Thundarr the Barbarian Campaign


I currently only have three players in my game, so when we're down a man, I really don't like playing my serial-style Conan campaign with 33% of the players not there. In the past we've played board games, but tonight the guy with all the neat games was the one who couldn't make it. Rather than canceling, I had an idea!


As most of you know, I use the Savage Worlds system. The standard Savage Worlds rules are generic, for use in any setting or genre. I've been watching a good deal of Thundarr the Barbarian lately, as my 3 year old daughter is a fanatic. I got the idea that with a game set in the Thundarr setting, I could use literally everything in the standard rule book. Magic? Check. Monsters? Check. Super powers? Via mutants, genetic engineering, and the like, check. Equipment? Mideval through modern through futuristic, check, check, check.

I could use the Thundarr game as a change up for nights when the we weren't running Conan or playing board games. I would run it as an episodic game. That would work perfectly for the spirit of the actual show, but more importantly would allow me to plug and play PCs, depending on what players show, with no ill effects. It would also help if there are long gaps between episodes, err, I mean sessions. :) Players wouldn't have to remember what happened in the last session, b/c it wouldn't be important to the current session.

Modern or High tech equipment would be rare artifacts, treated like magic items. Most equipment like this would not transfer from one session to another, being too old to hold up for long, with no way to repair them, batteries dying, etc.

I told the players that the feel of the game would be different too. Where our Conan campaign was grim and gritty, this would be over the top, saturday morning cartoon style high adventure!

Which leads me to this last week's session, our first Thundarr session. One player rolled up an arch typical dumb and reckless barbarian, but with Krull's Glaive weapon. (For balance, I actually made this a super power.) The other PC was an arch typical smart and cautious wizard. An "ice wizard" to be exact, complete with white hair, pale skin, finger tips that look frost burned, and fog breath, as if he was continually in the cold. (I did tell them over the top...)

I started off by telling them that they had been adventuring together for some time, and trusted each other implicitly. (They didn't start at first level.) There was a tradition that brave warriors from the barbarian's tribe would seek out the ice gods, to make an offering before them. The barbarian, Iroq, was on such a quest, and his companion, being an ice wizard, was also intrigued to see these "ice gods" and learn more. That is how they ended up in these ruins. It was a large complex, and the barbarian knew the ice gods lay somewhere deep with in it, on a level under ground. As they're exploring, they here voice from down the hall. The wizard hides, but the barbarians walks out and introduces himself, showing the buck he'd brought to lay before the ice gods. He's faced by three obvious warriors. Hulking men, almost unnaturally broad and muscular, wearing leather armor, with spears in hand, a sword on their hips. The three are exactly identical in face and body, and the one in the lead is holding a magic wand of light. He aims it so that he shines on the barbarian. The leader introduces himself as Zoso Prime, and says that they too are looking for the ice gods, and if the barbarian knows where they are he should lead them to them. Iroq agrees, and they go deeper into the complex.

They enter a debris filled room that has an unnatural lighting of it's own. Along one wall there is a large metal box, with several knobs, buttons, and lights. Along an adjacent wall are what appear to be five humans in strange white robes standing side by side, each in some sort of capsule, frozen, behind a layer of crystal. Zoso Prime takes a small black box from his belt and begins talking into it. To the PCs surprise, the box answers him back. The barbarian asked "Do you speak to the gods?" Zoso Prime continued talking to the box, telling it that they'd found the ice people, to come right away, and giving instructions how to follow them. The barbarian then laid his offering before the gods, and prostrate himself in prayer. Zoso discreetly signaled the others, and they attacked in concert. One of them missed badly, and shattered the crystal covering one of the gods. Steam began to pour out of her capsule, as a battle ensued. With the barbarian's magic glaive flying about, releasing the guts of one of the warriors, and the ice wizards blasting them with his spells of cold and ice, the remaining two decided they'd had enough, and ran off.

While the PCs looked over the body of their fallen enemy, they heard a woman cry out behind them. "Christ! What happened to him?!?!?" While Iroq turned and kneeled before her, "Goddess, I am your servant" she turned her head and proceeded to lose her lunch. After a few moments to recover, and a few quick questions, she went over to the metal box and began to read the displays. "The damage to my capsule is effecting the whole system. If I don't bring them all out now, they'll die." She presses some buttons, the crystal recedes, and in short order all of the ice gods begin to awaken. They have many questions, but before any answers can be had, they hear booted foot falls running down the hall. The PCs ask the gods if they know a way out. They tell them that they're scientists, not gods, and come to think of it, yes, there is a vent big enough for them to go through behind the debris. The heroes hold off the warriors that arrive, all of whom are identical, while the scientists make their way out the vent. The heroes then follow them. After going through the dark tunnel for some time, they emerge, and block off the vent with debris from that room, stopping the pursuit.

They all talk a bit more, with the scientists getting at least some idea what has happened to their world. One of them finds a medical kit and uses it to bandage the heroes as best she can. They then decide to try and sneak out of there before the warriors, who the scientists speculate might be clones, find them. They reach levels of the complex that are above ground, and enter into a room where the roof has fallen in. They hear a buzzing noise, and above them flies in a figure in dark robes, his face complete masked by the hood. **In my best robot voice** "DO NOT WORRY, ICE PEOPLE, I AM MINDOK, THE ALL POWERFUL. I WILL SAVE YOU FROM THE BARBARIANS." At which point bolts of lightning come out of his out stretched hands to encase the scientists. A few seconds later, the lightning returns into Mindok, and the scientists are gone, vanished! "DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FOLLOW ME, PUNY HUMANS." As he began to fly off, Iroq sends his Glaive to strike Mindok. As his spinning blade shreds through some of Mindok's robes, there is the whining sound of metal on metal and the flash of blue lightning, as if swords are striking. Mindok turns back and gives the barbarian a blast of lightning, "discouraging" further pursuit, and then flew off.

GM's note: There was some entertaining role playing going on between Iroq, Shan the ice mage, and the scientists. Iroq was treating them as gods. The scientists would then insist they were just men, and should be treated as such. Then Shan would say things like "Perhaps they're just testing you." The barbarian would say "Oh yeah, good point!" and continue to treat them as gods. It was classic. There was also a lot of fun had with the characters treating certain technologies as magic artifacts, even though the players recognized what the items really were.

The heroes went to a near by human village, where they learned the location of Mindok's island fortress, and how he and his Zoso clones had been terrorizing the surrounding lands for some time. They make plans to ambush the next boat of clones, take their boat, and infiltrate the fortress.

They set their ambush, complete with pits and spike traps ala Conan the Barbarian at the burial grounds, and easily take out the clones. When they reach the fortress, I described it as being of strange architecture, unlike anything they've ever seen, much of it made of metal. The central tower is red and cone shaped, tall, standing well above the rest. Using stealth, they make their way past the guards, and eventually go into the main tower. As they make their way up the tower, they hear the mechanical voice of Mindok carrying down the hall. "BEGIN THE PREPARATIONS FOR TAKE OFF. I HAVE BEEN PATIENT FOR MILLENIA, BUT MY TIME IS AT HAND! NOW I WILL RULE FORM ON HIGH!" And then they hear the scientists reply, in voices completely bereft of feeling "Yes master." I tell the players that they hearing a humming sound, and can feel the tower begin to vibrate. At first just a slight vibration, but then increasing in strength. Soon, one of the scientists comes down the hall right toward them. Iroq steps out of hiding and talks to her, saying they've come to save her. "Her eyes never meet yours. They have a glazed look to them. She says to you dismissively 'No time to talk now. I must serve the master's will.' and she moves over to a wall with strange buttons and lights everywhere. She begins pressing the buttons, seemingly in some pattern." Iroq said solemnly "What has happened to my gods?" and he sent his glaive into the wall of lights and buttons.

There is an explosion. The scientist is blown across the hall, and the heroes are knocked off their feet. Iroq quickly recovers and goes over to his god. "Recognition seems to come back into her eyes. 'What happened?' she says." At the same time, over the loud speaker a female voice says that the take off sequence has been initiated, and begins counting down. The scientist says that Mindok mesmerized them some how with hypnotic lights and sound. She's not sure what they've been doing the last few days. She goes over to another wall of lights and reads the displays. "Oh no! These readings are all wrong. We should abort the take off." She pulls some levers, presses some knobs. "It's locked in! The damage these controls have taken has made it so that I can not stop the take off. We're doomed!" The vibration is increasing, the noise is now very loud, and it feels like they may be starting to move. Mindok then comes floating down the hall. In his robotic voice "PATHETIC HUMANS, YOU HAVE COME JUST IN TIME TO WITNESS THE RISE OF YOUR NEW GOD. 2000 YEARS AGO MY BRAIN WAS REMOVED FROM THE WEAK SHELL THAT IS THE HUMAN BODY, AND WAS PLACED IN THIS SUPERIOR FORM, GRANTING ME IMMORTALITY. IN THE YEARS SINCE, I HAVE MASTERED BOTH SCIENCE AND SORCERY. THIS ROCKET SHIP IS MY MASTER CREATION. I NEEDED THE SCIENTISTS ONLY TO PUT THE FINISHING TOUCHES ON IT, BUT NOW IT IS READY. I SHALL RULE YOUR RACE FORM ON HIGH. THE WHOLE WORLD SHALL BE MY DOMINION. COME WITH ME TO THE CONTROL ROOM, AND WITNESS MY ASCENSION!" He then floats back up the hall.

At this point, I tell them they are definitely moving. They're having to hold onto things to keep their feet. They go back to the way the entered, but it's now sealed, no apparent way out. Iroq sends his glaive into the portal with all his will. There are blinding sparks and deafening noise. The door falls open, and they see darkness (it's night time) and fire beyond. Iroq grabs the scientist and leaps out the door. Shan tries to stop him, grabbing on to him, but when he lets go of his grip on the wall, he loses his balances, and is yanked out the door with the group.

They free fall through the darkness, until their is a jarring impact, and they are submerged in cold water. When they finally get back to the surface of the lake, they look up, and see a trail of fire and smoke ascending in the night sky, then a bright flash, and it's gone. They gain their bearings, and realize they're now closer to the shore than the island fortress, and swim to the shore. They build a fire and try to warm themselves about it. Then a boy approaches. He is one they know from the near by village, one they regaled with their tales of adventure during their brief stay. He asks if they saw the shooting star that went up instead of down. "We did. You were witnessing Mindok's last act of wizardry. He'll not bother your people again." "You mean, he's gone?!?!" As they boy begins to dance and cheer, the scientists buries her head in Iroq's shoulder, crying for her lost comrades.

And that's how I ended the session.

Not exactly Conan, but then Thundarr is loosely based on Conan, and I know that some of you are fans of the cartoon. At any rate, I thought you might like to hear about it.

I personally had a blast. Very fun. It's not something I would want to do all the time, but as a change of pace for the occasional off night from the Conan campaign, it's a good time.
LORDS OF F&%#ING LIGHT!!! When you add some Barsoom and Heavy Metal too it, that is how I play Gamma World! GW plays just like D&D, but with high-tech gizmos instead of magic items, and mutants instead of monsters - but mix both elements is just pure awesome!!!

You can find the first 3 GW editions here (sorry, text-only documents). The "Retro Clone" movement resulted in a new (free) version called Mutant Future. Because it uses basic/expert D&D as the core rules, it make converting the high-fantasy and science fantasy games a breeze!