Conan RPG

conanrpgI’m really torn. Have you seen this? It’s already blown through its initial funding AND a couple of stretch goals and it’s just launched.

The trailer looks great. The people involved are top-notch, and some of them are my friends. Given my love for the Hyborian Age, it seems like a no-brainer… but I have SO many game systems already, some of which emulate a sword-and-sorcery vibe quite well, AND while I would love to play in such a game, I’m not sure that any of the people I game with are even half in love with the setting and character as much as I am, particularly my wife. I love her madly, but she has little appreciation for Conan or REH. And that means this game would probably end up as a glorious shelf decoration.

My other worry is that If I do sign on just so I can have this great looking book on my shelf, I’ll feel compelled to buy all the other books as well, and I’m  leery of falling into that particular pit.

Have any of you out there played the system it’s using? I’d be curious to hear your opinions on it.


16 Comments on “Conan RPG

  1. Also watching it very closely… but I have to be careful how I spend my nickels, and having plunked down $100 for Monolith’s Conan board game last year, and not having anything to show for it yet (delivery now estimated for June 2016) makes it hard to plop down more money…
    But man, it does look good…

  2. Barbarians of Lemuria already does pretty much everything I want in a Conan game, setting-specific IP aside. So I’m holding off for now.

    • That’s true… if I were king of the world, they would have just used Barbarians of Lemuria and/or Savage Worlds from the get go.
      If the system is close enough to make an easy conversion, that would tip the scales more. As of right now, I am interested in their published adventures.

  3. Yeah, I own three different Conan RPG products/systems from over the years, and at least a dozen systems that could handle the needs of a Hyboria-esque RPG experience. I appreciate what they’re trying to do, but all this is, is a themed adaptation of an existing RPG system. The moment it comes out, there will be countless debates over whether this mechanic or that rule is or is not “true” to the “Conan-verse”, with various pedants citing this snippet of REH prose or that snippet of DeCamp heresy.

    When it probably/eventually comes out, I may grab a copy if the reviews don’t suck, but my stack of RPGs grows every month, and probably a third of them are “Sword & Sorcery in the vein of Conan!”…whether that is true or clearly just marketing tripe.

    • So what’s your favorite system to run an actual, bona fide Hyborian Age adventure?

      I’m leery of the 2d20 system, but am just as curious about it for the setting/character/adventure stuff; even if using a different system, I think that stuff is worthwhile; maybe not work the cost, though…

      • I’ve taken a look at the 2d20 system back when the game was first announced, and it really doesn’t seem in any way suited for a Conan style campaign. It’s the system the company developed a while back and now they are using it for any new product line. But system DOES matter and it does change how players make descisions a lot. And this system really looked like it directs players to behavior that is very un-Conan-like. I don’t remember anything about the rules really, but it took me just five minutes to look over the basic mechanics and that had settled the question for me.

        Barbarians of Lemuria really is the game to go. Though I also quite like Fantasy Age, which has a pretty similar basic approach but a bit more stats and a more detailed magic system.

        • Martin, I own BoL, but I don’t know anything about Fantasy Age. Can you tell us a little more about it?

          • Sure. The Age System was created some years back for the Dragon Age RPG and turned into a standalone generic fantasy game as Fantasy Age last year, which includes some small changes to keep attack chances from escalating out of hand and a new magic system. Characters have nine ability scores ranging from -2 to 4 and when you do something you roll 3d6 and add your appropriate ability score to get your final roll. If you roll higher than your opponent, you succeed. Very much like BoL.

            To further customize your character, every time you get a level you increase one of your ability scores and you also can pick one Focus, which gets you a +2 bonus to specific tasks. Things like Axes, Culture Lore, Stealth, Gambling, and so on.

            Unlike BoL you also have classes, but there’s just Warrior, Rogue, and Mage. These mostly determine which armor and weapons you can use and have a slight impact on your health at first level, and a few special attacks. But your chances to hit, the amount of damage you cause, your health, your ability to avoid dangers, and your “skills” increase almost entirely based on your ability scores, not on your class.
            It wouldn’t be too difficult to convert the system to be truly classless if you really want to. But the whole game is build to be very accessible to new players and let you create a character and jump into the game very quickly and having the three classes as a basic framework helps that process a lot.

            I did a more exhaustive rundown here:

          • Hey, thanks, Martin! I enjoyed both this and the extensive look over on your own web site.

            It makes me curious, although, again, I’m not sure I want another system. BoL seems pretty nice, I’m enjoying Savage Worlds, and I always have the Talislanta/Atlantis system sitting in reserve. I don’t know if you’ve seen either, but both are wonderful settings with a simple D20 mechanic where even a +1 modifier can be a huge deal. Talislanta is available for free download, as well. Both the Tal and the Atlantis settings are chock full of great sword-and-sorcery feel.

    • Right. I don’t think THIS will be tripe, but that “stack of systems” thing is true for me as well.

      I wonder how it compares to the older Conan game that Vincent Darlage was involved with? He did some great work on that system.

  4. Like many others, I have a shelf load of Conan-specific and Conan-friendly games, but I’m giving this a try because… ok, because Conan, basically, and because I love the Hyborian world.
    I’m testing the new game tonight with my team (in less than ten hours, actually) – reading through the quickstart rules, the system (that I never played before) looks pretty straightforward. I’ll let you know what happens at my table, if you like.

      • Here I go.
        Note: this is a fresh-off-the-table first impression… a night of sleep might give me a deeper insight on the whole thing. But anyway…
        I played the demo scenario in the Quickstart booklet with a team of five very experienced gamers that are very familiar with Howard’s works and the Hyborian setting – we had no need for the (very) short intro to the Hyborian age provided by the book.
        The scenario is a pretty straightforward action adventure set beyond the Thunder River and has the team facing bands of Picts while trying to leave the area and rescue as many settlers as possible. Lots of fight, including a one-on-one duel to the death between an Aquilonian veteran and a Pict chieftain (not written in the scenario, but easily improvised), and a final confrontation with an unexpected and powerful foe. Good fun, if somewhat standard in execution.
        System-wise – the system is easy to explain (took me ten minutes), and plays fast, which is what I like in a combat-oriented scenario. Some mechanics are really good – like the ability to have staring contests before the physical fight, and the fact that a particularly brave or successful character can “carry along” the rest of the team with the momentum of his actions.
        My main grievance so far is for the way in which the initiative is handled (or not handled, actually), which makes mass combat a lot like herding cats (but that’s my team for you).
        This being a demo scenario with pre-gen characters, I can’t tell you anything about character creation.
        All in all, we were pretty pleased with the game – the 2d20 will not become my house system anytime soon, but it’s workable and can be bent and adapted pretty easily. Old gamers might find it a little bit fuzzy, but the fuzziness goes well with my gaming style (or lack thereof).

        And this is it.
        Now I shamble off to bed 😉

  5. Wow! I was away on a mini road trip, and when I return I discover that this thread has come to life.

    First and foremost, Davide, thank you very much for sharing your play test report with us. That’s pretty excellent, and gives us a nice sense of what to expect.

    Second, I didn’t want to sound like I was dissing a game I haven’t play tested myself. t can just about guarantee that even if I’m only a little interested in the system that the writing in this new game book is going to be evocative, both with game mastering advice, setting, and additional adventures. These people KNOW the Conan stories, and will likely be able to give wonderful tips about bringing sword-and-sorcery adventures to life in the Hyborian world.

    Let’s face it, D&D, old school or any new official iteration, has never been especially good at modeling sword-and-sorcery. Fantasy adventure, sure. But there was never a good way for a character to be like Conan, or even Fafhrd or the Mouser, really. Not without a whole lot of exceptions to how D&D plays. But, as has been noted above, Barbarians of Lemuria surely emulates that feeing well. I have a nice hardback of the game on my shelf and it was my pleasure to get to play my character Asim in an adventure during GenCon 2015.

    I’m also a fan of Savage Worlds, with which I’m currently running a Solomon Kane campaign. Thief, mercenary, fighter, king? Sure is easy with SW. In addition, I see great potential in both White Hack and Scarlet Heroes, which both take an old school D&D engine and reconfigure it to make it more flexible and a lot more capable of delivering sword-and-sorcery. Both Astonishing Swordmen and Sorcerers of Hyboria and Crypts & Things show promise for doing similar things, although neither has altered the old D&D engine as significantly as the first two examples.

    There’s also Dungeon Crawl Classics, with a magic system that seems much more deadly and out of control than D&D, and RuneQuest — which I have yet to try, unfortunately, even though I’ve been leafing through the rule book off and on since last GenCon.

    I guess what I’m saying is that these days there ARE other ways of getting a sword-and-sorcery to the game table without working quite as hard for it. The question is — what will this game deliver? Well, it can probably give us a whole lot more Conan and Hyborian flavor than anything else in print. And it’s going to look amazing.

    Hmm. I may be talking myself into it. Must resist…

    • I too am a lover of all things Conan, and am desperately trying (and failing) not to jump head long into this project and buy everything up. That being said, when I see the names Shanks, Louinet, and Mark Finn involved, I know it is going to be authentic REH Conan…and that’s a real good thing! My concern (admittedly without playing it) is the system. Not that is poor in anyway, I guess I just don’t want to introduce a new game to the table.

      I’m already in for the core book and want to be in for more. My hope is that the books and adventures are heavy on fluff, that way I can mine it for my own games.

      Much like you Howard, I am trying not to get swept up in the hype. But Crom and his devils, man! The truth is we already have….

    • Thinking back with a clear mind after a full night of sleep, I guess I must add that there was nothing in the scenario we played that could not have been done with Savage Worlds or Barbarians of Lemuria.
      I certainly agree that adopting a new game system is a drag – but at least, this 2d20 thing is pretty quick to digest.
      I do not consider this new game an essential purchase (if not from a collector/completist/REH-fanboy’s point of view).
      I guess it will be a hit especially with those that do not have any alternative system or setting handy: considering I have on my shelf a fair number of books of the old D20 Conan RPG, should my players clamor for more Hyborian action, I will simply use those as a reference, and play with Savage Worlds like I did in the past (I will have to adapt that staring contest thing).

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