Monday, March 20, 2017

Review & Commentary Of The Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts Retroclone Rpg System By Thomas Denmark

Bare with me as I'm going to dive into Raiders! of The Lost Artifacts but I've got to finish my lunch time beer.

Some days you just need to go out with your buddies for a beer to get your head out of your ass. So over the weekend I happened down to my favorite watering hole with three other very experienced dungeon masters who were able to get away from the familial ties for a bit. That's when Billy pulled out his tablet & proceeded to tell me that Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts had made pay dirt & was loose out out in the wilds of the OSR. Thomas Denmark & the folks over at Night Owl Workshop are very strange because they don't Kickstarter any of their projects & they churn out quality product.  The background for Raiders! of The Lost Artifacts has its roots deeply in the Raiders of the Lost Ark pond. See way back in '81 Raiders Of The Lost Ark changed everything. The film was a surprise hit & everyone wanted to jump on the band wagon. Suddenly everything pulp was hot again. Everyone and his brother were making pulp based movies & we got Tale of the Gold Monkey(classic stuff). Throughout the Eighties, Nineties, etc. the world hasn't been the same since. This whole phenomenon hit the Gangbusters rpg & there were stats for whips. Every other brother's D&D game had a thief who was an artifact dealer & there were time traveling Nazi officers

Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts is exactly what it sounds like an 'Eighties Pulp Resurgence'  inspired pulp retroclone with a parody Raiders of The Lost Ark D&D inspired pulpy background. Not so fast kids, despite its roots there's far more here then meets the eye. You've got four classes: Mercenary, Scientist, Treasure Hunter, and the optional Occultist. The optional Occultist is derived from the Warriors of the Red Planet which is great because I actually love the pulpness of that optional character class. So the idea here was that Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson in some alternative universe were inspired by the Thirties & Forties cliff hanger serials & created Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts.
"What if the first roleplaying game had been about skulking around in ancient ruins, underground tombs, and ancient graveyards in search of treasure, magic and secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know… but the heroes themselves were pulpy archaeologists, explorers and mercenaries from the 1930s instead of the wizards and warriors of fantasy"

It actually does live up to its premise and then some, the authors know the original material and the Eighties Pulp Resurgence stuff. They've dipped a bit into the OGL but its been edited, stripped down, & clarified for OD&D style adventures .So your going to end up playing Mercenary, Scientist, Treasure Hunter, and the optional Occultist. Which is right along the alleyway of the pulpy inspired material & they do it with style & the flourish of a whip. This is cut down & opened up rule sets which is perfect for a Saturday afternoon's pick up & go game. 

Where the game really shines is in the Relics section, these are the treasures of myth, legend, history, & even pulpy popculture according to the add, "Hundreds of new, incredibly powerful magic items called Relics and here's a good example of exactly what your going to get;
"Agrippa’s Book of Occult Philosophy: Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535) is the most influential writer of Renaissance esoterica, and indeed all of Western occultism. The Book of Occult Philosophy (De Occulta Philosophia libri) is Agrippa’s study of occult philosophy, acknowledged as a significant contribution to the Renaissance philosophical discussion concerning the powers of ritual magic and its relationship with religion. The book was printed in 1531 in Paris, Cologne, and Antwerp. It was an ambitious attempt to rejuvenate the art of magic which had degenerated during the medieval ages. He did this by assembling an intellectual and theoretical foundation from his extensive collection of sources. Agrippa started with a “systematic exposition of Ficinian spiritual magic and Trithemian demonic magic and treatised in practical magic” (I. P. Couliano in Hidden Truths 1987, p. 114). Other major sources used by Agrippa include Liber de mirabilibus mundi of pseudo-Albertus Magnus, Giovanni Pico’s Oratio de Dignitate Hominis and Apologia, Johannes Reuchlin’s De Verbo Mirifico, Pliny’s Historia Naturalis, as well as Picatrix and the Hermetic and Neoplatonic texts. The resulting text circulated widely in manuscript form.
Unknown to most was that the original hand written book contains true occult power, filled with spells, incantations, and alchemical recipes. The original has long been lost, but recent clues have arisen that might reveal its actual location. The volume was published in three books (and it might make for a more interesting adventure to have the players collect three originals)."
This basically means that you could literally see hundreds of your favorite items from Excalibur, Merlin's staff, to whatever tickles your fancy can trickle in. Here's another example from the author's blog ;"The Aegis

This was a form of magical armor born by the goddess Athena in Greek myth, and also sometimes carried by her father Zeus. It was symbol of military prowess and defense. Athena may have crafted the aegis from the hide of one of her monstrous foes, perhaps the giant Pallas, whom she killed in the war against the Giants. In form it could vary, but it was often worn wrapped around the wearer’s body, and also hanging down behind her as a cloak. It was said to have a surface like golden snake skin. After the Gorgon medusa was slain, Athena arranged to have its severed face integrated into the folds of the garment; when uncovered, the gorgon’s red eyes stared out from her chest and its writhing snake-hair hung like tassels, and its petrifying gaze could fall upon all who faced her. The Aegis could also be rearranged and attached as a cover to a stout shield (again with the gorgon-head facing outward); Zeus, if he used it, often preferred this form. It takes two rounds to change the Aegis’s form.

The aegis was sometimes leant by Athena to favored individuals  such as mortal heroes, and perhaps it passed into one of their possessions after the gods left the earth (and hid whatever palace they had on Mount Olympus from mortal eyes). Should this be the case, it is possible it might be found in some ancient Greek hero’s tomb or temple, possibly one sacred to Athena, that in or around the Mediterranean region

As a garment, the Aegis provides AC -2 (22) to its wearer; as a shield cover it is a +4 shield (not cumulative with any bonus an existing magic or high-tech shield already provides, but if the shield is itself +4 or better, the combination provides a +5 bonus). In addition, when the medusa-head is uncovered anyone who is looking directly at it and comes within 50 feet must make a saving throw or be turned to stone (after making a saving throw, they are immune). When the Aegis is worn as a garment, anyone grappling its wearer may be stung by the live snakes; they collectively attack in close combat with 4 HD with a hit doing 1d4 damage and requiring a saving throw vs. poison to avoid death.

Even with its face covered, the aegis is also a potent symbol of power and victory; should a leader wear the aegis, any troops with him will have +2 to morale checks or saving throws made against fear, and the wearer or wielder of the aegis is themselves immune to fear.

Groups who might be seeking in the Aegis could include those archeologists or occultists who believe in the truth of Greek legends like the Illiad, as well as Greek nationalists and Hellenophiles (many of them British) who revere Athena as a symbol of justice and democracy. Political leaders who fear assassination may also wish to possess the aegis merely for its protective qualities, although its benefits to leadership would also help. Possible guardians for the Aegis include the usual array of mythical Greek monsters, and the danger of finding the thing uncovered and being turned to stone..."
Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts has a decent monster section with monsters from mythology, legend, etc. The most dangerous 'monsters' in the game are mankind & since this game was inspired by Indiana Jones there is going to be Nazi forces & baby there are in there. Large, in charge, and ready to blow your guys to Hell. They'll be Nazi spies in every port & harbor from here to Bombay & this is followed by some of the most dangerous bastards ever to don a black uniform. They're being sent around the globe to gather those treasures.

The classes are decent, the lay out easy on the eyes, and book makes you want to actually run a game. So is there support? Well yes there's a brand new G+ group & the game is only now starting to make OSR headway. Raiders! is also cross compatible with all of the Night Owl Workshop games and many OSR games! So technically this game could be used to bridge gap into say Adventurer, Conqueror, King for a domain level pulpy campaign. The mind boggles with some of the possibilities!

YOU CAN GRAB THE PDF RIGHT OVER ON DRIVETHRURPG (there isn't a print option yet these things take time to be ready for Drivethrurpg print). 

Or You Can Grab A Print Copy Right Here On Lulu

Do I think you should buy a copy? In a word yes! The book is well done and solidly presented, the material is solidly done and can easily be used right out of the gate. Th artwork is on target for the material and presents the golden age of adventuring easily & without getting to deeply into the morass of stuff that D20 has! The fact is that the Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts game is also open for cross compatible OSR content! So Grab this one today!
Five out of five for one that I've got to wait a couple of months to get because I just got a huge lulu order! Damn it! I should have waited another week or so. Anyone want to spare a copy? Anyone?

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