Illustration by Ben Maier, from The Dark Eye (English Version). Click the image to go to the Kickstarter campaign.
In the course of the 750th-post anniversary article here at Campaign Mastery (almost 50 posts ago, how time flies!), I became aware of The Dark Eye, an RPG that was more popular than D&D in Germany and had been around for over 30 years!
The fact that I didn’t know about the game greatly surprised Lena, aka Catrinity, and she immediately offered to write a brief introduction to the game. In fact, she wanted to use her Christmas Holidays to do so (now that’s enthusiasm!) I gratefully accepted the offer but insisted that she enjoy her holidays first.
As a result, it’s taken longer to arrive than she expected when the offer was made, but it’s here now, and the timing is fortuitous as there is currently a kickstarter campaign underway to raise funds for an English-language version of the game. Since they have already raised $80,000 against a $10,000 target, it is going to happen, and it’s only a question of how many stretch goals the campaign achieves in the next week or so.
So, without further delay, let me turn this page over to Lena:
“So you make haste through the Reichforst, hoping you will reach Empress Rohaja in time to warn her.”
“No, he is not one of the mages from the Shadowlands who sell their souls to demons for power. He is far more dangerous: He serves the Nameless One.”
Maybe some of you have already noticed the recent kickstarter campaign in the USA for the translation of a German RPG called “The Dark Eye”. It was made known to me by the lovely Mike who runs Campaign Mastery that almost nobody outside of Germany knows of this game – so this is my attempt to introduce you to the RPG I’ve been playing for 13 years and why I like it so much.
If I had to describe TDE really briefly, I would say it is a medieval fantasy world with lots of different settings, accompanied by rather complex rules and a TON of material to play and read – which is true, but I see nobody dropping their Pathfinder books and running to back the kickstarter yet.
When you tell most people about an unknown RPG, the crucial question is: “What has this game no other game has?”, which is kind of hard to answer for TDE on the one hand and very easy on the other.
The reason I like the game so much is that the setting it offers is no special-superfreaky-place that stands out from all the other RPGs, but a big choice of various fantasy settings the characters can easily travel between. In addition to that, I don’t know any other game that offers this amount of background lore, source books and modules.
The thing that really stands out for me is the living history of the world that you and your characters can become part of, and which makes your average adventure more than just a random story.
That’s the very, very short version. But let’s dive in a little deeper, shall we?
A small part of Lena’s “Dark Eye” collection
Once upon a time there was a place called Aventuria
To keep the history lesson short: TDE was developed in Germany in 1984, as a German version of those surprisingly well-selling games like D&D, published by a large game company called Schmidt Spiele, who actually had the power to force stores to sell the game alongside the more traditional Schmidt products like board games and puzzles.
Yes, at that time you could find RPGs in classic warehouses, sitting right next to Monopoly and 1000-parts-puzzles of some 80’s airbrush motive. Those were the times!
Anyhoo: TDE was developed by Ulrich Kiesow, Werner Fuchs and Hans-Joachim Alpers, and started off with very simple rules and dungeon crawls, which basically every RPG in that stage of gaming did, right?
It was a big success, and so more products were developed, like a lot of modules, setting descriptions, an early attempt to item cards and also some rather strange things like board games (which had basically nothing to do with the game, but made the name TDE known to children – so, clever move, Schmidt Spiele!) and, as cherry on top of the “weird RPG stuff” cake, a bat-shaped mask the gamemaster should wear during sessions to create a sense of mystery.
Unfortunately I did not start to play early enough to see one of my friends put on that ridiculous thing!
The first edition of the rules was followed by a second, third and fourth one over the next 30 years, each adding more details to the rules and the world. During that time, the license was sold twice; the current publisher Ulisses Spiele has been in charge since 2007.
After Aventuria, the original continent, was known to players for years, other continents were described and made available to discover. There was, as I mentioned before, a ton of material that was published over the years. Like over 200 modules, more than 2 dozen books of background material (describing a region of the continent or special places like wizard academies, warrior schools or the wonders of the seas) and a lot of rule expansions (like a whole book on different kinds of zombies and undead – known to my group as “the book that will one day accidentally fall into a fireplace before it kills all our characters”).
While I have only mentioned four editions so far, a fifth one was released about a year ago, and that is the version that will be translated if the kickstarter campaign is a success.
This edition is the first that tries not to further expand the rules but instead attempts to make the game simpler and more playable. It is also the first one printed completely in colour.
The Dark Eye Setting
The TDE world is called “Dere” (an anagram of “Erde”, the German word for earth – yeah, innovation was running wild in the 80s. And nope, that is not the only anagram in the game! Actually, there are whole websites collecting them and other fun references! Ahem).
The most important continent on Dere is Aventuria, which is the one most groups use a setting, and for which the most books are written. Aventuria is basically a whole lot of settings stuffed in a rather small area. You can play in a Viking setting as well a Renaissance Italy one, or in a decadent slave-owning ancient Rome-like one. Or, if you feel more like classic Medieval, or oriental fairytales, or Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll find that, too – within just a few days or weeks journey for the characters.
The other continents provide different settings, like the much more high-fantasy Myranor, which has a lot of inspiration by ancient Greece; Tharun, a high-level hollow earth setting with some really freaky stuff going on; Uthuria, which offers a place to explore and have some colony wars; and Rakshazar or “Giant’s land”, a very barbaric and grim place (which is published by a fan project).
The map of Aventuria by Markus Holzum, from The Dark Eye (English Version). Click the image to go to the Kickstarter campaign.
Aventuria offers, as mentioned, different types of medieval fantasy settings. Some of them are rather exotic, but most of them are classic fantasy. You have the typical human + EDO (Elves, Dwarves, Orcs) populations (accompanied by some lizardmen and goblins, which are playable characters as well). You have your knights in shining armor, evil mages, old ruins with treasures and dragons.
You can play a warrior; a mage; a thief; or the priest of a Deity. Like Praios, the God of Light, Truth, and Justice,? or Phex, the God of Thiefs, merchants and tricksters.
There is, however, some other stuff you can do. Like:
- Preventing a demi-god from destroying the continent;
- Playing a desert enchanter who works his spells by drumming;
- Winning the right to rule a city for a year in the lottery;
- Playing a really curious baker who wants to see the world;
- Or, if that’s not your thing, a mage whose father was a djinn and who wants to learn how to travel in time;
- Getting sucked into a deadly theater play; Or
- Or selling your soul to a demon.
And lots of other everyday hero stuff.
To be fair – most of the modules are meant for rather good-hearted PCs and not all of them are great, but there is a lot to choose from and with the really detailed setting descriptions it’s easy to make up your own stories.
And if you ever get bored by present Aventuria (did I mention that there’s a 2000-page strong box that enables you to go 1000 years in the past and deal with all the cool sh*t that happened back then?), there are other places to go.
Myranor, or the “golden land”, is a different setting (published by a third-party publisher, Uhrwerk Verlag/Clockwork Publishing that has some connections with Aventuria – the latter being a former colony of Myranor), which offers a more high-fantasy approach to TDE.
If you want flying ships and submarines and huge cities ruled by an upper class of mages, or if you really want to play a winged human, anthropomorphic cat/lion/bear, or a party of five different kinds of underwater species – here you go, have fun!
The continent consists of a slowly decaying empire (with a lot of Greek/Roman inspiration), surrounded by some very different and somewhat exotic settings. Myranor is not described in the same amount of detail as Aventuria, so there is a lot of space for adventures and GM creativity. There are some modules available as well as a Monster manual and some background books.
Still not satisfied with the amount of freaky stuff? Okay, let’s take a trip to Tharun: A gigantic realm consisting of 9 island kingdoms, which is situated either inside of Dere or within another sphere (you can choose what explanation suits you best).
In any case: there is a strange colour-changing sun in the sky, which never changes its position. Ruled by some really nasty gods and their not-much-less-nasty servants, this is a setting where PCs can fight oppression and evil priests – or ally with them and try to rise to power. While using magic runes and riding on a giant dragonfly. Uh, yeah!
Uthuria is a setting that was created to use as some kind of exploring/Indiana Jones/colony war ?thing, a continent of fierce nature and strange jungle tribes, but it’s been a while since anything was published for it.
Rakshazar or “Giant’s land” was created as a fan project who wanted to provide a Grim & Gritty-setting for TDE.
Which they did, so if you want to dress in a fur skirt and swing a giant axe and sound your barbaric yawp over the rooftops – this is the place to go. Although it is not officially published, there are printed books available, but all of the material is also free for downloading.
There are some ground rules that apply to all the continents, which are: There is magic and there are gods. As well as demons and ghosts and unicorns and a whole lot of other supernatural stuff. But there are a lot of different approaches to all of it.
In TDE, magic is something you are born with. You cannot reach the ability to do magic later in your life. If you have magic potential, you have to be trained to use it – if you don’t, you may be able to work a few spells intuitively, but you will never be really good at it (in most cases – there can be exceptions).
If you do find someone to train you, there are a lot of different options, from the traditional mage academy, to the witch or druid who takes you as a pupil, to becoming a charlatan, a magic dancer, a magic-using alchemist, or a shaman.
There are even more possibilities – carving magic runes, gaining abilities of an animal by eating his heart or the before mentioned magic drum solo.
And that’s just Aventuria I’m talking about! In each of the continents, magic is just a little different, and you can do different things with it. In Myranor, for example, you can join your mind with a machine, summon spirits into your body and other fun stuff.
There are rules to magic, of course, which are different depending on the kind of magic tradition you have learned. Every one of them has its secret rituals and objects – like the staff of the mages, the magic bowl of the alchemists, the obsidian daggers of the druids and so on. Some of this knowledge is shared between the traditions, some of it is kept secret, like a witches ability to fly on wooden objects or bind familiars.
There is also a lot of unknown stuff to discover – lost spells, ancient rituals, newly discovered recipes for potions and so on.
While you can never become a mage (or Witch, or Druid – You know what I mean) unless you are born with the ability, you can always become priest to one of the gods. This provides you with some power, some respect, a lot of free meals/drinks, and a bunch of people who want you to solve their problems, woohoo!
There are quite a lot of gods in the different continents and cultures, most of them known to more than one species/culture under different names. The classic and best-known faith is that of the Twelve Gods, a greco-roman-inspired pantheon of said 12 Deities who stand for different virtues and crafts.
Some examples that are often chosen by players:
- Rondra, Goddess of Fighting, Honor and Thunder;
- Phex, God of Thiefs and merchants;
- Hesinde, Goddess of Wisdom and Magic;
- and Praios, god of Justice, Light and Truth.
This pantheon is accompanied by some demi-gods (like Aves, the god of adventure – after whom the continent Aventuria was named (write that down and gain some nerd credibility if you ever play the game!)), saints, holy entities, heavenly dragons… it’s really too much to name them all.
One who should, no, must be mentioned is the Nameless One, the classic bad guy.
He is the Fallen God who wanted to overpower and rule the other gods, and, because these plans never seem to succeed, was brought down by the other Gods, chained between the world and the sphere of demons, and robbed of his name.
So of course he has a few cults that try to free him, recover his name and bring the heavenly pantheon down. Usually, those are the really evil guys, and the most dangerous ones, because they often work in great secrecy and plan their actions over decades.
Mages vs Priests
I’m going to finish this section with a quick word about the powers of mages and priests.
They used to be very different, because the mages had a lot more spells that they could use, which were quicker and often more useful than the godly powers, so priests were first and foremost characters of big influence and social power who generally used their powers only if it really mattered.
However, the changed rules of the fifth edition provide more and faster working “spells” for priests, which makes the difference much smaller now.
A character illustration by Luisa Preißler, from The Dark Eye (English Version). Click the image to go to the Kickstarter campaign.
There has to be something about that in the rules!
Okay, so let’s talk about the rules. They are often described as too complicated – and maybe they are, compared to other games, but I’ll try to explain them anyway.
Characters are created (and leveled up) by spending XP. Each character is defined by a species, a culture and a profession. Like Human / Desert Folk / Drumenchanter guy (damn, I did not know I would ever use that as an example as often as I have). Or Dwarf / Special Dwarven culture / Blacksmith.
So of course there are restrictions to how you can combine and mix those up – not all species offer all professions etc. – but, basically, you can create whatever you want as long as you can pay for it.
You also have to pay for your basic 8 attributes (like courage, strength, charisma etc.), and you can add advantages (which cost you XP) and disadvantages (which get you XP) to the mix.
There are abilities (like swimming, sword fighting, magic knowledge, stealth, empathy, survival, history, dancing… – so quite a lot, you get the point) which are also bought and raised with your XP, as well as spells or priestly abilities.
And you can buy special abilities – stuff like fighting maneuvers, special knowledge of an area or landscape, magic rituals and so on.
Of course there are dice rolls, usually done with three d20s. Each ability is connected to three attributes and you roll on each of them, with the skill or ability points making up for shortfalls on the attributes.
The higher the attributes and abilities are, the better, because you have roll equal or less to the value.
A quick example: Let’s go swim. Swimming is connected to the attributes Agility, Constitution and Strength. Let’s assume each of those attributes has a value of 12 (which is quite average) and the ability value is 7.
So, we roll! First die: 10. Which is less than 12, so everything is fine. Second roll: 15. 3 points too high for the value of 12, but we still have the 7 ability points to make up for that – still not drowning, yay!
With 3 of our 7 ability points spent, the last roll cannot be higher than 12 (attribute) + 4 (rest of ability points) = 16, or we’re in trouble. So if you roll a 16 or less, happy times, but if you roll 17 or higher, something nasty makes your swimming attempt unsuccessful, perhaps a nasty cramp in the calf. I hope your party members rescue you, because you are going down toward the bottom!
When it comes to fighting you use only one d20 – again, rolling less or equal to your attacking or defending value is good, higher is bad. Yes, there is an active defense. And armor and stuff, so don’t expect to knock your enemy’s socks off with just one hit.
To be honest, fights can take a while in this game, although this also depends on which edition you play and what amount of optional rules you use.
Rules In Perspective
I could go on for ages about all the rules and possibilities there are, but that’s the basic stuff. In my opinion it is not too hard to understand the basics, but it can get really complicated when it comes to the detailed rules like special fighting skills or summoning demons or creating artifacts.
I guess it’s not to everyone’s taste to have so many and so detailed rules. On the other hand they provide a lot of options to make your character special.
And you don’t have to master any that aren’t in use at the time – so there’s always another combination to explore and master. This makes characters different from each other and keeps the game fresh, no matter how often you have played it.
Living history – the so-called Metaplot
One thing that distinguishes TDE from almost every other RPG is the fact that the world is not static, but the course of history goes on and is made available to the players through modules, magazines and novels. So if you read about the guys who saved the world from the evil demi-god, brought back the holy light of Praios or defeated the undead dragon? Those were probably your characters. Pretty cool, huh?
This concept means two things: The world is changing, history is written and you can be a part of it. And: Since there are so many modules, most groups play at least a few of them to catch up on the ongoing development of the setting, so you can chat about the same story, the same villain, the same epic battle, even with players you have never met before.
This whole idea is called the “meta-plot”, meaning that there is something like an official timeline to the setting that you can experience through the different modules. (Of course there are also smaller stories and modules that don’t add to this timeline and can be played at a place and/or time of your choice, and this timeline is only established for Aventuria, not the other continents.)
You can witness reoccurring NPCs grow up, rise to power or fall from grace, you can experience the war between an empire and its enemies and have your characters play a crucial role to its outcome.
Of course there is a downside to this: Some NPCs have “metaplot armor”, meaning you can’t kill them off whenever you like (if you want to follow the official timeline in which they still are alive and do important things later). Or you cannot save an NPC no matter what you do, if he is supposed to die at a certain point. When you play a module and your characters march to battle, the outcome of said battle is probably already written in the timeline.
And yes, of course that also means there are spoilers for the timeline you may want to avoid. (You should see me on conventions. I start every conversation with “okay, listen, my group is still stuck 15 years behind the recent timeline, so please don’t tell me anything about what’s going on later!!” – I should get that printed on a T-Shirt!)
There’s also the problem of not being able to play for a few years and coming back to the game to find the world changed a little (or a lot).
So the whole metaplot thing has its pros and cons and every group has to decide to which amount they want to follow that official timeline. You can of course ignore it completely and create your own Aventuria. Or you can choose a specific part of the timeline that sounds most interesting to you and play the modules that a written for this chapter of history. And whether you like it or not – the “metaplot” is something that makes TDE really unique.
The German love-hate relationship with the game
There is hardly a German gamer who has never played TDE at least once (I think), making it the German equivalent to Dungeons and Dragons (which is played much less than TDE here, actually). But if you mention the game, some will admit to loving it while a lot of players will instantly tell you that the game sucks, that they used to play it but found something better now, or that you’re not a real gamer if you play TDE. There really is virtually no middle ground.
TDE is often called “a game for players who just want to be read a story instead of making decisions” – this, of course, is a complaint about the meta-plot that determines the outcome of many of the modules to some extent.
You may have come across the term “railroading”, which means the characters can only follow the tracks of an already written story.
But there are other things TDE-haters despise about the game: The rules are often described as “way too complicated”, the background lore describes the world in “far too much detail”, the 3d20 rule mechanism makes it “too hard to calculate the success rate of a roll”, the number of NPCs who often play an vital role in the modules that “should be given to the player characters”, the fights that “can take hours”, the fact you can play rather unheroic characters like bakers and farmers (there even is a term for that called “Bauerngaming”, farmer gaming, as the opposite of “Power gaming”), and the setting itself, often being described as too fairytale-like, too nice, too clean (hence, the fan creation of Rakshazar).
Answering The Critics
To respond to all those accusations – because there are already some German players pointing out how bad the game is in the English-speaking forums (and because I really like the game, I would not have played it for so long if I did not): Yes, some of them are true – up to a point. But I think some of them also arise from a time when the whole RPG world was much less about player empowerment, sandboxing, and fate points, than it is today. I think many players remember TDE as “that crappy old system we used to play before we discovered modern gaming” don’t take into account that you can also bring that modern approach to TDE.
“Farmer Gaming” – yes, you can play a character who is a farmer or a scribe or just a beggar, you can play a whole group of those characters or throw one in with all the mages and warriors. I like that. It’s fun, and challenging, and believable. And well, a lot of XP later, that farmer could be the priest of a powerful Deity, fighting epic battles against unspeakably evil forces. It just takes him a little longer to get there, so – more time to play your character before he becomes too strong for most challenges!
Too Light and Fluffy
The setting used to be rather nice and fairytale-like, indeed, but that has changed over the last few decades. With the biggest TDE campaign ever published (the return of the bad demi-god I mentioned before), a part of Aventuria fell to the shadows and in the hands of undead dragons, dark mages and cruel warlords.
There have been some darker places added into the setting, and even if the course of history takes away some of the most evil parts of it, there still are the so-called Shadowlands where you can confront your party with horror, undercover operations and hard moral decisions.
And of course a medieval setting itself offers a lot of space to swipe in some darker aspects of the time – poverty, cruel nobles not caring for their people, the horror of a war raging through a country… it’s really up to the group and the gamemaster to make the setting as dark or as filled with fluffy unicorns as they want.
Last but not least – the fourth edition of the game offers about 20 pages on “selling your soul to a demon and all the cool powers you get from that – and why it still is a BAD IDEA”. How much more can you ask?
Concerning the “the rules are way too complicated” criticism: I can’t really argue that. The fourth edition consists of no less than 5 core books you need for playing, each of them containing 200-400 pages.
This is no problem if you can start with some experienced players who explain everything to you (like I did) and get to know the rules over time, but it might scare you off if you want to get started and don’t know where to begin, with all the many books and opportunities.
Speaking of opportunities: There is an up-side to these very complex (and, in some areas, admittedly too complicated) rules. You really can make every character unique. There are so many abilities to learn and special stuff to buy for your XP, you can play most of the PC for years without getting anywhere near to the point of asking “what else could I learn?”
The Edition War
With the fifth edition only being published for about a year and many rule expansions yet to come, there is also some kind of edition war going on right now.
Many players of the fourth edition (including me) are very fond of the complex rules and endless possibilities it offers, while other players stopped playing TDE years ago (for finding it too complicated and the rules way too much to comprehend) and are giving it another try.
While the discussion about which edition you should play might be useful in German – (no orcs or lizardmen or drumming enchanter guys (hi again!) in the fifth edition yet, How can you play such a game??) – it is rather pointless for this article, since the upcoming English version will be the fifth edition, which is probably the easiest one to use to get into the system anyway, at least if you don’t have an experienced player to explain it to you.\
Fandom and other media
Since The Dark Eye still is the most known RPG in Germany, and it is been around for so long, there are a lot of cool projects and fan stuff:
- An online encyclopedia called Wiki Aventurica for the game, which is incredibly useful for research, and strongly needed to find things in the thousands of published pages. It contains almost 54.000 articles.
- Dere Globus allows you to install the maps of Dere to Google Earth and so create an interactive atlas of the setting.
- Avespfade is an online route planner for Aventuria, allowing you to calculate the time your party needs to get to their next adventure.
- There are a few software tools that help you create characters and spend your experience points.
- And there is Nandurion, a site only consisting of news about the game, reviews of most of the products published during the last years and free modules, stories and other stuff to download. (I’ve been a member of this site for over 4 years, but I think you can hardly call it advertising to mention a site only written in German, amIright?)
You can also find a ton of unofficial modules, stories and background descriptions in the various fanzines (off- and online) that have been published over the years. TDE even got an entry in The Guiness Book of World Records? for the biggest collection of books and memorabilia brought together by a single fan in his own museum.
The Dark Eye has always been a game with a lot of involvement by the players – a lot of authors started by publishing unofficial modules or participating in writing competitions. There are some German-speaking forums to review books, discuss character ideas, solve problems with your ongoing campaign or just share funny stories. (Not saying those are a perfect realm of helpfulness and polite people, they’re still internet forums).
While The Dark Eye is still mostly happening as a pen-and-paper, there have been some PC games published over the years. Some of them were published in English as well, like the very classic Realms of Arkania (1993), a point-and-click adventure; Chains of Satinav (2012), another point-and-click adventure; or the rather dark RPG Demonicon (2013), which takes the player into the Shadowlands.
There were a few browser games and mobile games as well. Rumours about a movie have been going on for more than five years now, but that does not seem likely to happen anytime soon. There is, however, a long and elaborate fan-made movie called “Leuenklinge” on YouTube, where you also can find a lot of Let’s Plays, video reviews and interviews.
Why I like this game
When I started Pen-and-Paper gaming 13 years ago, I did so in one of those German groups who hardly knew any RPGs besides The Dark Eye. The fourth edition had just been published, I had just finished school, so there was a lot of time to dive right into the books and read.
I started with a simple character (a thief) and learned the more complex parts of the game (like high-end fighting and creating magic characters) later.
So as much I can understand the argument of the game being too complicated if you are working full time and just want to enjoy a few hours of gaming on the weekend without spending too much time reading rule books, that never applied to me. At the time I started working full time I had already been playing for so long I knew the important rules by heart.
What I also like are the many possibilities TDE offers, both in the rules and in the setting. As I said earlier, the character choices, and the ways to develop your character, are endless. And the setting offers so many cool places to visit without even leaving one continent, while the big variety of modules also offer a lot of different adventures in one and the same game. You can go dungeon crawling or get caught up in nobility schemes, fight against the evil forces or discover ancient mysteries, all without having to change the game system (or even the character).
But the main reason I still play TDE and love it so much is the way you can get caught up in this world.
There is this quote saying “no man is an island” and for The Dark Eye, when you play it during a long time and with the right people, this applies to every one of your characters and every story they experience. Most of the modules and important NPCs are part of a bigger story, so your characters can visit people and places more than once and really become attached to them, which serves to keep the players immersed in the story.
When the enemy attacks the city your character was born in, when the person your character idolizes as a hero commits treason and turns to the dark side, when your characters finally manage to kill an enemy who has brought pain and death to their allies for years, this means so much more than some random dungeon crawl in some random district that could be set in any universe.
You don’t have to play the way that my group does, puzzling out the perfect set of modules and campaigns for our various groups of characters, planning ahead the next years of playing. You can always take one of the smaller modules and just have fun for one or two sessions, but TDE really is a game where investing time rewards you with more fun while gaming, because things matter to you. And while I enjoy playing other games from time to time I always love to come back to Aventuria. It’s like coming home.
Random Fact Time!
The end is near! So here are some facts I could not squeeze in the previous paragraphs:
- One of the distinctive features of the setting is a total gender equality in almost every part of the world. You don’t have to write a complicated back story of how your female warrior dressed as a boy during all her years of training or explain why your big strong male character became a healer or a cook instead of learning how to fight. You just grab your sword – or your frying pan – and you are good to go.
- Because we Germans never had much of a problem with showing naked people in game illustrations (or commercials, or prime time TV), there are actually pictures in the rule book that will be changed for the US version of the game, covering up some skin.
- Why is the game named The Dark Eye? Time for more nerd credibility points: The founder Ulrich Kiesow wanted the game to be called Aventuria, but the publisher wanted a more mysterious and fancy name – so they asked for it to be named for the most powerful artifact in the game, which are the Dark Eyes, highly magic orbs who allow you to see into the future, the past or faraway places (imagine Sarumans Palantir from Lord of the Rings and you get the right image). (Also, said founder Ulrich hated it when his name was pronounced in English, sounding like “Aaalrik” – so as a result of that “Alrik” ended up as the Aventuria equivalent to “John Doe” in the game).
In the end: What you might expect
After going on and on about much material is published for the German version of TDE, there is definitely an attempt to make this experience known to English-speaking players as well. When you scroll to the very bottom of the kickstarter campaign site you find the plan for publishing more books in the future, including setting descriptions, modules (adventures), sourcebooks like the bestiary and even short stories.
If you want to stay informed, you may visit the English facebook page or the English homepage, where you also can find more articles about the artwork, the different areas of the continent and other things.
There’s also an English Let’s Play on YouTube.
The kickstarter campaign will be going on till 3rd June.
If you want to try a simpler version of the rules, you can do so with the quickstart rules PDF with pre-generated characters and a short module.
Whether I have interested you in giving Aventuria and The Dark Eye a shot, or just amused you with my rambling about this way too complicated monster of lore and rules, I hope you have enjoyed this article. Big thanks to Mike for giving me the opportunity to tell you all about my favorite game!
About the author
Lena, known to the internet mostly as Curima or Catrinity, is a 31 years old female gamer (yes, we exist!) living in Hamburg, Germany. She works at a boring office job and escapes regularly to the worlds of gaming (PnP and PC games), reading, watching a ton of TV shows, and taking care of her cat (of course I have a cat, what were you expecting?). She writes for Nandurion, Germany’s biggest “The Dark Eye” fanpage, and has written a few unofficial TDE short stories, scenarios and reviews, as well as one official module published in December 2015.
You’re welcome, Lena, and thanks for the great article – your enthusiasm really shines through. If anything, I have toned it down a little in the course of my editing! Lena also advises that she is very happy to answer questions about the game or setting (unless it’s metaplot that happens later than her gaming group is up to, lol) in the comments below.