Shadows Over Malice is great but I will warn that it is the least accessible game you mentioned. It definitely has the emergent narrative (the monsters aren’t even specific, they are only described with attributes) but it also has an overarching story concept. It’s got a more experimental, avant-garde feel.
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28 Jan 2022 11:46 #330209 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic Adventure favorites
Random editor dropping in to note that "proscribed" means "forbidden", whereas "prescribed" can mean "directed."

Just to add to previous opinions: I wouldn't list Android as an adventure game. There are encounters, but the central mechanism isn't "wandering around, doing interesting things, meeting people." It's all about solving the murder mystery. I used to think of it as a more modern version of Clue with a far more interesting setting (traded it, because I couldn't get it played.)

I'm certainly interested to try Sleeping Gods, but there is to be no spending on games for the foreseeable future, so I'll have to find someone around here that has a copy.
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28 Jan 2022 11:57 #330210 by Michael Barnes
Replied by Michael Barnes on topic Adventure favorites
THANK YOU EDITER
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28 Jan 2022 18:31 - 29 Jan 2022 08:01 #330224 by Dschanni
Replied by Dschanni on topic Adventure favorites
Shellhead, thank you, I checked it. Magic Realm looks beautiful and promising in terms of detailed possibilities and openness. It sounds like incredibly cool stuff in theory, but...

The upfront problem is price and availability. AT classics are hard to find around here. Finding a second hand copy of Dark Venture was a stroke of luck and ordering Dungeon Degenerates from Goblinko was more of an adventure than actual playing the game. (I don't do Kicksucker)

Second, the general consensus seems to be that it's challenging at best to figure out how to approach Magic Realm.
I'm used to read RPG rules, but I'm afraid I would end up curled up on the floor and crying before it all becomes alive. 1st edition is said to be improvable and 3rd edition comes with ca. 120 pages of supposedly bad organised rules. Even then, I'm afraid I would invest more time dealing with mechanics, writing down orders and stuff instead of enjoying the feeling of wandering around a map, fulfilling quests and discovering a world. Tough sell.


Michael, thank you. I played Relic not too long ago and it was a pain in the ass. That's why I wasn't rushing out revisiting 80ies Talisman.

Roll to move, draw card, fight random thing, you all know how it works. The encounter card is supposed to be material for creating a narrative. But how wide-open to player interpretation is this and what can you create out of this? In this moment I am asking myself about that encounter. Why is my character encountering this thing? What is this thing doing in this location? How does this connect with my character's actions? What implications does it have for my central goal? What role is my character supposed to fulfill in this context? And so on.

The truth is, encounter cards in Relic are not the result of any descision, they just happen all the time. And it's almost always about combat and delay, which takes away the excitement from combat. Can't beat this monster here? Lose life poinst or run away. Now draw next monster. Repeat this for hours. The process of trying to create a personal narrative out of this made me feel bored and exhausted. I really like the aesthetics of old Talisman, but I'm afraid I can't breath life into this thing. I haven't checked Talisman: Origins, because I don't do digital gaming. Sounds more interesting than regular Talisman though.

Tales of the Arabian Nights feeds into the same thing of luck-based encountering things and things happening, but I find TotAN creates much more interesting and entertaining stories, and provides more room for role-based choices, for party-like talking and laughing. I could say something similar about Betrayal at House on the Hill, which I find quite pleasing thematically and storywise.

Thinking about it, I could add Betrayal at House on the Hill to my list.
Last edit: 29 Jan 2022 08:01 by Dschanni.

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28 Jan 2022 22:25 #330236 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Adventure favorites
Dschanni, I too thought about putting Betrayal at House on the Hill on my list. The first half of the game definitely feels like an adventure game, exploring the house and getting encounters. But then the game gets hijacked by the scenario, and roughly half the scenarios fall flat. Sometimes the house is too big or too small or just laid out wrong for a given scenario to work well, so the scenario is often a quick beatdown instead of an interesting second act. Oddly enough, many people find fault with the first half of the game, calling it pointless. They just have no appreciation for exploration.

For similar reasons to Betrayal at House on the Hill, I like Coma Ward, which could have easily been named Betrayal at Psychiatric Hospital. The scenarios are weirder and more imaginative than the ones in Betrayal at House on the Hill, but there aren't as many. The components are great at delivering a sense of setting and atmosphere, but the rules seriously need the attention of a professional editor.
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28 Jan 2022 22:29 #330237 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Adventure favorites
Oh, and you wouldn't need to actually acquire Magic Realm, because you can play it for free on your computer via RealmSpeak, either solitaire or with other players. You would still need to learn the rules, or at least the basics, because RealmSpeak will not coach you on how to play. I haven't actually tried RealmSpreak since I bought the physical game from eBay.
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29 Jan 2022 08:43 #330242 by Legomancer
Replied by Legomancer on topic Adventure favorites

Dschanni wrote: The upfront problem is price and availability. AT classics are hard to find around here. Finding a second hand copy of Dark Venture was a stroke of luck and ordering Dungeon Degenerates from Goblinko was more of an adventure than actual playing the game. (I don't do Kicksucker)


Just want to say, it's because I DO do Kicksucker that I got a copy of Dark Venture and the expansion without any extra effort or cost. KS has its issues but that's where you're going to find these kinds of games, because Asmodee sure as hell won't publish them.
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31 Jan 2022 05:57 - 31 Jan 2022 10:44 #330288 by Dschanni
Replied by Dschanni on topic Adventure favorites

Just want to say, it's because I DO do Kicksucker that I got a copy of Dark Venture and the expansion without any extra effort or cost. KS has its issues but that's where you're going to find these kinds of games, because Asmodee sure as hell won't publish them.


Exactly! You say it. It's such a shame.

If I am looking for games with emergent narrative my options are:

1) Department stores, which cover a great variety of family games, party and kids games, and

2) Small specialized hobby stores in urban centres, which mostly cover PnP/Warhammer/MtG/comic stuff which seem to be gradually disappearing over the decades.

Every couple of years there are reprints of older games like Betrayal at House on the Hill, Talisman and Tales of the Arabian Nights (and non-adventure classics like Cosmic Encounter, Dune, Wiz-War, Spartacus, Dungeonquest) All these games have been available, affordable and they look fine, today and in the past. But all the rest is just the same monocrop nonsense for mass market consumption for reasons which I shall not go into here.

Enter Kickstarter. New inspired thematic games exist, because they are made available from garage publishers via KS. Thank you very much, but it comes at the price of exclusivity and monetary elitism.

For example, I bought Arkham Horror for 30 USD and it is very good, gamewise and as far as quality and content is concerned. Dungeon Degenerates costed me around 200 USD, including 80 USD shipping, 80 USD for the game and added customs and taxes. I only did this due to the lack of alternatives but such a purchase will not happen again. It is just not a reasonable thing to do.

Even if I wanted to support projects on KS, I most likely wouldn't have what it takes to sort the wheat from the chaff. KS seems not to be primarily the platform where genuine projects of the heart are realised, but the platform for sharpening sales and marketing strategies. Flashy artwork, tons of miniatures, deluxe components, stretch goals, expansions, social media, influencers, all the superflous rest of it. And publishers do this because customers are willing to pay premium and and willing to pay in advance. Exposing oneself to all of this comes at more cost than only money.

So this leaves me with second hand market, some exceptions here and there (well, basically Eldritch Horror and with some luck Shadows of Malice and Sleeping Gods in a few spezialized stores) and otherwise hoping for publishers reprintig AT classics in the future, like City of Chaos.
Last edit: 31 Jan 2022 10:44 by Dschanni.
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