Almost 25 years since it was first released in Spain, Aquelarre ("Coven") may finally receive an English translation. Aquelarre is available from Spanish publisher Nosolorol in a gorgeous 500-page full-color hardcover edition that we hope fund in English with this Kickstarter project.
Like making a deal with a devil, Aquelarre is not for the faint of heart. It's not an introductory RPG for younger players. The realistic historical setting is dark. Some of the artwork is disturbing. Nosolorol describes this new edition of the game as "more medieval and more demonic than ever" and they are correct on both counts. These are not the watered-down demons that caused trouble for D&D in the 1980’s.
Aquelarre is a complete roleplaying game. In fact, it's a huge and very complete game. At about 500 pages, Aquelarre offers everything you expect to find in a fantasy RPG: character creation, game system and magic system. It also includes detailed information about the medieval Iberian setting, the cosmology of angels and demons, and a bestiary.
Player characters in Aquelarre begin life in one of five kingdoms that dominated the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages—Castilla, Aragón, Granada, Navarra, or Portugal. Based on their region, characters may be of various cultures—Arabian, Basque, Castilian, Catalan, Jewish, Muslim, and many more. Social position (from nobility to slave) and father’s occupation affect their capabilities, including profession. Of course, personal characteristics (shown on the character sheet below) play their part, too. One such is the Rationality/Irrationality rating, which determines how attuned a character is with the Irrational world, how capable with magic, and how susceptible to it. Rituals of faith depend upon a high Rationality instead. Advantages and Disadvantages help to round characters out.
The game system itself relies mainly on percentile rolls against either characteristic ratings or skills based on those (and on character experience). As might be expected from a game that has thrived for several decades now, rules for combat, weapons, and healing are all nicely detailed, with options to suit a variety of playing styles.
The book also includes considerable detail about medieval life in Iberia, from daily business to social mores to fairy tales, besides the expected focus on angels and demons.