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3.5 GM's Closet for the CONAN RPG

Water Bob

Villager
Languages


Most people know a few common words and phrases from the languages of their neighbors, enough to convey basic meaning, and some languages are similar enough that their speakers can be mutually understood.

The languages commonly spoken in the Hyborian Age are as follows:

Aquilonian, Argossean
Brythunian
Cimmerian, Corinthian

Darfari
Hyperborean, Hyrkanian
Iranistani

Keshani, Kothic, Kushite
Nemedian, Nordheimer
Ophirean

Pictish, Punt
Shemitish, Stygian
Turanian

Zamorian, Zembabwein, Zingaran


Obscure, Regional Tongues: Himelian, Kambujan, the Vilayet argot, and Zuagir.
There are countless dialects and minor tongues.



Ancient and Long-Dead Languages: Acheronian, Ancient Stygian.
Long-Vanished Tongues of the Thurian Age: Atlantean, Ligurean, Lemurian, Valusian, and others.



SIMILAR LANGUAGES

The following languages are roughly similar enough that with a little patience and careful attention, speakers are able to understand one another. Some similarities between other languages exist, but these are the most directly similar.

MIDDLE KINGDOM LANGUAGES: Aquilonian, Corinthian, Nemedian, Ophirean, and Zingaran

BORIAN LANGUAGES: Brythunian, Hyperborean, and Nordheimer

ZHEMRIAN LANGUAGES: Argossean, Kothic, Shemitish, Zamorian, and Zhemri

SOUTHERN LANGUAGES: Darfari, Keshani, Kushite, Punt, and Zembabwein
 

Water Bob

Villager
HYBORIAN AGE OCCUPATIONS


This table is specifically for use with Aquilonian urban area characters, but it can easily be used for most civilized areas, especially if the population is Hyborian.

Roll 1d6 to randomly select table, then roll 1d20 on the specific table. On a result of 20, pick from that table.

Or, of course, just select something that fits the game without rolling.



Aquilonian Urban Occupations Table

D6 = 1

1. Advocate
2. Alchemist
3. Armourer
4. Artist
5. Astrologer
6. Baker
7. Barber
8. Basket Maker
9. Beggar
10. Bell Maker
11. Bell-Ringer
12. Blacksmith
13. Book seller
14. Bookbinder
15. Bowyer/Fletcher
16. Brewer
17. Brothel Keeper
18. Buckle Maker
19. Butcher
20. Pick on this table.



D6 = 2

1. Candle-Maker
2. Carpenter
3. Carter
4. Cartographer
5. Chandler
6. Clothier, New
7. Clothier, Used
8. Cobbler
9. Cooper
10. Copyist
11. Craft Merchant
12. Cutler
13. Dairy Seller
14. Diplomat
15. Distiller
16. Domestic Servant
17. Draper
18. Dye Makers
19. Dyer
20. Pick on this table.



D6 = 3

1. Engineer
2. Engraver
3. Fishmonger
4. Flower seller
5. Fuller
6. Furniture Maker
7. Furrier
8. Gardener
9. Girdler
10. Glass Maker
11. Glove Maker
12. Goldsmith
13. Governess
14. Grain Merchant
15. Grocer
16. Guard
17. Guide/Tout
18. Haberdasher
19. Harness Maker
20. Pick from this table.



D6 = 4

1. Hay Merchant
2. Historian
3. Illuminator
4. Importer
5. Instrument Maker
6. Jeweller
7. Judge
8. Kidnapper
9. Laundress
10. Leatherworker
11. Limner
12. Lock Smith
13. Lotus Merchant
14. Mason
15. Mercer
16. Official
17. Painter
18. Paper Maker
19. Pastry Maker
20. Pick from this table.



D6 = 5

1. Pawnbroker
2. Perfumer
3. Potter
4. Prostitute
5. Purse Maker
6. Ratcatcher
7. Road Mender
8. Rope Maker
9. Rug Maker
10. Saddler
11. Satirist
12. Scabbard Maker
13. Scholar
14. Sculptor
15. Servants
16. Silversmith
17. Skinner
18. Soap Maker
19. Soothsayer
20. Pick from this table.



D6 = 6

1. Spice Merchant
2. Student
3. Tailor
4. Tanner
5. Tax Collector
6. Taxidermist
7. Thief
8. Tiler
9. Tinker
10. Toymaker
11. Undertaker
12. Vestment Maker
13. Vintner
14. Warehouser
15. Weaponsmith
16. Weaver
17. Wheelwright
18. Wood Carver
19. Wool Gatherer
20. Pick from this table.
 

Water Bob

Villager
NOTES ON AQUILONIA 1



Aquilonia is an excellent model for most Hyborian nations. Sure, some things will differ, but if you study Aquilonia, you'll have an excellent starting point in understanding the majority of the Hyborian nations in the game.

Here are a few random notes.



Clothing.

The clothing described in the game tends to be more like Dark Age Europe rather than the unique look that has grown up around Conan and the Hyborian Age used in comics, movies, and computer games. I prefer that interesting look rather than thinking of the Hyborian Age as just another place that looks like the Lord of the Rings movies or the Game of Thrones TV shows. Sure, I like those looks for those universes, but Conan, to me, has always been something different. So, I tend to ignore the Clothing sections in the various Mongoose sourcebooks because I don't want hose and doublets worn in my game.



Honor and Allegiance.

These are interesting concepts from that game, replacing D&D's alignment (I'd also add the concept of Corruption to the mix). Aquilonians are a proud people, and their honor is a concept that most hold dearly. Their word is law. Most Aquilonians are illiterate, and public oaths are considered more binding than a written contract.

An Aquilonian character that doesn't use a Code of Honor is rare, and he is most likely from one of the urban areas.

Character Allegiance is often to family, king, country, Mitra, household, neighborhood, feudal lord, or province.



Women.

Women, in Aquilonia, stay under their father's roof until they marry. Marriage is a political decision and is more important among the higher social classes. Most often, marriages are arranged.



Slavery.

Slavery is not unheard of in Aquilonia, but it is rarely seen. House slaves and personal attendants can be found, but are not common.



Craft Guilds.

The Guilds are quite powerful, on a local level. They become less powerful the higher up the political chain you go. Young boys are about 7 or 8 years old go through an apprenticeship, most often away from home. It is illegal to apprentice anyone age 12 who previously worked in the fields--this stops a stampede to the cities from the rural areas. Apprenticeships last several years and are not paid. The apprentice is not allowed to marry (thereby giving the Master another mouth to fee--or more, if there are children).

At some point, the apprentice becomes a Journeyman where he travels from town to town, working for different Masters, learning new techniques, and gathering letters of recommendation.

Only Journeymen and Masters can earn income from their Craft or Profession skill.

Journeymen cannot travel outside of the kingdom. Most stay to a few cities around their home.

Once a Journeyman becomes a Master, he is expected to settle-down and marry, becoming a contributing member of the town where he will ply his trade. Masters have to obtain permission from the Guild if they want to move to another town.

All this information typically applies to characters of the Commoner or Scholar class (Scholars who focus on the craft or profession).
 

Water Bob

Villager
KNOWLEDGE (LOCAL)






There is sometimes confusion on how to use this skill. One method is to tie the skill with a location so the character has to have multiple skills for multiple places e.g. Knowledge (Messantia), Knowledge (Eiglophian Mountains), etc.


I'm not sure, but I think this was the original intent in the d20 3.0 rules.


Obviously, that's not an optimum choice for playing the skill for many players because it becomes a dark hole for skill points--a precious resource that could be better used with other skills.


Then, there's the other extreme for playing the skill. Knowledge (Local) becomes a generalized skill that covers local knowledge for anywhere the character happens to be. I believe that this makes the skill too powerful, especially when the character is in a part of the world where he's never tread before. All a player has to do is keep this one skill at a decent level, and his character will become extremely knowledgeable about the entire world! Smart players will realize that keeping up this one skill, when it is played this way, makes several other Knowledge skill obsolete.










I have a compromise way of playing the skill. The skill remains Knowledge (Local). We don't change what is in the parenthesis to a specific place. But, the skill refers to any area that the character knows well. It will apply to where the character grew up. It will apply to any pace where he's spent a lot of time.


In this way, Knowledge (Local) will be specific to the character. We have to refer to the character's background--his pre-game story. Let's say a Borderer character--an archer--grew up on the streets of Messantia then joined the Argosian Guardians. He was stationed Rabirain Mountains, which is the border between Argos and Zingara.


Therefore, for this character, the skill Knowledge (Local) would apply to rolls about the city of Messantia and the area of the Rabirain Mountains.


The GM should modify rolls sometimes, as well. For example, let's say a character grew up in the Falcon Barony, which is an interior barony of Argos, but the character left there at a very young age--let's say, age 13. He found his way to the coast and sneaked aboard a ship. The character became a seaman and then a pirate and member of the Red Brotherhood on the Western Ocean.


Where has the character spent most of his time? That would be on his ship--many days on the ship and a lot less time in port. Knowledge (Local) for this character could apply to the environs of the Falcon Barony of interior Argos, Tortage and the Barachan Isles (the port of the Red Brotherhood), plus any port along the Western coast of the continent where the seaman has spent a good deal of time.


This particular character doesn't have the recollection of the Falcon Barony the same as a character who has lived in that part of Argos his entire life. And, the character may know some of the port of Khemi, in Stygia, but probably not a lot beyond the port.


Thus, the GM should consider this when the character is making Knowledge (Local) throws and maybe give the character higher difficulties for making the throw to accommodate for the limited knowledge.


When trying to remember a particular detail about the Falcon Barony, for example, this character may need to make a DC 15 throw. It's been a long time since the character has been home, and the details are hazy. Still, the Knowledge (Local) skill does apply since the character did spend his first decade-plus of life there.


A character who has spent his entire life in the Falcon Barony may make the same Knowledge (Local) roll at DC 5+.
 

Water Bob

Villager
KEEP INITIATIVE HIDDEN




I am reading a Conan story where the mighty Cimmerian is climbing an outer city wall in Stygia using a grapple and rope. A guard on the top of the wall spots the grapnel and see's Conan climb over the side. The guard raises his bill and charges at Conan while the barbarian is laying on his chest, his body bent at the waist so that his legs are still against the wall.


When the Stygian gets to Conan, the barbarian acts quickly, with cat like reflexes, to grab the guard's ankle and leg, tripping him to the ground before the guard can strike.


How would this play out mechanically in the game?


You could say that the guard rolled initiative and won, but that would put Conan flatfooted. Conan would have no Dodge or Parry defense (which, given his position, he shouldn't have anyway--he can't dodge or parry while arched over the side of a wall, lying on his chest). Conan should be easy to hit.


That's doesn't fit the situation described.


The guard charged, but Conan acted first with a trip maneuver when the two came within range of each other. What Conan did was use a Ready Action. If the guard charged him with the bill, Conan would attempt a trip right before the strike.


This means that Conan won initiative.










Let's turn this around a bit. The player character is the guard, and an NPC (not Conan) is spotted coming over the side, climbing the wall. Initiative is thrown and the NPC wins (just like Conan did above). Will the player charge the NPC knowing that the NPC has initiative? Not unless the player is sure the NPC used his action.


If you, as GM, always hide your initiative rolls, then players will not have the meta-information. If the NPC wins initiative, and the GM decides to use a Ready action to trip an incoming charge, then to the player, who has no idea whether he won initiative or not, may indeed think he has initiative and will go ahead and charge.






Plus, hiding the initiative rolls (and you can do this just by hiding the GM's rolls for NPCs, keeping the roll secret from the players) leads to more narrative in the game. The combat becomes more about what the players experience through their characters rather than their knowledge of dice rolls. The experience is less like a game, following dice, and more or a roleplaying experience where the players live thorough the senses of their characters and the PCs adventure in the world.


In my opinion, it is a much more fun way of playing the game.


Keep as many dice rolls hidden as you can. Let the players experience their game through the senses of their characters--what their characters see, smell, taste, feel.


This puts the players there, in the game world, living in the skins of their characters.
 

Water Bob

Villager
SPELL IDEA






Watching the opening of The Huntsman: Winter's War, I had this idea for an Hyborian Age spell. If you develop this bit of sorcery, I would suggest giving it a long casting time. Maybe a day. And, maybe using components like the hair of the individual targeted.


The spell is cast, and then it is up to the sorcerer to lure the target into playing a game. Chess is what was used in the movie. Once the spell is case, the loser of the game dies.


Of course, the target has no idea that he will lose his life if he looses the game of Pictish rocks & sticks that he plays with the mysterious man.


The catch is, if the sorcerer loses the game, then the sorcerer dies.






The spell is cast, and then some dice roll is made for whatever game is being played. The GM may want to call for Knowledge rolls, since a skill for playing the game would fall under that attribute. Throw opposed dice.


If so, there will most likely be plenty of room for the target of the spell to win the game (and have the sorcerer die), since a d20 is throw.
 

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