Sell me on Barbarians of Lemuria

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Toadmaster

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As the title says. I am a crunchy gamer BRP and HERO being two favorites, with GURPS waiting in the wings to usurp the crown.

However I do stray at times and can appreciate a less complex game as long as it doesn't get too abstract. Big fan of Conan and S&S which is the target audience for the game.

Please don't tell me it uses dice pools, we hates dice pools...

:thumbsup:
 
Don't worry, there are no dice pools. The common roll is 2d6+modifiers against a target number of 9. Advantages and drawbacks can turn that into roll-3-keep-the-2-highest or roll-3-keep-the-2-lowest, but it's all pretty basic.

As for selling you on it, well, it's a surprisingly simple and elegant game that has just about everything you might need for a somewhat cheesy S&S experience. Tons of different archetypical cultures, all of them their own kind of badass, a loose but functional magic system based on preparation and exotic requirements, and a bizarre range of creatures and monsters that resemble prehistoric animals.

I am especially fond of the career system. Careers are like broad skills, like Sailor, Mercenary, Thief or Scholar. You pick four at chargen, thus instantly granting your character the sort of checkered past that S&S protagonists invariably seem to have.
 
I added the first 2 versions of BoL (the free ones) to Resources. The second edition is where the current system started at.

There is also a version of BoL for The Black Hack, which adapts the career system for OSR games.
 
BoL is one of the best designed games I've come across. I does rules-lite without flattening or abstracting everything. With it's carrer system it allows players to build colourful characters without sacrificing thier effectiveness in combat. It also genre emulation beautifully without instrusive, heavy-handed mechanics, as with it's unique character advancement system and the armour rules.

Bear in mind, I'm not even like fantasy/S&S that much!
 
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I am especially fond of the career system. Careers are like broad skills, like Sailor, Mercenary, Thief or Scholar. You pick four at chargen, thus instantly granting your character the sort of checkered past that S&S protagonists invariably seem to have.
Do you have to pick four different ones or is there any advantage to taking a career more than once?
 
Do you have to pick four different ones or is there any advantage to taking a career more than once?

You have to pick four different ones. After that, you distribute 4 points among them, so you can prioritise them differently if you want - like, maybe one is your true calling, while another is more like a sideline you took up for a few months to make ends meet - but you always start with exactly four careers.
 
When distributing the 4 points Baeraad mentioned, you can choose not to allot any points to a career you've chosen (I.e., Rank 0), which means you have only a rudimentary understanding of or experience in said career.
 
Yes, I gave Grey Mouser Magician 0 and Scholar 0 to go along with his Thief 3 and Tumbler 1. He's a dabbler in academic pursuits, can read a spellbook if it's put in front of him but usually has no idea what he's looking at. Whereas I gave Fafhrd Thief 0 and Pirate 0 along with his Barbarian 2 and Minstrel 2--he's a thief by trade but not by training.
 
I have been able to stat up Conan, Fafhrd, Grey Mouser, Aragorn in his Thorongil guise, Sokka from Avatar, Moist von Lipwig, and Carrot Ironfounderson as starting BoL characters. It's wonderful as a pick-up game.
 
Job done, you've piqued my interest.

It has more depth to it than I expected, I thought it was more narrative on nature. I can definitely see the appeal for short notice or revolving player type games, open game room con games etc.

I like the 4 career thing too, that fits the kind of characters I like to make. One of the reasons I tend to chafe under class based games.

I added the first 2 versions of BoL (the free ones) to Resources. The second edition is where the current system started at.

There is also a version of BoL for The Black Hack, which adapts the career system for OSR games.

Thanks, I'll take a look at that as well, but it sounds pretty good for running a quick and easy game.


So, my coworkers. :hehe:

I think everybody knows these people. I know I've certainly worked with my share.
 
It's also very easy to tweak BoL for a "grittier" play experience -- in the past I've reduced the number of Hero Points, changed the uses for Hero Points, and/or dispensed with Rabble rules depending on the setting and the desired feel.
 
Just to play devil's advocate I've never been sure about the 9+ resolution mechanic. If I created, for example, a mighty thewed barbarian with Strength 3 and Melee 3 (both of which seem like reasonable numbers for the character concept) then I only need to roll a three or higher to make a successful attack. Or am I missing something?
 
Just to play devil's advocate I've never been sure about the 9+ resolution mechanic. If I created, for example, a mighty thewed barbarian with Strength 3 and Melee 3 (both of which seem like reasonable numbers for the character concept) then I only need to roll a three or higher to make a successful attack. Or am I missing something?
Don' think you're missing anything. There's not a lot of granularity on a 2d6. If it's long campaigns you're after with lots of character improvement, BoL isn't going to scratch that itch.
 
Just to play devil's advocate I've never been sure about the 9+ resolution mechanic. If I created, for example, a mighty thewed barbarian with Strength 3 and Melee 3 (both of which seem like reasonable numbers for the character concept) then I only need to roll a three or higher to make a successful attack. Or am I missing something?

You would subtract the target's Defence stat from the to-hit roll. I houserule that for all foes (except Rabble) you also subtract the target's Agility.
 
Don' think you're missing anything. There's not a lot of granularity on a 2d6. If it's long campaigns you're after with lots of character improvement, BoL isn't going to scratch that itch.

Yes it doesn't seem geared toward the whole zero-to-hero thing, although I suppose you could modify starting point allocations.

You would subtract the target's Defence stat from the to-hit roll. I houserule that for all foes (except Rabble) you also subtract the target's Agility.

Ah okay thanks, that seems a little more balanced.

I was wondering mostly because I do like a lot of things about the system and was thinking of picking up the generic rules set.
 
Yes it doesn't seem geared toward the whole zero-to-hero thing, although I suppose you could modify starting point allocations.

Ah okay thanks, that seems a little more balanced.

I was wondering mostly because I do like a lot of things about the system and was thinking of picking up the generic rules set.

You can still run extended campaigns with BoL, but Iceman is correct -- it probably won't be very satisfying if you and your players want mechanical improvements (higher stats, powers, etc.). You could modify starting point allocations, tweak experience point costs, use 2d10 instead of 2d6 with higher maximum trait values, use the "class/level" advancement variant from The BoL Hack, etc.

IMHO, a "fulfilling" BoL campaign looks and feels more like a Traveller campaign, in the sense that the success of the character is measured more by their increased status and renown in the game world, as well as their wealth (if you disregard the "blow all your coin on wine and wenching" aspect of BoL.) One could even dispense with the BoL experience system completely in favor of Classic Traveller's "spend money and time on training" approach, something I've considered but not actually implemented.
 
Yes it doesn't seem geared toward the whole zero-to-hero thing, although I suppose you could modify starting point allocations.

That would actually be a plus for me. I don't really have time for long extended campaigns. I prefer to skip the whole zero part. :smile:



Hell, I have a nasty feeling that I am one of those people... :errr:

According to Arnold Schwarzenegger 74% of people hate their job. You really can't expect somebody that hates their job to put many points into it. :wink:

I liked my job, thought it was pretty fun working in the woods, lots of travel but there were still quite a few who were only there for the paycheck. They couldn't give a rats ass about the agency's mission, serving the public or even enjoy getting paid to be out in the forest.
We had a guy who worked as a patrol. His whole job was driving around the forest and talking to campers but you couldn't pry his fat ass out of the office with a 10 foot crowbar...
 
Yes it doesn't seem geared toward the whole zero-to-hero thing, although I suppose you could modify starting point allocations.
I see no reason that you can't start out weak and end up strong. It's just that statistical improvements will be less frequent than with some other games.
 
I see no reason that you can't start out weak and end up strong. It's just that statistical improvements will be less frequent than with some other games.

Sure, it's just that my impression is that RAW characters start strong and, after really only a few 'level ups' become very strong, so that it becomes trivially easy for them to succeed (at the things they specialise in). It's just a personal reservation I have about the system.
 
Might have missed it if it was mentioned upthread: is it in print and who publishes it? I'm somewhat interested as it sounds closer to what I'd want in a fantasy game than D&D offers.
 
It's worth mentioning that the Barbarians of Lemuria rules engine has been adapted for a game called Everywhen -- a GURPS-style toolkit letting you build campaigns in any genre (fantasy, science fiction, modern-day, etc.). Everywhen and BoL are essentially compatible, and the former has some extra dials and levers you can add to BoL if you want a bit more structure. For example, Everywhen includes rules for environmental hazards, falling damage, etc., which aren't found in BoL. It also has an optional derived stat called "resolve," which measures psychic trauma in the same way lifeblood measures physical damage.

Everywhen is poorly written and organized, IMO... it was a chore to get through and really needed some more edit-passes for basic clarity... but if you're willing to shell out the $10 for the PDF it's got content you can mine for BoL.
 
According to Arnold Schwarzenegger 74% of people hate their job. You really can't expect somebody that hates their job to put many points into it. :wink:

I liked my job, thought it was pretty fun working in the woods, lots of travel but there were still quite a few who were only there for the paycheck. They couldn't give a rats ass about the agency's mission, serving the public or even enjoy getting paid to be out in the forest.
We had a guy who worked as a patrol. His whole job was driving around the forest and talking to campers but you couldn't pry his fat ass out of the office with a 10 foot crowbar...

Heh. I think the problem for me is that there is literally nothing in the world that I wouldn't grow to hate if I had to do it eight hours a day, five days a week, year in and year out.

Sure, it's just that my impression is that RAW characters start strong and, after really only a few 'level ups' become very strong, so that it becomes trivially easy for them to succeed (at the things they specialise in). It's just a personal reservation I have about the system.

Starting characters are definitely a cut above regular people, yeah. Like, common Rabble usually have 0s in all their stats and a single career also at 0 - starting PCs have an average of 1 in each stat and four careers. You're not a superhero or anything, but you're extremely competent - which I'd say is pretty fitting for a genre where the protagonist is usually the biggest badass in the entire world.

But as far as players succeeding at every roll goes, er... that depends on what they try to do? I mean, the harder something is, the higher the penalties are. Of course your master thief can pick a pocket with trivial ease - the real question is, can he steal the Eye of Boogadiboo from the Temple of Absolute Ickiness and live to tell the tale? :wink:

(I'll note, though, that one of my complaints about the game was that it didn't offer much in the way of explanations for how difficult a task needed to be for a certain modifier. I mean, apparently a Hard task gets a -1 penalty and a Demanding task gets a -4 penalty, and that's fine as far as it goes, but it'd be interesting to know just what a Hard task looks like and how much harder it has to get before it's Demanding...)
 
Should one get the Mythic or Legendary editions? Reading mixed things about Mythic (changes unnecessary/not in the spirit of the game).
 
Should one get the Mythic or Legendary editions? Reading mixed things about Mythic (changes unnecessary/not in the spirit of the game).
Each version is longer than its predecessor, although more of the padding in Mythic comes from setting details than from mechanics. I'm happy with all of them, all the way back to the initial free version on 1km1kt. You certainly don't need Mythic, especially if you're not planning to run the setting.
 
I own it. Anything in particular you would like to know about the product?

Oh, that looks interesting too. What is the general feel, is it a historical / mythology style of play (Homer etc) or over the top (300)? Would it work well to run a game like the 1963 Jason & the Argonauts film?
 
Oh, that looks interesting too. What is the general feel, is it a historical / mythology style of play (Homer etc) or over the top (300)? Would it work well to run a game like the 1963 Jason & the Argonauts film?
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Oh, that looks interesting too. What is the general feel, is it a historical / mythology style of play (Homer etc) or over the top (300)? Would it work well to run a game like the 1963 Jason & the Argonauts film?

It should. Given that BoL is about pulpy sword & sorcery heroes, HoH flipped that to Ancient Greece and the mythic heroes. It was written for Legendary edition though, so if you have Mythic, it might require a little tweaking here or there. An update is supposed to be in the works, but the author hasn't post on the forums for BoL in awhile
 
Filigree Forge is publishing it now, but they don't really have a web presence.

They do, just not a webpage. They have an official FB page. There are also groups for Bol/Everywhen on G+, MeWe, Facebook, and of course the Champions of Lemuria forums
 
Oh, that looks interesting too. What is the general feel, is it a historical / mythology style of play (Homer etc) or over the top (300)? Would it work well to run a game like the 1963 Jason & the Argonauts film?

Heroes of Hellas, like other games using the Barbarians of Lemuria engine, simulates action heroes who can mow through lesser foes like paper and who need give little heed to the realities of less elevated protagonists (e.g., resource management, lingering wounds, etc.). Basically the rule of thumb is: "If you can imagine Conan doing it, you can probably give it a go."

So, given the three topics you ask about, I'd evaluate the game as follows:

Over the Top: This is the style the game best simulates. Heroes of Hellas presupposes a world of mighty heroes, magic, monsters, and meddling gods. If you want Ray Harryhausen monsters and Ursula Andress playing Aphrodite, this is your game. If you want Leonidas laughing and slaying Persians left and right in the middle of a Persian arrow-storm, this is your game.

Historical: Not all "ancient Greeks" were the same. In particular, the Mycenaeans and Minoans of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1500 - 1300 BC) often get conflated with their much later Iron Age descendants of the classical era despite being separated by hundreds of years of time. Heroes of Hellas mixes up the same anachronistic stew. It presupposes a Bronze Age level of development, complete with Dendra Panoply armor, palace-states, and chariot-conveyed warrior-aristocrats, but then throws in phalanx-fighting hoplites, pankration boxers, coinage, the Olympic Games, and other Iron Age add-ons. If you're looking for a strict historical game in which you play, say, the fourth son of the wanax of Iolcus in 1300 BC, who's on a sensitive diplomatic mission to a Luwian vassal polity of the Hittite Empire, which in turn is embroiled in a viper's nest of power-politics with the Middle Assyrian Empire over the ultimate disposition of the long-suffering Mitanni Kingdom... no, the setting as written doesn't support such things, though you doubtless could use the engine to play such a campaign. Of course, the myths themselves were a hodgepodge of anachronisms, which leads me to...

Mythology: The Olympian gods are real. Monsters plague the land. You can be a Medea-esque magician or an Orpheus-esque bard able to cast actual spells. Centaurs and minotaurs are available as PC types. That said, keeping in mind the "Conan rule," you are an action hero, not a superhero, even if you are a demigod (which you can be). If you want your Heracles to be the mightiest warrior of the land, capable of wrestling lions and shooting bronze-feathered birds out of the sky, that's doable. If you want your Heracles to literally, not metaphorically, hoist the sky on his shoulders and divert the course of rivers with his mighty biceps, Heroes of Hellas as written does not cater to that.
 
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This is fascinating stuff. I just want to know if there's Lemurs as a playable option.

I'll get me coat....
 
Should one get the Mythic or Legendary editions? Reading mixed things about Mythic (changes unnecessary/not in the spirit of the game).

Although the Mythic Edition is thicker with setting info (as others have mentioned), it also has handy rules for ship combat and mass battles, both of which were lacking in the Legendary Edition. I'd say get Mythic, then pick up the dirt-cheap Legendary PDF and mine it for whatever changes you want (the two are extremely compatible.)

I can't speak to changes "not in the spirit of the game," since I'm sure there are those who would level the same charge at some of my houserules. :grin:
 
Thanks guys, I'll pick up Mythic.
 
If you get Mythic, get the version with the illustration on the cover, not the plain cover edition. For whatever reason, the former has been updated with errata, and the latter has not - despite repeated requests ...
 
Although the Mythic Edition is thicker with setting info (as others have mentioned), it also has handy rules for ship combat and mass battles, both of which were lacking in the Legendary Edition.
That's a good point. I have yet to need those mechanics in any of my games, but that doesn't mean other won't.
 
If you can read French the translated version published by Ludosphérik is goddamn gorgeous (all illustrated by Emmanuel Roudier). And they have an additional supplement called Chroniques Lémuriennes with a bunch of new adventures and other cool stuff.
 

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