Mongoose Publishing has begun the electronic age of Hyborian adventure with the first PDF adventure for Conan the Roleplaying Game. For a mere $8, gamers can download The Black Stones of Kovag-Re, “a boisterous tale of kidnap and intrigue for a party of 1st-3rd level characters.” You can grab a copy for yourself here at RPGnow.
Conan’s world has always been an intriguing draw for gaming, I was first pulled into fantasy by R.E. Howard’s stories back in 1968. But it seems the attempts to capture it in an RPG has fallen short. For one thing, I would view magic as something used by NPCs, seeing the infrequency of sorcerers in the stories.That makes magic much more mysterious and daunting. In addition, true monsters are rare, the main threat being standard creatures, ( wolves, lions, apes) with appearances by Lovecraftian creatures and the occasional dragon only in specific stories. The introduction of other beasties just makes it feel wrong, and maybe players have trouble in an “ordinary” fantasy world like that, I don’t know..
Just ran a test game of this last week and liked it enough to keep it up for at least a few more sessions! The system kicks serious ass – it’s good for anyone who wants to run a gritty, low-magic D&D-style game where every combat is dangerous.
I really didn’t find the magic to be overly prevalent. While it’s possible to end up with a PC spellcaster, he/she is pretty likely to die unless the other characters really go out of their way to shepherd the magician. Magicians go splat even more easily than they do in standard d20.
Sounds very Howard like. In your opinion Starhawk, is it worth the price tag?
The binding is solid – and EVERY page is full color. The layout is easy to read, easy to use – easy to find things.
The book is stuffed FULL of info, I haven’t found a “fluffy” page yet. After the gamesystem, combat rules, and spell system, there’s a bunch of gamemaster-oriented material: monsters, a gazetteer on Hyboria that looked fairly complete (I haven’t read all the way through that section), etc.
After our second test game, I’m really sold on their alterations to the basic d20 system. The changes to combat (with armor as DR) can actually make 1st level characters a little more survivable, but combat stays gritty and vicious through higher character levels, since you reach a plateau when any character can deal out an instant kill on a critical hit. (Massive damage saves start at 20 hp!)
If you’re just going to keep it sitting on your shelf, it’s probably not worth the price tag. But if you like Conan – or just want some pointers on running a low-magic, dangerous world – this book is definitely worth every penny. I’ve been working off my buddy’s copy until now, but I think I’m going to have to put off the most recent Feng Shui supplement and get this instead.
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