But, beyond the human, in the deepest of the forests, in the loneliest cave, in the most remote cell, in the deepest of human hearts, live the legends. Demons step on castles, imps hide in the flowers, alchemists use spells and witches laugh and laugh around the fire, in a forest clearing bathed by the moonlight, while the Devil, sitting among them, raises its scapegoat head and smiles, straight at you, reader:
"Welcome to the Aquelarre."
Back cover of the Aquelarre manual
Aquelarre is a Spanish Role-Playing Game created by Ricard Ibáñez in 1990, that takes place in the Iberian Peninsula, during the 13th and 14th centuries, at the time of the Reconquista. However, the game assumes that all the myths and legends that existed at the time were real, that demons walked among the mortals and that an eternal battle is fought between the rational (humans, science, logic, day) and the irrational (legendary creatures, magic, madness, night) sides of reality.
Players take control of normal people that inhabit the Peninsula, and who must live, survive and suffer in the shadows of the time and get involved, willingly or not, in the fight between both sides of reality.
In 2015, the game celebrated its 25th anniversary with a new edition, and the Spanish editorial Nosolorol (current publisher) made an agreement with American editorial Nocturnal Games to translate Aquelarre to English.
This Role-Playing Game has examples of:
- Anti-Magic: A sufficiently rational person can remain immune to any magical attacks, as long as the attacks affect him directly - the wizard can perfectly use spells to make something else harm him.
- The Devil: The Greater-Scope Villain. Doesn't like to be called "Lucifer" - it reminds him of his name when he was still an angel. He would rather be called Satan.
- Evil Is Easy: Yes, at least at the beginning - if you work for the Great Devils, they will start to ask you to do increasingly difficult missions.
- God Is Good: Yes. He will even help those that need a hand to fight the forces of Hell.
- Heel–Face Door-Slam: Do black magic, worship the Demons or murder a saint, and that's it - your soul goes to Hell.
- Heel–Face Turn: as long as you haven't done anything really horrible, you still can repent and go to Heaven when you die.
- Surprisingly, even demons are capable of this (see The Power of Friendship).
- Heel–Faith Turn: it is quite possible to do this - there's even mention of a saint that did exactly that, and can help anyone trying to do the same.
- Magic A Is Magic A: Every spell can only be used for its intended purpose, and they require certain elements and hand moves to work correctly.
- The Masquerade: Zigzagged. While the legends and everything else are there, most of the people don't know that they are very real.
- Meaningful Name: "Aquelarre" is the Basque word for "witches' coven" - "Aker" is the word for Satan.
- No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted. The characters can serve the Great Devils (and, if they are very "lucky", Satan himself) if they so wish, although it comes with some drawbacks - such as your soul going straight to Hell as soon as you die.
- Politically Correct History: Averted. The author certainly pulls no punches at showing how different (and horrible) the Middle Ages were from nowadays.
- Jews are restricted to living in cities, and there are a lot of references to them getting the short shaft of living in there.
- In a trial, your social status will matter more than whether you are innocent or not.
- The Power of Friendship: Guland, Devil of Envy, runs from any demonstration of true friendship. And there are situations in which this can help you get some help from a saint.
- A demon called Azracia, who served Baalzebub, was tasked with taking a poor shepherd's soul. When direct temptation failed, he started to talk with him about his life, and somehow this turned into true friendship. In his deathbed, the shepherd, who knew what Azracia had come for, offered the demon his soul - and Azracia rejected it. This led to him being exiled from Hell, which he took as a chance to learn how to become a human.
- The Power of Love: true love acts as a shield against Masabakes, Devil of Lust.
- Religion Is Magic: true believers can get God to listen to them and cause miracles.
- Seven Deadly Sins: some of the Great Devils represent these.
- Shown Their Work: The author certainly busted his props to document himself, and it shows.
- The Starscream: Belzebuth, the leader of the Infernal Armies, is said to be planning to take over Hell.