View Full Version : Conan 4E!

Chainsaw Hobbit
2010-07-11, 04:55 PM


"Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet."
Robert E. Howard, The Phoenix on the Sword, 1927.

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I'm something of a Conan fan but I think d20 system just doesn't work for it. 4E seems better for capturing the carnage of battle and the glory of victory in the original Conan books and movies. The Conan RPG seems easy to convert to 4E, the borderer class is just a ranger, the nomad is a mounted archer ranger, the solder is a fighter, the thief is a rouge, ect. The races might be a bit harder to convert, especially since different ethnic groups of humans having different stats is a touchy subject. The monsters are fairly simple and the rest is mostly just fluff which can pretty much be copied and used.
I have a bit done already, please evaluate my work and add your own.


Use the Barbarian presented in Player's Handbook II and Primal Power re-flavored to be non-magical, perhaps just use the Whirling Barbarian build.
Just use the Fighter.
Fighter/Rouge hybrid.
Mounted archer Ranger.
Sample Characters
Nevin (Heroic-Tier Human Solder)
Nevin lost his parents in a barbarian raid on his home city and joined the city militia at age 17. His spirit was broken by the brutality of his training, turning him into a disciplined, ruthless fighting machine. 7 years later he quit the city guard and now serves a mercenary, acting as a bodyguard to the highest bidder.

Nevin, level 1
Human, Solder
Build: Guardian Solder
Solder: Combat Superiority
Solder Talents: One-handed Weapon Talent

Str 18, Con 16, Dex 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.

AC: 19 Fort: 17 Reflex: 14 Will: 12
HP: 31 Surges: 12 Surge Value: 7

Streetwise +4, Heal +6, Endurance +6, Athletics +7

Acrobatics -1, Arcana, Bluff -1, Diplomacy -1, Dungeoneering +1, History, Insight +1, Intimidate -1, Nature +1, Perception +1, Religion, Stealth -1, Thievery -1

Human: Human Perseverance
Level 1: Battle Hardened

Bonus At-Will Power: Crushing Surge
Solder at-will 1: Cleave
Solder at-will 1: Tide of Iron
Solder encounter 1: Covering Attack
Solder daily 1: Comeback Strike

Adventurer's Kit, Scale Armor, Longsword, Heavy Shield

Monsters and Foes
Demonpact Snake (From the cheesy 1982 movie)
Demonpact Snakes are terrifying demonic serpents summoned into the world by those worship demons and dark gods, they carry a powerful venom that deadens the flesh and wounds the soul. These horrific creatures do not posses human intelligence but have a kind of evil cunning and dark malevolence.

Demonpact Snakes are often encountered with the dark mortals that summoned them but sometimes become free and set up lairs in the wilderness.
Demonpact Snakes in Combat
Demonpact Snakes can afford to get in the thick of melee because of their high hit points and defenses so they do so, never fleeing and flanking whenever possible.
Combat Statistics
Demonpact Snake Level 11 Elite Soldier
Large elemental beast XP 1,200
Initiative +9 Senses Perception +7; tremorsense
HP 228; Bloodied 114
AC 29; Fortitude 26; Reflex 25; Will 23
Immune poison
Resist 10 necrotic
Saving Throws +2
Speed 8
Action Points 1

Slithering Rage (while bloodied)
The Demonpact Snake can shift as a minor action enemies marking it take 10 poison and necrotic damage at the start of their turn.

m Fangs of Oblivion (standard; at-will) Poison, Necrotic
Attack: Melee 2 (1 target); +18 vs AC
Hit: 2d6 + 5 Damage and the target is marked and takes ongoing 10 poison and Necrotic damage (save ends both).

Reactive Bite (immediate reaction; when hit by a melee attack; at-will) Necrotic, Poison
The Demonpact Snake makes the following attack agsainst the target.
Attack: Melee 2 (1 target); +18 vs AC
Hit: 2d6 + 5 Poison and Necrotic damage.

Alignment Unaligned Languages
Skills Stealth +12
Str 24 (+12) Dex 15 (+7) Wis 15 (+7)
Con 18 (+9) Int 5 (+2) Cha 15 (+7)

More Information
Wikipedia Page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conan_the_Barbarian)
The Setting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyborian_Age)

2010-07-11, 05:00 PM
Nice idea. I wonder what some of the more exotic creatures, like Yag-Kosha, of The Tower of the Elephant, or the "devil of the outer dark" in The Slithering Shadow, would count as.

I'd give Yag-Kosha the Immortal origin, and The Slithering Shadow maybe the Aberrant origin.

Since the hero doesn't actually fight Yag-Kosha, stats may not be as important.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2010-07-11, 05:49 PM
I added a sample character and more are coming soon.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2010-07-18, 08:03 PM
Does anyone have anything to contribute? :smallfrown:
I just didn't want the thread to die yet...

2010-07-19, 02:34 AM
I'm actually of the opinion that 4e isn't really the system for low-powered Swords and Sorcery.

I can imagine it working well for an Avatar: The Last Airbender or Naruto, just not for Conan. And that's mostly because of the long list of powers involved. The Conan universe isn't exactly about Kung-Fu techniques. And I feel 4e is easier adapted to settings where high-powered martial techniques are effectively discrete spells (e.g. "ninja magic").

As for magic:
Magic is the province of NPC's. In most Conan stories, they're only used by gods, monsters or sorcerers. And sorcerers are usually half-monster or half-gods already. Sorcerers are usually villains. Where they aren't villains, there's something inhuman about them. In any case, Conan never trusts them. Magic is Lovecraftian.

In short, magic is a DM tool and PC's can never claim mastery over it. At the very least, becoming a wizard should be more of an endpoint than an class, like Conan settling down to become king. Except that your character ends up as a feared and nigh-mythical demigod instead.

And I also don't like the class distinctions of later D&D. Conan is a warrior, true. But he's also been a thief, brigand, pirate, soldier, general and eventually a king. And he frequently changed careers throughout his lifetime. I think the class system can be restricting if you don't limit them to fairly rudimentary archetypes. (Read: Classes are not professions.)

I mostly hold to the more old-school philosophy that thieves are the best at what they do, but they shouldn't supersede players who want to try being stealthy or try their hand at theft. Simply put, the thief can hide under circumstances that are impossible for other classes, but it doesn't prevent other characters from hiding when it's otherwise reasonable. In previous editions of D&D, skills didn't exist. Rather "skills" were simply class features (i.e. wizard spells, fast THACO progression for fighters, thief "skills").

Philosophically, skills and class features are redundant, since class features are skills. A rudimentary skill system to be sure.

That said, 4e could be adapted, but I feel it's probably require a large overhaul. About the only things I really like about 4e for this kind of setting is the simplified combat and skill system and rituals (as a DM resource). And that's assuming that I didn't find some way to make skills even simpler.

2010-07-19, 03:38 AM
Given some thought to implementing a 4e swords-and-sorcery system, this is what I have:

- There are only two classes. Warrior and Rogue. Warrior is self-explanatory. Rogue is broader than the D&D Rogue. The Rogue is an adventurer who depends more on guile than on strength of arms: be that stealth or a silver-tongue. Again, a Warrior can just as easily be a thief or a pirate as a Rogue, since these describe a social position and has no bearing on a character's actual skills.

- The 4e skills system means that a high-level warrior can still make a passably good thief or diplomat. He's just never as good as his Rogue brother. Skill challenges, as written, suck. Fix it. Skill challenges do not introduce opportunities for creative problem solving or roleplay. The examples, as given, are too automatic and boring.

- Alternatively, eliminate classes altogether and have 1st level characters take picks between weapon proficiencies and skill training. You can't have everything at once. Sub-divide weapons into more categories if you need players to make more trade-offs (i.e. sword proficiency, polearm proficiency, bow proficiency and so on).

- Powers are far more limited than before and you get fewer of them as you level. Combat powers only ought to describe the kinds of actions that would've been feats in 3e, such as power attack. The rest are more skill-oriented utility powers. Given the nature of the setting, martial powers are far more common than magically-themed ones.

- Together with feat choices, picking between combat and utility powers expresses your character's particular bent between a more guileful character or a more martial one.

- Magical powers are the domain of monsters/gods/sorcerers only. Sorcerers are mostly NPC only. Rituals can be used by anybody, but are typically plot devices and still entail risk/cost (because it's still magic). There is no ritual for making magic items. Magic is not industrialized in the Conan universe. Magic is rare, quirky and usually dangerous.

- Magically-themed powers probably shouldn't be very blasty. As a rule, wizards don't hurl lightning and fire. They hypnotize you. They fly. They get up and walk around after being beheaded. They animate corpses. They always seem to have access to poison. They keep horrifying monsters in their basement. They are typically immortal. Magic that does damage is about the least interesting thing that an NPC wizard can do.
(He did 7 fire damage? *yawn*)

- Lethality. The game ought to be lethal. Level progression should depend more on cunning. Power is a reward, not a right. This is mostly an aesthetic choice on my part. Even combat-oriented characters ought to be able to do something to contribute to their survival that doesn't involve smashing things.

- Keep it simple stupid. Powers should never be a major part of a monster's stats. Combats should flow and resolve quickly. You shouldn't have to use cute little cards to keep track of a list of powers.

- Put more emphasis on exploration than on combat. The simplified nature of combat and powers means that you have to put more content into your adventures.

- Weapon diversity. Magical weapons are the exception, not the rule. As such, you should make mundane weapons more unique from one another and they should each present distinct tactical advantages. In short, mundane equipment ought to be interesting.

- Strictly enforce the number of rations/torches/water that the party is carrying. This is low-fantasy. The whole nature of the game is about the basic struggle for everyday survival in a hostile environment. Your players ought to avoid disasters like being caught underground without a light source. The adventuring aspects should concern them just as much as, if not more, than whether their DPS is high.

- Monsters don't always carry treasure. In effect, the whole point of the adventure is treasure. That's what Conan is about: more money. Monsters are obstacles to treasure, not a means in of themselves. You could revive that old D&D rule about rewarding 1 XP for each 1 gp that the party gets from a treasure.

And that's about everything in a nutshell.

(EDIT: In retrospect, I'd probably rename the "Rogue" something else, because of the D&D confusion and also because, in Conan, adventuring warriors are also rogues. Vagabonds. Filthy and and unwashed fortune-seekers.)

2010-07-19, 06:08 AM
especially since different ethnic groups of humans having different stats is a touchy subject.

Um not really, considering the ethnics have no relation the real world.

For all I know, aquilonians and cimmerians are both caucasian.

I'm actually of the opinion that 4e isn't really the system for low-powered Swords and Sorcery.

Yah... I'd take it 3.5 myself.