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  1. #1
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    Mongoose Conan RPG Discussion

    Continued from the 5e forum

    Quote Originally Posted by Water Bob View Post
    The game being based on d20 at all kept me away from it for years. I got into Conan finally because I love the stories and the universe. I missed most of the 90's and the 3E explosion, preferring to play other, less crunchy games, like D6 Star Wars, Classic and Mega Traveller, The James Bond RPG and Top Secret/SI, FASA's Star Trek, among others.


    But, the Conan RPG was written so well. When the Second Edition came out, I had to give it a try, and I just fell in love. I had played 3E D&D before, but the Conan game was different. In fact, I see many players come from 3E D&D to the Conan RPG and think of it as just another clone--just another cover on the same set of rules. It's not immediately obvious, but the Conan RPG, albeit quite similar with many rules, is a very different game. You can't play it like you can D&D.


    For example, in D&D, I've seen many players rush from one fight to another. There's a Giant Spider, let's kill it. There's a Wyvern! Pull out the bows! If you use that mentality with Conan, you'll find the game to be extremely deadly. Although you're playing with very similar rules to what you would use in a 3.0 or 3.5 D&D game, those subtle differences that I mention can make for a rude awakening. For one thing, the Conan game is much grittier. It's meant to be a low level game world. Character advancement is left to the GM, but it should be slow. In my game, characters typically have to kill 10 foes of equal level in order to advance a level.


    While the characters are kept lower level, the weapon damage is higher in Conan. A Short Sword does 1d8 damage. A standard Crossbow does 2d6. A Broadsword does 1d10. A Bossonian Longbow (roughly equivalent to an English Longbow) does 1d12. And the two-handed Greatsword does a whopping 1d10 + 1d8 damage.


    Add to this that Massive Damage is triggered at a mere 20 points of damage (if 20+ of damage is done by a single attack, then the character must save or die, regardless of hit points--this is to account for all the heads and body parts that go flying in Conan stories) and the fact that magical healing is virtually non-existent in the game universe (no handy potions of healing, and no Healing spells), and, all of a sudden, the game that you thought was a 3.5 D&D clone in a new wrapper doesn't seem to play like a 3.5 game.


    Plus, the Hyborian Age is not a game world of Orcs and Goblins. Typically, what you are fighting is a human, just like you. A single human foe can be so much more deadly then a group of Hobgoblins or Bugbears. Sure, there are monsters in the Conan game, but when you see them, they are typically stronger than what you might come across in a D&D game (where as the D&D game will throw at you several fairly easy encounters, the Conan game will give you fewer encounters with much stronger enemies).


    In combat, the Conan player has to think strategically and tactically. Avoiding fights is usually a priority. Instead of just rushing into fight, from one fight to the next, it pays for players to study the landscape. Set up ambushes. Use surprise. Shove foes into fire pits and off cliff tops instead of engage them in melee. Parley is a favored tactic--maybe the encounter can be overcome by a simple trade....










    As for the d20 mechanics....


    IMO, the designers of the Conan RPG did a brilliant job taking the system and molding it for a gritty Hyborian Age atmosphere. Yes, there is a HUGE learning curve, especially if you've never played a d20 game (like me). Even if you have, as I mention above, the game is subtly different enough from D&D that many players will think they know the game when they really don't.


    At first, the Combat Maneuvers seem like a lot to learn. And, on some level, it is. It's akin to learning a lot of spells for mages. But, soon, you pick and choose what you learn (you don't learn 9th level spells if you are a 1st level character--just focus on what you can use), use it in a game until you learn it.


    A typical Conan combat might start out with two foes feeling each other out. Circling. Not yet in actual combat. One warrior stares at his opposition. He hefts his shield, grins, and slaps his sword blade across his shield.


    Then, they move in to strike at each other. Initiative is rolled. The character with initiative takes advantage of the fact that he is quicker, catching his foe flatfooted. On the foe's turn, should he be still standing, he tries a feint--if successful, he too will have an advantage similar to catching his opponent flatfooted.


    Next round, one of them uses Demoralize Other (a use of the Intimidate skill) in order to gain advantage. The other shoves off from a wall, coming at his opponent quickly, using Use The Battlefield to gain a bonus to hit.


    And so on....
    I appreciate the rundown. Is it designed to be a solo rpg or a team based rpg?

    Looking at the classes in the other thread how does one become a sorcerer? What kind of abilities do scholars and temptresses have? What distinguished the warrior classes from each other or the third from the pirate?

    is there a significant difference from 1st to 2nd edition?

    right now I use Barbarians of Lemuria for Conan type games. I like that it is super simple.

 

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    Also is the game geared towards playing Conan-like characters or other (lesser) folk in the world of Conan?

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    Ignore Water Bob
    Quote Originally Posted by fjw70 View Post
    I appreciate the rundown.
    You may be interested in my thread about the game. CLICK HERE.





    Is it designed to be a solo rpg or a team based rpg?
    That's another subtle change from D&D. You can certainly play the game with a traditional party of various classes (and many do), but unlike D&D, you do not need to play that way. Because of the stricter class system in D&D, a typical party needs a thief to open locks and find traps, a fighter to protect the party, a cleric to heal the party, a mage for magic, and so on. Not so in Conan.

    I just ran a campaign where every PC was of the same class (Barbarian). I wanted to run a story that focused on young warriors of a Cimmerian clan. The PCs were boys becoming men among warriors. I created a village that was the clanholme, gave them a Blood Feud with a neighboring clan, threw in an ancient, dark secret involving their clan history, the gods, and their perception of creation (Crom gave man a strong sword arm to protect himself and a strong heart with which to use it and the will to survive....then Crom forgot about his creation). It was a fun campaign that lasted us a couple of years.

    What was different from D&D was that the adventures were mostly wilderness based (I did throw in a cave or two, but no cities, towns, forts as with a normal D&D campaign), and we didn't travel far (stayed within the bounds of Cimmeria, and even then, never ventured outside of the clan holdings), and I, almost 100%, used only one character class--Barbarians for both the PCs, their clanmates, and even the enemy (a rival clan).

    You don't see that in D&D very often.



    Also, the number of PCs needed is really up to the GM. Easily, the game can be run with just one PC. The game fits 1-3 PCs beautifully (most Conan stories feature Conan alone or Conan plus one or two side kicks). If you've got a big group, then I'm sure you can find a good universe-specific way for the character to be together.

    Escaped Gladiators or Slaves.

    A Stygian Sorcerer hires men for a journey into the Southern Jungles.

    A Pirate crew.

    A band of thieves working a town.

    The PCs are Nomad characters, scouts into the Hyborian lands from the Hyrkanian Steppes.

    A Noble in search of a lost crown. The PCs are his court, guardsmen, and retainers.

    Members of a caravan.

    Zingaran Gypsys, moving from town to town, stealing what coin that they can't come by legally.

    Aquilonian soldiers, pushing deep into the savage Pict wilderness.

    With a writ from a local lord, the PCs are charged with scouting and mapping a wilderness area.

    A Scholar's path to power includes the creation of a cult and the gathering of followers to worship his god and increase his power.

    If you want, you can play with a large number of PCs and hundreds of NPCs as a vast army of Free Companions, switching play from vast, large scale warfare to tactical missions that involve just a few warriors--the PCs.

    From a single character walking into a town, grabbing a jack at the pub, and listening to local rumors, to typical party-style play, to members of the kingdom's army, the game can easily handle the situation.





    Looking at the classes in the other thread how does one become a sorcerer?
    The magic system is completely different from that used in D&D. Magic in this game is twisted nature. It's usually evil. And, usually, it is shunned (though a few lands embrace sorcery). Typically, sorcery is dark.

    What is sorcery? That answer is different depending on your perception. A young thief steals an ancient text, and from it, learns to cast a spell. The townsfolk see him, make the sign of the horns, then tar and feather the young man, running him out of town.

    Then, the mob that just disfigured and burned the thief turn to their local Mitran Priest, praying that the Holy One protects them from such evil ever entering their town again.

    In game terms, though, there is no difference in the spells that the thief learned and the spells that the priest can throw. It's all sorcery. It's just how it is perceived that is different.





    SORCERY

    The spells tend to be less combat oriented, requiring more time to cast, but more powerful than your typical D&D spell. For example, a quick spell to throw is the Lesser Ill-Fortune. It only takes one standard action to throw, and it can be delivered by giving your target the evil eye (locking eyes), or by touch, or by magical link (need hair or clothing or something). The victim gets a save that negates the effect. If successful, the victim is -1 to all attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, and skill checks for an entire day.

    As GM, I don't tell the victim (if a player character) that he's been cursed with this spell if I can help it. I simply include the effect when the player makes rolls. Sometimes, they realize they are cursed, and sometimes, they don't. And, that can be quite fun, either way.

    In this game, you don't have to memorize spells. Once you know a spell, you know it. Conan sorcerers tend to know a lot less spells than the average D&D mage.





    How it works is this....

    Every person has a connection to nature. Inside each and every one of us is natural power. Sorcery allows a person to tap into that power and twist it, bend it, to his or her will.

    In game terms, every person has a number of Power Points. When a spell is cast, power points are used (you get them back after resting). The Lesser Ill-Fortune spell above costs 2 PP. Thus, if a person has a total of 4 PP, then the spell can be cast twice before the person needs to rest to regain his power points.

    A sorcerer usually doesn't have to pre-select his spells (there are some exceptions). When it comes time to cast, he simply picks a spell which he can afford to throw and can even throw the same spell twice or multiple times (if the PP are available).

    Normal people have PP but they don't know how to use them. The Dabbler Feat is required in order to use sorcery. In my example above, the thief must have the Dabbler Feat. This feat requires INT 13+ and 6 ranks in Knowledge-Arcana, thus the minimum level for any normal person to use sorcery is level 3.

    All serious sorcerers, though, are of the Scholar class. Why? Because is allow many more PP than the other classes. In addition, a Scholar has access (not mandatory) to Sorcery styles where the character gains knowledge of spells and gets other sorcerous benefits. Sorcery is all about knowledge, and the Scholar class is best suited to focusing on Knowledge. But, not all Scholar need be sorcerers. A Scholar's focus can be some non-sorcery topic (in which case, the character does not get many of the sorcery benefits).



    So, casting spells in this game is really about two things:

    1. Power Points. The more you have, the more powerful spells you can throw. And, the more you have, the more total number of spells you can throw. The Scholar class is the path to gaining the most power points (and the most knowledge about sorcery--it makes sense).

    2. Known Spells. A character can have a ton of PP but not know any spells. And, in Conan, spells do not lie around as they do in D&D waiting for adventurers to find them. You won't find a lot of scrolls or spell books. Even on a dead mage, typically, what he knows, he has inside his head and carries with him to his grave. So, finding spells can easily be the object of an entire campaign--certainly a quest.



    Power Points.

    Besides multi-classing into the Scholar class and gaining levels, there are things a character can do to increase his total number of power points on a temporary basis.

    1. Sacrifices. I told you that Sorcery in this game can be quite dark (as it is in the Conan tales). There are rituals that a Sorcerer can do to prepare himself for casting, increasing his total allotment of power points. These usually involve sacrifice and stealing the power inherent in other living things. Think of power points as part of the life force of a living being.

    An animal sacrifice will net the sorcerer 1 pp per 16 HP of the creature sacrificed. We move up from there: Sacred Animal, Ordinary Person, Virgin Sacrifice, Ritually Prepared Virgin Sacrifice, Perfect Offering, and Ritual Perfect Offering. A Virgin Sacrifice will gain the sorcerer 1 PP per 4 HP of the character sacrificed, for example.

    I've seen some GMs have sorcerers who have slaves, carried with them on the adventure, who are sacrificed when power is needed. The sacrifice usually involves some type of roll. This can be a Performance skill roll (like Dance or some type of gesturing needed), as required by the character's religion or arcane instructions.



    2. Power Rituals. This is a game reason for Sorcerers to become cultists and follow some god, while the character gains followers. Gather a number of followers, all doing a ritual chant, and the sorcerer gains power points from this. The more the celebrants, and the better they are at exactly performing the ritual (skill roll for the group), the more points the sorcerer receives.



    3. The Rule of Success. Sorcery is governed by a number of ultimate rules. One of these is the Rule of Success which basically states that sorcery feeds upon itself. The more successful a sorcerer is at casting spells, the easier it is to continue casting.

    In game terms, this means that, when a spell is successful, there are benefits outside of just the effects of the spell. When enemies are killed by sorcery, a morale bonus is provided (which increases with the number of enemies killed) that can be applied to helping rolls on future spells succeed. In addition, when a spell is thrown successfully, the Power Point requirement to cast that same spell again is halved.

    For example, let's say that we have 6 PP, and we cast the Lesser Ill-Fortune spell that I described above. On the first throw, the spell costs its normal amount of 2 PP. Let's say that it is successful and we want to cast it again at a different target. The next time we throw it, it will only cost 1 PP. Since the minimum is 1 PP, we can cast that spell a total of 5 times as long as each time we cast, we are successful.

    You can see the impact of that rule here (3 castings vs. 5 castings), but it really adds up when the cost to throw a spell is very high.







    What kind of abilities do scholars and temptresses have?
    Scholars can gain the most PP, as I mention above, if the character chooses the Sorcery route. More than any other class, Scholars gain bonus Knowledge skills. Scholars can gain the most spells of any type of character.

    Scholars are of basically focused on a type or types of Knowledge. This can be, but doesn't have to be, Sorcery. Thus, Scholars make the best Priests, Cultists, Clerics, Druids, and Sorcerers.



    Temptresses are a strong roleplaying class. One of the best, most well known examples of what the class represents is the Red Witch, Melisandre, if you keep up with Game of Thrones. Though not a Hyborian Age character, obviously, she perfectly fits the mandate of the Temptress class. In the game, the introduction of the class says this...

    The overwhelming majority of temptresses are women, but very occasionally a man takes up the mantle of tempter.

    Fostering beauty and charm, the temptress uses sensuality and sexuality as irresistible lures to bring others to their doom. The Hyborian Age is a time of great opportunity for temptresses. The world seems to be a place of male domination, where men wage war and conduct the business of the world. However, temptresses are ideally suited to taking advantage of these men, proving that beauty is stronger than physical power. They ensure that the world of men is nothing of the sort.

    While the majority of temptresses use sex as their primary route to power, they can also be political power brokers, crime lords or even sorceresses.

    Temptresses use their bodies and their seduction techniques to further their own ends. They use their charm to get men and women to do their bidding; their sexuality is as honed as a weapon, as keen and as deadly as any sword. Like a noble, the temptress favors brain or brawn--and knows full well that sexuality can overcome both the minds and brawn of her enemies.
    Ever read Dune? Certainly, the Honored Matres would be considered a Temptress class.

    Game-wise, Temptress class characters gain a lot of Charisma based bonuses. For example, they get the special ability of Comeliness, which gains them a +2 circumstance bonus to all CHR based checks in which her appearance might play a part. Other class bonuses are specific to CHR based skills.

    At 3rd level, the Temptress must choose a path for a Secret Art. This can be Sorcery, Sneak Attack, or Politics. Depending on the choice, the temptress will get benefits along that chosen route at later levels.





    Here's an example of one of the neat Temptress perks: Compelling Performance.

    Any level Temptress with 5+ ranks in Perform (any) can cause all those within 30 feet of her who are attracted to her gender (and not otherwise distracted, as in combat) to become facinated with her. The targets are allowed a WIL save. Those who become fascinated are -4 to Listen and Spot checks so long as the temptress keeps performing. This penalty increases to -6 if the temptress has 10+ ranks in Perform. And, it increases to -8 with 15+ ranks in Perform.

    Talk about distracting the guards!




    So, basically, your Temptress class is heavy on roleplay, and heavy on CHR based based skills. If interested in combat, her Secret Art will be the Sneak Attack. If interested in interpersonal roleplaying and checks, her Secret Art becomes Politics. And, if interested in throwing spells, then her Secret Art becomes Sorcery.







    What distinguished the warrior classes from each other or the third from the pirate?
    They all get different bonuses. The Soldier is heavy on Feats but light on skills. The Soldier also gets a lot of formation bonuses. Thus, three Soldier class characters fighting together gains benefits for all.

    The Borderer can track and picks a favored terrain. He can choose a Combat Style. In the Core book, there are three: Archery, Trapping, or Two-Weapon Combat. The choice leads to benefits in that area. In supplemental books, other Combat Styles are introduced (a combat style is basically a combat focus). Some of the styles are tied to a particular region of the world, such as the Zingaran Ghoul Fighter, who hunts the ghoul infested woods between Zingara and Argos.

    The Nomad also can track and has a favored terrain. But instead of combat styles, the Nomad gains horse mounted benefits.

    The Barbarian is one of the toughest classes in the game. He gains a lot of bonuses that allow him to defend himself without armor.





    The Pirate gains

    The Noble gains wealth and social benefits such as bonuses to Diplomacy, NPC allies, CHR bonuses, and leadership bonuses.

    The Pirate gains particular fighting bonuses that suits the class. Sneak Attack and Uncanny Dodge and the like.

    The Thief gains the most skills out of any other class in the game, but is light on Feats. And, he gains thief bonuses like trap disarming, Sneak Attack styles, and other thief oriented special abilities.







    is there a significant difference from 1st to 2nd edition?
    Not at all. The editions are fairly interchangeable. The 2nd edition is the most clean, the most clear, and the most fixed. But, any edition can be used to play the game 95% the same as any other edition.





    right now I use Barbarians of Lemuria for Conan type games. I like that it is super simple.
    I like simple games, too. And, I won't lie. There is a learning curve associated with Mongoose's Conan RPG. But, I think the time put into learning the game is worth it. Mainly because the pay-off is so rich.

    This Mongoose Conan RPG is a damn near perfect adaptation of the d20 rules. Playing the game, it truly has the atmosphere of the Hyborian Age.

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    Ignore Water Bob
    Quote Originally Posted by fjw70 View Post
    Also is the game geared towards playing Conan-like characters or other (lesser) folk in the world of Conan?
    In the official game setting, Conan is King of Aquilonia. Even though a GM can tilt his game towards his tastes, I'd say the game is more geared towards other characters rather than Conan himself.

    Note above when I suggest several different ways of playing the game--with one character or a party.



    Escaped Gladiators or Slaves.

    A Stygian Sorcerer hires men for a journey into the Southern Jungles.

    A Pirate crew.

    A band of thieves working a town.

    The PCs are Nomad characters, scouts into the Hyborian lands from the Hyrkanian Steppes.

    A Noble in search of a lost crown. The PCs are his court, guardsmen, and retainers.

    Members of a caravan.

    Zingaran Gypsys, moving from town to town, stealing what coin that they can't come by legally.

    Aquilonian soldiers, pushing deep into the savage Pict wilderness.

    With a writ from a local lord, the PCs are charged with scouting and mapping a wilderness area.

    A Scholar's path to power includes the creation of a cult and the gathering of followers to worship his god and increase his power.

    If you want, you can play with a large number of PCs and hundreds of NPCs as a vast army of Free Companions, switching play from vast, large scale warfare to tactical missions that involve just a few warriors--the PCs.

    From a single character walking into a town, grabbing a jack at the pub, and listening to local rumors, to typical party-style play, to members of the kingdom's army, the game can easily handle the situation.


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    Ignore edhel
    If you're interested, here's our ended long-running Conan campaign wiki: Conan Acheronian Edition
    I also made a lot of house rules for it which tried to fix the issues we encountered while playing.

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    Ignore Water Bob
    Quote Originally Posted by edhel View Post
    If you're interested, here's our ended long-running Conan campaign wiki: Conan Acheronian Edition
    I also made a lot of house rules for it which tried to fix the issues we encountered while playing.
    Thanks. I gave it a looksee. Neat stuff. I don't share your opinion about the rules needing fixing, but it is interesting to see another GM's take.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Water Bob View Post
    Thanks. I gave it a looksee. Neat stuff. I don't share your opinion about the rules needing fixing, but it is interesting to see another GM's take.
    The views on d20 maths may be a matter of opinion but what irked me the most was that high level game became "roll Fort DC XX or die" because everyone always hit, and everyone always did massive damage. The rules changes just made the game bearable for our group after we left the typical d20 maths sweet spot.

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    Ignore Water Bob
    I've kept my games low level, which is probably why I haven't had a problem. The game is meant to be played at the lower levels, although that directive is subltle in the first two editions. In the second edition, there's a new section that gives the GM an idea of what the different levels mean (in the early editions, you have to interplolate by looking at the Beastiary section where the humans are considered).
    Last edited by Water Bob; Wednesday, 4th March, 2015 at 03:58 PM.

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