I conducted two Q&A sessions in Second Life. The transcripts are here, below. Some questions and answers are repeated as there were similar queries in both sessions.
Q: Do you think the adventure modules can be played in SL too?
A: I think an enterprising group could assign roles and play the modules out in Second Life like a Live Action Roleplay game. The only trick, I think, would be effectively representing creatures, enemies, guards and so on. I think you could though. I’m not THAT familiar with Second Life. You’d need 4-6 people to ‘play’ and at least that to be ‘baddies’, plus the effort to set up the world etc.
Q: I notice that off the two modules one is based at Tharna, suggesting book 2, are you looking more to the early books, or will you expand to the steel worlds?
A: The adventure modules are almost chronological (there will be others that aren’t) moving through the same areas as the books. So the later modules and rules additions will address elements like the Steel Worlds more. That said, there will be some modules out of step with that plan, so you may get some of that early. The game’s base point is set after book 34, so the Pani are present and I’ve suggested some ways to have them involved in the games, especially around Brundisium.
Q: What is needed if one would like to write an adventure module for Tales of Gor? And can it be published?
A: Well, obviously you have to buy the books 😉 If people want to write adventures I’m happy to consider them for publication, but I have no problem with people just writing them and having them up on the web. I don’t _THINK_ Norman or his agent would have any issue with that, they seem quite forgiving of all the online fan activity. If you did want to submit an adventure for publication, leave out statistics and rules, follow the pattern in the existing modules and aim for 6k words plus. I pay $200 (or so) for an adventure module and I’m ALWAYS looking for artists to work with, so if you know any, let them know.
Q: Will there be voyages of acquisition?
A: An adventure a writer just submitted is based (sort of) around such a voyage. Of course the Kurii are really the only ones doing those (for the most part) in the books right now. It’s implied there was some more trade, but since the Nest War the Priest Kings haven’t really been present in the books, save at a fairly far remove, the assassins that came after Tarl etc. I should point out, even if you don’t want to RP, the World of Gor is an encyclopaedia of the books and would make a great reference for SL players – and others.
Q: Why you decided to use OpenD6?
A: The D6 System was used for Star Wars back in the day. It’s a good introductory system that’s easily graspable by new players and for character creation it uses ‘templates’ which fit Gor’s caste system very well. Plus it was free and already made 😉
Q: How much time did you need to create the complete rulebooks plus the worldbook?
A: I guess it took me about 3 months for the initial draft, then a couple more months for reading and corrections. Then there were new books that needed rewrites and note-taking, research… probably took about 6-8 months all told – working on other things too. The writing was finished a very long time ago really, the delay was the art 😦
Q: May Noarlunga: does your system include the incidental things that are as quickly discarded in the books, as introduced, like the giant spiders?
A: Yes, it’s all in there. Even the Yellow Pool. I have probably missed one or two things, even with the best will in the world, but so much as possible it’s all there. Even when there were contradictions 😉
Q: I saw that you add more infos about Gor into the adventure modules. Will there be later a bigger version of the worldbook that includes all this?
A: The reference books are entirely canonical material. The adventures go into more speculation and are non-canonical. I may collect the material into a companion, but I won’t be updating the main book. Unless… we extend the licence and a significant new novel or two come out.
Q: How does it treat the more questionable aspects of RP? Slaves trained to kill, people using guns smuggled onto Gor… and electricity? Amazing how many people seem to forget that Gor had electricity.
A: Varieties of slaves are discussed, including those. In the early books there were fighting slaves – even before Jason – and then there are the ones like Jason. You can smuggle or invent guns but the flame death is likely to get you (at Games Master discretion). I did my best to cover the technology codes but they can get confusing to people. Glowglobes are self contained but not that well explained of course, and Goreans prefer flame. I intend to write some speculation on the technology in a future supplement. Funnily enough, what caused the most outrage was an excerpt I published about the virgin slaves raised apart from men for celebration feasts.
Q: We are here for rp, not to play any game, so what is the added value of your idea?
A: For people here, and across places that RP Gor, I think the added value is a potential ‘common language’ between – say – IRC, webchat, SL and others. The encyclopaedia also offers a reference point for the material of the books, and some very nice art. Tabletop RPGs are also the root of… well, all RP really, and people who want to play more intensely and intimately could use the rules presented to RP things beyond the scope of what’s possible in other formats.
Q: Before you explain us the whole program, can you tell us why we should need that, why we should use it?
A: That’s another misconception Vika. It’s not a program, not a computer game, but a tabletop game. You get together with your friends – either in person or online in some manner – and you play using dice and your descriptions. It’s books and writing, the art of description and pure RP. I think you should use it because of that, it’s truly limitless in terms of what you can do with it. So if you wanted to play out a scenario beyond the easy scope, even of SL, you could get people together in a chatroom, hangout or even in person and play it out using these rules and materials.
Q: Will we be able to buy the products on the SL Marketplace too?
A: I don’t know yet, working on how that might be done.
Q: You told me that Tales of Gor is more about the adventure part of Gor so the in SL strong sexual part is more in the background
A: I think for most tabletop gamers, sitting around the table and being explicit with each other is… uncomfortable, in a way it perhaps isn’t here or on IRC or webchat. So it makes sense to place the sexual element in the background more and to concentrate on the adventure and exploration. But I have long been fascinated with sexual content in RP (and ‘nerd media’) and find the double standards between sex and violence baffling.
Q: I remember that I saw a text on your blog about other cultures that are not yet in the books. Will you use one of them for a later adventure module?
A: Yes, I hope to offer some speculation on Bazi, which I suspect is probably a South Asian culture.
Q: In book 3 Misk the priest-king said that they brought many intelligent beings to Gor..not only from Earth. One we know..the spider people. But it seem there are others we have not seen yet.
No, and I don’t think it would really be my place to bring those elements in. So that would be left to individual Games Masters. There’s also mention of other hominids, briefly, not just Homo Sapiens Sapiens (us). Even without the Kur there’s hominid subspecies like the Urt People.
Q: But e.g. other Earth cultures like the mesopotamians?
A: There’s a lot of scope for people who want to expand from the books. The Farther Islands aren’t much explored either. Be interesting to see Minoans or similar. The lost cultures of The Interior are interesting too, vaguely Mayan/Incan feel. I speculate that there might be a polynesian culture out there too. Maybe even taken recently, given the increasing loss of island cultures.
Q: I think first, people would like to know how that new game can be used to enhance their RP in SL. We know about the world book, the encyclopedia, but how can the rules help?
A: I hope that both books will be able to act as an inspiration in terms of the art, the world information and the general roleplay and storytelling advice. I have a vain hope that the game book and system might be a way in which different Gorean RPers, within SL and elsewhere, can have a common point of reference and relation to each other. The system is quite simple, but flexible, and very accessible. It could also be used to do RP that cannot easily be simulated in SL/Webchat or IRC. More high adventure etc. World of Gor is strictly reference material (with a little meta-fiction from the point of view of a certain scribe…) Tales of Gor is a complete tabletop RPG, but also has some advice and ideas you might find useful. I think some of the art etc might inspire some SL creators making clothers, furniture, beasts etc too.
Q: And you wrote that you will add special information with each of the adventure modules. E.g. tips for better RP?
A: Yes, and expanded rules and I will provide some (non-canonical of course) ideas about areas of Gor that haven’t been covered yet.
Q: Could we play online somehow?
A: Yes Dyhann, lots of people these days play using things like Roll20 or Google Hangouts. Or you could even play in chat or in person here in SL, sat around a campfire or something. A bit ‘meta’ but might be fun!
Q: How do you create a character? and what are its attributes? Is it fixed based characters like D&D or more flexible?
A: The system used is called The D6 System. You can find a freely downloadable set of books for that online, though it’s not customised to fit Gor as in Tales of Gor. The D6 system typically uses customisable character templates. So you would select a template like, say ‘Warrior’, which is already (mostly) statted out, then customise it. But if you wanted to make a character from scratch, the rules are there for that too. You rate your character on Agility, Arts, Body, Dexterity, Charm and Reason. With skills under those.
Q: How do you use them?
A: So your skill total for whatever you’re doing will be a number of dice. Perhaps 6 dice for someone of average ability and skill. Like a city guard. You’d roll those 6 dice and add up the total, compare it against a difficulty to succeed or fail. One of the dice you roll is called a ‘Wild Die’ which allows for big successes or big failures. A high or low roll on that die means you add or take away from the total (6’s re-roll up, 1’s re-roll down). Cross reference either against a set difficulty, or what your opponent rolls if you face active opposition. So fairly simple. Its the system that used to power the original Star Wars RPG back in the day, so you can see how it would be suited to somewhat pulpy science-fantasy adventure.
Q: How complex is it to adapt a story to that system?
Given that the system is pretty simple, with a bit of experience you can just make things up on the fly. The templates and standard characters in the books make things easier too.
Q: I have a question. Is a story run by a game master like D&D or merely scripted with different outcomes. IF there are premade storylines
A: Run by a games master like D&D, but the adventures have some pre-scripting and ideas of how they should run. No game ever survives contact with players entirely intact though 🙂
Q: will you publish special adventures like e.g. on the steelworlds?
A: We plan about 30-40 adventures ideally, basically as many as there are novels and progressing much like the novels (with some side adventures). So we will get to the Steel Worlds, I hope, yes. If we get to renew the license. I love Gor and want to keep supporting it and do it right.
Q: Will you maybe host a library of fan made adventures for it?
A: Some people have asked about that. I’d be happy to host files or links on my sites. Or, if people want to submit their adventures I might even pay for them. 6000 words or so (no rules, I’d write those) and I’d pay around $200. So if anyone wants to try their hand, they’re welcome to.
Q: Is there a bestiary of sorts for the Gor realm?
A: Yes, the main book has a full bestiary for all the more common sorts of beasties, at least the ones you’d be likely to encounter and get into scrapes with. From rennels to rock spiders.
Q: Thank you, bows. Another question Sir Jowan: is there an underlying history on races/tribes/kingdoms in the Gor realm? Competing civs?
A: There’s not that much detail in the novels, other than a few hints here and there, so I couldn’t really give an historical timeline. Rather there are mentions of, for example, the rivalry between Ko-Ro-Ba and Ar. I felt it was important not to overstep my bounds and keep the main books strictly canonical (with suggestions).
Q: What about Normans hint that there are many more not yet found cultures on Gor?
A: I talk about that and offer some of my own personal interpretations, but don’t set anything down in stone. So I talk about cultural transplantation, speculate that polynesians might be being scooped up even now (as islands are lost on Earth). And suggest that Bazi might, perhaps, be a South Asian culture. I hope to explore this and set out some game-only interpretations. There’s no telling if Norman himself will fill in the gaps in the map.
Q: How to include a new culture into the game?
A: I’m sure lots of SL people have created new cities, islands and interpretations themselves over the years. It’s really no different.
Q: I have another question Sir. After creating your character, is that written in stone or can you progress or even grow into another role? For example by a certain storyline. EG: a warrior grows weary and decides to become a monk
A: You can progress freely Radar. Your character is yours to expand as you wish in negotiation with the Games Master. No restrictive class/levels. It wouldn’t fit with Gor. Consider Tarl, a warrior, explorer, spy and pirate! And an Earthman at that!
Q: I see a good chance to use it to leave the encyclopedian Gor RP and go back to a adventure based one
A: I think By-the-Book is good, and perfectly respectable, but it’s a starting point and people want their characters to be meaningful and do good things.
Q: Some games later presented an enhanced ruleset if needed. Would you publish a new or and addon?
A: The idea is that the core books will remain the standard text. Optional additional rules and other material will appear alongside the adventures. I may collect all that extra material in a compendium later down the line.
Q: Is there a compendium of SL Gor gameplay available on the internet. With the books and pple to contact if interested?
A: The game hasn’t been out that long yet, I’m hoping such things will emerge over time. Meanwhile best place for updates is to follow my blog.
Q: I saw there is also a new map of Gor to go with the game? can you tell us about that?
A: Yes, unfortunately it couldn’t be published in the books, there just wasn’t enough space to do it in colour, but you can download the map from RPGNOW and can purchase it as a mini-poster from Cafepress. It’s designed to resemble one conception of Samos’ map floor in Port Kar. So it’s made to look like his tiled floor. It’s consolidated from a bunch of different fan maps, though most seem to broadly agree.