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BARBAREN!--The ultimate Macho RPG (very, very long)

Started by Frank T, February 22, 2005, 03:45:18 PM

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Frank T


so I am really posting my game at The Forge. It took quite some effort to create an English write-up of my concept. I've tried to be brief, hoping that it's not too brief to make sense.

This game is my first serious attempt at publishing. Up to now, I've done a lot of tinkering, stuff for home use mainly, along with some unfinished ideas and two 24-h-rpgs. But this idea here has been received so enthusiastically that I want to go for it. The outline is: Finish designing, write it, get professional illustration and layout (I have friends who'll do that), release a free PDF version, collect orders, go into print. This approach seems to work best with the German market.

The version I explain below is the first complete test version I have hammered down after discussing the idea in my German rpg forums and doing some by-myself-testing. It is now into the first playtests, but unfortunately, I do not have nearly as many playtesters as I'd like. Same applies for substantial feedback. That's why I come here.

You can download the complete German concept paper here.

I do feel an urge to comment a lot more beforehand, but I shouldn't. I'll just wait for you to tell me your opinion.

1. Concept[/b][/u]

BARBAREN! is about fucking and butchering. It is a none-too-serious game about mighty Barbarians that live in a vast wilderness, hunt bears and tigers, slay inferior foreign soldiers or challenging barbarian foes, and have wild hot sex with ever different desirable women. It is a macho's dream about harsh nature, gleaming steel, fire, blood and naked skin. It's about lust, anger, ambition and any number of other raw, impulsive emotions. It is purposefully sexist and glorifies mindless violence, but hopefully does so with an unmistakable wink of an eye. I have raised the comparison with Manowar's "True Metal". Grim and powerful, but so over the top that it's funny again.

The game is also supposed to be about whom you fuck or butcher, and why. To what extent, that's the tricky part. I seriously don't have a clue.

Oh, and maybe I should mention: The game features a mostly classical GM.

[Disclaimer: Take my word that I have no sympathy for applying the macho picture of a woman featured in BARBAREN! to reality. In reality I am one of those whimps that sit down to piss, can cook better than their girlfriend, and will let a woman drive their car. I honestly hope that a lot of women will play this game and enjoy it as much as the male players. As Caynreth pointed out, women will probably make the better machos anyhow.]

2. Setting[/b][/u]

I am currently taking an approach similar to DitV, describing the way that the Barbarians live, but giving only very little information on actual places and persons. Some have pleeded I should make the Barbarians resemble the acient Germanics, but right now they are more of a mixture of Germanics, Native Americans, Cimmerians and Fantasy Metal Cover Art.

2.1 The Barbarians
They are big, strong and masculine. Their women are long-legged and beautiful. Their language is primitive and guttural, they have names like Kuthroc, Gorack or Berren. The name of their people is Barbarians. Whenever someone else uses that term anywhere on anyone, it is only in reference to the real Barbarians. Oh, and most importantly: every Barbarian has a nine inch cock. No shit.

2.2 The Wilde Lands
The Barbarians live in a fierce environment. Towering mointains, jagged rocks, active vulcanos, deep valleys, thick woods, thundering rivers and every kind of predatory animal. There are dragons, too, but those are not intelligent AD&D-style semi-gods, but just animals, though of terrific strength and beauty. Summers are hot and dry, winters ice cold and snowy, spring and fall stormy. A world of extremes, always.

In the German Write-Up I enlarge some on the Barbarian's way of life as semi-nomads, but most of that you can guess. They have swords, bows and axes, are clad in horn, leather and fur, eat mostly meat, drink mostly mead, etc.

2.3 Myths and Customs
I have based the mythology of the Barbarians on animal spirits. The women pray to the Great Tigress. There are five tribes, derived from the Great Raven, the Great Bear, the Great Eagle, the Great Wolf, and the Great Tiger. However, the Great Tiger's son fell from grace as he took his mate by force, angering the Great Tigress who caused his genitals to shrink and eventually fall off. To date, no Barbarian will ever take a woman by force. (I included this because I really do not want to see rape in this game.)

Laws of the macho society are pretty much clichéd, men can have as many wives as they like, the strongest warrior is chieftain, a duel is a legitimate means to settle arguments, etc. I have also included some customs, like a fertility festival à la Belthane held each month, and the Great Dragon Hunt that takes place every four years, when the best warriors of all tribes meet at the legendary Dragon Valley to measure their skill.

2.4 Barbarian Society
Barbarian society is based on families and clans. The clans belong to the four tribes: The Ravven, decendents of the Great Raven, who dwell mostly in the high mountains. The Barrva, decendents of the Great Bear, who inhabit the valleys and woods. The Zeddlar, decendents of the Great Eagle, who live by rivers and lakes. The Worgen, decendents of the Great Wolf, who roam the Great Plateau on horseback and venture far into foreign lands. Each bear some physical and mental resemblance to their Ancestor, yet the tribes have mixed a lot because women have been robbed and seduced at all times.

The fifth tribe, the Thigra, decendents of the Great Tiger, have become a tribe of fearful amazons that hide in the most repellent areas and slay every man except when they need to mate.

2.5 Foreigners
In German I have also briefly desribed some on the nations and lands surrounding the Wilde Lands. Those are there to provide male victims and female challenges. They are pretty bluntly inspired by real earthly cultures. The Corians resemble the Celts. The Shuarans resemble the Romans. The Nyclamics resemble Palestine as occupied by Rome. The Tarsians are a mixture of the Touareg and ancient Persians. Lastly, the Iveri resemble the Finnish.

3. Character Creation[/b][/u]

Player characters are obviously fierce Barbarian warriors. There is no exception.

3.1 Clan and Group Concept
I want players to sit together when they make characters. I want them to start by making up their clan. To which tribe does it belong? What is it's situation? Which problems does it face? For there should be problems. I haven't made up a template or specific rule for that, but I encourage creating problems.

Moreover, players are supposed to develope a group concept which includes their character's place in the clan, and their relationship to one another. The player characters are supposed to be a loyal bunch, rivaling sometimes, but normally relying on each other.

3.2 Attributes
Quite conservatively, I have five attributes whith ratings ranging from 1 to 5, 2 being an average Barbarian. The player distributes 16 points at character creation. The attributes are: Strength, Agility, Stamina, Wits, and Virility.

3.3 Fighting
There are some special stats for fighting, since fighting is crucial. These stats are derived from the attributes in the beginning, to be improved during play. Combat starts at 2*Strength + 2*Agility + Stamina + 5 base value. Momentum starts at Strength - 1 base value. Elegance starts at Agility - 1 base value. Aggression has no base value, but starts at the Virility rating. It can be used to improve the other fighting stats or as an active resource in combat. It is gained through having sex.

3.4 Wooing
Corresponding with the fighting, there are also special stats for the other crucial thing: wooing. Attractiveness starts at 3*Virility + Wits + Strength + 5 base value. Charme starts at Wits - 1 base value. Touch starts at Agility - 1 base value. Horny has no base value and starts also at the Virility rating. As with Aggression, it can be used to improve the wooing stats or as an active resource. It ist gained through fighting and other rough things.

3.5 Specialties
Every Barbarian is trained at hunting and fighting. Additionally, the player can pick three specialties from other areas that distinguish the character, like climbing, swimming or any other typical "skill". One of the specialties must derive from the character's clan. Specialties can be single, called Competence, or double, called Expertise.

3.6 Personality Traits
Also, every Barbarian is a primitive macho. However, to distinguish him, the player should pick two personality traits to describe what kind of Barbarian he is. These can be as positive or negative as the player sees fit. A single personality trait is called Formative, a double personality trait is called Characteristic. These traits do not have any effect regarding the mechanics.

3.7 Relatoinships
[Now, here's the part I'm struggling with the most. I'll present you the rule as it currently stands.]

Each player picks at least three relationships, which must be one of the following: Enemy, Ward, Rival, Desired, Wife. No ratings are assigned. The player can detail more relationships if he wishes. He can also have friends and allies. But he must have those three. The relationships can and should be used during play, but they do not have a mechanical effect (e.g. they don't enhance the Combat score if involved).

3.8 Equipment
The equipment rule is: if the player can sensibly argue why his character has the desired object with him, then he has it with him. The only exception is the personal weapon. A Barbarian can have any number of bows, arrows, spears, shields, and hatchets. But he can have only one sword or battleaxe, which should have a history, too. Armor is never used by Barbarians. Real men fight bare to the belt.

4. Play Mechanics[/b][/u]

4.1 Checks
These are your normal task resolution regarding everything that is not fighting or wooing. Checks can be single or comparitive if an adversary is involved. A fitting attribute is picked and a number of d6 equal to the rating is rolled. Every 4, 5 or 6 counts as success. Note that fierce Barbarians automatically succeed at mundane tasks like making fire or climbing the face of a cliff. They would need to roll only for a really challenging task, like making fire in the rain or climbing a steep, slippery cliff. And a single success would still be sufficient. Two successes are required for very difficult tasks, four successes for the almost impossible.

Competence at a certain task gains one additional automatical success. Expertise gains two.

[There is no player narration provided right now, but I am thinking about awarding player narration if the roll scored at least one more success than necessary.]

4.2 Fighting

4.2.1 Initiative
Initiative is a vital component in combat for it determines who is acting and who is reacting. You cannot attack if you do not have Initiative. Who has Initiative at the beginning of a fight is derived from the situation preceding the fight. Normally it will be pretty obvious who attacks first. Only if the situation is unclear are stats used to determine Initiative, by simply comparing first Virility, and if that's equal, Agilitiy, Wits, and Combat.

If you don't want to use your Initiative to attack, you can withdraw from the fight or just pause. Gaining Initiative if you don't have it can be done by defending especially well, by taking a blow (unless it's too heavy) or by spending Elegance on a counter-attack. These options are detailed further below.

4.2.2 Attacking and Defending
Attacker and defender roll a number of d6 against each other, again 4, 5 and 6 counting as success. Any fighter gains 1d6 for free. He can spent Combat points to gain more dice. The maximum a player can spend is 4 points as attacker and 5 points as defender respectively. The maximum number adversaries can spend varies.

If both fighters score equal successes, the attack is blocked. If the attacker scores more successes, he hits and there is bloodshed. If the defender scores more successes, he has gained Initiative. You can also choose not to defend, which is called "taking a blow". In that case, the attacker needs only one success to hit.

4.2.3 Ranged Combat
Ranged Combat is exactly the same as close combat. Of course, if only one opponent has a missile weapon, he automatically has Initiative. Normally, only one shot can be fired before the opponent gets a chance to hit cover or close up for hand-to-hand combat. If the circumstances make it likely, the GM can determine that more than one shot can be taken.

4.2.4 Multiple Opponents
If a character fights multiple opponents, he has to split his dice between them. Of course, he can also choose not to defend against all. He may have Initiative only against one opponent at a time, so the others can always attack him. Up to three opponents can band against one that way. If one opponent falls, another may step in. As long as the warrior who is ganged up on uses at least 1d6 for Defense, he can spent 5 points of Combat each exchange.

I do not encourage multiple fighters on both sides. In such a case, the fight should be split up into seperate procedures.

As you can see, ganging up is pretty tough. There are, however, some special moves that can be done by spending Momentum or [/i]Elegance[/i] to deal with multiple opponents. These are detailed later.

4.2.5 Bloodshed
If someone is hit, there is bloodshed. The number of successes the attacker scored above the defender is therefore added with the weapon damage (a number between +1 and +3, see below). The victim gets to roll Stamina against that and substract any sucesses. The final result indicates the level of bloodshed.

--> No success means it's just a scratch.
--> 1-3 successes mean a flesh wound. Substract -3 from Combat.
--> 4-5 successes mean a deep wound. Substract -5 from Combat and -1 each from Momentum and Elegance. If the victim was "taking the blow" to gain Initiative, he fails. The attacker may go on.
--> 6 successes mean a critical wound. The victim looses all Combat, Momentum and Elegance. He can do no more than crawl and will bleed to death if nobody helps him.
--> 7 successes mean a fatal blow. The victim is just straight out killed.

[I am musing about adding player narration here.]

4.2.6 The End of a Fight
Fight ends for anyone who is dead, critically wounded or down to zero Combat. The GM interprets what zero Combat means. It could be total exhaustion, being backed against the wall with a blade at your throat, or any other situation that leaves you at your opponent's mercy.

4.2.7 Recovering
Combat is regained quickly, but only if you are not under the pressure of a fighting situation. Pausing during a fight will lose you Initiative but gains you Combat equal to your Stamina rating. If you rest some time after a fight, your Combat is fully refreshed. However, the subtraction from wounds remains until the wounds are healed. Wounds heal as follows:

--> Flesh wounds: 4 days minus successes from a Stamina roll, at least 1 day.
--> Deep wounds: 3 weeks minus 2 days per success from the Stamina roll. A visible scar remains.
--> Critical wounds: Some months, if at all (1 success needed on Stamina, Aggression can be spent). A critical wound always means that one attribute (player's choice) is reduced by 1.

[Hm. Now that I look the healing rules over, I'm not overly convinced. Let's see.]

4.2.8 Momentum
Momentum can be spent for special moves in combat. It is regained after a night of rest or, better still, drinking and fucking. You can spend 1 point of Momentum to create any of the following effects:

--> Hammerblow: Add +1 to damage if you hit.
--> Knock-Out: Hit your opponent with your fist or the blunt side of your weapon. No weapon damage is added. Opponent rolls Stamina as normal. If successes remain, you have just k.o.-ed him.
--> Sweeping Blow: Use your two-handed weapon against multiple opponents. You must have Initiative against the first one, whom you attack normally. If you hit, substract 1 from your dice pool and attack the next. You can proceed this way until you are blocked or run out of dice, even if this meens stepping by your first targets and attacking the "second line".
--> Split Shield: Your opponent must score at least one success more than you, or his shield is rendered useless. He cannot use that same spare success to gain Initiative.

The use of Momentum must be declared before you roll.

4.2.9 Elegance
Elegance is much the same as Momentum, used to the following effects:

--> Lightning-Reflex: One additional automatic success on your defense.
--> Feint: Subtract 1d6 from your opponent's defense.
--> Counter Attack: If you roll equal successes to block your opponent's blow, use the counter attack to gain Initiative.
--> Flashing Blade: As Sweeping Blow, but done with a one-handed weapon. Can also be used to defend.
--> Throw Weapon: Use your close combat weapon for ranged combat. Requires an additional point of Momentum if it is a two-handed weapon.

4.2.10 Weapons
These are the weapons currently available to Barbarians:

--> shield (no damage, +1d6 defense)
--> knife or club (+1 damage)
--> bow (+2 damage, ranged weapon)
--> hatchet (+2 damage, +1 Momentum)
--> sword (+2 damage, + 1 Elegance)
--> spear (+2 damage, suited for close and ranged combat)
--> two-handed sword (+3 damage, +1 Momentum, + 1 Elegance)
--> battleaxe (+3 damage, +2 Momentum)
--> dragon spear (+5 damage, +2 Momentum each, must be used by two fighters, each of whom must spend the full Combat, Momentum and Elegance for every attack)

4.3 Aggression
You can use Aggression in combat to gain an additional 1d6. This can be declared after all other dice have been rolled. Only one point of Aggression per roll can be spent, except when trying to recover from a critical wound.

You can also use Aggression to increase your other fighting stat base values, at the cost of 3 points per Combat point or, for Momentum and Elegance, the current rating times 2.

If you don't use any Aggression in a fight, you must nonetheless spend it. At least one point of Aggression must be lost in a fight. Two points if the warrior kills someone. However, the Aggression does not drop below zero this way.

Aggression is gained through
--> Secret Observation. Add 1 if the warrior secretly watches a woman undress. 2 points if he watches her having sex.
--> Sex: Add 1 point every time the warrior has sex. Add 3 if it's somehow new and different. With a different woman, in a different place, etc. Double the points if it's an orgy. Add an additional 3 if the woman belongs to another warrior.
--> Rejection: Add 2 points if the warrior fails in wooing for a woman.
--> Class Females: There are some women considered... oh well, now my dictionary fails me. How do you translate "echt geile Sau" into English? I'll stick with Real Hot Bitch, though that's not nearly it. Anyhow, further information later. Screwing a Real Hot Bitch for the first time grants an extra 3 points. And then there are these rare women considered Goddesses. Screwing a Goddess for the first time grants an extra 6 points. Secret Observation of a Goddess also grants double points.

4.4 Wooing
Wooing uses a mechanic similar, but not identical to fighting. I felt there are essential differences that require a different approach. First of all: Attractiveness is not an absolute value like Combat. It can only be viewed in relation to an individual woman. So you have to keep track of the Attractiveness in relation to every single woman your character woos. The only exception is made when wooing for several women to join into an orgy. In that case, you must devide your Attractiveness to get them all at the same time. Every warrior involved must conquer every woman involved in that way before the orgy can start.

Also, Attractiveness is not regained as quickly as Combat. Women are vengeful, so the scores are kept for quite some time (GM's decision) until they are both refreshed. A woman fights the warrior's Attractiveness by using her Reluctance.

4.4.1 Advances
To make an advance on a woman, the warrior must pick a suitable situation and spend up to 5 points of Attractiveness. Each point grants 1d6. The woman uses her Reluctance to counter, the maximum points available per advance varying with how hot the woman is. The outcome reads as follows:

--> 4 successes less than the woman: Disaster. Add +10 to Reluctance, no further advance permitted for a week.
--> 2-3 successes less: Flop. Add +5 Reluctance, no further advance permitted today.
--> 0-1 success less: No progression. Spent half an hour chatting, then try again.
--> 1-2 successes more: The ice is melting. Subtract -3 Reluctance. You can make the next advance in a few minutes if you keep going now.
--> 3-4 successes more: The fire is blazing. Subtract -6 Reluctance and go on immediately.
--> 5 successes more: Irresistable! She'll do whatever you please. Reluctance = zero.

[I am musing here as well about player narration. If the advance is a failure, the other players could be granted narration to make it nicely embarrassing.]

4.4.2 The End of Wooing
It's finished if either Reluctance hits zero--then the warrior gets her--or Attractiveness hits zero, meaning she is definitely resists. In the former case she will be available for some time, until there is some sort of cesura, after which the game begins anew. In the latter case, she will not be available. The warrior must wait for a long time until the stats are refreshed and he can try again. In any case, the outcome of the wooing will affect the Reluctance score (see further below).

4.4.3 Charme
Charme is spent and regained as Momentum and Elegance. Effects may be:

--> Devide Charme: Essential for orgies, you can make an advance that counts against all women present.
--> Retrieve Situation: Turn a "flop" into a "no progression".
--> Enchanting Compliment / Nice Joke: Subtract -2 Reluctance. You may not reduce Reluctance to zero by this.

4.4.4 Touch
--> Electrify: After breaking the ice, render her your elecrifying touch to reduce her Reluctance by 2.
--> Relax: Make a woman who is already available to you more comfortable, reducing her Reluctance toward another warrior by 2.
--> Take Advantage of Situation: Turn "The fire is blazing" immediately into "Irresistable!"

4.5 Horny
Your Horny score corresponds to your Aggression. You can spent it to gain additional dice in wooing or use it to increase wooing stats much the same way as with Aggression (see above).

Anytime wooing, you must lose at least one point of Horny. If you end actually screwing the babe, you must lose two.

Horny is gained through
--> Peril: Spending some grueling days in the wilderness gains you 1 point. 1 extra point each if you fed yourself and if you faced devastating weather.
--> Hunting Success: If you kill a beast and eat its raw heart or testicle, add 1 for a boar, dear, elk etc., 2 for a puma, lynx or wolf, 3 for a grizzly or tiger, and 10 for a dragon.
--> Fighting: Any fight is worth 1 point, 3 if you lost at least 75% of your Combat score. Double points if you killed or critically injured a foe.
--> Being Wounded: Add 2 for being wounded in combat (only if all your old wounds had healed before). Add an additional 2 for every deep wound.
--> Triumph: Defeating an Equal foe in duel gains 3 points. Defeating a Mighty foe together with others also 3 points. Defeating a Mighty foe in duel or a Towering foe together with others gains 6 points. See further below for the meaning of Equal, Mighty and Towering.

4.6 Improving Attributes
The player can spend an additional point on his attributes every time his Combat + Attractiveness reaches a multiple of 20, starting with 60. He may not, however, increase any attribute more than once.

4.7 New Specialties and Personality Traits
New specialties can be gained with the group's approval if it makes sense. Personality traits can be changed or added by the player as he sees fit, though he is supposed to do it mostly to match the character's developement through play. The personality traits don't have an impact anyhow, they are just a reminder.

4.8 New Relationships
New relationships are marked down as they evolve during play. What's more, players can create new relationships when requesting the Central Person for the next adventure (see below). [Again please note that I'm struggling with the realtionship part.]

5. Running the Game[/b][/u]

5.1 Preparation
[This part relates to the relationship stuff and the "whom you fuck or butcher, and why". It is also an attempt at enhancing player participation.]

At the end of an adventure or the character creation, one participant (GM or player, this should switch each time) decides on the Frame for the next adventure. This means the main context of events, so it could be "a raid on foreigners" or "a feud with another clan" or simply "the fertility rites".

After this, every player requests a Central Person ("Bezugsperson") for his character. This person must be one of the five categories detailed under relationships: Enemy, Ward, Rival, Desired, or Wife. The GM can request that the player make a suggestion how that person fits into the Frame. The person can be an already existing relationship, an NPC that has already been introduced, or someone newly invented by the player. In any case, she becomes a relationship.

5.2 Adversaries
In German I have detailed fighting stats for differnt kinds of creatures and people. I won't bother you with those since they are not mainly what I hope to talk about. You can find them on pages 34 pp. of the German write-up (see above).

Foes are devided into the categories Swoard-Fodder, Small and Tough, Robust, Dangerous, Equal, Mighty, and Towering. They have Combat scores ranging from 4 to 100, Momentum and Elegance ranging from zero to 13. The maximum Combat points they can spend per exchange ranges from zero/zero to 6/7. Foes never have Aggression. Note that Swoard-Fodder also goes down more easily since they have a different bloodshed table, allowing immediate kill at 5 spare successes already.

5.3 Women
Women have Reluctance ranging from 15 to 40+, with maximum spending ability from 4 to 7, depending on what they are: Sweet Things, Beauties, Real Hot Bitches ("echt geile Säue"), or Goddesses. However, the Reluctance is further modified by the situation:

--> -7 if the the woman is a real slut available to anyone, or if she's filled up with thorn apple wine.
--> -5 if the warrior just saved her life, or if the warrior already had her in the past and they didn't part in anger.
--> -3 if it's the fertility rites, if the woman is a little drunk, or if she has reason to be grateful regarding the warrior.
--> +3 if the warrior holds the woman captive, if it's cold and uncomfortable, or if the warrior is dirty and stinks.
--> +5 if the warrior has just had a bad argument with the woman, if the woman already rejected the warrior once (except if he had "the fire blazing"), if she belongs to another man (unless she is annoyed by that man), if the warrior wants her to join in an orgy, or if the woman is foreign or belongs to an enemy clan (the latter two not applying for the decadent Shuaran women).
--> +7 if the warrior has killed someone the woman really liked, or if the woman is an amazon (not applying if the warrior has bested her in duel).
--> +10 if the warrior has killed someone the woman loved.

Phew. Thanks for taking the time to read.

- Frank


Moin moin,

It did crack me up a couple of times, so I guess you managed to get the humorous side of it across. Or maybe it's just a German sense of humor :)

Overall, "just tell me your opinion" is probably not going to get you much of a response. Is there anything in particular you are concerned about? It seems to me that the rules are developed enough that playtests, rather than read-throughs, are going to give you the feedback you need at this point. Otherwise, all people can say is "looks good" or "I don't like sexist games," etc.

Frank T

Thanks Christian,

well, I'm willing to give it a chance and just wait for what people might or might not contribute. Of course that cannot replace playtesting. Yet there are many experienced designers here, some of whom have approaches to game design that I'm probably unaware of. I do hope that they have some wisdom to share. If they say "looks good", or "looks good if you wanna do a sexist game", then that's a result, too, and one I could fare with pretty well. But if they could "forge-bake" my game, showing me ways to improve it I hadn't thought of yet, that'd be even better.

The main point I struggle with is that I am uncertain about the role I want relationships to play in the game. I want to use them to support the game's major objective, but they could as well serve to distract from it. If I leave them out completely, the game will probably become too one-dimensional for my taste.

With the player narration issue, well, that's probably just something I must decide. But who knows, maybe someone has some insight to offer on that point, too?

- Frank

Sydney Freedberg

If you really want to nail this (err -- no pun intended, but I'm not going to edit it out, either), you have to check out the original Conan stories -- some good references are found in this thread in the Adept Press forum, which has lots more of the kind, focusing on Ron Edwards's Sword & Sorcerer supplement to his game Sorcerer.

Frank T

Thanks Sydney,

I have read "Queen of the Black Coast" and some of the other R.E. Howard stories, and like them (small surprise). I'll check out the links as soon as I get the time.

- Frank


Well its a long time since I laughed reading mechanics, I like it in principle.

I don't think sexism is much of an issue here; this hardly screams historical realism so it is not normative.  I think your over the top excess is firmly communicated.

If you really want to explore the fantasy psudo-porn genre though you can't dfo better than ther Gor novels by John Norman/Lange.  you have to understand though this this is the only imaginable context in which I could recommend them.  Don't buy more than one, you'll regret it.

Another good reference I always mention for this sort of thing is Mary Gentle's Orcs.

The main point I struggle with is that I am uncertain about the role I want relationships to play in the game. I want to use them to support the game's major objective, but they could as well serve to distract from it. If I leave them out completely, the game will probably become too one-dimensional for my taste.

Yes I agree, without that all you've got is wallowing in gore.  What struck me immediately as absent is any mention of loyalty, allegience, leadership.  I don't really have a sense of how to approach that but strangely reading this reminded me vaguley of the romances of Roland and the Grail, the glamour of the conquering physical hero.  But the other intra-masculine links appear to be missing - fatherhood, leadership, lordship.  I would think a common problem associated with a Desired, and hence why she is a desired rather than a wife, may be her being  a member of a hostile camp or politically difficult family.  Or perhaps it is complicated by a shared warriors oath.  Anyway not all of this my be appropriate for what you have in mind.
Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci

Sydney Freedberg

Quote from: contracycleWhat struck me immediately as absent is any mention of loyalty, allegience, leadership..... fatherhood, leadership, lordship. ....

Yeah, you definitely need "Ring-thrall" or "clan chief" or relationships like that. Lots of testosterone potential as your proud warriors have to bow to their chief and then make people bow to them.

Ron Edwards


I suggest that there be some mechanism for True Love (not by that name of course).

In other words, most of the women are exotic or earthy fuck-bunnies (did I say that? better edit it out), but every so often one comes along who just is The Woman for this hero.

Now, she's still sexually accessible. The Woman is all woman, know what I mean? But he isn't going to throw her away. He'll stick by her, and choose her over gold, and even kill his chieftain for her, if she wants. And hell, even if she's a vile sorceress, he'll grit his teeth and remain her loyal slayer-dude.

Now I'm getting all excited and only have one hand available for typing. (did I say that? better edit it out) So I'll sign off, but remember: mechanics for The Woman. Big time.


P.S. You are a very bad person, Frank.



I hate to even mention this, because, well, y'all are going to think I'm actually one of the designers of F.A.T.A.L. in disguise, but..., what about coerced sex?

I mean, if some big-ass barbarian gets rebuffed, but he's full of thorn-apple wine, and the situation permits in other respects, um, it could happen.

My gut instinct is that at least sometimes it should be possible to do this within the rules, but that some kind of repercussions should be set up as a result. Anything from her actually changing her mind and enjoying it to putting a knife in the drunk bastard's back to having all her male relatives slow-roast the rapist's balls and eat them in front of him while the blood runs out from between his legs, but it seems like in a game like this it should be possible to 'go there.'

Well. Sorry for bringing it up. But it was something that jumped out at me as missing from the romantic interaction rules. Or did I just miss it?



I like the fact the big, burly man must use a wooing skill to have his way with the ladies.

Nonetheless ...

If by "coerced sex" you mean "rape", then I suggest that it would properly fall under combat and not the romantic interaction rules as you suggest.  Maybe something like his attack vs. her reluctance.

If by "coerced sex" you mean "sex for hire", then maybe reluctance can be affected by money or some other trade stuff.  

If by "coerced sex" you mean something more insidious, like, the barbarian will kill the woman's baby unless she submits to him, then that would also fall under reluctance tweaking.

Personally, if any of the above are incorporated, I'd like to see some form of woman's retribution permitted.


p.s. My internal voice keeps pronouncing "Barbaren" as "Barbara Allen" (as in the Ballad of); woefully inappropriate I know.

Sydney Freedberg

Quote from: Frank Tthe Great Tiger's son fell from grace as he took his mate by force, angering the Great Tigress who caused his genitals to shrink and eventually fall off. To date, no Barbarian will ever take a woman by force. (I included this because I really do not want to see rape in this game.)

I just wanted to note that the "no rape rule" is very faithful to what I've seen of the original Conan stories. His raw, musky masculinity (did I just write that?) can be overpowering, but he never actually physically overpowers anyone; and in several places he explicitly states that he never has taken a woman against her will. He's a pirate, thief, murderer, and serious he-slut, but he's not a rapist.

I think this is a very, very, very good precedent to follow. It establishes that (a) there are some things you just can't do and still be a hero (b) what kind of manly man are you if the woman doesn't want you and you have to force her, anyway?

How do you enforce this in game? I dunno. Maybe the Curse of the Great Tigress will shrivel any player-character's balls if he tries. Maybe a woman saying "no" and slapping you is an unbeatable weapon in your mechanics, just like you can't survive a 1,000-foot-fall in most RPGs. Maybe it Just Doesn't Happen. But anything approaching a realistic depiction of non-consensual sex takes this game (to put it mildly) very far from the kind of light-hearted romp that Frank seems to be shooting for.

Frank T

Thanks everybody, that's some good suggestions.

First of all, Sidney, I am with you, Real Men don't rape. Only the most wicked villain would do that. There is, actually, a rule regarding this, I just missed out on it in the translation. The rule goes:

"The Great Tigress will punish the rapist severely. His genitals shrink and quit service. His Virility drops to zero, and he loses the ability to have Aggression or Horny. Also, he will be banned from Barbarian society."

[rules lawyer] If you should ever need to make a roll for a rape, simply make it a comparative check of strenght against strength. [/rules lawyer]

This whole loyalty theme could really add nicely. It should fit in with the other relationships. Something like "Liege". The question remains: Are the relationship rules okay as they are? Or should I somehow mechanically enforce the use of relationships?

Ron, I really like the idea of The Mistress. I am musing how that could fit into the rules as they now stand. If such an NPC were to be introduced, I would probably require the whole group's approval. I would also need some rules set as to when the warrior can overcome his obsession. Maybe this Mistress does not only have Reluctance, but also Dominance or something, and the warrior must beat her with his Attractiveness... Just a quick shot. Any suggestions by the others?

This "very special NPC" thing could be something worth expanding. I already have, in the German version, the Goddess as "special NPC", stating that choosing a woman who is a literal Goddess as a Central Person requires the group's approval, and choosing her as Central Person for more than one adventure. So we could have:

The Goddess. She is a jewel with which to adorn yourself, but you will have to defend her from others all your life.

The Mistress. See above and keep your hands on the table where I can see them.

The Nemesis. An especially capable warrior that hates you with all his guts, whom to vanquish is a life quest.

How about that?

Ron Edwards


I'd think the game would work best when the player can choose who becomes (of all available women) The Woman, (of all available foes) The Nemesis, and (of all available chiefs) The Chieftain, for his or her character.


Frank T

What just strikes me as an addition to the loyalty theme is something like a blood oath between equals, blood brothers so to say. That would make most sense between Player Characters. It could of course be included as a suggestion, but heck, it could even be a rule.

"The Player Characters are brothers, if not by birth, then by blood oath."


I wouldn't make the blood oath a rule, but rather an option.

And I'd look to borrow some Trust Mechanics from The Mountain Witch to implement it.  Basically, the more the two tag-team around as brothers the greater their Trust gets.  The greater their trust gets the greater advantage they can give each other in scenes where they are working together.   I'd do something like each blood brother can use the advantage if they want to, but once they do they have to wait for the other brother to use it before they can use it again.  Like the doubling cube in Backgammon.

Then I'd allow the advantage to also be used to betray the blood brother.  If you have the advantage (i.e. your brother used it last) you can use that advantage to completely screw over your blood brother is some suitably nasty way.  Doing so severs the blood brother relationship and earns you LOTS of XPs (enough to be a serious temptation).  I'd probably have some base XPs based on the level of the Trust with a multiplier indicating the degree of the betrayal (Steal his woman (small w) x1, Abandon him to your enemies x2, Get him thrown in prison x3, Get him killed x4, Kill him yourself x5, Steal / kill his Woman (capital W) x6.

That gives you a built in tension.  The longer the brothers work together, the higher the trust goes, the greater their in game effectiveness due to the Trust Advantage...and the greater the temptation to snag a ton of XPs for being the one to betray.

And really, what story about brothers who swore a blood oath is worth beans unless there's a betrayal involved.  I mean betraying your blood  brother is the only reason to even bother mentioning such things in a story anyway.