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Old April 20th, 2013, 06:41 AM
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Default CONAN And the Shrunken Head

Here's a little something that both might be fun and might help with my campaign.....

As you may or may not know, I'm running a campaign set during the Hyborian Age, focusing on a clan of Cimmerians, using Mongoose's Conan The Barbarian Roleplaying Game Second Edition.

I'm creating the next adventure for my crew, and it features exploration of an abandoned Witch's hut that they are going to find out in the deep, dark woods. Of course, the players will not know it's a Witch hut at first--I'm setting up a mystery. Who lives here? Why do they live all alone? What is all that stuff? Wait....I smell sorcerery!

The place is made of twisted limbs and weeds, almost as if the hut grew out of the foilage. How did the owner get that to happen? There are fetishes and trinkets all over the place. Jars with....what? Animal organs? A large tree outside has had its bark replaced with all these dead birds, tacked to the tree, full wingspan displayed.

You get the idea.

Inside, the characters are going to find a curious item: It's a shrunken head on a leather loop. A necklace. The head is about the size of an egg (the type you crack open and have for breakfast). Remember that large stone--the Serpent's Eye--that first Valeria then Conan wears around their neck in the 1982 Conan movie? That's about how big I'm thinking this head looks.

Inspection of the head shows that it is expertly carved out of wood--what type of wood, it's hard to tell--nothing from around here. These Cimmerian woodsmen would know. Exotic wood. Or, maybe it's petrified. Either way, it has a sense of extreme age about it.

As it should be, I rarely put sorcererous items into my Conan game, but with this head....I'm thinking it should be something special. Now, I don't want it to be UNIMAGINABLY POWERFUL, like the Mask of Acheron or the Heart of Ahriman. I'm thinking more like that gem in the 1982 movie--the Serpent's Eye. I always got a sense that it was imbued with some magical property--but I could never decide what.

I've got a couple of ideas for this head in my game, but I don't want to share them right now. I want to hear if you have any fresh ideas--anything that just speaks "Conan".

I'm also thinking that this might be an item that the character who finds it will keep, and possibly wear, for a long time without finding out "what it does".

As for its function, I'm thinking the sorcerous power is either someting mild that helps or hinders the character in the game (for example, a +1 or +2 to all Bluff checks--but as GM, I'll never tell the player that he's getting the bonus), or its something meant for a specific purpose (it's a key...bring it in front of a certain door, and the head utters a sentence that freaks everyone out as it opens the door).

Don't let those two ideas sway your creative process.

What do you think this head should be? What seems "right" for a Conan game?

Get creative. Use your noggin.

What's your input?
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Old April 20th, 2013, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
I rarely put sorcererous items into my Conan game, but with this head...
... something mild that helps AND hinders the character in the game , AND its something meant for a specific purpose
There, I edited your post for you.

I.e. - if it mildly helps, why not also balance it out by making it mildly harm. This not only avoids the 'all too powerful', but doubles the likelihood of the Players figuring out something special (or mis-figuring ). You can also increase it from 'mild' - furthering its value and its 'evil' while maintaining balance.

Since its so rare - make it 'unlock' something special in terms of the plot, as well. If it gets lost/stolen (hint) it should somehow keep coming up where the PCs can get it again (with effort). It should also be virtually indestructible - a property of the 'exotic' wood.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 12:20 PM
Ran Targas Ran Targas is offline
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I like the idea of it unlocking something, other than trouble that is

Perhaps the wearer can see to the "other side" when the talisman is around their neck; sort of seeing through its eyes?

Maybe the little skull imparts vivid dreams on the bearer; dreams of a distant place full of dangers and treasure or clues to the skulls origins?

Maybe it is the head of a mannequin made of this wood that has supernatural powers only when complete? The mannequin can appear subservient but has its own agenda; maybe awakening its long dead master?

And don't forget that the Conan mythos already has ties to Cthulhu and his ilk. Some HPL nasties can always be fun to throw in the mix.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by BytePro View Post
If it gets lost/stolen (hint) it should somehow keep coming up where the PCs can get it again (with effort).
That's interesting. The PCs loose it, and then, next adventure, they're crawling through an ancient Archeronian ruin, and what do they find?

That damned head.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 04:17 PM
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Being a long time Conan fan, but not having the Mongoose game, I will make the following suggestions. For a mild benefit, have minor wounds heal almost immediately, sort of like the "life liquor" in Xuthal of the Dusk, but not at potent. The major power is that upon first meeting someone, the eyes of the head show you that person true essence, good or evil.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 06:58 PM
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You describe the hut as being made of twisted limbs and weeds - perhaps the head gives the user the ability to warp the growth of plants, unlock unusual properties from herbs, that sort of thing.
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Old April 21st, 2013, 02:07 AM
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Yeah, the hut I figure is nature gone awry. Twisted and malformed by sorcerery.
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Old May 25th, 2013, 01:03 PM
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I'm thinking about making this a true Cimmerian relic or sorts: The Head of Duncan.

In my Cimmerian mythology, Crom gave the secret of steel to Duncan. Duncan was the first Cimmerian to create steel, using the gift that Crom gave him.

The object is his actual head--the receptical of that knowledge. It has been preserved (and shrank) by unknown sorcery. But, if a Cimmerian wears the amulet, any weapon he holds will be treated as if that weapon were equivalent to Akbitanan Steel--the best steel known to man. This means: +1 attack, +2 Armor Piercing, 1.5 x Hardness, 2 x Weapon Hit Points.

It works only through true Cimmerian blood (and sometimes works with people of mixed lineage).
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 11:36 AM
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I like it. But what about Duncan's hammer and/or anvil? Those would be worthy of a quest and any would-be sorcerer-warlord would send armies to steal them.
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