Last night, treacherous siblings had me Shangai-ed. I charmed my way off the ship, but a punitive curse turned me into a donkey. I helped a scholarly Efreet prepare a legendary banquet. I rescued a Yaltese princess, who wed me out of gratitude and bore two children whose visage resembled that of the full moon. I became a respected vizier, was enslaved by a mad prince, and was briefly imprisoned by the Sultan before charming my way out of the dungeon.
These events all happened in a game called Tales of the Arabian Nights. Despite being wounded, diseased, and crippled, I barely won that session.
Tales of the Arabian Nights, hereafter referred to as TotAN, is board game based on storytelling. Unlike other games which designate one player as the session’s storyteller, in TotAN, players take turns telling the story.
The object of the game is to collect a combination of Story Points and Destiny Points which total twenty. These points are generally collected by successfully resolving Encounter cards or by completing Quests. Each player is dealt a Quest card at the beginning of the game, which will describe a long-term goal to be achieved, and the rewards for successfully doing so. The reward may include Story Points or Destiny Points, but also wealth, treasure, and status effects, which can provide bonuses to the players.
As a character moves around the map, he will stop in cities and wilderness locations. At that point, he will draw an Encounter card, and then the storyteller’s work begins. The process of resolving an encounter involves various dice, a couple of lookup tables, and several decisions by the active player. I’ll provide an example.
Suppose that Ali Baba ends his movement in the city of Hamadan, as shown in the picture. He then draws a Thief card from the Encounter deck. This card tells the storyteller to begin encounter number 92. There are 12 variations of the Thief encounter, so the active player rolls dice and adds terrain and destiny modifiers to the result. Suppose the result is 10. This tells the storyteller that the encounter is with an Armed Thief, and the active player must choose a reaction from Matrix D. On a whim, the player chooses the “Rob” action. The storyteller will then consult a table and flip to a numbered paragraph in the Book of Tales. In this case, the paragraph describes the results of the robbery attempt, and then provides two alternative outcomes, one for characters who have the Weapon Use skill, and one of those who do not. A character with Weapon Use would gain a Story Point and gain the status of Pursued by the Sultan’s guards. Other characters would gain a Story Point, the Weapon Use skill, and the status of Wounded.
I received the game as a gift from someone who thought it would be right up my alley, and I must say that it certainly was. Some might argue that it’s less a game than an overgrown Choose Your Own Adventure story, but I say that as an evening’s entertainment, it’s not bad. I’d certainly play it again, with the right participants.