Tales of the Arabian Nights (the game)

arabian.jpgSince I spent all day yesterday at one of my periodic gaming gatherings, I thought I should finally put up a “gaming geek” post :) and tell you all about one of my favorite games. This is one of those old, great board games that came out in the ’80s called “Tales of the Arabian Nights,” published by West End Games (long out of print, but occasionally shows up on eBay).

This is one of the most unique games I have ever played, and if you loved the Arabian Nights, you’ll love this. The board is a mostly recognizable map of the world, stretching from the deserts of northern Africa to Stonehenge, and from Portugal to Tibet. With of course, a few surprises – Aladdin’s Cave, the Valley of Diamonds, City of Brass, Jeweled Fortress. You can choose to play Sheherazade, Aladdin, Ali Baba, Sinbad, or other male and female characters, and choose traits and abilities for them such as minor magic, courtly graces, seafaring, seduction, story-telling, quick thinking, disguise, and lots of other useful skills :)

After that, you set out into the world to complete various adventures. You travel among the cities of Persia and other far-off lands, and along with way, meet with various individuals. Each one you meet, whether it be an angry begger, a sultry princess, or a powerful djinn, must be dealt with in some way – you choose a reaction from a chart of possible responses (for example, you can beat the angry beggar, honor him, steal from him, listen to him, or ignore him).

This leads you to an extensive story-type reference book, where depending on your choices and the skills you have chosen, various things may happen to you – imprisonment, great wealth, learning new skills, being taken to a far-off land, marriage to the princess (not as great as it sounds), becoming honored or reviled, or even a sex-change. The more adventures you have, the more destiny and story-telling points you accumulate, which helps you win the game.

If you ever come over to my house to game, I may try to whisk you off to the land of Sheherazade :) Watch out for the rocs!

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5 thoughts on “Tales of the Arabian Nights (the game)

  1. Judith B says:

    This is so cool, Teresa! I’ve played role playing games before, but this one sounds more structured. (I’ve dropped a hint for my husband to look for it on Ebay.) :-) Thank you for writing about it!

  2. Daniel T says:

    One of my favorites as well, but you didn’t mention the part of the game that my group found the most entertaining.

    After the player has the encounter and decides what to do, and what happens as a result (a short paragraph explains the encounter,) he is given a couple of minutes to compose himself and then is supposed to tell the tale to the others. Flourishes are expected and rewarded! We often got up, and acted out the scene with props and even recruited other players to play particular parts.

    In one eventful game, the player was supposed to rescue a damsel from a burning building… Out came the WD-40 and a lighter… Next thing we know, the dog had its whiskers singed off! YMMV. :-)

  3. LOL! I haven’t tried the story-telling version of this game (though you would think that would be required). When I get the right group together, I will :)

  4. Daniel T says:

    By all means do, and don’t wait for “the right group”. When we started, we did little more than read the paragraph, maybe expound on it with a description of the characters. It’s infectious though, it quickly becomes more like a fireside chat, each person’s story a little more elaborate than the last.

    We found ourselves picking our actions based on what we thought would be more dramatic rather than what we thought would help us win the game. I don’t recall ever actually finishing a game of TotAN.

  5. SonomaLass says:

    I’m always glad to find another fan of Tales! This has been a favorite game in our family for more than fifteen years; my kids grew up with it, and they still clamor for a session when they are home for a visit. Alas, used copies are few and far between. I let my ex have our copy, and then paid about $60 for another copy. That was five years ago, and when I see it for sale now, it is well over $100, if not more (for a game in really good condition).

    Hold on to your copy and take good care of it — my son is talking about having our book of tales and reaction matrix laminated so the game will last into the next generation!

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