Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

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Supplement Four
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Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Supplement Four » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:04 am

I still remain unconvinced. The arguments I've seen so far seem to be based on flawed assumptions. From my (abeit limited in some regards) experience with the game, the Conan RPG is the best version of the d20 system I've seen. It is perfect for the Hyborian Age.

Is the Conan RPG without flaws? No. Not many games are. But, it is a good, solid game.

There are some strong opinions to the contrary, so I thought I'd start a thread to discuss it.

Not argue about it.

Not say, "Ha ha! I'm right and you're WRONG!"

No, this thread is intended for an earnest discussion on the system's pro's and con's.

How do we start?

I thought we'd start with an example character. I'm going to roll up a Soldier, by the book. No house rules. I don't know the dice totals at this point--I might get lucky, or I may roll up a low statted character. But, most probably, I'll roll up an average character for the game.

I'll roll this guy up, using real dice as I write. Then, make some simulated pre-game decisions about him. And, I'll let the people who think this game is broken tell me where they think it is. And, we'll take the conversation from there.





Let's make this simple.

Our character will be Feridun, a Zamorian who was an urchin on the streets of Shadizar as a child. He suspects that his mother was a whore, but he doesn't know for sure. His youngest memories were of a cult that raised children to a certain age before the found their place in the cult's foul sacrifices. Feridun escaped and lived among the other urchins until, finally, a watchman allowed him entry into the city watch.

So, we're creating a 1st level male Zamorian Soldier.

Let's roll some dice! Remember, we're using the default rules, which are 4d6, drop lowest, arrange to taste.

I get...

4, 2, 2, 5 = 11
2, 1, 2, 5 = 9
5, 4, 3, 6 = 15
2, 2, 6, 1 = 10
4, 1, 6, 5 = 15
4, 6, 3, 1 = 13

My first suspicion about detractors of the Conan RPG is that the default rules are not used when generating characters. I think players, used to D&D and other D20 games, see the above scores and balk, insisting that they play "heroes" (which, to me, is in the way the character is role played, not in his stats) with higher stats. So, GMs use the heroic method or some house rule, unintentionally not heeding the rule of unintended consequences and ending up with characters that have very high stats even at 1st level. Then, they call the game unbalanced when the bonuses stack up at higher levels. If what I suspect is true, then the breaking of the game is in the ignoring the character generation rules--not in the game as written.

So, we've got our guy and we need to arrange stats. As a Zamorian, we applie racial modifiers of +2 DEX but -2 STR. We need to keep that in mind as we arrange the stats. I'll also write in the Class Skills next to the governor stat below.

STR Climb, Jump
DEX Ride
CON
INT Craft (mundane), Knowledge (Geography), Knowledge (Local), Knowledge (Rumors), Knowledge (Warfare), Search
WIS Profession
CHA Intimidate, Perform

Racial Bonuses: +2 racial modifier to Open Lock, Disable Device, and Slight of Hand. +1 racial modifier to all Craft skills. +2 circumstance bonus to some Gather Information checks. +1 circumstance bonus to some Climb, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot checks.

Background Skills: +2 ranks to Knowledge (Local), Knowledge (Rumors), Open Lock, Disable Device, and Slight of Hand.



So, let's make some decisions. Our stat numbers are: 11, 9, 15, 10, 15, 13. There's never one way to do this. Roleplaying objectives may influence choices. One of the beauties of the Conan RPG is that each character can be constructed in a rich and deep way.

Let's take our highest roll and put it in DEX to take advantage of the character's racial strength. This is leading me to make him a Finesse fighter, which seems about right for the streets of Shadizar.

Our second high score of 15, we'll put in INT. This Zamorian has lived by his wits since he was 5 years old, escaping from the shadowy cult, chasing rats around the Maul to eat. The character is shaping up. He knows things. He's a smart, crafty kind. I doubt he'll stay a city watchman for long. He'll probably multiclass later. He took the city watch gig to get himself off the streets and put himself in the way of opportunity.

We don't want our city watchman too weak, so let's put the 13 score into STR, which, with the racial modifier, will be lowered to an average human strength score of 11.

As a guard, Feridun is bound to get into scrapes. Let's put our next highest number into CON, not only for hit points, but also to boost the Massive Damage saving throw.

Our last decison is where to take the negative modifier associated with the 9 stat. The Profession skill may or may not be an important skill, depending on the GM. If I were GMing the game where Feridun would be used, Profession would be a valuable skill because, besides adventures, that skill would be the character's main source of wealth. The character would get his watchman's pay, which won't make him rich, and I'd allow the character to roll on Profession periodically to see what he makes in the off-camera bribes and to see what he gets after rifling through your generic drunk's pockets as he puts the drunk in the city clink to sleep it off.

But, I'm going to make a roleplaying decision here and give the higher score that doesn't have a penalty to his CHA stat. I've got a feeling that Feridun has to have learned how to to con people when he was a street urchin, so let's at least make him average. As for his WIS stat, it looks like he doesn't always make the best decions in life....which "feels right" to me for this character.


STR 13 -2 racial = 11
DEX 15 +2 racial = 17
CON 11
INT 15
WIS 9
CHA 10




He gets 16 skill points, so I'll arrange them like this. Skills in bold are class skills. I'm sure Feridun did his share of climbing and surrying around as a child of the streets, so I'm maxing out the ranks in Climb and Jump. Given his background, I don't think he's ever been on a horse, living in the city his whole life, and no craftsmen have taken the time to teach him anything. So, I'm ignoring Ride and Craft.

If Feridun ever does get on a horse, though, he'll pick it up quick and discover that he's a natural. Plus, he's smart, so if he ever learns a craft, he'll be pretty good at it.

I've got 8 skill points left, and all of these come from Feridun's INT bonus. This means I can put them into Cross Class skills as if the skills were Class Skills (doesn't cost double).

I'm going to put 4 bonus points into Gather Information, as I think this is a skill that helped him stay alive his entire life. Likewise, I'm going to put 1 into Spot to make the prerequisite for the Feat Eyes Of The Cat, and I'll put the other 3 points into Hide. This last is a skill he's learned on the streets of Shadizar.



+7 Open Lock (+2 racial, +2 ranks background, +3 DEX)
+6 Disable Device (+2 racial, +2 ranks background, +2 INT)
+7 Slight of Hand (+2 racial, +2 ranks background, +3 DEX)
+4 Knowledge (Local) (+2 ranks background, +2 INT)
+4 Knowledge (Rumors) (+2 ranks background, +2 INT)
+2 Knowledge (Geography) (+2 INT)
+2 Knowledge (Warfare) (+2 INT)
-1 Profession (-1 WIS)
+4 [+5] Climb (4 ranks, [+1 racial on some])
+4 Jump (4 ranks)
+3 Ride (+3 DEX)
+3 Craft (mundane) (+2 INT, +1 racial)
+2 Search (+2 INT)
+0 Intimidate
+0 Perform
+2 Appraise (+2 INT)
+3 Balance (+3 DEX)
+0 Bluff
+0 Concentration
+3 Craft (Alchemy) (+2 INT, +1 racial)
+3 Craft (Herbalism) (+2 INT, +1 racial)
+2 Decipher Script (+2 INT)
+0 Diplomacy
+0 Disguise
+3 Escape Artist (+3 DEX)
+2 Forgery (+2 INT)
+4 [+6] Gather Information (4 bonus ranks, [+2 racial on some])
+0 Handle Animal
-1 Heal (-1 WIS)
+2 Knowledge (Arcana) (+2 INT)
+2 Knowledge (History) (+2 INT)
+2 Knowledge (Nobility) (+2 INT)
+2 Knowledge (Religion) (+2 INT)
-1 [+0] Listen (-1 WIS, [+1 racial on some])
+3 [+4] Move Silently (+3 DEX, [+1 racial on some])
-1 Sense Motive (-1 WIS)
+0 [+1] Spot (1 bonus rank, -1 WIS, [+1 racial on some])
-1 Survival (-1 WIS)
+0 Swim
+3 Tumble (+3 DEX)
+3 Use Rope (+3 DEX)
+6 [+7] Hide (3 bonus ranks, +3 DEX, [+1 racial on some])





Feridun is really shaping up. Creating him here, I've already got an attachment to him. I like the character. He's just a lowly city guardsman now, but he might end up cross-classing with Thief and becoming a spy, or maybe a seller of information. He's the type, with a hooded cowl, that lurks in the dark recesses at night, listening. He's not your typical city guardsman. He's smart. Maybe that's why he was given an opportunity to leave the streets and become a watchman.

Feats?

I think his background dictates that he get Eyes of the Cat. You can only take this at 1st level, and that Feat really seems to fit this character. As a Soldier, he gets a bonus 2nd Feat at 1st level, so I'm going to give him Great Fortitude. I figure he's a watchman now, getting into scrapes, and he needs to boost up his Fort Save for any Massive Damage checks he might have to make.



Almost done.

How many hit points does this guy have? The rules give him max at 1st level, so he's got 10 HP.

What about equipment? I'll use the character equipment packages included in the game. The most appropriate one for Feridun is the Zamorian City Watch package listed on page 46 of the Player's Guide.



OK, so let's look at our character....



Feridun
1st level Soldier
Zamorian Male, Age 14*, Height: 6'1", Weight: 176 lbs.

STR 11
DEX 17 (+3)
CON 11
INT 15 (+2)
WIS 9 (-1)
CHA 10

HP: 10
Fate Points: 3
Dodge AC: 13
Parry AC: 10
Damage Reduction: 5

Feats:** Eyes of the Cat, Great Fortitude

Skills:

+7 Open Lock
+6 Disable Device
+7 Slight of Hand
+4 Knowledge (Local)
+4 Knowledge (Rumors)
+2 Knowledge (Geography)
+2 Knowledge (Warfare)
-1 Profession
+4 Climb (+5 Climb circumstantial)
+4 Jump
+3 Ride
+3 Craft (mundane)
+2 Search
+0 Intimidate
+0 Perform
+2 Appraise
+3 Balance
+0 Bluff
+0 Concentration
+3 Craft (Alchemy)
+3 Craft (Herbalism)
+2 Decipher Script
+0 Diplomacy
+0 Disguise
+3 Escape Artist
+2 Forgery
+4 Gather Information (+6 Gather Information circumstantial)
+0 Handle Animal
-1 Heal
+2 Knowledge (Arcana)
+2 Knowledge (History)
+2 Knowledge (Nobility)
+2 Knowledge (Religion)
-1 Listen (+0 Listen circumstantial)
+3 Move Silently (+4 Move Silently circumstantial)
-1 Sense Motive
+0 Spot (+1 Spot circumstantial)
-1 Survival
+0 Swim
+3 Tumble
+3 Use Rope
+6 Hide (+7 Hide circumstantial)

Languages: Zamorian (native), Hyrkanian, Brythunian, Corinthian, Kothic, Shemite.

Equipment: Bill***, Steel Cap, Bronze Greaves****, Buckler, Leather Jerkin with bronze buttons, Breeches, Work Boots.


*In my head, I picture Feridun as tall for his age, but lanky. He's young, given he's 1st level, and in his background I decided that he's graduating from being a street urchin to a city watchman. He's had a hard life in his decade-and-a-half of living on the streets. He looks a bit worn, which makes him look older than he is.

**I'm thinking that, for a future Feat, Dabbler might be a good idea for this character. He seems the type, to me, to be interested in the dark arts and just smart enough to get himself into trouble. Of course, he'll have to spend his bonus skill points from two levels to get the 6 ranks in Knowledge (Arcana) that is needed to get that Feat. This could be an early goal for the character, or maybe the GM could develop this idea into an early adventure for the character if the player bites.

***A nice GM would allow this character to trade the Bill for a poinard and dagger or some other Finesse weapon, but given the character's background in abrubtly taking on the role of a city watchman (at the tender age of 14), I think that I wouldn't allow this. One of the first goals the player will probably have in the game is to ditch the heavy Bill and find/buy/steal smaller weapons of the type he's used to fighting with (Finesse weapons). I think this might lead to some interesting roleplaying as the character drops the Bill in a fight and pulls his poinard, yet his sargent is always drilling him on how to use the Bill effectively. This might lead to the character leaving the city watch and multiclassing with the Thief class as I pondered above when creating the character.

****I'd have to look at it, but there are optional rules for piecemeal armor in the non-Mongoose Barbaric Warrior supplement. This might improve his DR with the bronze greaves, but I'm ignoring this as it's an optional rule. I could definitely see the GM giving the character a +1 DR--the same as the steel cap provides--for the bronze greaves, but, again, that's not strictly by the book, so it's only noted here.





Hey! That's not a bad character at all! I like him.

Now, tell me, how do you think the Conan RPG system is broken. This guy looks pretty good to me--nothing broken here.

Time to discuss.
Supplement Four
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Supplement Four » Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:40 am

In the other thread, Thulsa said....
thulsa wrote:OK, this Caelis has Str 19. He takes Power Attack as his first feat and wields a Bardiche (base damage 1d10+1d8).

At third level, he can subtract 3 from his attack roll and add +6 to his damage roll when he Power Attacks. Since the bardiche is wielded in two hands, he deals x1.5 his Strength bonus (+6). This gives a total damage output of 1d10+1d8+12 per attack. On average, he will deal 21 or 22 points of damage per attack, forcing a Massive Damage save for every successful attack, at a minimum Fort DC of 20.

No house rules, no difficult optimizations. Just high strength, power attack, and a big weapon.


So, let's dig into this. Is the Conan RPG system really broken, the way Thulsa says?

I don't think so. Here's why....



First off, for various reason (character design, roleplaying decisions, and availability in the GM's world), a character may not have access to the Bardiche or other high powered weapons. For example, in my Cimmeria based campaign, the bardiche has not been seen yet. For that matter, neither has the crossbow made an appearance.

The Bossonian Longbow is a hell of a weapon, but I wouldn't expect to see it being used by the tribe of Picts that the PCs just wandered into while exploring the Pict Wilderness. By the game rules, this is an Exotic Weapon outside of The Bossonian Marches. So, even if a character were to find such an unfamiliar prize, it would most likely be subject to the non-proficiency penalty (-4 attack) and the Bow STR modifiers couldn't be used.

The point being: There could be story reasons or character choices (Faridun, above, wouldn't use a Bardiche) that bar use of some of these high powered weapons.

That's checks & balances number one.



But, for the sake of Thulsa's argument, that Caelis did get ahold of, and is considered proficient with, the bardiche. Caelis has a 19 STR. He's super human in that regard--legendary strength. He's had to pay for it in a lot of other areas, to be sure, but the character does have that one remarkable quaity.

If you use the default character generation rules, STR 19 characters are going to be rare. See Feridun, above, as an example.

That's checks & balances number two.




Let's keep on looking at Caelis, though. He's a 3rd level character with a super human STR. Being 3rd level makes him a higher level character than most of the other people he'll meet in his life time. The game gives examples of average characters, and these examples are always low level. Belit's Black Corsairs are 2nd level. Your average Pict encountered is 1st level. A typical Zarmorian Thief is 2nd level. Turanian Light Cavalry is 2nd level.

The game "lives" in the lower levels. Most of the NPCs the characters meet should be in the level 1-2 range. It's the "special" characters that are higher than 1st or 2nd level.

And, that's where Caelis is now. In some farming communities in northern Aquilonia, Caelis could very well be the most skilled warrior any of the villagers and farmers have ever seen. Even in dangerous spots like Cimmeria or The Westermark, a 3rd level character is a very experienced character--probably somebody, like a sargent, in command.

Keeping the game at the lower levels--that's checks and balances number three.




Still looking at Caelis, though, and Thulsa's comments--Thulsa is only looking at Caelis' attack and damage. If Caelis, with bardiche in hand, attacked, say, a 3rd level Pict tribal warrior (one of the Pict tribe's best), then the Pict would be smart to Fight Defensively, stacking up those penalties on Caelis' attack throw. If the Pict has tribe-mates around that can circle Caelis, gain attack bonuses from multiple opponents or by flanking, then Caelis' Power Attack and auto-Massive Damage may be neutralized quickly. There are also Feats that characters can obtain that will make them harder targets, like Defensive Warrior and Combat Expertise. Both of these are options that work on defense similar to the way Power Attack works on the attack throw.

And, this is not to mention using Cover and other Battlefield tactics that will make enemies harder and harder to hit.

This is checks & balances number four.





Then, there's armor. For the Massive Damage rule to apply, 20+ points of damage must be applied to the target after Damage Reduction due to armor.

Even our 1st level city watchman, above, has DR 5. This reduces, significantly, the number of times that Caelis will score a Massive Damage check on his foe.

And, that's with the minimum armor in the game.

This is checks & balances number five.





Let's look at an example: Let's pit Caelis against a carbon copy of himself except that one Caelis has the bardiche, as Thulsa suggests above, and the other Caelis wears a breastplate and helmet (DR 7, still considered "light" armor) and uses a large shield. Where the bardiche Caelis has the Power Attack Feat, the other Caelis has Combat Expertise (we'll have to give this Caelis an extra point in INT, but doing that won't change the point of this paragraph).

So, Bardiche Caelis gets -3 on his attack from the use of Power Attack, which makes him +4 to-hit with the bardiche.

Defensive Caelis will Parry, with an AC 15, +3 for Combat Expertise, +4 for shield, giving Defensive Caelis AC 22.

This means that Bardiche Caelis only has a 15% chance of hitting Defensive Caelis.

And, if he wants, Defensive Caelis can lower his opponent's chance of hitting to 5% (only a natural 20) by Fighting Defensively or using Total Defense.

Bardiche Caelis, may, indeed, have an excellent chance of scoring Massive Damage if he hits....but he's got to hit. Bardiche Caelis can, of course, lower his Power Attack penalty, but that also lowers the chance that Massive Damage is achieved.

Plus, even a successful hit has to penetrate the armor (damage reduced by damage reduction).

That's checks & balances number six.





So, if you're talking about Caelis, with Super Human STR, using one of the most deadly weapons in the game and expertise equal to a grizzled combat veteran against a naked foe, then doesn't it seem correct that Caelis should ahve a good chance or scoring Massive Damage every time he hits?

But, if you boost up the defender the way you have the attacker, the game doesn't seem so unbalanced or broken.

Again, the rules seem quite reasonable to me.






But....we're not done.

Let's say that a Massive Damage check is required. The game continues to have checks & balances. If a defender has 1 Fate Point, then that character becomes almost impossible to kill, per the rules (Due to the way death is handled in addition to the Left For Dead use of a Fate Point). Characters can have high Fortitude save bonuses due to Feats, high CON, and class bonuses. This gives them a better chance at making the Fort save in the face of Massive Damage.

Even if the character is reduced to -1 HP or below, just using the natural healing rules, the character has an excellent chance to surivive as he gets a 10% chance per negative hit point to become stabilized. If you're at -2 HP, then you get 7 chances to throw a "1" on a 10-sider in order to self-stabilize. In spite of the Massive Damage rule, there are several rules, like this, that are skewed to protect the character from dying. Comrades implementing Heal checks are another way that PCs are protected from dying.

Also remember that the Conan RPG is unlike most other d20 fantasy games, including D&D, in that weapons don't have bonues of their own. In a D&D or Pathfinder game, characters acquire better weaponry as they adventure: the +1 sword to the +3 sword, for example.

This doesn't happen in Conan. Your Zamorian City Watchman won't one day find a +5 poinard of slaying. And, this is another factor that helps keep the Massive Damage rule in check.

That's checks & balances number seven.







IN SUM...

Thulsa's argument above is flawed because it takes a character with uncommonly high STR and matches it with one of the most damaging weapons in the game, then claims that the game is broken because that character will achieve Massive Damage often.

A more fair test would be to take the super high STR character, with the bardiche, and match that up with a like statted foe wearing some of the protective armor in the game.

In other words, it's not fair to say the game is broken because a character with high STR and a broadsword will dominate an armorless foe who wields a dagger only.

Caelis' penetration with the bardiche is AP 9. Up against a foe in plate armor (the best armor in the game), then Caelis suffers a -10 penalty to damage. Caelis' total damage output becomes 1d10+1d8+2 each time he scores a hit (which, with a shield and Combat Expertise offsetting Power Attack, becomes quite problematic), which is an average of 11 points--about half that required for Massive Damage.



So, I maintain that the Conan RPG is not broken, at least this one aspect of it that Thulsa has highlighted.
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Malcadon » Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:28 am

I don't think "broken" is the right word. I think "chunky" is a more appropriate word.

I used to play with much enthusiasm, but the weight of the game mechanics became burdensome, and I became exhausted. As much as I like the content of the Conan books, the game suffers from the d20 rules. Combat should be fast and simple, but keeping track of combat related skills, feats and class abilities, as well as Combat Maneuvers really bogs-down combat. CharGen also bogs-down set-up time with all the skill adjustments. As much as I like many of the spells, the spells-by-level limits really limits what type of sorcerer you could play (the Savant class alternative was really liberating). I also have issue with some of the curse spells for favoring instant combat effects, over lingering, character-driven effects (another reason I like Savant Class rule revision).

In the original book, they altered the classes, AC, and magic to fit the genre, but it was for the most part, a halfhearted cut-and-past operation. They made a revision to make it a complete, standalone game (before this, you needed the D&D PHB to run combat), and they better refine Defense. It made many small changes, but nothing much to ease the game. They made a second edition with lots of changes, big and small, but it felt no less chunky. In all the changes, the writers felt that the best way to make the game better, was to throw more rules at it - it only made the game more, and more cumbersome. There is a reason folks forgo using encumbrance rules: continual bean-counting for this and that really sucks! This was the reason why folks abandoned v3.5 for 4e, Pathfinder or the retro-clones. A cut-back on a redundant rule, or streamlining of a complicated rule, means more to game-play, then a bunch of new rules.

For example, skills could be something simple as "Think of a task, and 'roll' with it - applying the appropriate Ability adjustment. If you have a skill that covers it, apply the rank bonus.", with "Set a TN based on how difficult the task it, basted on incitements of 5s and 10s. Make-up the outcome, based on the situation at hand. Don't fret the details."

Simplicity and abstraction is key.
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Spectator » Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:54 am

#1 Thanks for the great job statting and fleshing out a character like that. You are very convincing in your argument.
#2 I agree with Malcadon that there are certain aspects to the RAW Conan which drive me nuts. Namely, I have always hated MD saves. I'm 39, I grew up with ADnD (1st ed). High hitpoints were there for a reason, so you could go in a slugfest with an ogre. MD has been stomach revolting to me and I never incorporate it, nor plan to.
#3 I agree with Malcadon that as brilliantly as you did your statting of Faridun, it TAKES Forever. True, you become more invested in the PC when you put the thought into it, but you have to be a sharp fellow to remember when various bonuses kick in and not. Some peeps just don't have the patience and memory to cope. Hence the love for the Castles and Crusaders and other retro clones.
#4 The system 3.5 is not broken, rather it's so intricate and complex it is like a swiss watch. The only problem is that due to the ginormous amount of rules and variables you have to be a swiss watchmaker to have the love for the detailed intricacy. Some peeps (S4 excepted) are not built that way.
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Supplement Four » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:19 pm

Malcadon wrote:I don't think "broken" is the right word. I think "chunky" is a more appropriate word.

I used to play with much enthusiasm, but the weight of the game mechanics became burdensome, and I became exhausted. As much as I like the content of the Conan books, the game suffers from the d20 rules. Combat should be fast and simple, but keeping track of combat related skills, feats and class abilities, as well as Combat Maneuvers really bogs-down combat. CharGen also bogs-down set-up time with all the skill adjustments.
But, this is an argument against the d20 system, really, not the Conan RPG which is based on that system. This is akin to saying that the system is clunky because it uses more than one type of dice, and keeping up with all those dice is troublesome--a system that only uses percentile dice, or a system that only uses six siders, would be better.

That said, I would agree that another game system might be a better choice for the Conan RPG. But, Mongoose based the game on the ubiquitous d20 system (ubiquitous, at least, when the Conan RPG was written), and as a d20 game, it does a fine job of capturing the feel of the Hyborian Age.


This was the reason why folks abandoned v3.5 for 4e, Pathfinder or the retro-clones. A cut-back on a redundant rule, or streamlining of a complicated rule, means more to game-play, then a bunch of new rules.
It seems to be coming to light that 4E was not that successful and many gamers, after an initial surge to try out 4E, returned to d20 3.5 or Pathfinder (which is, basically, 3.5 with changes the way Conan is 3.5 with changes).

So, I can't agree that many folks abandoned 3.5 when Pathfinder is, today, probably the most played D&D game with many folks also still sticking with 3.5.


For example, skills could be something simple as "Think of a task, and 'roll' with it - applying the appropriate Ability adjustment. If you have a skill that covers it, apply the rank bonus.", with "Set a TN based on how difficult the task it, basted on incitements of 5s and 10s. Make-up the outcome, based on the situation at hand. Don't fret the details."

Simplicity and abstraction is key.
Again, I see your point, but your argument could be used against any d20 game, or even Pathfinder, for that matter. You're wanting a horse when the merchant only has camels to sell.

As a d20 set of rules for use with the Hyborian Age, though, the Conan RPG is still pretty darned good.





Also...

The d20 system, and all the D&D rule sets before it, have always been one of the most complicated rpg rule sets to master. I remember back in the day playing the rules heavy AD&D, then taking a break and playing the very rules light Traveller.

The d20 system gets easier with familiarity. The more you play it, the more you learn it, the more you know all the quirks and exceptions in the game.

We played so much AD&D 2E back in the day that I had all of the weapons memorized. I could tell you both of their damage ratings, their speed factors, and their general characterisics and speical points, right off the top of my head. I knew all the classes--all the hit dice and special modifiers for races--just because we played so much of it.

Now, I'm not arguing that a game system for the Hyborian Age wouldn't benefit from a more rules light system. But, I am saying that combat can be fairly quick and interesting once a certain mastery of the system is obtained.

Our Conan combats started out slow, but we expected that. Towards the end, though, as the players started to understand the combat pros and cons of their characters, combat turnes to a pretty fast and breath taking affair.
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Supplement Four » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:43 pm

Spectator wrote:#2 I agree with Malcadon...
Just to be clear, Malcadon is making a point that a different game system would be more appropriate for the Conan RPG other than the d20 system. Thulsa was arguing that the Conan system is broken. And, I'm arguing that the Conan system is not broken. Malcadon's argument is a different topic than mine and Thulsa's.


Spectator wrote:#2 I agree with Malcadon that there are certain aspects to the RAW Conan which drive me nuts. Namely, I have always hated MD saves. I'm 39, I grew up with ADnD (1st ed). High hitpoints were there for a reason, so you could go in a slugfest with an ogre. MD has been stomach revolting to me and I never incorporate it, nor plan to.
Like Malcadon's argument, this is a stated preference. You're not saying that MD in Conan is broken. You're saying that you prefer a game without it.

And, that fine. Take it out or modify it to suit your needs.

I think you'll agree, even though it's not to your taste, that the MD rule in Conan is not broken.




#3 I agree with Malcadon that as brilliantly as you did your statting of Faridun, it TAKES Forever.
It's true that generating characters under the d20 is time consuming. But, I will say that I was surprised at how fast I could do it after becoming familiar with the system.

Because the Conan RPG lives in the lowest levels, as GM, you're typically only going to have to create a 1st or 2nd level character on the fly. Higher level characters will be major NPCs that require more time.

I realized that, during the game, I only needed to create the info that mattered. For example, lets say the PC in the game tried to Bluff a merchant. I'd roll 4d6, drop the lowest, and use that for the NPC's WIS score. Then, I'd give the NPC +5 in Sense Motive (since the NPC is a merchant) and add or subtract the WIS bonus derrived from the stat I just rolled. Viola. Done. Quick. Easy.

If I really wanted to be quick, I'd just use the +5 Sense Motive without rolling anything and keep on moving.

This is old style GMing that I was only comfortable using after I was very comfortable with predicting what kinds of skills characters would have.

If, for some reason, this merchant needed to be fleshed out more, I'd do that--probably in between games (but on the fly, if necessary). I'd take what I had established about the character and then fill in the holes with the usual character generation process. The only difference is that, for non-major NPCs like this, I'd use 3d6, arrange to taste for stats instead of 4d6, drop lowest, then arrange.

That sounds like a house rule way of doing things, but really, that way gives you stats for the standard array in the 3.5 DM's Guide (4d6, drop lowest, gives you the Elite array).


Some peeps (S4 excepted) are not built that way.
Don't get me wrong. I like simple systems, too. I love Classic Traveller, which is very bare bones. The GM makes up everything, just about, as the game goes on.

I've just embraced the Conan system for all its glory, and I think there's a lot of glory there to shine.

If a new game combat obtained the Conan license and published a Conan system that was very light on rules, I'd have no problem switching to that system as long as I felt the rules reflected the atmosphere of the Hyborian Age.
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Supplement Four » Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:16 pm

Spectator wrote:#3 I agree with Malcadon that as brilliantly as you did your statting of Faridun, it TAKES Forever.
Here's a shortcut I started using in my campaign, when it comes to creating new characters and leveling existing ones.

What is the most time consuming aspect of d20 character generation? Sure, some thought goes into stat arrangement, but what costs the most time is the decision process on Feats and Skills.

What I would do in my game is allow a player hold off on his Feat and Skill point choices until he was ready--anytime during that level. You cannot hold over points or Feats through to a new level (and if you wait that long, you've done yourself a disservice in not being able to take advantage of the Feat and the higher Skill bonuses during the time you spent at your current level).

For example, Feridun, above. Let's say he moves up to a Level 2 Soldier. The character gets a new Feat. He gets 4 skill points to spend (2 for class skills and 2 bonus points that can be spent on non-class skills). He gets improved bonuses due to his new level. And, he gets a hit die's worth of hit points.

Check out how quick this is. Roll the new hit points. Adjust his BAB, Saves, and Defensive Bonuses....then, just keep on playing. Unless the player knows exactly, right then, what Feat he wants and what skills he wants to improve, just put that on the back burner and keep playing.

At any time before the character moves up another level, the player can spend his skill points or pick his Feat.

Let's say, in the game, Use Rope becomes extremely important to a situation. Feridun's player decides to use his 2 bonus skill points to boost up that skill from +3 to +5, spending the points in the usual manner.

Not only is this method a time saver, but it also grows the characters in a more natural, organic way. The characters improve in the areas that are challenged during the game (of course, the player has total control to spend the points normally).

Later, during the game, Feridun's player decides on a Feat and spends the other two skill points, and the character is complete.

This reduces character improvement time to the bare minimum.





I've also used this method for new NPCs the players come into contact with. Let's say that Feridun, above, hires a guide to take him into the wilderness outside of Shadizar during the game. And, as GM, I'm not prepared for this turn of events. On the fly, I can roll up six stats and arrangement, applying racial modifiers, and quickly making the character a 1st level Borderer. But, I'll wait on the Feat and Skill decisions. They may never become necessary for the game, anyway.

As the impromptu adventure outside of Shadizar progresses, I may get an inclination to give my Borderer a specific Feat or points in a skill. The players are none the wiser. They don't know if I generated this NPC before the game or am making him up on the spot as I'm doing.

As GM, I'll make fair decisions. I won't (hardly ever) always make the NPC perfect for coping with all the obstacles that come his way. But, if a situation during the night, on the dark plain outside of Shadizar develops, I might decide it would be neat if this Borderer had Eyes of the Cat for his Feat--if it would heighten the drama and action of the game.

The point being: Using the shortcut saves a lot of time when creating and improving characters. My players like it because it gives them a little more "umph" when a situation comes up and they are allowed to put some skill points into a skill, giving them a better modifier.

I like how the characters grow organically this way, improving because of their experiences instead of the player trying to make a guess as to what skill will be important for the character.






So...consider this next time you start a new Conan RPG game: Allow your players to roll up their characters, but don't force them to pick Feats and spend points on skills unless they are sure what they want in those areas.

Then, just play the game, but allow the players to implement a Feat or spend their skill points as they deal with the challenges presented in the game.

It's a much smoother way of dealing with d20 character generation/improvement.
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Halfbat » Sat Sep 01, 2012 5:36 pm

We only really found that things started to be 'broken' at the higher levels, say 12-15+ but, as mentioned, this was a criticism acknowledged by Wizards about D&D 3.5 anyway (it was even used as a justificaction for D&D 4 at the seminar I attended). Below that level you could really give the PCs a scare by running NPCs of the same level against them or, similarly to the books, have the BBEG as a higher-level sorcerer.

As the OP said, the majority of peeps in the world should be 1st level - and a higher-level adventurer really _should_ be able to handle them fairly easily. Statting these can be difficult but there are resources around the 'net with low-level characters. I collated a booklet of them (still may have it on backup, somewhere!).

Overall, we found Conan to be one of the better, if not the best, d20 implementation and had a great deal of fun on a long-lasting campaign (some of which made it into S&P and one of the adventure books). The apparent imbalance is (a) illusionary and (b) where it does 'exist' is in line with the books.

Have fun!
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby thulsa » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:28 pm

Halfbat wrote:As the OP said, the majority of peeps in the world should be 1st level - and a higher-level adventurer really _should_ be able to handle them fairly easily.
Let's take a look at some of the NPCs created by Vincent Darlage, co-author of the Conan RPG, shall we?

I'm going to pick a file at random, let's start with the Stygian NPCs. Note that Conan himself is statted as an 18th-level (!) character at this point in his career, but let's not concern ourselves with him, as he is clearly an exceptional figure. Look, the Temple Harlots of Idris are all Scholar 5. Fishermen are Commoner 3. Kushite Spearmen are Barbarian 3. Stygian Infantry are Commoner 3/Soldier 3. Continuing to pick "low-level characters" at random from the list, I see "Soldier Acolytes" are Commoner 2/Soldier 2 and "Acolytes of the Laborers of the Temple" are Commoner 2/Scholar 3.

I pick another file at random, this time the Zamboula file. I see that the City Watch are Soldier 2 and Soldier 4, while its captains are Soldier 6. Turanian soldiers are Soldier 3. Darfari warriors range from Barbarian 1 to Barbarian 3/Borderer 3.

And so on and so on... so when you say that the majority of peeps in the world should be 1st level, that is only your opinion (which you are entitled to, of course), but the guy who wrote 80-90% of the sourcebooks for the Conan RPG seems to be of a different opinion. Most NPCs (that the PCs may have combat interaction with) seem to be at least 3rd level, usually higher.
Halfbat wrote:The apparent imbalance is (a) illusionary and (b) where it does 'exist' is in line with the books.
Well, you tell me if this list of fixes, and this 14-page revision of the scholar class to make it playable, is illusory or real!

The difference between fiction (ie the books you refer to to justify broken rules) and an RPG is that the author fully controls the fiction, but the DM does not control the players (unless you are running a heavy-handed railroad), so the rules better be robust.

Of course, since each campaign and each group is different ("role-players" vs "roll-players" and "min/maxers", etc.), problems with unbalanced rules may materialize in different ways, or may not materialize at all, as this discussion shows.

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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Halfbat » Sun Sep 02, 2012 12:02 am

Well, you tell me if this list of fixes, and this 14-page revision of the scholar class to make it playable, is illusory or real!
Neither support a point against Conan d20 being broken. Both are house rules in which, as you suggested, almost anything can go and which are very much based on opinion. Moreover, the characters you pick up are interesting and particular instances of special or experienced NPCs - they still don't break the "majority" rule. It's up to your GM whether or not every character in those lands was such special or high level characters, as with any d20 implementation. I know some GMs like to make run-of-the-mill people tougher at higher levels just for interest.

We never had a problem with the Conan rules until, as I said, the d20 breaking point. We had a solid Scholar and had plenty of opponent Scholars, too. And, the majority of NPCs really were 1st level and commoners of some description.

If you read more carefully you'd see my post was not using the books to justify any supposed 'broken rules' but merely to show how the slant of the rules ended up helping reflect the books very well. There's a big difference, especially when one doesn't have a problem with the rules anyway.
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Malcadon » Sun Sep 02, 2012 4:37 am

With regards to rule complexity and redundancy, something like Bite Sword gets on my nerves. A heroic character should be able do that without some rule confirmation. Instead of encouraging players to ad-lib their character's actions, they throw in extra feats, class abilities, and combat maneuvers to permit them to do unusual actions.

Yeah, I understand they did not simplify things in the beginning (see my last post), but by the 2nd ed, they should have simplified the rules a bit, if only to cut-down the page-count. They did good work to make the d20 rules fit in the S&S genre, but since they did make so many great changes, they should have taken the extra effort to "trim the fat" and make the game even more superior to the core d20 system!

But that is old news. The line is dead, the community is cast to the winds, the Conan license is in the air by people who's clam of ownership is as tangible as the tooth-fairy, and nothing can change the past--no matter how hard you modify an old DeLorean. The only way I can think of making the game better, is to take it upon ourselves to make something better--although, it would ether be generic S&S game set, or a free netbook with licensed content.
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby thulsa » Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:33 am

Malcadon wrote:But that is old news. The line is dead, the community is cast to the winds, the Conan license is in the air by people who's claim of ownership is as tangible as the tooth-fairy, and nothing can change the past--no matter how hard you modify an old DeLorean.
True. I haven't even played the Conan RPG for 3-4 years now, so I'm not going to put too much energy into discussing the faults I experienced with the system. My viewpoints are well documented in the links I have provided.

Again, each group and each campaign is different. For those who think the Conan RPG system is the best ever, that's great! Use what works for you. In the end it's all about having fun with your friends.

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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Spectator » Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:42 pm

S4 wrote:
So...consider this next time you start a new Conan RPG game: Allow your players to roll up their characters, but don't force them to pick Feats and spend points on skills unless they are sure what they want in those areas.

Then, just play the game, but allow the players to implement a Feat or spend their skill points as they deal with the challenges presented in the game.


I write: I like that Idea a lot!!!
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Supplement Four » Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:39 am

thulsa wrote:I'm going to pick a file at random, let's start with the Stygian NPCs. Note that Conan himself is statted as an 18th-level (!) character at this point in his career, but let's not concern ourselves with him, as he is clearly an exceptional figure. Look, the Temple Harlots of Idris are all Scholar 5. Fishermen are Commoner 3. Kushite Spearmen are Barbarian 3. Stygian Infantry are Commoner 3/Soldier 3. Continuing to pick "low-level characters" at random from the list, I see "Soldier Acolytes" are Commoner 2/Soldier 2 and "Acolytes of the Laborers of the Temple" are Commoner 2/Scholar 3.
We should get Vincent in here to comment on this because, frankly, these examples would be exceptional characters according to the description put forth in the 2nd Edition Core rule book.

I would take Vincent's characters above to be Elites (and more akin to what I would see in a normal d20 D&D game). But, the Conan RPG is written, decidedly, for lower level fair.

Pg. 11-12 of the 2nd edition Conan RPG includes paragraphs--notes to the GM on what the "levels" mean in this game. It's adviced for the GM when creating characters higher than 1st level.

What that section says is (quotes in bold) that 1st level characters are young and untried adventurers who have just completed basic training in their chosen profession. A 1st level character barbarian is a young brave, hot-blooded and unseasoned. A 1st level pirate is a lowly deckswab, eager to make his first fortune. A 1st level noble has barely come of age and is still not worthy to inherit the authority that is his birthright. Conan, for example, was probably only first or second level when he first braved The Tower of the Elephant.

The section goes on describe higher level characters: 4th level characters, for example, are more established and are already a cut above average men.

That, right there, tells us that, if your character reaches 4th level, he's already higher than half of every character in the game's universe. And, I don't really think we're counting grandma's and babes. Or, in other words, about half the NPCs that the PCs should encounter in the game are level 3 or less.

A 4th level nomad, the book reads, is one of the finest warriors in the warband; a 4th level soldier has been on the front lines of a battlefield several times.

The, the book goes on to describe higher level characters: 8th level characters are skilled adventurers, famed across the land. At this level, characters can be dropped into any land or any danger and have a good chance of survival. An 8th level scholar has mastered three different forms of magic and can invoke potent magics like demon-summoning. An 8th level thief can kill even the strongest man with a single well-placed blow and has the skills to sneak through a whole temple full of worshippers without being seen.

So, the book spells it out. A 1st level character is a novice, fresh out of basic training. 50% of the people in this gaming universe are 3rd level or less. Characters who reach 4th level are a cut above and generally leaders among their immediate peers.

Characters who reach 8th level are the major people known around the land. The Cimmerian Clan Chief, the Zamorian Master Thief, The undefeated swordsman, the powerful warlord in the Border Kingdom, The Stygian Cult Leader, The famous Pirate on the Great Western Sea. Given the above, it is these types of people that are represented by 8th level characters in the game.

If your character is seasoned, but he's not yet a well-known heroic figure, then he's probably in the 5-7 level range.

As for the higher levels, the book has something to say about that, too: 12th or higher level characters are exceedingly rare--these are legendary figures whose deeds will be remembered for generations to come.

To me, that says that the true legendary figures like Thulsa Doom, Conan, Xaltotun, Akivasha, and Toth-Amon reach 12th or higher, among few others. (It's really up to the GM where to place notable characters like Valeria, the Nemedian master thief Taurus, and kozaki chieftan Olgerd Vladislav--I'd probably put them all in the 9-11 range).





I picture the numbers of people at each level to look like a pyramid. You've got a bunch on the base, a few less on the next tier, even fewer (probably by half) on the third tier, and at this point, we're half way up the pyramid. The structure must sharpen quickly, unlike a normal pyramidal structure, as the other level tiers are added, until...at the very tip...on a needle that sticks out of the top of the pyramid, you've got the miniscule line that represents level 20 characters.

And those characters must be god-like--the Hyborean Age equivalent to Hercules, Achillies, and Perseus.

I can definitely see many Conan campaigns never featuring a character over 15th level.





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

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

Typical Zamorian Thief? 2nd level Thief.

Typical Turanian Light Cavalryman? 2nd level Soldier.

Typical Peasant? 1st level Commoner.

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

Typical Hyborian Socerer? 4th level Scholar.

Typical Zingaran Dancing Girl? 2nd level Temptress.

Typical City Guardsman? 2nd level Soldier.

Typical Bandit? 2nd level Borderer.

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

There's not a single 5th level example in the bunch. Why? Because of what was said earlier. The average character in the Conan RPG game universe should be level 1-3 with the elites being 4th level. A character higher than 4th level should be well considered before makes his appearance in a game.






And so on and so on... so when you say that the majority of peeps in the world should be 1st level, that is only your opinion (which you are entitled to, of course), but the guy who wrote 80-90% of the sourcebooks for the Conan RPG seems to be of a different opinion. Most NPCs (that the PCs may have combat interaction with) seem to be at least 3rd level, usually higher.
Given what I've quoted you above, I don't think it's fair to say that it's just my opinion. What I have said is documented in the 2nd Edition rulebook, with several examples that I've provided for you.

I think, though, that maybe you're not aware of this because you played your game using 1E or the AE rule edition? See my post below this one.

And, as far as Vincent's characters go, I don't think they're invalid. It depends on what the character Vincent intended them to represent.

If you're PCs, who average 8th level, enter a new town, that town should be populated, for the most part, by NPCs who are level 1-3. The elites should be level 4 or so. And, the BMITT (Big Man In The Town) should probably be around 8th level or so, too.

And, those 8th level PCs should be legendary at this point. Their reputations should preceed them. If they identify who they are, people should recognize at least some of them, the way Jesse James was recognized in the Old West.
Last edited by Supplement Four on Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Supplement Four » Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:59 am

BTW, the section I refer to above is a new section of the rules added with the second edition. I think it was put there to clarify that the game is intended for low level play--lower than your normal d20/D&D game. If you look at 1st edition and the Atlantean Edition rules, you'll see just a couple of examples of NPCs in the Bestiary. So, I think the design choice was there all the time but easily missed.

When the second edition came out, the section that I quote above was added (again, I think for clarity), and the few examples in the Beastiary were expanded with the examples that I quote above from the 2nd edition Beastiary.

Given this, I can see where Thulsa is coming from because he didn't have this info to rely upon during his games (except the two examples in the 1ed and AE edition Beastiaries).

Given the rules, as presented in the 2nd Edition Core Rulebook, the character levels in the game correspond to this...



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

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

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

12th level and greater - True mythical characters, as with Conan, Thoth-Amon, Thulsa Doom, Xaltotun, Akivasha.
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Spectator » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:06 am

I agree with s4, it is statistically incongruent to have the majority of people over level 3. Just like in real life, most people are schlubs.
I get that Vincent wrote 80-90% and he stats out the characters very well, but s4 has a point that there can't be that many people with such high levels playing the "average city watchmen"
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby thulsa » Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:36 pm

Supplement Four wrote:Given this, I can see where Thulsa is coming from because he didn't have this info to rely upon during his games (except the two examples in the 1ed and AE edition Beastiaries).
Actually, I own every single Conan RPG book published by Mongoose. And my name is listed in the "Special Thanks" section of the Second Edition core rulebook, probably because I provided Mongoose with a long list of errors, inconsistencies and problems which they needed to fix for the second edition (but as you have seen in my previous posts they did not fix everything).
Supplement Four wrote:We should get Vincent in here to comment on this because, frankly, these examples would be exceptional characters according to the description put forth in the 2nd Edition Core rule book.
Yes, it would be interesting to hear Vincent's own thoughts on this. I happen to agree with him that NPCs should be represented with a full range of character levels.

Could it be that the sample NPCs in the core rulebook are low level examples just because that is what a starting DM needs to run the game?
Supplement Four wrote:I would take Vincent's characters above to be Elites (and more akin to what I would see in a normal d20 D&D game). But, the Conan RPG is written, decidedly, for lower level fair.
I think we can all agree that there is a pyramid of character levels, with most people being low level and very few people being very high level.

Where we disagree is on your claim that the Conan RPG is somehow supposed to be played at (very) low levels, and that even mid-level characters should be somewhat or extremely rare.

I believe the Conan RPG was designed to allow you to play and recreate any of Howard's thrilling tales of the Hyborian Age. If you artificially restrict yourself to playing only levels 1-3, you are missing out on a lot of exciting mid- and high-level play. Like Vincent, I want to use the full range of character levels, from 1-20, to challenge the PCs.

That said, I agree that systems based on D&D (and d20) tend to "break down" at very high levels, and the sweet spot for me personally (both in the Conan RPG and Pathfinder) is somewhere between levels 4 and 10. The characters are robust enough to go on "real" adventures, and have not yet reached a level where play is bogged down by too many options and (especially in plain d20) spells and items.
Spectator wrote:I get that Vincent wrote 80-90% and he stats out the characters very well, but s4 has a point that there can't be that many people with such high levels playing the "average city watchmen"
Yes, we all agree about the "pyramid of NPC levels" (see above), but that does not mean that every single "no-name" NPC has to be level 1, either.

Let's look at some more examples from Vincent, this time the Turanian NPCs (http://hyboria.xoth.net/characters/vd_turanian_npcs.doc).
  • * "Non-Elite Chief Camel Driver": Turanian Soldier 3/Nomad 2. This guy would be "A leader of a bandit band or the fiercest warrior of a band of pirates." according to S4's definition.
    * "Mighty Archer": Turanian Soldier 6. "The Mighty Archers of Turan maintains itself on a war basis at all times. Numbering no more than 30,000, they are constantly ready for action." All right, so here we have 30,000 level 6 warriors, which is halfway between "elite" and "legendary" according to S4's definition.
    * "Non-Elite Chief Janitor (Officer in Charge of Discipline)": Turanian Soldier 12. This guy would be a "true mythical character" according to S4's definition.
    * "Non-Elite Ahga (Officer, Commander of the Imperial Horsemen or Satrap of a Turanian Province)": Turanian Soldier 12/Noble 4. I don't know exactly how many provinces Turan has, but let's say between 10 and 20. So here we have at least a dozen of these level 16 characters, that is 4 levels above a "true mythical character" according to S4's definition. In other words, these provincial governors are the equals of "Conan, Thoth-Amon, Thulsa Doom, Xaltotun, Akivasha".
I'd also like to point out that the Conan RPG had multiple authors, and as we can see their take on what the levels represent are not necessarily consistent. Vincent Darlage wrote most of the books (and NPCs), and I happen to agree with him.

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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Supplement Four » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:38 pm

Thulsa, you keep referring to S4's definition. But, really, I've just repeated what is listed on pages 11-12 of the 2E Core Rulebook where level definitions are given.

What are your comments, then, about pages 11-12? Is what is written there incorrect while Vincent's NPCs are correct?

And, even the supplement I've used most, Cimmeria (which I should point out is a 2nd edition supplement), has sample NPCs that fall within the guidelines given in the 2E Core rulebook.

Cimmeria provides a ton of NPCs for the game. Many are chieftains of various Cimmerian clans, and these are usually characters that are around 8th level.

That fits with what is maintained in 2E description.

The supplement describes Cimmeria, and one would expect some legends to appear. The book features some NPCs that are 12+ level, but all are very formidable Cimmerians, legends in their own right, most of them Clan Chieftains, that includes the likes of the chief of Conan's clan.

The single 20th level character in the book is a mysterious, almost mythical Oracle.

Again, this all seems to fit exactly with what the 2E rulebook describes.

Then, if you look at the generic NPC chart, the book describes a typical Cimmerian warband of 27 warriors: 13 of these are between levels 1-4, 10 are between levels 5-7, and 3 will be level 8, with one of these acting as the warband leader (probably the chieftain).

This all falls within the guidlines set fort by the 2E rulebook description. All of the characters level 12+ are the Lancelots and King Arthurs of Cimmeria--that is, well known, legendary figures. The best of the best. And, really, any NPC mentioned at 4th level or higher is some type of elite character.

That's two official sources that support what I've been saying.




EDIT: I've been using published game material, like the core rulebook, to back up my argument. Thulsa, you've used Vincent's non-official list of NPCs. Now, don't get me wrong, I do respect all of Vincent's work. He's brilliant. But from what you've listed above, it doesn't look like his NPC list is compatible with the definitions of character levels described in the 2E Core Rulebook.
Spectator
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Spectator » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:31 am

S4, just curious, what level should an AVERAGE character (non-combat tradesman, peasant, farmer, landed gentry, merchant, etc...) be in the prime of their life mid-late 30s.
Level three?
How about at advanced age (i.e. 60s), level 4 /5?
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Re: Conan RPG Broken? Really? I'm not convinced.

Postby Supplement Four » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:56 am

Spectator wrote:S4, just curious, what level should an AVERAGE character (non-combat tradesman, peasant, farmer, landed gentry, merchant, etc...) be in the prime of their life mid-late 30s.
Level three?
I would follow the guidelines in the 2E rulebook. Thus, most nameless mooks will be 2nd or 3rd level Commoners.

There is an elite merchant given in the Beastiary. I call him "elite" because of the way he is described in the entry: The especially clever merchant who might even know some sorcery. This is a 4th level character (3 Commoner/1 Scholar), which is right in line with what the core rulebook describes as a "cut above".

So, if a 4th level character is a "cut above", and a 1st level character is a novice, then most characters are 2nd or 3rd level.

That's what I use as a rule of thumb when populating my Hyborian Age. Unless I have a reason to make them higher level, your average barkeep is 2nd or 3rd level. If he's got some combat experience from throwing out all the drunks and breaking up bar fights, then maybe he's a 2 Commoner/1 Soldier. If he's a retired seaman who bought the bar, then he might be a 2 Commoner/1 Pirate.

Average farmer? 2nd or 3rd Commoner. Average baker? 2nd or 3rd Commoner. Average money lender? Maybe a 3rd Commoner or a 2nd Commoner/1 Thief...or, if I'm feeling aggressive with him, he's a 1st Commoner/2nd Thief.

And so on.


How about at advanced age (i.e. 60s), level 4 /5?
First I'd say that age doesn't always measure experience. A Soldier stationed in Tarantia may gain less experience over his lifetime than a Soldier stationed in the Westermarch.

Level 4/5, according to the 2E level descritpions, are your "cut above" types. Your elites. These might be your lumber crew foreman or the mine manager.

Your 8th level characters might be more akin to your guild masters, mayors, and other high level Commoners.

Sound right to you?

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