Thread: GM's Closet for the CONAN RPG
Wednesday, 5th September, 2012, 04:51 AM #1
GM's Closet for the CONAN RPG
The Conan RPG is a d20 variant set of rules meant to be used for adventures set during Conan's Hyborian Age. The game was produced by Mongoose Publishing, but it is out of print now (as Mongoose no longer holds the Conan License). Although no game is without detractors, the majority of d20 players consider the game a superior set of d20 rules. The game was produced in three editions: The first edition was simply called CONAN THE ROLEPLAYING GAME, and it was a version of the d20 3.0 rules. A second edition was published to coincided with the release of the d20 3.5 rules, and this is referred to as the Atlantean Edition. The third and last edition of the game is called the Second Edition, and it is a cleaned up, better written edition of the previous rule sets.
I thought it would be neat to have a thread for Conan GM's to post various ideas, rule tweaks, NPCs, adventure ideas, and what not--a single thread that a Conan GM can peruse and maybe find ideas for his game. That's why I started this thread.
Consider it a Conan RPG magazine of sorts, covering all sorts of topics in which a Conan GM would be interested.
I'll start, with a few ideas of my own. Feel free to add your two silvers.
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Last edited by Water Bob; Monday, 24th September, 2012 at 04:42 AM.
-- A LOW LEVEL WORLD OF HIGH ADVENTURE --
Typically, with d20 games, there are two types of universes. The first is dynamic where the world scales with the level of the player characters. You can see this in some D&D adventures where, when playing a published adventure designed for characters level 1-3, all the town guards are 1st level Fighters and the Captain of the Guards is maybe 4th level.
Then, as the PCs gain experience and levels, an adventure designed for 4-6 level characters will have town guards at level 2 or 3, and the Captain at level 7.
The other type of universe is stagnant, where character levels remain what they are regardless of the PCs' level. Town guards are always about the same level, no matter where you go, and a Captain of the Guard of similar experience will be the same level, no matter the level of the player characters.
The Conan RPG uses this second method for the setting of the Hyborian Age. Feared Pict savages are 1st level Barbarians. And, from the point of view of a Commoner classed character, even one that is level 10, that 1st level Pict truly is something to be feared.
A GM that prefers the dynamic scaling method for his games can certainly game that way. But, I will note that keeping the Conan universe low-level (think of it like a E-10 game) will keep the grit and lethal flavor of the Hyborian Age that comes across so atmospherically in Howard's Conan stories.
What Does A Level Mean?
Half the game universe's NPCs should be in the 1st-3rd level range. For clarification, a section was added to the 2E core rulebook that provides guidelines to GMs when making decisions on character levels. See pg. 11-12 of the 2E rulebook for specifics, and look at the Human entries in the Beastiary chapter.
In sum, character levels in the Conan RPG are defined as such (from the examples given in the 2E Core Rulebook).
1st level - a novice fresh out of basic training. But also note that many NPCs are 1st level. A character can be a novice for years or even most of his life.
2nd or 3rd level - most seasoned NPCs. 50% of all NPCs are level 1-3.
4th level - a cut above. The elites. A leader of a bandit band or the fiercest warrior of a band of pirates.
8th level - legendary character. Clan chieftans. Infamous sorcerors. Army generals. Warriors of great renown.
12th level and greater - True mythical characters, as with Conan, Thoth-Amon, Thulsa Doom, Xaltotun, Akivasha.
Where as the first edition and Atlantean Edition used few examples to illustrate this point, the Second Edition of the rules drove the point home with the afore mentioned new section describing various character levels and several new examples in the Bestiary chapter of the book.
Here are those examples:
Belit's Black Corsairs, who terrorised the Southern Coast for all those years, are 2nd level Southern Islander Pirates.
The feared Darfari Cannibals are 3rd level Black Kingdom Barbarians.
The entry for Picts reveals that they are 1st level Pictish Barbarians.
Typical Zamorian Thief? 2nd level Thief.
Typical Turanian Light Cavalryman? 2nd level Soldier.
Typical Peasant? 1st level Commoner.
Typical Merchant? 3rd level Commoner/1st level Scholar.
Typical Hyborian Socerer? 4th level Scholar.
Typical Zingaran Dancing Girl? 2nd level Temptress.
Typical City Guardsman? 2nd level Soldier.
Typical Bandit? 2nd level Borderer.
There's an example of a Sellsword, which is described as a dangerous mercenary and killer for hire. This guy is a 4th level character: 2nd level Soldier/2nd level Borderer.
Also note page 301 of 2E Conan. The majority of a kingdom's military forces are 1st level Soldiers. Lower-ranking officers are 2nd-5th level Soldiers. Higher ranking officers are usually Nobles or Noble/Soldiers multiclassed. Peasant militia are usually 1st level Commoners armed with war spears.
The Commoner class is meant for NPCs. You'll see it listed on page 351 of the 2E Core Rulebook. This class maxes out at level 10, uses a d4 Hit Die, is illiterate (a character must spend skill points to be able to read and write), and comes with few class perks in the way of free Feats and class abilities.
For example, a 1st level Soldier character gets maximum hit points (1st level Commoners do not get maximum--it must be rolled), uses d10 hit dice, is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light, medium, and heavy armor, and shields. Plus, the character is given the Two-Weapon combat feat for free (in addition to other bonuses).
In contrast, the 1st level Commoner must roll his starting hit points--he does not get maximum points. He is illiterate and two skill points must be spent in order to make the character educated enough to read and write. And, proficiency is given for one simple weapon--that's a single weapon, not all weapons classed as "Simple" as with the Soldier.
Point of View: Upon first glance, a 1st level Pict Barbarian doesn't seem all that scary. But, a GM should look at the 1st level Pict from the point of view of a Commoner of any level. From that vantage point, the Pict savage is certainly something to be feared.
GM Advice: When considering the power of any character level in the Conan RPG, always consider that level from the point of view of a Commoner classed NPC.
Last edited by Water Bob; Saturday, 8th March, 2014 at 06:19 PM.
Third Party Conan RPG Supplements
99% of all supplements written for the Conan RPG were published by Mongoose. But, not all know that Misfit Studios created three OGL supplements designed to be used specifically with this game (as opposed to D&D barbarians). I highly recommend all three. Click on the link above to view them.
Here's a complete product list for those GM's searching for books to play this incredible game.
MGP7701 Conan - The Roleplaying Game (also the Atlantean Edition)
MGP7707 Game Master's Screen
MGP7711 Conan - The Roleplaying Game (Pocket Edition of the Atlantean Edition)
MGP7800 Conan - The Roleplaying Game Rulebook (2nd Edition)
MGP7702 The Scrolls of Skelos
MGP7703 The Road of Kings
MGP7704 Pirate Isles
MGP7705 Across The Thunder River
MGP7706 The Free Companies
MGP7710 Aquilonia - The Flower of the West
MGP7713 Hyboria's Fiercest: Barbarians, Borderers and Nomads
MGP7714 Tales of the Black Kingdoms
MGP7715 Hyboria's Finest: Nobles, Scholars and Soldiers
MGP7717 Hyboria's Fallen: Pirates, Thieves and Temptresses
MGP7721 Tito's Trading Post
MGP7722 Stygia - The Serpent of the South
MGP7723 Faith and Fervour
MGP7724 Ruins of Hyboria
MGP7725 Argos and Zingara
MGP7728 Shem - Gateway to the South
MGP7729 The Conan Compendium
MGP7802 Return to the Road of Kings
MGP7803 Bestiary of the Hyborian Age
MGP7805 Secrets of Skelos
MGP7808 Player's Guide to the Hyborian Age
MGP7812 Cities of Hyboria
MGP7816 The Warrior's Companion
MGP7817 Catacombs of Hyboria
MGP5598 The Coming of Hanuman
MGP5599 The Black Stones of Kovag-Re
MGP7716 Heretics of Tarantia
MGP7718 The Lurking Terror of Nahab
MGP7719 Tower of the Elephant
MGP7727 Reavers of the Vilayet
MGP7807 Adventures in the Hyborian Age
MGP7809 Trial of Blood
MGP7815 Betrayer of Asgard
MGP7708 Shadizar - City of Wickeness
MGP7709 Messantia - City of Riches
Missing item numbers above were assigned to projects that were not completed or canceled at the time Mongoose lost the Conan license. For example, MGP7818 Empires of the Hyborian Age was given to Conan RPG fans as a free download (the Mongoose link no longer works or I would have had it here for you). Most of MGP7819 Thief's Companion was published in Mongoose's free gaming magazine called Signs & Portents.
If you look at the Mongoose site, under the "Other Roleplaying Games" forum, you'll see a sticky that lists all of the material for the Conan RPG published in S&P. I highly recommend that the serious Conan GM download all of this material (and it is a lot, too--almost 500 pages worth of Conan goodness) from the various issues to use in your game.
MGP7720 To Save A Kingdom, which is a large introductory adventure, is published, in its entirety, in S&P. MGP7716 Heretics of Tarantia, which is an adventure that Mongoose published for sale, was eventually also wholly printed in S&P (under the different title: Faith & Blood). A ton of free stuff you will find in S&P, from adventure locations (many from the Conan stories), to NPCs, equipment, game discussion, and other supplementary material.
Last edited by Water Bob; Wednesday, 5th September, 2012 at 05:46 AM.
Threshold of Darkness
This is a multi-part adventure, written by Eric Rodriguez and Vincent Delarge, that appeared in a magazine called Ancible. The mag now has this adventure downloadable for free. Go to the Ancible download page and download issues #2-#5 to get the entire adventure.
Last edited by Water Bob; Wednesday, 5th September, 2012 at 05:56 AM.
Last edited by Water Bob; Monday, 24th September, 2012 at 04:49 AM.
CONAN RPG resouces out in the big void
There are a few web sites out there in the ether with some home grown Conan adventures on them. You'll have to use your Google-fu. For example, there's stuff on Thulsa's site. Some of these are full adventures that you can download for free. Some of these are conversions of classic 1st edition AD&D adventures where you still need the original adventure, but Thulsa provides the Conan-ization. And, some of these Thulsa charges (worth it--he writes good swords & sorcery adventures) for--they're not specifically for the Hyborian Age, but they're close enough that you can customize them for your game without too much fuss. You can buy the pdf or a hard copy through Lulu (which is what I prefer). The Spider God's Brideis a great bargain, providing you 10 adventures, from level 1-10. If you buy it (recommended), then be sure to download Thulsa's free Conan RPG conversion document he wrote for converting that compilation of adventure to the Conan RPG.
Besides Thulsa's page, keep on Googling. You'll find stuff like Skull's Conan Cult.
Scribd.com is a good place to look for homegrown Conan RPG stuff. In just writing this post for you, I found The Isle of Smoking Peaks, This Article, and this Cult. I'm sure there's more if I kept looking (and if you do, post it here so that the rest of us can benefit!).
The Snow-Haired Woman is available from RPG Now.
Conan author Vincent Darlage maintains THIS SITE and THIS SITE.
You might find useful information on blogs, too, like this one.
Please post in this thread anything that you think other Conan GM's would like to see.
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Matt at Mongoose said that most of the book was republished in S&P. I can only guess at which articles were originally in the Thieves book. I'm sure of The Dagger in S&P 81 and New Armour in S&P 83. I think Gambling in S&P 85 was originally meant for the Thieves book, and maybe The Underhanded Side of Sorcery in S&P 78. I think, possibly, the Barachan Isles article, too, in S&P 81, but I'm not sure.Do you know what issue(s) contained these excerpts?
That's my best guess, and I'm thinking that the Thieves book was not as complete as Empires at the time Mongoose stopped publishing Conan material or Matt would have released it whole like he did with Empires.
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