Musing on Conan themes in RPGs


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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Conan goes from being a minor theif to becoming a brigand, and mercenary rising through the ranks to become Captain of Armies and a Leader of Pirates, then on to becoming King - his progress is shown via gaining new career skills (thief, pirate. mercenary), greater understanding of the supernatural, and increasing Fame and Influence as a leader of men.
Its definitely progress, which in Fate would be modelled as changed and new Aspects, rather than bulk levelling.

I've long wanted to have an XP/Level model where level doesn't just correlate to fame, it is fame. The way you get XP is to come back from adventures laden with treasure, and then hang out in the mead hall giving gifts and spinning tales. That's how you convert gold to XP to levels.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I don't think Conan, as written by REH, progresses through D&D-type levels or "build".

In The Tower of the Elephant he kills a lion with a single sword blow:

It was Conan's savage instinct which made him wheel suddenly; for the death that was upon them made no sound. A fleeting glimpse showed the Cimmerian the giant tawny shape, rearing upright against the stars, towering over him for the death- stroke. No civilized man could have moved half so quickly as the barbarian moved. His sword flashed frostily in the starlight with every ounce of desperate nerve and thew behind it, and man and beast went down together.​
Cursing incoherently beneath his breath, Taurus bent above the mass, and saw his companion's limbs move as he strove to drag himself from under the great weight that lay limply upon him. A glance showed the startled Nemedian that the lion was dead, its slanting skull split in half. He laid hold of the carcass, and by his aid, Conan thrust it aside and clambered up, still gripping his dripping sword.​
'Are you hurt, man?' gasped Taurus, still bewildered by the stunning swiftness of that touch-and-go episode.​
'No, by Crom!' answered the barbarian. 'But that was as close a call as I've had in a life noways tame. Why did not the cursed beast roar as he charged?'​

Conan is as puissant and mightily thewed as REH wants him to be! Which is very much in both respects.

Savage Instinct is obviously a class ability for this games Barbarian that allows them to react to a suprise attack and claim initiative.
 

SJB

Explorer
Great thread!

Zelata the witch/druid type was a REH creation from Hour of the Dragon. Conan’s other magic-wielding ally in the story was Hadrathus, high priest of Asura.

I’ve pulled out the key quotations for anyone who wants to design a Howardian magic system:


I did the same textual analysis for a combat system organised by weapon type:


The posts were part of a series called “Howard Exegesis”. Textual analysis of the stories for Howardian scenario design is grouped in “Game Like Conan”.
 

pemerton

Legend
It always annoys me when online word games (like NYT Spelling Bee) don't think thew/thews/thewed are words. I always think, "But, Conan!"
I'm not familiar with this phenomenon. Whereas having read the REH Conan corpus, I feel I'm quite familiar with Conan's mighty thews!
 

pemerton

Legend
I've long wanted to have an XP/Level model where level doesn't just correlate to fame, it is fame. The way you get XP is to come back from adventures laden with treasure, and then hang out in the mead hall giving gifts and spinning tales. That's how you convert gold to XP to levels.
Pendragon uses Glory as one part of its advancement mechanic. Prince Valiant (also Greg Stafford, also Arthurian, less famous, in my view actually the superior RPG) uses Fame as its sole advancement mechanic.

In Torchbearer, PCs get a Circles boost in their home town at 3rd level, and a Precedence boost at 6th level (not quite the same, but I love Torchbearer!).
 

pemerton

Legend
Great thread!

Zelata the witch/druid type was a REH creation from Hour of the Dragon. Conan’s other magic-wielding ally in the story was Hadrathus, high priest of Asura.

I’ve pulled out the key quotations for anyone who wants to design a Howardian magic system:


I did the same textual analysis for a combat system organised by weapon type:


The posts were part of a series called “Howard Exegesis”. Textual analysis of the stories for Howardian scenario design is grouped in “Game Like Conan”.
In his commentary, Patrice Louinet suggests that REH deliberately adopted more Arthurian tropes in order to make Hour of the Dragon more attractive to an English publisher.

That's not to say that it's not canonical, for whatever that's worth, but I think is worth keeping in mind. REH wasn't trying to produce a single coherent setting conception with his Conan stories.
 

dbm

Savage!
I've long wanted to have an XP/Level model where level doesn't just correlate to fame, it is fame. The way you get XP is to come back from adventures laden with treasure, and then hang out in the mead hall giving gifts and spinning tales. That's how you convert gold to XP to levels.
We used this as a house rule in Conan d20 when we played that. Money spent on carousing could be converted to XP. This had the nice secondary benefit of making everyone poor again before the next adventure.
 


I've long wanted to have an XP/Level model where level doesn't just correlate to fame, it is fame. The way you get XP is to come back from adventures laden with treasure, and then hang out in the mead hall giving gifts and spinning tales. That's how you convert gold to XP to levels.
Isn’t that carousing in Shadowdark?
 

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