Gor, Games & #Gamergate


“The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
– Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

TL;DR: I have been, and am, a victim of many of the same forces involved in #Gamergate in its broader sense as a culture war between artistic expression and what might, generously, be called concerns of representation. I, and other designers and writers of similar style, have come under attack, boycott, rumour, suspected blacklist and the chilling effect of the mob. This has had an impact on my capacity to work and to complete projects and, as such, I’m asking for your help to hit the funding target on my current project. Here’s the LINK

I hesitate to even ask, for more than one reason. Firstly the howling mob will get great mileage from the fact that I am ‘cashing in’ on an existing outrage to try and draw attention to my projects and work. Secondly, the suspicion will be – from within #GamerGate, that I am trying to use the momentum of the movement to cash in on it.

The first lot of people will just have to go hang.

The second lot should, hopefully, have seen that I have been an honest and earnest participant in #GamerGate who shares their values and concerns and has stood up for the right thing throughout this turn of events.

You see, the thing is – as we’ve seen from #ComicGate – this battle is not limited to computer games.

My ‘battleground’ has primarily been tabletop games. I’m a game designer of board games, card games and – mostly – roleplaying games (like Dungeons and Dragons, which I have worked on, but mostly other things). Roleplaying games have been a battleground for various moral panics, just as computer games have been, but going back to the 1980s and the fallout from The Satanic Panic.

Having lived through that mess in the 80s and having lived through a similar, smaller, mess in the 90s when Vampire roleplaying came in for similar flak and was dishonestly associated with some murders and other nastiness.

Perhaps that has left me biased, but multiple incidents of this sort tend to leave an impression, as they’re always bullshit and the arguments are the same, time after time, after time. This is just another battle in a long, long line of battles.

I’ve paid a price for sticking to my guns, not wanting to compromise and not apologising for things I am not sorry for. As you all know, resisting censorship and defending free expression is taken as endorsement of any and every social ill or nasty attitude you care to think of. I get abuse on forums, I get hate mail, I appear to be semi-blacklisted some places (which in a niche industry makes things… interesting) and have had to adopt pen-names to get by.

As a writer, and sometime writer of erotica as well, I’ve also seen the problems there. Erotica writers have been pressured and censored commercially and via payment services, and yes, it is censorship. Science Fiction and Fantasy have become playgrounds of the excessively ‘politically correct’ often to the detriment of the genre itself (look up Jonathan Ross and the Hugo awards for a recent example).

So I’ve fought this fight, and it has cost me dear and it continues to do so, but it’s wearing and has gone on for years now.

My current project has been negatively impacted by this, making it hard to raise the monetary goal of $5k, with only four days left to raise the remaining money. This was always going to be a controversial project – Gor – but the fact that it plays to a lot of the classical fantasy tropes and involves a more overt sexual element than has been traditional. The novels got in trouble over this in earlier decades, and the atmosphere wasn’t anything like as repressive as it is now. Still, it’s been like getting blood from a stone to get any publicity, we’re short of our goal and having seen what #GamerGate has done for TFYC and others, I hope that we can get a last minute boost.

So I’m willing to take the risk, wincing, even as i know I’ll get crap for it.

Anyway, I hope you’ll forgive the ask, but I need to explore the options available in order to keep commitments to the artist working on the project. If you’re not interested in a tabletop RPG, or an art/world book, but know someone who might be – please pass this on.



PS: Other ways to support me:

PDFs of analog game designs: Postmortem Studios / Chronicle City

Hardcopy books, including fiction (and ebooks): Lulu and Chronicle City

Card & board games (hardcopy): The Game Crafter (Privilege Check may interest you especially…)

And yes, Patreon… I know.

LUMENERA: Destiny Roleplaying Using Numenera


Despite something of a lukewarm reception from many, I’ve really been enjoying Destiny and it seemed, to me, to be a perfect translation into a Tabletop RPG for a deeper experience. Numenera seemed the most obvious fit, given that it already slotted neatly into three classes and the degree of player agency that it provides.

Here’s a rough, raw, document version for now.

This is purely a fan thing, but if you feel like supporting me in producing game material personally and professional you can support me on Patreon or support my current professional project, a Gor RPG and world/art book.


Gorean Chronicles: Worldbook Sample ‘Q’



Quiva: The saddle knives of the wagon people are around a foot long. Traditionally seven of them are sheathed in their saddles of their steeds while one – or more – are carried on their person in separate sheathes. Quiva are perfectly balanced for throwing and this is what they are notorious for.

Quiva seem too large to be accurately thrown but the weight gives them force and makes them fly true – albeit over short distances. In a paga tavern in Turia a merchant who had traded with the wagon people and learned to use the knife demonstrated this by striking a grape held between a paga slave’s lips. They were grazed and bled a little but it was still impressive and he wasn’t even one of the Wagon People.

Gorean Chronicles: Yet More Q&A

gor_assasinsPlease keep the questions coming and FUND IT!

We’re almost out of time but if websites, podcasts, youtube shows or anyone else would care to interview me or run a feature, please let me know.

Q: Will the print books be hardcover or softcover?

A: The first runs will be Print on Demand, for which the shipping is the issue. Shipping on hardcover is prohibitively expensive. Originally the project wasn’t going to offer print at all, because crowdfunding really isn’t so much about ‘preorder’ as it is supporting projects – at least IMO. Money pledged in exchange for books, obviously, comes with an associated cost that eats into the money available for funding.

Short answer ‘No’. Long answer ‘hardcovers will be made available for direct order, but not as part of this’.

Q: Will the RPG book have anything about converting the game to other OGL RPG systems? I think that would be a very cool extra.

A: Such as Pathfinder you mean? What other systems did you have in mind? FATE? Something else? Some of these would be more work than others, but yes, it sounds like a viable proposition. It won’t be in the main book however. Perhaps in a supplement.

Q: Beyond this campaign, what support will Postmortem Studios extend to the Gor RPG? Will there be further adventures published? If non-adventure supplements are written, what will they focus on? Will future Gor novels (if any) receive RPG coverage?

A: The intent is to produce a complete game. Producing new material if fraught with difficulty because – in theory – more novels will still be coming out, creating canonicity issues. Plus Mr Norman is – naturally – quite protective of his work and his world. Adventure books with some non-canonical ‘travelogue’ material seem like the best compromise, plus I’ll be able to offer unofficial support on the blog.

Will the RPG book feature a section that gives game statistics for established characters? What about stats for the Priest-Kings and their technology?

Gorean Chronicles: More Q&A

18lrsr4hxx5qojpg (1)Q: A previous comment mentioned that the existing artwork (featured here) put just enough clothing on the women to avoid any nudity, partial or otherwise. Do you plan on having any nudity in the final books, or will it maintain this level of “skimpy dress that isn’t technically nudity” (perhaps as a style of imagery that’s become associated with this sub-genre in general, and Gor in particular)?

A: By request of the licensor there’ll be nothing too egregiously over the top, however on the inside you can expect some partial nudity. Just don’t expect any graphic ‘in flagrante delicto’. So yes there’ll be nudity, but nothing too gratuitous.

Q: You’ve indicated that the funding will be used to pay for the artwork. In the unfortunate event that you don’t meet your funding goal, what will happen with regard to the books’ illustrations?

A: The money raised will be spent on art from Michael and we’ll see how far it stretches. Depending on the gap I will strive to make up the difference myself (though that will take extra time) and I’ll have to make a judgement call whether to settle for less art, to take more time, or to hire a secondary – cheaper – artist to fill out the remaining art.

Q: I’m of the opinion that successful crowd-funding is purely a matter of getting the word out to enough people. I only found out about this campaign from an interview you gave on a blog, when it was already halfway over; no other mainstream tabletop gaming site had mentioned it (that I had seen)! My advice would be to make a big push to get the word out. I tried to have this campaign headlined as a news item at EN World, but was quietly ignored – perhaps you could contact them to try and get them to run it there? (Or if they did when the campaign first began, then have them re-announce that it has just a few days left.)

A: Usually there is more interest, but there’s a variety of factors at work here. It’s Gor (for one!), D&D5 has just come out, #gamergate is grabbing a lot of people’s attention and the only big site to show interest has been RPGnet to ‘extract the Michael’. It’s a tough sell, but one more crack of the whip can’t hurt.

Gorean Chronicles: Q&A

18lrsqwlqldjbjpgHere’s the first few answers and updates, and another classic Gor cover.

Please send me more questions and suggestions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Q: Gaming has made big advances in the representations of women, minorities and alternative sexuality. Don’t you think a Gor RPG is a regressive step?

A: Gor has a plurality of representation, despite its reputation and the concentration on a particular outlook within the books themselves. On racial issues, despite some troublesome terminology (to modern eyes) Gor is immensely respectful and inclusive. Alternative sexuality barely comes up in the books, but there’s also no judgement or negative images presented, per se.

As regards the more general comment about representations – and this question was originally asked in a much more abusive form, I’ve translated it – there’s several things to keep in mind I think.

Firstly and most importantly, Gor is a fantasy world. Not reality. It’s a ‘what if?’, and, as such, should be understood in that context.

Secondly, there’s room for multiple ways of going about things. I’m in favour of a plurality of representations and tropes and I don’t think that creativity is a zero-sum game. The new and the ‘traditional’, both have things for and against them.

Thirdly, I see nothing progressive in constricting or limiting free expression, kink-shaming or abandoning classical tropes which can still entertain and serve a purpose, even in different contexts.

Q: How have you changed the D6 system to fit Gor?

A: This will only make sense to those who know the system, but…

  • The Wild Die can now ‘implode’ as well as explode.
  • The health system is a hybrid of wound levels and health points, drawing some inspiration from 4th Edition D&D’s ‘bloodied’ rule.
  • It’s a little bit deadlier.
  • Fate points are replaced with rules to encourage Goreans to act according to the Gorean codes, as a roleplaying prompt.

Q: Why do you keep emphasising the World Book?

A: A lot of people think this is just an RPG project. While the world book stands in support and alongside the RPG book it is really a separate product and one which people with no interest in RPGs, but with interest in Gor, fantasy worlds and art should be able to have an interest in.

Q: What made you choose Michael to do the art?

A: I’m a fan of good art and I wanted to do something different. I have previously been supposed to work with Michael but those projects fell through for one reason or another (a business partner’s heart health in one instance). A lot of game art has become complacent and samey, no matter how well executed. Michael has a distinctive style, familiarity with BDSM and fetish art and a level of skill and talent I’ve long admired. I think he can bring something special to the project and is, absolutely, the right person.

Q: Could you offer spaces in a session on Hangouts as a reward?

A: I cannot reliably offer such due to my anxiety and depression issues. I don’t want to ‘write a cheque my arse can’t cash’ by offering that, especially when I might have to pull out at the last minute. There’s also problems with timezones that make this a less than ideal thing to offer.

Q: What about an introductory adventure and sample characters?

A: These are already present in the RPG book. I could add a second set as a separate file…

Q: What about offering some of your other products as a bonus?

That I can do.

Gorean Chronicles: Playing as a Slave



Playing as a slave in a Gorean RPG may not seem like the ideal choice for most players, despite the long appeal of stories that derive from slavery situations. Spartacus, for example, is a classic story that’s been told in various forms and, in the most recent TV series, is very, very Gorean in tone and content. Slave revolts occur in the Gor books and for female slaves, despite the gender philosophy of the setting, there are also the Talunas and Panther Girls.

Most stories involving slave girls within Gor are love stories, indeed the common thread throughout the entire series is the tension of the relationship between Tarl and Talena, played out in geopolitics, honour, bitterness and – perhaps – reconciliation.

Fighting slaves of various kinds are good characters for a combat oriented game and a good way for the group to raise money and make a reputation for themselves. Female slaves are, perhaps, a little more difficult unless the player is happy taking on all that that entails. For those who want some insulation from the impositions upon a slave, it would be best to be linked with another player character or with a powerful NPC. Even more safety might come from being linked with a female NPC or player character. Gorean honour won’t, so much, allow them to interfere with another’s property without their permission – at least in most circumstances.

Most slaves are unarmed, but that doesn’t make them useless. You could view a slave almost as a ‘healer’ class for the group, taking care of food, comfort, providing distractions and running interference for the rest of the group. Slaves might not be able to be physically dangerous – most of the time – but they’re far from useless. Slaves have an advantage in being ‘beneath notice’ and somewhat immune to threats. Slaves – who follow most of the social rules – are there to be captured and traded, not killed, which can give a creative player a huge amount of leeway and opportunity to get up to all kinds of shenanigans.

To reiterate then:

  • Slave stories are often romance stories on Gor.
  • Fighting slaves are extremely useful characters to the group.
  • Serving and pleasure slaves can be really good as ‘support’ characters for the rest of the group.
  • Slave revolts make for dynamic and high-stakes stories.

Gorean Chronicles: One Week Left – Q&A

For those who are interested, there’s quite an interesting interview with John Norman from 2011 on iO9. It’s not perfect, but it’s reasonably respectful and gives him plenty of space to talk. HERE is the link.

So I open the floor here, or on Twitter (@grimachu), or on Facebook, or on G+ (James Desborough on both) for questions.

I’ve got a few for you guys though…

How can I reach more people this week?

If you haven’t pledged to help the project, how can I get you to?

How can I squeeze more money out of you if you have?

What else can I offer?

What would convince you to pledge?

Here’s a classic Vallejo Gorean cover for you to ogle 🙂


Gorean Chronicles: Worldbook Entry ‘P’



Plays: Goreans love entertainment but actors and roustabouts are not well regarded. Gorean plays tend to tell well worn and familiar stories and many of them are bawdy comedies. They draw from a series of stock characters that include The Golden Courtesan, The Pedant, The Comic Father, The Timid Captain (with huge mustache and comedy sword), The Young Lovers, The Desirable Heiress, The Saucy Maidens, The Comic Servants, The Pompous Merchant, The Swaggering Soldier, The Fortune Teller, The Parasite, The Wily Peasant, The Physician and the Slave. The Magicians of Anango are often invoked to provide some fairytale qualities to the stories and the parts of women are usually played by slaves. Wandering companies of actors include sideshows and other acts, Kaissa players, acrobats and stage magicians and one member of a troupe may have several skills.

To me, many of the plays in their bawdy and trickster sense of humor, reminded me of Chaucer’s stories or some of the older, naughtier versions of fairy tales. They are not particularly highbrow but they are fun little farces and often the audience participates as much as the actors. I think the Gorean distrust of traveling entertainers is similar to their distrust of magicians. To dress up or appear to be something that you are not is as unsettling to them as making a coin vanish.

Gorean Chronicles: The Final Stretch and the Kur Invasion


We’re into the last ten days of the campaign and largely stalled at 50% funding. Traditionally, the beginning and end of a campaign is when the greatest amount of funding comes in, so we do still have a chance to raise our target amount.

With your help we can definitely do it. If each of you does your bit and reshares the campaign to your friends and on websites, we can get that last bit of cash. The project will move forward either way, but the more money we can raise now the more quickly that will happen and the better it will be…

To whit…

The Kur threaten to invade our lands once more, marching down from the frigid north in great numbers. Their agents have moved ahead of them, spreading dissent, teaching the men of the north to be ‘civilised’ and robbing them of their fighting spirit.

Some resistance remains, but will it be enough to rouse the men of Gor to battle? At the fighting camp the skalds wait to tell the tales that will fire the blood of warriors to become that of heroes, they just need enough men to tell…

Three more contributors: A band of 50 warriors will be told tales of the ice beasts. (Early access to anyone who has donated $10 or more to the raw document files for the books).

100 Total Contributors: A band of 100 warriors will be told of the time Tarl Red-Hair and the men of the north turned back the Kur in living memory. (A free starting adventure will be added to the rewards at every level and the art-booklet PDF will be reinstated).

150 Total Contributors: ?

Here is a classic Achilleos interpretation of the Kur for inspiration.