There’s quite a lot of interest in the game and world book and a lot of speculation and scuttlebutt as well.
I’m not exactly hard to get a hold of and if you have a website, forum, group, page, podcast, radio show or youtube channel and want to talk to me about Gorean Chronicles the RPG or the World Book I’d be more than happy to answer questions and/or put in an appearance.
I have Skype, Google Hangouts, can get accounts or otherwise do what’s necessary if you want to talk to me.
If you want to meet me in person to talk about the game and you’re in the UK, something might be arranged, though I’ll need to check your bona-fides first.
I was gifted the first twenty-four books of John Norman’s Chronicles of Gor when a friend of mine went away to university. I was still at school at the time, in my final year, voraciously reading any and all science fiction and fantasy I could find, at the rate of up to six books a day on weekends.
To receive over twenty books, completely new to me, out of the blue was an enormous gift and I threw myself into reading them, one after another until they were all done. Here was a series of books with much of the same fantastical imagination as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series or the Hyborian fantasies of Robert E. Howard, but drawing on the same imagery of Greek and Roman heroism I’d learned at school and from the films of Ray Harryhausen.
Where Burroughs’ and Howard coyly turned aside at the last minute, however, trapped by the relative prudishness of their times (for all the livid covers and descriptions of a more liberated – and naked – society), Norman’s hero did not. The fate of the handmaidens and slave girls that Tarl Cabot encountered was never in question, but then nor was the fate of the oiled, male silk slaves under the aloof, free women of Gor’s cities.
Tarl Cabot’s struggles adapting to the fierce Gorean world were in many ways a reflection of adolescence for me and for many others. To understand and accept the more adult and cutthroat world we were entering. For many others – in the days before the Internet – the Gorean world was also their first exposure to the aesthetic of BDSM, their first hint that this was something normal, or shared by others. The importance of that, to so many, along with his book Imaginative Sex cannot be underestimated.
Despite the great success of the Gorean cycle, selling between six and twelve million copies and Tarnsmen of Gor being reprinted twenty-two times, the Gorean series was interrupted in 1988 when it was dropped by its publisher. 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.
Fortunately the Internet rose during the same period and fans of Norman’s work began to form their own communities online. Forums and chatrooms sprang up by the dozen, Internet Relay Chat played host to dozens of Gorean roleplay rooms, people sold, resold and naughtily transcribed the books as they went out of print and created online resources for these communities as they arose. As the Internet advanced, so did the complexity of these resources and as graphical roleplay became possible it spread there, to the point where – in 2009 – it was estimated that there were some fifty-thousand Gorean role-players on Second Life alone.
The Internet would also come to the rescue of the series, in time, and the advent of cheap print on demand and ebooks has meant the series has managed to continue and the entire back catalog has become available to purchase once again, via the company Ereads, breathing new life into the series and bringing new revelations and new stories to its fans.
In all this time, however, there has never been an official Gorean role-playing game. Everything that exists online is unofficial and organized by fans, strange for a series of fantasy books whose publishing peak coincided with the boom period of the popularity of Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games.
High time it had one.