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Video Game / Renowned Explorers

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Renowned Explorers: International Society is a Strategy Rogue-lite released on September 2, 2015 created by Abbey Games (whose are also known for Reus). The goal is, well, to become the world's renowned explorers. Using either your fists, your wits, or your charm you must go on expeditions to far off lands, build up your renown by solving encounters and getting treasures, and then come home to spend your resources for the next expedition.

The game uses a Turn-Based Tactics combat interface, but with a twist: Rather than hitpoints, every character has a "Spirit" value that can be reduced not only by violence, but also by persuasion or emotional manipulation, both of which may be selected just like physical attacks. As a result, it's not uncommon to have "battles" that entirely consist of insult-hurling or cunning diplomacy until the opponent gives in. Similarly, healing allies is accomplished by having a friendly chat or giving a pep-talk. Different characters have different variations of the violence/manipulation/diplomacy moves that cause different "Mood" effects on targets, functioning like buffs or debuffs. There is also a general battlefield mood mechanic that greatly alters the flow of an encounter in a Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors kind of way.

Also notable for having a fairly large roster of 20 unique playable characters from which you may pick three to create your expedition party.

An expansion pack, More to Explore, was released on May 31, 2016. As its name implies, it adds two new expeditions to the game, as well as a new Campfire mechanic where you can learn more about your explorers and help them bond with one another...or make them utterly loathe each other, depending on your choices.

A second expansion, The Emperor's Challenge, was released on May 10, 2017. In addition to adding four new Explorers, the expansion adds a new expedition to the Anagogic Archipelago and a new mechanic where the Emperor of China invites your expedition team to participate in various challenge scenarios throughout the world.

A third (and free) expansion, Quest for the Holy Grail, was released on December 13, 2018. It adds a new five-stars expedition about looking for the Holy Grail.

This game contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Bia and Dolores are competent Fighters, while Molly and Hatice are among the more combat-oriented Scouts. And Anna is a Badass Bookworm scientist who's deadly with her taser and bombs.
  • Affably Evil: The Anti-Explorers will go to any lengths to stop the Renowned Explorers, and not only are they impeccably-dressed, but it's implied that they recruit from upper-class backgrounds. And their leader is Charles Darwin.
  • Absurdly Low Level Cap: Downplayed. The level cap is 5 and your party members will probably reach it during the fifth expedition or when you complete it. Even if you don't, you'll quickly reach the level cap if you complete one or two of the remaining adventures; there are twelve expeditions available.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Agatha Brunswick and Emilia Karwowska come with Archaeology skills right out of the box, and other crew members can potentially gain Archaeology skills as well.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Dolores Garcia is a strong luchador as well as a shapely brunette.
  • Amazon Brigade: Not only you can create an all-female party, but you also gain an achievement if you beat the campaign with one.
  • Anti-Grinding: You can only freely explore a map while you have Rations remaining. Run out of Rations, and each node you visit will cause a severe dubuff on one of your crew, which in turn makes it harder to defeat the map's final boss.
  • Anachronism Stew: While the game is set in the 19th century, the Caribbean expeditions features classical-looking pirates more than a century too late, and the Peru expeditions involves an Inca empire (the official Inca empire collapsed during the 16th century).
  • April Fools' Day: In April the 1st 2018, the developers made a joke announcement that they were working on a Dating Sim DLC for Renowned Explorers.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You lead a party of three player characters (no less, no more). In each entourage "shop", you can only recruit one specialist per tier level.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Some characters you bring on expeditions will insist that the occult is just a bunch of superstitious nonsense, despite encountering plenty of evidence to the contrary. Magical rituals, werewolves, ghosts, Egyptian gods...
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • A Tool is a one-use item that can grant a +25% bonus to any challenge roll. But if you still fail the roll, the Tool isn't expended.
    • When you revive a fallen crew member mid-battle, they get most of their Spirit back and a hefty defense bonus for one round.
  • Artistic License – History: In the player characters' files, countries are refered by their current name and flag, despite some of them being anachronistic (e.g. Algeria and Ghana didn't exist before the middle of the 20th century).
  • Badass Bookworm: Ivan Dashkov, a huge and physically powerful Fighter who is often seen reading a book. Despite his piousness and humility, he is way better at punching things than social attacks — and his attack animation shows him putting away his book before he winds up for the punch!
  • Back Stab: Are your crew and the enemy group both in Friendly mood? Enjoy a +50% bonus to your next Aggressive attack!
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The leader of the Anti-Explorers is Charles Darwin.
  • Bold Explorer: The bread and butter of the game. With a team of three explorers, the player must gain enough Renown - through collecting treasures, science, status, and gold - to become the most Renowned Explorer.
  • But Thou Must!: In certain events that normally have multiple choices, you are only offered a single choice if your party happens to have a character with certain (hidden) traits. For example, you might get to choose whether you want knowledge, fame or riches in a treasure room, but if one of your party members is greedy, you can only go with riches.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp":
    • Perks affecting the whole party are called "Research Papers".
    • Hit points are named "Spirit Points", since they aren't a mere health bar but are also affected by insults or charm.
    • The dodge stat is called "Grit".
    • "Resolve" is a Morale Mechanic, a value which decreases each time a party member is downed (during an encounter), when you fail certain challenges, or trade it in a village for supplies. If your Resolve falls to 0, you lose the game.
    • "Challenges" are skill checks.
  • Care-Bear Stare: Basically how Friendly "attacks" work. Enemies who are defeated by Friendly moves become too excited, charmed, or impressed by your crew to even want to resist them any further.
  • Color-Coded Characters: The color of each crew member's outfit reflects their class. Scientists have blue outfits, Scouts have green outfits, Fighters have red outfits, and Speakers have yellow outfits.
  • Crippling Overspecialization:
    • While most players tend to favor one mood — Friendly, Devious, or Aggressive — and can take crew members, Treasure options, and research papers that grant bonuses for using that mood, specializing exclusively in one mood will hurt you when you run into enemies and encounters that punish that mood.
    • You are supposed to assemble a crew of various classes, as every map contains challenges for all four classes. However, you are also permitted to assemble a crew entirely of one class, which makes it harder to pass challenges geared towards any other class. There are four separate achievements for beating the game with a crew like this (one for each class).
    • There are three main campaign resources (Gold, Status and Research), while the game expects you to focus on one of them more than the other you still need some quantities of all three in order to build up your team.
  • Darkest Africa: Notably averted with the Mali Mystery map. The natives and their settlements are largely friendly and pleasant. Of course, that still makes them plenty dangerous to mean (ie Devious) explorers.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: The logical consequence of winning an encounter with a Friendly mood. Also, Rivaleaux's crew members each represent one of the three moods — Friendly, Devious, and Aggressive — and each of them shows genuine respect to players who can defeat them with their own mood.
  • Dungeon Bypass: In the Mountain Of The Ancestors encounter at the Anagogic Archipelago, you can tactfully win a game of CONGKLACK and then get past a laser grid with Archaeology or Rogue checks... OR, with enough levels in Survivalist, you can bypass the door entirely by white-water rafting down a waterfall with nothing but a plank of wood under your crew.
  • Dungeon Crawling: While you never have to traverse actual mazes, certain locations do require you to make a series of decisions and/or challenges before yielding a Treasure.
  • Emotion Bomb: Any social attack with an AOE.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: Gaining levels for your crew is important, as they gain more skills and special abilities. But gear can improve your crew's actual combat stats far more than they'll ever gain from leveling up.
  • French Jerk:
    • Rivaleaux, your main competitor for the title of the most Renowned Explorer. He makes his début to the player stealing the credit for your first discovery. Indeed the game often mentions his jerk-ness and his French-ness in the same sentence.
    • Averted by Victor Signac, who excels with both his blade and a Friendly mood.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Airships, supernatural artifacts, magical rituals, mummies, vampires, werewolves, voodoo pirates led by a ghost pirate, Tibetan demons, dinosaurs, the Yeti, the dancing hut of Baba Yaga...
  • Final Death Mode: Losing in adventure mode means you have to start again from square one. Presumably, since Nobody Can Die, your characters are forced to start over from scratch whenever they lose all their Resolve.
  • Flunky Boss: Most map bosses have mooks that fight alongside them. The bad news is that usually more mooks will keep spawning as the battle continues, but the good news is that winning only requires you to take down the boss themselves.
  • Gentle Giant: Ivan Dashkov is physically powerful, but also helpful, pious, and has taken up adventuring for the sake of friendship.
  • Hero of Another Story: Rivaleaux and his crew may be your arch-nemesis, but many of their appearances make it clear that they're having adventures and investigations of their own when they're not busy messing with you.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Roche Braziliano, Padmasambhava, Pachacuti and Charles Darwin are NPCs which can be encountered during the adventure, to name a few.
    • You are on first name basis with Theodore Roosevelt and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, whom you can hire to join your entourage.
  • Identical Grandson: One of the encounters in Peru is a Mr. Templeton, who is a look-alike (including the mustache) with gray hair and wrinkles of Charles Templeton. If you have Charles in your party, you'll discover he's his uncle.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Maybe surrender is the wrong word, but it's a perfectly viable tactic to manipulate an encounter to where both your side and the enemies are in a Friendly mood — and then take advantage of the +50% "backstab" bonus to nail them with a special Aggressive attack.
  • Jungle Opera: The Caribbean Island, Emerged Island, and Lost Island maps evoke this trope to varying degrees.
  • Lost World: The Lost Island, complete with still-existing dinosaurs and hidden from the world by the Anti-Explorers' LANDDELVER machine. And yes — at the end, your crew barely escape the island's cataclysmic sinking.
  • Made of Iron: It doesn't matter how badly your crew members get beaten up, stabbed, shot, stomped, chomped, burned, or humiliated — as long as you have at least one Resolve point left, your crew will be perfectly fine after the encounter.
  • Mad Scientist: Anna Proskuriakova is inspired by this trope, including having a terror-inducing Evil Laugh attack.
  • Modern Mayincatec Empire: The Emperor of the Incas actually dresses more like a modern South American dictator than a traditional Inca, and carries a shotgun that he pulls out when confident enough.
  • Nobody Can Die: Even if your encounters are resolved with guns and swords, everyone is shown to be alive in the end, even common thugs and wild animals. Not only that, even if you run of of supplies in the middle of a jungle or a desert the worst that happens is that you lose attack power or the ability to take hits.
  • No Final Boss for You: The game lets you bring this trope on yourself. Normally, players play their final expedition in Shangri-la (where they can defeat Rivaleaux) or the Lost Island (where they can defeat the Anti-Explorers)... but the win condition for the game is simply to have 2500+ Renown after the final expedition. If you already have that much Renown before the last expedition, you can simply fool around on one of the lower-tier maps, curb-stomp the boss of that map, and still win the game.
  • Optional Boss: Some expeditions have epic encounters to acquire additional treasures. These encounters often have a boss fight that is harder than the main boss of the expedition.
  • Politically Correct History: The game is set in the British Victorian era, but the explorer society is completely fine with having women and foreigners not only as members, but in positions of authority.
  • Post-End Game Content: You only need to finish five expeditions to complete the campaign. You still can play the remaining expeditions, but only the first five expeditions count to build renown required to beat Rivaleux.
  • Practical Taunt: In this game, a sharp tongue can win a battle just as easily as a sharp blade — and unlike Aggressive attacks, Devious attacks inflict debuffs, too.
  • Really 700 Years Old: In the Andean Adventure it turns out that the evil necromancer you're sent to stop has the appearance of a little girl, despite being several hundred years old.
  • Renaissance Man: Every crew member has a set list of skills that they start with and can learn from leveling up, but you can also give them a huge variety of additional skills through entourage specialists, equipment, campfire cards, and special events, resulting in this trope.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: An option for the player at one point. On the Lost Island, when you reach the first goal and beat the Anti-Explorers guarding the LANDDELVER, you can then proceed to one of three different final bosses... or you can just bring in your airship and leave the island while you still can.
  • Secret Shop: One perk of the Engineering research tree is access to a secret shop whose name is literally "Secret Shop". It sells the best — and most expensive — equipment in the game.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To the Indiana Jones franchise:
      • One of the many treasures you can get is an Emerald Skull. Its description says "Way better than the crystal skull". You find said skull in South America, too.
      • The Quest for the Holy Grail free DLC. Beside the new expedition's premise, once the new content is installed, the game's title (opening and main meny screens) becomes "Renowned Explorers: Quest for the Holy Grail", the subtitle being written with the Indiana Jones font.
    • Jan-Piet Corneel is a shout out to the Dutch shanty "Al die willen te kaap'ren varen" The song states that only sailors with beards can do awesome things. The song constantly cites Jan, Pier, Tjores and Corneelnote  as examples. Jan-Piet's bio drives the reference home by stating he himself cannot grow a beard and now travels the world to gain some respect.
    • A mean adventurer can call a fellow NPC adventuress "Yosemite Hag".
    • One of the boss encounters in the Mali expedition consists in fighting a group of hyenas in an elephant graveyard.
    • Judge Druid, a Scottish NPC who wants to "judge" the player party.
    • One encounter in the Holy Grail expedition takes place in an alternate reality where an evil cat rules over humans. This is a reference to Runescape and the Evil Bob event that used to be available.
  • Story Branching: Many nodes trigger events which offer a choice of options. Depending on your decisions, the result can be a challenge to your crew's skills, a gain/loss of resources, buffs or debuffs, treasures, encounters...
  • Street Urchin: Harry Walker used to be one.
  • Symbol Swearing: Used for most of what the Necromancer has to say, and in the name of the "***ed Up Hornbill", who has apparently Gone Mad from the Revelation.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Aggressive beats Friendly beats Devious beats Aggressive.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: A major part of the game is that verbal assaults (friendly or otherwise) do "damage" as well as physical attacks. Yes, this even works on monsters, undead and wild animals.
  • Take That!: The description of the Emerald Skull treasure reads "Way better than the Crystal Skull."
  • The Team: You pick three team members from among scientists, scouts, fighters, and speakers. You can have a team of all one class, but it's generally better to diversify.
  • Temple of Doom: Of course you'll find yourself probing ancient ruins filled with traps. They're a reason why crew members with Rogue, Quick Thinking, and/or Engineering skills are valuable.
  • The Shangri-La: The last level of the game, at least before the More To Explore DLC. (Now, players get a choice between Shangri-La and the Lost Island.)
  • The Theme Park Version: Of 19th century exploration. This game definitely favors the Rule of Fun over strict historical accuracy.
  • True Companions: If your captain loses all of their spirit, the remaining crew members immediately gain the mood terrified with the name of the quirk fittingly called "Captain? Captain! CAPTAAIIIIN?", showing how much they care for their leader.
  • Turns Red: In Egypt, the final boss, Sekhmet/Bastet herself, will flip between two forms depending on your attitude. When the "war" form is active, not surprisingly, prepare for pain.
  • Überwald: Hungary and Transylvania are both dark areas with thick forests, swamps, ruins, wolves, hooded cultists, and superstituous natives. Transylvania's final boss is a vampire noble — Count Dracul himself.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: In the course of your expeditions, your crew can be as mean and/or violent as you wish. But there are definitely encounters where the Devious or Aggressive approach will backfire horribly.