In Negocios Infernales, a DMless, diceless, collaborative roleplaying game, you play a wizard who has made an infernal bargain with a devil for your magical powers… Or so you think!
Aliens have interrupted a religious inquisition, hoping to prevent humanity from setting back its progress toward joining the Cosmic Consciousness. It didn't go quite as they planned. Instead, humans kept offering up their souls in exchange for powers, and, in keeping with the idiom of the time, the aliens said, "Sure." Brought to you by the brilliant minds of award-winning writers C.S.E. Cooney (The Bone Swans, Saint Death's Daughter) and Carlos Hernandez (Sal and Gabi Break/Fix the Universe), Negocios Infernales is at once a journey into the macabre, but also a whimsical, madcap, hilarious experience if the players choose to make it one.
Alana: We know you've playtested this a lot, but tell us: how many iterations do you think you've gone through to get this game where it is today?
Carlos: I mean, truly we’ve lost count. Scores and scores. It also depends on what you call an iteration, since sometimes we made tweaks, and sometimes, well, game-changers 🙂.
C. S. E.: I think Carlos’s earliest prototypes of what became the “Destino” deck, using art from art history archives and some text on the card, began in 2018. So he was playtesting that ekphrastic mechanic for year before we even had Bek’s earliest iterations of the Negocios Infernales art.
And that was just the core mechanic of the game! All the other structures came right out of playtesting, in answer to some problem we fell afoul of, and none of it came all at once.
Alana: What is your favorite feature of the game, and why do you love how it works?
C. S. E.: Ah, me. I just love, love, love the Worldbuilding section of the game. I love the Worldbuilding deck of 40 questions about the world of Gloriana and the country of Espada. I love the “Annals of Espada” sheet, where every player gets to contribute one piece to their shared world, and drawing from Destino to inspirate their answers. And how everyone riffs on what’s come before! And how those deep callbacks affect the roleplay later in the game! I love that my DM brother skinned our Worldbuilding deck to help create a world for one of his D&D campaigns. It’s so satisfying!
Carlos: The Deck of Destiny. Has to be. It creates such unpredictable and unhinged and hilarious gameplay, like nothing else I’ve seen in RPGs—and friends, I have SEEN SOME $#/% in RPGs!
A close second is the Alien Epilogue at the end of the game. Whether you win or lose, your alien case workers will judge you!
Alana: What is your favorite card in the Destino deck?
Carlos: Literally like asking you who your is your favorite child! So I will answer this way:
“You will see your true reflection in the edge of an axe” appeals to my soul.
“To cease loving someone, simply plug your nose” appeals to my weirdness: and my weirdness is the holy engine of my creativity.
“If it unlocks, it’s a lockpick” appeals to my feral practicality.
C. S. E.: Ooh, can I name three too? (Confession: I have more than three favorites. But to choose any less than three would be entirely dishonest!)
One: “How Perfect the Poem Before It Is Written” (Aire suit). It’s just so… dang… true.
Two: “Trees Eat Meat” (Carne suit). I have a thing about creepy trees. Probably because of the Juniper Tree fairy tale, which infiltrates a lot of my fiction.
Three: “Every Discovery Expands Infinity” (Espacio suit). This just makes my heart sing with hope and possibility.
Alana: If players only take away one thing from a game of Negocios Infernales, what do you hope it will be?
Carlos: This—that creativity, with the right people and the right context, is not only one of life’s great joys, but as natural as laughing your butt off with your friends.
C. S. E.: I want this game to do for others what it did for me: to make people feel invited, that games are possible, and that playing games is fun.
I know that looks obvious, written down. But it wasn’t obvious to me. It became obvious–through the years we worked on Negocios Infernales, with every iteration and tweak. Now, seeing the game in its final form, in the hands of strangers, feels almost miraculous. It was the game that taught me how to love games.
-Alana Joli Abbott, Editor in Chief at Outland Entertainment, has played roleplaying games for almost thirty years, but she's never played anything quite like Negocios Infernales, and she can't wait for other people to choose their own dooms…