Chronicles of Gor – Worldbook Sample ‘D’

DDesert Kaiila: The desert kaiila is similar to the kaiila used by the wagon people. A lofty, silken, long-necked creature it has a smooth gait and a proud bearing. The desert kaiila stands around twenty hands at the shoulder and is a swift runner with great stamina, able to cover over six-hundred pasangs in a day. While a swift and useful mount, desert kaiila are also temperamental and vicious. Desert kaiila are almost always tawny in color and unlike the more common kaiila suckle their young. Desert kaiila milk is reddish, with a strong salty taste and a high level of iron. Desert kaiila are omnivorous with broad, heavy, padded paws with webbed toes. This keeps them more stable on the sand, and especially in the dunes.

Observations:
I have a hard enough time with horses. Mounting a predatory, stinking, pest-ridden beast in the heat of the desert and before men who were born to the saddle is much worse than mounting a horse. The worse you can get with a horse is trodden on, the worst with kaiila is eaten. At least the desert breed is somewhat more mellow than the northern kaiila and as content to munch on plants as people.

Gorean Chronicles: Art by Michael Manning

The artist we hope to use throughout both books, Chronicles of Gor and World of Gor, is Michael Manning.

Michael Manning (born 1963) is an American comic book artist and writer, fine art illustrator, and traditionally trained animator currently based in Los Angeles, California. He is best known for his graphic novel series, The Spider Garden and Tranceptor, which combine elements of pan-sexual fetishism and BDSM culture with complex characters in science fiction and fantasy settings. He is also active in the supernatural horror and fantasy genres, drawing adaptations of the work of authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and Alexandre Dumas for the Graphic Classics comics anthology series, as well as illustrating an anachronistic version of the German folk epic, The Nibelungen.

The more money we have, the more Michael we can afford, so please, help FUND IT.

These are prelim sketches for one piece, if you want to see what his finished work looks like, please click on The Nibelungen link above.

Michael’s style is stark, graphically intense and most importantly – different. He will give Gor a distinctive and definitive style and visual appeal.

Art1

Art2

Chronicles of Gor – Worldbook sample ‘C’

Castes

FUND IT!

Caste System: Civilized Gor exists within a well developed and life-shaping caste structure. Everyone is born into a caste and, for the most part, will not change caste during their life. It is possible to, by companionship, apprenticeship or being accepted and initiated into the new caste, but most grow up proud of their caste and eager to take on its duties.

Children are considered to be of their father’s caste while female companions can retain their own caste or join their companion’s caste. While every caste has its secrets and its pride, regarding itself as essential, there are still divisions between the high castes and the low castes.

Rulers – administrators and Ubars – always come from the high castes and are advised by a council drawn from the high castes, though the Ubar need pay them no heed. Indeed, if a low caste ruler should ever rise, superstition tells that the city will fall to ruin.

Castes look after their own, providing caste sanctuary, contributing to caste based charities and taking part in entertainments and competitions determined by caste. Not all members born to a caste are necessarily talented enough to take up the main job associated with that caste. The physicians, for example, can only make the subtleties of their advanced medicine known to the most intelligent of those who enter the caste. Others may find work delivering medical products, working to grind ingredients or acting as couriers, taking scrolls of recipes and discoveries from one city to another.

Male children are trained in the workings of the caste from birth, alongside the rest of their education while women are not typically trained in the skills of the caste until they have given birth to two children. Despite this, many women run households, small businesses or make businesses of hobbies. They also often act as the ‘front’ of the caste, representatives of the rest of their caste in negotiations.

Outlaws and slaves lose their caste rights, though a freed slave may be able to reclaim them.

Chronicles of Gor – Worldbook Sample ‘B’

BarrensFUND IT!

Barrens: The so-called Barrens are only barren compared to the lushness of other areas of Gor such as the Northern Forests or the steaming jungles of the interior. The barrens are actually a rolling ocean of grassland that lays east of the Thentis Mountains. The name is used as a warning against intrusion, rather than a description of any particular lack of fecundity.

It is not a pleasant land, even if it is not truly barren. The Barrens have less rainfall than many other parts of Gor and experience extremes of temperature and weather that can change at the flip of a coin. Border towns lie along the edge of the Barrens, flirting with deeper settlement and occasionally trading with expeditions or those who call the Barrens home, but no real inroads into the Barrens have been made in generations. These settlements are as likely to be raided for goods and slaves as they are to be traded with and their relative lack of wealth means they can only afford to hire lower cost, disreputable mercenaries to protect them.

Massive herds of kailiauk sweep across the plains with the weather and the seasons, the largest herds are named (Boswell, Bento, Hogarthe) and consist of two to three million beasts in one stampeding mass. The herds and the Barrens are controlled by the ‘Red Savages’, tribes of men who follow the kailiauk herds and raid the border settlements – as well as each other. Particularly contested over are flint beds, which they use to make arrow, tomahawk and spear heads when they cannot steal or trade for metal.

Chronicles of Gor – Urgent Update PRINT!

GorPromo1FUND IT!

You kept asking.

Initially I wasn’t going to offer print because it’s been so volatile and unpredictable that it often ends up torpedoing projects by costing them more than they raised.

After a lot of thought and calculation, and a lot of estimation, I think I can offer…

World of Gor: The Gorean Scrolls – $45

Chronicles of Gor: Gorean Role-Playing & World of Gor: The Gorean Scrolls – $75

Both will include both books on PDF.

People who are fans of Gor, but not role-players, will find World of Gor to be an invaluable reference and insight into the series, but won’t necessarily need (or want) the RPG book.

People who are primarily roleplayers will need both books to make a complete set with all the information that they need.

There’s a lot of estimation work involved here and these prices assume that we can raise the full amount and fill the books with the desired amount of illustration, making for the page count these estimates are based on. I think each book should have an RRP in the region of £20 and shipping, anywhere, is £10 or under. So this is the best I can really do given the goal is to raise money, not to offer a cheap pre-order.

I’ll do what I can to sweeten the deal as/when/if we get closer to or over the primary goal and I would appreciate your suggestions on what I can do to increase the value to supporters and get those extra bucks out of you.

Please do pass on the fundraiser info to any other fans of Gor, whether they’re gamers or not. The World Book should have a much broader appeal to fans of fantasy in general.

Chronicles of Gor – What do you DO?

AdventureFUND IT!

A legitimate question about any RPG, and the point upon which everything else hangs, is ‘What do you do in this game?’

A game can have an interesting background, great rules, fantastic art and wonderful writing but if it can’t answer the question ‘What do you do?’ it’s not likely to be played that much.

What do you do?: We raid dungeons for gold, fame and magical items – so we can raid bigger dungeons and get fat and wealthy!

What do you do?: We investigate strange phenomena and battle the secretive alien invasion of Earth.

What do you do?: We’re an elite unit of mecha pilots, fighting in the front line of a future war.

So what will you do in Chronicles of Gor: Gorean Roleplaying?

That will depend on how you set up your role-playing group, something I’ll cover in a future post on the project.

Suffice to say, contrary to the opinions of many I don’t see people spending hours at a time role-playing out the abuse of slaves, or staring into the distance and narrating long soliloquies on gender relations, the nature of men and women or the corrupt nature of Earth society. Rather I expect people to role-play out these sorts of things:

  • Foiling the diabolical plots of the Kur!
  • Exploring the jungle and the forests and finding lost cities!
  • Clashing with bandits and slavers!
  • Getting caught up in the machinations of the Priest Kings!
  • Participating in battles between cities!
  • Leading slave revolts!
  • Pursuing true love across the continent!
  • Getting drunk as hell on paga and starting fights in taverns!
  • Hunting giant tarsk and dangerous tharlarion!
  • Bounty hunting!
  • Taking mercenary contracts!
  • Swordfighting on the precipitous walkways between the high cylinders!
  • Betrayal! Revenge! Victory! Defeat!

You know, FUN STUFF!

Chronicles of Gor – Press & Publicity

GorPromo1FUND IT!

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.

First point of contact is a comment here, a contact on social media (especially Twitter) or via email.

My Gor

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.

Chronicles of Gor – World of Gor Sample: ‘A’

GloriousArFUND IT!

Ar: The City of Ar, known as ‘Glorious Ar’ by many, is the greatest and the richest of Gor’s cities – though Turia or Cos might dispute the claim. No other city has scaled such great heights – or fallen so far.

The wealthiest, most powerful and most popular of the great cities of civilized Gor, Ar long had designs on imperial conquest of the whole world and under its great Ubar, Marlenus, made great strides towards succeeding in this goal bringing many other cities under the sway and control of Ar until they rebelled in the horde of Pa-Kur and were granted freedom at the end of that battle.

Since that peak, the city has fallen by degrees until its ultimate humiliation, occupation by the forces of Cos, betrayed from within and held by mercenaries in the employ of its greatest enemy. Though Ar is now, again, free having revolted against these forces it is a long climb back to its old glories.

Ar’s walls are marble clad, built in two great defensive rings. The outer ring is some three-hundred feet tall while the inner wall towers a further hundred feet, to allow defenders to rain fire upon any force that might occupy the outer wall. These walls are broad enough to accommodate a wagon and have watch-towers every fifty feet along them, guarded at all hours. The city also used to be protected by the Zone of Desolation, a broad swathe of burnt and salted Earth where no enemy could hope to find game or supplies. Despite having been discontinued some fifty years ago now, the zone is still somewhat desolate and thin on game. The walls of the city are said to be impregnable and only cunning has truly seen them breached. There is, or was, a secret way into the city through tunnels from the Dar Kosis pits, but few would dare the pits simply to gain access to the city.

Ar’s cylinders are the tallest, none taller than the Cylinder of Justice, topped by a silver spike for the impaling of traitors. Its baths are the finest. Its streets paved with gold in the legends and envy of the other cities of Gor. Ar’s ways still dominate civilized Gor, even if the city lacks the power it once did.

In Ar high caste daughters are raised in safety and seclusion, in walled gardens, to protect them from Ar’s many enemies who might take them for ransom or slavery. They are trained, there, to be political tokens, companioned to wealthy or powerful men from other cities to maintain Ar’s power.

Famous places in Ar include:

  • Alley of the Slave Brothels of Ludmilla (secretly, once, in the control of Talena)
  • Aulus/Flute Street
  • Avenue of the Central Cylinder (leading to the Ubar’s palace and the government district)
  • Avenue of Turia (a broad street lined with Tur trees, decorated with fountains and home to exclusive shops)
  • Belled Collar (a paga tavern owned by Busebus)
  • Clive Street
  • Distict of Metellus (an impoverished district)
  • Emerald Street
  • Harmadius Street
  • Jewelled Ankle Ring (a paga tavern)
  • Kettle Market (a cheap market near the Peasant’s Gate)
  • Perfumed Rope (a paga tavern)
  • Pleasure Silk (a paga tavern)
  • Silver Cage (a paga tavern)
  • Six Towers (a wealthy area in the shade of six high cylinders)
  • Stadium of Blades (a gladiatorial stadium where low castes and slaves fight and wrestle)
  • Street of Brands
  • Street of Chance (home to gambling houses).
  • Street of Coins
  • Street of Pots (a potters area)
  • Street of Stones
  • Tarn Court (a wide, trellis-covered area)
  • Tavern of Two Chains (a paga tavern)
  • Teiban Street (leading to Teiban Market)
  • Teiban Sul Market (a vegetable market)

Observations:
Ar is, without question, the greatest city of Gor. Even after the occupation and uprising in recent years the city still has a grandeur and weight of history to it which – as with the great cities of Earth – you don’t have to be familiar with in order to absorb, simply by standing in it. The city also bustles with new energy, reborn by its defeat and driven by the indomitable will of its Ubar the city is – again – lean and hungry and were I the rest of the Gorean cities that would worry me far more than a secure and complacent Ar. Cos, in particular – and with good reason – arouses much of the ire of the people of Ar and some great revenge cannot lie too far into the future. Still, Ar is not the power it once was and Cos weakened itself critically in its pursuit of conquest. As a result men as a whole are now weak on Gor and the Kurii must certainly be planning to exploit that weakness in some way.

Chronicles of Gor – The Worldbook Format

WorldFormTHE WORLDBOOK

FUND IT!

World of Gor: The Gorean Scrolls is the non-game companion book to the Chronicles of Gor: Gorean Roleplaying book.

Despite being a companion book it is written and designed in such a way that it contains no game material as such, only information gleaned from the 33 existing Gor novels about cultures, peoples, practices, food and anything and everything else of interest. Gamers will need both books for a complete experience – if they’re unfamiliar with Gor – while fans of Gor not interested in gaming will be able to buy World of Gor as an art book, guide and reference to the Gorean world. It might be useful for people who roleplay online in a less formal fashion, people who write fan-fiction or people who are just in love with the Counter-Earth and want something extra to add to their collection.

The book is mostly an A-Z encyclopaedia. The entries and items are interspersed with ‘in character’ commentary from a man of Earth, brought to Gor and observing the world around him, ostensibly as an ‘honorary’ member of the caste of scribes, working to write in such a manner as to prime captures and agents from Earth for their new life on Gor.

If we’re funded, both books will be illustrated as much as possible, to present a guide that is as much visual as it is written. In particular I want to do the Panther Girls justice as the fierce, dirty fighters and amazons they are – some of them scarring themselves so as to avoid the attentions of men. It was, after all, Verna who was Marlenus’ only equal in cunning and battle.

Chronicles of Gor – The Game System

SystemTHE GAME SYSTEM

FUND IT!

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.

D6.

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.