Breaking Players into Hyboria

bampf

Mongoose
I ve spent the last couple days combing through the archives (what a great resource you guys are) so I think I m finally ready for my first post.

About four years ago I started a 2nd Ed D&D campaign set in Hyboria using mostly just my familiarity with the books and the RSI Play-by-mail maps. None of my players knew anything about Conan outside of the movies. Over 3+ years of campaigning the players really grew to love the setting.

It was not long before every player knew every country and culture by heart. Eventually the players reached near god-like status (18/19th level) and we retired the campaign. By that time they had: traveled nearly the entire map, beat back pict uprisings, decimated cults of Set, commandeered a slaver ship off the Black Coast, led caravans across innumerable deserts, broken Vendhyan mammoth charges (this was before Legolas made such things trendy), and even (in a delicious plot twist) unwittingly fought against Conan s ascension to the throne.

Anyway, once the new book came out, they all started clamboring to start a new campaign (scrapping the more traditional D&D one that we had been playing for months). So we are doing just that. I just thought that was an excellent endorsement for the Hyborean setting--that players used to the conventional D&D worlds could be so enamored by REH s work.

Has anyone out there had problems breaking players of their traditional roleplaying expectations? ie no elves, dragons, magic weapons laying in abandoned dungeons etc? I think there s some culture shock no matter what but like I said, my group took to it very quickly.
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
After years of trying to tone down the increasing uber-magics of D&D and FR to suit our tastes, we've adapted to Conan quickly with little "culture shock". Now, a common joke heard 'round the gaming table is "I cast fireball and teleport away". Getting rid of the D&D "materialism" mindset is another matter, but "easy come, easy go" seems to be sinking in... albeit slowly. :wink:
 

DrSkull

Mongoose
I have one player (new to the group) muttering about not having a cleric, and he also doesn't quite get the fact that there ain't going to be any +1 swords. But the rest are having no problem at all.

You just have to tell them this:
"D&D is about killing them and taking their stuff, Conan is just about killing them."
 

Yuan-Ti

Mongoose
My group has gone through one adventure and seems happier now than then. One of them still keeps saying, "When my character dies I want to create a Scholar. We are going need to have magic sooner or later." :roll: There is definitely some nervousness about healing being more difficult. There is a lot of nervousness around the whole armor issue --

Me: The Pict attacks you and hits!
Player: Oh, crap! I'm dead.
Me: He does 1 hp of damage.
Player: Oh...

We'll see how they feel about the lack of magical treasure as things progress.
 

bampf

Mongoose
In my last Conan campaign I stuck to the standard D&D classes, so there was a rather powerful (healing) priest of Mitra and a Wizard from Khitai. So there may be some Healing/battle magic woes from the party this time through. We ll see.

However they really embraced the lack of magic items and magical creatures. They were quick to point out that they spent so much time fighting NPCs when they went up against super-natural creatures (I had them fight undead, demons summoned by Preists of Set etc) it was a really special moment, that actually inspired fear and awe in the characters... rather than the typical blasé attitude of most D&D players... "Oh dear, another red dragon/troll/barbazu/whatever."
 

Mijoro

Mongoose
One of the potential problems in my group is that there are only two people (myself and a player) who have read any REH. The other players only know Conan from the movies and comics. How do you introduce REH's Hyboria without saying "Go read the books before we play" ?

It's going to be fun to try and change my group's D&D/Everquest mindset to a more Hyborian way of thinking. :roll:
 
Mijoro said:
One of the potential problems in my group is that there are only two people (myself and a player) who have read any REH. The other players only know Conan from the movies and comics. How do you introduce REH's Hyboria without saying "Go read the books before we play" ?

Hello,
well, I would say that you are lucky to not have players who know the books! If you are short on ideas, you can simply read a story written by Howard, and create an adventure. "The tower of the elephant" would be nice. It contains theft (stealing the treasure in the tower), sorcery (Yara the corrupt priest), monsters (giant spiders), otherworldy creatures (Yag-Kosha), traps (just entering the tower is not an easy task!)
Starting from them, the characters might be forced to escape (whether or not the manage in stealing the gem in the tower) which could lead them to another adventure...very Howardian!

cheers,
Antonio
 
bampf said:
In my last Conan campaign I stuck to the standard D&D classes, so there was a rather powerful (healing) priest of Mitra and a Wizard from Khitai. So there may be some Healing/battle magic woes from the party this time through. We ll see.

However they really embraced the lack of magic items and magical creatures. They were quick to point out that they spent so much time fighting NPCs when they went up against super-natural creatures (I had them fight undead, demons summoned by Preists of Set etc) it was a really special moment, that actually inspired fear and awe in the characters... rather than the typical blasé attitude of most D&D players... "Oh dear, another red dragon/troll/barbazu/whatever."

Hello,
well, the problem with D&D is mostly the attitude of many DMs who are too much in the superheroic fantasy mindset, backed up by Forgotten Realms practically-non-existent originality.
As for me, I have never played FR, only Greyhawk, Birthright and Dragonlance, and there too, I have always kept a very low-profile regarding monsters and spells, just to keep a sort of "internal consistency": fantasy does not mean stupid or unbelievable things (like in FR!). I have always thought at the social implications of the existence of monsters and spells, that is why I mostly removed resurrection spells, or demons appearing at every corner, or undead walking the streets. Monsters and magic, should be rare wonders, just to reinforce their very existence. That is why my players were not too surprised to play in the Hyborian Age; they more or less always played in "wondrous" but "believable" campaigns

Cheers,
Antonio
 

Orkin

Mongoose
In the orginal saga, magic was dangerous and most priests and magic users were evil. Check how many times REH says "evil priest". :) That might wake them up... :lol:
 

bampf

Mongoose
I know I strongly recommended that my players pick up the recently released Coming of Conan the Cimmerian REH complilation. Most are pretty avid readers of Fantasy books so I m hoping they do. Would make things easier on me as DM to instill the right feel and mood.
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
Mijoro said:
DrSkull said:
You just have to tell them this:
"D&D is about killing them and taking their stuff, Conan is just about killing them."

.sigged

:lol:

I thought Conan was about taking their stuff, too, since loot from corpses is the only reliable treasure you'll ever see. Of course, loot from a dead guy in Conan and loot from a dead guy in D&D are drastically different at mid-higher levels. My players are all thorough scavengers when time permits, as they keep getting ripped off by their employers. :twisted:
 

DrSkull

Mongoose
Yeah, but the Gm is just going to take all that stuff away from you anyway, so it's really all Hack-time baby.
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
DrSkull said:
Yeah, but the Gm is just going to take all that stuff away from you anyway, so it's really all Hack-time baby.

LOL, too true. In Conan The Rogue, Conan wisely decides to bury 3,000 gold pieces in Aquilonia rather than risk losing it as he travels out of the country. Smart players may pick up on this idea.
 

S'mon

Mongoose
To get into the true Sword & Sorcery feel I recommend reading Ron Edwards' 'Sorcerer & Sword' (gort my copy from Leisure Games) - it was a real eye-opener for me and has really helped me run Conan in the spirit of real pulp fantasy adventure. Players should read the chapter on creating a hero, which has great ideas on what comes first - a gripping concept for a larger-than-life hero - and what comes last (stats).
 

Yokiboy

Mongoose
S'mon said:
To get into the true Sword & Sorcery feel I recommend reading Ron Edwards' 'Sorcerer & Sword' (gort my copy from Leisure Games) - it was a real eye-opener for me and has really helped me run Conan in the spirit of real pulp fantasy adventure. Players should read the chapter on creating a hero, which has great ideas on what comes first - a gripping concept for a larger-than-life hero - and what comes last (stats).

Hey S'mon, what is the book about? Is it about writing Sword & Sorcery fiction, or actually about games set in the genre? Sounds interesting no matter what, will have to go check out Amazon... :)

TTFN,

Yokiboy
 

S'mon

Mongoose
Yokiboy said:
S'mon said:
To get into the true Sword & Sorcery feel I recommend reading Ron Edwards' 'Sorcerer & Sword' (gort my copy from Leisure Games) - it was a real eye-opener for me and has really helped me run Conan in the spirit of real pulp fantasy adventure. Players should read the chapter on creating a hero, which has great ideas on what comes first - a gripping concept for a larger-than-life hero - and what comes last (stats).

Hey S'mon, what is the book about? Is it about writing Sword & Sorcery fiction, or actually about games set in the genre? Sounds interesting no matter what, will have to go check out Amazon... :)

TTFN,

Yokiboy

It's technically a supplement to Edwards' small-press RPG 'Sorcerer', but it was a formative influence on the Conan RPG (see Ian's acknowledgements at the start of the book) - find out more at:
http://www.indie-rpg.com/-rpgs.com/ (heavy going for the innocent Gamist roleplayer, be warned) :twisted:
&
http://www.sorcerer-rpg.com/

I heard about it at rpg.net - for such a slim book, it made an incredible difference to the way I looked at RPGs, and likewise with the other GM in my group I showed it to. I can definitely say wouldn't be doing nearly as good a job GMing Conan without it - it made me understand the need to understand what a game's author is aiming for in a game, and the need for the GM to understand what they want also. The Conan RPG is a great example of a game that succeeds (despite appalling proofreading) because it understands its sources in the literature, and what it wants to do with them.
 

Yokiboy

Mongoose
S'mon said:
The Conan RPG is a great example of a game that succeeds (despite appalling proofreading) because it understands its sources in the literature, and what it wants to do with them.

Amen! The book sounds great S'mon, I'll have to check it out.

TTFN,

Yokiboy
 

S'mon

Mongoose
Actually Paul's acknowledgements :oops: to Ron Edwards & the Forge. I think the Narrativist elements in the RPG's advocated GMing style work really well, I find it a very comfortable style. I'm glad the Conan game doesn't go whole-hog Nar though, with out-of-chronological-order adventures, that'd just be too much of a headache I think, as well as making PC death impossible.
In my last session I loved having the PCs in my group wake up covered in blood and stripped of all their painstakingly paid-for gear after their ship was attacked by pirates 'off camera' and their crewmates massacred before the session had even begun! :twisted: - I did give them a Fate Point for screwing them over though, a trick I picked up from the Buffy RPG.
 
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