Thread: GM's Closet for the CONAN RPG
Friday, 21st September, 2012, 07:48 AM #31
I bought the first [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Red-Sonja-Omnibus-Volume-1/dp/160690101X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348204701&sr=8-1&keywords=red+sonja+omnibus"]Red Sonja Omnibus[/ame] only because I have a passion for all things set during the Hyborian Age. I wasn't expecting to actually like what a read. I mean, c'mon! A super-chick running around in a chain mail bikini? Gimme a break!
But the writing and the images hooked me. I was absolutely blown away by the story. I actually bought into the character, chain mail bikini or no. And, today, the epic story told in the first omnibus remains one of my favorite Hyborian Age tales (click on link above).
I can't help thinking that, not only is this a Hyborian Age answer to Lord of the Rings, but it would also make for a fantastic mega-campaign. That is, if a GM put the time into developing it.
This story has it all: Lots and lots of plot twists, interesting characters, meanacing foes, and plenty of action.
First off, the story takes place in Hyrkania. We know little of that part of the world. Just look at a Hyborian Age map. Hyrkania is the largest non-detailed region in the known world! Hyrkania is just blank! Sandwiched inbetween Khitai and the Vilayet, Hyrkania stretches from the hot, northern reaches of Vendyha, across the height of the Vilayet, up into the frozen northern regions.
This could be a hell of an area for a GM to create his own playground. And, the Red Sonja story presented in the omnibus will put a lot of detail (about cities and locations, terrain, people and culture) where there is little to no description.
You can play the campaign in many ways. You don't have to copy a female warrior Red Sonja type. It is important, though, that at least one character in the PC party have a strong connection with a god or goddess. You can use Red Sonja's goddess or replace her with one of the Hyrkanian gods. Which god doesn't matter. Customize for your campaign.
I always thought this adventure would play out fantastically with one of the player characters being a Thula Doom type character--maybe a Soldier/Scholar multi-class. The character can be fantatical about his god, or the character could be a type that could care less about gods (like Conan) but is being manipulated by at least one of them anyway.
The adventure starts simple enough. Put a PC on horseback, and set him on a trail to a town called Gathia. Other players can be this character's hired or sworn protection. Or, maybe, if the main character is a cult leader type, the others could be followers of the same god. These are just ideas, of course. A lot of choices for the PCs are available to the players.
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Combat in the Conan RPG can be more fun than combat in any other d20 based game. Where many have said that D&D is a magic-centric game, the Conan RPG can be a warrior focussed game (just look at the character classes!) if you play with all the game's bells and whistles.
Let's look at a sampling. Going into a combat scenario, what options does a 1st level character have?
(All references are to the 2E Core rulebook.)
A Feint can be attempted, using the Bluff skill. Pg. 93. See also pg. 207.
A character can use a standard action to try and intimidate a foe using the Demoralize Other function of the Intimidate skill. Pg. 107.
Shields are used defensively, to boost AC, and as weapons. All shields are stated both ways. Pg. 159.
Choice of weapon can heavily influence combat technique: Pros and Cons of Thrown or missle weapons vs. melee weapons. Reach weapons vs. weapons with standard 5' threat range. One handed vs. two handed weapons. One weapon fighting vs. two weapon fighting. Standard attack vs. Full Attack.
There are two forms of defense to choose from: Parry Defense and Dodge Defense. Pg. 170.
There are two basic forms of attack to choose from: Standard brute force based attacks and Finesse fighting. Pg. 171.
A character using the Dodge defense who is crowded on all sides takes a -2 penalty to his AC. Pg. 173.
When attack roll equals Parry Defense exactly, the Weapon Breakage rule kicks in to replace the successful hit as if the attacker had just made a successful sunder attack. Damage is placed on the defender's weapon or shield instead of reducing the defender's hit points. This makes the Dodge defense easier on equipment and allows equipment to deteriorate from use. Pg. 174.
The Weapon Length rule gives an advantage to a character using a bigger, longer weapon than his foe. For example, a character armed with a dagger would have a -2 penalty placed on his Parry defense if facing a foe using a two-handed greatsword. Likewise, the foe with the greatsword would benefit from a +2 bonus to his Parry defense when defending himself from the dagger wielder. This rule encourages the use of Dodge--jumping out of the way of that greatsword rather than Parrying it with a dagger! Pg. 174.
Armor reduces damage. It doesn't make a character harder to hit. Weapons have an Armor Piercing score, which is usually increased by a character's STR rating. This represents a character's ability to punch through armor. Pg. 178.
Armor can be damaged in melee. See the Armor damage and repair rule. Pg. 179.
The Fighting Defensively rule is one that should be used often in this most dangerous game. In effect, a character takes a -4 on his attack in order to benefit from a +2 bonus to the character's defense. Pg. 184.
The Fighting On The Run rule allows a character to move, attack, and then finish his movement, promoting some interesting tactical movement choices. Pg. 184.
Total Defense is a rule that allows a character to spend his Standard Action defending himself only, instead of attacking and defending. The character benefits by getting a +4 bonus to his defense. Pg. 185.
Withdraw is a way to attempt to disengage from melee and move more than 5 feet without earning an Attack of Opportunity from your enemy. Pg. 187.
Characters who have 1 HP or more are considered fully capable. Characters at 0 HP are Staggered. Characters at -1 HP or below are immobile and dying. Characters at -10 HP are dead. Pg. 191.
There are two types of damage, lethal and non-lethal. Pg. 192.
Cover, especially for ranged combatants, can improve defense with a +4 bonus. Pg. 196.
Flanking an enemy nets the flankers a +2 bonus to hit. Pg. 198.
Helpless defenders can be attacked with a regular attack or a coup de grace. Pg. 198.
Multiple opponents will gain ever increasing bonuses to attack the single foe that they encircle. Pg. 202.
Fighting with two weapons, one in each hand, is a deadly combat technique, and in the Conan RPG, the rules are kinder to this fighting style than in most other d20 games. Pg. 203.
The Aid Another rule can be used in combat. Pg. 204.
Those using missile weapons will gain a +2 attack bonus if the characters first spends a round to aim. Pg. 204.
If the goal is to push an enemy back a distance or knock him down, use the Bull Rush combat maneuver. Pg. 204.
The Charge is a favored, standard combat maneuver. Pg. 204.
When the attack throw is less than half a target's Dodge defense, the target is allowed an immediate, free action to move 5 feet in any direction the target (with a DEX 13+) desires. The Dance Aside rule can sometimes make for some interesting tactical movement decisions. Pg. 205.
The Delay action allows a character to lower his initiative score. Pg. 205.
In the right situation, with the right objects within reach, the Improvised Attack combat maneuver can give characters who have STR 13+ and DEX 13+ an extra attack during the round. Pg. 208.
The Lock Weapons rule gives both the attacker and defender a choice to lock weapons whenever the attack throw exactly equals the Parry defense. Both the attacker and defender have to decline to use the maneuver in order for this rule to be ignored. If either, or both, the attacker and defender want to use the rule, then the Lock Weapons attempt is played out. Also see the Weapon Breakage rule, above. Pg. 209.
The Ready action allows a character to trigger his action to some special event later in the round (like aiming at a doorway and firing your crossbow at the first creature through the door). Pg. 210.
If caught on the ground, the Roll maneuver allows a character to avoid standard prone penalties. Pg. 210.
Characters can take advantage of their skills and the combat terrain with the Use the Battlefield maneuver. In the most recent Conan movie, Conan runs up to a foe, jumps, then springs off a column with his feet, to come down swinging on his foe from above. A successful skill check would give Conan a +2 bonus on this creative attack. Jumping off a balcony, grabbing a chandelier, and dropping on an opponent would use this rule (and a couple skill checks). Pg. 212.
Now, that is A LOT OF CHOICES! And all 1st level characters can mix and match any of these maneuvers to gain their best tactical advantaged. And...I haven't even named them all! I left out all the stuff that you can do that allows your target an Attack Of Opportunity against you (like a Sunder or a Trip). I also left out special maneuvers that require Feats. I didn't touch special class abilities or sorcery, either.
COMBINE all of this stuff (after a fairly hefty learning curve, albeit), and what do you get?
Exciting, intricate combat encounters that transcend the traditional you-go-I-go aspect of many d20 combat encounters. Add in rules from other Conan sources, like the various unarmed combat strikes from the Barbaric Warrior book, and combat becomes even more rich.
Your Conan combats will go from the dull to the amazing, as seen in the video below, if you learn to use all of these choices in your game.
Your Conan combats can look and feel like this--->
AWESOME COMBAT SCENE FROM THE FILM "CENTURION"
Last edited by Water Bob; Saturday, 22nd September, 2012 at 05:55 AM.
After watching the clip from Centurion above, imagine a similar scene set in the Hyborian Age. For this example, we've got a lone Aquilonian 2nd level Soldier, on foot, walking down the gully pictured in the clip. Away in the forest, is a lone 1st level Pict warrior, tracking him. We can set this in the Westermark.
The Aquilonian makes a Listen check and stops to gaze up the slope into the forest. The Pict rises from his hiding spot and charges down the hill, screaming at the top of his lungs.
The Pict wins initiative.
That means the Soldier is flat footed.
The Charge results in the Pict getting an attack with a +2 bonus (it also means the Pict is -2 to his defense until his next action). The flat footed Aquilonian is AC 10.
The Pict is using a targe and primitive hunting spear. The Aquilonian uses a large shield and short sword, plus he wears a helm and scale corselet (DR 6).
The Pict easily hits but does no damage because his spear does not penetrate the Aquilonian's armor. In fact, the head of the spear snaps off when it makes contact (see page 152 under Primitive Weapons).
Now the Aquilonian is no longer flat footed. He strikes with his short sword and hits. The Pict wears no armor and takes the full brunt of the damage. 1d8 is rolled, resulting in a 2, plus 2 more for the Aquilonian's STR modifier. The Pict takes 4 points of damage, leaving him 7 points.
The Pict uses his 5' step to move back away from the Aquilonian, dropping both the broken spear and his shield as he does so. His fingers go to blood streaming down his chest from the Aquilonian's slash, then to his face. His fingertips trace three lines of blood from his chin, over his lips, and across his cheek. This is all done in a matter of seconds (and is, in fact, the Pict's standard action to Demoralize his foe).
The Pict gets a +1 modifier for his war paint. But, because of the situation, the Aquilonan gets a +2 cirumstance bonus on his resistance throw because he drew first blood and faces a pict that is weaponless.
Nevertheless, the Pict wins the toss, and the Soldier will be considered demoralized (-2 attack, -2 skill checks, -2 saves) for two rounds (using the Pathfinder version of the rule as I suggest above).
The Soldier steps up 5' and uses a Full Action to attack both with his shield and his shortsword.
If you attempt to Parry an armed foe without a weapon, you suffer a -4 penalty to your Parry AC. Therefore, the Pict is using his Dodge AC against the Aquilonian's swing.
The attack throw for the shortsword is poor. In fact, it's less than half the Pict's Dodge AC. This triggers the Dance Aside combat maneuver. Since this maneuver is an immediate action, the Pict is allowed a free action to move 5' in any direction he wants. He hops away from the shortsword swing, now 5' from the Aquilonian.
This maneuver might have just saved the Pict's life because now, the Soldier cannot connect with his shield bash. The Soldier did a Full Action when attacking with Two Weapons, and thus could only move 5' maximum. He cannot now move another 5' to follow the Pict and hit with his shield. Thus, the benefit of the Dance Aside maneuver.
It's now Round Three, and the Soldier is still considered demoralized this round.
The Pict screams his head off, death shining in his eyes, and moves to grapple the Soldier.
Attempting a grapple like this means the Aquilonian gets an Attack of Opportunity on the Pict, which he uses, swings, and misses by one point. The round spent demoralizing the Soldier turned out to be well worth it.
Now, the grapple is resolved. The Pict rolls a STR check vs. the Aquilonian's Grapple AC. The Grapple AC is penalized by the -8 Armor Check Penalty. But, still, the Pict fails! He rolls a natural 1! As the the Pict is a player character, though (where as the Aquilonian is a GM controlled NPC), the Pict has 3 Fate Points. The player uses one now, using the Reroll option. The grapple check is made again...and the Pict is successful!
The two are now considered to be grappling!
Now, it's the Aquilonian's turn. The grappling rules maintain that only light weapons can be used while grappling. Most other main weapons would have to be dropped, but a short sword is considered a light weapon. Therefore, the Aquilonan can still use it, even while grappled.
And, let's not forget that the Aquilonian is still demoralized this round. That's a -2 penalty to hit. And, because the character is grappling, that's another -4 penalty to hit. But, the Pict cannot use either the Parry or Dodge defense while grappling, which means the Pict is AC 10. The Aquilonian shoves with his sword, but the -6 penalty is too much for him. He fails to damage the Pict.
We're going into round 4 now--almost half a minute of combat being represented!
At this point, the two grappling characters are considered to be in the same square. The Aquilonian's armor and the penalties of grappling make it unlikely that the Pict will win this fight by drawing his dagger and slitting the Soldier's throat. It's a -4 penalty on the strike because of the grapple, and a Finesse attack would have to be used, meaning another -6 points to the attack roll. There is not way a 1st level Pict will overcome a -10 penalty unless he throws a natural 20--a perfect hit.
Instead, the Pict can ignore armor by using unarmed strikes and non-lethal damage.
With his left arm locked around the Soldier, the Pict begins slamming punches square into the Aquilonian's face. Smack. Smack. Smack. This is the only grapple attack without penalties.
The Pict rolls his attack (the grapple attack is used, not the standard attack) and lucks out with a 20! Then, maximum damage is thrown! The Wolf God is pleased with this Pict! The Soldier suffers 6 points of non-lethal damage, while his hit points remain at his max of 13.
On the Soldier's turn (no longer suffering from being demoralized), he drops the shield, which lowers his Armor Check Penalty by half to -4 and attempts to escape from the grapple. This is an Escape Artist check, or a Grapple check, vs. the Pict's Grapple AC.
The armor check penalty on the check is -4 because he is not longer encumbered with his shield. Still, it's enough to make the character fail and allow the Pict to maintain his grip.
Round 5. 30 second of combat.
The Pict keeps pounding the Soldier in the face, his knuckles red with blood now. He's just holding the Aquilonian by his armor, bracing the man's weapon arm, slamming his fist straight into the Soldier's face.
The Pict hits again, this time doing 2 more points of non-lethal damage, for a total of 8 points vs. 13 HP.
The Aquilonian struggles with his short sword, against the -4 attack penalty for the grapple, and shoves it again at the Pict's gut. He's getting the crap knocked out of him, and he's got to kill this savage. He hits, doing a total of 5 points of damage.
The Pict now only has 2 HP left.
The Pict moves to catch his opponent in a hold, suppressing his weapon arm. The two are standing, moving around, locked in a grapple, when the Pict attempts to move behind the Soldier.
This is a Pin maneuver. And it requires a Grapple check vs. the Aquilonian's Grapple AC.
The Pict wins, and the Aquilonian is held.
The Aquilonian attempts to break the pin but is unsuccessful.
With the Soldier pinned in the Pict's grip, the Pict graps the Aquilonian's weapon arm several times and slams it accross his knee, then, with wrestles to grab the hild out of the Soldier's hand. This is a Disarm action, modified by the grapple rules. This gives the Aquilonian an Attack of Opportunity, and knowing this, the Pict player decides to spend another Fate Point. This time, it allows him to Dodge or Parry, with a +5 bonus modifier, even in circumstance where he cannot normally Dodge or Parry (such as when grappling).
The Soldier gets his AoO and attempts to shove his sword down into the Pict's thigh. He easily misses this due to the Pict's Dodge.
Now, the Pict attempts the Disarm, which the Pict wins. By the Disarm rules, the short sword is now in the Pict's Hands.
On the Soldier's turn, he attempts to break the pin again, but with those Fate Point modifiers, it proves impossible.
With the Soldier pinned, he's got an effect DEX 0, which means he's AC 5. So, even with the armor, the Pict needs to roll an 11+ in order to damage the Soldier with the short sword. The Finesse hit is a success! And, the Pict shoves the short sword in between the panels of the Soldier's armor under his arm, into his ribs.
Damage is 6 points. The Soldier's HP total drops from 13 to 7. And, his non-lethal damage is 8.
The Soldier collapses back on the Pict at this moment. He's not dead, just exhausted. And beat. And about to die at the hands of this Pict.
We're out of rounds now, into scenes. It will take about half an hour for the Soldier to rouse himself, but he hasn't got an hour. The Pict uses the tip of the short sword to slice the straps holding the Aquilonian's helmet, then throws the thing down the gully. Next, fresh blood runs down the Soldier's face, and he begins to scream, in spite of his condition. The Pict removes his scalp. Then the Pict simply holds the short sword high, in a reverse grip, and slams the point down into the Aquilonian's throat, stapling him to the ground.
And with that, he lifts his war cry to the heavens. Another invader taught the cold, harsh lesson of the Pictish frontier.
Are your fights like this? Do you use this game to its fullest? Or do you just go back and forth with the opponents trading swipes at each other.
If you, as GM, start using all the special attacks and maneuvers that this game offers, I bet your players will see the advantage and start doing it, too.
With the above, you saw how a 1st level Pict PC with primitive weapons could take out a heavily armored 2nd level Soldier. Of course, I wrote this as an example. More likely, the fight would be shorter than what I wrote above (I wanted to highlight various combat techniques). The point is, the Conan RPG gives you all the tools you need to live through very exciting combats.
You've just got to spend some time learning the options.
Last edited by Water Bob; Saturday, 22nd September, 2012 at 08:44 AM.
I should point out that one of the brilliant rule changes of the Second Edition Conan game is that the standard d20 grappling rules were improved. No longer would a character need to first make a touch attack AND THEN a grapple attack in order to first grab then hold his opponent in a grapple. Check out pg. 199 of the 2E core rules. There, you will a more simplified rules than what is presented in the other two editions of the game.
Now, with the 2E rules, a grapple is as simple as making an unarmed attack. First, the object of the grapple gets an Attack of Opportunity on his attacker. If that does not hit or fails to damage the character because of his armor, the grapple proceeds with a single, simple throw.
In order to attempt the grapple, a character makes a grapple check, which is basically an unarmed attack (d20 + BAB + STR mod). This can be thrown against his foe's own grapple check, or his foe can use his Grapple AC (which is his grapple check if he took 10 on the throw).
It's that easy.
In the following rounds, the grapple proceeds unless a throw is made to break the grapple.
Very easy stuff.
Guide (Lvl 11)
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Also, I am afraid the color are really hard to read on the black background.
Last edited by Yora; Wednesday, 26th September, 2012 at 10:24 AM.
http://spriggans-den.com My site for the Ancient Lands setting and everything RPG related.
A Couple of Horse Thoughts
Let me direct your attention to page 19 of Tito's Trading Post. There, you will find adivce and rules for using mounts in your game. I went back and gave an NPC I had created a skill point into Handle Animal because of these rules. They make a lot of sense, and in using them, they turn Horses and other mounts into something other than tireless means of transporting characters from one point to another. With these rules, you'll have to plan your route. If you run out of food or water for your mount, the poor thing may perish. And, these rules also give you another reason to keep some points in Survival.
Last edited by Water Bob; Saturday, 29th September, 2012 at 05:44 AM.
Guide (Lvl 11)
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You really should use a different color than standard blue. It's terrible to read on black background.
http://spriggans-den.com My site for the Ancient Lands setting and everything RPG related.
I rolled a 1, then I got GUSTUD!
You're in combat. Oh no! Your roll a natural one on your attack die. You are now gustud (pronounced gust-ed). A gust from the winds of fate blow down upon you.
The natural one indicates that you have over-reached, zigged when you should have zagged, or otherwise opened yourself up, just for a milisecond, to free special attack by your enemy.
What kind of special attack? When you are gustud, your opponent rolls rolls 1d6 on the chart. Then, your opponent may attempt the special attack routine indicated on the chart, if he wants to. Many of the special attacks on the chart can turn out to harm the person attempting the special attack, so there will be occasions when you are gustud but your opponent decides not to take advantage of the situation. When this occurs, your natural one simply means that you missed your enemy, opened yourself up for the special attack, then closed the opportunity during the melee before your enemy could take advantage of the situation.
Every gustud maneuver usually allows the object of the special attack to perform an Attack of Opportunity on the attacker before the special maneuver is attempted. When a character is gustud, this is a special situation where the character is not allowed the usual Attack of Opportunity (not unlike the Weapon Breakage rule on pg. 174 of the 2E rulebook).
2 Unarmed Strike
5 Unarmed Kick
An easy way to remember the chart? Just look at the first letter of each result. A character can only be gustud as a result of a melee attack throw. Ranged attack throws are immune to the rule.
Grapple: Your foe may initiate a grapple.
Unarmed Strike: Your foe may make an unarmed strike doing non-lethal damage if successful. If your foe takes a -4 penalty on the attack, then a successful strike will do lethal damage.
Sunder: Your foe may attempt to sunder your weapon or shield (his choice).
Trip: Your foe may attempt to trip you.
Unarmed Kick: Kicks are covered in the Barbaric Warrior supplement. If you do not have that supplement, consider this gustud result to be exactly like result #2.
Disarm: Your foe may attempt to disarm your weapon.
Now I want you to look at this clip from the [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_b6got4G4Ys"]2010 film Centurion.[/ame]
Your combats can reflect this kind of chaos, and your Conan combat can be as interesting as that in the clip. First, use all the options in the game. Combat maneuvers can turn a combat on its ear and keep all involved glued to the action. Then, I suggest adding the gustud rule to your game. That will certainly spice things up.
Remember these other excitements to Conan melee combat:
A natural 20 will always indicate a Critical Threat.
A natural 1 is not only an automatic miss, regardless if the total with modifier hit, but if you use the rule above, a natural 1 will also indicate that the character is gustud.
When attack equals Parry AC exactly, the Weapon Breakage rule is triggered. See page 174.
When attack equals Parry AC exacly, the Lock Weapons maneuver may be initiatied.
Parry AC is adjusted by the Weapon Length rules. See page 174.
When total attack is less than half the opponent's Dodge AC, then the Dance Aside maneuver may be triggered.
When total attack is less than half the opponent's Parry AC, then the Riposte maneuver may be triggered.
Throw all of the special circumstances together (and I haven't even mentioned being flatfooted or maneuvers like the Feint or Hooking Parry or Shield Slam--which is different from the Shield Bash), along with the gustud rule above, there will be no telling where combat takes you. It will be chaotic, gruesome, gritty, very Conan-esque, and very fun!
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