Where I skim Tales of Gor

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AsenRG

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OK, I decided that doing a Where I Read would take too long. The "skimming" option, recently introduced on this forum, fits my time much better.

Preface: Tales of Gor is the ruleset for the setting of Gor. The "setting enciclopedia" is named World of Gor...and I might continue with it, if there was any interest.

We start by the cover.
The coverobviously (to me) depicts a Northerner (Torvaldslander) fighting a Kur. It's also obviously a ship-based Kur, since it's using an axe and shield as well, and not fighting like an animal. For that matter, the Torvaldslander is armed similarly and has a helmet, but the Kur's weapons are bigger, because he's got way more muscle.
In the background: an woman in a chain. It seems the Kur actually wants to get to her (the Kurii are noted in the books as preferring the meat of women, as it's more tender). She'd better hope the left-handed human warrior would prevail!



Second page:
Tales of Gor
GOREAN ROLEPLAYING
Fantastical Adventures on the Counter-Earth
Authorised and based on the Gorean books of John Norman


It also has a nice snippet, probably from some Gor book, which kinda sums up one of the lessons of the series: Life is to be lived, and theorizing on the "how" is missing the point.

Third page: contents. Nothing unexpected.

Next page: Introduction
It states clearly that "this book is intended as a companion to the World of Gor and as a role- playing game to play in the world described in that volume and in the Gorean cycle of fantasy novels. Both books are intended to be a fan resource for those who love the world of John Norman’s books and who wish to draw upon itin their own games, stories and when re-reading the novels again, as a companion".
In a word, familiarity with the books is expected. I don't think that's actually a precedent for licensed games, though.

It continues with "My Gor", where James Desbourough (a.k.a. Grim Grim on this forum) tells us how he got the Gor books and how they impacted him and many others (including being "thier first exposure to the aesthetic of BDSM and D/S, their first hint that this was something normal, or that it was a kink shared by others. The importance of that, to so many, along with his book Imaginative Sex cannot be underestimated".
There's also the part with a history of the series...which sounds like it might have been provided by John Norman himself, or his publishing agent. Judge for yourselves.
"Despite the great success of the Gorean cycle, selling between six and twelve million copies and Tarnsman of Gor being reprinted twenty-two times, the Gorean series was interrupted in 1988 when it was dropped by its publisher, allegedly for political reasons. There were, as a result, thirteen years between Magicians of Gor
in 1988 and Witness of Gor in 2001 and another seven years after that until Prize of Gor in 2008. 'Political correctness' in the late eighties and through the nineties made such sexually explicit and controversial fantasy difficult to know what to do with and the 'Social Justice Warrior' mindset of today causes similar problems.
Fortunately the Internet rose during the same period..." etc).

This is not without interest, but that's not what I'm reading this book for!

OK, next it starts to get interesting: we get an intro from the Scribe of Gor, the one who allegedly penned this manuscript. Actually, that's an Earthling...but he really liked Gor, as one can surmise from the very intro paragraph.


Role-Playing Games:
Well, it boils down to "make-believe with rules", and explains the concept of PC/GM separation. Of course, even if the book didn't state it explicitly, that would be a dead give-away that Grim Grim is not only expecting people to buy this book because they're fans of the Gor series (and it wouldn't make much sense to license the setting otherwise), he's also expecting that some of them might have never heard about RPGs before!
I'm curious whether he's right, but have no way to know.

Either way, the book confirms my suspicions: "It’s our hope that Tales of Gor will provide a common language and basis for the existing Gorean community and will provide an introduction to tabletop role-playing for those who love the novels.
For those who are already role-players it may introduce them to a classic series of science-fantasy fiction of a very different sort."

What different sort? Well...the next header is called "Race and Sex".

But that's enough for a first post. More on this next time:devil:!
 

soltakss

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I backed the Gor Kickstarter, as I was a fan of the Gor books when they were really atmospheric fantasy books. I was not so much a fan of the BDSM stuff, to be honest, although I can see the appeal of scantily-dressed slavegirls.

In my opinion, the rules do a good job of portraying Gor and don't play up the BDSM side. The World of Gor book is very good, I though, and describes the cultures and people of Gor very well.

There is a scenario that goes way over the top on the BDSM side, which is almost to be expected.

If I were to run a Gor campaign, I would use a D100 variant, probably Revolution based, with people rolled up using Modern Traits and then dropped into Gor, with many people using Fantasy Traits. I would use the World of Gor book as background and take odd rules from Tales of Gor.
 

AsenRG

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OK, that header introduces the concepts of R&S as they are applied to the setting. In short: sex is important, and so is gender (which the author notes is both a difference between the source material and other fantasy, and might not sit well with some readers...especially if they've already decided that this offends them). Important reminder: Gor is fantasy, and no more offensive than the fantasy plays people who like BD&SM enjoy in their bedrooms. And yet nobody claims that this impacts their everyday lives, right?
Regarding race, Goreans don't discriminate based on it. Red Savages are called "savages", right, but that's a compliment on a warlike world like Gor!
(That argument reminded me of Doc Savage. No reason at all, of course:evil:!)

Then we come to sources. And it reveals the fact, not-quite-shocking to people familiar with the series, that among the inspirations are listed the pulp and planetary romance stories - well, duh, that was obvious - but also Classical Greece and Rome.
Well, duh, that's also frigging obvious:grin:! I know, I know, there are probably people who needed it spelled down.

Also, Gor has predated 50 Shades of Grey by 50 years and 30 novels, as Grim Grim points out. Though I suspect 50SoG has surpassed the entire series in sales...and yes, I've read both* of them.

On the plus side, I think that was the last boring-details-that-had-to-be-mentioned (I fully understand why, I just don't care). Most people who buy this have probably resolved already any issues they've got with the setting, anyway.
OTOH, this section and the subsequent ones introduce some important concepts. No, I'm not even talking about slavery, here - I mean the concept of the Home Stone (way more central to the Gorean way of thinking than...just about anything else), the origins of humans on Gor - transplanted by the Priest-Kings, if you're wondering - as well as the reason Goreans have not developed extensive technology and still clash with steel and fire.
Simply put, the Priest-Kings forbid it.
It also introduces the Sun Shield (but doesn't explain what it is: simply put, Gor is always on the othe side of the Sun compared to Earth), the Kurii - and here it mentions them being intelligent beasts trying to take over Gor and Earth, in a state of "Cold Space War" with the Priest-Kings - and mentions the probable reason agents of Kurii and Priest-Kings are allowed to operate on Earth might well be collusion on part of Earth governments and shadier organizations.
Also, it mentions how the people on Gor look at those from Earth: with derision and contempt. Yes, it mentions the reasons**, too...
BTW, it's obviously written from a Gor-influenced scribe***, mentioning that Earth continues its path towards destruction, while agents of Gor are plucking the best the planet has to offer, people included.

Next chapter: Steel Worlds. We start introducing the setting by explaining the reason the Kurii want to take over Gor - because they want, period; they've got everything on the space-orbiting Steel Worlds - and that there are many Kurii factions.

Next: Civilised**** Gor.
...well, I think that's enough for a single post, too!


*Gor, because I like it. 50SoG, so I could explain to people why I don't like it.
Personally, I would say that they both seem kinda tame compared to The Seer King Trilogy by Crhis Bunch, and especially to the Ninja novel (1980) by Eric Van Lustbader. Gor has a bad reputation...among people who haven't compared mainstream books.
**They have no Home Stones, nor castes, they're not loyal to their cities, they've poisoned their world, and they're weak and full of complexes due not embracing their animal natures. The full list is compiled for you by the yours truly - Tales of Gor only mentions the ones in italic (at least so far, I'm sure they'd be mentioned later).
***Countdown to people not realizing that all narrators are unreliable: 3...2...:devil:
****For some values of "civilised", obviously. It's a barbaric world by our measures...you know, that probably makes it just like the last 5 settings you played in!
 

AsenRG

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I backed the Gor Kickstarter, as I was a fan of the Gor books when they were really atmospheric fantasy books. I was not so much a fan of the BDSM stuff, to be honest, although I can see the appeal of scantily-dressed slavegirls.

In my opinion, the rules do a good job of portraying Gor and don't play up the BDSM side. The World of Gor book is very good, I though, and describes the cultures and people of Gor very well.

There is a scenario that goes way over the top on the BDSM side, which is almost to be expected.

If I were to run a Gor campaign, I would use a D100 variant, probably Revolution based, with people rolled up using Modern Traits and then dropped into Gor, with many people using Fantasy Traits. I would use the World of Gor book as background and take odd rules from Tales of Gor.
I hear you, and agree 100% with the above:smile:.
Well, except I'd probably use...whatever the hell I want to, frankly. Might well be a Mythras or Maelstrom-based rules variant. Or I might hack BoL:wink:. Or run it with Tales of Gor just to see how it goes.
But that's not the important part of your post, so I still agree 100% with you:grin:!
 

AsenRG

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Civilised Gor* is based mostly on Greek-and-Roman civilisations, but adding (half) domesticated giant riding hawks tarns and the equally domesticated riding and cart dinosaurs, tarlarions. The people from those two cultures obviously got the best farmlands and woodlands, have the most population, biggest armies, and so on.
The attitude to barbarians is similarly inline with Classical World: of course they suck, they're barbarians! (It pays to remember all Earthlings are barbarians).
Also here: explanations about the nature and significance of Home Stones, the great cilinders, and the government (by council of the High Castes, except in case of war, when an Ubar is appointed).

Next: a presentation of the greatest cities and unions: Ar, Cos and Tyros, Port Kar, Salerian Federation, Treve, Turia, Vosk League, Indpendent Cities. You can easily recognize the historical inspirations for those, too... though the book doesn't tell you that, I trust the intelligence of Pubbers to guess that these are based off Rome, Greece, Venice-crossed-with-Tortuga, and so on:grin:!


And then we come to The Tahari desert...

Well, now is a good time to call it a day!

*Amusingly, from the word Gor you could expect more of an Afghanistan influence, seeing as there's a province there that's called almost the same thing. But it's not the case.
 
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Edgewise

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I was very curious about the Gor books when they came out. One thing you didn't mention: the art is fucking fantastic.

But I was put-off by the heavy-handed politics of the forward. Why was that necessary? I feel like an agenda is being pushed on me. If I'm reading these books, I'm already past any questions of political propriety. Putting that in the introductory section is a strong statement - too strong. It should have been relegated to an appendix.

Also, I didn't get far enough to discover how the sexuality comes into play, but I literally can't think of anyone who I know that would want to role-play in a fantasy game that prominently features BDSM. That's nothing against the lifestyle, but I just think it would be very awkward at the gaming table. YMMV of course, and there's nothing wrong with serving niche markets (or niches of niches). But I don't see myself as being in that niche.

If either of those things weren't true, I probably would have picked it up for pure inspiration. But an unplayable game with an overtly political agenda is a big turn-off for me.

Despite all that, I'm very curious about what else A AsenRG has to uncover in the rest of this chapter. Who knows? I might change my mind.
 

Black Leaf

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Also, I didn't get far enough to discover how the sexuality comes into play, but I literally can't think of anyone who I know that would want to role-play in a fantasy game that prominently features BDSM. That's nothing against the lifestyle, but I just think it would be very awkward at the gaming table. YMMV of course, and there's nothing wrong with serving niche markets (or niches of niches). But I don't see myself as being in that niche.

And I'm also not sure that the people who do want to roleplay in Gor will need actual game mechanics to do so.
 

AsenRG

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I was very curious about the Gor books when they came out. One thing you didn't mention: the art is fucking fantastic.
That's just because art threads tend to descend into madness faster than the average!
But I was put-off by the heavy-handed politics of the forward. Why was that necessary? I feel like an agenda is being pushed on me. If I'm reading these books, I'm already past any questions of political propriety. Putting that in the introductory section is a strong statement - too strong. It should have been relegated to an appendix.
I agree - you can see me literally saying the same, a couple of posts above - but I think I know why it had to be said:smile:.
Namely, to ward off people, like the regulars of certain forums, who might choose to start criticising the book by assuming that it's trying to conform to their political opinion; they seem to be doing that a lot:wink:.
Now, please, let's drop the political angle. I like the Pub politics-free, thank you!

Also, I didn't get far enough to discover how the sexuality comes into play, but I literally can't think of anyone who I know that would want to role-play in a fantasy game that prominently features BDSM. That's nothing against the lifestyle, but I just think it would be very awkward at the gaming table.
Only of your gaming table is incomfortable to begin with:devil:!
(Sorry, I had to:tongue:!)

YMMV of course, and there's nothing wrong with serving niche markets (or niches of niches). But I don't see myself as being in that niche.
My conclusion is different.
IMO, and contrary to what most people might think, you don't have to include heavy BDSM themes in a Gor game. Not any more than you have to include them in an Ancient Rome game, or an Ancient Greece game, or an Ancient China game (where there are bought concubines).
I mean, it's all a matter of spotlight. Yes, there are slaves. Yes, they're doing menial chores for you. Yes, that might include serving you paga (distilled spirits).
But, as a true Gorean would do, you might relegate their servitude to a footnote in your game, and focus on your dealings with free people. Only if you need to gain access to or information about a place where the staff is exclusively slaves, would you need to even talk to them. And even then...Goreans wouldn't think much of it:evil:.
So, if you want to play a non-BDSM game of planetary romance and like Gor as a setting, or even just like the d6 system and want a variant that's custom-made for planetary romance...Tales of Gor isn't a bad choice, IMO.

If either of those things weren't true, I probably would have picked it up for pure inspiration. But an unplayable game with an overtly political agenda is a big turn-off for me.
See above. I don't see it as unplayable, and filtering out any political agenda is, sadly, a necessary skill in today's game market.

Despite all that, I'm very curious about what else A AsenRG has to uncover in the rest of this chapter. Who knows? I might change my mind.
I'm not planning to cover only this chapter. But I won't be trying to change your mind...only to share my impressions.
I trust you to make your own conclusions. If you choose to pick ToG and/or WoG, that'd be swell...but if not, at least that would be an informed decision:shade:!
 

Nobby-W

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[ . . . ]
Also, I didn't get far enough to discover how the sexuality comes into play, but I literally can't think of anyone who I know that would want to role-play in a fantasy game that prominently features BDSM. That's nothing against the lifestyle, but I just think it would be very awkward at the gaming table. YMMV of course, and there's nothing wrong with serving niche markets (or niches of niches). But I don't see myself as being in that niche.
I think you could safely play Gor without having to roleplay BDSM. Really, the Gorean aesthetic/ethos is the practice of keeping sex slaves, which is what Gorean kink-ism is really about. It's less about fetish play and more about a specific Gor-inspired aesthetic and approach to dom/sub relations. BSDM vs. Gorean-ism is the subject of many religious wars, both online and otherwise - so expect a low signal-to-noise ratio if you go searching on the web.

Club-run fetish parties never make direct participation mandatory and a Gor-themed table should respect the 'consensual' aspect of it. Really a DM forcing characters to roleplay a sex scene without their consent is being a knob at best and crossing some serious boundaries at worst. BDSM folk take that sort of thing very seriously.
 

David Johansen

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I had a kingdom where the slaves had actually become the power behind the throne but my players just thought I was just airing my kinky fantasies. I don't think I've ever had players who could take something like Gor seriously.
 
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Edgewise

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Now, please, let's drop the political angle. I like the Pub politics-free, thank you!
Fair enough, but keep in mind that it is the heavy-handed injection of politics in the game that I was objecting to, not the particulars. I still heartily disagree that this was necessary; a short disclaimer would take care of the issues you refer to, or else nothing will. I'll now drop the issue at your request, but I feel like it's a bit of an elephant in the room when you talk about this game.
IMO, and contrary to what most people might think, you don't have to include heavy BDSM themes in a Gor game.
Sure...I always broadly tinker with whatever setting or rules I get my hands on. I'm just not clear (yet...I'm sure you'll get to it) on what makes this game special besides that.
I'm not planning to cover only this chapter.
Bad word choice on my part - I meant this thread.
 

AsenRG

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Really a DM forcing characters to roleplay a sex scene without their consent is being a knob at best and crossing some serious boundaries at worst. BDSM folk take that sort of thing very seriously.
Actually, I'm pretty sure there's advice in the book against forcing anyone to roleplay anything without consent. We'll see when we get to it, but it's going to take a while:smile:.

Sure...I always broadly tinker with whatever setting or rules I get my hands on. I'm just not clear (yet...I'm sure you'll get to it) on what makes this game special besides that.
Actually, I'm going to say what it contains, but whether it's special to you, is up to you:wink:.
 

David Johansen

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Pulp and politics are pretty much inescapably linked these days. It makes avoiding politics in gaming discussion difficult but in the end it's important to remember that stories and games are just that. Pulp stories and games don't make people into misogynistic pigs anymore than D&D made kids commit suicide or worship Satan.
 

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I thought that was a typo in the thread title and you were going to teach us about Al and Tipper inventing the Internet and censoring music. I feel letdown.
Gore4.jpg
0917pmrc01.jpg
 

AsenRG

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Pulp and politics are pretty much inescapably linked these days.
...Linked, are they:shock:?

Then again, much of what passes for "politics" in North America is something we here wouldn't consider to be such. So maybe I've missed the memo:tongue:!
 

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Not to be that guy*, but discussions about the evils of inserting politics into everything quickly start to feel kind of political in their own right. So perhaps less of that and more of beating your enemies over the head and stealing their stuff - or whatever it is a true Gorean does with his time? :wink:



* Yes, I know that people only say that when they're about to be that guy! :tongue:
 

AsenRG

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OK, that stuff aside, let's get to Tahari.

Tahari is, well, pretty much a desert. It's got its own culture, or rather twin cultures - as explained in the book - but it's unmistakably influenced by Civilised Gor, too.
Kasra of the Tahari, a river port, has earned a separate heading and a whole paragrpaph. Goes to show how important Tahari cities are, compared to Civlised Gor.
Then again, the saltpits of Klima earned several times more. Well, salt matters, right?
The oasis of Nine Wells only earned a couple paragraphs, despite being important politically and strategically. RTed Rock oasis and the city of Tor, on the outskirts of Tahari, got way more.
And that concludes the Tahari. From there, we continue with the other frontier of the Civilised Gor - Torvaldsland (the tundra, geographically, but due to warm air currents, it's more like the climat in Northern England or Scandinavia). The Torvaldslanders are scions of Scandinavians, which still keep to their gods, and refuse to worship the Priest-Kings. Amusingly, it's noted "the PKs don't seem to be upset".
A rocky place, it supports few farms. Torvaldslanders supplement their incomes by raiding, and their maritime skills are the envy of the rest of Gor.
(Because we need to have Vikings, duh!)

Notable settlements: Ax Glacier, Skerry of Einar (island), Skjern and Thorstein Camp...I guess the writing of a certain Tarl Cabbot have served as a main source of information:devil:?

Then you go further North, and you get to Frozen North and the Red Hunters. Which get a decent coverage, basically equal to the heading that follows: Gorean Interior (the jungle kingdom of Bila Huruma and Shendi port).


And then we get to the Pani, because no pulp setting is complete without Japanese.
Those shall be covered in the next post.
 

AsenRG

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Not to be that guy*, but discussions about the evils of inserting politics into everything quickly start to feel kind of political in their own right. So perhaps less of that and more of beating your enemies over the head and stealing their stuff - or whatever it is a true Gorean does with his time? :wink:



* Yes, I know that people only say that when they're about to be that guy! :tongue:
What is it that a true (free) Gorean does with his or her time?
Whatever he or she damn well pleases!


I mean, on Gor, you're only subject to the expectations of abiding by the codes of your Caste, the laws of your home city, the obligations following from being faithful to its homestone, keeping your word as expressed orally or in written, taking care of any family or extended family you might have, respecting* the Initiates and the Priest-Kings, and common sense. As an addendum to the common sense part, courtesy is also advisable, for Goreans can be quick to anger at discourteous behaviour:grin:!

But other than that? You're totally free to do as damn well you please, though of course some courses of action** just might require more money than you currently have at your disposal:devil:!
Of course, entertainment is seldom never electricity-based. Which probably explains the popularity of Kaissa.


*Possibly by avoiding the Initiates altogether, mind you. Atheism isn't punishable by law, just don't make a show, or you might be accused of bringing misfortune on the heads of everyone the next time such is encountered:tongue:.
**Possibly ranging from buying food, when you're talking about the she-urts of Port Kar, to buying yourself a new fleet, when talking about Ubars.
 

soltakss

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And I'm also not sure that the people who do want to roleplay in Gor will need actual game mechanics to do so.

Once upon a time, I had a few days off work to go to a RPG Convention. One of the salesmen asked me what I was doing and I said "Oh, I'm roleplaying for a few days". Well, his eyes lit up light little stars and he asked me all about it, but was very, very disappointed when I explained what it was about.
 

AsenRG

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So, the Pani...Japanese, only recently contacted. Living to the (Mysterious) West. Few slaves unless you out most of the populace. Next to no tarns but have domestic larls.
There's also sections on the Red Savages, wagon people, and Alars. I'll let you guess who those are.
The Native Indians are notable for embodying the ethos of the series rather well - they have vassal farmers from the weird cult f the Sames, which denies gender matters.
The Wagon Mongols are notable for having clans instead of castes, and one of their clans is of Torturers.
The Alars are noted for being related, externally at least, to Torvaldslenders, not respecting other people's property, and for their women being armed (with daggers).
 
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AsenRG

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And then we get to the stuff that matters, like caste, family, clan.
So, what does it matter in the minds of Goreans?
Well...loyalty to your Home Stone (which arguable should always be first). Your Caste rules. Your Family. Your Clan (extended groups of several families, possibly a remnant from an older culture). Arguably, in that order.
There are details on different High Castes (and Traders), too. For details on the Lower Castes, it refers you to World of Gor. Makes sense, after all, WoG is the setting supplement!

It makes the nice note that given the practical immortality of Goreans, even when a clan or family passes through hard times, leadership doesn't change much. Makes sense - not aging does that, and the Caste of Doctors has cured the Wasting and Withering Disease, a.k.a. old age...I think it was a few decades ago?

There's also a primer on Gorean Slavery (much less benevolent than in, say, Rome - slaves don't own even a name, the idea of a slave being able to buy himself off is obviously unthinkable). And there's a section on gender relations, which are easily summed up thus:
"Where Earth has embraced the idea of equality as equivalence*, Goreans celebrate what they see as the differences between the sexes in their natural relations to each other...Goreans do not see this as sexism, but as reality and it is not seen as disparaging women or elevating men, each is seen as being celebrated for the qualities of their gender."

*Really, have we? A lot of Earth hasn't got the memo.

Then it gets to the Kurii. You get details on their abilities, evolutionary history (from cavern-based carniovores who destroyed their own world) technology, social customs, and the important mention that they don't know what the Priest Kings* are. Oh, and they reside near Jupiter...but the text also explains that they want Gor, not Earth. Not wanting a conflict with the mysterious Priest-Kings, they prefer to take control via human intermediaries (though they consider humans inferior).
Does anyone need to be told where the PCs are coming in:devil:?

*But then, unless you're a fan of the series, neither do you...so far.

Then it gets to the Priest Kings. The next section is on them.

"More advanced than the Kur or the humans of Earth their technology is virtually indistinguishable from magic. They can shield a whole planet from detection, control gravity, strike with energy weapons anywhere on the planet and monitor its surface for breaches oftheir technological laws; all this from a single, underground city in the Sardar Mountains."
They're also ant-like (but with lungs), pseudo-eusocial pseudoinsectoids that communicate by scent.

And thus ends the setting chapter.
 
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AsenRG

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The basic rules are called "The Silver Ship". I guess that's a reference to how your characters, if Earthlings, have ended up on Gor.

They also, kinda unusual for RPG rules these days, begin with an explanation of what statistics are. Then you go to an extended example of play (a page and a half) which the book mentions "you won't understand all the rules parts yet"...yeah, that's not written for you and me.
So, we've got two Goreans sneaking into a slaver's camp and fumbling the sentry removal.
By the end of the example, I had worked out that it's a variant of d6 system (familiar to many from WEG's Star Wars and a host of other games). The lamers in the example should have used called shots.

Next is Rolling dice: Eh, is there anyone here that doesn't know how that works? Roll Xd6, sum it up. There's a Wild Die, too.
The roll can also be modified: "Acting according to the honour codes of your caste, tribe or culture – even when it causes you problems – will allow you to earn Honour Points. Honour Points are what makes the real difference between a hero and a normal person. Devotion to codes and a sense of purpose allow them to exert themselves beyond the efforts of the average guardsman, slave or merchant... You may only gain one Honour Point at a time and you may only spend one Honour Point on a single roll". That's plenty, though - you declare them before rolling, but doing so doubles the amount of dice you roll! (The example has Kantos rolling 8d+4 instead of his usual 4d+2, obviously the rule for 3 pips becoming 1 die doesn't apply with Honour). Or you can spend it to heal, to get an extra action, or to acquire insight...though those are all subject to GM approval.

What follows is an explanation on skills (if anyone on this forum needs it, I'm going to eat my M.A.G.A. hat...though I don't own one :tongue:), and the "dice and pips" rule of d6 system.
The steps of chargen are as follows:
  1. Concept
  2. Template
  3. Attributes
  4. Skills
  5. Health
  6. Power Damage Bonus
  7. Accuracy Damage Bonus
  8. Movement
  9. Honour
  10. Traits
  11. Gender
  12. Wealth
  13. Equipment
  14. Details
  15. Ready to play!
As you can see, ToG uses templates (which I approve). You start with 1 Honour, go earn more!
Including gender differences is up to you. If you do, males get +2 pips on Body, while females get +1 pip in Charm and +1 in Dexterity. That impacts maximum skill values, though: Males could improve Body skills to up to 11d+1, while a female could improve her Charm or Dexterity-based skills to 10d+2...Amusingly, this makes women better sailors, better at shooting bows or crossbows, better at slave handling and better at intimidation, among others:tongue:!
No, males aren't better at using blades or brawling. Those are Agility skills. They could probably strike harder, and resist more, but the advantage in skills is such that "the female of the human species" is deadlier than the male:devil:!

You roll for starting money. If you're Trader or high caste, add a silver tarsk to that, if not, the total is just what you've got (in copper tarsks).

The section on Fistfight skill left me scratching my head, though.
"Only the Pani have truly formal versions of hand to hand combat. Warriors of the mainland tend to concentrate on their weapons and to rely on their innate physical prowess when wrestling or fighting.
Slaves are sometimes put into boxing bouts and these become the true masters of unarmed combat."
...All well and good, except for the fact that it contradicts the source material. It is mentioned that wrestling is a popular sport, especially with the low caste of Peasants. And wrestling is very much hand-to-hand combat.
Further, at the end of one of the books a fighting slave and a warrior discuss killing with empty hands in front of a "civilian". Both the fighting slave and the Warrior know how to do that quickly (though the civilian is surprised it can be so fast).

Much more joyfully, there's a skill of Pleasure. As the description notes, "Sex is of central importance to Goreans in both the giving and taking".

Traits exist, too - they're "additional little facts and quirks to your character. You can take up to three different ones, or none at all if you prefer. Each one comes with advantages and disadvantages. The stronger you are in one area, the weaker you are in another. Nature likes its balance".
That's stuff varying from "Agent of the Priest Kings/Agent of the Kurii", "Bounty" (on your head), "Keen Senses", "Man of Earth", and so on....I especially like "Bad Luck" (the GM can make you roll half your normal dice...but you have +5 Health, because of the constant bumps fate provides you with).

Then there are some pages with templates. And we're now over one third in the book.
 

finarvyn

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I read a dozen or more Gor books back in the day, and once you strip away the sex-slave elements I think there are some really great stories therein. The whole Priest-Kings arc of the first few books was fun. The Greco-Roman culture was neat. The concept of defending one's home stone. The war with the kur. I sort of wish they would release a "cleaned up" version of the novels with the heavy BDSM stuff toned down, because I think a lot more folks would enjoy the fiction in that format.

I'm liking the thread because it's neat to see how the RPG works. I'm not a huge fan of the d6 system, but I'm enjoying the RPG discussion.
 

AsenRG

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Note on art: I think the alchemist in his lab was better drawn then the Free Woman with her two...what's the plural of kajirus (male slave, the female form is kajira)?
At least Gorean has a trait shared by many haighly cultured languages: gendered nouns (and probably adjectives as well). I wonder how many genders they're using, though. (In languages from my native group you have a


The rules of the game carry the name "The Will of the Priest Kings". That's actually an expression familiar from some of the books. I suspect the Initiates use it a lot more often that the other castes, though.

The chapter begins with an explanation why we need rules - to settle disputes - and then continues with a dice-rolling example. Then it reminds you how to use honour points, and how to earn them (by playing your character like a character, mostly).

Then you get (pretty standard) d6 system rules, along with some special attacks, like Grab (to establish a close combat, where it seems you cannot parry or dodge...I'm never showing this to anyone with wrestling experience!), the effects of cover, limited sight...what else?
Come on, you people don't need this:grin:!

Then the book follows with a nice section of typical Gorean transports, from Bosks to wagons to ships.
And then you have the next part, which is about gamemasters. The title, Secrets of the Nest, refers to the Nest of the Priest-Kings.
 

AsenRG

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If, as it looks, the word is based on Latin the masculine plural form would be kajiri.
Thank you. It is indeed based on Latin - a lot of Gorean culture is based on the Rome and the Ancient World, and while learning it, Tarl Cabbot mentions explicitly that he detects classical influences in the language. So I'm sure we can accept this should be the correct form...
And this is about as much headspace as I'm willing to devote a science fantasy game, anyway:devil:!

Pretty sure a lot of the success of the books were expressly because of the BDSM content, not in spite of it.
Depends on who you ask, I guess. Obviously finarvyn finarvyn has a different opinion, and as a matter of fact, so do I. It would definitely be fun to see whether it would be successful.
Then again, you'd need to change the name Gor, at least, if one is to give that a fair shot.

Not that I mind those elements, personally. It just so happens that quite a few of my players over the years have admitted directly or indirectly* to like such stuff, so I suspect it might even be well-received on the table...though amusingly, I've never ran Gor for most of them.
Maybe I should. Though I guess the Actual Play of that campaign might well get me banned on a well-known purplish site:grin:!


*I'd argue that the success of 50 Shades of Grey and the existence of the series of books written by Ann Rice and Laura Hamilton are a good argument that there's a non-insignificant portion of the population who just might be well-disposed towards such elements.
 

Voros

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*I'd argue that the success of 50 Shades of Grey and the existence of the series of books written by Ann Rice and Laura Hamilton are a good argument that there's a non-insignificant portion of the population who just might be well-disposed towards such elements.

I agree in that I think a lot of those who were buying the later books in the series were doing so because they were thinly disguised ‘erotic literature’ that one could safely purchase and read in public with most being none the wiser (although I prefer the blunter term pornography to ‘erotic literarure’ I realize some would bristle at its use).

I don’t believe the books would have been the hit they were if they were merely planetary romances, Vance is a much better writer in the form and never moved the units that Norman did.

The decline in sales in later years was probably due to the rising success of the uncut stuff without the science fantasy (or in other cases horror) trappings in the paperbook market in the mid to late 80s. That’s why I don’t buy the claim the publisher dropped the series because of political correctness in the late 80s, by then the anti-porn forces in the US were in steep retreat and ‘erotic literature’ with lots of BDSM elements was booming in the paperbacks. That claim also ignores the complete failure of the Gor films at the same time which couldn’t have helped the brand.

The idea that Norman was also persona non grata to leftie radicals and that this game is some kind of provocation to them isn’t that well founded. The highly respected trans (formerly lesbian) sex-radical writer and activist Pat Califia has long defended Norman’s work and praised his early BDSM guide Imaginative Sex.

I find the idea that the later softcore BDSM novels would be better if you removed the BDSM an odd proposal as the books are largely exercises in BDSM erotica. It starts to sound like people who claimed they read Playboy for the articles.

If anyone reading this who hasn’t actually read any of the later books is wondering what I mean here is an excerpt from Slave Girl of Gor:

On the interior of my left thigh, reddish brown, dried now, lay a streak of blood, my virgin blood, which never again would I be able to shed. He, as in a primitive rite, I being only a slave, had forced me to taste it. He had taken it on his finger and thrust it roughly in my mouth, smearing it across my lips and tongue and teeth, making me take into my own body the consequences of his victory, my ravishing, my deflowering, and then, as he held my head in his hands, forcing me to look into his eyes, swallow, I would never forget the taste, nor the calm way he looked upon me, as a master. Then though my body was still sore from his first assault upon me, again he pleasured himself, like a lion, in my vulnerable, raw softness; I was shown no consideration, for I was a slave. I clutched him, loving him. Much service did he get from his girl that night.

- Page 71 Slave Girl of GOR

These are not the kind of passages most people skip to get to ‘good stuff’ of planetary romance. These passages are why one would be reading the book.
 
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Edgewise

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I'd argue that the success of 50 Shades of Grey and the existence of the series of books written by Ann Rice and Laura Hamilton are a good argument that there's a non-insignificant portion of the population who just might be well-disposed towards such elements.
But in tabletop RPGs? Reading is a far more private activity. I am not a prude or a scold, but I couldn't play a game with strong sexual content. Too...weird.
 

Simon Hogwood

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I have no direct experience with the Gor series, but I do know that Grim was on Geek Gab Game Night a couple years back and (among other things) made the case for its utility as a Planetary Romance setting apart from the sexual components:

 

AsenRG

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I agree in that I think a lot of those who were buying the later books in the series were doing so because they were thinly disguised ‘erotic literature’ that one could safely purchase and read in public with most being none the wiser (although I prefer the blunter term pornography to ‘erotic literarure’ I realize some would bristle at its use).

I don’t believe the books would have been the hit they were if they were merely planetary romances, Vance is a much better writer in the form and never moved the units that Norman did.
Maybe. As I said, that's just a hunch...and unverifiable, too.

The decline in sales in later years was probably due to the rising success of the uncut stuff without the science fantasy (or in other cases horror) trappings in the paperbook market in the mid to late 80s. That’s why I don’t buy the claim the publisher dropped the series because of political correctness in the late 80s, by then the anti-porn forces in the US were in steep retreat and ‘erotic literature’ with lots of BDSM elements was booming in the paperbacks. That claim also ignores the complete failure of the Gor films at the same time which couldn’t have helped the brand.

The idea that Norman was also persona non grata to leftie radicals and that this game is some kind of provocation to them isn’t that well founded. The highly respected trans (formerly lesbian) sex-radical writer and activist Pat Califia has long defended Norman’s work and praised his early BDSM guide Imaginative Sex.
Again...maybe. Except this time with a dash of "I don't really care, it's water long passed under the bridge from my POV":wink:.

I find the idea that the later softcore BDSM novels would be better if you removed the BDSM an odd proposal as the books are largely exercises in BDSM erotica. It starts to sound like people who claimed they read Playboy for the articles.
Wait, why do you read Playboy:tongue:?
(Funny enough, I read my first number when it was published in Bulgaria because we'd heard almost legends about it. The reality wasn't even close, so amusingly, the articles were more fun. since that was decades ago I don't remember either the models, nor the articles now, so the point is moot:grin:).

If anyone reading this who hasn’t actually read any of the later books is wondering what I mean here is an excerpt from Slave Girl of Gor:

On the interior of my left thigh, reddish brown, dried now, lay a streak of blood, my virgin blood, which never again would I be able to shed. He, as in a primitive rite, I being only a slave, had forced me to taste it. He had taken it on his finger and thrust it roughly in my mouth, smearing it across my lips and tongue and teeth, making me take into my own body the consequences of his victory, my ravishing, my deflowering, and then, as he held my head in his hands, forcing me to look into his eyes, swallow, I would never forget the taste, nor the calm way he looked upon me, as a master. Then though my body was still sore from his first assault upon me, again he pleasured himself, like a lion, in my vulnerable, raw softness; I was shown no consideration, for I was a slave. I clutched him, loving him. Much service did he get from his girl that night.

- Page 71 Slave Girl of GOR

These are not the kind of passages most people skip to get to ‘good stuff’ of planetary romance. These passages are why one would be reading the book.
1) I was talking about the first books, though. The later ones are mostly an extended metaplot.
2) Actually, I've been skipping them for years now, just in order to see how the Ar vbs Cos and Tyros battles go. And I'll tell you simply why I think many people have been skipping them.
Because, as you said, John Norman isn't exactly a stellar author. In fact, his descriptions are kinda repetitive. Exactly how many descriptions of this kind do you need, even if you are into that kind of stuff:devil:? Not to mention that Norman is skimping on the details, compared to contemporary authors...and people who'd buy a book to read such stuff would want to know more details.
Given his style, your statement sounds to me like claiming "many people are reading author X's stories about boxing because of the ringcraft. True, he always states either that the two fighters are closing in and going into an exchanged brawl, or that one of them is charging wildly while the other is calmly keeping his distance and trying to outbox him...without changing the wording much. The rest of the time he describes more the fighters' psychological states before and after the match, again in pretty similar terms. But obviously, people are buying it to read about leather gloves impacting flesh!"
Something is amiss here, if you ask me:shade:!

But yeah, I liked it better when I had to skip less.

But in tabletop RPGs? Reading is a far more private activity. I am not a prude or a scold, but I couldn't play a game with strong sexual content. Too...weird.
Well, then...don't? It's not like you have to play out such events even if you play in Gor. In fact, the book says so explicitly.
As I've stated above, not paying much attention to the interactions with slaves would be totally Gorean, actually. After all, they are objects:evil:!

I have no direct experience with the Gor series, but I do know that Grim was on Geek Gab Game Night a couple years back and (among other things) made the case for its utility as a Planetary Romance setting apart from the sexual components:

:thumbsup:
 

AsenRG

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How soft your forum so dark,
Can whisper tales of Gor,
Of how we calmed the tides of war
We are your overlords

I’m reslly only here for the pun ;)
I'm now tempted to post a certain Manowar song:evil:!
 

AsenRG

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The GMing chapter begins with the note that no, your Pc cannot be from anywhere on Gor and still play. In fact, there are only some ideas that allow that, and all of them need you to have a unifying thread: all of you are agents of the Kur, Priest-Kings, same clan or caste, mercenaries, pirates*, outlaws**, members of a Merchant's retinue***. And there are brief suggestions about running those.

*I thought we had mercenaries already?
**Again?
***And here come the greatest robbers of them all!

It continues with Creating adventures.
First you need a Hook (examples follow). Then you need The Meat, The Opposition, The Goal.
It also lists Problem Players, but the nice part is, there's a section on Problem Game Masters, too:tongue:!


The chapter continues with a number of beasts and human enemies, noting that these are standard. The veterans and elite ones could get a 250-500 XP bonus. BTW, the Kur Warrior, the Priest King, Urt People and Spider People are listed with the humans...huh, that's curious. Can we rename it "Sophonts", then?
It is notable that assassins have the best Blades skill, on par with Tarnsmen.

We continue with the Shield and Spear sub-chapter, a.k.a. the equipment section. Fittingly, at the start it reminds you of the differences with Earth: many Goreans live ascetic and spartan lifestyles, while others live in luxury. Goreans would rather have one item of best quality than 100 acceptable ones. And weapons are a matter of life and death and worth anyone's investment.

Then it continues with the issues in Gorean currency (coin-shaving and different denominations are mentioned). Amusingly, it lists approximate USD values for Gorean coins, to give you a better idea of their buying power.
I was rather amused by the fact that the tarsk bit is $2, making the Copper Tarsk equivalent to $20...Goreans are lucky they aren't trading with Earth, or they'd be hit nastily!
It is also notable that the great sword has better damage than the glaive. In its heart and source material Tales of Gor is a game about the dashing exploits of swordsmen, and it won't let anything stand in the way of this!
Also, fun enough, the damage of the Slave Goad is noted as "it cannot kill anyone", but gives a bonus to the Slave Handling skill (and so does the Slave Whip, for that matter). Why exactly aren't stupid slaves more impressed when you're holding a cudgel, remains a mystery to me.
It also mentions the weapon control measures, that the Priest-Kings disapprove of armour, and lists a lot of gear and livestocks. Then we get to some more templates for lesser-used Castes (the first being Bargemen).

After that, you get an adventure. I've never read it, and don't plan to do that now (some of you would know my attitude to ready-made adventures, others learn it now).

And then we get to Appendixes with advice: Roleplaying Online, Roleplaying Sex, Quick Reference of system terms and values. Since I know which one you care about: Roleplaying Sex includes advice, which can be summarised as follows:
Roleplaying groups have different levels of comfort (indeed). Here are some suggestions how to handle it:
Ignore It (we're here for the swordfighting and adventures, slaves are set dressing). I'd recommend that for most groups, personally.
Coy (giving a passing remark to sexual activity).
Suggestive (there's sex, but there are limits to how graphic).
Explicit (but even here it notes that "blow by blow sexual encounters" aren't the best idea because they are most likely to cause people discomfort, not to mention eating up game time, and leading to one player hogging the spotlight. I find the latter statement doubtful - why wouldn't the players participate in a Gorean orgy, especially given the source material - but that's what the book says.
It also notes that this approach is best reserved for one-on-one games or in online games where nobody would feel sidelined or embarrassed. OK, I can see the value of that advice.

Then we get to a rather detailed index. And that's the end of this book!
 
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AsenRG

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Hey, now that this is over...:smile:
Is there anyone interested in the World of Gor book? Or do you really want me to skim the adventures for you (starting with the adventure in the ToG book:wink:)?
 

Voros

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I'd be interested in hearing about the world book. Does the book address the possiblity that the players may decide to try and overthrow the institution of slavery on Gor a la Dark Sun and a lot of other Sword and Sorcery stories?
 

AsenRG

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I'll need to check, but I'm pretty sure it says that the institution of slavery is understood by all Goreans to be completely natural. Indeed, if the books are any indication (and what else could we use as a source is unclear to me), they'd be amazed that there are societies without slaves and think it's an indication of weakness:grin:!

I'd also want to note that the first book of the Gorean Cycle (and the following few...actually, until he was taken captive and broken) had Tarl Cabbot himself trying to have nothing to do with slaves, and freeing slaves where possible. You might want to check how well it went for him and the effect "cultural difference":devil:!

Mostly, the World of Gor is written in an encyclopedic format, which is pretty much impossible to review. I can at best comment on some of the notable entries, and the intro. There's enough to keep the thread going, but my thread could never contain info even approaching the book itself.

I can already tell you my comment on the entry of Kaissa. "I want a board for this:tongue:!"
Yes, there are full rules.
 

Bourbonjack

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I really enjoyed the first half dozen or so books in the Gor series, as they were pretty good pulpy sword and planet series.

Of course then, as we all know, things took a turn focusing on the planetwide BDSM lifestyle of the Goreans, and ghen my interest waned.

Interesting to see this series have its own RPG.
 
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