D&D 5E A huge new sword & sorcery adventure is now available for 5th Edition

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
Not a Superhero. Superbeing. Occasionally Heroic in a given arc... but Loki's a villain and antagonist.

Though I should also note: Super Morality kinda went out the window in the late 70s through the 90s. But I can't think of any superheroes who maintained the title after committing acts of sexual assault.

In the Frost Giant's Daughter (the chronologically earliest work of Conan's life by Howard though it was written later) Conan fights alongside some Aesir against their Vanir opponents. He's the only survivor of the battle with 80 dead on the field when a practically nude woman appears and lures him into an ambush by Frost Giants.

He kills the Frost Giants then gets ahold of Atali, the Frost Giant's daughter. She calls out to Ymir, god of Frost Giants, who rescues her with a lightning bolt before Conan can rape her. Conan is knocked out and other Aesir from the raiding party find him, so he thinks Atali and the giants were just a dream.

Howard makes it -super clear- that Conan didn't -actually- commit rape, but absolutely intended to. Therefore Conan is innocent of all wrongdoing, because Howard was a garbage fire of a human being... but yeah.

Conan? Not a superhero.

She tries to get him killed beforehand, as you point out. Doesn't justify it, but makes the act seem 'less evil', at least to readers of Howard's era. A modern hero would laugh in her face and walk away.

Your underlying point, though is valid--Conan isn't morally heroic, and this has always been one of the key dividing lines between sword and sorcery/low fantasy and high fantasy. Low fantasy heroes are out for themselves, high fantasy heroes are trying to save the world. Howard still tries to maneuver him out of doing anything too offensive in that arena (though of course standards have shifted in a century--Deckard's forcing Rachel to kiss him in Blade Runner looks a lot worse 40 years later, though even then it wasn't something a 'good guy' hero would do).
 

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Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
She tries to get him killed beforehand, as you point out. Doesn't justify it, but makes the act seem 'less evil', at least to readers of Howard's era. A modern hero would laugh in her face and walk away.

Your underlying point, though is valid--Conan isn't morally heroic, and this has always been one of the key dividing lines between sword and sorcery/low fantasy and high fantasy. Low fantasy heroes are out for themselves, high fantasy heroes are trying to save the world. Howard still tries to maneuver him out of doing anything too offensive in that arena (though of course standards have shifted in a century--Deckard's forcing Rachel to kiss him in Blade Runner looks a lot worse 40 years later, though even then it wasn't something a 'good guy' hero would do).
You're largely right, yeah.

Though that's not to say Sword and Sorcery characters aren't, or can't, be motivated by moral means.

Conan, himself, wearing the Jeweled Crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow, becomes as good a king as he can be. He puts smart men who aren't corrupt into positions of authority, reduces taxes on his people because more than is needed is being taken to line the pockets of the greedy, and goes to war time and again in order to protect the Aquilonian people.

Kull, similarly, begins the extermination of the Serpent Men of Valusia after an assassination attempt is made on his life. Not out of vengeance for his own near-death, but to keep the Serpent Men from assassinating other rulers and usurping kingdoms to their own foul ends.

Sword and Sorcery characters can and do find themselves with moral codes... They just typically struggle to find their morality in the world before becoming better people than they started through existentialist threats and journeys that teach them different ways of being through their interactions with other people.

And then turn corrupt when they're in power long enough, if it's an REH story!

I think the most important takeaway from that isn't that Sword and Sorcery characters are moral or immoral or amoral. But that their morality shifts and changes until they find their way and establish their moral identity, their moral framework, which holds out as long as it can before other events cause it to be re-evaluated, or cause them to fail to uphold their moral identity.

... Thank you. You really made me consider something I hadn't, before, Blue Orange!
 


GuyBoy

Hero
Going back to the adventure (which is probably safer than going too far into Conan and Atali!), can you tell us more about the looming threat that faces the players?
 

Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
Going back to the adventure (which is probably safer than going too far into Conan and Atali!), can you tell us more about the looming threat that faces the players?
Sure! Usually just referred to as the "Sorceress Queen," she's a corrupted goddess who, rather than creating new life, is obsessed with twisting living creatures into grotesque monsters. These "Horg" are a shambling horde (reminiscent of the Trollocs from Wheel of Time) who spread like wildfire, consuming everything in their path. The DM, as mentioned earlier, controls their spread. Although the characters can technically ignore these events, running the adventure as written would assume that the party intends to eventually defeat the Sorceress Queen before her horde wipes out the entire continent (a kind of "soft" time limit).
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Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
Are there any changes to the classes in this adventure?
There aren't, we didn't want to mess with core 5E rules too much. However we do re-iterate our rules for "aether" which are core to our setting. Basically, it's an invisible miasma that empowers magic. Without its presence in the environment, magic-users can't cast spells. And they have to attune to it.
 

GreyLord

Legend
Waxing poetic and archaic, with that old grump of a grognard...

5e can't replicate Conan because you can't replicate the same things AD&D, and even 3e and 3.5 did.

The entire idea of Bounded Accuracy is antithetical to the idea of Conan taking on 100 men and killing them all, or being so much better and so greater skilled than other classes or careers that they can't match him...only those who are like him in some way can equal his prowess in combat.

5e is inherently High Fantasy as well in more ways than prior editions with the exception of 4e. Everyone has mystical abilities to a degree, no one is mundane...no one can be mundane and be high level.

Sword and Sorcery might be able to be captured by 5e, but it is harder and can't be Conan like in my thoughts. Sword and Sorcery is more than simply skimpily clad people (and actually, they don't even have to be scantily clad to be S&S at all). It's the feeling of the primeval rising above that of the civilized culture. The primacy of savagery and the pinnacle of barbarism over that of the elite etiquette of those who think they are more cultured.

S&S would be more of AD&D rising as a power against the modern organized gaming of 4e and 5e. AD&D or D&D (BECMI, BX, ODD) rising up in all it's unorganized tables and mixed systems coming as a savage rending against the more civilized tastes of the modern gamer.

That said, the new generation of gamers are great and terrific. Their way of gaming is also fun...but it is different. They were raised in a different world than the old timers. Their perceptions of Howard and Burroughs and others are far different than those born closer to when those stories were released. Their take on the 60s, 70s and 80s S&S are different than those who grew up in that culture and understood it from that time period itself. For many of them TSR D&D is a muddled mess (but not all, not all by a long shot, there are those who love TSR D&D even among the younger generation and understand the S&S of yesteryear as well) and inconceivable how it could represent anything.

Perhaps then, this is the closest they can ever come to beholding the glory of S&S, and if they can but barely touch it's essence, at least it gives them a taste of what is slowly being lost to the ages.

In some future age, when the old has passed and even the new has also given way to a future age, perhaps gamers of the old soul will rise again to seek glory in the ashes of the long forsaken Dungeons and Dragons of old Gygax and Arneson...but until that day, the sleeping walkers still rest, and the treasures still hidden lie still.
 

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