Monday, 1 December 2014

Barbarians of Hyboria

I have historically GM'd adventures in Hyboria using the d20 Conan rules from Mongoose Publishing, and have also run a sword and sorcery adventure with Barbarians of Lemuria. Hence, it was only a matter of time before it occurred to run Hyborian adventures using Barbarians of Lemuria mechanics. BoL uses its own unique setting (Lemuria, surprise!) as an adventure background, however, so it befalls upon me to suggest some Hyborian cultural backgrounds for player characters using the BoL mechanics.

Here are a few to begin with. Where possible I've tried to limit races to five Boons / Flaws each, but some extras have just had to sneak in. I'm pondering whether to include Marked by Crom as an additional boon for Cimmerian PCs. Characters in BoL get a free Boon from their birthplace, and may take a second if they also take a Flaw. A third Boon can be acquired by spending two Hero Points. Some Boons are unique to certain races - so far, only the Himelians have Detect Deception, and the Kushites have a monopoly on Jungle Tracker.


Savage hillmen who dwell in the highlands north of Aquilonia and Nemedia. Fierce, clannish people with little scope for uniting under central leadership. Cimmerian characters take Barbarian as their first career.

Boons: Cimmerian Strength, Disease Immunity, Hard to Kill, Quick Recovery, Rock Tracker,  Cimmerian War Cry ("Crom!"). Flaws: Country Bumpkin, Distrust of Sorcery, Feels the Heat, Illiterate, Taciturn

Himelian Tribesman

Fierce tribes that dwell in the mountain range that divides Vendhya from the wide plains of Hyrkania. Independent and fond of war, they often raid into Vendhya and Iranistan when the opportunity presents. Himelian tribesmen must take Barbarian as their first career. Missing Eye / Ear reflects both the fact that Himelians get exposure to tribal warfare at an early age, and a popular form of punishment among the hill tribes.

Boons:  Detect Deception, Fighting Knife, Quick Recovery, Rock Tracker, Sneaky. Flaws: Country Bumpkin, Landlubber, Missing Eye / Ear, Untrustworthy


A nomadic people, they wander across the broad tundra to the north and east of Turan, and west of Khitai. They rear livestock and hunt strange beats on the grasslands. They are excellent horsemen. Starting Hyrkanian characters must take Barbarian or Slave as their first career.

Boons: Beast Friend, Hyrkanian Agility, Keen Eyesight, Keen Scent, Plains Tracker, Hyrkanian Curved Bow. Flaws:  Arrogant, Country Bumpkin, Illiterate, Ugly and Brutish, Untrustworthy.


Originally a nomadic tribe like the Hyrkanians, the Turanians have established a formidable empire on the shores of the Sea of Vilayet. Although still accomplished riders, they now have a considerable navy as well.

Boons: Etiquette, Great Wealth, Swamp Tracker, Thieves Tools, Turanian Tulwar. Flaws: City Dweller, Cravings, Feels the Cold, Greed, Poor recovery.


An ancient oriental empire that has pushed out the frontiers of learning and sorcery, little is known of it in the Hyborian lands, although sometimes Khitan sorcerers and monks will travel to the western lands. Khitan Alchemists are justly renowned. Special Item reflects the possible possession of a piece of Khitan technology, like gunpowder or some of their fabled Yellow Lotus Dust!

Boons: Learned, Magic Resistance, Poison Immunity, Power of the Void, Special Item. Flaws: Combat Paralysis, Cravings, Delicate, Taciturn, Unsettling


A catch all term for most of the black skinned tribes that dwell in the hotter climes south of Stygia and over the deserts from Shem. This includes Darfar, Keshan, and the cities of Punt and Zembabwei. Kushite adventurers must begin with either the Barbarian or Hunter careers.

Boons: Beast Friend, Fighting Spear, Jungle Tracker, Keen Hearing, Keen Scent. Flaws: Country Bumpkin, Distrust of Sorcery, Feels the Cold, Illiterate, Taciturn.


Covers the kingdoms and tribal fiefdoms of Asgard and Vanaheim, impoverished lands that spawn warriors and pirates for the most part. Adventurers from these climes tend to be hot tempered and motivated by loot. It is very unlikely to meet sorcerers or alchemists from Nordheim. Only Aesir characters can take Landlubber as a flaw. Missing Limb reflects the frequent internecine warfare and piracy that is so much a part of Nordheimer society.

Boons: Keen Scent, Marked by the Gods, Snow Tracker, Quick Recovery, Asgardian Blade, Vanir War Cry. Flaws: Drunkard, Feels the Heat, Greed, Landlubber, Lumbering, Missing Limb.


Forest-dwelling savages who populate the wilderness areas to the west of Aquilonia and north of Zingara. They rarely venture into civilized lands other than to raid border settlements. Conan d20 has them as a racial option, so I've included them here. Their first career must be Hunter or Savage.

Boons: Beast Friend, Forest Tracker, Keen Scent, Night Sight, Pictish War Cry. Flaws: Country Bumpkin, Delicate, Fear of Fire, Illiterate, Taciturn, Ugly and Brutish.

That's pretty much it for now. If there's interest, I'll add some more when I have time. Note: there is no Sky Pilot career in Barbarians of Hyboria.

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