#RPG – #Gor Q&A Transcript

Snapshot_007

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#RPG Gor AMA – First Answers

Panther-2

A panther girl from SecondLife. I’m hoping for something less ‘glamazon’ from Michael.

Q: Why are you trying to engage with these people? You know they won’t listen.

A: Good point. It’s a consistent hope with me that I can get through to people, make them understand things and accept opposing points of view even if they don’t agree with them. Perhaps that simply can’t be done in a lot of cases. Not to pick on religion exactly, but as an atheist I end up in a lot of debates with people who operate on faith and that acts like a brick wall that you simply cannot – normally – get through. When it comes to certain ideologies and other ideas I think they can end up operating along the same lines, so maybe it’s pointless and I should reassess. The problem I have is that some good points of genuine crit and suggestion will sometimes turn up amongst the slime, but maybe it’s just not worth wading through the slime to get to it.

I’ll have to rethink. Engaging just seems to make them worse.

Q: Have you engaged with any of the online Gor fan communities? I know there is a vibrant Gorean RPG community on AOL (still) and Second Life (but I’ve never been there myself). If so, how has that engagement impacted your design/writing process? Have you made any mechanical changes based on feedback from the folks who’ve been RPing Gor all these years?

A: I haven’t managed to engage directly with the Gorean community particularly, though I have talked to a few people who have RPed Gor (and derivatives from it) online in various ways – IRC, SecondLife etc – to consult with them. I’ve also looked around many of the larger Gorean web pages, visited homepages for Gorean ‘Sims’ and done what I can. I’ve been impressed with a great deal of what they have done, but many of these groups are rather insular and hard to contact. I’ve left queries on a few fora but it’s proving very difficult to contact people directly.

Ultimately, though, I couldn’t let that guide me much more than giving me a few design goals by seeing the kind of play and things they were engaging in. ‘Online-isms’ as they’re called, couldn’t make it into an authorised Gorean RPG, nor could anything that strays too far from the material in the books (Panther Girls are much more popular online for example, and much more successful and powerful than they are in the books).

Fans are great and often keep games, books and whole worlds ticking along during empty patches. The downside of this is that with no ‘official’ support fans can get rather territorial and fierce about their own ideas. Examples from gaming would include SLA Industries and the LARP society of Vampire the Masquerade. It’s great that people buy in so fiercely and are so devoted, but in working on a property you have to step back a bit from that.

That said, I’d love to talk to more people from the communities and spread the word about the project.

My hope is that even those who aren’t interested in a tabletop RPG, WILL be interested in the worldbook as a reference and creative aid.

Q: James, as someone who is not a fan of the Gor books, what could I find interesting and attractive in this game to make one want to support it? What is the selling point to a non-Gor fan?

A: I think it’s a well-realised and thought-out society from its initial premises. So while not as fantastical or away-with-the-fairies as a lot of planetary romance settings, it retains fantastical elements while being a bit more grounded and gritty. From my point of view, it being a world where nothing is clearly black and white is more appealing and interesting than one where good and evil are easily delineated. There’s also the challenge that Gor’s society and cultural cues and morals are wildly different to ours. Something else that is interesting and arguably much more alien (and hence interesting) than a lot of even ‘hard’ SF.

Also, if we raise enough cash, Manning’s art should be fantastic.

Q: Why did you emphasise those parts of the book? (Trans people being killed and those horrifying secluded slaves).

A: Well, the gender representation thing is a hot topic at the moment so I felt it was worth addressing and looking at within the context of the world and the fact is that Gor is a harsh world with some rather nasty sides to it. The slaying of (most) of the deformed (and ‘deformed’) is decidedly Spartan, nasty and difficult, but it would be disingenuous to ignore or and simply wrong of me to alter the world. Plus, to correct the question a little, it would be those with visible genital abnormalities, not ‘trans’ per se, but intersex.

The worldbook entries I’ve chosen have largely been chosen because they fit nicely into a blog format and not much other reason!

I do think the ‘exotics’ are an interesting aspect and between the Gorean bred exotics and the various breeds created by the Kur there’s a good deal that reminds me of Dougal Dixon’s Man After Man. I mean, the Kur – monstrous creatures – breed humans for meat as we would cattle, yet are the humans on the Gorean world any better? The potential plasticity of the human form is amazing and one wonders how far slave breeders could push it. I also think there are parallels with plastic surgery, body modification and so on ,so you could use some of these horrors as social commentary.

I also think it’s a good illustration of the wild extremes of Gorean society, this is the ‘veal calf’ issue of the Gorean world and illustrates both the extremes of cruelty, the dehumanisation of (many) slaves – who are treated legally as livestock – and the arrogant, debauched, degenerate nature of many of the wealthier, higher castes.

Q: Do you consider the Gorean world to be misogynistic?

A: That sounds like an easy question, but it isn’t especially. It’s certainly male dominated and tends strongly to the patriarchal but is it misogynistic? To say that Goreans men hate women – which is, after all, the meaning of misogyny – doesn’t seem accurate. Goreans prize women, seek women, fight for women, put themselves in harm’s way to gain women, enter into free companionships, work for women, guard women and so on, so ‘misogyny’ doesn’t quite seem to be the right word.

A certain amount of comparison could be drawn between Gorean society and Islamic states. You can argue that Islam (and to be fair, the other Abrahamic faiths) are misogynistic but, similarly, that’s not entirely accurate. From their point of view they are venerating and protecting women and wouldn’t say that they hate them, so we need something else as a description.

It is oppressive, or at least dangerous, for women.

Free women are venerated, protected, served and honoured, but greatly constricted by the society’s rules.

It’s slaves – of either gender – who are at the sharp end of all the worst aspects of the society.

Q: What’s with the hats?

A: I have no idea why certain people are so obsessed with hats (especially fedoras). It’s been a bit of a theme lately. The honest answer is that meeting my ‘game design heroes’ has been a consistently disappointing experience as, frankly, most of us designers are balding, middle-aged men in faded T-shirts, however interesting our ideas. I try and ‘rock star’ it up a bit to compensate. It’s also the same reason I often wear a suit at cons.