Tuesday, June 29, 2021

RotLA and THA: History of the Indiana Jones RPGs

Since I've been discussing how to use Treasure Hunter Adventures material for adventures and campaigns set in the world of Indiana Jones, I thought it would also be interesting to look at the history of the actual Indiana Jones RPGs--one from TSR, and the other from West End Games.  

Wayne's Books already has a comprehensive history of the RPGs on their website, so I'll link to that instead of repeating it here. They are also the source for the image presented above, one that I had never seen before. 

It's also interesting to see for how much some of those old books and boxed sets are selling. Oh, to have them back in shrinkwrap again!

Next, Wikipedia has articles about the two versions of the game. They are fairly brief, but do quote some of the reviews for the TSR version when it was published. It's interesting to note that they are lukewarm at best, in part because that game didn't have a system for generating original characters. 

I do have to wonder how a cohesive game based on the D6 System would have been received. That set of rules worked well for the Star Wars RPG, and seems to me like it would have handled pulpy adventures well, too. 

Finally, here's a story that begins with the of TSR's version of the game. I'll let the website for the Diana Jones Award tell that story. 



Friday, June 25, 2021

RotLA and THA: Using Elements from the THA Supplements for the Raiders Time Period

Just as the scenarios for Treasure Hunter Adventures can be modified for use in the time period for Raiders of the Lost Ark, elements from the supplements can be used to create adventures and campaigns. Here are a few of the possibilities.

Treasure Hunter Adventures

Treasure Hunter Adventures

  • As mentioned previously, the character Archetypes provide ready stats for heroes as well as the NPCs whom they encounter.

  • When it comes to the Level of Magic for an adventure or a campaign, as noted, Low Magic seems to be a good fit. Relics are rare but can be quite powerful—which leads to individuals and organizations wanting to gain control of them.

  • Jennifer Flannery could be an employer, a rival, or even a romantic interest for the heroes.

  • The search for the Silver Madonna would be a good introduction to a bigger adventure, just as Indy's pursuit of the golden idol opens up Raiders of the Lost Ark. Perhaps the GM could use this to introduce an enemy, like Belloq, who steals that prize.

THA2: Prizes, Puzzles and Perils

  • All of the relics detailed in this supplement could, of course, serve as the prize for an adventure. Indeed, the Clavicula Salmonis is a good fit for a relic that the Nazis are seeking in order to tip the balance of World War II in their favor.

  • The various puzzles, traps and locations could also be added to adventures.

  • Finally, the organizations can play many different roles in a campaign. The Office of Special Services could try to recruit the heroes, while the Vatican Secret Archives might be a rival. The Rosicrucian Order could also be rivals, albeit with less altruistic motivations; the Thule Society would provide a veneer of cover for Nazi sympathizers.

THA3: Underwater Salvage

  • At first glance, some of the technology introduced in this supplement might seem too advanced for the time period in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was just after World War II, however, that Jacques Cousteau began renting the Calypso to use for underwater salvage.

  • Here again, the locations of lost ships and sunken cities, along with deck plans for vessels, and new hazards, hindrance and edges, provide fodder for adventures.

THA4: Mercenaries & Magic

  • The Condottieri Mercenary Company provides an excellent group of rivals for villains in its own right, but the character stats and compound map could also be pressed into service as a Nazi expedition and their base of operations.

  • Ephraim Grey, along with his sons Ezekiel and Ezra, could serve well in the role of scholarly advisors for heroes who need some help with research or translation—much as the Imam does for Indy, reading the inscription on the medallion in Raiders.

  • More puzzles and prizes are useful here, too.

THA5: Saints & Sinners

  • While all of the prizes detailed in this supplement are potentially useful, the Golem in particular seems to match with the sense of religious mystery present in the Indiana Jones movies.

  • Any one of the holy places detailed in the atlas could serve as the backdrop for a cinematically styled adventure.

  • The various criminals who make up the Syndicate can be excellent rivals for the heroes, especially if pitted against them and other villains.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

RotLA and THA: Modifying Treasure Hunter Adventures Scenarios for the Raiders Time Period

Although the scenarios for Treasure Hunter Adventures are assumed to take place in the modern day, they can easily be adapted for use in the more pulpy time period of the 1930s and 40s. Presented here are a few tips for doing so.

Treasure Hunter Adventures

  • The Death Mask of Hatshepsut: In this case, the disappearance of “the American adventurer” and the sinking of the Titanic, which both happened in 1912, become much more recent events. What is more, the aspiring poet Earnest Newman could even be alive, living in the apartment depicted in the scenario.

  • Damnatio Memoriae: Since the sinking of the Agia Helena only would have happened some twenty or thirty years prior, it's likely that Captain Ioannes and other members of the crew still have survivors who'd like to learn about their fate. What is more, the mystery of just why the ship sank could become much more prominent.

  • The Mad King's Secret: Here again, King Ludwig II would have died only five or six decades previously, along with his investigator, Udo Friesinger. For that reason, they might be able to find old associates of theirs two who can shed light on the two men's activities. What is more, if this adventure takes place during the build-up to World War II, then the rising influence of the Nazi Party affects the background atmosphere of this adventure.

  • Unfinished Business: For this scenario, it's possible that Sir Douglass Murray could still be alive. He, of course, could provide a lot more information about what Roy Williams was doing in Cairo when he sold the death mask of Hatshepsut—and why he was killed.

  • The Ghost Town: George H. Wolf—the intended recipient of the death mask—can also still be alive, and the heroes can meet him when they visit Wilder. He, then, can recruit them for a little business involving a cache of relics stolen from Native people (see below).

  • North and South, East and West: As mentioned above, George H. Wolf is likely still alive at this time. Additionally, there are probably men and women living on various reservations who remember some of the great Native leaders, such as Red Cloud and Crazy Horse.

  • Out of the Darkness: Given the rise of the Nazis in Germany, the white supremacists in this scenario could be sympathetic—making this confrontation even more dramatic. The keypad lock for the secret room in the quonset hut needs to be changed, perhaps to a combination lock with letters instead of numbers.

Friday, June 18, 2021

RotLA and THA: Combining Archetypes

The previous post suggested which Archetypes from Treasure Hunter Adventures would fit the heroes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. GMs and players can also combine archetypes to create more advanced characters, especially for parties small parties who still want to cover the whole variety of skills and abilities that might be required when hunting for a treasure. Detailed below are two examples of this. 



Archetypes: Retrieval Specialist and Scholar

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6

Skills: Academics d8, Athletics d6, Common Knowledge d4, Driving d4, Fighting d6, Language d8, Notice d6, Occult d6, Persuasion d4, Research d8, Shooting d6, Stealth d8, Thievery d8

Pace: 8, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5

Edges: Alertness, Calculating, Fleet-Footed, Scholar

Hindrances: Phobia (Major) 


Archetypes: Holy Person and Guide

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8

Skills: Academics d6, Athletics d4, Boating d4, Common Knowledge d6, Driving d4, Faith d8, Fighting d6, Healing d6, Language d4, Notice d6, Persuasion d8, Riding d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d4, Survival d6

Pace: 6, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5

Edges: Arcane Background (Miracles), Connections, Quick, Woodsman

Hindrances: Code of Honor

Special Abilities

  • Power Points: 10; Powers: Boost/lower Trait, deflection, protection

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

RotLA and THA: Stats for the Heroes

Here are ways in which the Archetypes from Treasure Hunter Adventures can be used to create the heroes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. This assumes that they use all of the established stats, but with changes to hindrances, which are tailored to those characters. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

RotLA and THA: Happy Anniversary!

Today marks forty years since Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in theaters. This film is, of course, the inspiration for Treasure Hunter Adventures, as well as the gold standard for adventure movies. Throughout the rest of the month, I will have more posts about how it can inspire RPG scenarios and campaigns. 


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

RotLA and THA: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Continuing the lead-up to the fortieth anniversary of Raiders, here are links to three different Youtube options for watching the rather short-live prequel series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Personally, I hope these episodes eventually find their way onto Disney+. 


Saturday, June 5, 2021

RotLA and THA: Two Anniversaries

Today marks two notable anniversaries. The first is for Treasure Hunter Adventures, which I released one year ago today on DriveThruRPG.com. 

Treasure Hunter Adventures

Since then, it has gone on to become a Copper Best Seller. 

Finally, this is also the 67th anniversary of an influential film being released: The Secret of the Incas, the main character of which is said to have inspired the look of Indiana Jones for Raiders


Thursday, June 3, 2021

RotLA and THA: Two Influential Books

This post is the first of what I hope to add every three days this month, to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark--which occurs on Saturday, June 12th. It presents two books that inspired my Treasure Hunter Adventures projects. 

The first book, by Graham Hancock, is The Sign and the Seal. It describes the author's efforts to fid the lost Ark of the Covenant--something that was intriguing, of course, for me as a fan of Raiders. I don't wish to debate the academic merits of the book. Instead, I'll just say that it made me start thinking about working on modern-day treasure hunting adventures. All I needed was a rules system to use for writing them. 

The second book provided an answer to that first conundrum. It was, of course, the D20 Modern RPG, released in November 2002. It took the still new D20 System that premiered with 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, and retooled it for use with modern adventures. It was a perfect fit! I still think this RPG was underrated, even though it now feels a little clunky. Equipped with that, I put together D20 Modern Treasure Hunter, which was published by Emerald Press.