Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The adventure movie renaissance that never was

This post is essentially me writing trying to put some order in my ideas.
(also, it goes online with only two recycled images, because my connection is playing up)
Take it for what it is.
My friend Lucy did a post, on her blog, about The Mummy, the 1999 movie featuring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. She pointed out hos it was originally planned to be a low-budget B, and then turned into an 80-million dollars blockbuster that made an inordinate amount of money but failed to launch a true and proper old-style adventure movie renaissance.

And she’s right. Consider all the low-budget (but fun) Indiana Jones clones we got in the 80s – movies that tried to re-capture the thrill and wonder of the original Spielberg film with lower budgets and inferior talent. Where are the Mummy clones post-1999?

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Hunters of Legends

Roleplaying games are great for learning languages.
Without D&D, my brother would have never learned English, and I used the gorgeous French version of Call of Cthulhu, L’Appel de Cthulhu, by Sans Detour, to brush up my French, and give it a thorough workout.
Now, it’s time for some Spanish – courtesy of NOSOLOROL Ediciones and their fine book, Cazadores de Leyendas.

cazadoresSo, ok – I’m a sucker for pulp games.
I saw the cover and I knew I had to take a look at this baby.
My birthday arrived, and my brother sort of had this vibe, and he knew somehow I was interested in it, and therefore he gave it to me as a gift.

Published in February 2013, Cazadores de Leyendas (Legend Hunters) is a 132 pages pulp adventure campaign, distributed as a PDf with color cover and black and white interior illustrations.
It was written by Ismael Diaz Sacaluga, and runs on the D20 system.

The set-up is classic – it’s the second half of the thirties, and the Nazis are looking for mystical artifacts to further their plans of world domination. The British intelligence sets up a team of adventurers to get at the artifacts before the Nazis. The players take the roles of members of this MI6 offshoot group.
Nice and smooth.

The Indiana Jones movies were clearly an inspiration – and basically, this campaign is probably the closest you can get to the Indiana Jones franchise without the Lucas & Spielberg lawyers coming after you with bullwhips and guns.
And it’s fine.

The book provides a general framework for the campaign, ample Keeper’s notes, five pre-generated, well detailed characters, and a campaign in ten episodes spanning the years 1936 and 1937:

  1. The Mask of Fu Kang
  2. The Mouth of Hell
  3. Zimmer’s Evil
  4. Venetian Masque
  5. The Devils Hunters
  6. The Last Will of Seneca
  7. The Return of Ravek
  8. The Ring of Odin
  9. The Heart of the Beast
  10. The Final Plague

Screenshot from 2013-05-29 05:07:12The book also includes a condensed, lightweight but fully functional version of the D20 system.

The campaign grants a fair amount of globe-trotting (Nepal, Egypt, Italy, England etc.) and pitches the heroes against the Thulegesellschaft.

The scenarios making up the campaign are fun, well-detailed and with some nice touches (like suggesting the music for each scene, from pulp adventure movie soundtracks). The cast of NPCs is large and varied. The artifacts are interesting, and the overall plot is well designed.
Some of the artwork is nothing to write home about, but most of it is still more than adequate, and a pair of pieces are very very good (such as the one here on the left).

I personally do not care for theD20 system, but converting this baby to a more suitable system (such as Savage Worlds, for instance) is not a big deal.
Some scenarios might require some tweaking – but the book leaves ample space for customization.

All in all, a fine addition to my collection of pulp-themed games.
And a good opportunity to improve my Spanish.