Chronicles of Gor – The Game System



Any tabletop RPG system relies on a system, a set of rules that govern your interactions in the world, when there’s an element of chance or the outcome is not certain. Ideally there should be a synergy between the style of the system and the style of the game so that the two work together well. Examples of great game/engine synergy that I can think of would include Starblazer Adventures, Feng Shui and Call of Cthulhu.

Faced with the prospect of putting together a system for running Gor I had several options. I could create a new game system from scratch, I could license a commercial system or I could look to the Open Gaming License.

Gor is a science-fantasy game at its heart, a sort of Barsoom meets Von Daniken but with a grittier, harder edge stemming from Norman’s grounding in classics and history. It is definitely in the pulp tradition of high adventure, but a wholly pulp-oriented system would lack the blood, sweat and tears of the hard-scrabble Gorean life. A new system would have the advantage of being specifically designed for the task at hand, but the development time would be a lot longer and playtesting a lot more intensive. A commercially licensed system might have been tricky and may not have been a great fit, but tinkering around can be difficult depending how attached designers and companies are to their systems. The OGL seemed like the best bit, since I could grab an off-the-shelf game system and modify it to my heart’s content without worrying.

Which though?

Other concerns came to the fore, I needed a system that would be good as an introductory system but also good for gamers of more experience who wanted a little more depth. The hope is that Gor will attract new gamers, first-time gamers and people who’ve roleplayed – but without rules. In the end I picked a system with a great pedigree as an introductory game, which uses the most common type of dice and which is thought of fondly by many gamers.


The D6 System powered the original Star Wars RPG and has, in many minds, never been bested as the go-to system for that setting. For Gor it seemed like a natural fit, with a few tweaks to make it a little deadlier and to patch some things I saw as issues with the way it played out. Gor’s caste system is a set of ready-made customisable templates for creating Gorean characters quickly and easily, dice pools are tactile ways of representing competence and the system seems to encourage gambling on heroic outcomes.

Another advantage of the D6 system is that it can be simplified even more, down to a single dice if need be (3D+1 becoming 8+Wild Die) which makes forum and chatroom play a hell of a lot simpler. While I doubt anyone will be LARPing Gor any time soon, a simple finger-draw can substitute for a six-sided die, allowing for salon style LARP using the D6 system.

Simplicity, depth, ease to learn, adaptability, customisability and – the clincher – templates, made The D6 System the obvious choice.

Chronicles of Gor – FAQ




Do you have permission from Jon Norman?
This project is being completed in partnership with Open Road Integrate Media: E-book edition of Gor and all other John Norman titles are available in the United States via Open Road Integrated Media and the United Kingdom via Orion Gateway Editions. Print editions are available in the US via Amazon or in the UK at Amazon UK. Short answer: yes, via his agent and publisher. I’ve had no direct contact however, manuscripts have been made available to his agent and publisher.

Just what is this ‘Gor’ thing?
The Gorean Cycle (Or Gorean Chronicles) are a series of 33 books published by the author John Norman since 1966, starting with Tarnsman of Gor and ending – so far – with Rebels of Gor. Gor takes place on the ‘Counter-Earth’, another world like ours, in the opposite orbit, shielded from us by the sun. It is kept in a relatively primitive state by its mysterious and hidden rulers ‘The Priest Kings’. The world is full of savage beasts and constantly under threat of war between its cities and against the Kur, an enemy almost as mysterious as the Priest Kings. Gor’s cultures have institutionalised slavery and this state – strong over the weak – is seen as the natural state of affairs.

Why didn’t you use Kickstarter?
IndieGoGo allows for Paypal payments and isn’t involved with Amazon, who are controversial in the UK on tax issues and have censored a couple of projects in the past. I prefer IndieGoGo’s ethics, have worked with them before and given that the project may well involve nipples and a degree of kink – given the source material – I’d rather be safe.

Why is this flexible funding?
The books are already written, one way or another they are coming out. I just need money to do them justice and to hire the artist/s I want to hire. I want to leave a legacy product that fans of Gor will love and cherish. I used flexible funding before, for Machinations of the Space Princess and used fixed funding for ImagiNation, both of which funded and delivered their projects.

This Depression thing worries me!
Believe me, it worries me too. However, the writing is done, the books are pretty much ready to go so far as my involvement with them goes. I could be  hit by a truck tomorrow and the files could be retrieved and ready to go anyway. There’s very little I could do to fuck things up at this point. I’m in a fairly good place with my illness at the moment, in therapy, taking medication, managing to pull full working days. It’s unlikely that my depression will cause any issues in the extreme, but I wanted to be up front about it.

Why isn’t there information on X,Y,Z?
It’s coming. I’m holding things back – like details, to bring out bit by bit. I’ll update the FAQ with new information as we go along.

Will there be print?
Yes there will be. Ideally there’ll be a proper print run of the books to put them into distribution. Past experience suggests that despite there really being nothing more suggestive here than there would have been in, say, Conan, that some distributors can be a bit jumpy. I’m not sure how this will shake down yet, but there’ll definitely be Print on Demand.

Why isn’t print on offer as a perk?
A lot of projects get scuppered at the execution stage because of underestimating print costs and shipping, both of which have been quite volatile over the last couple of years. I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep and I have no real way of knowing what the final size, cover price and shipping cost of the books will be. What will likely happen is that once the books are complete and fully priced up I’ll give contributors the chance to get physical copies at a reduced price.

Is this about that AWFUL film on MST3K?
No. While the two ‘Gor’ films are very, very loosely based on the books they’re not really a good reflection of the books, the world, or the game.

It’s fantasy, it’s not real. The books and the world described in them has been incredibly and persistently popular for many years and a huge number of those fans are women. While the Gorean world, as presented, is undeniably strict in its gender roles and (arguably) misogynistic this is only in the same sense that BDSM role-play, D/S relationships etc are and this need not be the focus of the game. There’s plenty of other stuff going on, from the intrigues between cities to the machinations of the Kur.

Why two books?
Not everyone who’d be interested in a Gorean world guide would be interested in a roleplaying game. Splitting the books this way will allow fans of the books to get the World Guide without having to buy the game, while roleplayers can get both. The RPG book will have a basic primer on Gor and its cultures but the greater majority of information on the world will be in the guide, indexed like an encyclopaedia. If we meet the target we should be able to lavishly illustrate both and bring the Gorean world to life.

What is a Role-Playing Game Anyway?
You know what Dungeons & Dragons is? Like that, but with different rules and set on Gor. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a game where you and your friends create a story together, based around your characters and using dice to determine what happens if it comes down to luck or skill.


Why do this?
Personally?: I want to? I’m a fan of the books and its an opportunity to finally write something game and sex related in a grown-up fashion without having to nudge and wink all the time.
Professionally?: It’s a challenge and an opportunity to – further – put my money where my mouth is and show my commitment to free expression and different ideas. A way – further – of challenging the acceptance of violence and the disgust towards sex that is so common in games.
Commercially?: There’s, potentially, a huge and untapped market here. Gor has been consistently popular online since the 90s as a roleplaying setting and if we can engage the people that do that (not just related to Gor) then we can expand the hobby. We’ll see if tht works out.

You’re just doing this or the oppression-cred and to get attention!
I’ve been sat on this in virtual silence, working hard, for some 18 months around and about other projects. There’s easier ways to get attention than that. The publicity from people’s inevitable outrage can’t hurt but honestly, it’s just wearisome at this point. I’m taking my own advice and making things that I like and want, other people should do the same. Attention might help the project, so I’ll suck it up.

Your Comparison to 50 Shades isn’t hopeful!
I’m just trying to point out that kink (albeit horribly misrepresented kink) isn’t the marginalised, out-there fantasy it might have used to have been. Gor is – in many ways – much more coy than 50 Shades. I hope to include some sort of sidebar to avoid the same sort of problems found in 50 Shades, to emphasise the importance of consent in the BDSM scene and to head off some of the kink-shaming.

Are the books full of lecturing and gender theory?
Other than some explanation on what Goreans (tend to) believe and think on these subjects, no. Long internal monologues don’t make for fun and interesting games. Swooping in on tarn-back, smashing into the locked chambers of a high cylinder and making off with the Ubar’s daughter into the night do. I’ve tended to skip over that stuff as much as possible in order to concentrate on the flying, intrigue, paga taverns, dancing girls and stabbing people with swords.