Re-Conan

Due to a player vacation and just because we’ve been doing a lot of L5R, we decided to temporarily have a different RPG experience.  With no one feeling strongly about running, I ended up volunteering.  The primary desire was some FRPG that was more generic than L5R.  While Conan d20 isn’t terribly generic, in my mind, it’s not at all like L5R (unless you wanted it to be and set a game entirely in Lemurian lands or, at least, Khitai).

I volunteered Conan because it’s a system and world I know very well from the seven years of on and off play we had.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t forget how much damage a broadsword does, but there’s a period of refreshing my memory of all of the things I hadn’t had to worry about for four(?) years.

As not everyone was familiar with d20, I should have just found and printed character sheets.  As much as I hate “official” character sheets (or pretty much anyone else’s character sheets as they don’t group data in the way that is intuitive to me), it would have been far, far easier to point to different things that were important rather than verbalize them.

I set the first session in Hyperborea because Hyperborea and Border Kingdom were two places we didn’t do anything in during our old campaign (and its offshoots).  In true Conan fashion, everybody was possessionless.  Besides that, it really is a huge difference from the standards in L5R.

For one thing, running away is a perfectly valid response to danger in the grittier world of the Hyborian Age.  For another, trying to talk the demon out of feasting upon your soul is also valid … and really funny when you roll a “1” with Diplomacy.

As much as I can give advice on how to max or min the min/maxing, it was notable that two of the players ignored Constitution when assigning points to attributes.  The closest thing to a dump stat in Conan is Charisma, to no surprise.  On the other hand, some builds really need Charisma, and my play experiences saw us largely socialize challenges away (especially with our mains).

Which brings up something.  Every FRPG or RPG probably has the same general ways to deal with challenges.

  1. Force
  2. Stealth
  3. Social
  4. “Magic”
  5. Other

“Magic” might be the same usage I had for my recent post about taking the “magic” out of players’ hands, but maybe not.  Am I missing a common strategy?

Well, regardless, this party is not going to use “magic”, as it’s sorceryless.  Stealth seems the primary way to go, though force also works.  A barbarian, pirate, and thief party is really well suited for sneaky ops.  Social got ignored by the group, though I found it interesting how many social rolls I called for in the first session.  I don’t know if that’s because Conan is largely a world of humans and humans don’t just start trying to kill each other all of the time or what.

I might be biased towards social resolution due to realizing that I actually like playing social characters, really like playing social characters.  It ties into my interest in NPCs.  Antisocial characters don’t engage NPCs, which would be a huge waste in my opinion.

Due to my running late and due to spending time on character creation, we didn’t play much.  I found it interesting, though, just how long one combat took.  I had expected more activity after fleeing the demon, but there actually wasn’t much time, which worked out fine but is concerning for when we have more regular sessions.  Combat is a key thing to do in sword and sorcery games, but I don’t want to spend three hours on one combat or the like, as there’s more to life than choppy choppy.

Not having to deal with a party sorcerer is interesting and makes life easier.  I can focus on just the areas of combat and skill usage deal with challenges.

I also found it interesting that, for maybe the first time, the players didn’t seem to want to eschew friendly NPCs.  Circumstances likely had a lot to do with that, which just means I’ve done poor setups in the past for introducing NPCs that the PCs could engage with.

I did, however, introduce the idea that the PCs would end up fighting wolves, if not normal wolves.  This could be a disaster as every other wolf fight I’ve ever set up has been.  Hey, how many times can I make the same mistake?

Conan d20 is d20, which means it has way too many rules and way too much tactical math.  But, whatever.  Hero, which might be something else I’d run fantasy in, wouldn’t be any better.  I glossed over some things.  Also, we didn’t make real use of a battle map.  I don’t know if that’s the right call.  Positioning in Conan matters a lot, and I’m not sure I want to strip out AoO and the like to make it less important.  I was reading some on what people thought of AoO, and there are some really good points about battlefield control.  L5R is a good example of how you just run right past anyone you don’t care about.  While I may generally prefer that more fluid style of combat, there are situations when it’s kind of annoying, both for GMs and for players.

I have a lot to refresh my memory on.  I’m also kind of annoyed that some of the books I think I have are not in a place I can easily find them.

I may much rather play than GM, but I guess one thing I like about running Conan is how traveling the world is an expected thing.  At least for me, each nation has character, whether I end up passing that to my players or not.  They can basically go in any direction, at this point, which is around five different possible nations, three of which are very close and, theoretically, attainable.

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