Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans (Race for Spear! Fang! Raygun!)


space ship pantless barbarians
Art by Mark Shultz (I believe)

(The rules included herein are intended for use with the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rules, but they could easily be adapted to any OSR-style retroclone.)

Know! Those barbarians who dwell in yurts of stone, dung, and stretched dinosaur leather beneath the blazing sun of the Wastelands of Kurg! and surrounding regions in the northern reaches of the Forlorn Plateau (where they squat within much more comfortable dwellings, such as plush cave systems, gentrified hive termitoid mounds, and abandoned giant dung beetle dung balls converted into villages) live life as their gloomy, dark, and absentee god Crom! intended: with minimally girded loins! 

Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans are the embodiment of primal vitality, raw sex appeal, and ’80s metal fantasy. Descendants of a proud civilization that once achieved such mastery of sorcery and super-science to pierce the veil between dimensions, the Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans of the Forlorn Plateau wallow in a squalor of unending tribal conflicts, subsistence hunting and gathering, and surprisingly advanced, if not still savage, social contracts. Having forgotten, or lost, the answer to Crom!’s “Riddle of Steel” some thousands of years ago, your modern Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean has little comprehension of metalworking (basically just beat the hell out of some ore until it’s in the shape you want) beyond making crude, raw iron spearheads, arrowheads, and helms, fashioned with the horns of woolly triceratops and Shaggy Hellcows of Crom!, or sweet ass gold bracelets and girdles for their loincloths. All swords possessed by Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean gloryseekers and warchiefs either belonged to ancestors, were pillaged from other lands, or plundered from Hyperborean tombs. These swords carry with them certain social effects among the class-conscious barbarians: for one, any sword puts one a head above others (since the swords allows them to take off the heads of others), but swords of Hyperborean or Atlantean steel usually garner a bit of respect that isn’t predicated (only) on the threat of violence.

With regard to Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean dress, the standard is that there’s usually very little of it. Although pantlessness is required according to Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean mores and superstition regarding the girding of privates, loin cloths, harnesses, and furry boots are all the rage, especially if you can throw in spikes or fangs somewhere as accoutremant. 

While gold is considered precious, as an adornment, it is not used for coinage among the Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans (though they know of how other cultures value the coins); instead, Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans use knotted rope as fiat currency, with the complexity of the knot representing the value. Knotmakers are tribal specialists who tie these knots according to secret ritual methods. These shamans also maintain the capitalist socioeconomic foundations of the culture via oral epics about pantless heroes of old whose worth and glory were correlated 100% with the acquisition of wealth, followed by gigantic mirth, inevitable squandering, and inevitable gigantic melancholy. It is a major taboo for Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans to tie their own knots. 

Often Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans will rove the  Forlorn Plateau in search of (vain)glorious battle, lucrative adventure, and copious booze, especially since the only alcohol they make themselves is fermented woolly triceratops milk. Usually, Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans have no complicated reason for taking up the adventuring life, as Crom! smiles upon those who roam and raid without unnecessary justifications in their backstory.

Racial Abilities

  • Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans apply a +1 and a -1 to any two separate ability scores the player wishes.
  • Pantless Peoples: When not wearing pants (except for loincloths or codpieces, though these are optional), Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans receive a bonus Luck Point and a +1 to Armor Class. (Rules for Luck found here.)

    pantless barbarian
    Art by James West, with approval and endorsement.
  • Glistening Gams: Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans are so ripped that flexing their luscious leg muscles (from buttocks on down), if the Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean succeeds on a 3:12 chance, causes members of the opposite sex (and 2:6 of the same sex) within 15’ to be affected as though the Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans were under the effect of the Friends spell but with an additional hot-and-botheredness implied. Targets may ignore the effects with a successful Save vs. Sorcery.
  • What is Best in Life? Each Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean rolls on the What is Best in Life? table to determine their savage priorities, which provide the gist of their worldly outlook, as well as an advantageous and a disadvantageous barbaric ability. 
  • Tribe: To determine a Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean’s tribe, roll on the table provided below. While Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans have a shared culture, the tribal diaspora has led to minor cultural changes, represented in the Tribal benefits and taboos. (Details on Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean tribes forthcoming.)
  • Tribal Occupation: Every member of the tribe has a purpose, generally, so certain roll on the Tribal Occupation table to determine your secondary skills as well as starting equipment.

“What Is Best in Life?” table

d12 So, what is best in life? Wrong! That is good! That is good.
1 fleet riding lizard… Smell like lizard poo (-2 reaction adjustment) 4:12 chance of riding stunt; start with riding lizard
2 pteranodon at your wrist… Test of Luck or bit by stubborn pteranodon when commanding Gain pteranodon companion (if it dies, may tame another in 1d3 weeks)
3 the open waste… Group’s chance of being lost increases by 1 Attack rate with bows increases by 1 step
4 the volcanic wind in your hair… Folly of Glam: if hair is cut, -2 to strength, lose AC bonus Glamorous Mane: hair grants +1 to Strength and +1 to AC
5 …to crush your enemies… 1:6 chance when hitting with club that it breaks Advantage on damage with clubs
6 see them driven before you… 3:12 chance of involuntarily pursuing fleeing enemies Whenever you kill an enemy in one hit, 1d3 other enemies must check Morale
7 …hear the lamentations of their women… Currently have 2d3 wives and/or husbands (must be taken as henchmen) Currently have 2d3 wives and/or husbands (must be taken as henchmen)
8 ….hot water…. Too pretty. Those not attracted to you make fun of you (-2 reaction adj.) You take baths! Glistening Gams works on a 5:12
9 ….good dentishtry… False teeth. Test of Luck when taking critical hit or teeth break Bite attack (1d6)
10 …shoft lavatory paper… Subject to Tests of Luck related to irritable bowels Can eat anything organic, healing additional 1d3 HP  when resting
11 …cabbage and hams… You swear by it; it’s all you’ll eat (“hams” is subjective) +2 on Death Saves
12 …do I know your mother? Short-term memory loss (3:12 chance to forget important detail)  and starting age 50+ 2:6 when visiting town/village 1d3 appropriately aged (possible) sons/daughters available as henchmen

Tribal Occupations

Every Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean must roll on the following table to determine his-or-her starting occupation. This occupation will provide the basis for any secondary skills the character may have, as well as any starting equipment (additional starting equipment should be acquired in the first session).

d12 Tribal Occupation Starting Equipment
1 Drumtalker Talking drum, two percussion mallets (as club)
2 Warrior Stone-tipped spear*, Red Pygmy Tyrannosaur hide armor
3 Knotmaker’s apprentice 100 “blood knots” (each equal 1 gold), 50’ rope
4 Hunter Shortbow, 10 stone-tipped arrows*, weighted net, 20 lbs. of woolly triceratops hams
5 Slave Heavy rock
6 Fire-keeper Hollow woolly triceratops horn carrying embers, fire-hardened club (+1 damage)
7 Grease-renderer 2 pots of of cave bear grease, greasing rag on a stick
8 Animal trainer Club, untamed animal, roll 1d4: 1) Pteranodon hatchling, 2) woolly triceratops calf, 3) chameleon-wolf pup, 4) unbroken riding lizard
9 Brewer 2 jugs of fermented woolly triceratops milk, club
10 Shaman’s assistant Fetish-heavy stone-tipped spear*, feathered cloak, 1 lb. of hallucinogenic fungi
11 Cave painter 2 pots of ochre paint, flint dagger*, continually refreshed ennui
12 Riddlespeaker’s assistant Sweet ass Hyperborean longsword, talks often of the “Riddle of Steel,” though has no idea what it is

*All stone-tipped or stone weapons have a -1 to damage dealt.

This is Spear! Fang! Raygun!

Spear! Fang! Raygun! is an RPG sandbox  of swords, sorcery, super-science, dinosaurs, and heavy metal. It’s also my special snowflake of a campaign setting, born of amalgamating late ’60s  Hanna-Barbera cartoons, such as The HerculoidsSpace GhostBirdman, The Galaxy Trio, and Mighty Mightor, with a dash of Land of the Lost; the multiplex evolutionary path of the Barbarian Hero trope across Sword & Sorcery, from Conan to He-Man, Cohen to Korgoth, and Fafhrd to Thundarr, among others; and a smattering of all sorts of things that fill my brain, from the psychedelic to the quasi-mathematical.

My goal in creating Spear! Fang! Raygun! was to pull away from the bland Tolkienisms of standard fantasy RPG fare while keeping the spirit of the “old school” mode of play. Some might consider it a bit on the “gonzo” side of things, and while it may seem absurd to some degree, Spear! Fang! Raygun! is an inherently consistent, unironic world. In tone, it is neither glib nor “meta”; Spear! Fang! Raygun! is campy, but not cheesy. After 20 years of playing (mostly DMing), I decided it was high time to create a setting that felt authentically mine, built from the sources that most inspired me, and one that was, above all else, fun to play.

If all of this sounds right up your alley, then I think you’ll agree.

Over the next few months, or possibly years, I will be posting free-to-access setting information for Spear! Fang! Raygun! with the first post providing overview of the Forlorn Plateau, the campaign’s continent-sized sandbox, closely followed by rules for playing the setting’s primary, human race/species: the Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans. I’m hoping to provide these content-filled posts twice a month with some WIP info scattered between.

I’ve been running Spear! Fang! Raygun! for over year with my home group, wherein they saved their fellow Barbaric, Pantless tribesmen from the clutches of Goolaag (subterranean ocotpoid) slavers in the Inflamed Badlands, retrieved that holiest of relics of Castle Grimskull known as Crom!’s Riddlebox, entered into said Riddlebox, which turned out to be a tesseract prison holding the heralds of the Null Titans, were transported to 1980s NYRC as it came under attack from a kaiju, defeated by the timely choice by the group’s Goolaag PC to take a potion of gigantism in order to do battle among the skyscrapers, returned to the Forlorn Plateau just in time to take part in the final battle of a pantless civil war, caroused for a few months before Castle Grimskull itself was stolen by collector bots in service of a mysterious super-being known as the Preserver, pursued the collector bots into the Grand Hyperborean Upland where they took part in a month-long training montage at the Golden Dome Dojo to become Champions of Ar’Nuuld while… Well, you get the picture.

We’ve been having the time of our gaming lives. I hope you will, too.

And here’s the crew from my campaign:

From left to right: Myrn (shaman of Crom!), Cleavehilda (a giant sexy cave amazon), Frax! the Taller (ranger of the Tyrannokiller tribe), Rok (giant pillbug companion), Borgoth (a riddlespeaker’s assistant from Castle Grimskull), Darkaar (Goolaag assassin), Gruul (monk of the Golden Dome Dojo), and Fly Stargroove (dimensional transient from the Funkiverse)

(Additionally, this project would’ve never seen the light of day, as publishable content or homebrewed campaign setting, without the abundant influence provided by the writing, campaigns, and artwork of Do-It-Yourself RPG creators like Jason Sholtis, James West, Dyson Logos, Chris Kutalik, Jeff Call, and Trey Causey, as well as the Dungeon Crawl Classics game, which changed how I approached my games entirely. I will have probably, liberally and questionably appropriated more than a few ideas from them over the course of putting this all together, so I thank them and apologize greatly.)