The Barbarians of Lemuria

By on 13 March 2009

Artwork:
(5/10) There was some.

Apart from the bright cover the rest of the art work is all black and white. I didn’t like most of the artwork but its easily ignored.

Layout:
(7/10) A couple of issues.

Layout was 2 columns across the page much like a newspaper with each of the chapters/sections well headed and easy to find. I had a couple of issues with the layout but its more pickness than show stoppers.

Overall the logical layout could have been better but its saved by the fact the rules are light enough to be easily memorized.

Content:
(9/10) Much better than expected!

INTRODUCTION – Good genre fit however it was dull. It was almost as though the author wanted to get to a point in the worlds time line so he used the *Insert generic back-story here* trick. Thankfully at 3 pages it was fairly short.

ROLE PLAYING – After reading the introduction I wasn’t greatly impressed however once I hit the role playing section I found that my interest grew. Barbarians gives a good overview of what’s expected of a rp game and its players. The section also does a really good job of creating the feel for game. At the end of this section is the rule for the core mechanic of Barbarians. I found this an odd and distracting place to introduce the rule.

CREATING A HERO – It soon becomes very clear in Barbarians that character creation and rules in general are light, quick and easy to pick up.

HEROIC CAREERS – I just love this idea! There are no specific skills in Barbarians. Instead there is a fantastic (and I really mean fantastic) mechanic for dealing with skill checks. They are called careers; careers give you a high level overview of what your character is expected to be good at. For example if you had pirate as a career you will receive a bonus when making sailing skill check. Also as a pirate its pretty safe to assume you would have been involved with gambling so if you find yourself in a gambling situation you could use your pirate career to receive a bonus. The book sets out which careers you are allowed to take and its a pretty comprehensive and decent list. However for all you out there that like to add your own stuff there is certainly room for this.

HEROIC BEGINNINGS – Another good section that adds to the feel of the system. Depending on where your hero (character) is from it is assumed you will be good at certain activities or you will have certain ways/mannerisms. For example if I had a character/hero from Satarla (a city of high culture and sophistication) you would assume I’m wealthy and arrogant.

But hold on! I hear you cry…this just offends my sense of variety. How can all Pirates be good at sailing or gambling? Why are all the people from Satarla arrogant? Its a simple answer which barbarians explains all the way through. The characters/heroes/villans are all very stereotypical. Its meant that way so heroes are indeed heroes, Villians are vile and pirates are…well…very piratey! Its a game of heroic sagas afterall.

PLAYING THE GAME – The first thing you come across in the ‘playing the game section’ is the core mechanic for the game. Which has already been covered in the ‘role playing’ section earlier in the book. Strange because it really isn’t that hard to get a grasp of. Combat is also covered in this section; and its not bad. Its light, fast paced and doesn’t require mini’s. Following combat is rewards and advancements. Barbarian sagas are spilt into adventures and at the end of each saga the hero’s receive these rewards and advancement. The rewards are suppose to be ludicrously huge. The heroes should receive mountains of gold, baskets full of gems and chests overflowing with silver coins. And then if they wish to gain advancement they have to describe exactly how they spend (blow) the lot! I love it!!!

TRAPPINGS OF HEROES – In this section it has some details of weapons and armour the players could find themselves using. In theme with the rest of the game the rules are light and thankfully encumbrance does not rear its ugly head.

MAGIC,Etc. – I found the rules for magic quite heavy going. There is too much going on for my liking and if completely honest I find it doesn’t fit the game well at all. If it were me I would probably drop 90% of the magic section. Eleven and half pages on magic…about nine and half pages too much is the conclusion.

GAZETTEER OF LEMURIA – This section gives the reader/GM a detailed look at the geography of Lemuria, what the cultures are like in each of the different places and a look at the races who inhabit the lands as well as just about anything you’d want to know about the world. All in all a detailed section which adds to the feel of the game. Its a section I would browse through but I wouldn’t run sagas just based on the information here.

THE SAGAS – This section helps the GM build sagas and even has a number of pre-made sagas so you dive right into Barbarians.

Overall Value:
(8.5/10) You would be hard pressed to spend $10 on a better RPG.

When I started reading Barbarians I can’t say it grabbed me. The introduction was dull and uninspiring. Some introductions by themselves make you want to jump up and run the game already. Barbarians didn’t do this and if there is one change I could make it would be with this.

However I made it through the intro. and found to my absolute pleasure the rest of the book was great. The rules are light and unobtrusive and the character creation helps put the players in the spotlight and makes them feel truly awesome. The career, rewards and advancement rules really hit all the right buttons and I did a leap of joy when reading them!

Trad. or Indie for $10 from DriveThruRPG.com there is no excuse why you shouldn’t buy it. And indeed I plan on adding this to my already busy ‘to run’ schedule.

Reviewed by mr toad

About Guest Reviewer

Guest isn’t a real person, but this review has been written by one (a real person that is). They kindly submitted it for publication here. Their details are contained in the body of the review.

One Comment

  1. AikiGhost

    28 May 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Have you manage to actually play it yet? Its in actual play that BoL truly shines. Its so fast and easy, makes players feel like the true heroes of S&S fiction right form the get go, none of this zero to hero rubbish 😀

    I think BoL is one of my favourite fantasy systems right now so much so I will be trying running a lot of non S&S stuff with it (John Woo style action anyone?)

    In a word “Awsome!”

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