Thursday, October 25, 2018

Origins of DFD1: Barbarians

A book or so back I wrote GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1: Barbarians.

It's got a bit of a convoluted origin story.

First, as a concept. Second, as a book.

As a concept

Ever since I got involved in GURPS DF, there has been a persistent call for a more combat-focused barbarian. A lot of folks were disappointed that the barbarian is more outdoor-focused and outdoor-expert than heavy combatant.

One of my arguments has always been, if you want to be a battle-focused strong guy without Outdoorsman and lacking Gigantism, there is a template for you already - the Knight. It's exactly what you are looking for, minus only Social Stigma (easily added.) It would make no sense for a barbarian to out-do the knight at combat, given that the knight only does combat. You'd be hard-pressed to do it with a point-buy system, too. But I also saw a niche for barbarians who bridged the gap between outdoor experts and combat experts.

So I started worked on my own. I'd seen other people's attempts, and even opined on them, but I found my own approach was significantly different. We had the same idea in mind - a barbarian that was more combat and less outdoors - but different ways we wanted to go about it. Plus I had ideas above and beyond changing the barbarian - I had ideas for a range of options.

Since I have this blog, so I started to write a post.

That post grew, and I realized - I could write this as an article for Pyramid Magazine. Why post up what I could write, polish, and make part of the GURPS canon?

I kept writing, and came up with a set of new barbarian templates and lenses.

I put that article into the grinder, had it reviewed and checked and playtested bits myself.

As a book

But then along came an email from Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch, pitching some possible GURPS books in the post-Ogre-logjam world. I got that pitch because of my resume of previous writing, and my resume meant it had this cool option on it - a new subline of DF books on a profession-by-profession basis.

So within a day or so, I pitched an idea. DFD1: Barbarians. I had the core of it, I felt, and a lot of additional material that Sean and I had written for DF together* that I could draw on.

So I wrote an official pitch, an outline, and sent it in. A few iterations back and forth and we had a book outline and a contract.

And I got writing.

It was tough, like all books are tough.

As the book was finishing up playtesting, we added a new player to our group - Vic. I offered him a chance to run one of the templates I wrote because it seemed in line with his suggested character types. He made a Shirtless Savage Warrior.

It's because of Bjorn's antics in play that I slightly changed the Shirtless Savage to make it more flexible and a bit cooler.

My players had their own input - a lot of Honus Honusson is in this book, because of the asks of the player. Comments on "Raggi should . . . " and of course direct rules suggestions from the rest of my players kept sending me back to the book to re-write. Offhand comments named perks like "Walk It Off." "Wouldn't it be nice if you could . . . " digressions fed into power-ups. And so on.

It's one I'm quite proud of.

* A story in and of itself - Short versions is that I pitched an idea, I was told Sean was already working on that idea, we ended up collaborating and you got our article in Pyramid 3/61.

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