Savaging Thundarr the Barbarian – Part 1

Thundarr the Barbarian aired on the ABC Television Network from 1980 to 1982.  It was an animated of Conan the Barbarian, Star Wars, and Planet of the Apes into a delicious gooey blob of comic book-inspired goodness. Mmm…

Decades later, I vividly remember leaping out of bed on Saturday morning and plopping down in front of the television set with an over-sized bowl (tupperware container) of Captain Crunch to revel in the cathode-rayed adventures of my favorite heroic power trio. There was Thundarr, with his “light-saber-like” Sun Sword, his trusty “Feline-Wookie” sidekick Ookla the Mok, and Princess Ariel the hottie sorceress in a skin-tight leotard. Every week, they would ride across the broken land rescuing helpless victims from mutant animal-men, robots, and evil wizards bent on world domination!

Why… Oh, God Why?!

One of my favorite things about the Savage Worlds core system is its flexibility. Anything you can imagine, you can pretty much run in Savage Worlds. It is something I’ve put to the test multiple times since discovering it in 2012. I’ve run My Little Pony, Scooby-Doo, Redneck Mechs, and a dozen other settings ranging from Space Opera to Zombies. So when I half-jokingly mentioned doing Saturday Morning Cartoons in Savage Worlds a few fans of my mini-con games suggested Thundercats and G.I. Joe.

Guess what I countered with? That’s right; Thundarr the Barbarian! Honestly, I was swept up in the moment and totally joking. It just stuck! For months now, my gamers have cast dejected stares at me because I haven’t brought Savage Thundarr to the monthly mini-con (Vegas Game Day). Well, if there’s anything I’ve learned in 30 years of GMing it’s ‘Give ’em what they want!”.

Ariel! Ookla! Ride!

This is by no means a simple task; it has to be done right. Hopefully, I’m up to the challenge.  After watching the entire series — yes, I own the DVD box set. What?! — I have come to a few conclusions about Savaging Thundarr the Barbarian.

  • It must remain true to the animated series’ depictions of family-friendly cartoon violence
  • Wild Cards are practically one step below four-color Supers!
  • I will need a ‘magic’ system that works more like super powers for sorcerers and wizards
  • There needs to be a variant Benny system similar to Deadlands’ Fate Chips or the Super Powers Companion’s Heroic Bennies