Tuesday 19 September 2023

[NEWS] Castle Xyntillan – Spanish edition Kickstarter // Foundations of Fantasy Roleplaying Games

Castillo Xyntillan!
I am pleased to draw your attention to the ongoing Kickstarter campaign for Castle Xyntillan, or, as we should say, Castillo Xyntillan! The module has been translated into the Spanish by Outremer Ediciones, and statted for Aventuras en La Marca del Este, a Spanish old-school game whose name translates as Adventures in the Eastern Marches. To quote the campaign,

Xyntillan Castle is a megadungeon for old-school gaming, but not one like any other. Throughout its pages you will discover a strange, terrifying and absurd world, governed by dream logic and the unusual fantasies of the Malévols, the degenerate and decadent family dynasty that runs it.

In its more than 300 rooms you will find all kinds of curious inhabitants and dangerous challenges: talking paintings, murderous furniture, servants more loyal than death, maniacal vampires, forgetful ghosts, masked murderers, torturers in love, ancient curses, dead soldiers, glitter clouds , terrifying beasts and even the most dangerous trap ever devised, the masterpiece of death. However, most of these challenges do not have to be overcome by force of arms: many will be content with a few good words, some politeness, and asking for a favor from time to time.”

The campaign has already met its goal, so it is safe to say it will happen – the manuscript has been translated, laid out and proofread, and Outremer Ediciones has a proven track record delivering other games, including a very nice-looking translation of the Helvéczia boxed set. The physical qualities were great for Helvéczia, and should be the same here. If the campaign hits €8.000, patrons of the physical version will receive the d20 of Victory, and with that name, I am fairly sure you need one of them. Back early and back often!
Foundations of Fantasy Roleplaying Games

In other news, I would also like to draw your interest to a new book series, Foundations of Fantasy Roleplaying Games. Launched by Charybdis Press, this is a series that

“…explores the literature that influenced the modern genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, and the roleplaying games they continue to inspire. The series is dedicated to all the hardworking game masters the world round and hopes these books provide more inspiration for their games. But while this series orients itself towards genre fiction and roleplaying games, it is also for general readers desiring quality copies of public domain works.”

These are, in essence, nicely edited, affordable paperback printings of works in the public domain. The titles chosen for the imprint are a bit further afield from the pulp classics; they come from the corpus of adventure stories which indirectly inspired the pulps, but are fairly obscure to the modern reader. As such, they are a great source of reading material that would, paradoxically, feel both familiar and new. The titles now available mostly include works from the picaresque tradition:

  • Three Northern Love Stories, and Other Tales: A collection of mediaeval Icelandic stories, from The Story of Gunnlaug the Worm-Tongue and Raven the Skald to The Tale of Thorstein Staff-Smitten.
  • The Life and Adventures of Guzman d’Alfarache: One of the classic Spanish picaresque novels from 1599, featuring the misadventures of a low-class anti-hero in a world of thieves and reprobates. As usual in the genre, it is nominally written as a condemnation of sin, while vicariously revelling in it.
  • The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane: The classic 1715 French picaresque story (although one set in Spain), following another young fortune-seeker and social climber. Gil Blas is one of my favourite books; it is fast-paced (the events of the first twenty or thirty pages would make for a full novel in lesser hands), funny, and filled with wisdom.
  • Told by the Death’s Head: A 19th-century neo-picaresque by Hungarian novelist Mór Jókai, this is also a personal fave. Originally titled An Infamous Adventurer from the 17th Century, it is the unlikely tale of Hugo, a gunner put on trial for twenty-two crimes (“including bigamy, regicide, uxoricide, sorcery, piracy, Satanism, and cannibalism”), each worthy of execution, but each with a story behind it that makes Hugo the hero of the story. As always, Jókai is a master of the romantic adventure; he is smart (and a bit of a smartass), incisive, and fundamentally good-natured about human foibles. A paragon of patriotic liberalism, and always a man with a story to brighten your day.


  1. Hi! Greetings from Spain!

    Just a little correction from a long time fan: the name of the rpg is Adventures in the East Mark. Is a BECMI red box retroclone with many houserules.

    In English, you can find the rules here:


    In Spanish, you can find every release, including rules and adventures, for free (and legally!) here:


  2. The spanish knows what is good.First Helvéczia, now Xyntillan.

  3. Nice! They translated Blackmarsh and did a great job.

  4. +Obligatory linking to the Public Domain old translation of Told by the Death's Head (AKA An Adventurer of Ill Repute from the XVIIth Century):


  5. Thank you Gabor! This is very appreciated.

    In the books, that's very interesting! I want to dig more into Hungarian literature and that looks like an interesting book to begin with! I'd also greatly recommend Rinconete y Cortadillo, a little novel of Cervantes that basically defines the misadventures of two level 1 thieves in Sevilla. With even a local thieves' guild. Pretty funny and interesting, and it was referenced by Fritz Leiber as one of the inspirations of Lankhmar. So I think it's 'hobby appropriate' haha!

    1. Thus sounds extremely interesting! My grandfather, currently 94 years old, has been translating Cervantes' more obscure works to Hebrew for over 20 years now. Just last week I was sitting in his small Jerusalem apartment and listening to him explaining the social commentary and lower-caste comedy Cervantes was known for in his small plays and intermezzos.

    2. I will have to check these out as well. I am familiar with Don Quijote, but none of Cervantes' other work. The Leiber connection is fascinating.

  6. Reading Helvéczia, I have gone through the recommended picaresque reading materials. From it I picked up "Told by the Death's Head" (English version is free to download and comes in convenient Kindle file format) and "Krabat" (recently translated to Hebrew), both of which I enjoyed immensely.
    I have also bought the newer Gil Blas translation through the amazon e-book store, as well as a translation of "Simplicissimus" to Hebrew, both of which I have yet to read.

    Over the last year I have been catching up on Appendix N pulps, such as Fritz Leiber and Jack Vance - all of which I now consider essential to understanding the true spirit of D&D.

    In order to better understand the spirit of Castle Xyntillan, I am planning to watch Roman Polanski's "The Fearless Vampire Killers"