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Curious Expedition is a turn-based exploration roguelike where the player's explorer tries to discover Golden Pyramids across six Lost Worlds before they die, get killed, go insane, or starve. It's set in the late 19th century with tesla guns, dinosaurs, and undead abominations.

The player starts the game by choosing 1 out of 24 different explorers. Each explorer has a different perk, starting companions, equipment and dice pool for combat. Initially only a few explorers are unlocked - the rest require specific achievements to be completed first.

It's the first game by indie developer Maschinen-Mensch, made after their successful Kickstarter campaign and long open beta.


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This game contains examples of:

  • Action Girl:
    • Every female explorer, but Amelia Earhart, Freya Stark and Alexandra David-Neel still stand out due to being this in real life and the game acknowledging that with proper gear and special skills.
    • Certain companions can be female, while kicking asses left and right and being generally just as competent as their male version.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: You! Looting ancient shrines while fighting off animals, natives, dinosaurs and unspeakable horrors is the main source of fame... and income.
  • Adventurer Outfit: Zig-Zagged. Depending on explorer, their garments may vary from Beduine-styled robe with keffiyeh, through safari outfits and ending with unpractical Victorian suits and dresses.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Pulp Magazines, Jungle Opera and similar genres, Two-Fisted Tales style.
  • The Alcoholic:
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    • Companions can become alcoholic from drinking whisky, making them Functional Addicts as long as they receive alcohol on a regular basis. If they don't, they will gradually lose Loyalty and ultimately leave the party. There is a small chance that the alcoholic will take a whisky bottle without permission and chug it down when Sanity is low or depleted. Conversely, there is also a chance that they will take their own bottle out of the backpack and give it to the expedition.
    • The caretakers at missions apply a huge overvaluation on whisky, as a clear shout-out to whisky priests. You can take advantage of this by selling them whisky at a markup and clean out their other stock of normal value.
  • Anti-Hoarding: Mangoes will spoil over time, so there is no point storing them. Meat, both raw and cooked, only lasts for the specific expedition. So do Red Berries. And due to limited cargo space, any expedition will sooner or later face a choice what to use up or simply throw away to remove encumbrance penalty.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Tesla Gun must be used with some caution, because it causes self-damage with each attack.
    • All sorts of medallions and pendulums. They start to shake when the expedition is closing to the type of object they are related with, but to notice that, the party needs to stop first, and observe the item. They also only vibrate when closing, without pointing direction, making them an awful waste of Sanity if trying to triangulate the location of the item or point of interest.
  • Badass Preacher:
    • Potentially any monk and nun who lasts for long in your expedition due to the amount of adventures they've survived and combats they've helped to win.
    • The lone missionary somehow survived in his small mission in the middle of nowhere.
  • Bedouin Rescue Service: Inverted. The Bedouins won't rescue the expedition, but they have a chance to not take a Standing hit after the party rests in one of their villages.
  • Bigger Stick:
    • Dynamite, hunting rifles and spare bullets make a short work of most of enemies the expedition can face, even if the party consists of some armchair scholar, an artist, a missionary and their water buffalo.
    • Marcus Garvey can have one companion more than other explorers. More often than not, this means a massive increase of expeditions efficiency, both in combat and exploring.
  • Black Comedy: The game is best described as a love child between The Oregon Trail, Dungeon Crawling, and exploration games. Some moments can be darkly amusing, such as the explorer becoming delighted at the sight of a long-cold corpse clutching some valuables because, hey, loot! And don't forget - you will die. A lot. And it's all part of the fun.
  • Black Market:
    • An aptly named perk gives access to one. It allows to access a fully stocked shop before departing for a new expedition, giving a much wider variety of goods. In particular, it increases the chance of guns stocking, which are very rare and can provide a major boost in combat power.
    • The "auctions" for goods looted during each expedition are hinted to be organised in this fashion.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Machetes, ropes and to a lesser extent climbing gear. Almost every expedition will start with buying entire stock of those, since they make crossing hard terrain much easier and with proper perks they can completely negate penalties for specific terrain. Since they are also very cheap, there is no problem with replenishing the stock each time. Native villages also overvalue snowshoes and machetes, making them good trading items.
    • Camp site is basically a bundle of tents that can be set up anywhere for a good resting place. The only significant downside is the extra time it takes to set up and take down, possibly resulting in poorer placement on the Golden Pyramid race, but when the alternative is a horrible, agonizing death and utter failure...
    • Water buffalo is the best of standard, easy-to-access pack animals. It has the best dice of all unupgraded animals when in combat and can carry 4 crates.
  • Body Horror:
    • Abominations. A grotesquely malformed humanoids with three arms, countless tumors and barely even resembling a human being. Some appear at random. Some replace your companion while in caves. Others were your companion. They are no longer even sapient.
    • One of the blessings from drinking water in mountain temple turns hands of affected individual into set of bestial, inhuman claws. The transformation is also extremely painful. And this is still considered as a blessing.
    "... hands began to shake wildly as his body twisted in pain. After the screams stopped, I could see that his hands had been deformed into ghastly, bestial claws. It wasn't the most beautiful thing to look at, but should be of benefit during the next fight."
  • Bold Explorer: Venture into uncharted land! Get chased by the natives! Watch member of your party die, eaten alive by raptors! Loot cursed treasure! Die horribly in the middle of a nameless desert!
  • Chased by Angry Natives: Reaching -10 Standing turns all natives on the map hostile, with endless spawn of warrior parties chasing after the expedition. That is, unless all the villages are or already were destroyed by natural disasters or fire...
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Missionaries, both as companions and residents of missions on map, are very much Franciscian monks. The mission itself looks like stereotypical old Spanish outpost.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: Visiting one grants an option to reveal a chosen type of locations existing on the map. If lucky, this can reveal more than 10 points of interest at once.
  • Common Place Rare: The very basis of the barter system. Different locations value items differently. For example, glass marbles are cheap in London and have no value for Catholic missionary, but natives will eagerly trade away gems and ivory for those. Wandering traders love animal teeth, but the European auction house and museum are less enthusiastic. And so on.
  • Cool, but Inefficient:
    • Flares. They are rare, they are expensive, they have a very limited range and reveal very small portion of the map. Even with Flare Usage perk, their efficiency is nonexistent.
    • Binoculars are very expensive and take a cargo slot. They stack up to three units, but good luck finding more than one in any game. And while increased viewing range scales geometrically with the size of the stack, single binoculars provide barely 1 hex of additional range.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Regardless of the destination's biome, there's always a chance to run into an unexpected situation or misplaced terrain where an item could help. Keeping a large stock of expedition gear can save a lot of Sanity in the long run. In the most extreme cases, mountains can block you from reaching the Golden Pyramid if you don't have dynamite or a spell to break through.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Having more than one character of the same type is more often than not a waste of slot for badly needed versality in perks and access to specific dice. This is why early game with Aleister Crowley is so painful - you start with not just one, but three cultists, while even one of them is one of the most useless companions. However, certain party members, like Animal Handler, Native Scout or both versions of trader have their perks stack, which might be useful as long as you can work around limited dice pool.
  • Critical Encumbrance Failure: Played with. Each item stack takes up one cargo slot, regardless of whether that stack is 20 sticks of dynamite or a single empty canvas. When the expedition exceeds the slot limit, each hex moved will cost an additional 10 Sanity and double the time required for it. This is an extreme penalty, and the best option is almost always to consume or throw something away, unless it's almost the end of the mission. However, some items are weightless.
  • Crossing the Desert: Deserts are packed with tiles that inflict a Sanity penalty unless the expedition is carrying water. Water is free at the ship or certain other locations, but it takes up precious inventory slots and has no secondary uses. In general, desert biomes are more challenging than average, to the point they are even listed in-game as the toughest maps to pick.
  • Culture Chop Suey: The way how just about everything is portrayed, to keep up with the theme of the game and genre it's spoofing. At the start of each expedition, you can choose a destination among South America, Africa, Australia, and the Arctic Circle, and this doesn't matter one bit. There will be African tribals in Amazonian jungle, Incan artifacts in Egyptian tombs, or cavemen paintings in Sahara caves.
  • Cycle of Hurting:
    • Because each expedition is more difficult than the last, a death at the wrong time can result in being forced to abandon important gear, which now won't be available for the next obstacle down the road. Reaching zero Sanity triggers a series of events ranging from bad (such as a companion losing a single Loyalty point) to terrible (equipment loss or instant death of a companion). It's usually better to have a dysfunctional high-level party than start collecting new members half-way through, especially since how limited the recruitment is.
    • That being said, not all setbacks are instant death. If the trip is going poorly, you can escape in the ship or (as a last resort) the hot air balloon, with no penalty other than the withheld Fame for not finding the Golden Pyramid. Returning to England is a chance for a new perk, a new companion, a chance to purchase more gear, and healing all infected wounds.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Lieutenant Konrad is a deserter from the British Army, hiding among the population of some remote native village. The expedition can accept quest to bring him back home. Attempting to arrest him always results in a battle where you are forced to kill him.
  • Darkest Africa: Exaggerated on every possible step
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: All over the place, since the game plays up all the cliches and tropes related with stories from Pulp Magazines Up to Eleven.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: While Good Pays Better, it takes a bit of experience to know what and how to do for fully peaceful expeditions that still turn profit and wins the game.
  • Distaff Counterpart: In terms of gameplay, Freya Stark is female version of Frederick Courtney Selous, with minor changes to adjust for desert rather than African jungle.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Due to her Pacifist perk, Mary Kingsley can't use guns. Or any other weapons, for that matter. This enforces a Pacifist Run, since combat without weapons is almost suicidal.
  • Dog Food Diet: Food cans. They are so awful in taste, human members of the expedition will refuse to even touch them, unless desperate. If the party happens to be entirely made out of animals, lizardmen or abominations, nobody protests and the cans can be eaten freely.
  • Driven to Madness: Hitting 0 Sanity is not an instant game over. It will simply start triggering progressively more and more nasty events, most likely culminating with the members of the expedition killing each other or disappearing during the night.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Whisky can be used to restore whopping 20 Sanity, but each bottle has a chance to cause the Alcoholic ailment. Should the expedition have a Scottish Soldier, his unique perk allows increases the Sanity gain up to 50 points and Alcoholism - if triggered - will be on him.
  • Dying Alone: In case of everyone but the explorer being wiped out from the expedition, it's just a matter of time to simply get lost and die. One of the perks allows to survive alone... for twice as long, which still might not be enough to finish an expedition.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: To unlock achievements - and thus more explorers - the game must be played on at least normal difficulty. But since this is the type of game where finishing even in easy mode is an achievement all by itself...
  • Eat the Dog: The natives will be eager to organise a feast using whatever animal from the expedition they will chose, which might include the dog or hyena. And after Sanity is depleted, it's a very common event to either have one of the companions propose to eat one of the animals or outright butcher it without asking for permission.
  • Eldritch Location: After using a mysterious portal, the party will be temporarily transported to another world. It usually resembles pieces of a Lost World floating in the empty void. However, expeditions to such locations, especially early on, can be extremely beneficial - they allow for early recruitment of a dinosaur pack animal and are usually cluttered with mountain temples, granting powerful perks to selected party members. After a while, the party is transported back to reality (or can instantly go back via the portal).
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Checked. Dinosaurs can appear as soon as the party finds a proof of Lost World or if visiting the world on the other side of the magic portal. Chasmosaurus is by far the best possible pack animal and mount, but it's also entirely possible to have a pet raptor. Or entire collection of their hides.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: If neither wild animals, angry natives, slavers, mummies, diseases, own companions, relics of the past, drowning, fires, cave-ins, falls from height or endless void won't kill you, then there is still a chance you will just get lost in the wilderness without food.
  • Evil Is Easy: It's considerably easier to play a combat-oriented expedition, since it requires no knowledge of game mechanics aside the most powerful dice combinations.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: Everyone
    • The world still has living dinosaurs? Use them as mounts! Lizard Folk exist and join your party? Bring them back to Europe! Magic is real? Drain a lake with it! There is some sort of alternative dimension? Loot it!
    • The aptly named "Cosmic Indifferent" perk H. P. Lovecraft starts with takes it a step further. While it reduces maximum sanity from 100 to 70, it allows to use Necronomicon at half of normal price and makes it almost impossible to fail with it.
      • Meanwhile the "Strong Mind" perk plays it the other way around - the characters saw so much weird things, they gain 20 Maximum sanity.
  • Final Death: Companion deaths are normally final except for a rare location where you may donate items to revive just one. The explorer dying is an instant game over, but he/she cannot die as long as at least one companion is still alive.
  • Functional Addict: Alcoholics are relatively harmless, since they can mostly get along fine without alcohol and all they do is steal a bottle (if there is one) in case of low/no Sanity. Not so much with use of coca leaves, which can make companions paranoid, kleptomaniacs, and worse.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Nikola Tesla is one of possible explorers. He always starts a new game with his "trusted" Tesla gun and Strong Mind perk.
  • Genre Throwback: The game takes all sorts of Dead Horse Tropes associated with pulp adventure and takes them on a ride.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Giant Crab is the most murderous creature in the game. It comes with 28 hit points and deadly, multi-target attacks. As the achievement for beating one indicates, "There is no weak point." Fortunately, it's also very rare and always solitary.
  • Giant Spider: They can be sometimes encountered in caves and when following the quest given by spirits, and show up in groups of two to four. They are moderately dangerous, with a decent health pool but only one attack die each, with their mostly likely attack doing only 2 damage.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • Using coca leaves to restore Sanity. They come with very high chance of giving one of the most harmful ailments to companions, while restoring only 10 Sanity. Not even a Cultist companion's perk prevents that.
    • Dynamite can be used in combat, causing massive damage - to everyone, unless it is combined with the right dice. Even with proper combination, using dynamite in combat is pure desperation against enemies numerous and strong enough to scoff off regular attacks
  • Going Native:
    • Any of the party members may declare that they want to stay in a native village during a night rest there. Usually because falling for one of the locals. Players can deny such request, but it usually carries a heavy hit on loyalty and mood.
    • It is also possible to trigger an event at 8-10 Standing (or with Polyglot perk) for the explorer to stay in the village him or herself, leading to Nonstandard Game Over. Doing this once is required to unlock one of the explorers.
  • Grave Robbing:
    • The basic and easiest source of income in dry and desert maps is to raid tombs for mummies and other treasure. Just be prepared for a fight with angry undead.
    • Looting any location on the map is considered a big no-no by the natives, always costing a Standing hit.
  • Great White Hunter:
    • Frederick Courtney Selous. The real life one was the Trope Maker. In game, he starts with a powerful hunting rifle and equally powerful Jungle Explorer perk, while his party already has a cook, allowing him to turn all the hunted game into tasty steaks.
    • To a lesser extent, the leader of every expedition that relies on hunting will inevitably turn into one.
  • Grid Inventory: Each member of the expedition comes with predefined cargo capacity arranged by slots, not weight. It doesn't matter if there is one item in the stack or 20 - they all take single slot. Certain items don't take cargo capacity at all, making them doubly useful. Before stacking rules were implemented, a lot of gear and especially treasures and trophies didn't stack, making the game considerably harder.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: For starters, most of possible explorers never left their home country. Some didn't even leave their county. The collection of characters consists of just a handful of what could pass as adventurers, followed by large plethora of writers, scientists, cultists and even political activists. Here they are all badass adventurers looking for lost ruins. It's entirely possible to race toward the Golden Pyramid against Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, H. P. Lovecraft and Nikola Tesla.
  • Hollywood Natives: Intentionally invoked. They don't represent any specific culture or even group of cultures in particular, instead being just undescriptive "black savages" or equally interchangeable desert nomads, usually with extensive Tribal Face Paint and Savage Piercings.
  • Hungry Jungle: Played With. Should the expedition be unprepared, each jungle tile eats absurd amount of Sanity, to the point where taking a lengthy detour might be safer than crossing two hexes of jungle. But with a hefty supply of machetes, the jungle can be not only traversed at much lower cost, but also hacked down, leaving a clear path behind. Combined with Jungle Explorer perk, the jungle is no threat at all, with the same travel cost as clear land.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: One possible 0-Sanity is for your explorer to accidentally shoot and kill a companion during an otherwise quiet evening. It's likely that hunger and exhaustion caused a lapse in following proper gun safety, as it's brazenly irresponsible to even be pointing a loaded and chambered weapon at an ally.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: One of the most dangerous ailments a companion can have is Cannibal. They can at random attack other party members, kill them and start eating them. Abominations not only always have this ailment, but unlike other characters, they can't be cleansed from it.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: Chocolate, fresh mango and well-cooked meat might not be so delicious on themselves, but they bring back memories of home and thus restore large amounts of Sanity with no drawbacks.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • Bundles of dynamite can be used as weapon in combat, with ability to hit really hard multiple characters. With proper dice combination, they no longer harm the expedition and the damage is further increased.
    • It is possible to start a fire with flares and spells, which will clear entire area out of enemies, but can also destroy most points of interests and easily get out of control.
  • Instant-Win Condition: On easy and medium difficulty levels, entering the Golden Pyramid will magically teleport you back to Europe. On hard mode, you're either hoofing it back to the ship, or abandoning the majority of your equipment and taking the hot air balloon.
    • And if that wasn't enough, later expeditions also require collecting Moon Stone and/or digging up the Golden Pyramid first.
  • Joke Character: Dion Fortune is by far the hardest character to unlock, since it's purely up to chance of very rare event triggering. Her starting perk, companions, gear and even dice are just subpar.
  • Joke Item: Tesla gun. The only way to obtain one is to start as Tesla himself. It always harms the user upon being fired, regardless of dice combination, while dealing damage of a standard handgun. The gun die itself has only a 2 out of 6 chance to roll the gun icon at all.
  • Jungle Drums: Should the expedition's Standing drop really low, those can be heard nearby native villages.
  • Jungle Opera: Exaggerated in every possible way, due to the nature of the game.
  • Jungles Sound Like Kookaburras: One of the most often ambient sounds in the background when close to jungle tiles.
  • Killer Gorilla: Gorillas are one of the toughest enemies any expedition can face due to big hit points pool and dangerous dice combinations. Should it be an early game, such encounter can quickly turn into a Total Party Kill. What makes them worse than most of tough enemies is how common it is to fight a group of them right from the first map rather than a single ape.
  • Life Will Kill You: One of the most common causes of death is a minor injury getting infected and remaining untreated for many days. Most other causes of death are relatively sudden and unspectacular, like getting separated from the group and disappearing without a trace.
  • Lizard Folk: They replace normal natives in Lost World maps. They like swampy, warm areas, while being barely organised tribes of hunter-gatherers with primitive technology. Should one be recruited, it will make traveling over swamps and shallow water cost less Sanity.
  • Lost World: At least one expedition will go to a prehistoric biome — it is mandatory for the 6th expedition. Should a Dinosaur Skull be found on any of first four expeditions, it will be possible to visit it earlier. Aside from hungry raptors, dangerous terrain requiring lengthy detours, numerous volcanos, Lizard Folk and oversized arthropods they also come with one of the best pack animals and can turn a pretty profit if the expedition is combat-oriented.
    • The surreal location accessed via portal also has traces of it. It's usually full of enemies from Lost World and all native villages are inhabited by lizardmen.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Any expedition after the first one can quickly go south due to random chance or the generated map being harder than usual. On the other hand, some map features will make the trek considerably easier. Other than that:
    • Recruitment options are purely to chance. Sometimes the villagers will offer help of three useless animal handlers, sometimes it will be a free water buffalo. Same in the dock before expedition - you might end up with the exact person you need for perfect party and have it easy for the rest of the game... or that companion type will never appear.
    • Looting a shrine will almost for sure trigger some natural disaster. It's passable when it's a fire or animal attack, but it can be as well a flood or and earthquake, suddenly creating mountains where the only pass was moment ago. But worst of them all, it might trigger a crag or endless void, which are the main reason why Total Party Kill happens.
    • Using portals can either give access to chasmosaurus (which can carry 6 crates without any upgrades and is extremely useful in combat) early or end up eaten by raptors after making few steps away from the portal.
    • The world generated by the portal can be either simple walk to nearby villages and temples or utterly impassable terrain due to random tile generation.
    • Some skill checks — in particular, climbing without safety equipment or sending someone into a cave's crawlspace — result in a companion's death on a failed roll.
    • Sleeping in the mission may trigger the event where the missionary turns into an abomination. Not only does it mean a tough combat, but also all gear left in deposit in the mission will be lost.
    • Wounded cultists and any character with bite marks can turn into abomination at any given moment. It might never happen through all six expeditions, or it might happen the next second after the conditions are met.
    • All this being said, this is a Roguelike game with elements of risk and reward. It's possible to survive six expeditions and gain the most Fame even after aborting a couple expeditions and turning down chances for loot.
  • Made a Slave: You don't like some member of your party? Why not sell him or her into slavery for a decent price! Just remember about that massive Standing hit and drop of loyalty of other party members.
  • Magical Negro:
    • Native shaman is this to the T, with Hollywood Voodoo vibes.
    • Harriet Tubman starts with Occult Vison perk, allowing her to reveal shrine and its surrounding each time she takes a rest to dream.
  • Magical Society: As a nod to his real world cult, Aleister Crowley starting companions are cultists. Three of them.
  • Magikarp Power: Perks of certain companions start as almost useless and gradually change into game-breakingly powerful
    • Basic Culinary Finesse provides Charcoaled Animal Meat, restoring puny 2 Sanity. Maxed-up Cook produces Cooked Animal Meat instead, which restores 15 Sanity. Even the disparity between starting Culinary Finesse and first level up is so massive there is no point cooking meat at all before gaining a level.
    • Artists start with single, basic blue die and their skills are so poor the canvas they use is twice as costly as the pictures. By level 2 they break even and at level 3, their pictures sell for 60 fame or 40 funds, giving back 4 times the investment costs. At this point, artists themselves come with two upgraded blue dice.
    • Assuming there are two or more pack animals in the expedition, Animal Capacity perk of Animal handler snowballs into absurdity. Each level of the skill increases the maximum cargo capacity of a pack animal by 1. That means +4 at one animal, +8 at two and so on. Combined with buying harness upgrades in harbour, each animal can have seven more cargo slots, which in most cases means almost triple the basic cargo capacity.
    • Native warrior Stealth perk, once maxed out, allows to move the party right next to a tile with a predator, without triggering aggression or ambush. This can save a lot of hassle, especially in Pacifist Runs.
  • Mayincatec: Ho boy... let's just say that you are chasing after Golden Pyramids of Mayan style all over the world. And you can find a golden llama artifact while sacking a desert shrine in Australia.
  • Mighty Whitey: Like many other Discredited Tropes, intentionally Invoked. The party represents a bunch of brash Europeans who are scouring the world in the name of loot and personal glory, stealing from the natives, killing everything in their path, and triggering world-rending curses with zero long-term repercussions. As long as you make it back to Europe in one piece, you get a fresh start on the next expedition where the natives have no idea what havoc you've wrought elsewhere.
    • On the other hand, it's also one of the rare, justified cases - should the expedition decide to stand against slave traders, you are the only people around with enough firepower to effectively fight an entire group of gun-toting slavers.
  • The Missionary:
    • It is possible to stumble upon an old, Catholic mission. The local priest can barter with the expedition, provide storage for few items that will be shipped to London by the end of the expedition, or even let them stay overnight to rest in comforts of the mission. This might not always be for free. And if you happen to hear weird sounds in the night coming from the priest's cell, better grab that rifle of yours...
    • One of the possible companions can be a monk or a nun, doing missionary work. They have one of the worst stats, but come with two perks - Strong Mind, which once maxed provides 50 additional Sanity and a secret perk, allowing to always stay and use missions for free.
  • Mummy: Can be both found as items or as reanimated corpse(s), ready to fight the expedition or even curse it. Once defeated, they can still be looted and sold back in London... or rise again and require another fight. Notably, the mummies appear to be Peruvian style rather than Egyptian ones, while in the same time tombs with them appear to be Egyptian.
  • Native Guide: Few different varieties, also with different degree of "native" part
    • Bedouins help traveling over deserts and reveal oasis. Although their perk is useless outside of desert biomes, they get three combat dice at level 4.
    • Persian Translators grant ability to better communicate with natives, thus increasing the Sanity gained by staying for a rest in a village. They are not local in any way, but they are definitely not from Western world either and the game setting considers them native enough.
    • Native Scouts and Warriors provide a great support when traveling due to their perks - scouts increase the visibility and show far away points of interests, while warriors make it much easier to avoid predators with stealth.
    • Lizardmen combine the above, as they are both stealthy and decrease the cost of moving over swampy areas.
  • The Natives Are Restless: Reaching -10 Standing will cause increasingly strong native war parties to constantly spawn and pursue your expedition until you are dead or escaped.
  • Nature Hero: Unlike every other explorer, Alexandra David-Neel can level up animals in her party, but can't level up humans. This allows for completely different playstyle and is surprisingly effective, as animals don't suffer from any ailments and are always loyal. Her starting equipment also favours peaceful approach and avoidance of combat.
  • The Navigator: With combination of few perks and gear, it's entirely possible to explore large swathes of the map without moving too much and gain accurate compass reading. Due to their starting perks, Amelia Earhart and Isabella Bird are especially good at this.
  • New Meat: All newly recruited characters start at level 0. It doesn't make much of a difference in first two expeditions, but trying to replace a level 3 party member with a new guy or gal tends to be painful the more expeditions have already passed. However, if the explorer happens to have spare points stored in, it's possible to at least partially catch up with the replacement.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party:
    • After Sanity hits zero, it's very common to trigger an event when one of the party members will wake up the rest of the expedition by brutally murdering another companion and eating the still warm body. Such companion gains a Cannibal ailment, meaning that even after regaining Sanity, he or she should be dismissed or cleansed quickly. Otherwise, they might decide they have a taste for human flesh again.
    • One of the quests involves finding a lost adventurer from another expedition. He survived in the wild by eating his less fortunate companions. And due to his Cannibal ailment, your party is on the menu.
  • Non-Human Sidekick:
    • Pack animals, mounts, and pet predators (be they a hunting dog, trained tiger or tamed raptor) are this by default for any expedition. Unlike human members of the party, they don't suffer from low Sanity, can't gain ailments and are always 100% loyal. And they by default can carry more than any human, even without upgrades.
    • Alexandra David-Neel takes it a step further, since she's the only explorer capable of leveling animals up, turning them from somewhat useful to extremely versatile in combat.
    • Tim Timster always comes with his dog Luis. If Luis leaves the party for any reason, Tim will constantly grieve for his lost companion. There is no penalty for hiring them, then immediately dismissing Tim. Luis doesn't even take a party slot.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: As long as at least one human character is alive, all expedition members downed in combat are simply considered unconscious.
  • Nonstandard Game Over:
    • While resting in a native village, there is a chance to trigger an event allowing to join the tribe and stay there forever. This unlocks Dion Fortune.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Eventually, starting perk of Frederick Courtney Selous was changed, as it was simply too easy to finish expeditions in jungle-infested maps using him. Notably, it was not a nerf - his new perk makes him an even better leader of a hunting party, allowing an extra re-roll of dice in combat.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: If things are going well, the British soldier (who might be a captain or a lieutenant) is going to act like one, with few special events for camping.
  • Panthera Awesome: Black panthers roam the jungle and adjacent tiles. Even a single one can be a considerable challenge early on. In later stages of the game, they start to roam in groups, making up for their stats with sheer numbers.
  • Played for Laughs: The Game. The entire premise is to pick all possible Discredited Tropes about pulp adventure genre and push them over limit... and then some more. It has exactly the same attitude toward dying horribly.
  • Pretty Butterflies: They can be collected for a collection, increasing value with each new butterfly in it. Charles Darwin starts with special perk, Butterfly Enthusiast, restoring 10 Sanity each time his expedition collects a butterfly.
  • Rare Random Drop: Certain items are very rare to encounter in shops or barter points. Highlights include weapons, camp site, weather balloons and - on high difficulty - dynamite. The Black Market perk helps with this, but it only applies to the London shop.
  • Renaissance Man: Polymath perk. Characters with it can pick from 5, rather than 3 perks after finished expedition, allowing much more flexible choices. However, picking it means one of the limited perk slots is wasted to gain more choices next time. Fortunately, Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie start with this perk.
  • Robbing the Dead: Since mummies don't stack, but other possible treasures do, it's a common outcome of raiding a tomb - take gold, leave the mummy where it was. Especially since a mummy in inventory can rise and start a fight.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Quite literally. Spears provide one of the best and most versatile dice combinations, while Tesla gun always harms the user, regardless of what dice were combined.
  • Roguelike: The game combines randomly generated maps for each expedition (always more lethal than the previous one), perma-death, high learning curve, Everything Trying to Kill You, and intentional use of 8-bit era style graphics.
  • Rule of Cool: Dinosaurs, laser guns, lizard folk, ancient temples with world-altering traps. The entire game runs on it, with a hefty helping of MST3K Mantra.
  • Sanity Meter: Sanity represents action points. Usually each explorer starts with 100, unless specific perks are involved. Each travelled has a set cost of Sanity, depending on terrain, equipment, perks and if the expedition is overburdened. Depleting Sanity to 0 starts triggering increasingly more nasty events, while also slows down the movement considerably.
  • Schmuck Bait: Go on, read the Necronomicon. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • If the expedition is going badly, and the demands of the party members aren't met, they can simply disappear without a trace. They also tend to snatch part of the gear before doing so, which is usually lethal for the rest of the expedition.
    • Should the player decide there is no chance to finish an expedition, they can either go back to the ship (if it's even possible) or use a hot air balloon. In case of the balloon, only a very limited cargo space is available.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Just looking at the "merchandise" in a slave camp comes with an instant -2 Standing hit. Buying slaves or selling party members is -5. On the flip side, should the player decide to attack the slavers and liberate the camp it provides +5 standing, making it the only fight granting positive Standing.
  • Spell Book: The Necronomicon works like one - each time it's used, it can provide from one to up to three scrolls with spells. Trying to do so with any other explorer than Lovecraft will also deplete almost all Sanity with single go and most likely start jungle fire instead.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Raptors, chasmosauruses, and parasaurolophus.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Dynamite can be used to destroy mountain tiles. With "Explosion Expert" perk, it increases the radius of explosion to all adjacent hexes.
  • Technical Pacifist: Mary Kingsley can't use weapons due to having Pacifist perk. But it doesn't prevent her from fighting, or having others fight for her.
  • Temple of Doom: Every. Single. Shrine. And looting one usually triggers some disaster, some of which can destroy the ship back to London, kill the expedition, or make reaching the Golden Pyramid impossible.
  • Thirsty Desert: Deserts are one of the worst terrain types to cross. Each desert tile uses up 1 ration of water. Water rations can have only 20 stacks. Without water and related perks, desert tiles eat 10 Sanity each. Water is available for free at the ship, but it's pretty hard to get water while already in the middle of the desert. For comparison, jungle tiles can be cut down and aren't that expensive to cross in the first place, while hills (most expensive terrain tile, costing 15 Sanity without climbing gear and related perk) are rarely grouped together. Meanwhile, desert can cover entire section of map, which means roughly a 100+ tiles of murderous sand that needs to be crossed.
  • Too Awesome to Use: As typical for a roguelike game, the strong items like spears, dynamite, and medkits are there to keep you alive, and should be used as soon as the situation warrants it. Averted in case of Marked Bullets, one of the most handy consumables in the game. They are automatically generated from a perk. They work just like normal consumable bullets, but don't take cargo slots and are automatically generated at pace of about single bullet per 5 days, making them even better than regular version.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: Looting a shrine will almost always triggers the trap. And since doing so is the main source of artifacts and special, rare items, you'll likely trigger a few of them on any given playthrough.
  • Tribal Face Paint: All native companions have face paint.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: The game can be easily broken in few ways
    • Intentionally invoked with colorful marbles, which are the cheapest item sold in stores and more civilised areas, but have really high value when bartered in native villages. It's entirely possible to exchange few marbles and buy one or few elephant tusks or similar items, that will turn a nice profit back in London.
    • Low level Artists provide pictures that can't even pay back the costs of the canvas. Once reaching max level, each painting can be turned for 60 fame or 40 funds. This allows to ignore risky visits in shrines, as they can be just painted from a safe distance. Meanwhile, the artist provides two upgraded blue dice.
    • Anthropology perk allows the explorer to write anthropological studies if the party rests in a native village. They can be turned to museum for a hefty prize of 70 fame. Each native village can provide another one. Johan Huizinga starts with this perk, allowing him to gain an extra 70 fame from the very first expedition, or even 140 if the map generates two villages.
    • English soldier restores Sanity after winning a combat. Cook turns raw meat into Sanity-restoring meal. If they are both in the same party, Sanity is no longer an issue, since each fight will provide at least 40 Sanity back or more, depending on amount of meat.
      • Adding to the above, an artist and a hunting rifle can turn the game into just few clicks to reach next Golden Pyramid, with zero issues.
    • Camp Site allows to unfold a resting location anywhere, at any time. Granted, it takes 3 days to set up the camp and another 3 to fold it back, but if time is not an issue or the player already has a hefty time advantage against other explorers, it allows the party to freely restore Sanity.
    • Using Haggle, it's possible to "buy" expensive items or entire stack of useful tools for nothing. If the expedition is blessed with a few shaman huts or trading caravans, this can snowball into filling entire inventory for free.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Subverted. Fighting with slavers has a good chance of looting shotgun, handgun and a whip, often two or even all three at once. Defeated natives meanwhile often leave spears.
  • Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities: A lot of perks can come this way
    • Zig-Zagged with Animal Capacity, depending on expedition composition. If there is only one animal in it, then it's almost useless. But with two or more animals, it instead turns into game-breaker.
    • Careerist increases loyalty of companions when they are promoted to higher level. Since loyalty is usually a non-issue, and promotions are relatively rare, this perk is completely useless.
    • Coca Expert provides more Sanity from using Coca Leaves, but doesn't prevent the ill effects of doing so.
    • Desert Explorer works only if the expedition ever plans to visit desert map. Since those maps are the hardest by default, they are best ignored entirely.
    • Flare Usage is by far the most useless and purely situational companion perk, found on the Sailor. It increases the radius of area revealed by flares by only 1 hex. Only when maxed out, it adds another hex to the radius. Range of the flares remains meanwhile unaffected. Additionally, flares are expensive and rare in shop, while it's possible to never loot or barter for any at all in all six expeditions. As a balance, the combat dice on Sailors isn't so bad, having two green dice right out of the gate.
    • Impetus cuts the base cost of traveling from 5 to 3, which means it literally saves two points of Sanity from each leg traveled. Over the course of a long expedition, it might save an average of 50 Sanity or so, but spread out so that rest stops are just refilling you to near-full Sanity anyway. Mounting a companion animal also provides the exact same effect. It's not quite so bad on hard mode, where the base travel cost is tripled to 15, and the Golden Pyramid race is much more competitive.
    • Occult Vision reveals Stone Circles on the map and area around them. Some maps often lack Circles entirely or have only one.
    • Picking, rather than starting with Polymath, hurts more than it helps. Since there are only 5 perks to be had during entire game, trading one of them just to have wider variety of choices the next four doesn't make much sense.
  • Useless Useful Stealth: Zig-Zagged. On first two levels, native warrior perk provides only a minor bonus to stealth and can still trigger combat quite often. It only works reliably when maxed.
  • Was Once a Man: Abominations. They could be former cultists, possessed missionaries or unlucky people attacked by another abomination. Now they barely even look humanoid and are definitely dead as a person, driven only by their most basic instincts and Horror Hunger.
  • Women Are Wiser: Female explorers more often than not come with upgraded blue (wits) and green (support) dice, while male ones tend to have upgraded red (combat) ones.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: It's entirely possible to make a Pacifist Run, doing nothing other than carefully and respectfully studying native tribes, while painting pictures of them and surrounding scenery. Or raising arms only to liberate entire camps of slaves. All of which pays back handsomely.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Hunting animals into extinction for meager profit, looting sacred grounds and holy shrines, selling people into slavery, buying slaves, burning down entire swats of land to clear it from dangerous animals and pissed natives. Just a normal expedition.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Start abusing the natives' hospitality, keep desecrating their temples and hunt down all the game, and all native villages on the map will start sending warrior parties after your expedition. Constantly, until your death or escape.
  • Viral Transformation: One of the main causes of companions turning into abominations. If they gain in any way Strange Biting Mark ailment, they can possibly transform into another abomination. And the worst part? It can kick in at any moment... or never at all.
  • Zerg Rush: Expect weaker enemies to show up in big numbers. And since attacks against multiple targets are relatively rare, the sheer numbers can overwhelm the expedition. In later stages, even more dangerous predators start to roam in packs. And there is nothing worse than a small herd of hungry raptors.
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