Posts Tagged ‘Barbarians of Lemuria’

Fun with Failure

Do you allow your players to declare that their characters automatically fail?

Let me tell you about my character. Trooper Shiv came from rural Georgia. He joined up with the 3:16 because in the unbearable lightness of the far future there were only so many jobs. So Shiv signed on the dotted line, went through basic on the moon, and promptly got shipped off to a war nobody could possibly be prepared for.

Shiv had a lot of bad luck. He was blinded on an early drop, and the replacement eyes the 3:16 gave him never actually worked. The best thing that ever happened to him was when he got stuck with an alien brain parasite. At last he had a friend.

He wasn’t a bad soldier. He just wasn’t the kind of guy things worked out for. A lot of the time, I’d roll the dice for him, and I’d be hoping for a failure. Not really to torment him, just because I didn’t really think that his story was a happy one.

In 3:16, there’s no upside to failing conflicts or even individual tasks.1 It’s not Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where you get points for taking one for the team or the story. I just hoped my character would fail.

One of the themes of Cavaliers of Mars is that characters’ fortunes swing wildly. While they’re generally competent, sometimes they’re just going to be down on their luck… and sometimes the dice are going to bring them low. But players can also choose to blow a task check. Specifically, they can choose to critically fail. In exchange, they get a point of Luck, so that things will swing back their way at some point in the future.

The Luck point is there to encourage certain kinds of drama, but the main reason characters are allowed to just fail is that I think that players should be able to shape the hardships their characters face. It’s really just an extension of allowing players to choose impossible odds.

Does a player deliberately screwing their character up break your immersion? Do you feel that your favorite rules cause failure often enough that letting a GM or player inflict more of it damages the tone of the game? I only addressed games with a roughly traditional player/GM divide here… are your preferences different when it comes to games like Fiasco?

 

  1. Although taking a Weakness can spare your character from getting killed.

Cavaliers of Mars rules announcement

Cavaliers of Mars

Cavaliers of Mars

In addition to Wushu, Cavaliers of Mars will ship with swashbuckling rules powered by Barbarians of Lemuria and Honor + Intrigue.

Some of the earliest playtests of Cavaliers of Mars were done with Barbarians of Lemuria, and Honor + Intrigue takes the game to the next level in providing exciting melee combat.

Cavaliers will feature new stealth infiltration and chase mechanics, as well as a number of other new, light subsystems.

The game will ship dual-statted for both Wushu and Barbarians. I’ll be posting some dev blogs in the future talking about the adaptation process.

Wilderlands of High Fantasy conversion for Barbarians of Lemuria

I’m a big fan of Simon Washbourne’s Barbarians of Lemuria roleplaying game. It’s a great, light system for fantasy adventure. I’m also a big fan of the Judges Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy setting, which is, to me, the standout achievement of early Dungeons & Dragons game design.1

A while back, I was planning a play-by-post campaign in the Wilderlands, and I wanted to use BoL. So I worked out the various Wilderlands national origins in BoL format. Here they are.

Alryan

The city folk of the large cities of the northern Wilderlands, such as the City State of the Invincible Overlord, Warwik and Modron.

Boons:

  • Keen Eyesight: Whenever you make a mind check to perceive something using your eyesight, you may roll one extra die.
  • Etiquette: You gain an extra die on any task where good form is important.

Flaw:

  • City dweller: Roll an extra die in situations to do with outdoor survival.

Antillian

Antillians, centered on the city of Antil, are cunning and disarmingly vicious. Antillians are terrifying merchants, willing and able to swindle at the drop of a copper; they are also a proud people, and they have taken the tradition of vendetta to hitherto unknown heights. They’re also sexist pricks.

Boons:

  • Bluff: Roll an extra die when trying to persuade someone of a dubious claim.
  • Sneaky: Roll an extra die where stealth is important.

Flaw:

  • Gender Bias: Roll an extra die when attempting to socialize with females. (This can apply to female characters as well, since the patriarchy can potentially fuck up the socialization of women, as well.)

Common Avalonian

The common humans in the city of Valon. They have an affinity for the sea and ice.

Boons:

  • Born sailor: When dealing with ships or carrying out physical activities on board ship (other than fighting), you may roll an extra die.
  • Power of the Arcane: You have two extra Arcane Power.

Flaws:

  • Missing Eye or Ear: Roll an extra die whenever the GM feels it is appropriate to the situation.
  • Missing Limb: Roll an extra die whenever the GM feels the situation is appropriate.

Common Orichalcan

There are few of these folk left, as most people with Orichalcan blood have been hunted down by the Altanians. Most that still exist either live in isolated communities (such as the Moonraker Moor Folk or the Roglo River Folk) or live in areas where they are not persecuted.

Boons:

  • Power of the Arcane: You have two extra Arcane Power.
  • Dragon’s Hide: You have slightly scaly skin, which gives you one point of protection from damage, even when not wearing armour.

Flaw:

  • Racism: Roll an extra die when attempting to socialize with characters of other races.

Common Viridian

Common Viridians are the basal population of the cities, towns and villages surrounding the Falling Empire of Viridistan.

Boons:

  • Learned: When recalling a fact from your area of specialty, you use an extra die.
  • Attractive: Roll an extra die in situations where good looks might be important.

Flaw:

  • City dweller: Roll an extra die in situations to do with outdoor survival.

Dunael

Dunael Woods-Folk originated in Dearthwood, where most can still be found, locked in eternal struggle against the Warriors of the Purple Claw.

Boons:

  • Forest Tracker: When tracking creatures or people in a forest environment, use an extra die.
  • Keen Scent: Whenever you make a mind check to perceive something using your sense of smell, you may roll one extra die.

Flaw:

  • Landlubber: Roll an extra die on activities whilst at sea.

Gishmesh

The Gishmesh are the people of the City State of Tarantis and the surrounding lands.

Boons:

  • Born sailor: When dealing with ships or carrying out physical activities on board ship (other than fighting), you may roll an extra die.
  • Great Wealth: Roll an extra die on any attempt to obtain any goods, services or items you need whilst in your home city.

Flaw:

  • Untrustworthy: Roll an extra die when the situation calls for someone to believe or trust you.

Skandik

The Skandik Sea Wolves are a water-loving people. They are ritually birthed in the water and spend most of their youth learning the ways of the sea.

Boons:

  • Born sailor: When dealing with ships or carrying out physical activities on board ship (other than fighting), you may roll an extra die.
  • Sea Tracker: When tracking creatures or people at sea, use an extra die.

Flaw:

  • Distrust of Sorcery: When dealing with wizards and alchemists, roll an extra die.

Karakhan

Known as Horse Lords, Karakhan are the people of the far-off Kingdom of Karak to the east.

Boons:

  • Beast Friend: Whenever dealing with animals, roll an extra die.
  • Steppe Tracker: When tracking creatures or people in a steppe environment, use an extra die.

Flaw:

  • Feels the Heat: Roll an extra die for any tasks undertaken in a hot desert environment.

Tharbrian

Tharbrians are eternal nomads of the central Wilderlands, having migrated into the Wilderlands from the far West.

Boons:

  • Tharbrian Saber: If using a Tharbrian saber, roll an extra die.
  • Fearsome Looks: Use an extra die whenever you are trying to force somebody to give you information or do something they don’t want to do.

Flaw:

  • Illiterate: You cannot read or write and you cannot choose a career with literacy as a requirement.

Altanian

The “barbarian” Altanians occupy the portion of the Pazidan Peninsula south of the City State of the Invincible Overlord known as Barbarian Altanis.

Boons:

  • Beast Friend: Whenever dealing with animals, roll an extra die.
  • Jungle Tracker: When tracking creatures or people in a jungle environment, use an extra die.

Flaw:

  • Illiterate: You cannot read or write and you cannot choose a career with literacy as a requirement.

Amazon

In the north, Amazons can be found in their castle near Sea Rune on the Pagan coast north of Ossary. They can also be found in the southern lands in and around the city of Rallu and near Ghinor and the Ament Tundra. Mercenary Amazons can be found in nearly every fighting force in the Wilderlands. Amazon sexism usually prevents males from receiving training with arms, although many are trained in other military capacities.

Boons:

  • Combat Precognition: Roll an extra die when wearing Amazon armor or no armor.
  • Forest Tracker: When tracking creatures or people in a forest environment, use an extra die.

Flaw:

  • Gender Bias: Roll an extra die when attempting to socialize with males. (Again, this Flaw can apply to male characters as well, because I’m an irritating post-modernist.)
  1. Empire of the Petal Throne deserves mention here, too.

Cavaliers of Mars Quick Start available now!

Cavaliers of Mars

Cavaliers of Mars

The free quick start adventure for Cavaliers of Mars is now available at DriveThruRPG. This demos the Wushu version of the rules; the full version will include both Wushu and Barbarians of Lemuria.

Return now to dying Mars in its last age of glory.

A planet of flashing swords and choking sands, of winking courtesans and lantern-lit canal cities. Mars, where fortune and death are two sides of the same obsidian chit, where lost cities and dry oceans stretch between the last bastions of civilization. Where the First Martians, the monument-builders, are but a haunted memory. Where the Red Martians become decadent and reckless in their last days. Where the Green Martians rule the wastes, remembering a history whose weight would crush a lesser people.

Tonight, find yourself in Vance at festival time. When revolutionaries strike a visiting prince, you’ll need to explore the city’s dark underbelly, before racing across its towered tombs! Save lives, end lives, and earn your water!

Live, fight, and love on Mars, a world of red death and strange mystery, a world of savagery and romance.

The quick start includes:

  • A complete adventure set in one of dying Mars’ greatest remaining cities.
  • The innovative Wushu rules, for high-flying, swashbuckling adventure.
  • Five pre-generated player characters, ready to get into the heart of the action.