Contributed by Christopher Leeson
Although technically not a role-playing game in the standard sense of
the term, the classic "Tales of the Arabian Nights" game by
West End Games is definitely an interesting hybrid of board game, role-playing
game and storytelling device all rolled into one. The game allows one
or more players to adventure in the classic style of Aladdin, the 1001
tales, the forty thieves and Sinbad's voyages. Along the way, the player
can develop skills, wealth or a famous reputation, fall in love, or fall
victim to various curses. In this last category, there are two major outcomes
the game supports—getting transformed into an ape-like creature or (you
guessed it) becoming a member of the opposite sex.
The game has a very high replayability factor since the encounters and
characters you meet along the way will vary depending on your skills and
standing, the way you react, and random chance. Not surprisingly, your
character's gender can also change the outcome of an encounter. Although
the game is relatively well-balanced for characters of either gender,
there are certain encounters that turn out differently different for a
female, and given the culture and time period in which the game is set,
a woman's lot can sometimes be more difficult. A woman (or a man who finds
himself transformed into one) could conceivably find herself as the victim
of unwanted advances, captured by slavers, getting married, being accused
of witchcraft, forced to seduce a man, or facing a variety of other situations.
Here is the description given for the sex-change transformation:
146: Sex-Changed - A great magic has been worked upon you—you
are now a member of the opposite sex. (Although in many ways this
may not seem like a particularly terrible disaster, no right-thinking
character in the Arabian Nights would stand for such an outrage.)
EFFECT: You cannot win while sex-changed. Flip your counter
over. There are no other special effects. (Don't forget to take
your new sex into account when having encounters.)
TO LOSE: If you get a Q:S result in an encounter with a being from
Reaction Matrix B, you lose this status. [In English, this means
you need a quest success with a magical creature or being.]
If you give a Wealth level to a player in your space who has Major
Magic, you lose this status.
Don't forget to flip your counter back over when you lose the status.
Because the game has such a rich variety of outcomes, it also means there
are a number of ways a character can find him or herself getting an unexpected
change of sex, which are described below.
When encountering this magical spring, the player has the option to Avoid,
Examine or Enter the area. Depending on what they choose, what skills
they possess, and a random element a few outcomes can take place:
1245: You stand before a crystal pool. Although quite
thirsty, you are wary of strange water:
NO SKILL: You watch the pool for a while. You see an animal drink
from it, so you drink too. S1/Sex-Changed.
WILDERNESS LORE: You wait and see if animals drink from it; they
do. However, the male fox has become a female fox! You avoid drinking.
1246: A woman runs screaming into your camp. She explains:
she used to be a man until she drank from the spring over the
next dune. Indeed, you find a crystal pool which looks quite inviting.
NO SKILL: You want to find out what it's like to be a member
of the opposite sex, so you drink. Unfortunately, the spring only
works one way. S1/Sex-Changed
WISDOM: You take no precipitous action, and can discover no solution.
1247: In a narrow ravine is a spring which may be the
fabled sex-change spring. You wish to collect a sample for magical
NO SKILL, FATED: You make your way carefully down the ravine,
then suddenly slip and fall directly into the spring. S1/Sex-Changed.
STEALTH & STEALING: You avoid falling in the water and collect
a whole bottle for future use. D1/Major Magic (1 use)
1248: As you drink from the beautiful crystal-clear spring,
you feel yourself...changing! From behind you hear a chuckle.
An old wizard holds a bottle and says, "So, trapped by the
spring, eh? I have the antidote here..."
NO SKILL: You pay and drink the liquid down. Nothing happens!
BEGUILING: You read the falsehood in his eyes, so you grab him
and force him to drink. "Fool!" she cries. "There
is no antidote—drat!" Caught in the lie, she apologizes and
gives you a gift. D1/Sex-Changed/Trea*
1249: You drink from a clear pool in the desert, and feel
a strange change come over you. You have changed sex! Frantically
you drink again, but this does not reverse the effects.
NO SKILL: You howl and cry and tear your hair. D-1/S1/Sex-Changed
ENDURING HARDSHIP, PIETY: You calmly accept what Allah has decreed
for you. Others are impressed by your fortitude. D1/S1/Sex-Changed/Enduring
Hardship or Piety
A similar encounter may also occur if your character encounters a Mysterious
Spring and decides to Drink:
|Drink from a Mysterious Spring
647: As you lean closer to the water, you see a distorted
reflection of a face of a member of the opposite sex. You look behind
you, but no one is there.
NO SKILL: You shrug, turn back, and drink your fill. Suddenly a
strange sensation comes over you, you bring your hands to your chest.
You notice that something is...different. D1/S1/Sex-Changed.
Encounters with Magic Users
During the game, characters will encounter a variety of magic users of
varying temperaments. These could take the form of 'Efreet, 'Efreeteh,
Enchantress, or Wizard. Depending on the how the player reacts, the temperament
of the individual being encountered, the player's skills and some element
of chance, several interesting results are possible:
- Grovel to a Bumbling...
- Grovel to Practical Joker...
- Grovel to a Mad...
- Court a Bumbling...
337: The one you have addressed laughs and agrees to aid
you. "Here is a little spell I picked up somewhere..."
He mutters a charm.
NO SKILL: There is a loud *poof* and you feel...different. S2/D1/Sex-Changed
MAJOR MAGIC: You dispell the sex-change charm, and the other is
abashed. "I didn't mean to use that spell." You are not
so sure. Fearing your power, the other is effusive in his apologies.
S1/D2/W+1 (Max: Respectable)/Trea*/Q:S
- Aid a Practical Joker...
- Aid a Bumbling...
- Aid a Crafty...
357: The other gestures you to silence and swiftly brings
you to an abandoned site before a large cave. "Listen carefully,"
he says. "While I stand here and provide the protective spells,
you must enter this cave. Turn left at the first junction, then
two rights, then up a ladder..." His instructions continue
for ten minutes.
NO SKILL: You may refuse to cooperate, or try to follow the
If you refuse: Gain Wisdom
If you try: roll two dice and add 1 each for Wisdom and
- 2-7 You bumble the procedure and fall afoul of a protective
- 8+ You successfully retrieve an item from the caves, and your
companion rewards you well. S2/D1/W+1
QUICK THINKING: You retrieve a treasure and manage to find a different
exit; you keep the item you found. D2/S2/Trea*/Pursued
- Rob a Mad...
- Rob a Doomed...
- Trick a Mad...
368: The other, lured away by a false seducer (hired by
you), comes back just as you enter his treasure chamber.
NO SKILL: He cries out, "Must you add to my misery? Your baseness
is best rewarded with suffering like mine!" There is a loud
*poof* and you feel...strange. D1/Sex-Changed
STEALTH & STEALING: Your alert ears hear his approaching footsteps,
and you have ample time to flee with bags full of loot. D1/S1/W+1
- Hire a Practical Joker...
- Hire a Disguised...
- Hire a Bumbling...
450: The other boasts, "I am far too powerful and learned
to be the hireling such as you! Begone!"
NO SKILL: He makes a casual gesture, and you hear a loud *poof*.
He disappears and is replaced by a small frog, which croaks mournfully.
SEDUCTION (If opposite sex), APPEARANCE, BEGUILING (All Mandatory):
Your charm convinces him to aid you with an enchantment. He begins
to chant, and you hear a loud *poof*. You feel...changed. D1/S2/Sex-changed
Other Magical Encounters
When encountering various magical beings, some transformations may occur.
Here are the event charts for some of them:
+1 to the die roll for each additional Quest card in the current
SPECIAL: Minor Magic: +1; Major Magic: +2
FOUND IN: Lhasa/Mountain (black number) in Africa
1-3 You are under a spell. Ensorcelled/Q:X
4-5 You are under a spell. Sex-changed/Q:X
6 You serve as his familiar. Beast-form/Q:S
7 You give him magic. Lose 1 treasure/Q:S
8+ He teaches you. Minor Magic/Q:S
+1 to the die roll for each additional Quest card in the current
SPECIAL: Minor Magic: +1; Major Magic +2
FOUND IN: Tana/island adjacent to Stonehenge
1-3 You are put under a spell. Sex-Changed/Q:X
4-5 You are put under a spell. Ensorcelled/Q:X
6 You are put under a spell. Beast-form/Q:S
7 You act in a cowardly manner. D-2/Q:S
8+ You learn. Minor Magic/Q:S
Bulgars the Wizard
Although the player may encounter a variety of different spell-casters,
there are a few that are mentioned by name. The wizard Bulgars has
the following encounter chart:
|Encounter: Merry Brigands (H)
|Gain 1 Wealth (max: respectable)
|Gain 3 S pts. if STORYTELLING otherwise gain 1 pt.
|Gain 1 Treasure for 1 D pt.
|Gain ENDURING HARDSHIP
Encounters with Magical Events/Locations
The lands themselves can often be a source of danger, and can take many
forms (Storm, River, Whirlpool, Fire, etc.). Sometimes when a player encounters
a magical version of these perils, the results can be unexpected:
- Hide from a Magical...
- Avoid a Magical...
709: You take shelter against the rain and wind, but it
cannot protect you from the magical nature of the storm.
NO SKILL: Great glowing forms wreathed in flame appear in the air
before you, and you whimper in terror. "What?" a powerful
voice booms. "Another ugly mortal?" "Here,"
rumbles another voice, "I can fix that." There is a loud
*poof* and you feel...changed. S1/Sex-changed/Appearance
MINOR or MAJOR MAGIC: You quickly murmur the words of an ancient
counter-charm, and hope for the best. Fortunately, the storm passes.
The fun thing about this particular encounter is that in addition to
the sex change, it also gives the player the Appearance talent,
which imparts great beauty upon them and can itself change the nature
of encounters. With this ability, the player can sometimes favorably change
the disposition of the people he/she meets, and can even do so to the
point of having them fall in love, possibly even marrying the player's
character. Although these are generally meant to be favorable outcomes,
the fact that the player has been transformed into a member of the opposite
sex can often put an interesting spin on the events.