The latest RPG that our Tuesday group has been playing is Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of from Modiphius Entertainment. This sword and sorcery game utilizes the 2d20 system to transport players to the world of Robert E. Howard’s iconic pulp hero Conan the Barbarian. We’ve been having a great time playing the game so I thought I would share my thoughts on it with all of you.
First, let’s talk about the meat and potatoes of the Conan RPG. The game utilizes the 2d20 system first introduced by Modiphius for the Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition roleplaying game. The mechanics are clear and easy to pickup through gameplay. Here’s the system in a nutshell. When a character attempts to complete a task that has a higher than normal difficulty, such as climbing a vertical surface or attacking an opponent, they must make a skill test. The target number for this skill test is calculated by adding the appropriate attribute for the skill to the expertise for the skill. They then roll two d20s. Rolls that are equal to or below the target number are a success. Any roll that is equal to or below the skill focus counts as two successes.
Combat is dealt with using the same mechanics with the addition of rolling a number of d6 damage dice for successful attacks. A roll of 1 or 2 deals that much damage, rolls of 3 or 4 deal no damage, and rolls of 5 or 6 deal 1 damage plus an additional effect appropriate to the weapon. Of course, there are more rules such as gaining and spending Momentum dice earned from extra successes on rolls and giving the GM Doom dice which they can spend to increase your hardship. Because these additional rules, much like the basic rules for skill tests and damage rolls, are used repeatedly during gameplay, it is only a matter of time before a player has a strong grasp on the mechanics.
Conan has one of my favorite character creation systems. Instead of rolling dice to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your character, the book provides step-by-step instructions that allow you to choose the attributes and skills that help define the character you want to build. There are ten steps to character creation that define everything from your character’s homeland to what their war story is. All of these steps provide flavor to your character as well as mechanical advantages. Each of the ten steps presents the player with a variety of choices, the lowest number being six, but the majority having ten choices. This makes a wide array of character customization available to players.
For those of you that enjoy the randomness of dice rolling, Conan also allows you to create characters by rolling d20s and consulting the tables provided in the book. I may or may not have made about ten characters using these random character creation rules. This was a fun way to see how the character comes to life through the ten steps and ultimately determine how I wanted to build my game characters.
I am very happy with the Conan Core Book as well as the Conan Player’s Guide for a number of reasons. The first reason is that the Core Book contains everything that a group needs to play a game. It contains all of the rules for the game, the character creation steps, rules for gamemasters along with an introductory adventure to play. The second reason is that Modiphius offers two versions of the Core Book, a print version that retails for $45.99 and a PDF version that retails for $25.99. I’m a big fan of tabletop game companies that offer PDF versions of their games especially when the digital copy is cheaper. If you buy the hardcover print version from Modiphius they also give you the PDF version!
One last thing about the books. While the Core Book is really all a group would need to run a game or campaign, Modiphius also offers the Conan Player’s Guide for $23.99 print or $6.99 PDF. This book is a great reference that includes rules for character creation as well as information about attributes, skills and talents and just enough of the rules for a player to reference them during a game. The only fault of the Player’s Guide is the omission of rules for spending experience points on character advancement. Not a huge problem, but a strange thing not to include.
As I said up top, we are really having a blast playing Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of RPG. It is an entertaining game that really captures the spirit of pulp sword and sorcery well. This is my first exposure to the 2d20 system and I found it very easy to learn. Character creation is simple and straightforward reducing the amount of time before you and your friends can get down to playing.
Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of Core Book, Player’s Guide along with a plethora of other game supplements are available from the Modiphius Entertainment store or at DriveThruRPG.