A wizard once came to the mountainside village where you were born and lived. You were a child. You remember the wizard as a terrible, nightmare figure — man or woman, beautiful or grotesque, you’ll never remember. Your parents hid you and you couldn’t see what happened. The wizard summoned fearsome creatures in armor who butchered your family and all the people you ever knew, butchered many and enslaved the rest for the wizard’s use. You stayed hidden and they never found you.
You were soon taken in by your village’s enemies, a clan of blood-thirsty raiders and brigands. They adopted you not out of mercy or kindness, but indifferently, simply to replace one of their own who had been killed in battle.
You were theirs for two decades, raiding, fighting, murdering, robbing. You found yourself fearless, throwing yourself into deadly peril with no thought of hesitation, driven by the roaring of your blood. You found yourself powerful, strong, and skilled. You wondered if you were conscienceless. At last, not long ago, awash in gore, your sword in your hands, your heart reawoke and you realized who you are.
You’re a killer, but you’ll no longer kill people for their wealth, for pride of place, or to ease your own bloodlust. You’ll kill wizards, and you’ll kill them for revenge. Let all wizards beware!
A wizard murdered and enslaved your people. Now you’re among strangers, on a bloody quest for revenge. Let all wizards beware!
To play The Barbarian’s Bloody Quest, you need two volunteer GMs (or more than two, it’s fine) to play against you. You have your booklet of rules, which you’re responsible for knowing and bringing into play for yourself, and your volunteers have their own document: “The Book of Doomed Wizards,” their guide to the wizards you’ll face on your quest. Don’t read it! It’s for them, not for you.
Your goal in the game is to follow your quest for revenge into danger, and to emerge victorious when you can.
Each session that you play is an adventure in your barbarian’s quest: an encounter with a wizard, whose magics you’ll face and whose magical defenses and guardians you’ll hope to defeat. You can play as often or rarely as you like, and you can call upon the same volunteers, or different ones, every time you play. Just pass The Book of Doomed Wizards over to them so that they can mark your progress through it.
System & Dice
The Barbarian’s Bloody Quest uses a dice pool version of Powered by the Apocalypse’s moves. Here’s they’re called exertions, and they describe how you exert yourself to get things done:
- You can exert your instincts to grasp and react to a dangerous situation.
- You can exert yourself with openness and warmth, to approach and get to know someone.
- You can exert yourself physically against the mass and momentum of an uncooperative or unsensible thing.
…And so on.
When you exert yourself, roll a number of 6-sided dice and count the 4s, 5s, and 6s as hits. Each hit you roll gives you an option, a chance, or a better outcome.
The Book of Doomed Wizards
“The Book of Doomed Wizards” contains all of the wizards you might encounter in your quest. It gives your volunteers everything they need to help you pursue your vengeance:
- Wizards at a range of powers, from the grasping and lowly, to the secure and masterful, all subject to their own sorcerous ambitions;
- Each wizard’s protections and guardians, from warning intuitions and hissed spells of dissuasion, to baroque ceremonies of protection and monstrous otherworldly bodyguards;
- How each wizard, unique in their experience of the world and its impingement upon their plasmic psyches, responds to simple and genuine human acts;
- Whether each wizard is the one who wronged the barbarian, and how the barbarian can tell;
- The useful skills the barbarian learned in facing each wizard, or the useful items the barbarian might discover among their things.
As you play through your quest, your volunteers also record your adventures in the Book of Doomed Wizards.
Content warning: Moderate fantasy violence. Moderate fantasy horror, including body horror, magical enslavement, magical parasites, and questions of personhood.
Suitable for teens and adults.
The Wizard’s Grimoire
The Barbarian’s Bloody Quest is second in a series of zine-sized tabletop rpgs that share a world and a system. In the first game, The Wizard’s Grimoire, you’re an ambitious wizard with a grimoire beyond your arts. This game turns the tables: now you’re a warrior and wanderer sworn to vengeance upon the wizard who wronged you.
The games are compatible! If you have both games, one of you can play the barbarian from this game, and one of you can play the wizard from that game. As long as you can set aside your differences, there’s no reason why you can’t work together for your mutual good.
Past & Future Issues (Spoilers!)
- The Wizard’s Grimoire, available now: The first issue! You’re an ambitious wizard with a grimoire beyond your arts. Unlock it and discover the wizardry within. Includes a challenging 1st-level grimoire: “The Signature of Aibesta of the Two Courts.”
- The Barbarian’s Bloody Quest, available now: A wizard murdered and enslaved your people. Now you’re among strangers, on a bloody quest for revenge. Let all wizards beware! Includes “The Book of Doomed Wizards.”
- The Last Adventure, available now: You’re an old warrior, champion, and monster slayer. Now you’ve come to die. Take up the memory of your sword, the memory of your shield, and make your last adventure in the land of death! Includes “In the Land of Death.”
- The Thief & the Necromancer, coming soon: You’re friends, a gifted necromancer and a thief and street performer. You’ve both escaped bad situations and you’ve thrown in together to take on the world. Includes “Goerne, a Ghostly Tutor.”
- The Wizard, the Warrior, & the Wastrel, coming soon: A guide and rules for switching up the solo adventure format of play. For use with The Wizard’s Grimoire, The Barbarian’s Bloody Quest, and The Last Adventure. Includes “The Wastrel,” a hedonist and thief (originally released as “The Barbarian’s Companion”).
- Three Grimoires, coming soon: Includes “The Dictum of Polume the Farer,” “The Three Scrolls of Jorvelte Wild-Crowned,” and “The Red Tome of Salabrusto the Wise,” for use with The Wizard’s Grimoire.
Coming soon from lumpley games!