[Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

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Havard
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[Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by Havard » Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:31 pm

I know that many don't like thee idea of an RPG based on a single character, whether it be Indiana Jones, John Carter, Buck Rogers, Conan, James Bond etc. However, when exploring a concept like this, I think it is better to set the main character aside and explore the universe of that character and see what that setting has to offer for an RPG campaign. I think this also needs to be the approach of a Tarzan based RPG. I read somewhere that the Tarzan comics and movies lost their appeal because Africa is no longer the place of mystery and unknown creatures that it was then Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the stories. We will see if the upcoming Tarzan movie will do anything about that.

But Tarzan's universe is not really limited to Africa, is it?

Locations visited by Tarzan
  • Africa
  • Early 20th Century Britain
  • Pellucidar
  • Barsoom aka John Carter's Mars
  • City of Opa
Greater Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe
  • Amtor (Venus) from the Venus Series
  • Caspak (Antarctica) from The Land that Time Forgot
  • The Moon - Moon Maid Series


What other realms and races does Tarzan encounter on his adventures?

If going for a more generic pulp campaign, is there more that can be raided from the Tarzan stories than the concept of a jungle hero?

-Havard

Edit: Included info from other posters in this thread.
Last edited by Havard on Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by Big Mac » Sat Jun 25, 2016 11:10 pm

I saw a Tarzan movie where he was brought back to the UK and told that he was an upper class dude who owned a ton of stuff...or something like that. I'm not sure if that's in the novels, or if they changed the story.

But, I would have thought that the appeal of a Tarzan RPG would be to make characters similar to Tarzan, who are able to communicate with apes and other animals. I can see how you can have solo-play as Tarzan himself (like in the Endless Quest roleplaying books) but I'm not sure what sort of options (other than Tarzan-clone) you can have in a game set in the Tarzan universe.

And if you pull Tarzan himself, out of the story, do you have anything other than an African setting where some white explorers have arrived? Does anyone ever want to roleplay some of the apes that were in the Tarzan stories?
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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by night_druid » Sun Jun 26, 2016 12:44 am

Look at the works of the author, Edgar Rice Burroughs. Looks like he did several series:

* A series about Venus called the Venus Series (or Amtor, as the natives call it).

* The Land that Time Forgot (basically Antarctica); natives call it Caspak.

* The Moon Maid series, where the moon is inhabited.

The works of Jules Vern probably wouldn't be out of place, either.
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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by The Dark » Sun Jun 26, 2016 4:09 am

Big Mac wrote:I saw a Tarzan movie where he was brought back to the UK and told that he was an upper class dude who owned a ton of stuff...or something like that. I'm not sure if that's in the novels, or if they changed the story.
It's from the eleventh Tarzan novel, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, where it's revealed that he's John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke.
And if you pull Tarzan himself, out of the story, do you have anything other than an African setting where some white explorers have arrived? Does anyone ever want to roleplay some of the apes that were in the Tarzan stories?
There's the Waziri tribe, which becomes loyal to Lord Greystoke after he saves them from ivory traders and cannibals, and live on his plantation in British East Africa. They accompany him on an expedition to Pellucidar in 1929 and help fight Communists in the 30s.

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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by hihama » Sun Jun 26, 2016 8:47 am

In one of the later books Tarzan is in Sumatra during the Second World War. Then there was one story which happened on an island with Mayan ruins, don't remember anymore was it in Pacific or somewhere else.

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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jun 26, 2016 10:47 am

night_druid wrote:Look at the works of the author, Edgar Rice Burroughs. Looks like he did several series:

* A series about Venus called the Venus Series (or Amtor, as the natives call it).

* The Land that Time Forgot (basically Antarctica); natives call it Caspak.

* The Moon Maid series, where the moon is inhabited.

The works of Jules Vern probably wouldn't be out of place, either.
The Wikipedia article for Pirates of Venus confims that Amtar/Venus has the same Kalkar race that is found in The Moon Maid. It looks like The Moon Maid started off as a Russian-based story, called Under the Red Flag, but Edgar Rice Burrows's publisher talked him into rebooting the story and making it about space-communists trying to take over the Earth.

I can't see a connection with those two stories and Caspak/Antarctica. Or a connection with either of the three and Barsoom, Tarzan and Pellucidar. But given that Edgar Rice Burrows wrote several crossovers, it wouldn't have surprised me if he had not tied up a few more of these locations, if he had lived longer.

The biggest obstacle towards tying them all up, would seem to be that some of them seem to be tied to different parts of the real-world timeline. But I'm not sure exactly where they would all fit onto a single unified Burrows timeline. :?
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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by Havard » Sun Jun 26, 2016 11:17 am

Big Mac wrote:I saw a Tarzan movie where he was brought back to the UK and told that he was an upper class dude who owned a ton of stuff...or something like that. I'm not sure if that's in the novels, or if they changed the story.
Yes, I believe the Lord Greystoke stuff is very much canon in the stories. I suppose I could list Britain or simply the "civilized world" as a place for Tarzan RPG campaigns to visit, though it would likely serve more as a backdrop location rather than the main focus of the campaigns.
But, I would have thought that the appeal of a Tarzan RPG would be to make characters similar to Tarzan, who are able to communicate with apes and other animals. I can see how you can have solo-play as Tarzan himself (like in the Endless Quest roleplaying books) but I'm not sure what sort of options (other than Tarzan-clone) you can have in a game set in the Tarzan universe.
Well, we are getting close to discussing what a Tarzan RPG should be about which is the focus of this thread, but I agree with you that it makes sense to have wild animals be an important part of such an RPG. I can think of three ways an RPG coud handle this. 1) I like how later Tarzan movies tended to get a slightly environmentalist message where the villains would often trap animals or kill them for sports etc. If you want something like this in the RPG, there could be a rule that protecting animals, freeing them from captivity etc would gain you an XP bonus. 2) Archetypes and classes. While I think a wide range of early 20th C professions and tropes could be open to campaigns in this setting, I think that you could have Jungle Lord be a class. This means Tarzan is not the only person to have been raised by animals and become their protector. Tarzan is unique in the stories, but he could still be the most powerful character of such a role in an RPG, while allowing to have others mimick his abilities. Intelligent Ape characters could also be a viable class, especially if given abilities that make them cool in the game. 3) Have animal mastery be a kind of "magic system" of the RPG. Animals are more intelligent in the Tarzan universe than in the real world. Perhaps Jungle Lord characters and even others as well can learn to befriend animals and call upon their aid. This could be an ability that improves as the characters gain more experience, allowing for different types of animals to be called upon, or even hordes of animals.
And if you pull Tarzan himself, out of the story, do you have anything other than an African setting where some white explorers have arrived?


Well as we see others posting in this thread, there are many other cool locations in Tarzan's Universe. You could run a game with a group of European explorers, perhaps accompanied by a few African warriors exploring the jungles of Africa, but later moving on to Pellucidar or even ending up on Barsoom in a campaign that doesn't involve Tarzan-like characters at all. That is the beauty of RPGs though that you can take the setting and do things with it that are very different from what the author imagined. Assuming that is what they players are interested in of course.
Does anyone ever want to roleplay some of the apes that were in the Tarzan stories?
I mentioned this above, but if apes are viable characters in the game you need to do things to make them an interesting class. The "Animal Mastery" ability I mentioned above could easily be an area where ape characters are as talented as human Jungle Lords. Perhaps it should be added something about PC apes being particularly intelligent. PC Gorillas would also have the advantage of being physically powerful if they would even be allowed as PCs. Their big disadvantage is their inability to communicate with humans. I like how the Star Wars RPG handled Wookie characters in that they would have at least one human friend who could act as an interpreter. As long as that character was in the same room as the Wookie, the player of the Wookie could speak normally. The same could be done with an Ape character. There is an RPG called Terra Primata using the Unisystem that is designed specifically for ape based campaigns (from "Planet of the Apes" to "Congo" type scenaros).


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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by ripvanwormer » Sun Jun 26, 2016 12:22 pm

Havard wrote: Tarzan is unique in the stories, but he could still be the most powerful character of such a role in an RPG, while allowing to have others mimick his abilities.
There's also his son, Korak.

Other prominent places in the setting include the lost city of Opar. PCs might hail from there.

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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by Havard » Sun Jun 26, 2016 1:32 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:There's also his son, Korak.
Good point about Jack aka Korak. There is already a presedence by ERB that others can have similar abilities to Tarzan then.
Other prominent places in the setting include the lost city of Opar. PCs might hail from there.
Ah yes, I was reading about Opar the Wikipedia. A city with Ape human crossbreeds resulting in perfectly human formed females and brutish apelike males. It does seem like a rather evil place, but I suppose that PCs (either male or female) could be opposing queen La's rule?

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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by apotheot » Sun Jun 26, 2016 5:16 pm

There was also a long running radio drama based on Tarzan's adventures. You are able to find some of these online through ^ahem^ various means... Some of the stories may have fit Marvel Comic's Ka-zar better but, oh well. Also some of the dialogue is a remnant of a bygone era and may be unsuitable to today's sensibilities. I listened to many of them several years back when I had to do a lot of cross-country traveling, now I wish i had more of them as I am pulling inspiration for Malatra stuff.

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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by night_druid » Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:00 pm

Big Mac wrote:I can't see a connection with those two stories and Caspak/Antarctica. Or a connection with either of the three and Barsoom, Tarzan and Pellucidar. But given that Edgar Rice Burrows wrote several crossovers, it wouldn't have surprised me if he had not tied up a few more of these locations, if he had lived longer.
I would assume all are part of the same grander universe, given his taste for cross-over :)
The biggest obstacle towards tying them all up, would seem to be that some of them seem to be tied to different parts of the real-world timeline. But I'm not sure exactly where they would all fit onto a single unified Burrows timeline. :?
Well, were I to create a game from Edgar's universe, I would just use the books to build the universe, and then pick a particular timeline and go from there.
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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by Havard » Mon Jun 27, 2016 3:56 pm

night_druid wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I can't see a connection with those two stories and Caspak/Antarctica. Or a connection with either of the three and Barsoom, Tarzan and Pellucidar. But given that Edgar Rice Burrows wrote several crossovers, it wouldn't have surprised me if he had not tied up a few more of these locations, if he had lived longer.
I would assume all are part of the same grander universe, given his taste for cross-over :)
I like the idea of combining all the ERB settings into a greater universe. It does seem like he was thinking about them in those terms too.

For the purposes of this thread, I have edited my original post to list the locations Tarzan has specifically visited and the other realms created by ERB in two separate lists.

Speaking of more tangiental places, I came across Khokarsa, an ancient empire (BC 12.000) with ties to Tarzan's city of Opar. It even seems like the creator of Khokarsa, Philip José Farmer, assumed his main protagonist to be a time travelling Tarzan, using diffferent names in different books. I had never heard of this series before I started digging into Tarzan lore just now. :)


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Re: [Tarzan] How big is Tarzan's Universe?

Post by apotheot » Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:38 pm

This topic is getting to me. Was just at Walmart and saw the complete 1st season Tarzan cartoon for $5 and couldn't resist.

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