Who says you need a book thick enough to stop a bullet to have a heavy simulationist game? Nights of the Crusades proves that it can be done in only 106 pages.
As may be inferred by the title, Nights of the Crusades is set in the Middle East during Medieval Times. It is a time of conflict and bigotry of all sorts from racism to sexism to religious intolerance. But the historical crusades are not the only inspiration for Nights of the Crusades. The famous 1001 Nights also plays a role in the game, with the mythical creatures and supernatural dangers from those stories added to the already dark themes of war and conquest. This is not the Disney version of these stories and the djinn in the game are malicious, massively powerful creatures that delight in tricking and tormenting mortals.
Obviously, given these source materials, Nights of the Crusades is a very dark game. Even if a player does not particularly want his character to dislike another character, whether player or game master controlled, there is a system of allegiances which insure that it is much easier to be aggressive against people of opposing allegiances than it is to assist them. Of course, whether or not the character acts on these hatreds is up to the player. The ranks of these allegiances can change so clever players can manipulate their ranks to make it easier or harder to attack or negotiate with a particular group depending on the groups the player wants his character to be allied with. Read the rest of this entry »