Category Archives: Burrowing Owl Publications

Kickstarter is Crazy

Busty Barbarian Bimbos -- Kicktraq Mini

So I made a subdomain for my silly RPG projects back in December, got in touch with several artists and talked them into doing some work for me, and figured I’d test the waters of self-publishing a game by funding my first project on Kickstarter. I put together a modest target value that would cover the costs of printing and shipping the actual books with enough margin to have a really skimpy art budget.

Turns out the modest target value was a bit low. Or the campaign length too long. Take your pick. Either way, not quite a quarter of the way through, we’re already over twice the target value. This means the art budget gets a lot more free and easy, but it also tickles a certain game-player nerve of mine. Kickstarter provides a chart showing your daily progress in dollars. makes crazy projections about where the project might end up landing. You see a little number ticking towards a target value and the lizard part of your brain that has been playing video games for the past thirty years wants to keep nudging that number up. And up. And up. You need to shift from “get bare funding” mode to “get product to backers” mode, but with the clock still ticking it’s so monstrously tempting to shift instead into “get even more funding” mode.

The dashboard interface for creators is vastly more enticing than the “discover new projects” interface they have for backers. You get a chart showing pledged dollars over time. You get a pie chart showing how much funding was referred from inside the Kickstarter site as opposed to other sources. You get a table showing which referrers resulting in how many pledge and how much was pledged in total. You get a listing of recent activity, showing individual backers joining in, comment postings, and pledge adjustments. Next thing you know you’re copying and pasting unfamiliar URLs into your browser and finding yourself reading through 21-page flame wars about your project. Eek.

Anyhow, I’m immensely pleased and somewhat conflicted about how this is all working out. I started out doubting that there’d be any support at all, that the campaign would flop and I’d just be crying in a corner overwhelmed by the market’s rejection of my game. Now I’m facing the very real prospect of shipping & handling logistics, quality assurance, and lots more artist collaboration.

Busty Barbarian Bimbos

(MediaFire link [PDF])

Back in March of this year, somebody posted the following to the Traditional Games forum on 4chan:

/tg/ I have a dream!

I want to make a parody tabletop RPG in which the players take on the role of cartoonishly awesome bimbos. I have no plans other than that the attributes spell SLUT (prelimanary idea: Strong, Limber, Uhmmm, and Titties) when put together and a slight inkling that it will play rather like KAMB with a high mortality rate.

Any suggestions?

(link to archived thread)

A lively discussion followed, with several ideas bounced back and forth, several of them awful but some showing a degree of promise. There was enough interest that additional threads sprung up in the following days and I started to participate in developing it on the wiki.  It’s important to remember that /tg/ collectively prides itself on the sometimes-faulty premise that “/tg/ gets shit done,” so once it became apparent that Braindead Bimbo Barbarians could become something actually playable, it was incumbent upon somebody to actually develop and finish it.

That somebody turned out to be me.  Between several rounds of public brainstorming on /tg/ and playtesting via IRC and my weekly D&D group, there were several month-long spells where the was no progress to be had.  The basic conceit stayed the same: a lighthearted adventure game about impractically-garbed women in a world of swords & sorcery. The name changed as we went along (the protagonists aren’t necessarily stupid), and there were a fair number of flame wars regarding gender roles in gaming, but work progressed sporadically.

Earlier this month I finally bit the bullet and had to make a decision. Should I get serious about commissioning original art, wade through stock art sites for legitimately-licenced material, and go through the paces of producing a proper published book (possibly funded through Indiegogo or Kickstarter)?  Or should I just dig up some found art, put together a layout, and publish it non-commercially in the the spirit of free use?  I chose the latter.

And so was born the first Burrowing Owl Publications release: Busty Barbarian Bimbos

BBB features an extremely math-lite conflict resolution system. All rolls are three six-sided dice compared against a player’s own stats. Any die showing a number equal to or lower than the stat in question is a success. Hard checks require three successes. Medium check require two. Easy checks require one.  Critical successes are to be had on two or more ones, critical failures on two or more sixes.  There are no modifiers to character stats or to die rolls, precluding the need for addition or subtraction.

Conflict is handled based on characters’ and creatures’ attitudes towards each other. A hostile dinosaur can be calmed down or an indifferent guard made helpful or friendly. Combat is only possible when one or more of the parties are hostile, allowing most situations to be defused through a protagonist’s social skills.  When things come to blows, there are no hit points (applying damage to a hit point pool is math), but a mildly innovative system by which stats can be disabled is used instead. To avoid incapacitation, heroines may risk their clothing in Wardrobe Malfunctions. Enemies benefit from Plot Armor that works similarly.

Character options are rather limited by the core conceit of the game: if you don’t want your character to be an aggressive, athletic, clever, or beautiful woman, this simply isn’t the right game for you right now. In addition to the four primary stats of Slap, Legs, Uhm, and Tits, a beginning character gets two Basic Abilities and one Advanced Ability that allow her special rules benefits or even access to spellcasting abilities. Through the Abilities system a character can mitigate the impact of her poorer stats or accentuate the advantages of her better stats.

Three methods of character creation are presented, two of which arrive at stats randomly, one of which promotes collaborative character creation among a playgroup.  Collaborative character creation results in a 2/3/4/5 stat spread, while the random methods ensure that high Slap, Legs, and Uhm stats will have a negative impact on the character’s final Tits score (sorry, you don’t get to be strong, athletic, clever, and gorgeous).

Busty Barbarian Bimbos is meant primarily for single-session, low-preptime use by groups of players that are comfortable with having fun with characters and situations that would be utterly ridiculous in most mainstream roleplaying games. Please enjoy responsibly.

(MediaFire link [PDF])

With thanks to several anonymous contributors, Dan, Erik, and Julian for playtesting duty, Viral of Viral Games for setting a good example, Ryan Macklin for inadvertently scaring me away from publishing this for money, and my wife for putting up with me.