Category Archives: Old School Role-playing

Barbarians of the Ruined Earth Preface

I’ve gotten a few email/messages asking questions about what Barbarians of the Ruined Earth is all about, so I decided to put up the book’s Preface that will be in the book to answer some of these questions.

Hope you enjoy!

Preface

May of 2015 and 2016 brought great moments of massive inspiration for me.  In May of 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road roared onto the big screen and about made me pee my pants, I loved it so much.  Like LOVED.IT. Like it’s on the same level as the original Star Wars trilogy for me. Watching that movie was like seeing the constant inner monologue of my brain- all the thrash and drone of heavy metal, the imagery from amazing punk rock and heavy metal albums, magazines and smaller zines, and the disgusting, grimy, yet sexy and borderline indecent, dystopian future-feel I love so much- playing on a theater screen.  A blind, toothless albino dude who shreds some metal on a guitar that spews fire?! Ummm, yes please!

In May of 2016, I was hanging with Wayne Snyder (It’s Wizard Time, motherfuckers!) and he asked if I’d ever seen Thundarr the Barbarian.  I told him no and he was all, “Well guess what we’re watching next!” I could tell he was really stoked to get to expose me to this show… and oh man, is it good.  Thundarr the Barbarian is the Saturday morning cartoon equivalent of Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s weird, crazy, and amazing! It’s battling beast creatures on a bridge of light suspended over a volcano!  It’s a mad wizard with hundreds of eyeballs spewing lightning bolts at his adversaries! It’s ape-men bringing a giant animatronic ape creature to life, so they destroy a village of tiny people! It’s my jam.  Thanks Wayne!

While several other influences went into Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, really- it’s these two that fueled much of my inspiration.  With that said, you won’t find a whole lot of fluff or history in this book; that’s not the point of it. I hope the art, classes, monsters, random tables, and sample territory relay that information while still being useful at the table.

Barbarians, much like its sources of inspiration, is meant to be fast-paced, epic, and bizarre.  It’s a Saturday morning cartoon, sans the plot armor; best enjoyed with a smile and a big bowl of sugary cereal.  Adventures don’t need to make sense, be rational, or have a sense of realism (honestly- best leave all that shit at the door).  The world is twisted, untamed, and dangerous: hideous creatures burble and roar, thrashing through the world like an energized mechanical bull blasting through a china shop.  Sorcerer’s dress like they are straight out of a 1980’s WWF wrestling match, a luchador, or wearing some grand Alexander McQueen Avante Garde design. They (and other villains) are nefarious, giggling in delight at inflicting pain or stamping their feet while shouting dastardly plans; you know, some weird/fun tongue in cheek and overly complicated game of cat-and-mouse.

Your players will pit themselves against Animated Trash Men that fling kitchen sinks or wet globs of toilet paper at them, make uneasy deals with Strange Ones for safe passage through some bizarre and dangerous area, free slaves that toil endlessly picking Sorrow Tulips for their cruel masters, and of course just straight up fucking over evil Sorcerer’s who come pelvic thrusting into the world, tongue out, devil horns in the air while they blaze a trail of destruction in their Devastation Machine.

All that I hope is that Barbarians brings you and your group some great (and bizarre) fun, smiles, and laughs.

Grab some friends.  Grab some dice. Keep rolling… “– Mike Evans

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Been Bloggin’ For 10 Years, Hubris Went Platinum and Here’s More Barbarians Art!

I got a notification from WordPress this AM- “Congratulations! You’ve been blogging for 10 years!” That is crazy! I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for that long! It’s been a wonderful (albeit sometimes stressful) experience.

Because of blogging and communities like RPG Bloggers and the now deader than a door nail G+ community, I’ve gotten to meet some really kick ass people! I’ve become close friends with several of them and am so thankful for all of this.

Meeting many of you at Gen Con has been a thrill and a great time and I look forward to this coming Gen Con to reconnect, cuddle, and toss back a few pints of beer!

Because of blogging I was encouraged (and able) to start a publishing company with works that people enjoy, support, and are excited about.

Because of blogging I was able to rekindle a love for a hobby that I was on the way to MAJOR burnout and getting ready to shelve it…

Thanks to everyone for the support and reading! Whether you are new to my blog or have been with me the whole time. I appreciate you.

Ok- enough gushing.

Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure

I went on to Drivethru the other day to look at new books and decided to scan through my publishing catalogue to see if there were any new reviews or comments and lo and behold! I discovered that Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure has gone Platinum! Blew my mind! I am fucking thrilled that so many people dig this book!

On the Hubris front, Jez Gordon has finished preliminary layout on the first Hubris module- Orcs! A High Octane Adventure! for 3rd level characters. Once Barbarians of the Ruined Earth Kickstarter is complete (that’ll launch in June, I’m thinking), I’ll be able to focus more of my attention on getting art and stuff for that!

Barbarians of the Ruined Earth

Speaking of Barbarians– I’ve got some new art to share! These are two new pieces by JV West!

Aside: If you are interested in seeing sample spreads of the book, click here. If you want to see all art I’ve shared from the book, click here.

Hirelings found in the Ruined Earth- Art by JV West


Zora the Barbarian gets bashed by a Car Golem while Rathu the Sorcerer and Atook the Beastman are lost in the creature’s toxic smog.

Barbarians the Ruined Earth: Episode 3- The Terror of Isotope, Part 2

Players

Note: All these classes linked on my blog are the old versions and several changes have been made to the final product.

Angie- Isosceles the Sorcerer

Emma- Robbie the Robot

Nate- Pongo the Armadite

Sami- A Death Priest

Kevin- Short Round the Urban Urchin

Jamie- Kermie the Toad Beastman

Katie- Xena the Barbarian

Brian- A Vek

Note: I’m still a jerk because I got busy and never looked up Brian’s and and Sami’s characters names.

Sneaking Around a Dangerous Situation

Note: Previous session here.

We continue our Barbarians of the Ruined Earth adventures with my my group raring to go, so we jumped right into the action this session!  The group started on the outskirts of the Snakemen Village; several large sand dunes dotted the landscape, with a central pyramid-shaped one in the middle.  Steam could be seen issuing from a fissure in the ground by it. 

I placed the map of the Snakmen village in front of the group. Their map just showed “Dunes”, “Violet Cactus Field”, “Animal Pen”, “Carrion Cage”, and “Slave Pen.”

I designed this to be run quickly and generate what the hell was in each area on the fly (cause fuck if I know where my group is gonna go).

Anyways, I slapped the unlabeled map down and tell them that they have done a preliminary scouting around the perimeter of the village and this is what they see.

The Group Makes a Plan… And Skips Most of- well… EVERYTHING

After a quick discussion the group decides to approach the town from the South and approach the animal pen. Inside they saw a hybrid-animal that was the body of a pig with hundreds of earthworms spewing from the beast’s shoulders and surrounding its head. The group decided NOT to open the pen and let the creatures out, as they were too creepy.

The group headed Northeast and slowly approached the slave pen. They used their Charisma to excite the slaves before setting them free, hoping it would provide a distraction. It did.

Capitalizing on the distraction, the group entered one of the active dunes and were attacked by a Sandstriker lying in wait. The group made quick work of the snakeman and discovered a tunnel leading underground.

The group decides they don’t want to explore any more of the upper village and instead wanted to delve into the depths. The group moved slowly, with Nate taking point to sense any vibrations of hidden enemies. Nate felt two snakemen lying in wait, hoping to ambush the party.

The group charged in and perished the snakemen in most expeditious fashion. In the room they noted tapestries of a man with powerful and stern features lining the walls, figuring it was the visage of the Sorcerer, Isotope. They set them on fire and moved down the left tunnel, before making a right and coming upon the base of a gigantic metal pyramid. Standing at attention at a door were two more Sandstriker.

The group had a little more trouble with this fight and both Sandstrikers passed their Die-hard save. Sami was dropped to zero HP twice and two other PCs were dropped to low HP before the Sandstrikers were killed.

The group made their way back to the room with the tapestries, barricaded the doors, and took a rest to heal up and refresh abilities.

We ended the session there for the evening. It was a fun, albeit quick, session. The first combats went by too easily with some great rolls by the players, so I was happy to have one present more of a challenge at the end.

Aside: This session highlights why I like easy, randomly generated dungeons. My group chose a direction and made their way and it bypassed damn near everything. While I admit that is frustrating it some ways, it’s also important (to me, at least) that dungeons have multiple entrances, tunnels, secrets, etc. My group could have made the choice to explore every nook and cranny (and find some fat loot), but they didn’t. But it also doesn’t mean I need to stat up and describe every room either :P.

Next Session: The group makes their way into Isotope’s Devastation Machine!


Barbarians the Ruined Earth: Episode 2- The Terror of Isotope, Part 1

Session 2

The ACTUAL Beginning

While last session was a fun time, it was more of an introduction to Barbarians and shit than actually having an impact on the campaign. We began with the group rolling up characters and I introduced them to their village of Craterton.  A small ramshackle town of humans (mostly) that was constructed around the chunk of the fallen moon.  Craterton is in the Western Wastes, northeast of Nukatomi Plaza and is led by Maloon, an aging Terromancer who hung up her adventurer’s gear for a “quieter” life. 

Here’s what we ended up with:

Players

Note: All these classes linked on my blog are the old versions and several changes have been made to the final product.

Angie- Isosceles the Sorcerer

Emma- Robbie the Robot

Nate- Pongo the Armadite

Sami- A Death Priest

Kevin- Short Round the Urban Urchin

Jamie- Kermie the Toad Beastman

Katie- Xena the Barbarian

Brian- A Vek

I’m a stupid jerk because I can’t remember Sami’s and Brian’s character names…

An Explosive Intro

I started off the session with showing the group a map of Craterton and let them talk to a few NPCs.  Then I described one of the guards clanging the alarm bell, stating there was a human woman running towards the town. 

The town of Craterton

Once the human female entered the village, she introduced herself as Ella.  She had managed to escape from the slave camp of the Sorcerer Isotope!  She was in the fields of the Snakemen village, picking the purple flowers of the Violet Cactus.  When pressed why she was picking flowers, “They are dried and used to create a compound that makes people have strange visions.  The Snakemen priests use them for their ceremonies and the slaves are giving some to keep them docile.” 

The group then asked about the more troubling matter, who was Isotpe.  Ella explained that Istope was a fiend.  He is a powerful Sorcerer that steals the life of people to keep himself young and healthy.  Ella knew it was only a matter of time before she was carted off to the holding cells in his Devastation Machine to be zapped of her lifeforce.  She planned and schemed and when a guard wasn’t looking, she managed to sneak away through the cactus fields and just ran.  Dying in the desert would be better than at the hands of that dastardly Sorcerer!

After Ella finished her story the guard clanged the bell again.  A band of motorcycles was making their way to the village!  In front was a Pig Raider!  Ella panicked, “Zeke!  He’s Isotope’s enforcer.  He’s found me.”

Marloon commanded the village to close the gate and get ready for a fight. 

Battle Time

I enjoy kicking off campaigns with a quick set up and jumping right into combat.  It’s a great way to introduce or refresh players to the mechanics as well as setting the tone for the whole campaign. 

The battle started off with the Zeke on his monster hog of a motorcycle, two other motorcycles, each with two raiders, and a ramshackle motorcycle with a single twitchy raider.  Zeke demanded the human returned to him and tribute be made to Isotope or else they’d burn the village down. 

With that we rolled initiative.  The group took pot shots at the raiders, but none were successful.  Zeke looked at the twitcy raider, “Alright, Duke!  You know what to do!”

Duke giggled and slapped his ramshackle motorcycle like a pony and charged the village wall.  The group tried to shoot Duke, but all missed.  Duke slammed into the wall and a massive explosion ripped through the village, destroying several buildings and killing roughly half the population (11 people total). 

Note: Not gonna lie- I love Mad Max: Fury Road and any change I get to put shit form that movie in a game- yeah- I’m gonna do it.

The group all found themselves lying on the ground, kissing dirt from the explosion.  The Death Priest was the first to get up.  She ran to the gaping hole in the wall and cast the Miracle Terrify (see below).

Terrify: The Death Priest channels the wrath of the dead, using the power of their words to cause unsettling fear in their enemies in a Nearby area. The Death Priest must successfully test their Charisma for each group of creatures they are attempting to rattle, adding the creatures’ HD to the roll. A GM will determine which creatures are in any particular group. Creatures that are Terrified by the Death Priest must spend all their movement (and convert actions to movement) to move away from the Death Priest for 2d4 rounds after being Terrified.

I decided that for simplicity, the enemies were all one group for Sami to test her Charisma against.  Aaaaaaannnndddd she rolled a 1.  So, the raiders shit their pants and Zeke squealed like a motherfucker, “Isotope won’t forget about this!  He’ll punish you!  I ain’t dying here!”  With that the baddies turned tail and ran, fleeing towards the west, in the direction of the Snakemen village. 

With that we ended the session.  I then placed a map in front of the group (see below) and said the area they live in is known and caravans have travelled to Craterton and have told stories about what’s around.  The notes on the map are to give enough info for the group to choose what they are interested in doing. 

Aside: My group and I only get to play once a month and our sessions usually only go for an hour and a half to three hours (sometimes thee and a half if we are extremely lucky), so I try to give as much info as possible to cut through the bullshit and preamble so we can get right to the action and fun.

I asked what the group wanted to do- and they decided they wanted to smash Isotope’s face in- so we ended with the group following Zeke’s motorcycle tracks. 

Next Session: Sneaking around the Snakemen village. 

Here’s the map, unlabeled. This is close to how it will appear in the book.

Barbarians the Ruined Earth: Episode 1- Escape From the Slave Mines of Vindicus the Terrible!

Session 1

*Note on the Session 1 adventure- this adventure will be part of the Barbarians of the Ruined Earth Kickstarter that is coming soon😊.

The group started as level zero characters in a funnel of sorts.  Every player controlled four children who had been captured from their village and have been forced to toil away in the slave mines of Vindicus the Terrible.  This adventure is meant to feel like a Saturday morning cartoon.  The players need to sneak, use distractions, the events that are generated throughout play, etc. to get past the seemingly impossible challenges while hoping not to get snagged by Miner-bots or Robo-drones and put back in their cages.  Instead of worrying about stats and how strong, smart, etc. the characters are, I called it Child’s Luck- want to attempt something?  Just roll 1d20, if the result is 10 or less, success.  If not, failure.  If the character wanted to outright attack something, the roll is made with Disadvantage (they aren’t fighters yet, after all) and each character started with 4 hit points. 

Aside: Inspiration for this, largely, was the slave mine scenes in Temple of Doom.

The session started with the group in their cells, the lights going off and then emergency back-ups springing to life.  The group grabbed some tools and made their way out of their cages.  As the group vacated the first room, Vindicus the Terrible appeared on a television suspended from the wall, “There are intruders in my fortress!  They have come for the Battle Staff of Disruption!  Robo-warriors to my compound!  Defend your master!  Robo-guardians defend the staff!  Robo-drones, stay in the mines!  Prevent the slaves from escaping!”

With the sounds of battle and cheers of freedom echoing throughout the mine, the group decided to flee.  The group made their way through several rooms, with only a few getting recaptured by a Robo-drone and one got killed when a hovering Miner-bot fell on their head after being defeated. The group also discovered a weird mold-creature that attempted to snack on them, found a magical mushroom but were too afraid to take it, skirted past a room with a face-swapping alien, and found a few laser pistols and sticks of dynamite.

As the group explored, the Sorcerer kept appearing on the screens throughout the mines, looking more and more harried and filthy.  At one point, Vindicus the Terrible appeared on the screen, “Robo-warriors!  Double your efforts in the eastern compound!  The western and southern compounds, including the Robo-dog kennel, have fallen!” 

During the second half of the adventure, the group proceeded more cautiously as several of their number had gotten captured by this point. Eventually the group came across the Sorcerer’s loyal overseer, Glog who was whipping captured slaves.  A few of the group decided to engage in combat with Glog as a distraction while the remainder messed with a vat of molten ore, causing it to spill on the fat slaver, melting his ass into goo. 

Finally, only a rickety bridge and a chasm of death barred the characters from freedom.  The group had to cross the bridge while dodging falling boulders that rained from the ceiling, caused by the explosions and battle occurring in the Sorcerer’s lair above.   

Aside: I’m designing this section as a fun little mini-game.  I need to fine-tune some of the mechanics, but the group had fun crawling and jumping on a bridge was being blasted apart by falling rocks. 

As the group neared the exit, a screen near the door blared to life, filled with static and techo-color.  Vindicus the Terrible appeared on the screen looking filthy and frazzled; anger and panic etched on his face.  White lighting shot from his fingertips at something off screen, “Any remaining robo-guards and robo-warriors!  Report to Vindicus the Terrible’s—”

Vindicus ducked as a robot flew over his head, the roar of a beastman is heard.  Vindicus stood up, “Come to my inner sanctum!  Come destroy these foo—”.  An explosion rips somewhere off screen.  “These fools who dare meddle with Vindiu—aaaahhhhhh!” the battle shout of a barbarian fills the characters ears, as a hulking figure slams into Vindicus, taking them both off-screen.  The screen pixelates, goes to static, and then powers down. 

We ended the adventure there.

Next session- The group rolls up their adventurers!  The group has made their home in the village of Craterton for fifteen years since escaping one Sorcerer only to have their lives fucked up by another. 


Further Design Thoughts on Spells for The Sorcerer Class of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, Updated Rules, and Some New Art

Last week I posted the new spellcasting rules for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth.

After the initial conversations with my wife and her thoughts/concerns regarding the original alternative magic system I had written for the Sorcerer class, I took a step back and asked myself a few questions.

  1. What am I trying to accomplish here?
  2. Is what I’ve written fun?
  3. Is there a type of player who wouldn’t find this fun?
  4. Does this really add anything and really do what I’m wanting it to?

I figured it would be fun to go through this on my blog for those who are interested

Q1- What am I trying to accomplish here?

A1- To capture the feel of Thundarr the Barbarian, Pirates of Dark Water (and the like) with a sprinkle of Mad Max: Fury Road. I wanted to do this with as little “rules” as possible (hence why I used The Black Hack, 1e). I wanted the magic in it to be free flow and crazy as it is in Thundarr the Barbarian. I didn’t want it to be limited to a spell list and spells per day (although the standard spell rules from TBH were included in the book for those that didn’t want to use the alternative casting).

Q2- Is what I’ve written fun?

A2- I’ve been running various games of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth for over a year now and several people have had fun with the alternative casting rules. I watched as my players came up with cool and fun ways to use the spells on the fly… but something was biting at the back of my brain (see below).

Q3- Is there a type of player who wouldn’t find this fun?

A3- Absolutely. What I noticed is players didn’t like coming up with spells on their own all the time, or it would just fall into a “I want to damage them” or “I want to protect myself”… Some players would throw some utilitarian or healing style spells, but not as often as the damage/protect wash, rinse, repeat avenue.

Q4- Does this really add anything and really do what I’m wanting it to?

A4- Once I stepped back and really looked at it, I don’t think it did. I think it wasn’t as clearly written as I had hoped, gave some players decision paralysis, and bogged down play- which is precisely what I DON’T want.

I decided to design spells so they were in line with abilities and weapon damage of other classes, scaling only slightly as the Sorcerer gains levels. Some spells give an added benefit as the sacrifice of another- duration is in rounds or turns (a few are in hours), but I nixed effects that lasted days, hours, weeks, etc.

My goal was to make magic as close to Thundarr as possible. I didn’t want to do spells per day; you don’t see Ariel saying, “Hold on Thundarr! I can’t ride through the night because I’m out of spells.” However, based on the experiences I got from playtesting- I didn’t want to do free form either.

I went through my notes of Thundarr and wrote out spells that from the show (Light Bridges, anyone?). I also decided that detecting magic, danger, or Stupendous Science should be an innate ability rather than a spell.

Finally I give a little advice/thought to creating new schools of magic.

The spells have been cleaned up and changed since I posted last week and I added a new school of magic, Stupendous Science.

Status Update

Matt Hildebrand is working hard on the layout of the book! We are nearly done tightening it up and then I’ll start getting the rest of the art done! Looking forward to this being out!

Here’s three new pieces by the sexy and amazing Kelvin Green as well!

The adventurer’s fight the Terrible Bear Monster
The adventurer’s battle a crazed mutant raider in the Devastator- a nasty piece of Stupendous Science!
Behold as the moon was destroyed by the collision of an alien planetoid!

Here is a PDF version of this as I know WordPress makes tables look like ass in the blog format.

Magic System

Art by Matthew Adams for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth

There are 10 “schools” of magic that Sorcerers harness to cast spells.  These spells allow the Sorcerer to manipulate, harm or hinder their foes, heal themselves or their allies, or even alter themselves with Stupendous Science!  Each “school” contains three spells. Starting at 1st level, a Sorcerer begins play knowing four schools and one spell from each (player’s choice).  Every level a Sorcerer chooses a new spell from a school they already know.   Every third level the Sorcerer learns a new school and gains one of its spells.  For Example:  A 10th level Sorcerer has mastered 7 of the 10 schools of magic and knows 17 of the 30 spells.   

A Sorcerer can cast any spell they know by succeeding on an Intelligence Save.  If the roll fails, they are unable to harness the magical energies necessary to use magic.  If the Sorcerer rolls a 20 on their Intelligence test, they lose the ability to cast spells for 24 hours.  Sorcerers can attempt to cast any spell they do not know, but the Intelligence roll is made with Disadvantage.  If a 20 is rolled when casting an unknown spell, it backfires disastrously, causing harm to the Sorcerer and loss of the ability to cast spells for 1d3 days.  Note that some spells may require an additional roll (as per the spell’s description) to function properly. 

Note on Magic: Players should feel free to ignore the spell descriptions, if they choose, and make up their own descriptions of how the spell manifests.  Magic in Barbarians of the Ruined Earth is zany and crazy; it’s an 80’s infused-kaleidoscope powered by heavy metal.  It’s an illuminated disco dance floor pulsing to the rhythm of fantastical machinery.  It’s inappropriate leather and spandex mixed with maniacal laughter and roars of fury.  It’s what you make it- so have a blast!

Creating New Schools and Spells: GM’s should feel free to create new schools and spells of magic!  Perhaps a long-forgotten school of magic is discovered in a brittle old book, and study and experimentation will unlock its secrets.  Look at the spells listed below as a guideline.  Damage should be comparable to weapon damage of the other classes while durations should be in rounds, turns, or hours- not days, weeks, or years.  Damage and duration should only increase slightly as the Sorcerer gains levels.  In Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, Sorcerer’s can cast spells more freely than standard OSR rules, so attention must be paid to not make these them overly powerful. 

Sorcerer Ability:

Detect: The Sorcerer chooses to detect magic, Stupendous Science, or danger at the time of casting.  Everything Nearby that is considered that category glows.  Duration: 5 minutes.  If the Sorcerer studies the object for 10 minutes, it is identified for what it is and how it functions. 

Arcane
Obtained Spell
  Magical Ally: The Sorcerer summons an ally composed completely of magic.  The creature’s appearance is as Sorcerer desires.  These creatures have 1 HP per Sorcerer level and deal 1d6 damage.  Increase to 2 HP, 1 RP, and 1d8 damage when Sorcerer reaches 5th level.  A Sorcerer can summon a number of these allies equal to their level (must be cast multiple times).  These creatures are not intelligent and obey simple commands.  They do not have any special abilities. Duration: Lasts until killed. 
  Dispel Magic: The Sorcerer dampens a Nearby Arcane spell effect, be it a piece of Stupendous Science, magical item, or another Sorcerer or Death Priest’s spell.  If cast on Sorcerers and Death Priests, but they get to roll a WIS save with Advantage to avoid the effects.  If the Sorcerer or Death Priest has more HD than the caster, they are immune to this effect.  This is also applicable to magic items or pieces of Stupendous Science that are more powerful than the Sorcerer (GM’s decision).  Duration: 1d4 hours. 
  Animate Object: The Sorcerer uses magic to imbue a Nearby object with motion and simple intelligence.  Duration: 10 minutes.
Blight
Obtained Spell
  Plague: Sorcerer makes a Wisdom test against all Nearby targets.  If successful, targets suffer 1d4 damage per round for the next 1d6 rounds (ignores armor).  Targets are covered in boils, sores, and have a clammy, pallid appearance. 
  Confusion: The Sorcerer reaches into the mind of a target, befuddling them for 1d4 rounds. Each time the affected target attempts to act they must roll 1d8: 1-4) Do nothing; 5) Act normally; 6) Attack ally; 7) Flee for 1d4 rounds (do not roll during this time); 8) Attack self.
  Animate Dead: The Sorcerer uses dark magics to summon forth 1d4 Skeletons/Zombies with 2 HD each, from nearby bodies.  These undead remain until destroyed or banished.  The Sorcerer cannot summon any more undead until all current Skeletons/Zombies have been slain or banished. 
Control
Obtained Spell
  Charm: The Sorcerer uses magic to beguile a Nearby target.  The target obeys any command of the Sorcerer, If the Sorcerer gives a command that would directly result in the target’s death or is out of their character, the Sorcerer must succeed a WIS test (with Disadvantage).  The Sorcerer must pass a Wisdom test each turn to see if the effect lasts.
  Sleep: The Sorcerer places a 1d3 targets in a Nearby radius in a magical sleep.  Targets with 2 HD or more are immune to this effect.   At 5th level the Sorcerer can affect 2d4 targets in a Nearby radius.  At 10th level the spell can affect creatures with 4 HD or less. Duration: Number of rounds equal to Sorcerer’s level.  Loud noises can arouse affected targets.
  Hold Person: The Sorcerer uses magic to paralyze 1d6 Nearby targets. After the first round, the Sorcerer must test their Wisdom each round to see if the effect lasts.  Targets with 6 HD or less are immune. 
Force
Obtained Spell
  Stunning Orbs: The Sorcerer conjures 1d4 balls of light that can be directed at Nearby targets.  The Sorcerer must succeed a DEX test to hit the target.  If successful, the target is stunned for 1d4 rounds.  Targets of 3HD or more are immune to this effect.  
  Blast: The Sorcerer release a bolt of energy at a target up to Distant range for 1d6+1 damage (ignoring armor).  The Sorcerer must succeed a DEX test to hit the target(s).  When the Sorcerer reaches 5th and 7th level they gain an additional bolt.  These bolts of energy can be released at one or separate targets.  A Sorcerer can forgo multiple blasts by releasing a wave of energy that hits all targets for 1d8 damage in a Nearby radius (no attack roll necessary).
  Whirlwind: The Sorcerer conjures a whirlwind which engulfs up to three targets (must be standing next to one another).  At the start of the next round the whirlwind flings them Nearby distance, stunning them for 1 round and dealing 1d6 damage.  A Sorcerer can concentrate increasing the effects of the of the spell each round for three rounds.  Second round: stunned for 2 rounds and suffer 1d8 damage.  Third round: stunned for 3 rounds and suffer 1d10 damage. 
Illusion
Obtained Spell
  Invisibility: The Sorcerer uses magic to bend reality and make themselves or a touched creature invisible.  This does not mask sounds or hide tracks made.  Duration: Lasts until the target attacks or the Sorcerer dispels the effect. 
  Silence: Magical silence covering everything Nearby to a target.  Duration: 1 hour.
  Darkness: The Sorcerer release an inky cloud of smoke covering a Nearby area that blocks all types of vision (all melee attacks suffer Disadvantage and ranged attacks miss automatically).  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level.
Movement
Obtained Spell
  Light Bridge: The Sorcerer creates a bright golden bridge of pure light that extends from the caster’s feet up to the Sorcerer’s level x 30’ away.  The bridge can handle up to an automobile in weight.  Duration: The bridge remains for 10 minutes per Sorcerer level or the Sorcerer cancels the effect. 
  Web: The Sorcerer’s hands release a web that grows to encompass a Nearby area.  Web stops movement.  Must make a STR test (Disadvantage) to cut it or burn it to break free.  If freed, movement is reduced to one quarter of normal.  Target must make a new test each round (or Luck roll for NPCs) to remain free.  Test Wisdom each hour to see if the effect lasts. 
  Float: The Sorcerer touches a target (including self?), granting them the ability to float down from great heights (roughly 60’) and land on the ground safely.  The distance is increased to 150ft when the Sorcerer reaches 5th level and the Sorcerer can cast this on all Nearby allies (and objects?) .  Duration: 10 minutes.
Protection
Obtained Spell
  Force Field: The Sorcerer conjures a protective bubble that encases them.  The bubble has 1 HP per level.  The bubble must be destroyed before the Sorcerer takes further damage.  This sorcerer can still cast spells while in the bubble, but not physically attack or use their staff.  At 5th level the Sorcerer can cast this spell on an ally and the bubble has 2 HP per Sorcerer level.  Duration: Lasts until consumed.
  Sorcerer’s Aid: All Nearby allies defend against attacks with Advantage.  Duration: 1d4 rounds.
  Wall of Fire/Ice/Stone/Energy: The Sorcerer summons a wall that encompasses a Nearby area.  Duration: 10 minutes (see description).  Choose type of wall below: Fire: Targets that are within 5’ of the wall take 1d6 fire damage per round until they get further away.  Running through the flames results in an extra 1d6 damage. Frost: Targets that are within 5’ of the wall take 1d4 frost damage per round until they get further away.  Targets become frozen and can only take a partial action (either move or attack) per round while near the wall and an additional round after.  Running through the frost results in an extra 1d4 damage. Stone: Thick stone wall bars passage.  The wall is 10’ tall and will only crumble if 50 points of damage has been done to it.  Energy: Yellow swirling energy bars passage and will even block magical attacks and effects.  
Restoration
Obtained Spell
  Cure Wounds: The Sorcerer heals a Nearby living target for 1 HD of hit points.  At 5th level this increases to 2 HD of hit points. 
  Cure Disease: The Sorcerer releases a wave of healing energy at a Nearby target, removing a single disease from them.
  Neutralize Poison: Energy flows from the Sorcerer, encasing a target for just a moment, removing any poison from a Nearby target or making them immune to poison for 10 minutes (Sorcerer’s choice).
Stupendous Science
Obtained Spell
  Conjure Device: The Sorcerer can create small items such as chairs, melee and ranged weapons, helmets that allow a person to breathe underwater, even laser pistols, or a small hoversled that holds up to two people (GM has final arbitration on what can be created).  All these items are created by magic and do not actually have inner working pieces.  A Sorcerer cannot have more than three devices created at one time.  At 7th level a Sorcerer cannot have more than five devices created at one time.  Duration: 1 hour or if the Sorcerer is knocked unconscious/killed.    A Sorcerer can opt to create a single permanent device.  If they do so, they cannot use this spell again for one week.  
  Repair Technology: The Sorcerer can use magic to repair small damaged pieces of technology/machinery (broken laser weaponry, cell phones, etc.) which are repaired instantly.  Robots are healed for 1 HD of hit points.  At 5th level the Sorcerer can heal Robots for 2 HD of hit points.  Additionally, the Sorcerer can use magic to repair more complicated piece of a technology/machinery (factory equipment, vehicles up to a two-person helicopter, etc.). 
  Augment: The Sorcerer uses magic to fuse cyberware (pg XX) to their body (or another person or creature).  This process is less risky and invasive than the unsanitary surgical conditions in the Ruined Earth and there is no pain or recovery time involved.  If the Sorcerer fails their spellcasting roll, they cannot attempt to augment that piece of cyberware again.    
Transformation
Obtained Spell
  Mist Form: The Sorcerer can transform into mist and float around, up to 50’ high, and back, at will.  While in this form the Sorcerer can move through cracks, keyholes, etc.  They move slowly, roughly 10’ per round.  Only magical attacks can harm the Sorcerer while in this form.  The Sorcerer cannot communicate, manipulate or interact with objects, or use magic while in this form.  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level.
  Morph Object: The Sorcerer uses magic to transform a mundane object (or weak Stupendous Science items) into something else.  For example, an enemy’s laser pistol can be turned into a stick or a metal girder transformed into manacles that bind a target.   The effect is permanent and cannot be reversed. 
  Change Shape:  The Sorcerer transforms themselves or a willing target into another creature of equal or less HD.  The target gains all abilities of the new form.  At 7th level the Sorcerer can transform an unwilling target.  Duration: 1 hour per Sorcerer level. 

The Sorcerer Spell Casting for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth

Recently I’ve started running Barbarians of the Ruined Earth for my Rochester group. We are four sessions in and everyone seems to be having a blast thus far. Hopefully someday I’ll have time to do a quick summary of the sessions, but who knows.

After the second session, my wife, who is playing a Sorcerer stated that she wasn’t a fan of the Alternative Casting rules I had written. So upfront- my wife isn’t a gamer. She plays once a month and does proofing and art for me (to which I am eternally grateful)… so when she starts debating mechanics in a game with me- I listen.

After hearing her feedback/concerns, I really looked at why I went that route. I listed the standard spell list found in The Black Hack (and other OSR books) for those who preferred that, as well as the free form casting. The reason behind this was to try and capture the feel of Thundarr the Barbarian.

When I really started looking at it though, it is overpowered and I felt it ended up being more confusing and cumbersome than it was worth. I then looked at the standard magic list and system and felt that didn’t quite work for me either.

So after some thought, here’s where I’m leaning on this.

New Magic System

There are “schools” of magic, each has three spells the Sorcerer can cast.  At 1st level a Sorcerer begins play knowing three schools and one spell from each.  Every even level a Sorcerer chooses a new spell from a school they know.   Every third level they learn a new school and gain one of the spells in it. 

To cast a spell the Sorcerer knows, they must succeed on an Int save (like attacking).  If they roll a 20, they lose the ability to cast spells for 24 hours.  A sorcerer can attempt to cast any spell they do not know, but the roll is made with Disadvantage.  If they roll a 20 on a spell they do not know, the spell backfires disastrously and they lose the ability to cast spells for 1d3 days.  Note that some spells may require an additional roll (as per the spell’s description) to function properly. 

Sorcerer Ability:

Detect: The Sorcerer chooses to detect magic, Stupendous Science, or danger at the time of casting.  Everything Nearby that is considered that category glows.  Duration: 5 minutes.  If the Sorcerer studies the object for 10 minutes, it is identify for what it is and how it functions. 

Restoration
Obtained Spell
  Cure Wounds: The Sorcerer heals a Nearby target for 1 HD of hit points.  At 5th level this increases to 2 HD of hit points. 
  Cure Disease: The Sorcerer releases a wave of healing energy at a Nearby target, removing a single disease from them.
  Neutralize Poison: Energy flows from the Sorcerer, encasing a target for just a moment, removing any poison from a Nearby target or making them immune to poison for 10 minutes (Sorcerer’s choice).
Protection
Obtained Spell
  Force Field: The Sorcerer conjures a protective bubble that encases them.  The bubble has 1 HP per level.  The bubble must be destroyed before the Sorcerer takes further damage.  This sorcerer can still cast spells while in the bubble, but not physically attack or use their staff.  At 5th level the Sorcerer can cast this spell on an ally and the bubble has 2 HP per Sorcerer level.  Duration: Lasts until consumed.
  Sorcerer’s Aid: All Nearby allies defend against attacks with Advantage.  Duration: 1d4 rounds.
  Wall of Fire/Ice/Stone/Energy: The Sorcerer summons a wall covers a Nearby area.  Duration: 10 minutes (see description).  Choose type of wall below:   Fire: Targets that are within 5’ of the wall take 1d6 fire damage per round until they get further away.  Running through the flames results in an extra 1d6 damage. Frost: Targets that are within 5’ of the wall take 1d4 frost damage per round until they get further away.  Targets become frozen and can only take a partial action (either move or attack) per round while near the way and an additional round after.    Running through the frost results in an extra 1d4 damage. Stone: Thick stone wall bars passage.  The wall is 10’ tall and will only crumble if 50 points of damage has been done to it.   Energy: Yellow swirling energy bars passage and will even block magical attacks and effects.   
Control
Obtained Spell
  Charm: The Sorcerer uses magic to beguile a Nearby target.  The target obeys any command of the Sorcerer, If the Sorcerer gives a command that would directly result in the target’s death or is out of their character, the Sorcerer must succeed a WIS test (with Disadvantage).  The Sorcerer must pass a Wisdom test each turn to see if the effect lasts.
  Sleep: The Sorcerer places a 1d3 targets in a Nearby radius in a magically sleep.  Targets with 2 HD or more are immune to this effect.   At 5th level the Sorcerer can affect 2d4 targets in a Nearby radius.  At 10th level the spell can affect creatures with 4 HD or less. Duration: Number of rounds equal to Sorcerer’s level.  Loud noises can arouse affected targets.
  Hold Person: The Sorcerer uses magic to paralyze 1d6 Nearby targets. After the first round, the Sorcerer must test their Wisdom each round to see if the effect lasts.  Targets with 6 HD or less are immune. 
Movement
Obtained Spell
  Light Bridge: The Sorcerer creates a bright golden bridge of pure light that extends from the caster’s feet up to the Sorcerer’s level x 30’ away.  The bridge can handle up to an automobile in weight.  Duration: The bridge remains for 10 minutes per Sorcerer level or the Sorcerer cancels the effect. 
  Web: Release a web from hands that grows to encompass a Nearby area.  Web stops movement.  Must make a STR test (Disadvantage), cut it, or burn it to break free.  If free, movement is reduced to one quarter of normal.  Target must make a new test each round (or Luck roll for NPCs) to remain free.  Test Wisdom each hour to see if the effect lasts. 
  Float: The Sorcerer touches target, granting them the ability to float down from great heights (roughly 60’) and land on the ground safely.  The distance is increased to 150ft when the Sorcerer reaches 5th level and the Sorcerer can cast this on all Nearby allies.  Duration: 10 minutes.
Transformation
Obtained Spell
  Mist Form: The Sorcerer can transform into mist and float around, up to 50’ high, and back, at will.  While in this form the Sorcerer can move through cracks, keyholes, etc.  They move slowly, roughly 10’ per round.  Only magical attacks can harm the Sorcerer while in this form.  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level.
  Morph Object: The Sorcerer uses magic to transform a mundane object (or weak Stupendous Science items) into something else.  For example, an enemy’s laser pistol can be turned into a stick or a metal girder transformed into manacles that bind a target.   The effect is permanent and cannot be reversed. 
  Change Shape:  The Sorcerer transforms themselves or a willing target into another creature of equal or less HD.  The target gains all abilities of the new form.  At 7th level the Sorcerer can transform an unwilling target.  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level. 
Illusion
Obtained Spell
  Invisibility: The Sorcerer uses magic to bend reality and make themselves or a touched creature invisible.  This does not mask sounds or hide tracks made.  Duration: Lasts until the target attacks or the Sorcerer dispels the effect. 
  Silence: Magical silence covering everything Nearby to a target.  Duration: 1 hour.
  Darkness: The Sorcerer release an inky cloud of smoke covering a Nearby area that blocks all types of vision (all melee attacks suffer Disadvantage and ranged attacks miss automatically).  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level.
Arcane
Obtained Spell
  Magical Ally: The Sorcerer summon an ally composed completely of magic.  The creature’s appearance is as Sorcerer desires.  These creatures have 1 HP per Sorcerer level and deal 1d6 damage.  Increase to 2 HP, 1 RP, and 1d8 damage when Sorcerer reaches 5th level.  A Sorcerer can summon a number of these allies equal to their level (must be cast multiple times).  Duration: Lasts until killed. 
  Dispel Magic: The Sorcerer dampens a Nearby Arcane spell effect, be it a piece of Stupendous Science, magical item, or another Sorcerer or Death Priest.  If cast on Sorcerers and Death Priests, but they get to roll a WIS save with Advantage to avoid the effects.  If the Sorcerer or Death Priest has more HD than the caster, they are immune to this effect.  Duration: 1d4 hours. 
  Animate Object: The Sorcerer uses magic to imbue a Nearby object with motion and simple intelligence.  Duration: 10 minutes.
Force
Obtained Spell
  Stunning Orbs: The Sorcerer conjures 1d4 balls of light that can be directed at Nearby targets.  The Sorcerer must succeed a Dex test to hit the target.  If successful, the target is stunned for 1d4 rounds.  Targets of 3HD or more are immune to this effect.  
  Blast: The Sorcerer release a bolt of energy at a target up to Distant range for 1d6+1 damage.  This spell ignores armor.  When the Sorcerer reaches 5th and 7th level they gain an additional bolt.  These bolts of energy can be released at one or separate targets.  A Sorcerer can forgo multiple blasts by releasing a wave of energy that hits all targets for 1d8 damage in a Nearby radius.
  Whirlwind: The Sorcerer conjures a whirlwind which engulfs up to three targets (must be standing next to one another).  At the start of the next round the whirlwind flings them Nearby distance, stunning them for 1 round and dealing 1d6 damage.  A Sorcerer can concentrate increasing the effects of the of the spell each round for three rounds.  Second round: stunned for 2 rounds and suffer 1d8 damage.  Third round: stunned for 3 rounds and suffer 1d10 damage. 
Blight
Obtained Spell
  Plague: Sorcerer makes a Wisdom test against all Nearby targets.  If successful, targets suffer 1d4 damage per round for the next 1d6 rounds (ignores armor).  Targets are covered in boils, sores, and have a clammy, pallid appearance. 
  Confusion: The Sorcerer reaches into the mind of a target, befuddling them for 1d4 rounds. Each time the affected target attempts to act they must roll 1d8: 1-4) Do nothing; 5) Act normally; 6) Attack ally; 7) Flee for 1d4 rounds (do not roll during this time); 8) Attack self.
  Animate Dead: The Sorcerer uses dark magics to summon forth 1d4 Skeletons/Zombies with 2 HD each, from nearby bodies.  These undead remain until destroyed or banished.  The Sorcerer caannot summon any more undead until all current Skeletons/Zombies have been slain or banished.