Any time there’s a discussion about what’s the best Sword & Sorcery RPG, Barbarians of Lemuria (BoL) comes up. With good reason, it’s a great and simple game.
There three versions/editions of Barbarians of Lemuria; the original free version, Legendary Edition, and Mythic Edition. All three versions are very much the same at the basic level. Careers instead of hard skills, mysterious magic, and a 2d6 task resolution system. Hey wait? Isn’t there another sword & sorcery game with a 2d6 task resolution. Yep, Barbaric! for Cepheus Quantum.
While both games have different design philosophies, the underlying game mechanics are quite similar and thus making them perfect for kit bashing and home brewing. Now there a few big differences. First, come to damage. An average character in Barbaric! could take about 21 points of damage (END 7+Lifeblood 14). While in BoL, an average character could take 10 points. In Barbaric!, a sword does 3d6. In BoL, 1d6+Strength. Second, Skills (in Barbaric!) versus Careers (in BoL). The Skills in Barbaric are broad but the Careers in BoL are even broader and a bit more narrative about when you can gain a benefit. And lastly, magic is different but still uses a 2D6 resolution system.
Taking those differences into account, it makes very easy to add a few bits of one game and add or replace it with the bits of the other. Maybe add a little more detail to player characters using a character generation system more like BoL but monsters and NPC’s simple like in Barbaric! Maybe just switch out the magic systems with a little tweak here or there.
Now, this idea just popped into my head and I haven’t come up exactly what I would do but hopefully, this little post might inspire someone out there to take two great games and with a little home brewing make them something special and cool for your gaming group.
Yes, things are crazy and I’m way behind especially on writing up some stuff for Barbaric! I’ve got an adventure, a setting and another little surprise in the works. But for this post I want to talk a little about Clerics.
Barbaric! is a solid sword & sorcery game. But since many come from the world of d20’s, they’ll notice there’s no equivalent to clerics. There’s just magic. Sure it does the same things but it’s all cast into the same bucket. This is perfectly fine depending on your setting and what tone the GM wants in the game.
There’s a couple of ways that I’ve thought of that you could do this. First, there’s the easy way. Just divide up to the spell list. These spells are for clerics and the others for sorcerers/magic-users. How exactly you break that list down once again will depend on the specific world.
The second method that I thought is via “Blessings”. “Blessings” are just traits. The GM will still make a list dependent on the setting/gods/pantheon. Each “spell” is a separate Blessing, for example, there would be a Respite Blessing and a Convalescence Blessing and so on through the spell list. Each Blessing retains the same TN to cast as the respective spell but the caster/cleric would make a Lore Check. To give this idea an even more different feel, don’t use the Spell Mishaps. Instead, each failure incurs a cumulative – 1 DM on further attempts until the character’s total roll is a 2 or less. Then the character cannot cast/pray for any further Blessings that day. The character’s casting DM is reset after 8 hours of rest+1 hour of prayer/meditation per -1 DM. So a -2 DM would take two hours of prayer.
Yes, I know this a bare bones post. It’s an idea for GM’s to run with use how they see fit for their campaign and setting. Of course, you can also use a similar system for cultists or druids. Enjoy!
It’s been way too long since I wrote anything about Xoth and it’s coming back to my mind with a vengeance. In case you’ve been keeping up, I’m trying to get the old gaming group back together.
I’ll admit that I have nothing against the Standard D&D type game and I can even tolerate the Cantina Scene type parties. But then there’s times when I want to go all Swords & Sorcery. For me, that means Conan and Robert E Howard. So it’s back to Xoth as one of my pitches.
I had picked some of the stuff way back when during the days of Pathfinder 1St Edition. Sure I played Pathfinder but I never would want to run it. But I liked the writing and changes so much that it always stayed in the back of mind.
This gets me to where we are today. I was searching the Internets and lo, there’s a 5E Player’s Guide for Xoth. Now this could be interesting and it is. This takes the 5E rules and makes them perfectly friendly to a grimmer more down to earth type of campaign.
Let me break the basics down for you. First, Races & Classes. It’s all human but there’s still various “cultures” that replace the mechanics of Race. There’s the Savage, Civilized, Enlightened, Decadent, and Degenerate. Each gets a stat boost and some neat skill-boosts/tricks. But each as a disadvantage. And their pretty big disadvantages. Like the Savage. +2 Strength, +1 AC, Advantage on Perception Checks. Cool right? Oh wait. You also take disadvantage on attack rolls against aberrations, undead, and fiends. It’s a cool tweak.
Then there’s classes. Of course, all of the classes aren’t allowed because they just don’t fit the setting. So, there’s no Bards, Clerics, Paladins, Wizards, and Sorcerers. The remaining have some tweaks. No archetypes that have any magical or “super” abilities. No Eldritch Knights or Arcane Tricksters. Rangers don’t have spells but they get some other tricks. And the Druid and Warlock have some additional tweaks to them. And there’s three new classes: Conqueror (sort of the Paladin replacement), Cultist (as close as you’re going to get to a cleric), and Courtesan (Bard/Social class).
And of course there some rules tweaks on spells, magic items, healing and combat. All of it giving the campaign that Howard type feel. Oh and the best part the Players Guide to Xoth is free. Available on Xoth.net and DrivethruRPG. Note: On DrivethruRPG, you’ll have to login since it’s behind the adult filter because there be boobies.
If you want a more detailed review you can check this one out.
So back to what I might do with this. Of course, I could just use it with 5E. It’s the RPG that most of the players are familiar with. But then I’m a crazy OSR guy. So I can pull up Swords & Wizardry, Crypts & Things, or even my own Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery and run with that. Sure I’ll do some tweaking and house rules and all of those rules are kissing cousins. But since I’ve got a bunch of Pathfinder and now 5E stuff, it’s really easy to convert that material into an old school game. But then Barbaric! is another of my newly found favorites. Sure it’s easy on the rules crunch and character generation but conversion will take some doing.
What’s actually going to happen? I dunno. But I’ll keep posting about it here and we’ll see what happens.