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Old March 21st, 2013, 01:53 AM
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~Continued From Above~

4. You've got three movement scales to chose from when considering your race: Tactical, Local, and Overland movement. I will typically default to a 6 second chase round using the Local scale. That way, we're not using a huge grid to plot Tactical movement, and I can just describe the scenery and chase to my players in big, broad paint strokes. Plus, it's easy to drop into 6 second combat rounds if needed.

Pick the scale and round time to fit your chase. What I suggest may be great for foot chases (what I typically have in my games), but you might be featuring a chase where the participants are on horses and/or the chase starts in one town and ends in another, miles away. You may have to deal with flying creatures. So, although I think the 6 second round should be default, there are plenty of reasons to use the other scales and/or increase the time of the chase round.

5. Just for simplicity, I think having one obstacle per round is optimal--especially if using the 6 second chase round. There may be two choices from which the player has to pick, but the obstacle is a single barrier that hampers the characters progression in the race.

For example, let's say the PCs are in a town's bazaar, and the GM has just successfully pickpocketed one of the PCs with an NPC Thief character. A secret Spot check, though, is made that allows one of the other party members to notice. But, by the time something is said, the thief has made it to a narrow street, crowded with people, that feeds into the bazaar.

The chase is afoot! And, the GM says that the street is so densely packed with people that if the thief succeeds on a Hide vs. Spot check (against each of the party members following him), the thief will disappear in the crowd.

As the PCs enter the narrow street, the GM will give the PCs a choice of making a Spot check, without telling them what it is for, or the PC can attempt to succeed against a Movement obstacle to decrease the distance to the thief.

If the PC chooses the Movement obstacle, then he'll never know what the Spot check would have brought him. The GM knows, though, that the successful Spot would give the players knowlege of boxes next to a building, stacked to that they could be climbed, allowing the PC to continue the chase via the roof tops. If he Spot is attempted, the character moves normally (doesn't lose distance), and failure on the Spot tells the character nothing. Success allows the character to make a choice the next round: Does he climb the boxes to the roof tops, or does he ignore the information to make another Movement obstacle attempt? The players may not know this yet, but getting on the roof tops gives them a +5 bonus modifier to their Spot checks anytime the Thief attempts to Hide in the crowd.

It's possible that, even likely, that one PC will gain footing on the roof tops while the other two continue the chase below. It's also possible that avoidance of different obstacles will be attempted by different PCs during the round (maybe one attempts the Spot check to see the boxes while the other attempts to decrease range).

The Thief has choices, too. He can attempt to increase distance from his pursuers, thus not only putting him farther from the PCs but also making the penalty modifier on their opposed Spot check (-1 per 10 feet) when the Theif attempts to Hide in the crowd. But, the Thief can only take on one obstacle per round. His choice, each round, is to either attempt the Hide (The PCs will automatically see the Thief unless he's successful with the Hide) or the Movement obstacle.

Sometimes, some other obstacle will have to be dealt with. In #2 above, I describe using the Listen check to hear an oncoming horse and carriage. Let's say the narrow street cross the wide stone road that the carriage is using. The GM will force the Thief to deal with the Listen obstacle or be run over by the horses and vehicle. Therefore, that's the round's obstacle. There is no option to increase distance or Hide.

6. Something I find helpful in the Pathfinder chase rules are the index cards. Considering the Thief chase I note in #5 above, I would use the cards like this: Each card represents about 60 feet of movement. The characters in that chase all are rated at Speed 30. They're in a town, on a street, so there's no terrain modifiers. The only real hindrance to movement is all the people in the crowded street. I might account for that by placing a -2 modifier (using the advantage/disadvantage d20 rule) on any Movement obstacle throws.

The characters can run at a rate of 120 feet per round, so by using a scale of 60 feet per card, the characters will move one or two cards a round, as they change speed from a Hustle or an all-out Run. Remember that Hustle (2x Speed) is the fastest a character can move and still maneuver, per the rulebook. Running (3x and 4x Speed) must be done in a straight line without hindrances in the way. Unless there are few or no terrain obstacles, chase participants will move most of the time at a Hustle with bouts of Running in between.

Now, you might argue that the street in the Thief chase example is so crowded that the terrain is considered hindered. This would mean, by the d20 rules, that Running and Charging are impossible, and a character is capped with a maximum move of 2x Speed (Hustle).

When the Thief chase starts, I would decide how much of a lead the Thief has on the PCs and how far apart the PCs are from each other. That information will tell me how many index cards I need to start the chase.

There are three PCs. I'm going to represent these characters with silver change. The PC stolen from will be represented with a quarter, while the other two PCs will be represented with a dime and nickle, respectively. The Thief will be represented with a penny.

When the chase starts, two PCs are at a merchant's stall, looking over his goods. The victim PC is 30 feet away. And by the time the Thief is spotted and the PCs are alerted to follow him, the Thief is 150 feet from his victim (and 180 feet from the other two PCs).

This means that I'm going to need 3 index cards to start this chase. I'll lay the blank cards on the table in a line. On the far left card, I'll put the quarter, dime, and nickle markers. The victim PC is close enough to his comrades to be marked on the same card. Remember, the cards represent 60 feet of distance in this chase.

The middle card will remain blank. It's just showing us the distance between chase participants. On the far right card, I'll place the penny.

Using this simple method, all the players will have a sense of the race. If a player's character is represented by the quarter, he can see that the Thief is two cards distant--a distance of 120 feet. Range is not only important to know for the chase, but all players will instantly know if their characters try to use distance weapons during the race.

I have harped on how crowded the narrow street is, so considering the density of the crowd (Hey! Maybe Church just let out!), the Terrain will be considered difficult until the crowd thins. For now, the characters are limited to a Hustle move and one card at a time (it will take a minimum of two round to reach the Thief).

The heart of the chase is the GM's description. Draw a vivid picture in your players' heads. The cards are just a quick-n-easy tool to express chase information. Don't focus on that. Describe how hot it is this early in the morning. Tell about the smell of the crowded street. After a round or two, describe how a character's heart is pumping so that he hears it in his ears and feels it beating at his temples.

Add cards if the Thief increases distance. Move the markers down the line of cards as the PCs close distance. If a PC gains distance, but not enough to add a card (let's say the Thief gained an additonal 30 feet during a round because the PCs climbed up boxes , then simply scratch down a note next to the marker on the index card. If, next round, the Thief gains another 45 feet, you'll add an index card to increase range and make the note say "15". Every time "60" is reached, a new card comes into play.

~Continued Below~
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Old March 21st, 2013, 01:54 AM
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~Continued From Above~

7. Unless absolutely necessary, don't throw combat initiative for the chase. You want to keep the chase simple. The index cards (from #6 above) help you keep track of things. If you've only got two participants in a chase, you might not even use the index cards as you can keep track of things easily in your head. But, if you've got a chase like I described with the Thief, you could easily have a situation where the character are spread out over four different cards with blank cards between them.

The reason you don't want to throw initiative is that you don't want to start with the guy third back from the prey, then skip to the second guy, then deal with the Thief, then move to the character in the caboose position.

How to easily run the chase? Start from the right side of your line of index cards and move left. This way, you move the prey first, then you move the first character chasing him, then the second, and so on.

The only time you'd probably want to throw normal combat initiative is if combat ensues. But, even then, many times the chase stops and combat begins (with the chase cards showing you starting positions for the combat). Otherwise, allow chase initiative to start with the character farthest left in the index card line, and characters can improve their chase initiative by passing others and getting closer to the prey.

Think of it this way: In a chase, the pursuers are normally being reactive to what the prey does.

8. What about characters with different Speed ratings? If Speed ratings are vastly different, you probably won't have a chase encounter. If you did, it would be over in a round or two as the faster chase participant quickly catches his prey or zooms out of range, endng the chase. So, if you've got a man on foot (Speed 30) and a man on a horse (Speed 60), it's probably best to either describe the situation in scenes or play it out on the Tactical combat grid. There really is no race contest between a man on foot against a horse.

If the Speed ratings are slightly different, consider either ignoring the difference for purposes of the chase or handling it this way: Let's say that you have a Thief on foot (Speed 30) chased by a Hunter with gear that makes him Speed 25. In this case, make your index cards represent 60 feet (Hustle for the Thief) but also give the Thief automatic bonus distance each round to account for the Speed difference.

In this case, play the chase as if the Hunter were Speed 30, but at the end of each round, jot down on the Thief's index card that he gained +10 or +20 feet (depending on Hustle or Run movement). As stated in #6 above, add another card when this total reaches 60.

9. Impromtu or Planned Chases? The answer to that question is totally up to you. How's your play style? Do you need to alway put in a lot of pre-game work? Or, are you the type of GM that's quick on this feet and can envsion and describe a situation vividly at the drop of a hat?

I'm a bit in the middle of those extremes, with one foot in each description's bucket. I might plan out a chase as a big encounter for my game. I've had two big chases during the last adventure I ran. Then again, I try to be flexible enough to deliver a cool chase if it just happens, unexpectedly, during the game (that's why I went searching for chase rules to begin with).

If it will help, you might want to make a list of obstacles for different locales: a city list and a wilderness, for example. Or, maybe a different list for different types of terrain. Then, when a chase happens unexpectantly, you could just pick from the list or roll on the list then implement those obstacles as you run the chase.

If I know a chase is likely, I might jot down some ideas just to get them in my head but not really use it in the game. I don't want to be rolling on lists and making the chase boring. My imagination usually works just fine.

What I might do, though is throw a die to indicate the likelyhood of an obstacle each round. For example, I might throw a d6 a the start of each character's turn, in secret, behind my GM's screen with a result of "1" indicating that some obstacle (a downed tree trunk to be jumped or an avalanche to be avoided) will be imposed on the character. Then again, I might just let the obstacles come to me organically. Do whatever works for you.

You could, if you wanted, make a stack of index cards, some of them blank, and some with obstacles penciled on them. Then shuffle the stack, and as the chase progresses, you pull from the stack at random, placing them on the index line as called for. Just an idea.

Whether you make up chase events on the spot or spend a week devising a Hollywood style breath-taking race, you might consider flow-charting. If a chase erupts right in front of you, you could scratch out a flowchart away from prying player eyes, developing it as the chase progresses and ideas hit you. A line and a quick note is all you need. And, don't be afraid to break from it, if drama demands, as the chase unfolds. It's supposed to be a tool, not a story written in stone.

I ran a chase in my game a while back that I flow-charted before we played it. I used it like a movie director uses a script--it's a plan that doesn't need to be followed too closely. Players do unexpected things, and I had new ideas as we played. The ending of that chase was no where near what I had pre-planned. But, it was still cool. We all had a good time. And the flow chart did its job helping me keep the chase flowing smoothly.

10. Ending the Chase. Although you can do this organically as you play, you may want to warn the players of the chase-ending events that you have in mind.

For example, in the Thief example I've been using above in these notes, the chase will end if the Thief successfully Hides among the crowd. The chase may end in other ways, too, that the players don't know about or that you make up as the chase proceeds (as with the Listen check I cite above to avoid being hit by the horse and carriage--that could possibly take a character out of the fight as he's the TIE Fighter that zoomed by and crashed into the asteroid).

Another example: Let's say you've got a chase happening in medium dense forest. The terrain rules say that line-of-sight is 2d8 x 10 feet. If LOS is 60 feet, then you could rule that prey is lost and the chase ended if the prey increases range to 61+ feet.

Of course, you might take that scenario organically into a hunt for where the prey went to, with the PCs rolling Spot checks. Maybe have the Prey make Hide and Move Silently checks. If the prey is found, a new chase could begin.

A last example is that you could state a distance that the prey has to travel to end the chase. Let's say you are on foot being chased by a pack of wild dogs. The dogs have Speed 40, but you've got such a lead on them that it makes sense to run the chase in spite of the 10 point Speed difference. All you've got to do is make it to the town gates before the dogs overcome you and tear you to bits.

Here, the goal of the prey is to get to a certain point a certain distance away. If the PC makes it to the gate, the chase ends.


A. Decide on starting distances between participants, chase round time, and length represented by index cards. Then, lay out the cards in a line. Place character markers. Determine any situations that will end the chase.

B. Start the chase with the character farthest left on the index card line, resolve his actions, then move to the next character right, and so on.

C. Resolve only one obstacle per round. Movement obstacles are attribute based opposed throws. Most other obstacles are skill checks
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Old March 21st, 2013, 02:07 AM
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What Does A Level Mean?

The Conan RPG is written to be played at the lower levels (unlike some other d20 variant games). Half the game universe's NPCs should be in the 1st-3rd level range.

The 2E Core Rulebook gives these guidelines to the GM when he is deciding the level of a character:

1st level - a novice fresh out of basic training.
2nd or 3rd level - most seasoned NPCs.

4th level - a cut above. The elites. A leader of a bandit band or the fiercest warrior of a band of pirates.

8th level - legendary character. Clan chieftans. Infamous sorcerors. Army generals. Warriors of great renown.

12th level and greater - True mythical characters, as with Conan, Thoth-Amon, Thulsa Doom, Xaltotun, Akivasha.

The examples, in the Bestiary chapter of the book, support what I've quoted above. Belit's Black Corsairs, who terrorised the Southern Coast for all those years, are 2nd level Southern Islander Pirates. The feared Darfari Cannibals are 3rd level Black Kingdom Barbarians.

The entry for Picts reveals that they are 1st level Pictish Barbarians.

Typical Zamorian Thief? 2nd level Thief.

Typical Turanian Light Cavalryman? 2nd level Soldier.

Typical Peasant? 1st level Commoner.

Typical Merchant? 3rd level Commoner/1st level Scholar.

Typical Hyborian Socerer? 4th level Scholar.

Typical Zingaran Dancing Girl? 2nd level Temptress.

Typical City Guardsman? 2nd level Soldier.

Typical Bandit? 2nd level Borderer.

How about a cut above? There's an example of a Sellsword, which is described as a dangerous mercenary and killer for higher. This guy is a 2nd level Soldier/2nd level Borderer.

There's not a single 5th level example in the bunch. Why? Because of what was said earlier. The average character in the Conan RPG game universe should be level 1-3 with the elites being 4th level. A character higher than 4th level should be well considered before makes his appearance in a game.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 02:09 AM
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A Thought on CONSTITUTION When Building Characters

When creating characters using the default method of 4d6, drop lowest, arrange to taste, we sometimes get on a bad rolling streak and end up with some lower than average scores. For example, I just rolled up a Cimmerian for my game, and I ended up with these totals: 14, 8, 14, 13, 11, 8. I actually ended up with a pretty interesting character (I'll post him later in the thread), but when designing him, I had some challenges.

Cimmerians are one of the few races to feature attribute modifications. They gain +2 STR but suffer +2 INT. Given this, I statted my character like this:

STR 14 +2 racial = 16
DEX 14
INT 13 -2 racial = 11
WIS 11

Why'd I put the low number, with the -1 modifier, to represent the character's CON? I did this for a number of reasons. As a Barbarian, STR and DEX are quite important for his fighting and defensive skills. WIS is important to cover important skills, like Surivial. And INT is important to provide the character with skill points.

That only leaves CON and CHR, both of which are quite useful to the character. But, if I put the "8" in CON, I knew I could make up for the -1 HP penalty by giving the character the Toughness Feat. With that Feat, it's as if the character had no penalty at all. And CON only governs the Concentration skill, which I think this barbarian can live without.

Now, CON is also important to the Fort Save, which is used when Massive Damage is applied. I didn't do it, but for the character's second Feat (bonus Feat at 1st level for favored racial class), a player might consider the Great Fortitude Feat.

Later on, the character may improve CON at 4th level and again at 6th as the character's stats improve normally.

The point being: If you've got a few low scores to assign when creating a character, you might consider putting one of them into CON (as low as "8") then side-stepping the CON penalty to hit points by using the Toughness Feat.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 02:11 AM
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Here's a fully developed NPC for the Conan RPG

Morghun Clanson
3rd level Barbarian

Sex: Male
Age: 22
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 183 lbs.
Handedness: Right

STR: 16 (+3)
DEX: 14 (+1)
CON: 8 (-1)
INT: 11
WIS: 11
CHA: 7 (-2)

HP: 17
Fate: 3 (if used as a player character)
XP: 3,000

Parry: AC 14
Dodge: AC 11

Initiative: +4
Fort: +2
Ref: +4
Will: +4

BAB: +3
Melee: +6
Finesse: +4
Ranged: +4

Code of Honor: Barbarian

LANGUAGES: Cimmerian (native), Nordheimer, Aqualonian, Pictish, Hyperborean, Nemedian. (This character is not literate in any of these languages.)

PROFECIENCY FEATS: Simple Weapon Proficiency (All), Martial Weapon Proficiency (All), Armor Proficiency (Light), Armor Proficiency (Medium), Shield Proficiency.

BARBARIAN FEATS: Track, Two-Weapon Combat, Endurance.

1st LEVEL FEAT: Toughness.
3RD LEVEL FEAT: Two-Handed Power Stroke*.

*This feat is found in The Barbaric Warrior supplement. It requires STR 15+ and Power Attack, and the benefit it brings to the character is that it allows double STR bonus applied to damage when using two-handed weapons (normally, 1.5 times STR bonus is used).

ABILITIES: Versatility, Bite Sword, Crimson Mist, Trap Sense.

24 class skill points: 4 - Climb, 6 - Listen, 4 - Move Silently, 4 - Survival, 6 - Intimidate


+11 Climb
+2/+4 Hide w/ bonus in native terrain
+6/+8 Listen w/ bonus in native terrain

+8/+10 Move Silently w/ bonus in native terrain
+6/+8 Survival w/ bonus in native terrain
-2/+0 Spot w/ bonus in native terrain

-2/-4 Bluff w/ penalty if verball based
+0 Craft (Herbal)
+0 Craft (Brewer)

-2 Handle Animal
+10 Intimidate
+3 Jump

-2 Perform
+0 Profession
+3 Swim

+2 Ride
+0 Craft (Jeweler)
+0 Craft (Tattooer)

+0 Craft (Etcher)


+2 Slight of Hand
+0 Sense Motive
+0 Search

+2 Open Lock
-4 Diplomacy
+2 Knowledge (Local - Blue Foxlands of Cimmeria)

+0 Appraise
+2 Balance
-1 Concentration

+0 Craft (Alchemy)
+0 Decipher Script
+0 Disable Device

-2 Disguise
+2 Escape Artist
+0 Forgery

-2 Gather Information
+0 Heal
+2 Use Rope

+2 Tumble
+0 Knowledge (various Knowledge skills)

~Continued Below~
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Old March 21st, 2013, 02:11 AM
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~Continued From Above~

CLOTHING: Wears a billowy Cimmerian leine and a deer skin vest to cover his chest and soft leather trews for his legs. On his feet, he wears soft leather knee-high, wool lined, boots. Loin cloth. Thin rope belt for the loin cloth; a waist belt for the trews; and a wide, outer-belt over his leine at the waist. He wears a thin-metal hoop earring made of non-valuable metal in his left ear, and on this hoop slides two teeth--one from a wolf and one from a human. On his weapon hand, he wears a ring made of lacquered tree vine.

EQUIPMENT: Cimmerian Mantle on his shoulders. A belt pouch, empty a the moment, is attached to the wide belt that covers his leine. Also attached to this belt is a leather scabbard for his Cimmerian Dirk**. In his hands, he carries Stake, a giant war spear custom made for him by his clan's chief and weaponsmith, Finn Duncohr.

**This weapon can be found in The Dagger article of S&P issue 81.

Stake is a high quality weapon and thus receives the +1 bonus to both Armor Piercing and Hardness of the standard war spear. This is a heavy, massive weapon made of lacquered and fired Cimmerian oak hardwood. Steel coverings ornament the shaft at intervals, used as an extra step to protect the wood when deflecting blade blows. The entire weapon is decorated in Cimmerian spiral etching.

DESCRIPTION & BACKGROUND: Morghun is a tall, somewhat lanky (but well muscled) Cimmerian. He's got long, rough-cut black hair that he usually wears loose, bangs down in his eyes. The first thing you will notice about him are the swirling blue tatoos that decorate the entire right side of his face, from his forehead, down his cheek, past his chin, onto his neck and right shoulder. These tatoos are of the knotted, flowing designs popular among Cimmerians. If you look closer, you will see that he is blind in his right eye. A white, clouded orb stares back at you. The tattoos cover the multiple scars of some animal attack that must have mauled him in his youth. If Morghun grimmaces at you, you'll see that he's missing a front tooth.

Morghun is a member of the Blue Fox clan. He hails from a village at the base of the Eiglophian mountains in north-central Cimmeria. As with all warriors of his clan, he left his village at age 15 on his deasghnath (Cimmerian. Pronounced DEE-as-ga-nath). This is a ritual hunting expedition, performed alone, in which a boy leaves his clansmen and returns to them a man. This is how men become recognized as warriors in his clan.

Morghun tracked and found one of the big ice wolves in the foothills of the Eiglophians. The wolf mauled Morghun and nearly killed him, leaving him blind in his right eye and exposing his lung to the elements. But, Morghun persevered and came staggering back into the village, nearly bled to death, carrying the wolf's head.

It took almost a season for Morghun to recover. As he lied motionless, unable to move from his injuries, the cold months of the Cimmerian winter crept in and bit deeply into his chest. Spitting up blood and mucus, the wolf nearly killed him again, this time from beyond the grave.

Many believed that Morghun would never see summer. But, the lad did. Finn Duncohr, the Foxman's chieftain, declared him to be named "Clanson" as Morghun had displayed the ultimate qualtiy to which all Cimmerians aspire: He never gave up in the face of certain defeat.

Finn, a master smith, created Stake and presented it to the new warrior. Finn knew that, with one eye, the boy would have to learn to fight from a distance. Any foe that made his way close, into Morghun's guard, would have an advantage attacking from the side of Morghun's blind eye. The war spear Stake would be used to fight foes from a distance.

GM Note: Morghun's injury is reflected in his CON score. I actually rolled his hit points, and as fate would have it, I rolled low for levels 2 and 3 (he was given maximum hit points at level 1 per the game's rule). This also supports the character's injuries and physical state.

This character has been given a special -2 circumstance modifier to Spot checks while he recieves a +2 circumstance modifier to Intimidate checks due to loss of his eye and his appearance. In addition, the skill ranks applied to Intimidate have been maxed. Also, a decision was made to max out skill ranks in the Listen skill as those with a visual handicap will usually rely on their other senses to compensate.

Morghun coughs all the time. Many times, long coughing fits will result in him spitting up blood. He does not laugh for fear of breaking out into a fit, and he has become quiet. He says little, and this boosts his intimidating bearing.

Morghun's father is a leatherworker. Morghun became an etcher, producing the fine, detail work seen on some Cimmerian weapons and leather goods. After he lost his eye, Morghun first turned to jewelry making. In his left ear dangles a metal hoop that pierces two teeth. One is from the wolf that handicapped him, the other is his own front tooth pulled out of his head by that same wolf. Where his cough and eye and face always make him think of the engagement, the earring, with the teeth constantly clinking in his ear, reminds him that the encounter with the wolf was a victory.

The ring of woven tree vine that Morghun wears on his weapon hand is the first piece of jewelry he ever produced.

In times of late, Morghun has switched occupations yet again. His one eye strains from the demands of etching and creating jewelry, but he has put the skill to use tattooing his fellow clansmen. The tattoos are the same shapes that he used to etch, just on a bigger scale.

But, he found that he could not keep food on his plate by relying on tattoos. Recently, Morghun has switched occupations yet again. Since the engagement with the wolf, Morghun has experimented with brewing different concoctions to ease his cough. This has led to him becoming a brewer. His beer is his most profitable seller though its taste and quality is indifferent at best.

Of late, Morghun has picked up a taste for gambling though he has no skill in it nor does he understand much about gaming. This is why his belt pouch is empty. When Morghun gambles, he does it for the thrill. He doesn't place a high value on coin or other valuables. If he wins a coin, he's just as likely to pierce it and turn it into a necklace with a piece of cat gut then he is to spend the money.

In sum, Morghun Clanson is a tall, forboding figure. Quiet. Leering at you with his one good eye. Scratch scars and swirling tattoos covering half his face. And, that long, obviously well made war spear in his grip.

That is, until he smiles at you, his front tooth missing, proffering a leathern jack of his latest brewed beer of questionable quality.

GM Note: Though shallow on hit points, this character can be quite offensive in battle. He will strike with Stake, doing 1d10 +6 damage if he hits. He can use Power Attack to increase damage, if necessary. And, Stake is considered a finesse weapon (with an improved Armor Piercing rating of 3), should Morghun combat heavily armored foes. At the beginning or end of his turn--whichever is appropriate--he will use his 5 foot step to increase range to 10' in order to bring Stake to bear on his opponent. Morghun rarely relies on his dirk as a weapon, using more as a general knife and hunting tool.

Although I didn't give the character any armor, I sure thought about it. I would make this a game goal. This character, gaining a chain shirt, even, would go a long way towards his surivival. Something quick and immediate might be a simple leather jerkin. Some Cimmerians tend to shun armor, though. Thus, this is what I've done with this character. I'm sure he could change his outlook, the way Conan did, once he learns more of the civilized south!
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Old March 21st, 2013, 02:12 AM
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The "Average" Human

Too many times I've seen a GM or a player look at a set of character stats and think the character sub-par because the character has some negative modifiers for stats below 10.

Let's look into this a little bit closer.

I think most gamers would agree that a score of 10-11 is average, representing the average human. No where in the Conan RPG does it say such, but its easy to deduce by looking at the Attribute Modifier Table. Scores below the 10-11 mark have negative modifiers while scores above the 10-11 mark have positive modifiers.

So, a strictly average human would have three 10's and three 11's in all six of the game's designated attributes.

But, we all know, from real life experience, that people are people, and that although there is an average, we all very widely when we are measured.

As far as the game goes, I think it is fair to say that average people vary as much as 10%. Call it one standard deviation where most people fall within that range.

If my assumption is true, then the average human falls within a range of stats from 6-15. This range allows for people to be 10% (+2) better in an area than the strict norm, and it allows for people to be 10% less effective in an area from their strictly normal counterparts.

I say this because players see a 6 or an 8 in a stat, and they think the penalty is really worse than it is. Someone with an INT 6 is still an average character. He's within the range. He's the C-D and occasional F student. He's 10% less likely to achieve an intelligence based throw than the strictly average person with INT 10.

Thus, I submit to you, that the average person in the Conan RPG can have a stat as low as 6 and as high as 15 and still be considered average. Any score 16+ is considered superhuman, which any score 5- is considered sub-average.

In other words, it's quite OK for a character to have stats as low as 6. This would not represent a deformed person or a retarded person. What's represented is the natural variance in human beings.

We each have our own gifts and weaknesses.


Luckily, the default 4d6, drop lowest, arrange to taste method of generating stats skews characters away from the sub-average, 5- numbers. It's still possible to roll a score of 3, but it's highly unlikely (99%+ chance of rolling higher than a 3).

The next time you end up with a 7 in a stat, don't penalize your character in your mind, thinking of him as greatly handicapped. Because, he's not. The character still falls within the average zone, and if you take all of stats together, most likely he's the higher side of average--maybe with one or two superhuman attrbutes.

How far from average is your character?

To answer this, take this test. Add up the character's bonuses and penalties from his six stats. If the sum is 0, then the character is strictly average. If a positive number results, the character is above average. If a negative number results, then the character is below average.

Let's apply this test to Morghun Clanson, the NPC I posted above.

Morghun Clanson
STR: 16 (+3)
DEX: 14 (+1)
CON: 8 (-1)
INT: 11
WIS: 11
CHA: 7 (-2)

Adding up his modifiers: +3 +1 -1 +0 +0 -2 = +3.

You can say that this is an above average charater, 15% above the norm.

Looking individually at Morhun's stats, we see that his STR score is superhuman while the rest of his scores fall within the average human range.

Do this check the next time you end up with some low stats thinking your character is subpar.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 02:13 AM
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A Look At Massive Damage

Much ado has been made about the Massive Damage threshold in the Conan RPG. Set at a mere 20 points of damage, some have posited that the game is broken because of this.

I beg to differ.

Here's why.

First off, if your character has at least one Fate Point, failing the Massive Damage save will most likely not kill your character because you will spend your point using the Left For Dead option. This makes player characters greatly resistant to instant death by Massive Damage as long as the character still has at least one Fate Point. The use of the Fate Point in this manner does not guarrantee the character survives, but it does skew the situation in the character's favor.

Second, and contrary to what some have stated about the game, the Massive Damage threshold of 20+ points of damage is not easy to obtain without rolling a critical success (and, I think we all would agree that Massive Damage should be a possible outcome of a successful critical hit). Remember, though, even Critical Hits require a successful check.

How can I make the claim that Massive Damage is not easy to obtain?

Let's take a closer look.

Pg. 11-12 of the 2E Core Rulebook tells us that the average character is 3rd level or less. And, I've established above an average range of stats for the average human. Let's take the highest score in each category and give that character a formidable weapon, then see how easy it is for him to score Massive Damage on a foe.

This means we'll have a 3rd level character with STR 15 (+2 damage). Characters need Feats for differing reasons, but let's max out this average character's damage by giving him Power Attack.

So, we've got a Hyborian, he dominate race in the game world, and we'll make him a 3rd level Soldier with STR 15 and Power Attack as one of his Feats. We'll give him a weapon with the highest damage in the entire game: the greatsword (which Hyborians can treat as a Martial Weapon) which does damage of 1d10 + 1d8. That's a pretty strong "average" character, given the guidelines set forth in the game and what I've commented upon above.

But, I want to use this strong character to make the point.

As a 3rd level Soldier, the character can take up to a -3 on his attack in order to gain a +3 on damage.


Let's assume that this character's target...

1. Was hit by our sample character, in spite of the -3 attack penalty.

2. Was not Fighting Defensively or using Total Defense, which would make the target even harder to hit.

3. Was not wearing armor (or was wearing armor that was defeated by the character's blow and allowed 20+ points of damage to penetrate past the armor).

Those three issues, right there (hitting in spite of penalties and armor protection), in part, keep the Massive Damage rule from being abused...but, let's say that our average human character (albeit on the high side of human "average") has been successful with a hit.

What is his damage?

He averages 10 points with the greatsword, +3 points for his STR, +3 points for the Power Attack bonus. This is an average of 16 points. That's not enough to trigger Massive Damage.

Let's keep looking at this, though....

Let's say that the character hits, in spite the penalties to the attack throw. And, let's say that the character rolls higher than average damage, in spite of any armor worn by the target, scoring 20 points of damage.

In order for Massive Damage to be triggered, the target still has to fail a DC 20 Fort Save (which, I'll grant you, is likely to be failed...but there's still a chance).

Even with the Fort Save failed, it is not a guarrantee that the target dies. Player Characters have Fate Points that can be used to re-roll a failed Fort Save. So a PC with Fate Points, hit with Massive damage, can have two tries at making the Fort Save, if a Fate Point is used.

Or, as I said above, the Fate Point could be used to have the character appear dead, but actually be Left For Dead.

But, even if we're talking about an NPC or a PC that is out of Fate Points, the failed Massive Damage save still does not guarrantee death. A failed Fort Save is 90% likely to leave the character dying in the -1 to -9 hit point range rather than killing him outright. Thus, given the stabilization rules, the character gains a 10% chance per point above -10 to stabilize himself. If a comrade is around to help stabilize and heal the character, his chances of survival are even greater.

So, what am I saying?

I'm saying that...

1. Penalties on the attack throw make death from Massive Damage less likely.

2. Armor makes death from Massive Damage less likely.

3. The Fort Saving throw makes death from Massive Damage less likely.

4. Fate Points make death from Massive Damage less likely.

5. Many weapons in the game are not likely to produce 20+ damage points, making death from Massive Damage less likely.

6. The Stabilization rules make death from Massive Damage less likely.

...and all a character has to do is succeed in one area. If he does, his character will not die from Massive Damage.

EDIT: Many of us are influenced by the Conan RPG's parent game, but we must remember that the two are separate games with different rules in many areas.

For example, in the tradition 3.5 D&D game, a character's weapons typically become more and more powerful as the character adventures and finds better, more powerful equipment. The character levels, and his BAB increases, but also the D&D plus on his weapons increase: He may start with a normal longsword, then find a +1 weapon. Later, he finds a +2, then a +3 weapon. Sometimes, the weapons have more powers than just increasing both attack probability and the amount of damage the weapon delivers on the character's foes.

But, in Conan, once a weapon is chosen, the damage does not increase. Sure, the character's BAB increases, but the weapon's damage and probability to hit stays the same. Feats, like Power Attack, are needed to obtain extra damage, but even this is limited by the character's BAB and provides a corresponding penalty to the attack throw.

And, besides the use of Power Attack, there is little in the game to increase damage besides the occasional increase in stats (every two levels, starting at 4th, depending on the player's choice).

Therefore, in many cases (not all), Massive Damage does not really become easier to achieve as the character levels. Special abilities are needed, like superhuman STR, exotic or hard-to-find weapons, and Feats like Power Attack, to skew a weapon's damage towards scoring Massive Damage often.

Remember that as a character levels, his BAB increases, but this only increases the chance that the character will hit. It does not increase damage. Also remember that, as characters level, their ACs for Dodge and Parry also increase, making them harder to hit...while damage remains the same.

This, given all that I've said in this post, I maintain that the Massive Damage rule in Conan is fairly balanced.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 02:14 AM
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Hidden Soldier Bonus

One of the fantastic aspects of the Conan RPG are the various Combat Maneuvers. I like how they are presented so much better than the generic, one-size-fits-all method provided in Pathfinder.

I want to draw your attention to the Riposte maneuver described on pg. 210 of the 2E rulebook. This is a powerful combat maneuver that is triggered anytime an opponent rolls so low that his total is less than half of your Parry Defense. When this happens, you get an attack of opportunity against your foe!

For example, if your Total Parry Defense is AC 18, then you get a free attack against your foe (provided you haven't used up your allotment of AoO's for the round) every time his attack roll results in a total of 9 or less.

The rub here is that you have to be fairly high level (for this game) to use the Combat Maneuver. You need a Base Parry bonus of +4.

For most character classes, +4 base Parry is attained at level 8. For the Barbarian and Temptress classes, it's level 11. But, for the Soldier....

The Soldier class is the only class to obtain a +4 base Parry at level 6, long before any of the other classes.

Thus the Riposte, really, is a hidden Soldier class benefit.
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Razor's Edge

Razor's Edge is an often overlooked rule that a player can rely upon in this often magic-less game. Where, in standard D&D, bonuses are obtained usually through the use of magic, in this game, bonuses are derrived by less magical, more realisic ways.

The Razor's Edge rule can be found in the Free Companies or Tito's Trading Post books under the description of the Sharpening Stone or Sharpening Wheel. What the rule says is that, if a character takes the time to hone his blade with a fine grained stone, over an hour's time, smothing over nicks in the blade, then the weapon is given a "razor's edge". In order to obtain the razor's edge, a DC 20 Craft (weaponsmith) skill check must be passed, one roll per hour honing the weapon. If successful, the razor's edge provides a +1 Critical Threat range for the weapon. The razor's edge is lost after it's first hit in combat.

For example, Critical Threat Range on a Broadsword is 19-20. But if the honed with a whet stone for an hour, and the check is passed, the broadsword is considered to have a razor's edge and a Critical Threat Range of 18-20 until the weapon's first hit is made in combat.

- Variant -

I think the rule, as written, is fair. I like the rule because it encourages characters to carry a sharpening stone and gives them a real in-game benefit to using the stone correctly. This rule also rewards those characters with ranks in weaponsmithing (that sometimes go wasted as the character adventures away from the forge). When dealing with large armed forces, the rule can apply to large numbers of troops, making a Sharpening Wheel an important piece of support equipment.

A variant to this rule would be to allow the razor's edge to remain on the weapon until the first Critical Threat Check is made or the combat ends. Thus, if a combat encounter ensues, and no Critical Threat Checks are made with the weapon, it is not longer considered to have a razor's edge. Or, if a check is made to see if a Critical Hit has been scored, the razor's edge expires with that first Critical Check, regardless of its success.
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