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Tabletop Game / Atlantis: The Second Age

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Here there be monsters.

Atlantis: The Second Age is a Sword and Sorcery roleplaying game currently published by Khepera Publishing. Drawing heavily on the works of Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, and Michael Moorcock, it is set in the world of the ancient continents Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu. Five centuries after the Great Cataclysm took a heavy toll on the empire of the Atlanteans, the way is paved for humanity's rise as the new dominant race of Earth.

Unlike most roleplaying games, newly created Heroes are already highly competent and outstanding people, whose skills and abilities rise only slightly during the course of the game. Instead of gaining XP from defeating enemies to improve their power, characters in Atlantis increase their Renown by the deeds they perform, of which the slaying of legendary monsters is only one of many types. A very strong and central concept of the game is the focus on fate and destiny. As characters rise in fame by increasing their Renown, they gain the attention of the gods and fate itself is on their side, allowing them to perform incredible deeds of strength and valor through the use of Hero Points. Hero Points are a central mechanic of the game and allow players to add bonuses to their dice rolls, such as skill and attribute checks, increase the damage they inflict on wounded enemies, shrug off injuries, and avoid succumbing to their wounds. While the amount of Hero Point every character has is limited, there are many way to regain spend points during the ongoing adventure, such as carousing to raise their spirits, sacrificing to the gods, activating a disadvantage, or tempting fate to rely on sheer inhuman luck. However, even heroes favored by the gods are at risk of rising too high and succumbing to hybris, and every character in Atlantis has a dark fate hanging over them like a Sword of Damocles, waiting to strike them down should they fail to achieve their rightful destiny.

Atlantis: The Second Age provides examples of:

  • All Myths Are True: Creatures and cultures are taken from ancient times all over the world. With a good number of additional ones, that apparently didn't make it into the history books. And while the game is not explicitly set in the worlds of Howard and Smith, they are both highly compatible with this iteration of ancient Earth and can be treated as distinct or interchangeable as each gaming group desires.
  • Atlantis: Set in the final centuries of the Atlantean Empire as humans rise to become the prophecised fifth dominant race of Earth.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The whole point of the game.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Regular mooks are so laughably hopeless against the Heroes that you don't even get any reward for killing them.
  • Cowardly Lion: A high-Renown character with a high Void Atman is likely this.
  • The Dark Arts:
    • Meddling with the creatures of the lower dimensions (a Tradition referred to, appropriately, as the Dark Arts) is a dangerous and reviled practice. A Dark Artist is not inherently evil, necessarily (so long as they're not also meddling with the cults of Ba'al and Set), but they are...well, demon summoners.
    • Using magic in general marks you as a very scary individual who most people don't want to be around.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Empyrean and Void are as morally neutral as any other element; the Empyrean is the element of hope, which includes selfish ambition and hubris, and the Void is the element of fear, including common sense and reasonable caution.
  • Deal with the Devil: Pretty much all deals with any gods work like this. They always will demand a price at a later time.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A Hero's Destiny is the point where they have achieved everything they wanted and no longer fears their Fate.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Lots of them, all over the world. It's meant to be the ancient past of Earth after all.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted, though gunpowder isn't used. Lemurian guns use gas cartridges to propel bronze spikes, while the Atlanteans' vril cannons are powered by crystals and shoot magical energy.
  • Frazetta Man: The Netherman, a failed experiment of the Atlanteans, seem to be inspired by this trope, as they are a race of brutish cavemen. Unlike some versions though, they are also playable.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Any time you do this, you get two additional points of renown from a fight. Even when you lose.
  • Genius Bruiser: The Lemurians have the highest Intelligence score and one of the highest Strength score. These ape-men are also the undisputed masters of mundane technology, as opposed to the Magitek of the Atlanteans.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Seeing a gods physical form can either cause the character to permanently increase his wisdom score, or completely shatter his soul and cause his body to disintegrate into dust.
  • God of Evil: Ba'al and Set.
  • Headless Horseman: The Theragraphica includes the Dullahan, based off the creature of the same name from Irish folklore. In an unusual twist, it's the horse that's the real monster, the rider is just a reanimated corpse that fights for the horse.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The Lemurians have retreated to their trees, letting the world change around them as it will.
  • Human Sacrifice: A very effective way to regain lots of Hero Points quickly. Begging the gods for power too frequently gets them annoyed, though, and might have bad long term consequences.
  • Humans Are Special: Humans are the most versatile of the races, and furthermore, they are the race that's destined to take over the world as Atlantis fades into memory. They are innately Determinators and blessed with luck.
  • I Gave My Word: You can get a sizable temporary bonus to any skill if you are in pursuit of fulfilling an oath you made on the gods. Failing to fulfill the oath will send you closer to your ultimate doom. Completing it increases your renown.
  • I Know Your True Name: Using a demon's true name allows a person to force them to obey orders—which is rather unfortunate for demons, as they're also compelled to end very sentence by mentioning their true name in some way.
  • Lizard Folk: The Ahl-At-Rab used to be slaves to the naga a long time ago but are now reduced to nomadic barbarians.
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair: Great Works are the only way to get a respite from meeting your doom. But eventually you will not be able to keep up with your growing fame and reputation and find your doom.
  • Lost Technology: Most of the knowledge of crystal matrices, Vril pyramids and other Atlantean magitek has been lost, and while the surviving Atlanteans can maintain a vril pyramid or crystal-powered weapon, making new matrices is out of the question.
  • Magic Is Evil: Downplayed. It isn't, but it does invoke Eldritch Abominations to pull off, and so mages are people most others are understandably frightened by, even if they are morally good Terror Heroes.
  • Magitek: Atlantean technology is powered by crystals, ley lines and specialized alchemy.
  • Only Mostly Dead: With Hero Points you can decrease the amount of damage you take and also get a big bonus on your Constitution check to survive running out of hit points. Even if you're out of Hero Points, you can still take a big loan at the Fate Bank. Though this will fasten the arrival of the day of your doom, it's (usually) better than dying, because there is no way to bring back the dead.
  • Our Genies Are Different: Jinn are one of the possible character races. They were the first race to rule the world eons in the past and are now only few in numbers. Being highly magical creatures, exposure to strong magic can reshape both their bodies and minds in unexpected ways.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Tritons are the descendants of humans who have been altered by Atlantean sorcerers to fight their enemies that live underwater.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: The Theragraphica includes only a small number of Stock Monsters, with the majority being very rarely seen in fantasy media or completely original while still genuinely exotic and unique.
  • Precursors: Quite a lot. Humans are the fifth race that is destined to rule the world. Unusually, all of them are still around, though highly diminished in numbers and power.
    • Before the humans came the Atlanteans (who are still not about to give up the position willingly)
    • The third race were the Lemurians, a race of highly intelligent gorillas who created countless technological marvels.
    • The second race were the Ophidians, a race of serpentmen from the continent Mu. They're the only Root Race not playable as a PC, though the Ahl-At-Rab subrace are.
    • The first race were the Jinn, who were more spirit than mortals.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: One of the method to regain Hero Points is called Blaspheme the Gods. By cursing the gods you tap into the rage inside yourself, but the gods will not forget this insult.
  • Revenge: Getting revenge for a serious crime against you counts as Great Works and helps to push back the day of your doom some more.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty. One obvious being the secretive sorcerous cabal of the Black Circle, which appears in one of Robert Howards Conan stories and has also been adopted by the Primeval Thule RPG setting.
  • Sword and Sorcery: Probably one of the games with the most strongly designed rules to recreate the style and moods of the genre.
  • Tempting Fate: One of the most effective but dangerous ways to get a lot of additional Hero Points. When a character tempts fate he relies on pure luck and the knowledge that the gods favor him. However, there is a 20% chance that the Hero goes an equal number of steps closer towards his doom. Those who rely on the favor of the gods too much are soon smited for their hybris.
  • The Need for Mead: Carousing and debrauchery is one way to regain your Hero Points between battles. If you have a critical success, your exploit that night even increase your renown.
  • Uplifted Animal: The Andaman were created from ordinary animals by the Atlanteans to serve as a variety of specialized warriors. There are also the Ahl-At-Rab, a race of lizardmen, and the Lemurians, a race of gorillas who have the highest Intelligence scores of all races.
  • Vestigial Empire: Atlantis and Lemuria were both great once, but they've fallen rather far from that. Atlantis has lost much of the technology of its empire, and the Lemurians have retreated to their trees and become something of a Hidden Elf Nation.