I have been a role-player for longer than I have been a wargamer. Admittedly, as kids in the late sixties and early seventies we didn’t use dice but were more into Live Action Role Playing – fighting off Germans and Japanese invaders in the back yard for the most part. In my teens I discovered what we now call roleplaying – with paper and dice. I was hooked and it has been a hobby that has run alongside my wargaming interests ever since.I have not done much in recent years – much to the chagrin of my RP-friends who keep hassling me to get ‘something going’ again.
So…what to play. I have had a hankering for a simple Sword and Sorcery campaign – something like Conan the Barbarian. I played around with creating my own world (I am an avid map-drawer since I was a kid) but just couldn’t find the time to get my arse into gear and get something created. I also have pretty much used either the Hero System or Harnmaster for most of the last thirty years and decided that a break from those was required. Fortuitously, last year I discovered Beasts and Barbarians, by Umberto Pignatelli.
This is a fully fledged fantasy world set in the Dread Sea Dominions. Pretty much all the classic Sword and Sorcery tropes are included, with some nice touches. Steel is a relic metal from an earlier, more advanced civilisation – most people are using bronze and iron at best. Wildebeast riding Black barbarians from the Ivory Savannah fight scaled cataphract riders, fierce Mongol-like nomads call the Valk swarm in from the unknown East, a large decadent Empire (or two) that have seen better days and are now just corrupted shadows of their former selves, and of course, there are black haired, mightily thewed barbarians with smouldering blue eyes from the cold grey hills of the north (and that is just the women).
The game uses the Savage Worlds rule set – which if you have not played it is a great, simple set of rules that can be adapted for any genre. They are built around ease of play and the fact that player characters are heroes. They easily chop their way through minions until they are standing in piles of reeking gore, leaving them battered and bruised for the final confrontation with the big bad guy of the session.
There are a heap of free adventures available, and a growing compendium of supplements that further flesh out the game world. The entire lot is available as PDF files which is my preferred way of buying roleplaying product now – it takes up a hell of a lot less shelf-space for starters. The artwork is very cool. Some examples.
The game book has a simple hand-drawn map that is pretty cool as far as it goes.
I decided that the world needed fleshing out. In a form of role-playing solitary vice, I decided to expand the original map and add a bit more of the world (well my version of it anyway). I have not even made a character or NPC up for this game and already I am thinking about mapping the other continents as well.
Full Size Map
Now I have to get the guys together to make some characters, fill a flagon and get gaming.