D&D General GM's Closet for the CONAN RPG

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Water Bob

Spell Idea: From Conan The Invincible

Conan The Invincible is one of my favorite non-Howard Conan yarns. The sorcerer Amanar is the big bad guy in that novel. At the end of the book, we see him cast a spell....

Instead of answering, the cold-eyed man traced a figure in the air, and the figure seemed to stand glowing as he traced, stirring some buried memory deep inside her. Behind her eyes, she felt something break, like a twig snapping. She would teach him to play his magical tricks with her. She started for the dark man...and stared with amazement at her feet that would not move. They did not feel held, they had full sensation, but they would not move.

"What wizardry is this?" she demanded hoarsely. "Release me, Amanar, or--"

"Throw the sword aside," he commanded.

She stifled a scream as her arm obeyed, sending the jewel-hilted tulwar skittering across the mosaicked floor to ring against a column.

Amanar nodded in satisfaction. "Remove your garments, Karela."

"Fool," she began, and her green eyes stared with horror as her slim fingers rose to the golden pin that held her scarlet cloak and undid it. The cloak slid from her shoulders to the floor. "I am the Red Hawk," she said. It was little more than a whisper, but her voice rose to a scream. "I am the Red Hawk!"

She could not stop watching with bulging eyes as her hands removed the golden breastplates from her heavy round breasts and casually dropped them, unfastened the emerald girdle that rode low on her flaring hips. "Enough," Amanar said. "Leave the boots. I like the picture they present." She wanted to weep as her hands returned quiescent to her sides. "Beyond these walls," the black-robed man went on, "you are the Red Hawk. Inside them, you are...whatever I want you to be. I think from now on I will keep you thus when you are with me, aware of what is happening. Your fear is like the rarest of wines."

"Think you I'll return once I am free?" she spat. "Let me get a sword in mt hand and my hounds about me, and I will tear this keep down about your head."

His laughter sent shivers along her bones. "When you leave these walls, you will remember what I tell you to remember. You will go believing that we conferred, on this matter or that. But when once again within this donjon, you will remember the true nature of things. The Red Hawk will grovel at my feet and crawl to serve my pleasure. You will hate it, but you will obey."

"I'll die first!" she shouted defiantly.

"That will not be permitted," he smiled coldly. "Now be silent." The words she was about to speak froze on her tongue.

That's one heck of a spell!

It's a combination of Hold Person and Charm Person (more like Domination). You can see the bit above where it says...

Behind her eyes, she felt something break, like a twig snapping.

I read that as Karela bricking her Saving Throw against the spell!

The spell could be the same one that I've mentioned earlier--different versions of the same spell. They seem like the same spell. And, obviously, Amanar can adjust the spell to his tastes, either having the victim be fully aware or completely oblivious to when she is under the spell.

The spell is so powerful that I would either make it hard to throw, or make it a high level spell (or both).

I could definitely see a magical link, like some hair from the victim, used in the spell, originally. Then to activate it again (because, earlier in the book, Conan saw Karela under this spell, and she didn't know it when he spoke with her later), it would happen as described in the paragraph above.

I wonder...do you think the glowing runes that float in the air are visible by all...or just the victim?

Water Bob

The Port of Asgalun

Asgalun is usually considered to be Shem's largest port. Some argue that it is the only port of any size in all of Shem. Imagine my surprise when reading the old Marvel Comics series from the 1970's called Conan The Barbarian, I saw, in issue #72 - Vengeance in Asgalan, that the Marvel/Roy Thomas stance in that story is that Asgalan, although on the coast, does not have a deep water port.

Shem is shown with a rocky shore, and up on a high cliff, there is the walled city-state of Asgalan. The argument must be that overland trade is so strong that Asgalan refuses to partake of the riches from the sea.

Still, there must be ports in Shem somewhere as, at the beginning of the story, Conan/Belit hit a Shemmite ship and steal its cargo.

Water Bob


Water Bob

Spell Idea: From Vengeance in Asgalun

Here's another spell that you can develop for your game. It's from issue #72 of the original Marvel Conan The Barbarian comic series (I read it in The Chronicles of Conan Volume 10).

A Stygian named Ptor-Nubis casts this spell on Belit. He is a sorcerer of the Black Ring. There is no verbal component, although the sorcerer must touch the target (touch attack). From the story, it is clear that the spell falls under the Hypnotism style of sorcery.


Ptor-Nubis merely lurches forward and lightly touches Belit's forehead. That specific attack should have a penalty for the target, and most probably a Finesse Attack is required. Avoiding any armor is also required.

Belit must have failed her saving throw because she beings to attack Conan.

Conan, in the comic, displays the Total Defense style of fighting from the core rulebook.

Belit comes out of it when Ptor-Nubis releases her.

So, it's a powerful spell--one that can make the target fight even his dearest ally.

It should also be noted that Belit acts sluggish from the spell. Maybe a penalty to DEX? Or, maybe use one of the conditions from page 224 of the core rulebook? Say, "Shaken", which provides a -2 penalty to attacks, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks. Or maybe "Sickened", which provides a -2 penalty on attacks, weapon damage, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks.

It is a form of mind control and is more of a spell than it is straight Hypnotism, so it does require some Power Points--at least one.


Water Bob

Spell Idea: From The Shadows

It's not exactly clear how this spells works. From the climax of Conan The Invincible, it says...

"It is his soul!" a voice boomed, seeming to come from every direction. Among the shadows along the columns on the far side of the chamber, one shadow suddenly split, folded, and thickened. And there, before them, stood Imhep-Aton.

This is for you to decided for your game, should you want to develop this spell for your campaign. Is it a teleport spell? Is it a concealment spell? Is it kinda both, in the form of a dimensional spell, where Imhep-Aton observes the world from another dimension and then steps into the real world?

That's for you to decide.

Water Bob


I've made it to this issue in the original Marvel run. Fantastic story.

In it, Conan, Belit, and her Black Corsairs find the Well of Skelos, and from its dark depths comes a monstrous thing from hell--a very Lovecraftian (also reminds me of a Moorecockian) demon that resembles, somewhat, a frog-thing.



The thing senses fear and feeds off of it--makes it stronger.

I started thinking about how to translate this into the game. Maybe give the demon +1 attack bonus per 10 hit points that it takes off its victim?

Or, maybe the thing gets vampiric hit points--justifying the getting stronger based on the target's fear?

Another way to do it would be to have the target roll a Fear check, and if failed, the difference failed on the roll provides the beast with a bonus? Maybe a modified Terror of the Unknown check, altered to accommodate higher character levels?

Water Bob


A root and powerful hallucinogen. Half a root will satisfy an entire room of noblemen. In large amounts, the root can have supernatural qualities.

When prepared, Shemmish Root is used for sacrificial rites. The source of this is the Dynamite Queen Sonja comic, volume 3, Coming of Age. The story is set in Pah-Disha, a Hyrkanian City State on the eastern shore of the Vilayet. The root is hard to grow in these lands.

In the story, a sorcerer uses a piece of raw root, placing a dead moth in his hand. After uttering words that men should never hear, the moth moves, glow faintly green, flaps its wings, and flies out of the sorcerer's palm.

When the root is being prepared, its scent has a long range, but a bit like pheromones, the scent is close to being undetectable. But, it will start to play on a person's senses. Red Sonja feels the air get thick, muggy, hard to breathe. Later, she gets woozy and has double vision. Not all characters are effected, so, if you use this idea in a game, you may want to include a Fort Save for the smell (and maybe even have different effects possible).

There is a scene that reminded me of the orgy scene in the 1982 Conan The Barbarian film. Lots of captive virgins are sprawled on the floor, barely able to stand, all of them blasted out of their minds. They smile, they giggle. They suck on their partners, female on female, and pleasure themselves in all sorts of manner.

The effect of the root.

In this cavern room, there is a large cauldron, stewing over a fire. A man stirs it with a paddle the size of a long boat oar. The root is in the cauldron, being prepared this way, and the man calls to another brute to bring more virgin blood.

The women don't resist. One is taken from the floor. She laughs as she is thrown on a slab, and she doesn't scream until the man raises a meat cleaver and cuts off her leg below the knee. Blood spurts. The man passes the leg, and it is held over the cauldron, draining blood down into the pot.

Instead of the amorous effect, Sonja is inflicted with blood lust due to the effect of the root. She has to be reminded of the mission of theft. She'd rather just fight. Obviously, she didn't make her save.
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Water Bob


When prepared, it is a deadly liquid poison. 8-10 ounces, swallowed, will kill a man quickly. Should there be a save? That's up to the GM.

The Sarboth plant is only found in Kell, which is a province of the Emorian Empire. That lies east of the Vilayet in what is known in the west as Hyrkania.

Source: Queen Sonja Vol. 5: Ascendancy


Water Bob


The Queen Sonja comic series, by Dynamite, fills in some of the details of the lands east of the Vilayet. We know, from the early Marvel comics (and Red Sonja's introduction in those same comics) that one of the City States that lays on the east bank of the Vilayet Sea is Pah-Disha. Another, also on the coast, is Makkalet. Sonja grew up, thieving, on the streets of Pah-Disha.

The Queen Sonja comics reveal a kingdom named Sogaria, where Sonja takes the throne and becomes queen. She rules from the royal city of Issindi.

Farther east, on Sogaria's border, lies the Emorian Empire, which is a collection of smaller kingdoms. Two of these kingdoms are Tirket and Kell. Gabon is the capital of Tirket, while Nicolla is the royal city of Kell. Both these peoples hate each other. Even though they are both members of the Emorian Empire, they have deep, ancestral hatred among the two races.

Game-wise, all of the people in this region are Hyrkanians. But, the Hyrkanian race in the core rulebook is geared towards the northern steppe horsemen. An enterprising GM who has read these comics may want to create some splinter races, giving them some differences, treating them the way the Hyborians are treated in the game (an Argosian is different from an Aquilonian, and both are different than Zingarans, etc.).

The races in this part of the world of of mixed blood, but there is a strong far eastern influence (from Khitai). Yet, many Hyrkanians are white and have round eyes, like Red Sonja and Tamara from the 2011 Conan movie. A Hyrkanian city-state is shown at the end of that film.

An adviser to the Emperor of the Emorian Empire is an incredibly powerful sorcerer named Solas, who lives in the Tower of Kolistri. Solas consorts with demons, and his art allows him to teleport fairly effortlessly.

An area near Emora and Sogaria is the Druid Lands. People never enter that dark realm. It is said that dark magics abound!

Antonious it the Emperor of Emora.
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Water Bob


If you want to get your hands on Volume 10 & 11 of the Dark Horse published Chronicles of Conan, you will have not only a fantastic read (these are some of the best Conan stories I've read by Marvel from any date, past or present), but you will also have a grand source of information from which you can build a sandbox adventure for your game!


This sandbox will be set in Stygia, featuring two City States--two of the only City States which do not fall under Luxur's rule. In fact, you can add some additional action and/or intrigue to your sandbox by introducing King Ctesphon's efforts to bring these two City States under the rule of greater Stygia. You can bring in Thoth-Amon, too, if you want, and/or some other Sorcerers of the Black Ring.

The two cities will mark the East-West borders of your sandbox.


On the east side of your map, out in the open, you have Harakht. The city lies south of the River Styx. The terrain is swampy, full of crocodiles and vipers. The city rises where the land becomes more firm, in the valley before the mountains.

Harakht is home to the Hawk Riders. These are giant hawks--only a handful of them exist--trained as aerial mounts for the elite riders.

This City State is ruled by two brothers, King Hor-neb and the high priest of the hawk god, Mer-ath. There is intrigue between them as Hor-neb is the stronger of the two. He rules by force, while Mer-ath is more subtle, preferring manipulation. Both want to be the sole king of Harakht.

Neftha the slave girl, is a schemer. But, you can't blame her. She's been a slave her entire life, and she is interested in two things: Survival first, then bettering the conditions of her life. Can you trust her?

Gol-thir is the Keeper of the Stone. He is a giant--a true giant--ironically living in the ground, in the Pit of Shadows where the sacred stone is kept.


The western side of your sandbox will feature the mountains behind Harakht. Through a secret mountain pass likes the Lost Valley of Iskander and the City State of Attalus.

This place has an interesting background. Alexander The Great founded the place. Somehow--through sorcery or some other means--the conquering king from ancient Greece went back in time with his army and found himself in this valley. He founded a city here, Attalus, and to this day it is ruled by those of the lineage of the Greek General that Alexander left in command of the city.

The greek ethnicity of the place is evident to this day, as isolated the city is from the rest of the darker Stygians. Attalus trades with one other City State, the independent Harakht, who endeavors to keep its knowledge of the lost valley secret, per the wishes of the Attalus king.

The Eyes of Set are a pair gems, shaped as eyeballs, kept by the rulers of each city. They symbolize the connection each city has with the other. In your game, you can make them magical--it would fit. Each city keeps one of the Eyes. When a new ruler comes to sit on the throne, an envoy is sent to the other city, and the Eyes are exchanged. In this way, Eyes of Set are forever kept separated (what would happen if they are brought together?), both changing hands for location in the other city.

Hun-ya-di is a one-eyed priest from Harakht who lusts to capture Attalus for himself. What if he took an Eye of Set and placed it in his empty socket? Hun-ya-di leads an army of faithful, all skilled with the Stygian longbow. In the comic, he takes this force and attacks Attalus.

Bardylis is a blonde female citizen of Attalus.

Ptolemy is Attalus' king.

Ablah is a fork-tongued trinket trader from Harakht who traffics with Attalus.

Viper's Head.

At the base of the mountain lies a large swampy region separating Attalus from Harakht. The Viper river flows through this region giving the surrounding thick forested area its name, Viper's Head. It is said that a colony of First Men live, secluded in this area.

Viper's Head is also home to several tribes of Kushites, and recent rumor says that these tribes have been united under the Kushite shaman, Toroa, who wields the power of his dark god, Damballah.

Sabia is known as the Bride of Damballah, who can mesmerize a man through her Dance of the Skull.


Besides the two Volumes of The Chronicles of Conan that I mention above and a copy of the core rules, I suggest you use these other two supplements when creating your sandbox.


Stygia: Serpent of the South. This is a hardback sourcebook for the kingdom.

Bestiary of the Hyborian Age. This is a hardback collection beasties to put into your game. You'll find crocks and vipers and darker, unholy things that are eager to gobble up your player characters. You can combine this with the Bestiary chapter in the core rulebook.

You may also find useful....

The Scrolls of Skelos / Secrets of Skelos. These are two softback books devoted to sorcery. Secrets is a Second Edition re-writing of Scrolls, but it adds so much more material that I consider them two separate books (though there is a good bit of cross-over). Either book, by itself, is helpful.

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Water Bob


The Lion Banner sways and falls in the horror-haunted gloom;

A Scarlet Dragon rustles by, borne on Winds of Doom;

In heaps the shining horsemen lie, where the thrusting lances break;

And deep in the haunted mountains, the lost, black Gods awake.

Dead hands grope in the shadows, the starts turn pale with fright;

For this is the Dragon's Hour, the triumph of Fear and Night.

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