Barbarians of Heavy Metal Design Diary 7

Hi folks, Nathaniel here again for my weekly BoHM update. The conceptual design is moving along quite swimmingly and I’d like to thank TVP again for letting me host this Diary on his blog. It has been very useful for gathering my thoughts and getting feedback on them. Now onto…


Any GM section must do three things:

1. Instruct GMs in their duties and provide examples of running the game.

This is pretty standard stuff and doesn’t require a lot in the way of explanation. Tell them their role, show a few examples of play, etc. What a lot of modern games fail to do, however, is to emphasize the total freedom the GM really has to make stuff up on the fly and how to play fast and loose with the rules. I plan to approach this discussion from the old school ‘Rulings, Not Rules’ approach, and provide ample examples of that as well.

2. Provide tools for managing the game.

Those of you who are familiar with Barbarians of the Aftermath will know that I favor utility and love to automate the GM’s duties wherever and whenever possible so the contents of this section should be of little surprise to you.

The Force Generator: A series of charts to generate anything form small groups of bandits to full on military forces, PC and NPC alike.

The Mission Generator: An adventure generator for creating missions, their objectives and a random event table that will spice up any mission.

The Stellar Generator: For developing a Star System, it’s planets and their resources. For those who have seen my Planet and Alien generators in the DW:AiTaS Aliens & Creatures supplement, you’ll have some idea of what it will look like (only more Metal of course).

The Petty Kingdom Generator: For creating a feudal empire, including it’s political resources, for both PCs and NPCs. The Stellar Generator can then be used to flesh out the individual systems.

3. Provide ideas on adventure design and adventures to get them started.

Discussion of creating an adventure will be approached from the ‘less is more’ school of thought, with outlines and brief write-ups being the basic building block of BoHM adventure design. This will encourage GMs to approach the game from the ‘Rulings, not Rules’ perspective I mentioned earlier.

Along with that, I will be introducing the ‘Campaign Album’ approach to adventure design for BoHM. Basically, I’ll show how to take any record and turn it into a short campaign with the song titles being used as the basis for short adventures within the campaign. To illustrate, I plan on using the Warp Riders album by The Sword as an example, providing a general outline and adventure seeds for a campaign set on Acheron (assuming I can get The Sword’s blessing to do so). Of course, it’s easy to make a campaign out of a concept album like Warp Riders, but it also is the best example of a BoHM style campaign that I can think of.

To sum up: the GM section is about providing GMs not only with the right tools to run a game, but the right attitude as well: BoHM isn’t about endlessly poring over rules and details, its about grabbing the game by the balls and using it to rock & roll…

Up Next: Warp Ships (no, really, I mean it this time)…

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0 thoughts on “Barbarians of Heavy Metal Design Diary 7

  1. Dan Williams

    Hey Nathaniel,

    I don’t have as much to say this time as my knowledge of RPG design is pretty limited, especially compared to my knowledge of heavy metal history and trivia, but I thought you could use a little comment love anyway. I really like your emphasis on improvisational GMing and playing fast and loose with the rules, that suits my style perfectly. The generators sound super helpful too. Maybe instead of generators you could call them something with more of a thematic ring. Overdubs, click tracks, effects pedals? Pro-tools would be funny but you’d need the rights to use the trademark.

    I love the idea of campaign albums. It might be helpful if you included an example that isn’t a concept album too, I think a non-concept album would be a lot trickier. Then again I don’t know how much work would be involved in securing permission to do this. There are probably bands where one or more members are into RPGs, and I bet they’d go for it, but I don’t know of any specific bands to try. You’d still have to clear it with the label too, of course. At least as far as I know anyway. This might qualify as fair use but I’d imagine not getting sued is pretty high up on your list of priorities.

    Can’t wait to hear more about warp ships!

    1. Nathaniel

      Thanks, Dan. My style is a result of experience, more than anything. No adventure design survives contact with the players, to paraphrase an old saying, and I think one of the most frustrating things for a new GM is to learn this the hard way. Get an idea of what’s going on, scribble some notes and get on with the game should be the first thing a GM is taught to do and the massive Rock Opera’s of the RPG world should be something they do when they have more experience. Plus, it is simply more in line with the feel of a game like BoHM to play fast and loose with the story and go wherever the ‘music’ takes you, so to speak.

      Renaming the generators to something a little more thematic is a great idea. I’ll think on it, and in the meantime, keep making suggestions (Click-Tacks was pretty cool, actually).

      I think the only thing keeping me from doing a second example Campaign Album (or maybe I should call them Concept Albums or Rock Operas or even Metal Opus?) is space. One example will likely be all I can fit into the thing and that, along with the rights issue, would probably make it very difficult to get two in the book. Still, if anyone knows any likely candidates for such a thing, I’m all ears…

  2. the venomous pao

    Nice stuff, amigo. And count me in for Dan’s suggestion to rename the generators. I’m not sure the direction that should take, but maybe “Chordbook” or something would work?

    1. Nathaniel

      I think strong thematic elements will be vital to this particular game, so any suggestion to make a part of the book sound a little more metal without obscuring the main meaning and intent, is welcome, indeed…