Tag Archives: Sword & Sorcery

Barbaric! for Lemuria

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.

How’d The Weekend Gaming Go?

Well, it went pretty good. Our little group kicked off the 5E Sword & Sorcery game. As I said before I took a lot of the rules from Xoth.

The party consists of a barbarian, monk, druid, and courtier. The courtier player couldn’t make it so an NPC (Fighter/Rogue) stepped in to keep them from totally getting their butts kicked.

This was combo of Session 0 and intro adventure. Actually, we did a lot of the Session 0 stuff before hand via a Facebook Group. It was pretty simple at the beginning. Guard a merchant caravan through the desert. What could go wrong? At first, not much. Some bandits tried to sneak into the caravan at night and steal some stuff. No problem for our group of adventurers.

Then I did a little railroading. OK, a lot of railroading. I wanted to create an event that would give the characters a reason to bond even if it was against a common enemy. So the player characters (+another guard) got drugged and wake up in chains. They had been handed over to a bunch of slavers. Since I pulled this little nasty narrative trick on them, I did give them each an Inspiration Point.

Of course, the barbarian rages and breaks his chains and the fight begins (without a real plan by the party). It was bloody and tough fight for the PC’s who didn’t have any armor or weapons. The NPC who really saved their bacon was the no-name, no-class, lowly NPC guard. With just damned lucky rolls, he was able to wrestle the Slaver Boss to ground and keep him occupied for half the fight. Ah, when the dice decide that they want the story to in an odd direction, that’s a cool thing about gaming.

The party frees the other slaves and quickly realize that the slavers weren’t nice folks and that they only had about half the water they needed to make it out of the desert. It was a tough trip and a couple of the NPC’s died along the way but they made it to the big city and new they are looking for that bastard merchant who double crossed them.

And on a final, I’ve already had a couple of folks inquire about starting a second game. But more on that later.

Getting The Band Back Together

Well, it’s been a year of almost no gaming at all. Sure there have been little tiny blasts of playtesting something or a little one shot but nothing solid.

Finally, I just made the time to do some gaming. Half the players are from the Thursday Night Crew and the other half are pretty much brand new. Of course, the extra challenge is that half the group has never gamed with the other half. So we’ll see how that goes. There was a very early no politics rule right up front.

So what are we playing? Well, the newbies have only been exposed to 5E so I thought that was the best way to start before throwing them into an old school game (which IMHO would be easier to run online). Plus it’s the only books that everyone has access to. Now I did cut down on choices and options and our campaign is going to be mostly based around Xoth with some extras thrown in to make it have a bit of the weird tone and inspiration from Hyperborea.

I have high hopes that this will be a fun one. I’ll do some random posts about the antics and few things that I feel are just neat. So if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish up planning their first adventure.

Hyperborean thoughts

If you’ve been living under rock then you haven’t heard about the 3rd Edition Kickstarter for Hyperborea (Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea). I really like this game and especially the tone and setting. The variety of classes that are available are awesome and the monsters are just down right cool. I did do a quick little recap of my thoughts on this post.

This is a great game. I’m in no way saying you shouldn’t go out and support this one. Heck, I know that I will. I’m just thinking about how much money I want to throw at the Kickstarter. I already have PDF’s of the 1st and 2nd Editions. Note: I do have a fondness for the original cover. So I still really want this for all the updates. But I still have fresh in my mind a more recent post, What games are you playing? What’s gathering dust? I do have to admit to myself that this might end up in the reference/inspiration section. Please, don’t take this as that’s there’s anything wrong with it. I really like the game. I know already said that.

I’m always kitbashing and making house rules. I don’t think that there’s a single game that I run that isn’t modified in some way. Some more than others. I suppose that if I were ever to run my own fantasy heartbreak campaign, it would take about half dozen rule books with little bits and bobs taken from here and there.

So yes. I know that I’m going to back this one. I just haven’t decided on what level yet. I really want to grab up hard copies. I’m just trying to justify it to myself. And that’s really why I’m rambling here. Hmm. How much do I want to spend?

That Old School State of Mind

Well, I opened my mouth and the gang answered. So looks like it’s time head back into the DM chair. Sure I’m an old-school guy and that’s what I prefer but about half the players are brand new and their only exposure is to 5 E. So I figured I break them in gently and run 5 E. I know. Like many others, I’m still a bit miffed about a bunch of the crap that WOTC has pulled but I’ve already got the core books so what the heck.

When 5E came out there was a rush to make it more old school. I even was thinking that way. Thinking more and more about it. There’s more than just game mechanics when it that old school style of play. There’s rulings not rules. Flying by the seat of your pants and making up thing as you go along.

Many of us old timers complain about the reliance on skills. It’s OK to hit those skill uses with the rulings not rules. In general, I go towards the “Tell me what you’re doing and then I’ll tell what to roll”. If the description is good enough then there might not even be a need for a roll. And how difficult is that check? Well, it depends. Just think about: “I search the room for traps.” “I search the desk for traps.” “I search the desk drawer for traps.” And “I search the strange box that we found in the desk drawer for traps.” So make it up.

The other complaint is about the social skills. That really falls into the “Tell me first” category. Do something cool enough and there might not even need to a roll. Then there’s also the complaint that there’s no need for them. Well, I do like them but I don’t few them as “hard” skills. It’s not just roll. It’s always a description. If there needs to be a roll then I view it as a measure of those things that the player may not be able to articulate like subtle intonations, body language, and timing.

But what about healing? It’s so fast in 5E. OK. Just google it. There’s plenty of options out there. Personally, this I’m leaning for the idea of characters gaining a level of exhaustion every time they do to 0 HP. Characters end up with penalties without screwing around with a lot of underlying mechanics.

All those crazy class abilities and feats and stuff? What about that? Well, that’s a tough one. In the hey day of 2nd Edition, there were all those crazy Kits. So I’m kind of bring up those memories and how to deal with it. It’s either learn all of it. Be like most players and just know the rough abilities of each character. Or just make it up as you go along. Yeah. I’m saying that one a lot.

And sure there’s thing about “balanced” encounters and long and usually tragic back stories. Get all that crap out of the way at beginning even before you start.

Yes, I know things are different when you run at a con, FLGS, or some other public venue. However, private games. Just talk and explain to the players. Some may like it. Some won’t. Some might whine or stamp their feet and walk out. It’s always been opinion that it’s not the public and organized play that really makes the “game”. It’s all those private games that you never hear about.

No matter the edition. Remember. Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Taker their stuff. And have fun.