Conan: The RPG by shotgunbadger
Introduction, or, The fuck is this shit?Original SA post
Conan of all settings has an OP wizard problem? Dang.
Well I overstated it, magic is very dangerous to both people involved, so yea it's not 'I cast finger of death and...welp' but it's more situational where 'ok cool you guys got this guy knocked down well enough, I'm gonna cast this spell to rip his heart out, hope I don't backfire and turn myself inside out, also this is the spell I've been basically working my entire campaign to cast'.
So actually no, I was super wrong, rereading this most dangerous spells are a full round to cast aside from the magic missile types and the super insane 'literally curse an area with plague' are in days not turns.
Alright I'm gonna start off on this, now that I got the book out to say how wrong I am.
Conan the Roleplaying Game
I'm not going to super dissect the core book, I'm assuming most everyone knows the basics of D20 type games, this was an Open Game License creation so basically if you know D&D 3/3.5 you know this. Still, to their credit they DID add a fair share, and of course changed a lot, so this isn't straight 'oh I just bought D&D with a new cover' and that's admirable. I have supplement books that I can dissect if this is interesting, but for the core book I'm going to hit main points.
So, without any more faffing. Part 1: The fuck is this shit?
Conan the RPG can actually be just a touch confusing to talk about. There are 3 versions by the publisher (Mongoose Games, any D&D player knows these dudes). There's the first edition, Conan the Role Playing Game, then they realized they did horrible quality control and left in a ton of typos and mistakes, so they released Conan the Role Playing Game: Atlantean Edition. Of course, they charged normal price for this, this did not make people happy.
Then came the second edition in 2007, unless I missed something big this is the 'current' version. It's actually well done, no horrible errors, no typos, pretty good art, and well formatted. So yea, if this inspires you, this is what you want.
Ok, first things first, this is a Conan game. That means it's...Conan, for better or worse. For the book margin art for example, every odd page has a shirtless Conan standing triumphant, and a cannibalistic looking savage (I believe a Pict?) looking ready to eat someone. The evens, however, have a fully exposed topless woman in the margin standing over a generic mage type with an arcane third eye going on. So yea, you either get homoerotic sexy barbarian man, or normal erotic topless lady, every page. Not exactly great to read in public.
Yea, there's a lot of topless ladies here, ranging from 'normal' sultry temptress styles, to just straight up random boobs hangin out because why not.
Alright, that aside, let's actually start out.
Character Creation: Races
Obviously everyone is human, that's how Conan is, but this is a setting where your race and culture shape you as much as the normal racial differences in RPGs do. A Stygian and a Cimmerian have about as much differences as an Elf and a Dwarf do in D&D.
Every race is basically a 'not-x' version of a real world culture (often vastly over-distilled to the point of borderline racism). What I really enjoy about this game in general is that it doesn't punish multiclassing like many D20s do, every race has a favored class, but all that means is if you use that class you get a bonus feat at levels 1, 5, and 10 of that class. Now, some races, due to cultural rules and all, don't allow certain classes, but the book very clearly says that this 'ban' only applies to level 1, you can, with GM approval, take levels in that class as you grow. Basically it just means that, say, as a child a Cimmerian would simply not be taught the ways of a Scholar, it's just not part of the culture, but he, in his adventures, can pick up a spell book and go 'huh, this is actually cool' and level that.
Along with the class rules, races have Background Skills, basically this is 2 free ranks in listed skills, regardless of them being Class Skills or not. You also Knowledge (whatever region you're from) because hey, you grew up there it'd be stupid for you to not know basics at the least. Some races also get bonus feats in some cases. You can ignore any '+1' requirements to the feats, but you need the rest if you want it. The example they use is a race that gets Dodge as a bonus feat would, normally, need DEX 13 and +1 to their Dodge Bonus. As a racial feat, though, they ignore the Dodge Bonus, but still need the DEX score.
Also there are Variants to some races, basically just tack on some penalties/bonuses to the base race. Usually this is shit like 'oh these guys are from the fields, these are from the desert' type things. Nice fluff for the character.
So, here be the races:
Cimmerians: Conan's crew, the Not-Celts of the world. They are 'Noble Barbarians', primal and savage but with a code of honor to it. They worship Crom and only Crom, and their bonuses relate to being strong, strong willed, but very uncouth and blunt people, also they get sneaky bonuses in cold environments. They also literally can't not worship Crom, if they 'lose the faith' they lose their Strength and Will bonuses. Rather nicely for fluff, the book makes it clear that it's not obvious if this is because Crom is a real god, or if Cimmerian faith is so harshly ingrained in them that they simply lose faith in their own abilities without his 'blessing'.
They favor the Barbarian class, and ban the Scholar, Nomad, Noble, and Pirate.
Himelian Tribesmen: Not-Afghans and North India of the world. They get a very small writeup due to not being a 'major' race, so all we get really is they're tribal, tall and hairy, live in a harsh mountain range, and disdain the 'civil world'. Basically they're Cimmerians but hairy, still honorable, maybe they're a bit more jerks about 'modern' things? Their stats give them bonuses to sneaky shit and a vulnerability to hypnosis due to cultural legends of it. They also get +2 HP for living in a brutal ass area, so that's cool.
They favor Barbarians and ban Nobles, Pirates, and Temptresses.
They also have a sub-race called Wazuli . Same as the normal Himelians, but nocturnal, they get a bonus feat that lets them see in the dark, an extra bonus to sneaky shit in the dark, and a small attack penalty in daylight. Pretty much not worth it unless you're super going for roleplay.
Hyborian: Not-Europe. A mishmash of kingdoms with a splash of Roman influence. If any of you play Age of Conan the MMO, Aquilonians are in this mishmash as well as a boat load of other cultures that I'm far too lazy to describe. Basically it's Medieval Europe with Aquilonia as Rome. They worship Mitra mainly and their bonuses are basically typical 'human' bonuses, 2 free skills to get a bonus on, greatsword proficiency, and get +1 Fate Point (explained later). No banned classes, and for favored class bonuses they basically add up all their levels and get the feat at level 1, 5, and 10 from there. They're pretty much super boring.
Luckily this boringness means they get a shit ton of variant races, the most in fact, so buckle in.
---- Argosseans are pirates, basically not-Italians/Greeks, they intermarried with a lot of neighboring races to make a gestalt culture focused around sail and trade and such. They get bonuses to an assortment of sailing skills and favor Pirate while banning Nomad.
---- Bossonians are marsh dwelling people who are master archers. They're basically Aquilonians, which is not-Rome. They lose the bonus Fate point, get a bonus for taking defensive actions and fighting with a Bossonian Longbow, and are of course proficient in it. They favor Borderer and Soldier, and ban Barbarian, Noble, Nomad, and Pirate. Basically it's a way to play an Aquilonian character with stats to support it as special.
---- Gundermen are another part of the Aquilonian kingdom given their own race, not-Germans. Same loss of Fate, a Will bonus, and the bonus/proficiency in a pike instead of a bow. Favor Soldier, ban Nomad and Pirate, just as boring as before.
---- Hyperborians are the not-Norse, again under Aquilonian banner (these guys might as well be the main race, really). These guys are actually pretty cool though, very superstitious, grey eyed people who piss out a serf's life compared to the 'civil' Aquilonians. For once a sub-race under this banner is actually unique! Like the other barbarian races they favor strength over tact, but they focus more on Constitution then Strength, more hearty then buff basically. No Fate bonus again (it's an Aquilonian thing) but an Intimidate bonus because the entire world knows these dudes are hard as fuck. Favor Soldier, ban Pirate because the sea is for bitches.
---- Taurans are the last sub-race, and shock of shocks, another race under Aquilonia's empire! Those counting now see literally every sub-race but one is this, seriously just make Aquilionia the main race here. The worst part? Even the book doesn't care at this point, it goes 'fuck it, they're just more rural/savage Aquilonians'. They don't get ANY weapon bonuses, including the base one, get a measly +1 in Survival and sneaky shit and favor Borderers and ban Barbarians (haha what?), Nomads, and Pirates. They're literally just hillbilly Aquilonians and anyone who plays them is a punk.
Oh thank you god a new proper race.
Hyrkanians: Not-Huns. I like Huns, so I like these dudes. They're basically a straight up Hun ripoff though, horsemen, under a Khan, nomads, a strange blend of intelligent and brutal, you know the drill. They get bonuses to bow attacks in general, and additional bonuses to long-distance bow fighting, which is actually pretty cool, they also get the Far Shot feat for totally free, which is basically just the feat they need to be able to use their range bonuses without fucking everything up. They also get a diplomacy bonus, but only in a specific region (any other Conan dorks can look up the exact location, basically while in their lands), with a weapon visible. Basically it's not 'they're more cultured' it's 'the people in this area know these guys are fucking insane and will fuck their shit, so they're gonna be nice'. I really like that as a bonus. Like a previous race they get a penalty to hypnosis due to racial beliefs in its power. Basically they believe it's super powerful so it is. They favor Nomad and have no bans. If you wanna be cool and not a Conan ripoff, be a Hyrkanian.
Khitans: Ooooh boy, here it is. Not-china, where the Conan writers (of the real books) went full hog racist on us. Literally they're all yellow skinned, black haired who look alien to the other races and are seen as inscrutable mages. So, yea, it's that. They're literal China, with a great wall and everything. Honestly they CAN be pretty cool, and if the dude playing it isn't racist there's no problem, but fuck the text is awkward to read. They are, fluffwise, a very distinct and strange culture compared to the others, they have a very strange faith, they're down with magic (only one other major empire sees magic as anything but something horrific) and they have a VERY powerful trade empire going, as opposed to the more primitive systems of economics around them. In a lot of ways they're better, but it's done in this really uncomfortable 'IN GLORIOUS ASIA THEY ARE TRULY ENLIGHTENED' way.
They get bonus to sneaky shit, all Knowledge checks and get a bonus feat to pick from a selection that either gives them kung-fu, staff fighting, or helps their magic. Also they are weak to hypnosis too. They favor Scholar and ban Barbarian and Nomad, basically speaking they're every asian stereotype, enjoy.
Kushite or 'Northern Black Kingdom Tribesmen': Hey, remember not-China? Here's not-North/West Africa. Yea, it's just as rough. Again if the dude actually PLAYING it isn't racist you're fine but...ugh you can really see the issues Conan's writer's racial issues here. Let's get this over with. The Kushites are a mishmash of assorted tribes/cultures of the Black Kingdom's northern part. Yes, not-Africa is the Black Kingdom. Let's get one thing clear, despite what is coming up, Conan's RPG is the only one doing this I've ever seen differentiate the parts of Africa, and the assorted parts of the Kushite empire are actually detailed in a decent way to make it more then 'the blacks all got together' so it COULD be worse.
Alright let's do this. Religion, actually decently done. Makes it clear that the assorted major groups have their own faiths, gives a little sentence about them, basically gives you enough to know who to randomly call out to as you get stabbed or whatever. For stats they get a bonus to sneaky shit in...'hot environments' the book specifies jungles, deserts, and plains, so I guess that's it? Or like, do they get bonuses on a super hot day? We'll never know. They also get a +1 to spears...well ok, spears are valid weapons...there's some racial connotations to that but..."Long years of practice with spear combine with a certain innate savagery to make Kushites some of the most dangerous spearmen around".
Huh...innate savagery...for real? Also get a bonus to all Simple Weapons, ok that's fair, represent them growing up in a harsh environment and all...oh and they all are illiterate, and need to spend 2 skill points to learn to read/write. I believe they are the only race with this penalty. The huns can read and write just fine, but literally every African can't. Also D20 dudes know skill points can be pretty precious, meaning you're gonna take a hit if you're doing this. They favor Barbarian and ban Nobles. Yea sure, whatever, I'm still recovering from every African being illiterate but the white barbarians can do it just fine. They have 2 subraces.
---- Chaga are the ruling caste of the empire, partially of Stygian origin. They are so far removed from the Kushite people they don't use ANY of Kushite base bonuses, only their variant shit (meaning they can read at least!). They are also in a state of perpetual war/conflict with the other subrace. They worship Set, like the Stygians. They have small bonuses to magic, Sense Motives (they don't trust the Kushites) and get the same 'hot areas' bonus as Kushites. Also they get a feat list to pick one from, assorted diplomat type feats. They favor Noble and ban none.
---- Ghanata are southern-desert living kin to the Kushites, these are the not-west Afircans, mainly Nigerians it seems. This time it's more clear, their sneaky shit bonus is in hot deserts only, thank you book, I can work with that. Also get bonuses and proficiency in scimitars and a 'Ghanata knife', their version of the knife basically. They also get a ride bonus, pretty neat people, still illiterate as fuck. They favor Nomads and ban Nobles and Pirates.
Let's keep this ball going, Pict . Yea, I guess the writer of whatever book these came from slipped and used a real culture's name, woops. They're savages too, straight up said to be stone-age. They use drums to talk long ways and oh yea, I was wrong, they're the only other illiterate people. "Picts are among the most unrelenting savages in the world", awesome, yea, let's do these just one after another, purge it out, book, purge it out. You remember the 'if the player isn't racist' thing? No, if they pick Pict they're racists, there's no reason to play these in a campaign, they're straight up said to be horrible monstrous savages that only spare the civil world their wrath because they're busy fighting eachother. If you play these guys you just want to play an ooga booga tribal monster.
Bonus to jumpy shit and Dex, very fast, bonus to attacking animals, bonus to sneaky shit in temperate jungles and such. Favor Barbarian, ban Nomads, Noble, and Pirate.
Shemite: The Shemites are the not-Arabs here not as horrible as the past two races, but back on not-China's level of 'trying to not be racist but actually kinda racist'. They're merchant lord nomads who are a kinda satellite empire of Stygia. They get a bonus to appraise and such and are super sneaky in the desert, bonus to any bow use, which is very nice, and unlike the not-huns, they get a bonus for CLOSE range bow fighting. Also they get a bonus to coup de grace attacks for being 'stone cold killers', alright sure, harsh land and harsh people and all, after the last two dudes I'm numb to this shit, it's cool. Interesting penalty, -1 to ALL saving throws, a very fatalistic race who are basically always at peace with death.
Favor Nomads, ban Borderers and Pirates.
They have two boring subraces.
---- Meadow Shemites are that, they come from meadows. They're not nomads because of this and that's about it really. They get a bonus to Diplomacy for being more urbane then their kin. Favor Soldier, ban Pirate.
---- Pelishtim are basically Persians, more mystic versions of Shemites, pretty cool but no real info other then this. Bonus to magic shit, favor Scholar and Soldier ban Pirates (no one likes the pirates ).
Southern Islander, or Southern Black Kingdom FUCK NO NOT AGAIN:
Yea they snuck this bitch in didn't they? Same as the northerners, fuckin illiterate savages. These guys are the not-Zulu. They get spear bonuses, but also club bonuses, so points for at least knowing Zulu used clubs as well, and get bonuses to dancing. Oh, also they get -2 Will checks when based around Terror. Yep, just some spear tossin, dancin, illiterate savages who scare easy. I see no problem here.
Favor Barbarian or Pirate, and ban Nobles and Nomads. They get just one subrace (I like to think their second subrace got cut for having a bonus feat called 'the shuck and jive' or something).
---- Darfari are...no. Nope, fuck it. Here's what they are, they are cannibals who file their teeth, get a bite attack, and get bonuses to drum use. You wanna play these? Go fuck yourself.
Stygian: Not-Egypt! Ok now we're back to 'not overtly racist, kinda dances the line' section (hey, notice any common threads between the tasteful representations and the ones who, at best are only KINDA racist? Spoiler warning, it's skin color). These guys are, for the first few stories, the big bads, Set worshipping theocracy which encourages magic and such. Alright, to be fair as the stories went on we saw more and more of Stygia and it got fleshed out more and you know what, they're pretty ok.
Except they're ruled by white people. Yea, their ruling cast is pale skinned, compared to the tan skinned normals. Woops.
Bonuses to magic shit, Stygian bow use, and -2 to resist corruption. Basically they love magic and have no problem being corrupted by it. They favor Noble, Scholar, and Temptress, and ban no one. To be honest they're not bad, I even kinda like these dudes. Age of Conan did some good work expanding them, and their 'temptresses' are often shown as less sluts and more cunning minds who are legit intelligent 'shadow rulers' who prey on stupid men who think with their dicks. It's a dog eat dog society, and it produced some pretty interestingly fucked up people.
Vendhyan: Not-India. Very advanced society called the 'golden kingdom', pretty neat, not expanded well. They're India, caste system and all, the book straight up just says to look in the Vedas for their culture so yea, fuck you too book. If you know Indian history/culture I guess this is cool, if not they're pretty shitty! They get bonuses to Diplomacy and Knowledge (Nobility) skills to show their focus on education and all, bonus to Will due to a disciplined society, and bonuses to Light Lance weapons. Favor Soldier and Noble, ban Barbarian and Nomad. Yep, sure is a race.
Zamorians: Not-Spain and not-Ukraine combined in one and...'regarded as an ancient and evil race', well ok, at least it was a not-european country that got this this time? Interestingly vague history, apparently an ancient race with not a lot of info. They're natural swashbuckly/thief types, basically everyone is Zorro and that's pretty cool. Bonuses to sneaky shit, breaking into places, and gathering info, the cool thing is their sneaky bonus is for urban areas, I like that compared to all the barbarian cultures and all. No real penalties really, aside from a -2 Strength, I guess their main penalty is if you're not a thief type you're wasting the race? They favor Thief and Temptress, and ban Barbarian and...Pirate? No idea why!
Finally, the end. Our last race... Zingaran: Not...Spain again. Ok yea, this is kinda a shitty end. These guys are gypsies and basically Zamorians but with swordplay and sailing. So yea, they're pirate versions of the Zamorians, guess that's why they banned the class? They get bonus to sailing, using arming swords, start with a basic Sneak Attack, bonus to Sense Motive but a penalty to Diplomacy due to basically being paranoid dicks. Favor Temptress, Soldier, and Pirate, and ban Barbarian and Nomad.
So yea, there's the races! God damn that was a lot of words about racial stereotypes, the chapter. Honestly I've had dudes play Kushites and shit well, it's just...god damn how did some of these things pass an editor? Still, one can't claim that the writers left out any of the canon races. Coming up tomorrow Classes: I get a +10 to Striptease!
Classes, or, My Barbarian Seductress Beats Him to Death with her FluteOriginal SA post Conan the RPG: Part 2, Classes. Or, 'My Barbarian Seductress Beats Him to Death with her Flute'
So, the classes. I actually am a fan of the classes here! For one major thing, a departure from normal D20 stuff, there is no penalty to multiclass, as I mentioned before. The book gives a very good reason for this, Conan himself was multiclassed as fuck, so it'd be stupid to make it hard for you, the player! Most of these are D&D classes refluffed and changed up a bit, but there are a few new ideas in here that work well. Not a lot of generalities to say really, standard D&D classes, reach level x, receive whatever the chart says, enjoy.
Barbarian: I legit wonder if they fought off some class that started with 'A' just so they could do Barbarian first. This is Conan's class, the big tough savage who breaks faces. Still, they're not brutes, per say, the book recommends speed over brawn, and the class skills reflect that well, basically you're tough, but your main skill is running circles around and beating his face in while dodging his shit.
They are proficient in simple and martial weapons, meaning most basic and iconic fantasy weapons are theirs. They also effectively start the game able to dual wield, so that's cool. Light and Medium armor, but since Medium armor hits your sneaky/dexterity shit it's kinda a sucker's bet unless it's real good or you're higher level.
Ability wise, they start off with Fearless which gives them, duh, resistance to fear, Track which is a free feat (it lets them track!), and one of my fave abilities, Versatility. Versatility lets them take less penalties for using weapons they aren't proficient in, including exotics and improvised. At 7th they basically get all weapon proficiencies due to totally losing the penalties, and at 14th and 20th levels their threat ranges are doubled/tripled in melee. Pretty much it's the path of 'I can beat you with anything', and it fits well without being stupid overpowered (by the time you're getting threat ranges doubled you're at a level where everyone's hacking heads and arms off for fun).
From there they get more, Bite Sword, for example, lets them...hold their melee weapon in their mouth safely and securely. Book says it's good for climbing and shit but really we've never used it in my group. Badass mental image though, so cool.
Of course, when you get that, you also get Crimson Mist, their rage! They do it once a day, but also get one free activation when they pass Terror saves (going along well with their basic bonus to said saves!), I'll discuss the details in the Feat section (it's a free Fighting Madness feat basically) but you know what rage is, he hulks the fuck out on a dude. The rage bonuses boost as you gain a couple levels.
From there most abilities are pretty normal, trap sense, mobility, dodging and being tough as shit. Nothing really BAD just rather typical 'strong guy in fantasy' stuff, nothing to really sell a class on, which is good because the selling shit was right out of the gate. You do, at 17 get Unconquerable, a power that means basically you don't die until you reach negative HP equal to level, and you can keep doing either a move or standard action until that point. Not a game breaker but often means your meat-stick can get in a couple more good swings before it's oh shit time. The class is capped off at 18 with Wheel of Death, basically an extra attack when surrounded and away from enemies, this stacks with an already large base attack bonus, nothing really special but hey, more sword swinging=more fun.
Borderer: This is a funny little class. On first glance he seems to be a generic ranger, but actually there's some cool fluff to it. Basically they patrol the wild lands around civilized areas (or 'civilized' areas), their job is to secure the borders of the empire from wild beasts, wild people, and assorted other threats (hence the name!). They have a lot of wilderness skills, so not great for urban intrigue games, but really that should be pretty obvious.
They start with Track too, and most interestingly, a skill called "Favored Terrain", basically just pick either plains, mountains, swamps, hills, or forests, and gain a bonus to sneaky shit and survival skills in that terrain type, as well as a dodge bonus to represent basically being able to use the natural features to your advantage. The interesting part comes in when you also gain the same bonus to Reputation while in that area. I really like this, it gives a very 'master of the environment' feel rather then just 'knows to not eat poison ivy'.
From there the bonus scales up, of course, what I like is they actually get more bonuses in the terrain as the normal bonuses scale. For example at +2 bonus (they start at +1) they gain 10 feet bonus to their movement there, at +3 they can use Hide even when there's no concealment normally, at +4 the bonus feet movement goes to 20 and at +5 they can Hide even while being observed. I really dig this, mainly because they don't get man other unique abilities, so it's nice they made this one very unique.
Their other big unique is the Guide ability, basically granting bonuses to sneaking around and surviving in his terrain to his party members, at a rate of one other character per 2 levels (so when they get it at level 7 they get 3 others they're able to help). Also they can spend a move action to give an extra +1 hide bonus to one character, basically helping them get cover at the cost of his own. At 13 level they grant their movement bonus to the other characters, and at 20 they extend the bonuses to the mounts.
Aside from that they get a smattering of neat but bland abilities, survival bonuses, 'combat style' abilities in typical ranger fashion, and a selection of bonus feats one would expect. They do get a capper ability of Heroic Sacrifice. Basically at -10 hp he can choose to keep fighting, sealing his fate (he can't be healed from this point), but allowing him to take standard or move actions until there is a combat round that ends without enemies adjacent to him. Pretty cool way for a final stand to be done.
Noble: Ah the Noble, what fantasy game would be complete without this worthless, pure social, not even that great at that, archetype? Ok I exaggerate. Nobles are pretty nifty really, and they even get a (I feel) realistic rule of basically 'you can BECOME a noble whenever but if you take levels in another class you're done with noble. It fits the ideal of Conan well, you can either lead or you can do other shit, you really can't do both and get the full rewards of your status.
So, the meat then, the book straight up says most nobles hire adventurers rather then go on it, so unless you're in a very intrigue based game any Noble in your party will most likely be a former Noble. It's very important to point out that this is the very literal meaning of 'noble', this isn't just normal leader, this is 'my parents are part of a long line of rulers, I was born with obscene wealth and privilege, I have servants (or slaves) who will die for me' type. Naturally, these dudes focus on charisma and such over body strength.
Funny enough, nobles are skilled in martial and simple weapons, and all armor, which seems real weird to me, but hardly a major thing. They also start off with a Title, giving them +5 Social Standing right off the bat. It recommends a title like Lord or the like, rather then a landed title, since basically if you run a city proper, you're not gonna go kill bandits and giant rats, you hire people to do that. Also the Rank Hath its Privileges, which basically means you're a noble and get all privileges associated with it, which varies from land to land. At the same time, you must behave as a noble of your land should, and failure to should have vast consequences to the character.
Also they start with Wealth, basically they get a shit load of bonus starting cash, and gets that allowance each year. If he overtly pisses it away like a dipshit, or angers mommy and daddy, he will be cut off though, so basically try not to spend your allowance on a cart full of whores.
Now the cool thing, Regional Bonus. This is what makes Nobles actually useful in a party. Basically speaking, depending where they rule, they get a bonus to using a weapon iconic with that area, and often a skill bonus too. This doesn't make them fighting machines, but it helps them be useful as long as there's a meatshield. Every 5 levels they get an extra +1 to this bonuses.
Along with that there are Social Abilities, these are the meat of your advancements. This is a very wide array of things associated with nobility, and all are pretty neat in their own ways.
---Allies gives you a buddy with influence, you need to personally address or send word to them, and pass a check based on how big a favor you need, but in a pinch they can come through for you and help. You can get this multiple times in different flavors.
---Comeliness, welp it's Conan, you're hot, +2 Charisma when appearances would count.
---Entertainer, you get a +2 to Performance rolls, and can use these rolls to a lot of ends, based around getting more glory for yourself when describing deeds, altering attitudes, and my personal fave, damaging others' reputations in the court. Few things are more fun then writing a lovingly crafted opera describing in detail how a rival of yours fucks goats.
---Etiquette, basically a mulligan for social rolls, lets you try to smooth over insults and hurt feelings, useful!
---Family Ties, you and the family are on good terms. You can call in family help just like an Ally, but it's easier and they're willing to do more for you. Also its main benefit over Ally is that it's much more broad. Obviously your GM won't let you have a cousin for every occasion, but if you need help raiding a bandit camp you can call up Cousin Bjorn who just happens to be a military leader who is more willing to help you then, say, Aunt Freja who was who you called up to get you an audience with the king. Of course, the double edge to this is YOU are family too, and aside from basic 'don't be a mooch, dick' rules, they have no issue calling on you if needed, and failure to help them is a sure way to lose their help.
---Improve Standing, +2 Social Standing, up to +9 total bonus. Yea no fucking clue why it's +9 and not +8.
---Refuge, you have a hidden place you can duck into with the party, anything from a dear friend noble's home to a very comfy cave to a caravan that respects you.
---Savoir-Faire, you're a dashing motherfucker! Basically if you want to show off, take the check as normal but if you're five or greater then the DC you have done it in a very flashy and cool way. The GM decides what this MEANS of course, crunchwise, but usually a bonus to charisma checks or the like, something to say 'yes, you have impressed this group'. You're also hard to embarrass because you know you're just so damn fly, if you fail something you can make a Bluff check to play it off like you meant to, GM sets the DC but usually it's 15-20ish for non-insane failures. You also can use a free action to use Diplomacy to basically counter any attempt to humiliate you. I fuckin love this ability, real talk if I could I'd take it on every single character.
---Smear Others, Charisma check, you lay a sick burn on someone to lower a crowd's reaction to them.
---Secrets, you know something...SOMETHING! Once per session get a +4 to Diplomacy or Intimidate against the person you know something on. You may, of course, let the cat out of the bag, losing the bonus but damaging their standing well. Pretty nifty for city based campaigns. In one of my games my friend who was a Noble/Temptress combo actually had her Secret on her Ally to help her get the favors she needed, that was a clever use of it!
Aside from that they get leadership based abilities, letting them buff the party in assorted bonuses to assorted checks. The only other major ability of note is 'Do you Know Who I Am?!' which lets you loudly announce your name, title, rank, etc to get a -2 attack penalty on foes going 'oh snap' basically. Of course, traitors and barbarians and the like give no fuck, and may even be inspired to go after you worse if they have an axe to grind with your kingdom, so be careful.
Nomad: Nomad is actually my least favorite class. It's Borderer, but with riding. Like, not even kidding, they get Favored Terrain just like them, they get the same sneaky/survive type skills, they even share most bonus feats. I really have nothing to say other then 'they get a growing charge bonus as they level, that's pretty nice'. See Borderer for how much I like Favored Terrain and shit I guess?
Pirate: Yar, the Pirate, a rather rare class since a lot of races ban them. They're what you expect for pirates, very fast melee focused rogue types focused on damage and sailing skills. They get Seamanship, a growing bonus to Profession (Sailor) checks and Use Rope and Dodge on boats. This is why pirates are a rare class, off of a ship they're a very watered down Thief. Still, good place to talk about Thief skills.
Ferocious Attacks is a buff to give them a round of +2 Initiative and +2 melee attack and damage, with -2 to Defense rolls and the loss of Sneak Attack for that round. This bonus/penalty scales up every few levels, it's a nice 'take it down' type attack when you can't get a sneak attack off. As it scales up they gradually damage the foes' will who sees it, eventually straight up lowering their damage/attack rolls.
Pirate Signals is a skill that lets them know one form of pirate signal, useful, for pirate campaigns. To Sail a Road of Blood and Slaughter is cool coup de grace attacks are free actions and gain a +4 to Intimidate checks after doing one.
Sneak Attack, haha nevermind it says 'see Thief', so yea we'll talk about that in a sec. Pirates: just wet thieves.
From there just a row of generics, mobilities of assorted growth, poison resistance, a free feat to sneak-subdue instead of kill, Bite Sword (seriously, ever useful?), and a Navigation skill to help them sail.
Scholar: Here's the mage! I dig how they did magic here, haters gonna hate on it as a concept but I like this method. Basically there's one magic class, this, you pick a past and a method of power, and that shapes if you're a priest, scholar, demon mage, whatever.
So what's the tradeoff to being the only access to magic in the game (ok, some guys get to dabble in magic actually, but this is 'pure' magic)? Well for one, simple weapons only. That's it, so yea, meat shields. For another, you MUST spend 12 skill points at the start on Knowledge skills of any sort. Oh yea, also and you could implode if you get too magic cocky (more on that in Magic section!).
Yea, in Conan magic is a very dangerous thing, only two races really accept it as a good thing, and even then it doesn't change that magic is a very raw, uncontrollable, force that can really fuck you up.
So, from the start, you pick your Background, how did you learn magic? Acolytes were trained by someone/some group/some cult/whatever. The point is, they had someone instruct them in magic. They must select a group or a master, and can only learn Sorcery styles and advanced spells known by that group/master. Pure metagame there's no reason to not pick a group, just to have more options. Basically an acolyte has a group to report to who often sets the first 10 levels of spells for him as 'curriculum', and in exchange help him access assorted magic schools and advanced spells.
Then there's independent background. You don't need the 'man' telling you what to study, free choices, wide open options...and no one to help you. Basically you don't have to pick from a set list of what you can learn, but every time you get a new sorcery style or advanced spell you must pass a Knowledge Arcana check to be able to freely pick as you want, or the GM will pick for them. Also, pure fluffwise, you don't have access to societies or a master for support and guidance.
Next, there's the pact. You done sold your soul to something bad, and got a shit ton of power in return. You start off with a Corruption of 1 right off the bat. You have freedom to pick from what you want to learn, but you are beholden to a very evil force, and the GM should make that a 'thing'. You MUST pick at 1st level the sorcery style of Summoning, and the spell Demonic Pact, you know, that's how you did this all. From there when you can get new styles or advanced spells, you can either do like an independent and take the Knowledge check method, or call on your Hellspawn sugar daddy. If he does that he can pick freely (provided the entity knows it, they know a shit ton though, this is mainly just a way to keep it 'infernal' and such), but must make a Corruption check (I'll get to Corruption in a coming part). Also he must spend a language slot on Demonic, so he can talk to the demon and shit.
Finally, it's not all bad, there's the Lay-Priest! These guys learned in some form of faith, temple, shaman, whatever. These are very different, and will be covered more much later when I hit the religion section. Basically speaking, Lay-Priests are 'anti-mages', they are acolytes who must pick from their faith's magic, and many don't even have an option for it (hell, most have the only option of 'you get to die now, for being all heretical and shit). For our purposes now, these dudes don't exist.
Now, the fun! Sorcery Styles! You gain a new one at level 1, 2, 4, and every 4th level after! These will be talked about when I hit Magic, but basically these are magic schools, this means your average mage here will be very diverse, which is good! You may also choose to take a bonus feat from a list instead, but that's kinda the sucker's bet unless you're an acolyte who's very restricted.
Knowledge is Power is next, basically it's a special knowledge check to know something about someone/something. Basically their version of a Gather Information thing.
Power Points are how Sorcery is done in this game, and are very important! At level 1 you get your Base PP, 4+ Wisdom modifer, minimum 1 (if you have a negative Wisdom you have fucked up, stop right now and go back). Power Points are used to create magic items, and casting spells! They are regained through rest or from chugging down some lotus drugs. Basically this is mana, but not exactly. I'll be getting more into these in the magic section, but basically every spell costs PP, but some can be boosted with more PP spent on them for more effect. You gain 1 PP at second level, and then every 4 levels.
Advanced Spells are spells that you gain once you have mastered the style, in short. Again there's more on this in the right chapter but basically every style has Advanced Spells, and these are often the 'refined magic' of the style. You gain these at 3rd level and every level after!
They also get bonus spells, bonus Advanced Spells are gotten depending on Intelligence bonus, it starts easy with level 3 needing a +1 bonus to get the spell, and ends up at level 19 with a +5 needed! Basically speaking this creates a rather shitty choice of focusing on Wisdom to get high Power Points, or Intelligence to get high Spells. The fact you gain advanced spells every level regardless of this bonus does help a lot, but I still really hate when they make casters as split-statted as possible.
Ok, this is some shitty formatting, because it didn't talk about 'max power points before! Here's the deal, your BASE power points are that formula with Wisdom, but your MAX PP is double the base, basically giving you a gap to 'rollover' or do some drugs or whatever. As you level this changes to triple of base, then quadruple, then quintuple!
Yea, maybe I shoulda done Scholar with the Magic section, but this is how you'd read the book, so yea, mull that over until I clarify I guess?
Soldier: Yay fighter! Hi fighter, did you miss us? This is the fighter, he is exactly what a fighter always is. He has a large amount of bonus feats, and some cute tricks but...it's a fucking fighter. Here's one cool thing, Formations. Basically with 2 other Soldiers or more, the Soldier can activate special powers depending on his type of combat education. He gains an ability later to let allies count as Soldiers for this purpose, but really the fact that it requires 2 other of people with the lame class, with the same Formation picked, makes this useless until you get that ability. That's it, that's literally all there is. Bye fighter, you still suck.
Temptress: Yea here she is, the Temptress (Men can be 'Tempters' but they straight up say it's mainly women). Ok, I'm gonna just say it, the Temptress is a good class.
Here's the fluff. Conan's world is fucking terrible, especially if you're a woman. At best you're in some barbarian culture where you best be spitting out babies and maybe fighting to defend the home, and at worst you're in a 'civil' land where you're property for men to measure cocks over and have no value other then being a nice set of boobs. The Temptress is a woman going 'ha ha, fuck that'. It's them acknowledging that men are pigs in this setting, and using that. They're cunning and charismatic women who use sex and entertainment to make victims into puppets. They start off as a very social based character, and then oh snap they bust out the magic and the assassin shit and they're being awesome!
They start up with Comeliness and Savoir-Faire from the Noble section, and they instantly win for having Savoir-Faire! From there they get Seductive Art, +1 to all manner of social skills, and magic if she chose to take it (later), growing by 1 every four levels. Moreover, whenever she seduces someone new (to be clear, you can seduce without sex, just get the dude/lady into you and most non creepy GMs will go 'ok, counts') she gets +2 to attack and magic rolls on them for the whole next day (remember, she's not a whore, she's using her body to find the chinks in the armor), and +2 reputation for the next week because...well I dunno really, it doesn't make it clear if it's like, only with peers or if the dude's just bragging about how sexy and talented she is or what?
Then comes Compelling Performance, with 5 or more ranks in any of that umbrella of skills, she can compel anyone within 30 feet who would be attracted to her, who is also not distracted with fighting or the like, to pay attention to her. They get a will save to resist it, but if they fail they are fascinated by her, taking a hard penalty to listen and spot checks as they watch. If they make it, she can't use this on them for 24 hours. As she gains ranks in Perform the penalty grows and grows. This is an amazingly useful skill.
Then at third level, Secret Art. She picks, Sneak Attack (literally that, the thief ability), Sorcery (details to come), or Politics, which allows her access to a few of the Noble Social Abilities. The Sorcery secret is basically ghetto Scholar. You get 2+Wisdom bonus base PP, access to ONE Sorcery Art and its basic spell. This isn't enough to make you a mage of course, but it can get you some good tricks, especially if you get from something like Hypnosis.
From there she gets Seductive Servant, basically gain half your level bonus to social and performance skills because you know how to wiggle your hips while talking by now.
Now the Temptress gets her real skills. Binding Contract. This is a big skill I'm going to distill down here. Temptress picks someone she can make a mutual deal with, ranging anywhere from 'I'll sex you up' to 'you and I can both profit here'. She then makes an opposed Diplomacy check with them which is negotiating the contract. If she wins, she creates a contract that the other party must follow, it's a real, legally binding, or honor based, contract. If she fails, talks break down, she needs another day. Sorcerers especially are good targets for this, as they also become victims of Obsession (it's what it sounds like, elaborate later) with either finishing the contract or with the Temptress herself. This sounds lame until you remember that before this her entire skill list is based in influencing others. This is where she goes from 'hooker who sometimes can knife a dude' to 'chick running a city in the shadows while she plays the role of simple harem girl.
Then comes the Improved Secret Art. She doesn't get a new one, rather she gets to boost her old one. Her Sneak Attack becomes more dangerous, she gets an advanced spell from her sorcery school and...the ability to get PP through sex...ehng ok whatever. Politics gets to pick another noble thing.
Then she gets admirers, hapless saps who provide her a +2 to Gather Information and a stipend of silver. If she leaves the area it takes a month to rebuild, though, so this is rough on travelers (my GM personally allowed our Temptress to get gifts via messenger sometimes and all to represent her 'fans' back home and all). Regardless, one of these hapless shmucks is an Ally, as the noble class feature.
Ok I really could go on, because Temptress is the only class to have legit unique abilities at most every level, but this is getting too long. In short, as she levels she gains more social abilities, more ways to manipulate others, and two further boosts to her Secret, ending up a deadly assassin, a well connected schemer, or a shockingly dangerous mage. She also can debuff foes by knowing their weaknesses, and...ambush foes during sex so she gets the first round, ok not that bad, fitting...or she can have such crazy sex they fall passed out asleep. Welp, ~Conan~. Finally, in a nice moment of acknowledging that Temptresses age, her final skill is Glorious, basically saying 'she's as beautiful as ever and ages gracefully', I don't know why but I like that more then 'she never gets old', I guess it's rare for these games to acknowledge that yea, that sexy dancing girl is mortal and she ages, but she can take care of herself and age well. She gains a bigger bonus to Comeliness and a bigger Reputation bonus.
Finally, the Thief: It's a rogue. Most of his skills have been covered, but now we can finally talk about Sneak attack! When you flank the opponent, or they lose their ability to parry or dodge, add 1d6 to damage, or 1d8 when using a weapon that goes with your Sneak Attack style. A sap or bare hand can do subdual damage to be all Metal Gear. A Sneak attack style is chosen at 1st level, basically pick a weapon you can use, including ranged ones, that's it. You gain a +1 to attack rolls as well, and every 4 levels can pick a new weapon.
Only thieves may disarm traps, which is quite useful!
From there there's normal trap finding, poison use, etc type things. The only real notable thing is at level 6 and every 4 levels after they get a special ability. These are nice rogue type skills ranging from doing 2 points of STR damage in a sneak attack to getting more skill points. Nothing super special except for the STR damage, really, but some nice thief tricks.
That's the classes! Pretty much every niche is filled well, and even in cases of Borderers vs Nomads the classes feel nice and well planned. There's a bit more in this chapter, so might as well do it.
Fate Points: I mentioned these before, here's the info. Everyone gets 3, and these are precious things. The biggest use of them is to save your life. If you hit -10 hp you may spend a Fate Point to be 'left for dead' rather then dead. From there a character with Heal can treat them, and if he recovers even just 1 hp he goes right to -9, passed out but alive. He can also 'force' himself stable with a Fortitude save after one hour. If he passes, he stabilizes, if he fails he dies. This can't save you from shit like the spell that rips your heart out or whatever, there's no 'oh turns out I wasn't dead after all' to having your organs ripped out.
You may also use a Fate Point to use a Mighty Blow, rather then rolling damage you do max damage, including bonus damage from sneak attack and such. The downside is that a primitive or standard weapon will always shatter delivering this blow, even a mighty Akbitanan (very strong, you'll see) weapon has a 50% chance of breaking in two, though you can use the broken blade as a weapon and this can be fixed by a skilled smith (basically they're not going to take away a very special kind of weapon, that's dumb).
You can also get a +5 to Dodge or Parry, a reroll of a failed attack, an auto-resist of terror or fear, or repent and give up one corruption point.
The other major use, though, is Destiny. This is how you the player can influence the GM's plans directly and out of character. Basically with GM approval you can alter the world in a minor way. The example they give is a character is arrested, he uses a Fate Point to have a slave girl he knows smuggle in a dagger for him, or his guard getting shitfaced, or him finding a loose stone in the wall. The point is to give CHANCES and OPPORTUNITY, rather then 'a wizard puts everyone to sleep and opens the door, you're free', it must be organic.
Another use under this umbrella is, say, having an NPC ally understand a language they need translated, or remember some local history to help them figure out where to go next. Basically a good way to fix a dead end without giving them the answer on a plate.
You get Fate back with Foreshadowing, basically every adventure you list 3 situations you'd like to happen. This can be all manner of things 'my character is ambushed', 'he's mocked for being a barbarian', 'he strengthens his faith', whatever. This is how you kinda say what you'd like in the campaign coming. When one of these is done you cross it off and gain the fate point. You may only get one point per Foreshadow.
Codes of Honor are another factor in character, not needed, but they add to the character. If you take a code you get +3 bonus to Will throws, +6 if the throw is against Corruption (coming up!), and +2 reputation.
I'm not going to detail the codes, it's late and this is super long already. Basically there's Barbarian, which is generic 'don't kill honorable people if they give up' type stuff and hospitality, Civilized, which is 'be a normal fucking human', and Mercenary which is 'get money, smoke trees, fuck bitches'.
Corruption is, well what it sounds like. The world is a very scary place, with a lot of weird shit, and a lot of people who like weird shit. Basically 'Evil' is a thing, it's a real thing, and getting around it corrupts you. Make a Will save to avoid it, with your current corruption acting as a penalty to the roll. Exact details of getting corrupt is much later, but basically this is the key shit. Oh, and magic in general is corrupt as shit, Scholars have a huge chance of being corrupted compared to others.
Reputation is exactly what it sounds like, base is Level + Charisma modifier, it can rise and fall as you do things, and it represents how well known you are in the area. It's important to know that FAMOUS shit is what counts, like, if you come into town holding a hunk of metal saying it's an ancient forgotten artifact, and only the one dude who asked for it in the first place goes 'oh yea, that, yea' you're not getting reputation. If you kill a shit ton of necromancers but no one sees it and you have no proof, well it's like the dudes who talk about the ten muggers they beat up with their judo skills.
Social Standing affects Reputation as a modifier. You cannot get over +5 without being a noble with a title, or be super rich. Both this and Reputation as a whole is affected by distance. If you leave the place you're a hero in, and go across the world, well yea maybe some sailors go 'oh yea, that dude, cool dude' but most people have no clue who you are.
As Reputation grows it becomes a bonus to assorted social skills, and a penalty to disguise skills, there's a chart, it's very clear. You may also create an alias, this alias has its own unique reputation that is entirely independent from the 'real' one. If ever revealed, you use the highest of the two reputations as your 'true' one. Aliases are cool, I like them.
So wow, that was big, there's the classes of Conan. Skills are next which I may skip (it's all what you know in D&D), and I may just bullet point feats and equipment and mention any new combat rules (I'm fairly sure there aren't any) so I can jump to Magic for my next bigass post. So yea, coming up next Part 3: in Which Shotgunbadger tells you that the core mechanics of this game is the same as the core mechanics of the game it's built up from so he can talk about nerdy magic.
Magic, or, I've worked my entire life to make your heart explode after an hourOriginal SA post
Sure are a lot of numbers in these two pages. Conan thinks numbers are for nerds, and nerds aren't welcome from this point on.
Oh god I was kidding please don't leave.
Part 3, Magic, or, I've worked my entire life to make your heart explode after an hour.
Alright, I've skipped over the following:
Skills (it's literally all D&D 3.5 ed skills, just look there)
Feats (the only interesting unique feats were Sacrifice feats, which come up in magic)
Gear (Standard low magic gear, money isn't really a factor in most Conan stories and is more a gauge of 'can I get x type shit' then a solid number of gp)
Combat (a few Conan style tricks like Sunder attacks for anyone or the like, but it's normal D&D combat)
So now we're at the Sorcery chapter, where shit gets cool.
So, I was smacked down before by saying there was a caster imbalance, and I was both right and wrong. Here's the deal for magic in general in Conan. There are about 2 races at all who support you dabbling in the arcane arts, and the Stygian people are the major one, and even then you kinda need to dress it up in theology. It's a very dangerous, primal, force that can destroy the weak who try to use it.
The best comparison is, imagine how a cave man would see a gun, that's how most people see magic, it's big, it's loud, it's scary, and they have a good feeling if they tried to use it they'll blow their head off.
You study magic for two reasons, knowledge or power, and most everyone goes in for the latter. Again, like the gun among cave men, if you can get it so you don't blow your head off with it, most of them are going to be terrified into submission. Magic is found in ancient books and scrolls of past ages, or with direct compacts with gods and demons and such. Even the most dabbling of mages walks a path filled with danger and fear.
Magic is powerful, but it's costly and time consuming. There aren't any 'ok I cast the spell right now, roll a dice, ok you die instantly'. There are a few 'ok I begin casting, guard me for a couple rounds, ok roll a dice, ok you die' but those are top level spells.
To cast spells you need a free hand (holding a spell component doesn't count as 'busy' for the hand, and if it effects an object you may need to touch the object) and often prep time. In fact, only a few schools are immune to prep time, Hypnotism, Prestidigitation, Counterspells, and assorted minor spells. Often the best bet is to make arcane powders and potions so you can use the spell right when you need it. Basically speaking, the prep time is represented by all but minor spells and the listed schools having longer casting times then D&D vets and such are used to. A good many spells require a full round of casting, this means that while Fizzbo the Magic may be able to shoot fire from his ass, he better have Gorak the Mighty there to play defense for a round or so.
There's a nice little sidebar called 'What is a Sorcerer' at this point. In game terms, if you have sorcery magic you are a sorcerer, but the in game reaction is very different. For example, it says a high priest who has mastered the Counterspells school is, crunchwise, a 'sorcerer' but his followers would not see him as that because to most people in the world 'sorcery' is very overt magic. At the same side, a noble who just dabbles in Summoning magic may find himself in grave danger and cast out of his home, even if he's a puny dabbler, because Summoning is universally seen as a 'sorcery'.
Now that the fluff behind magic is very clear, here's the rules.
Power Points are your magic fuel, as I said before you have Base and Maximum power points, with Maximum being double Base (which can be boosted with feats and class features). There are a few ways to gain and lose power points, because magic is written as a very fluid thing, so here's the bullets.
*If you reach 0 HP, your PP does as well, and cannot be regained until brought to greater then 0.
*Sacrifices and Energy Drain can fuel PP (coming in a sec), life force is inherently magic, and even the most 'pure' sorcerer finds it hard to scorn getting easy power by something as simple as slaying a foe.
*Resting brings PP back at a rate of 1 per 2 hours of rest. Take a nap and get some mana back.
*Power Rituals (also coming), basically a group of followers/allies can help you gain power points.
*Of course, casting spells costs PP, every spell has PP that MUST be spent for it to work, and some allow you to spend more to boost as you wish.
So, that's how it happens, let's get to the points. Sacrifices/Energy Drains is a major way, and any fan of Conan knows this is liberally used by even good magicians.
Basically speaking, a Sacrifice needs you to to kill something for your god/patron/self, and there's a handy chart for different offerings and their worth. In pure crunch, you do a coup de grace against a helpless opponent, and depending on the type of offering you get x PP per y HP the creature had BEFORE the Coup de Grace. As I understand this, this means if you have a sacrifice that's been beaten into submission down to 2 hp from their original 10, it counts as 2 hp if you sacrifice without healing them.
Sacred Animal: 1PP/8HP
Ordinary Person 1PP/8HP
Virgin Sacrifice 1PP/4HP
Ritually Prepared Virgin 1PP/3 HP
Perfect Offering 1PP/2HP
Ritually Prepared Perfect Offering 1PP/1HP
Now, a Virgin Sacrifice is, of course, a virgin, but it also must be a victim free of Corruption. In short, pure is good.
A sacred animal is the animal sacred to that god, for example Anu is the Shemite sky god, a bull is the sacred animal for that god.
To make a Virgin Sacrifice 'ritual' they must be bathed and anointed in oils and be fully awake and conscious during the sacrifice. To be clear, this isn't 'willing' it's just 'awake', typical horrible evil mage has the pure virgin tied up and gagged while he holds the dagger over her and all.
The Perfect Offering is a Virgin Sacrifice that fits the specific desires of a god/demon/whatever. Say Grugblax the Eternal Darkness has a thing for red headed Cimmerian girls, give that to him and he's super pumped and gives you tons of power. There are feats to boost the sacrifice output too, just two though. The only real gem being Ritual Sacrifice, which gives a penalty to the Fortitude save the victim gets to resist the coup, and also lets you move up a rank in the sacrifice scale. For example, a random slave you kill can be boosted from 8 HP:1 PP, to 4 HP:1 PP as if they were a virgin .There's also Opportunistic Sacrifice, which lets you get the PP any time you slay an enemy. Remember though, it's case of you brought the random monster you were fighting as a team down from its badly beaten 16 to 0, that's the PP you get (you always at least get 1 PP from a sacrifice). The other is Tortured Sacrifice, more PP for slowly killing the target basically.
The less...stereotypically evil...way to get power from others is touching your hand against the flesh of a helpless foe, you can drain 1d4 PP from them. Not as potent but the 'good guys' often find this easier in a pinch. A sorcerer you do this too is drained from their pool, but a non-sorcerer gives up the PP at the cost of a pretty heavy Wisdom damage, so it's a good way to fuck up more simple minded foes you have helpless.
Then there are Power Rituals, this is for your crazy cult leaders and the like. You need at least 10 'celebrants', willing to basically worship you and give you power, all must have some form of Perform skill and at least 20% must have Perform (Ritual). Basically for each hour they dance around and pray and sing to you and shit, you get PP based on a chart of average Perform checks for the number of people ranging from 10 to 100+. It's a pretty neat little rule that, in theory, a sorcerer with the right spells can at least reap the benefits of the lower tiers.
Now comes the rules for actually casting, and it can get a wee bit complex.
First of all, there's Pushing It, basically you CAN, if you wish (it's dangerous to!) go down to under 0 PP, with a cap equal to your Base PP. Basically if you have 7 Base PP, you can go to -7. At under 0 they recover at a normal rate of 1 per day of rest, so if you do this get ready to sacrifice a beefy virgin or something because you wanna get up to 0 ASAP. Also if they go down to negatives, you can't cast spells and are fatigued (-2 Strength/Dex) until it's at 0 again, basically you get one big blast of power, then you shot your wad.
So, how do you cast these spells you may be asking, well here it is. You make a Magic Attack roll, which is 1d20+Magic Attack Bonus+Charisma Bonus. That's all!
Haha as fucking if. Along with the most basic 'how I cast fireball' rules, there are a few rules of magic that are, quite literally, laws of nature in Conan's world, and they matter!
The Rule of Success:
Magic is based off 'success over failure', when you do well, you get more magical kick. In game terms, each round where you kill off an opponent (there's a chart for how many opponents gets you how much of a bonus), you get a growing Morale Bonus to your Magic Attack roll going from +1 at 1 dude killed, to +10 up at 1000+ (oh yea, there are a couple spells to get this number). You instantly drop down to +0 if you lose HP during the rounds following the round you get the bonus on, though, so...be perfect!
As well as that, succeeding on casting a spell makes it easier to cast it again, meaning if you successfully cast a spell, you can recast it next round at half the PP cost rounded down. This does apply to spells with more then 1 round of casting, as long as you begin casting it right after the first cast. More successes mean more halving, to a minimum of 1 (no free lunch in magic, sorry bucko). This is not my favorite rule, if only because I detest feeling like the 'best' route is to spam a spell, even if it literally is the best route. I guess I just don't gel with that well.
The Rule of Impermanence:
Magic is limited in time, even the longest lasting spells end when their caster dies. When you go under 0 HP, make a special Will save (DC 25) for every creation you made with magic, failure ends that creation. Oh you think this is unimportant? Spells stop working, so that warding spell around your secret treasure room, gone, the door's open now! Most powerfully though, magic items you make crumble into magical dust, not only do they lose their magic, poof, they're gone. When you're killed everything ends without a save, you're gone, so are they. I adore this rule, nothing feels more properly low magic then 'you killed the lich that made the sword you're using, welp there it goes'. Now, of course, a GM shouldn't be a cock and go 'ah heh heh, looks like the wizard who made your magic armor died, it's gone!' randomly, but it CAN lead to interesting situations!
So, it's very important you stay alive, and thus
The Rule of Defense:
Defense Blasts are close range magic that are suited to be counter attacks for last ditch protection. Any spell with that label has some special rules.
*It's an immediate action and can be done ANY time you are not flat-footed.
*All PP is drained
*Can only be done if attacked
*Each school has their own blast, a Scholar gets their first school's blast for free, any others must be bought normally.
The Rule of Obsession:
Magic is an obsession to most casters, and ignoring that obsession with deep loyalty, love, any distraction, tends to weaken their magic. However, using such 'distractions' to further the 'true' obsession can give a sorcerer great things.
In game terms, the rule is basically a minor sub-plot to the campaign. If the sorcerer declares himself obsessed with anything but magic they lose -1 to -3 base PP depending on the level (remember that Temptress Contract power? Yea, watch it fuck a mage right up). The only way to get these points back (with so much more) is to draw the 'distraction' into yourself in some way. Sacrifice a lover, use your obsession with a job only to gain enough power to entice your underlings to sacrifice themselves to your magic, that kinda stuff.
The GM can also rule an obsession, but is very clearly advised to not be a cock. The example they give is a sorcerer who swears an Allegiance with a king, GM says that that Allegiance takes priority over magic study and such, and as such is an Obsession, so the sorcerer decides he'll get the lost PP back and then some by hypnotizing the king, driving him mad, and killing and eating him ritually and taking control of the shambles. The GM decides not only is this worth the PP back, but is also worth 2 more to the base PP when it succeeds.
The Rule of The Master:
As you may remember, most of the Sorcery backgrounds require you to be beholden to a master of some kind, either a group, a direct master, or a pact. This is, in fact, a 'thing'!
Basically speaking, the master has sway over the 'thrall', gaining bonus to social checks with them and letting him transfer magic power between him to and from the thrall. Also he has access to rituals to boost spells he casts by dragging it out and using their power as well. It's mainly for fluff, but it's cute.
The Rule of the Sorcerer's Soul:
Magic is entwined with the soul, any magic creature, sorcerer, or outsider who meets your eye can tell your magical nature, and if you fail a will save against his Magic Attack roll, he can tell your Corruption and current PP.
Concentration is also important, basically being attacked, lots of motion (being on a fast moving mount, etc) and being right in harsh weather all are bad for casting, and you gotta pass a check each round to cast off.
Magic has consequences, though! Spells can go nuts sometimes, and chain reactions can go full on nuclear reaction! Spells with the potential to go wild are Mighty Spells and marked with an * in the list. Summoning is full of these spells, of course. You can safely cast one Mighty Spell per week without anything crazy happening. Each further use of it requires you to do a Will save, going up by +5 each time. If/when you fail roll a d20, add corruption, and add the difference between your roll and the DC, and consult a chart!
This is a fun chart. It goes from burnouts (PP damage and/or Wisdom drain), to Implosions where you lose PP and get damage, to 'ROCK THE UNIVERSE' where you die and the area within 1d6 miles around you is devastated by natural disasters! Best of all, the top tier result, 31+, Fate Worse then Death. Not only do you ROCK THE UNIVERSE, you open a gate to the Outer Dark, and a demon hand pulls your soul in, severing your link and killing you forever, and most likely giving your husk of a body to a demon minion. My favorite Conan adventure began with this happening to an NPC in the area the party lived in.
Corruption and Insanity is also a factor. Corruption comes easy to sorcerers, and with corruption, insanity also comes. Whenever a sorcerer succeeds in a check against corruption, he must take an exact same check again, failure shakes the sorcerer and gives him a minor insanity. If he already has a minor insanity, he gets a major one. You can opt to fail the first check and just take the corruption. This means basically every high level sorcerer is corrupt or insane.
It's the usual insanity list, phobias, delusions, hallucinations, etc. You can recover with a check after three months of time away from corrupting forces, but only one Insanity per 3 month break. Yes, sorcery counts as corrupting influences.
From here spells are listed, it very clearly breaks down spell description blocks, and it's standard D&D fare, name, components, range, etc. The only major change is Evil Eye is their name for a gaze spell, and a Magical Link (hair, nail clipping, etc) can substitute range some times (mainly for curses).
From there the Magic Attack is described, it often is what sets the save the victim must pass and all. Also you can overcharge a spell, spending more PP when casting to get +1 to the roll per point spent.
So from there we list the spell schools (or sorcery styles):
Oriental Magical (ayep, they got their own!)
So yea, let's skip over the schools for now to continue with the rules.
WAR OF SOULS! Ooooh yea, magical duels!
Stand still staring at eachother! Basically this is a good ol fashioned mind war. To start it off you make a Magic Attack roll, gaining +2 if you know an advanced Hypnotism spell and another if you know the spell Entrance. To begin the challenge you must make eye contact and the other side must fail a Will check.
Once in a war you're basically helpless in the real world as you focus on your mind fight, so be careful! The goal is to drain the Power Points from your opponent, you can do this to a demon as well, but it runs corruption risks by basically going into a pure evil mind. Each round you make a contested War of Souls check (the Magic Attack with the two +2 chances), the winner drains 1d6 PP from the loser. This keeps on until one side breaks away or is drained. More then one person can join a War of Souls, and you can gang up on a guy.
Finally, we have magic items. These are cool little arcane items, but the main draw, and my focus here, is Lotus items and other drugs. Drugs boost PP, at the cost of being drugs.
First up, Apples of Derketa, a Kush grown fruit that is insanely poison. The juice does 5 CON damage and blinds for a good few hours, the juice is only good for an hour, but you can carry an apple for a week before it's useless.
Then the Black Lotus, sniff these, pass out for a couple hours. These sleeps are very good for prophesy and such, and as such these are VERY rare plants. Make a Knowledge (Arcana) check to figure out your crazy drug dream. the Juice of the lotus is a deadly poison. No rules, it's literally an always lethal poison, it weakens and destroys any mortal that drinks it.
Then is the Black Lotus Powder. This is the big money for casters, burn the powder like incense, and basically instantly go up to Base PP from zero by inhaling the smoke and resting for a few hours (because he's helpless and near KO'd) Personally my GM felt the 4d6 hours was too much, and reduced it to 2d6. A character with more then 0 PP gains 1 PP back for every hour he's out. Also there's Black Lotus Wine, correctly made it will fuck you up, get you high, and don't worry, you'll pass out from the alcohol before the poison kills you. No boon to magic, but it's a good party booze.
Then the sidebar for Lotuses in general comes in. It's key to remember Lotus flowers are rare, and all powerful. From here I'm just gonna describe the lotuses as the sidebar does.
Black: As said before it has a lot of uses, and it is super rare, only found in the Black Kingdoms along one river (it MAY grow elsewhere). Enjoy reenacting Anaconda while getting it, basically. Also it sprays you with the effects of inhaling it if you jostle it too much, so you may wind up passed out in Not-Africa helpless!
Golden: A super, duper, rare. No one's really sure where this motherfucker came from, but its juice is actually helpful, and good. It basically heals any nature based effects on the drinker, and of course, is supes rare.
Green: A Khitai based breed, often confused for Black, its powder is one of the most deadly poisons known to man.
Gray: Also Khitai, in the swamps, dust makes you crazy!
Purple: Stygian based lotus in the swamps, its juice famously fell Conan himself in a story, but it's merely a paralytic rather then deadly.
White: Black Kingdoms again, not sure what it does (literally the book says so), may be good to combine with others (it's a macguffin).
Yellow: A less potent Black, basically. Its resin is good as a poor man's Black Lotus powder.
From here it tells you some other poisons (Conan-verse has a shit ton of poison!) and finally expands on the whole 'Scholars who are thralls of a group or master have their first 10 spells picked for them' thing. Basically each race where Scholar isn't a banned job has a list on a chart and gets a little fluff. The more 'savage' Pict and Black Islanders get shaman spells (in fairness, the Kushite Witch Finder is pretty cool, they're like anti-sorcerer sorcerers.) There's also a good Wisewoman/Wiseman listing for people outside of those areas.
And that's the end of magic! So, I'm going to expand on two schools of magic for you guys, explain their spells and shit, but I really don't want to just list every single one. So you, the people, can pick!
Counterspells (don't pick this, this is for bitches, it's super boring)
If no one gives a shit I'll most likely just break down Oriental magic and Curses since those are what my Scholar mainly was big into when I last played. I'll put up the summery in a day or so, so if you care make your suggestion, I just kinda wanna end this post now because I feel like it's long enough.