Friday, February 26, 2021

Review & Appendix N Commentary With C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry & Barbaric! By Omer Golan-Joel From Stellagama Publishing For Cepheus Engine rpg or Original Traveller rpg

 "The fierce, proud, and relentless commander of warriors, standing tall above her enemies and simmering with rage, Jirel bids farewell to the world of treacherous men and walks through a forbidden door into Hell itself in pursuit of freedom, justice, and revenge."

So last night it was a night with an old friend, that friend happened to be C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry in paperback. She was created in '34 by C.L.Moore as a reaction to the Sword & Sorcery tales of the Pulp magazine era. Reading through the stacks of Amazon book reviews is like reading through a laundry list of a comic book or Pulp letters column. The Amazon break down from one of their reviewers hits the high marks; "C. L. Moore created Jirel, ruler of Joiry, in reaction to the beefy total-testosterone blood-and-thunder tales of '30s pulp magazines, but Jirel is no anti-Conan. She's a good Catholic girl, stubbornly purposeful, relentless in pursuit of enemies or vengeance, hard-boiled and a little stupid, and cannot be distracted by mere physical attractiveness. Indeed, in Jirel's world, beauty = decadence = corruption. Were these stories written today, inevitably Jirel would have a lot of hot sex, but as they were first published in Weird Tales between 1934-1939, sexual attraction is mostly only vividly implied. No loss. Jirel's journeys through unnatural landscapes and her battles with supernatural opponents are still wonderful to read, and though newcomers Red Sonja and Xena are more famous now, Jirel rules as the archetypal, indomitable redheaded swordswoman in chain mail and greaves, swinging her "great two-edged sword."" 
The idea that a Sword & Sorcery character not only rules her own domain but that the supernatural won't leave her alone is something seldom seen. She's a warrior & a more then a bit fallible. This makes her far more relatable to the reader then some of today's characters. She's very much in a similar spirit to some of Clark Ashton Smith's characters in a sense. The ironic play of the setting, the masterful use of the English language, and the sly character development all built around C.L. Moore's weaving of the stories. 

And what does any of this have to do with Omer Golan-Joel new Cepheus Engine rpg powered supplement Barbaric! ? Everything really. Barbaric! is the Sword & Sorcery add on book that has the very essence to run a Sword & Sorcery based rpg 2d6 Sword & Sorcery based campaign from the ground up. This means that  C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry  world & setting could easily be adapted into a Barbaric! campaign. Or Robert E.Howard's works, mixed in Clark Ashton Smith, etc. all of the Appendix N writers are grist for the  Barbaric! mill. This book clocks in at fifty seven pages of good solid layout, a readable product, & the quality we've come to expect from Stellagama Publishing

If you want your own Conan wanna be slithering through the darkness, the barbarian hordes tearing down the sorcerer's tower, etc. within Cepheus Engine then Barbaric! is the supplement for you! Omer Golan-Joel does an excellent job of boiling down every Sword & Sorcery & Pulpy goodness of his take on Cepheus Engine rpg system weirdness in Barbaric!. We've seen this before in Sword of Cepheus. 

The difference between Sword of Cepheus & Barbaric! is day & night because of how & where Omar places the life paths, the humancentric elements, the Sword & Sorcery elements vs all of the High Fantasy flavor. This is 2d6 Conan like Sword & Sorcery play vs 2d6 High Fantasy, sure they have elements in common but you know the difference when you see it, read it, & play it. Barbaric! hits the high notes of 2d6  Sword & Sorcery play for the its publishing. Cepheus Atom could be used to plug into a whole new world of post apocalyptical goodness. 

For bringing to life C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry into Barbaric! there are several reasons why it would work.  Jirel of Joiry has all of the 'journey of a hero' elements in place, but what happens to her world when she's gone?! Surely there were adventurers looking for her?! Even on a quest for vengence nothing happens in a vacuum. This is where Barbaric! could come into play. The PC's are generated to go on a quest to find her & encounters with the supernatural result from there. Simple & easy to do a 2d6 campaign from there. Moore's Jirel stories include the following:

  • "Black God's Kiss" (October 1934)
  • "Black God's Shadow" (December 1934)
  • "Jirel Meets Magic" (July 1935)
  • "The Dark Land" (January 1936)
  • "Quest of the Starstone" (November 1937), with Henry Kuttner
  • "Hellsgarde" (April 1939)
For grabbing the  Jirel of Joiry  stories cheaply the Paizo's 

Black God's Kiss (Trade Paperback) is the best source in print at the moment. 

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