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Tabletop Game / Tales of the Arabian Nights

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"Choose your actions carefully and the skills you possess will reward you."

You've read the stories of the Arabian Nights. In this somewhat unusual Adventure Board Game, you get the chance to experience them yourself. Essentially, this is a storytelling game—your character spends time Walking the Earth in a world where magic and mystery (and Islam) reigns. The game practically runs on Random Encounters, and the way you choose to react to them, as well as your skills and abilities, will impact your destiny. The gameplay takes place on the board, but the story unfolds in the Book of Tales, a Choose Your Own Adventure style set of 2000 paragraphs.

This game, released in 1989, got a Second Edition in 2008. You can find more about it here.


This board game provides examples of:

  • Ambadassador: Your character can deal with several in the game, and having the "Courtly Graces" skill turns you into one.
  • And I Must Scream: Your fate, if you get turned into a gooleh.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: The Board Game.
  • Artistic License – History: Since it's based on mythical tales, of course it's going to be this. The developer also mentions that he took some liberties with how women are portrayed in the game, since in "Arabian Nights" Days many heroines had "the distressing habit of dying to prove their essential goodness." Fortunately, the original stories have more than enough strong heroines to accommodate this trope — you can choose to play as Zumurrud or Scheherazade.
  • Baleful Polymorph: You can get turned into a monkey if you piss off the wrong wizard or genie. While you keep your skills and intelligence, you still have some difficulty with encountering people.
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  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Having the "Appearance", "Beguiling," or "Seduction" skills allow your character to use this trope to his or her benefit.
  • Blessed with Suck: Some statuses give you rewards up front, but also disadvantages; for one, the best Wealth level to be is actually Rich, rather than Princely or Fabulous, because at those levels your movement by land actually decreases (to account for your entourage). For another, Viziers have to report back to their home city after having an encounter in another city, so trying to complete your Quest or even get back to Baghdad to win the game suddenly becomes an involved calculation of how you can avoid cities.
  • Cardboard Prison: It's relatively easy to get thrown into jail, but not that hard to get back out. Especially if you have "Sneaking and Stealing" in which case you can just walk right out on your next turn.
  • Chekhov's Armory: Several rare artifacts can figure into encounter paragraphs.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The main determining factor of resolving an encounter paragraph is whether or not you possess certain skills. This can occasionally backfire.
  • Cosmic Plaything: You earn Destiny Points when weird things happen to your character that are out of their control. Since you choose the ratio of points you need to win at the start of the game, you can actually bet on your character being a cosmic plaything by choosing a larger number of Destiny Points.
  • Death Is Cheap: You get to come back if you die and don't lose victory points or skills, although you do lose items and statuses. (The Gameplay and Story Integration explanation for this is that you're now playing as your character's sibling or cousin, who took up their quest when they failed.)
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Despite the fact that it's based on Artistic License – History, the stories of the Arabian Nights are rooted in ancient Islamic culture and values. This is acknowledged in the developer's notes; he writes that the way our heroes would have treated unbelievers would be significantly different from modern attitudes. One of his hopes is that the game will help players better understand Islamic culture, and so he tries to avoid The Theme Park Version of the stories.
  • Determinator: Having the "Determined" status turns your character into this.
  • Driven by Envy: The Envious status turns you into this; you become so covetous that you attempt to "Rob" anyone you encounter. Including both people more powerful than you (like a Mad Captain or Cold Wizard) and people who shouldn't even have anything to rob (like a prisoner or a slave).
  • Evil Chancellor: A random encounter name is "Wicked Vizier," and they seem to crop up in a few other encounter types as well. (Averted if any player becomes a Vizier; the level of evil the game lets you commit isn't high enough.)
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: Encountering "Strange Customs" usually results in you doing this. Who knew it was illegal in this city to eat dates out of a leather bag?
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Deliberate and seamless, so much that the game is a story.
  • Geas: Your character can gain the status "Under Geas", which prevents you from winning until you fulfill the terms of the geas.
  • Gender Bender: The Sex-Change Spring. Sometimes, you don't find out what it is until it's too late.
  • Guile Hero: Your character is strongly encouraged to be one — many successful encounter paragraphs hinge on having "Storytelling", "Bargaining and Evaluation," "Quick Thinking," "Acting and Disguise", or "Luck" as skills.
  • Heroic BSoD: Your character has one if s/he gains the "Grief Stricken" status.
  • Intangibility: In certain encoutners, if you try to attack the Efreeta she will become intangible, let you wear yourself out, then lecture you on how foolish you're being. (granting you "Wisdom" and another skill of your choice.)
  • Jackass Genie: All over the place, sometimes hilariously combining with Literal Genie.
  • Lovable Rogue: If you have the "Stealth and Stealing", "Weapon Use", or "Bargaining and Evaluation" skills.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: There are some errata online because there are some gaps in the rules and card/book text that people have argued over. One is that you can't use the Celestial Planisphere to destroy another player's current Origin or Destination, as it was easier to put that in than to actually write rules for what happens when you're a Vizier or Sultan and your city dies.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: Any encounter that includes "Seduce" or "Court" as a possible reaction can turn into this.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: This setting has goolehs, somewhere between a ghoul and a zombie.
  • Place of Power: The board is littered with "Places of Power". You need to earn the right to visit them through encounters, but they can give you powerful advantages if you manage to reach them.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Averted. Romance options and reward paragraphs can change depending upon whether your character is male or female. And if you're subjected to the Gender Bender above, you can't win the game until you change back.
  • Rags to Riches: Your character can have sudden gains or losses of fortune, depending upon your encounters.
  • Real (Wo)Men Love Allah: Having the "Piety" skill and using it turns your hero into this, to the point that it can be played for Deliberate Values Dissonance.
  • RPG Elements: Character skills, wealth levels, Random Encounters, statuses, and Sidequests.
  • Shown Their Work: The developer gives several entries for further reading, including several versions of the Arabian Nights and An Historical Atlas of Islam.
  • Talkative Loon: The Barber. Heaven help you if you're stuck in his chair... However, if you have certain skills (especially "Enduring Hardship"), he can prove to be one of the most helpful Non Player Characters in the game.
  • Walking the Earth: Your Quest is basically an excuse for your character to wander over the Islamic world looking for adventure. Since Sacred Hospitality is a cultural force, however, this trope is more plausible than it sounds.
  • We All Live in America: The content of the encounters doesn't change based on your character's geographic location, meaning you can have very Arabian encounters anywhere on the continent, like meeting the sultan of Ireland.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Encounter results often give meager or no rewards, or outright punishments (losing a Wealth level, becoming Insane or Lame, turming into an ape) for immoral actions like choosing to “Attack” or “Rob” a good or helpless person, or conversely to “Aid” an evil one.
  • The X of Y: A frequent naming convention — you can encounter the People of the Flame, the Cave of Wonders, the City of Brass, the Graveyard of the Elephants, the Lake of Colors, and the Valley of Diamonds, to name a few.