Tuesday, January 23, 2024

More on Careers - Barbarians!

 What does it mean to be a ‘barbarian’ in the Far Future?

Merriam-Webster defines barbarian as “a person from an alien land, culture, or group believed to be inferior, uncivilized, or violent”. Let me emphasize some of those words.  Inferior. Uncivilized. Violent

OED has several definitions. The most relevant two are:

A foreigner, one whose language and customs differ from the speaker's

A person living outside the pale of the [Roman] Empire and its civilization

With the general idea being simply ‘you’re not one of us, and that fact makes you inferior’.

For many fans of adventure fiction, ‘barbarian’ brings to mind Conan the Cimmerian. He wears hides & fur, and wields a sword. If you read Howard’s works, you find that the differences between Conan and the ‘civilized’ people have little to do with technology. Conan despised ‘civilization’ because he saw it as morally bankrupt. He was not jealous of their fancy toys.

This is an AI generated image
This is an AI-generated image.

We readers can also see Conan as ‘primitive’. Compared to 20th/21st century technology, Cimmeria was primitive. Compared to Aqilonia, they were not that far behind. Lack of sophisticated technology does not make one a barbarian.

Here’s another definition. Civilized is defined as “At an advanced stage of social and cultural development, usually marked by the existence of organized communities and an adherence to established conventions of behaviour; highly developed; refined and sophisticated in manner or taste; educated, cultured”


a relatively high level of cultural and technological development”

A modern New Yorker, with his smart phone and digital everything (TL 8-9) might think of the poor rural dweller in, well, anywhere that isn’t NYC, to be a primitive. He doesn’t have a smart phone and a Tesla model 4! He does have other accoutrements of TL 7-8 life, though. Cable television, modern medicine, new model cars, and a comparable public education.  All that it takes is one TL of difference. The label barbarian may be all in the eye of the beholder. Small-town man does not think of himself as a barbarian, or inferior to fancy-pants city man.

In my Church and Empire setting, from the Talaveran point of view, all the residents of the Corridor could be considered barbarians. Their tech is lower (how uncivilized!), sometimes far lower. They don’t speak Talaveran. They do not hold to Talaveran customs of behavior. Thus, barbarians. Barbarian can be no more than a term of snobbery, a means for looking down upon one’s fellow man. Pride of race/culture. I don’t present the Corridor worlds that way, and my play group has not adopted this attitude, I’m pleased to say.

Keep in mind, that Stavanger is TL-12 and Lanzhou is TL-13. Almost as good as the Empire, but still behind. But do they therefore not meet the definition of ‘civilized’? Of course they do! Mavramorn and VanGoff’s World at TL-10 out-do modern America. Yes, they’re civilized.

What I’m getting at is: think beyond the stereotype of the pidgin-speaking, melee-weapon, primitive barbarian. A barbarian can come from any world, at any tech level. They are a group apart, separated for whatever reason from the main government and society. They might come from a Subordinate world, or live out on the edge in Ungoverned Space.

Let us now consider the Barbarian career, both what it states, and what it implies.

Monday, January 22, 2024

An Interview with Marc Miller

 No, I have not gotten to interview The Man. But this guy Garry Snow did. Give it a listen.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Play Report - Ghost Town, the Conclusion

 The troubleshooters did not spend the night in the shuttle after all. They chose instead to hole up in the chapel, which they had already searched. They took turns watching, first the two guys (Eowan Addison and Jotunn), then the two gals (Krater Constellation and Genevieve).

In the last watch of the night, Genevieve realized that she was being watched. Through a broken window, she saw a vacc suited figure looking in at her. The face plate was shattered – and there was no face inside the helmet! 

Calling out for her comrades, she tried to bring her autopistol to bear on the figure. Once again it darted away upon being spotted, heading in the direction of the shuttle and the arrival station.

The gang gave chase, but it seemed once again that the mysterious figure had eluded them. Eowan and Jotunn entered the shuttle to inspect it, fearing sabotage. Genevieve and Krater searched the exterior of the shuttle, then Krater spotted the vacc suit figure again. This time, it was on the roof of the station! Bullet and laser beam found their target, knocking the figure backwards. The guys climbed out the shuttle's top hatch and jumped over to the roof. No vacc suit!

But wait! There it was, rushing away down one of the 'streets' of the town, probably planning to lose them in the darkness again. 

Eowan (my son's PC) pulled a neat trick. He teleported to a spot in front of the fleeing figure, and body-blocked it into the dirt. Did I mention that all four of these troubleshooters were Psi-trained? This is only the second time in my history as a Referee that psionics came into play.

From the roof, Jotunn used telekinesis to launch a handful of steel balls at the vacc suit figure. He realized his shotgun would be ineffective at the range, but TK could cover the distance! Between them, they finally put the rogue suit on the ground.

Eowan realized while grappling the suit that there was no normal body inside. Once they had it subdued, he cut into the suit with his Blade, to reveal

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Play Report - Hunting on Narok

Only three days of in-game time were covered in the last session. The Crew of the High Victorian is on Narok. And chose to take a random patron job while waiting for the cargo convoy to ship out.

A local magistrate put out a bounty on a local prairie-dwelling beast known as the yong-gong (shrieking thing). He explained that it had broken into some local farms, killed livestock and then killed farm workers who were defending the herds. The magistrate said it had to be put down, so a “Wanted: Dead, success only” contract.

Do you see it?  It's right over there!
The player for the Marquis said he wanted a quick win, and a success on his record. Plus it would be a little bit of good PR for the Empire.

The players are learning, no rushing off without a plan or enough gear. The Marquis secured vehicles, communicators and enough gear. One PC, an ex-Army man bought himself a modified rifle LINK to hunt the yong-gong. The yong-gong is a big critter, about the mass of a Kodiak bear:

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Play Report - Ghost Town

At this week's game session, a number of regulars were absent so we turned to a standalone adventure with new characters. 

At my encouragement, several of the players went for Psionic training for their new PCs. What we got was a selection of low-level Psi talent, which they put to good use right away. 

The group, troubleshooters on Stavanger prime, were hired by a businessman to investigate some unusual happenings on a subordinate world. A mining town there had closed down when a better operation began elsewhere on the world.

The original owners of the land & mine eventually sold the property rights to the patron. He had a team of assessors on site, to determine the value of the location and inform what the patron might do with the land and buildings. 

The assessors reported back that strange things were happening around the town, so the patron hired the PCs to go out and act as troubleshooters. Get to the bottom of the mystery and let the assessors finish their work. En route to the subordinate world, the PCs passed the assessors' shuttle going the opposite direction. They'd seen enough and were scared off.