Tag Archives: Barbaric!

Clerics for Barbaric!

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!

Xoth, Not Forgotten

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.

Alternate Wound System for Cepheus Quantum

You know me, I have to play around with rules. I know I just put out Death Stalkers of Antediluvia but there’s some ideas that didn’t’ end up in the book but I still think are kind of cool.

I wanted to do something with the wounds that would make it easier for folks who aren’t used to the traditional Cepheus mechanics and wanted to do something that could be a little more cinematic. Of course, it had to simple and roughly compatible with existing material too.

Start off by rolling 6D for Lifeblood. (Hang on it will make sense in a second.)

Divide the total by three. Do NOT round and keep the remainder handy.

Each third is a “level” of wounds. First is Endurance just like the core rules. ADD that remainder, if any, to Endurance. Then you would have Wounds. Then finally Mortal Wounds.

Penalties follow roughly the same pattern as the regular core rules. When Endurance reaches 0 then -1 DM. When Wounds reach 0 then the character is out of action. When Mortal Wounds reach 0 then it’s time to make that Death Save.

Healing occurs at the same rate as the core rules.

When a character advances, roll 1D for Lifeblood and recalculate.

I know this isn’t any ground breaking sort of rule. But hope some folks find it handy.

Some More Thoughts on Sword & Sorcery

It’s been a while since I did rant about sword & sorcery as a genre. That last post Sword & Sorcery: It’s More Than Just No Elves was pretty popular and since I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Barbaric! and other games, I figured it was time for another post. This time I want to talk a little more about characters and focus on the diversity of skills and abilities.

So let me get this part out of the way first. This is opinion. Some folks have a hard time understanding that.

I think the first thing to say is that very few people agree on what exactly Sword & Sorcery is and where the lines are between High Fantasy, Heroic Fantasy, and Sword & Sorcery. Sure there have been more scholarly articles written on the subject and don’t look for that sort of thing here. Instead, you’re getting just my silly opinion as it goes for gaming.

I’m going to jump right in and probably catch hell for this. Is D&D (any edition) Sword & Sorcery? Yes and no. And I think other games can do it better. As I posted before it’s more than just no elves. Sure you can have elves, dwarves, and halflings and still have a game be “Sword & Sorcery”. However, I feel these races still have a heavy Tolkien style connections (which I feel is more Heroic or High Fantasy) that give the players a preconceived notion of the game. And speaking of preconceived notions, when you sit down with D&D style rules, players will expect a D&D style game. And going even further out on a limb, IMHO, over the years D&D has become it’s own sub-genre somewhere between all the aforementioned sub-genres with elements of all of them wrapped and presented in different ways in different worlds. That’s all cool. But I feel characters get caught in a niche.

Sword & Sorcery characters tend to have a broader range of skills than characters normally have when they are tied to a class/level system. So I decided to some digging the ancient archives of D&D and see how some of the iconic characters were handled “officially”. I’m not do full stat blocks but just looking at class and level as a general idea.

Let’s look at the Barbarian to rule them all, Conan. According to the old TSR modules Conan Unchained and Conan Against Darkness, Conan is a 13th Level Fighter and 7th Level Thief. Conan Unchained, also gives us Valeria of the Red Brotherhood as 10th Level Fighter and 9th Level Thief. Pretty epic level characters and in the old days dual classing for humans was a pain. But other characters didn’t fair so well. In TSR’s Red Sonja Unconquered, Sonja is only an 11th fighter. According to Dragon No 57, Belit the Queen of the Black Coast is only a 10th level fighter (but has some special abilities). So in a way Red Sonja and Belit got short changed. And of course, Dragon No 36 has a more detailed write up of Conan at various ages/levels of experience. Compared to some other iconic characters, Howard’s Heroes are weaklings.

Next up let’s look at Deities & Demigods at that’s where things get really odd. Our favorite thieves of Lankhmar are stacked. Fafhrd has the abilities of a 15th Level Ranger/13th Level Thief/5th Level Bard. And Mouser; a 15th Level Thief/11th Level Fighter/3rd Level Magic-User. Also, we have a write up of Elric, a 19th Level Magic-User/15th Level Fighter/10th Level Cleric/10th Level Illusionist/10th Level Assassin/5th Level Druid. Wow.

Yes I know these are epic and iconic heroes. Your starting character isn’t going to be any where near that power level. The thing is your experienced or even “epic” character probably isn’t going to get any where near that power and diversity of abilities. I know why they are so amped up. Remember that guy back in the day? “I killed Elric and took Stormbringer. It’s a great match with Thor’s hammer. I killed him too.” Like I said, what I’m really looking at is diversity of skills and abilities.

It’s tough to do that diversity of skills without some odd dual classing/multiclassing. And that’s why I like RPG’s that are more skilled focused rather than class and level based for Sword & Sorcery. And yes. I did do my own little attempt to do this with Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery but still using the class/level system. But there’s plenty of other games to think about.

The grand daddy of Sword & Sorcery RPG’s is Barbarians of Lemuria. It’s a great game and plenty has been written about it. Up next, there’s Runequest. I personally like the older versions and dare I say the original MagicWorld and I’ve still got that crazy idea in my head. I know haven’t written about Savage Worlds in a long, long time. I think the best for Savage Worlds is Beast & Barbarians followed very closely by Legend of Steel. Of course, there’s also the Savage Worlds Lankhmar. And rounding out my top picks is of course, Barbaric! OK, I did mention Lankhmar so I need to mention the Dungeon Crawl Classics version. I like it and it’s got a lot of good things going for it and it’s a blast to play. But it still has a lot of the feel of a DCC game. (Note: I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I love DCC and a whole lot of other games.) Of course, there’s also GURPS. A personal pet peeve that I’ve developed over the years is that I don’t like games where I need a spread sheet to run or create my character. Keep it simple.

This post is already pretty long and chances are that I’ve ticked off somebody (probably on Facebook). There’s a lot of factors that go into making a game “Sword & Sorcery”. Not every one agrees on what those factors are and which games are and aren’t “Sword & Sorcery”. That’s perfectly OK. And I also know I rambled a lot. So let me finish up with this. Play your game the way you want to.