Wednesday, February 22, 2012

If You Kill a Squirrel in Atlantasia, Be Sure to Eat It

In Atlantasia, the gods take a direct role in wildlife conservation. For instance, we learn from page 111 of John Holland's The Realms of Atlantasia that squirrels “are prized by the goddess Dannuih.” (From what I can tell, Dannuih is some kind of druid goddess – like, D&D druids, not historically accurate druids.) This means that anyone who kills a squirrel loses 5 experience points. I'm down with this; I mean, it's not like you're going to become some big, macho hero by exterminating squirrels. Dannuih isn't a hard-ass about it, if one or two squirrels are killed for food, she lets it slide (“the goddess gives the world this” – mighty white of her).

Dannuih likes dolphins too. If you kill a dolphin, you lose 25 experience points, whether you eat it or not. However, losing 25 E.P.1 is the least of your worries if you threaten a dolphin. The leader of the mer-people, Tri-Danté2 (a.k.a. “The Demon of the Deep”), and a posse of mermen will show up to protect any threatened dolphins. According to page 174, “Tri-Danté stands 30' tall, with...a strong set of fins for legs.” Page 129 tells us that “Tri-Danté uses a uni-whale as his mount! ” Uni-whales have a single horn and “two magical attacks (tidal wave & ice).” Uni-whales “have a high intelligence (7).”3 I guess dolphins are more than twice as smart since – as indicated in a previous post – they have an intelligence of 15. Anyway, Tri-Danté is loaded with magic items.

Meridian lizards are one of the few things about Atlantasia that I actually like. They are sensitive to “energy lines.” As such, “The stripes down their back will change color” depending upon the power of any given energy line. That's the extent of what I like about meridian lizards; Holland, however, can't leave it at that. There's no E.P. value listed for meridian lizards, not even a negative amount. Per page 119:

It is absolutely FORBIDDEN to kill a meridian lizard...Should anyone be caught killing a meridian lizard (and you WILL be caught), you would owe a quest to the first Deity that shows up after the death of the lizard (usually 3 – 10ss).

That doesn't sound too bad. If you're bored, just kill a meridian lizard and some god will show up with a quest.

Another (rare) good idea from Holland is his treatment of unicorns. Killing a unicorn “costs you the life of one you love...and the Deities will ensure this...” The twist is that the player chooses which loved one the gods kill off. I guess the gods know if you really love someone and aren't just throwing out a name. Unicorns don't provide any E.P., so the only reason to kill one (other than spite) is to collect its blood. Supposedly, according to page 147, “putting unicorn blood on a weapon and striking any who are not of pure heart will curse them to a painful, burning death within 1 season.” If you really need to kill a unicorn, you might not want to do so on the faerie island of Xyla. Unicorns are serious business there; every Faerie Being on the island will be trying to kill you within two semi-segments after you kill a unicorn.

Sea turtles are worth 200 E.P. but, according to page 127:

Sea turtles are revered by sailors because sea turtles ride the currents of the oceans they reside in. Thus sailors will always know where the tides are and in what direction the tides are going. A ship of sailors will develop a special relationship with a certain sea turtle. Therefore, should that turtle die, those sailors will know and will avenge the death of their friend.

In other words, within three cycles of killing a sea turtle, a ship of sailors4 will show up to battle the killer.

House cats, horses, oxen, and camels don't offer any E.P., but there do not seem to be any inherent negative ramifications for killing them.

1 E.P. is more realistic than X.P. because 'experience' begins with an 'e.'
2 Get it? Tri-Danté – trident – Neptune. Get it?
3 Regular whales “have a very decent intelligence (8) ,” but they don't have magic attacks.
4 “10% chance of being pirates”


  1. I have to say that the above makes it sound like the author was either crazy or on drugs when he wrote the rules. Fron now on I'll think of this game as "Splifftasia - the psychotropic rpg".

    1. Holland has some unusual concepts for his setting and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is, because he created Atlantasia, he can’t be objective about it. He has expressed his ideas without obtaining sufficient feedback; the inconsistencies and bizarre ramifications of the rules are invisible to him.
      Someone commented on Google+ that Atlantasia is a “folk art” RPG. I think this is a good description; Zarrakan is also a folk art RPG. The difference between Zarrakan and Atlantasia is that Holland treats his game as a commercial product.

  2. I'm getting a so-bad-it's-awesome feel from this, Encounter Critical style. Plus, I've decided it's a parody because the name reminds me of Talislanta.

    1. I thought many times as to whether Atlantasia is a parody. The one thing that convinces me it is not a parody is the hundreds of dollars Holland spent to get the game published. Also, if he went through so much trouble to craft a parody, he should have included bad RPG art or garden gnome photos in the book.

  3. I was going to buy this until you pointed out the absence of garden gnomes.



  4. Never kill Garden Gnomes, within 3 semi-segments you will be attacked by a continent of plaster frogs that spray water from their mouths....or something.

  5. There is almost a sort of "outsider art" feel to this whole thing if you look at it the right way. Of course, it's the same way that makes a mimeographed conspiracy 'zine worthy of a hardcover edition--and that way lies madness.