Monday, October 26, 2020

Dickhead Barbarians

The full title of this game was closer to “greedy dickhead barbarians who want to rape and pillage and you play as the bad guys (as in the barbarians)”, but I couldn't really find a way to sum that up sufficiently. Also, this entire game premise was inspired by one picture.

Art @Jaroslaw Marcinek
Dickhead Barbarians
You're a bunch of barbarians. You live in a land of ice and storms. Your people are not smart- though they are tall and strong, most math does not progress beyond counting on the fingers. You get angry easily, and beat your wife to take out your frustrations. You farm greasy, measly potatoes that are just as often caked in rot as not. Craftsmanship does not exist beyond the most basic of armor and weapons- all art is shunned except for the epic poetry of your ancestors and their martial deeds. Your industries exist only off of the ever-shrinking supply of game and fur to trap. Your shamans channel the demands of evil, gluttonous gods who are the only reason you are still alive in their wretched land; despite the constant human sacrifice, painful scarification, and horrible nightmares that these divine beings tend to inflict upon you and your people.

But far away, there is a city. It is a huge walled place, where the sun shines brightly and green plants grow strong and tall. The city is somehow touched by the sun and warmth, snuggled between two mountain passes. Past this massive walled city, which is like a fortress, these people live in green and plenty. The people here are kindly, advanced in math and science. They eat well and many are even fat. They possess healing arts; their priesthood are women- sun priestesses who channel the power of fire and life. The people there only worship the Sun, the life giving, and the only spirit that speaks to them is the Old Man in the Stone. It makes no demands or sacrifices, only imparting wisdom and then slumbering again for another generation. Sometimes these people, who you have dubbed “the nice people”, send envoys to your lands. They tell you to not beat your children, and educate them with runes and writings instead. They give you blankets freely, to ward off the chill, and have even sent breeding pairs of domestic yaks and arctic rabbits for your people to farm. The moment these envoys return back to the mountain pass, these animals are quickly devoured and your bellies filled.

You know what? Fuck the nice people.

Dickhead Barbarian Generation
When you create your character, roll a d20
If you roll a 1 or 2, you are a Pygmy.
If you roll a 3, 4, 5, or 6, you are an Ice Warrior.
If you roll a 18 or 19, you are a Shaman.
If you roll a 20, you are a Cannibal Giant.
If you roll anything else, you are just a Barbarian.

Pygmies are small. They are even a little smaller then the nice people, who already are about a head shorter then the average man of your race. You are not treated very well among the Dickhead Barbarians. You are commonly beaten, berated, insulted, and stolen from since there isn't much you can do about it. This has made you crafty. You can pass as a Nice Person from a distance, if you're wearing a shawl and hide or dye your devil-red hair. You can sneak through windows without making a sound, and you can slit throats of sleeping foes without them waking up and screaming. You can also excuse yourself from any combat once the dice have been rolled- your “honor” isn't worth much.
You have a combat value of One-Half and can take One wound before you start dying.

Ice Warriors are tormented individuals. Usually they are bastard children, who are not treated well in Dickhead Barbarian culture. Almost all were once poor and own no land. Most of them, chosen between lonely suicide and absolute poverty, undertook a great pilgrimage. The Ice Warrior wandered the coldest lands to the north, even less hospitable then your homeland, and kept going until they found the pools of water in the ice that never melts. By drinking a handful of water, each drop burning your throat like fire, you became one with frost and it was the only way you were able to return. Around the ice pools remains the bones of those who didn't have the strength to sip from those cruel waters. Your eyes turned bright blue and your skin always cold. You are now immune to fire and are also tougher then a normal man.
You have a combat value of One and can take Three wounds before you start dying.

The Shaman are the religious elite of your people, while respected and feared by the people, also the subject of terrible burning brands placed upon your skin and the subject to many experiments that drained your body. You were changed by the gluttonous gods. You also know some basic arts of healing and can suck the venom out of another person's veins; doing so takes a character out of the Dying state from poison and puts it into you as one wound. As a Shaman, you have the powers of magic, and can cast one of three spells. Roll a 1d3 to determine what spell you get;
  1. By chewing up a handful of grasses from your homeland, mixed with your own blood you create by biting your cheek, and chewing for a few minutes (at least one exploration turn), you can create a solid nugget of black bile. This black bile can be spit into the wound of a warrior and rubbed in to heal them, which works on both burns from fire as well as the wounds of swords and spears. You can also spit this nugget directly in the mouth of one of the Nice People (they must be captured and helpless for this) and when they struggle and swallow the nugget it will force them to answer one question you ask them truthfully. The grasses used in this spell can only be gathered and prepared correctly by a shaman, but are not especially rare or valuable. You can prepare about 5 uses of this spell each time you leave your homeland and you venture to the land of the Nice People.
  2. By scratching and clawing at your bare skin and giving yourself one wound, you can make any animals that hear your screams go into a berserk panic. Horses buck their riders, sacred komodos rush at the nearest mammal in a hungry craze, loyal dogs flee or bite their masters. You also gain permanent claws on your hands, long and twisted, a 'gift' from the gluttonous gods that have so marked you. You can use these claws as well as any weapon, thus you cannot truly be unarmed unless your hands are cut off from your body- if you have this power increase your combat value to One.
  3. By chanting prayers and waving your arms through an angry, feral dance you can whip up the winds. The winds howl overhead and can be directed by your motions; putting out fires, knocking away arrows, or breaking the morale of cowards. You can use this power whenever you wish, but only outdoors and only at night.
You have a combat value of One-Half and can take Two wounds before you start dying.

The Cannibal Giants are a rare breed among your people. Mothers who give birth to a giant are often killed by it; even the baby is huge. They are pale skinned and have six fingers on each hand. Strangely, they are among the most calm and simple creatures that live as a Dickhead Barbarian, save for their roughly one month cycle of an inescapable urge to kill and eat another living person. They stand about a head and a half taller then even a standard Dickhead Barbarian, making you even more utterly terrifying to the Nice People. You can break the morale of untrained soldiers just by charging at them.
You have a combat value of Two and can take Three wounds before you start dying.

The Regular Dickhead Barbarians are the standard, normal man among your number. They live hard lives, and are jealous and angry at the world, and at the Nice People in particular. Whilst not special in any given way, the standard barbarian gets an extra piece of equipment for free.
You have a combat value of One and can take Two wounds before you start dying.

Whenever you generate a Dickhead Barbarian, you get to pick two items. Regular Dickhead Barbarians roll 1d10 and get an extra common item for free. Along with these, you automatically cobble together what funds and food you can to have enough food to travel for two weeks, a set of warm traveling clothes, and a sturdy, well made iron axe.

[1] Sword- This is a status symbol among the barbarian people. Every man is trained in use of the axe, but the sword is a nobler weapon. As long as you possess a sword, you can parry enemy attacks and no longer take a wound on a tied combat roll- it does not improve your combat value.
[2] Javelin- Just a ranged weapon. Lets you engage with enemies up small embankments, or plant them in the ground to make a make shift barricade. Your barbarians can use bows but don't make them or train with them- the gods consider it coward's warfare.
[3] Shield- Painted with clan colors. Can be used to protect you from the first wound you would take on a campaign- either from weapons or fire arrows (but not magic fire). Lost after one use.
[4] Healing Kit- Filled with ointments, bandages, basic surgical tools, and strong alcohol. Healing kits can be used to heal normal wounds, but not wounds from fire. Each has 2 uses.
[5] Packbeast- This poor, shrunken little donkey is what passes for a domesticated beast of burden among the Dickhead Barbarian people. It can carry stuff for you but more importantly it can be used as a source of food in case you run out; a group of men can eat for about a week off one donkey.
[6] Grappling Hook- Used to climb walls, obviously. You can't climb the main outer wall of the great city of the Nice People with just this.
[7] Poisoned Meat- Can be fed to dogs by throwing it over a fence or thrown in the path of a rampaging komodo-beast. Normal komodo beasts and many other well-trained war animals of the Nice People will not eat it. If a Cannibal Giant finds this meat during one of their “episodes” and isn't told it is poisonous they won't be able to help themselves from eating it. Anything that eats this meat will die after one turn.
[8] Wooden Mask- The Nice People are sometimes said to be frightening by the size and harsh faces of the Dickhead Barbarians. Wearing this mask may put them at ease long enough to draw them out.
[9] Helmet- Makes you immune to the extra wounds caused by slingers.
[10] Battering Ram- Capped in iron, it is quite a struggle to keep a log of this size from being burned to survive a winter in the barbarian homelands, making it quite valuable. Can be used to batter down doors a little faster then chopping through with axes- requires two men to carry it around or one Cannibal Giant. Those who carry it cannot sneak around, as it is very cumbersome.
[11] Horn of Ice-Water- Hollowed out horn of a goat- within is a small amount of water from the mysterious ice pool. Away from the magical pools they lack the power to change a normal man into an Ice Warrior, but drank by a normal man they can gain immunity to fire as the Ice Warriors have for one day's worth of campaigning.
[12] Bloody Warpaint- Crafted by the shamans, this magical warpaint can be put on a warrior before a battle to increase their combat value by one. It fades after this one battle, and cannot be used if you are surprised in an ambush- it must be prepared and applied over an exploration turn.

Whenever you get into a fight, first determine if either side has surprise. Surprise in this case is an ambush; attacking a camp at night, drawing your weapon during a peaceful truce, leading them into an ambush, coming out of a disguise and so on. If two forces meet around a corner or you bust into a house with soldiers in it it's not surprise, that's just normal.

If you surprise the enemy, you may deal one wound worth of damage to a single, high value target among the enemy ranks. This one wound of damage is done regardless of the actual combat value of the unit inflicting it; as long as you had a method to deal that damage. Using javelins or pygmies, for example, are both great methods of this.

If the enemy surprises you, then one character in your party takes a wound at random.

Combat Resolution
Add up the total combat value of all the units on both sides; both the Dickhead Barbarians (players) and the forces of the Nice People (or other Dickhead Barbarians, since infighting will probably happen)

Then, each side rolls a 1d6 and adds it to the combat value.
The side with the higher combat value wins.

If the players win, they kill or route all of the defending units. Most of the Nice People can only take one wound and then they die, but some named characters may instead take a wound and flee, or be put into the dying state and then flee, but will die by the end of the day.

If the other side wins, the players all roll and have a 1 in 3 chance to take a wound and are repelled.

If the battle is a tie, both sides are repelled and no headway is made. The players all have a 1 in 6 chance to take a wound, and the enemy defenders will have lost 1/6th of their numbers.

Example combat- The players include two barbarians, a shaman, and a cannibal giant. They knock on the door of a simple farmer's hut in the lands of the nice people. They come in and demand the farmers give them all their food. The farmer submits, but not before taking out of a knife and stabbing the ringleader of the barbarians in the hand (sneak attack). The farmer is retired elite soldier and you can consider his combat value of 1. His sons are part of the milita, but are scared and cannot fight effectively against the Cannibal Giant, meaning the farmer fights alone. He has a combat value of 1 and your party has a combat value of 5.

You easily dispatch the farmer, but you took one wound. You kill the sons, take the daughters, and break into the cellar to look for any ale.

Normally, combat resolves with a 1 in 3 chance to take a wound only if you lose, 1 in 6 if the battle was a tie, but if the players win they take no damage except due to a surprise. Fire is the exception. Fire is an incredibly powerful force, and is used by the defenders in the form of flaming arrows, or magic done by the Sun Priestesses.

If fire was present and used against the players in combat, for any reason, then every player-character has a 1 in 6 chance to take a wound after combat ends- win, lose, or draw. This includes if fire was accidentally set, or the building you are in was lit on fire. Players can also use fire, such as trapping an enemy in a burning building or stealing fire arrows to use for themselves. In such situation, boost their combat value by +1 for each source of fire. Ice Warriors and those who drank from the Horn of Ice-Water that day are immune to fire.

Every character can take wounds. If wounds are inflicted, your character feel the pain and must suffer with them until they are healed by some method. Healing kits can heal wounds from normal weapons, but only a Shaman can cure burns with magic. If you reach your wound limit, determined by what kind of Dickhead you are, then you are put into Dying. If you take a wound while in the dying state, you die instantly. One week of bed rest is enough to cure a wound- camps and marches do not count.

The Dying state means your character is limping and on their last legs. You can still move, fight, and speak but are running out of strength. Treat your combat value as half. Unless you are healed by a healer's kit or magic you will die in the night while sleeping in camp. Also, taking another wound kills you instantly. The only other way to escape the Dying state is to be very well rested and have bed rest- your warrior's camp is too harsh, but a locked, fire-warmed room with a bed and plenty access to water and food will suffice. You have a 1 in 6 chance to die even in these good conditions, otherwise recover one wound after a week of bed rest.

For example, a Pygmy will be put into dying after taking one wound. Ice Warriors and Cannibal Giants will enter dying after taking three wounds, and so on.

Milita- The weakest enemies, not even half as effective as a regular soldier. They make up the general population, and fight with standard spears and little to no armor. They are cowardly and can be scared by magic or giants. Most of them will die in the event of fire and can be easily chopped apart by an axe.
They have a combat value of Zero.

Soldiers- The standard soldier. Note that they are better trained and armed then you are; they have full bodied shields, full body armor, and short swords. However they are physically small, soft from their days of civilized life, and lack the killing instinct the Dickhead Barbarians do.
They have a combat value of One-Half each.

Standards- These are soldiers armed with no weapons or shields; they only carry a war banner. Their banners are red and gold, edged with silver bangles, and inspire greatness to the hearts of the Nice People. The banners are magic and shimmer in the sunlight. If a Standard-Bearer is present in a battle, all of the standard soldiers fight with a combat value of One. Killing these before the battle beings with an ambush will be a very important tactic to the Dickhead Barbarians.
The Standard Bearer alone has a combat value of Zero.

Slingers- Lightly armed soldiers trained with slings, often recruited from local shepherds, they are most commonly seen in the envoy of the Yak Kings. Before a battle begins with slingers present, every Dickhead Barbarian has a 1 in 10 chance of getting wounded by a slinger's shot. They can only hit a maximum number of Dickhead Barbarians even to their own numbers, so if 5 slingers are present in a battle against your 10 barbarians, only half of them will roll to see if they were hurt, determined randomly. Helmets protect against slingers. Also, after the first round of combat and they release their volley, Slingers are not given armor and only have a dagger to defend themselves, as such they have no combat ability and are cowardly as militia. If you want to make slingers more deadly, make it so that if they double or triple a barbarian party they will have a 2 in 10 or 3 in 10, etc, chance to deal a wound to each barbarian.
Slingers have a combat value of Zero.

Archers- Deployed only as defense on the great wall or other fortresses. They dip their arrows in sunlit oil which ignites as it flies through the air with a harsh whistle. They count as a source of fire, but only during the daytime.
Archers have a combat value of One while fighting defensively on top of a wall or in a tower. If they are in an open field or indoors, their combat value is changed to Zero.

Sun Priestess- Calling upon the magic of their people; the Sun Priestess can channel fire and light through her magic. They can cast this magic at any time of the day. The Sun Priestesses wear red and golden gowns and wield magic staves made of brass topped with bright rubies. With a flick of their staff, fire is conjured and launched at her foes. She counts as a source of fire. Sometimes, Sun Priestesses ride on top of Komodo beasts into battle; Since a Sun Priestess rides on top of the Komodo beast, it is very hard to sneak attack her unless you use a pygmy to climb the beast as it doesn't notice or by throwing a javelin.
Sun Priestesses have a combat value of One.

Komodo Beasts- These huge creatures are only ever seen while being ridden and controlled by a Sun Priestess. Without a priestess, they simply lounge on the road and wait to be fed by someone wearing the loincloth of the temple youth; they ignore everyone else. The Sun Priestesses control them through magic, and become very formidable while on top of one. If you kill the Priestess riding on a Komodo beast, the beast will enter the fight with its normal combat value, but will become cowardly.
Komodo Beasts have a combat value of Two and must be wounded Twice before they die.

Temple Guards- The most powerful and elite soldiers of the Nice People. They have glowing orange eyes and are men, blessed with magic and imbued with the waters of life and majesty. Each one has skin and hair that is so fine and handsome that it practically glows. All of them wear two to three cat paws around their necks as amulets; earned from their feats of bravery. They wear heavy armor but no shields; each uses two swords which they have the skill to use both at the same time.
Temple Guards have a combat value of Two and a Half. They are put into the dying state after taking One wound, meaning they will die in one day but will seek healing or warn others of the barbarians if they escape.

Yak King- Lesser Kings and Tribesmen of the Nice People- said to once be the rulers before the Sun Priestesses became the dominant religion. They are said to still strongly follow the forces of nature. Yak Kings are bigger then the normal Nice People, they have shaggy hair and manes, and also have two small horns that grow from their heads, like the yaks they heard in the mountains bordering the territories of the Nice People and the Barbarians Dickheads (you). If they are injured in combat, they will likely flee to a place of natural solitude, in which case they will heal in one night. You are unlikely to find any Yak Kings in the great cities, but are very likely to encounter them if you try to cross between the two territories through the mountains or passes not guarded by walls. Before a battle begins with a Yak King- they will beat on a wardrum and scream with their retinue. Your group loses -2 of their total combat value unless if you have at least three warriors bang on their shields OR you have a shaman to counter the magic. This obviously does no occur if the battle begins with surprise.
Yak Kings have a combat value of Two and must be wounded Twice before they die.

Great Yak- Normal yaks are too timid and small to provide as a weapon of war, but great yaks are different. These are yaks, herded by the lesser tribes and yak kings in the lands of the Nice People, who have grown to prodigious size. Your Barbarians will instantly harken them to the great mammoths of your land, and will have some basic idea on how to fight these huge monsters. They are usually ridden by a brave youth or a small group of warriors, who tug their shaggy hair to use them as living battering rams. If you manage to win a combat against them, they flee and will kill 1 in 6 of the enemy forces by charging through them, destroying barricades, and generally causing chaos among the enemy forces. If you manage to kill their riders before the battle begins, the yaks become useless and instead provide a -2 combat value to the entire defending force.
Great Yaks have a combat value of Three. They can take many wounds before they die but once they are defeated once they lose all taste for combat. If you manage to hunt one down after a battle you could feed your entire troop for a month.

Snake Priest- Less common then the Sun Priestesses, the Snake Priests and an exclusively male occupation within the temple. Many of them began as Komodo feeders and scribes before they were able to ascend up the ranks. The Snake Priests do not have magic as the Sun Priestesses do, except for the skills in alchemy, poisons, and snake charming. Each of them does not carry weapons into combat except for a deadly snake, which hangs from their arm and will bite whoever they choose. You can avoid being bitten by a snake priest by exclusively fighting at range with Javelins. If you engage in a battle with at least one snake priest, a number of barbarians equal to the number of snake priests in the battle have a 1 in 6 chance to have been bitten. If you were bitten, you are put into the Dying state. Pygmies die instantly because of their small bodies and hearts, and Cannibal Giants only take one wound. Snake Priests are immune to poison.
Snake Priests have a combat value of One and a Half.

Whenever the Barbarians sack a temple or palace, they will find one treasure. Temples scatter the lands of the nice people, but each city only has one palace, belonging to the royal courts. The Kings and Queens of the nice people are noble, and fight as Soldiers even without armies to fight with them. They are very honorable and are held accountable for their actions; in the past, peasants have sued their regents and won. Within each palace or temple will be a single treasure, as well as many bags and coffers filled with gleaming gold coins.

Treasure Table – Roll 1d8
[1] Golden Sword- This magic sword appears as a golden relic. It is finely made, very sharp, and well balanced. The sword is curved at the tip and feels warm just looking at it. The sword is never locked in a box or guarded by chains or locks, which should be the first clue that it isn't quite so vulnerable. If you touch the sword, you burst into flames and die. Anyone who is immune to fire can wield the sword without being hurt. It increases your combat value by One.

[2] Bottle of Venom- This bottle is filled with a swirling green mist. If you open the bottle in an attempt to drink it, it will spray poison gas and fill the whole room. Whoever opened it is automatically poisoned and put into the Dying state, everyone else in the room has a 1 in 3 chance. If you throw the bottle as a weapon; it will poison 1 in 6 of the enemy forces in an open area or battlefield, which will increase to 1 in 2 of the enemy forces in an enclosed space. All those targets are put into the dying state, which means you can avoid conflict and wait until the night when most of them have died.

[3] Stone Arrow- This magic arrow is made of stone, and carved with the tiny hand of the Old Man in the Stone gripping the arrowhead and guiding the point towards its mark. If you fire this arrow at anyone you can see, you can guide the arrow magically towards them, causing them one wound right at the start of the battle. If this occurs in surprise, increase the amount of damage to Two wounds, or an instant kill against most forces of the Nice People.

[4] Feather Amulet- Lesser artifact of the tribal people before the unification- said to bring the luck and flight of birds. Wearing this amulet decreases the chance of taking a wound up one die size for whoever is wearing it. So a 1 in 6 chance becomes a 1 in 8 chance, or a 1 in 3 chance becomes a 1 in 4 chance, and so on.

[5] Healing Wand- Small stick doused in ritual oils with a tassel of bright orange fabrics. Said to be the favored and most precious artifacts of the Sun Priestesses. If you wave this over a person who is submerged in a bath; you can bring them out of the Dying state and undo the wound that caused it, but cannot heal further wounds. If an enemy is in the Dying state but manages to retreat to a temple, they will probably be healed by one of these. You can only use this on up to 4 people per day at most, meaning if you have more dying barbarians some of them will probably pass in the night unless if you can get them proper resting conditions.
Also; any shamans in your party will have an irresistible urge to snap this wand in half, a whisper from the gluttonous gods. If they do, they will be rewarded with learning another one of the Shaman spells, determined from the list randomly.

[6] Robe of the Magi- This magical robe is laced with sapphires and is bright blue in color. It carries the magical power of the Old Man in the Stone and many hedge magical traditions not related to the Great Sisterhood of the Sun. If you wear this robe it is possible to meditate and sense the movements of enemy troops on a 1 in 6 chance per day; the nearest enemy party will be revealed to your mind in a vision. Additionally, while wearing this robe, you become immune to wounds caused by the fire of the Sun Priestesses, but not other sources of fire.

[7] Golden Mask- These masks are famed and very holy by the Nice People- they believe that only true prophets can wear them and will lead their people to deliverance in troubled times. None of them ever try to wear them, even the high ranking members of the temple, out of respect and reverance for the stuffy tradition. You can wear them though, and instantly you can use it to trick a large number of enemy forces to lay down their weapons, pass aside, or get aid from a large number of civilians, etc. This trick will only work once as the news spreads of a “false prophet” and of the evil barbarians abusing this artifact.

[8] Ruby Chain- Golden chain set with rubies and amber stones, polished and fine. This treasure has no magical or practical use, but is incredibly valuable. It is worth approximately four times as much gold then you could normally get from raiding an average temple or royal palace. You could practically buy an entire village with one of these back in your homeland.

Old Man in the Stone
Each city is said to have an ancient stone carving that depicts an old man. This is a statue of wisdom, and is not in any way antagonistic to the culture of Sun Worship or the Priesthood. It is a source of magic and knowledge, and is said to whisper to the Nice People, especially in times of trouble, to give guidance. Any given city is going to have one, a large town has a 1 in 3 chance of having one, and some truly huge independent temple complexes may also have one.

Every time you fight in a city or within a day's march of an Old Man Stone, the enemy you face will always have a combat value of +1 and, depending on how complex your plans are, may also ignore any sneak attacks you perform on them (or they may even get to ambush you with sneak attacks). This is from the knowledge of the stone as it whispers what you are doing to the leadership of the defenders.

You can destroy an Old Man in the Stone by pushing it off a cliff (being pulled by a packbeast or two), having a Cannibal Giant smash it to pieces with a hammer that takes all day, or by having the shamans perform blood sacrifice on several captured civilians; their blood running over the magic stone and desecrating it so it speaks no more.

Every time you destroy an Old Man Stone, regardless of the method used, one of the Shamans in your party can take credit for it. They pray to the gluttonous gods and permanently gain a superhuman resistance and inner strength. Increase the total wounds they can sustain before being put into the dying state by +1.

Campaign Start-
Roll 1d4
[1] Before the invasion. The great walled city that borders your two lands has not yet been approached. You will need a large army, siege engines, or great diplomacy to try and gain entry. The Nice People have not yet been alerted, only archers man the towers, no standards have been brought out of storage, the soldiers are lazy and sleepy. You could also start this campaign in the barbarian lands before anyone has gone to the land of the Nice People, perhaps a few sessions of fighting strange monsters in your frozen wilderness until you hear tales of a warm and sunny land that is ripe for the taking.
The players will probably be a smaller group serving underneath a greater NPC barbarian warlord. You may be sent up the towers and ramparts to kill the signal-fire men and archers so they can't raise the alarm as the barbarians try to get through the great walls. More of a stealth mission in the start.

[2] The Great Battle. This campaign begins while the barbarians are sieging the great walled fortress. The players will be a small strike team, either trying to take out a certain pesky heroic individual holding the line (maybe a Temple Guard or Sun Priestess) or going behind enemy lines to take out some NPC commanders or soldiers. You could also cold open the campaign right as the main walls are breached, and have the players experience a huge chaotic fight with great-yaks running down the streets of the burning city, getting into fights with random civilians as milita, and smashing and grabbing whatever they can from the first treasure room or palace.

[3] The Dying City. This game takes place after the invasion; perhaps the players are the second wave or are just a greedy group of individuals who have nothing to do with a barbarian warhost that smashed through the great walled city. Or perhaps the great walled city just doesn't exist- the Nice People didn't even have a main walled fortress to protect their lands as they were so ignorant of the dangerous Dickhead Barbarians that bordered them. The players can travel around the first city or to towns and villages in the nice people lands, raiding, and avoiding the enemy patrols of soldiers, priestesses, and other threats.

[4] The Raided Countryside. The armies of the Nice People are shattered. Most of the population has been fleeing away from the influx of barbarians- who are starting to take the land and declare themselves the new lords and rulers of this place. Only the most secure strongholds remain of the Nice People; temple fortresses. The Yak Kings are taking their people deeper into the mountains, but there is rumor of a prophecy of an ancient Yak King bloodline that has the power to expel the barbarians forever. As the barbarian invaders, the players must deal with that looming threat.

Rules Considerations & FAQ
Progression Systems
There isn't a lot of progression in this game, in fact players will probably just get weaker as they lose their starting equipment, usable spells, take losses and take wounds. However you are expected to take slaves and loot, perhaps back to the homeland or just back to your camp, and in return you will get access to more warriors, buying barbarian equipment, and healing your troops. Then, raiding temples and palaces will grant you magic items in greater numbers that will improve your party permanently. Shamans can also gain new spells by destroying certain useful magic items or gain increased permanent vigor by destroying the Old Man in the Stone statues; if a Shaman gets to four or even five wounds before they start dying you could also consider giving them new magic powers.

Also; it is somewhat implied the drawbacks of some characters (pygmies and cannibal giants) will be partially amended by successful campaigns; for example, instead of accidentally eating poison meat or having the urge to kill a fellow barbarian, the cannibal giants will be able to eat some of the Nice People they've taken as slaves- it's progression in the sense that you've eliminated a drawback. The pygmies may make up for their lacking combat value and general low self-esteem by gathering up hireling barbarian warriors to serve them with all the gold and treasure they've looted.

How do I determine how many enemies are in a “force”?
Follow the guidelines in the campaign start, or make it up as you go. I imagine forces start smaller; small groups of milita and archers. Eventually as the barbarians advance the tribal people get involed bringing in slingers and yak kings, until the great temple districts start to bring forth their Sun Priestesses and Komodo Beasts and the standard-bearers ignited by magic. Temple Guards and Snake-Priests I imagine as being more defensive, more “late game” threats you have to deal with only if you try to break into the temples or noble palaces to get your loot.

Why do some units have a combat value of zero?
For slingers (after they launch their volley), archers in enclosed spaces, and standard militia. The idea is that they are still present in the fight, but they don't provide any strength to their side in the scuffle, which is implied to be at least in large part a melee. They don't provide combat value directly but indirectly they do, in the sense that when you kill a large number of enemy troops among the slain will be the archers instead of more valuable units.

Sun Priestesses
In short; you can either encounter them alone (combat value of one, has a 1 in 6 chance to wound all of your barbarians with fire damage) or riding on a Komodo beast (total combat value of 3, 1 in 6 chance to wound all of your barbarians with fire damage). They are meant to be magically powerful but are not sturdy- the seemingly useless items like javelins in the shop are to be used against targets like this.

Yak Kings & Temple Guards
These characters are more meant to be recurring rivals or powerful foes, though not as powerful as a Sun Priestess riding her Komodo beast. I imagine Yak Kings hunting the party down every few days as long as they are in their lands, recruiting militia and local commoners as slingers to help them fight the invaders, being like a rival. I also imagine Temple Guards appearing in pairs. Temple Guards are quite powerful individually, but you probably won't see a big army of them, so their combat values will probably be nearly the same as the party. Cannibal Giants with war-paint are your most powerful single force, and they are stronger then the temple guards individually by one half a point.

What's up with Half combat values?
Half combat values are a nice break point. I consider them still useful, you could think of them as “as good as a normal soldier to have, but you can't mass them as well.” Consider a battle where the party has 4 barbarians and a pygmy or shaman, that means they have a combat value of 4.5- you'd round this up to 5. If the enemy force has a combat value of 4, then that means the enemy has a -1 disadvantage to the combat roll, same as though you had a combat value total of 5. But if you had two pygmies or shamans, you would have a combat value of 5 anyway, and the math works out the same. They're tiebreakers, but not powerful individually.

Hey there, hope you liked this game. It was originally going to be a 40 min settings project, based on that first picture I posted, but it quickly spiraled into its own thing. The idea here was to make a setting based on the picture; I instantly thought of icy barbarians looking at a sunny, majestic empire filled with life and being jealous about it. Then I thought of having a ruleset where the players were moreso obviously the “bad guys”, but as it was developed it kind of branched out. While the Nice People are clearly nice, you'd almost certainly want to live there instead of in Dickhead Barbarian land, the Nice People were given a few antagonistic elements, like the weird tribal yak king demihumans in an otherwise all-human game world, and their obsession with giant reptiles and snakes. It's an evil campaign that isn't supposed to be totally cartoonish.

The game was very Conan inspired, with races of humans being given specific detail and traits, especially in regards to size and strength. I wanted the player characters to feel like, while maybe the bad guys, you are the SCARY bad guys. You aren't goblins, you're barbarians who are fighting the soft and decadent empire. But in the places of magic and their champions, these imperials are superior to your own forces. The Sun Priestess for example is just better in every way to one of your shamans; more powerful magic with less drawbacks and restrictions for the most part, but she is surrounded by cowardly milita and an untamable giant lizard.

So anyway, in short, Dickhead Barbarians became a weird, somewhat unique game. I felt like I had taken this blog too far in the direction of just being D&D/DIY/OSR homebrew and material. I've always wanted to have more games; I've always loved making games, even one off little projects with rules and settings combined. For this reason, I ended up really liking what happened to Dickhead Barbarians and now that it is finished I hope you did as well.


  1. This was neat. I think little projects like this are very refreshing exercises in game design.

  2. I like the evil Conan vibe.

    It could also be sweet for a generational campaign, where the party goes on a few raids until some die and the rest returns home with kidnapped wives, then they play as their kids etc.

  3. love this so much! I come back to this post every month or two and re familiarize myself with the rules. hoping to get a group together to play it some day, have you played this yourself?