[CONAN] A Cimmerian Campaign set during Conan's Hyborian Age


This thread is intended as an outline/idea-generator for those who wish to play a campaign focusing on the barbarians of the grim, hostile lands of Cimmeria rather than a game of mixed classes set in one of the more traditional adventure locales of the Hyborian Age.

I do have a DEVELOPMENT THREAD for my personal compaign where I throw ideas and unfinished thoughts that I use (and don't use) in my game, but that thread is a nightmare to digest. It was intended as a space to brainstorm, and that's exactly the way I use it. I intend this thread to be more coherent--a resource for GMs interested in the Hyborian Age in general and Conan's Cimmeria specifically.

You can use any ruleset you wish. I use Mongoose's d20 3.5E based Conan RPG rules (2nd Edition), but there are a ton of fan-made Hyborian Age conversions out there on the net dedicated to other rule systems, ranging from Savage Worlds to several editions of D&D to ZeFRS--a roleplaying system developed in the 80's specifically for Conan-style games. Do a search. There's probably 9 or 10 different rule systems out there for gaming in during Conan's time.

Although no items are required to play through this campaign--you're going to create your version of Cimmeria to your own tastes--I find that the CIMMERIA sourcebook (by Lawrence Whitaker), written for Mongoose's 2nd Edition Conan RPG is chock-full of interesting ideas. There are single sentences in that book that have influenced large aspects of my campaign.

I'll endeavor to write short, concise notes that outline my personal campaign in this thread. You take with you want you want, and leave the rest.

And, if you have ideas, then please post them. The worst that will happen is that I will use them in my own game!
Here are some links that may interest you if you are not interseted in using Mongoose's d20 based Conan RPG (which is, imo, the best version of rules ever written to capture the Hyborian Age).



Vincent Delarge's Site (who wrote several books for Mongoose's Conan RPG).

Vincent's Red Sonja Site

A Site With Some d20 and Conan RPG Downloads

Dr. Skull's Conan Cult

Hyborian Adventures A Nordheimr based game.

Hyborian Adventures True 20.


Hyborian Age AD&D Setting


Hyborian Age

DM Screen

Secrets of Acheron


Zeb Cook's Fantasy Roleplaying System The original TSR Conan rules. Highly Recommended!


Barbarians of Lemuria Free version.


Savage Hyboria


MasterCraft Conversion Guide


Hell and the Hyborian Age

One thing that will make this campaign easier than many is that it does focus on barbarians. In my campaign, players had only one choice of character class--the Barbarian from the Conan RPG rules. Most Cimmerians tend not to stray too far away from their clan territories. Conan was one of the non-traditionals, of which there can be many, struck with a need to expore and learn what was beyond the next peak. Many, do, indeed, travel widely, but most remain near their homes to support their clan.

Cimmerians do not use sorcery. They fight amongst themselves, all the time. And, although they're superstitious, they are not religious. This makes for a perfect situation for a DM and players new to the Hyborian Age or a particular rule system in that you only have to learn about one character class, to begin with, and you can skip out on the magic rules until later while quickly learning the few gods that Cimmerians do recognize.

In other words, you can cut your learning curve way down by playing a Cimmerian-focused game, giving yourself time to learn the other stuff later as you add to your campaign.

There are no major cities in Cimmeria. There are no roads. There are few rivers. This all lends itself to shorter prep-time when creating your sandbox that your players will explore.

One of the few things a Cimmerian holds sacred is his personal honor and his clan. Given that, you'll want to create a clan and some NPCs that your Cimmerian players will interact with. Many of the NPCs will probably be members of your PCs' families.

I used the village of Seven Stones Ridge, detailed in the Mongoose supplement, CITIES OF HYBORIA, as the clanholme in my game. Although I am creating a sandbox, mostly from scratch, I like to use good ideas that limits prep-work from any source I can find. I mix-n-match all sorts of stuff. As long as it is interesting to the players, it's fair game.

Once I'd picked the PC's "base of operations", I set about creating interesting NPCs to populate the world and interact with the PCs. Since most of the people in a clan are family, I created an entire family (and eventually a rich history) for the characters the players will run.

In my game, I started with the PC's father (making the PC's brothers--a good reason to be together for adventures). This is Finn Elder, the blacksmith and chieftain of the Blue Fox clan.

Finn's father is Old Fionn, who founded Seven Stones Ridge.

Finn's mother, Maeoral, is dead. In fact, many of the women in the Duncohr family (Cimmerians don't use surnames that often, but have them, in my game) are not now among the living. This is something I've turned into a mystery for the PCs.

Finn has four brothers. Eanbodha (or, just simply, "Ean") is the clan's warchief. Dael is a smith, operating the clan forge along with Finn. Cael is Dael's twin, and the PCs do not know that he exists when the campaign starts. Cael got caught up in something and has been outcast, his name never mentioned among the clansmen. Eregerth is also not known to the PCs at the start of the game as he is one of the Cimmerians struck with wanderlust. He left the clan a decade ago, when the PCs were about 5 years of age. They barely remember him. I wanted to make sure I left myself some interesting characters that I could bring into the game at a later time as needed.

Finn's wife, Lyme, is dead. She died giving birth to one of the PC's.

The PCs were raised by Brenna, who is Dael's daughter. She's a mother figure to the PCs eventhough she's only a few years older than they are. Maybe this relationship will change as the campaign progresses.

There is an Aesir living among the clansmen. His name is Hrathnar. The clan trades with an Aesir village on the far side of the Eiglophian mountains for ore used in the forge. The Blue Fox clansmen are not miners. They're traders, hunter/gatherers, and sometimes raiders. Hrathnar has lived among the clansmen for a couple decades now and is married to Brenna. They have a little girl named Freya.

All the PCs start the game at 11 years old as 1st level Barbarians. I'll explain how they're related to each other in another post. My plan is to play out the PC's entire lives. I'll play a section, then skip some time--maybe years--and catch up with the PCs later for another adventure, then skip some more time, and so on, until, by the game's end, we'll have played the entire lives of these people.

Another NPC living in Seven Stones Ridge is Drachena. She's the PC's older sister. Finn adopted her as his first child before he had children of his own. She becomes the primary training NPC when the PCs start warrior training as the game progresses.

I needed some NPCs around the same age as the PCs, so I created Brial and Dahkus. These guys are instigators and don't like the PCs that much. I like the idea of having trouble with "someone on your side", not unlike the way Marines will fight amongst themselves in bar fights and for women, but then give their lives for each other in battle. That aspect I'm putting into the game using these two characters.

Branoc is an NPC and the oldest brother of the PCs. He's my main voice among the players. I use Branoc as needed to direct the PCs and offer DM advice "in-game". Although I've given him some flaws (he's slow to make decisions, for example--need some flaws to make him "real"), I've set Branoc up to be almost a model Cimmerian--something that the PCs can look up to.

I need some girly interest, too, for the players. You never know where that sort of thing is going to go. For this, I created Girdra, the trader's daughter, and her friend, Chani. Girdra is the most beautiful girl around the PC's age in the entire clan. Chani is full of character: she's got a lop-sided eye, and she won't talk about how it got that way. Because of her deformity, her hearing and sense of smell are heightened. And, the girl loves to run around naked, with just a dirk strapped to her thigh.

As the game as progressed, Branoc is now set to marry Girdra, though Girdra is secretly in love with one of the PCs. We'll see how that works out.

Another notable NPC in the game is Rutcrana. She's one of the clan elders. She's a Cimmerian Oracle. Some say that she's over 100 years old. Decades ago, when Old Fionn still worked the forge, she showed up in the village simply saying that she was the voice of fate. She persuaded Fionn to let her stay, and she's been among the clansmen ever since--though many don't trust her. She's hunchbacked, blind, and smells of unnatural things. People in the village will go to her for omens and predictions, but only when absolutely necessary. And, all in the clan make sure that their beds face away from Rutcrana's hut, no matter the relation or distance between their home and the oracle's abode.

See, the idea here is to create some interesting personalities to populate your world with. Set up mysteries without answering them, allowing yourself room to grow into those tales later in the campaign. I always try to see what catches the players' fancy and then develop that intrigue more. There's lots of threads in the game for the players to run across. I just wait to see which one is found to be interesting, then start getting creative with the idea.

If you've run a sandbox game before, I'm sure I'm not telling you anything that you already don't know. For these PCs, I've got much more in-depth material contained in the Development Thread. If you're interested, or want to mine it, check there.

I started the game with two players. I think the optimal group, due to schedules, game speed, and every day life, is three players plus one DM. But, two players is just fine. From time to time, I'll allow them to run NPCs as henchmen along with their main characters--when that type of thing is called for in the game. But, for most of the stories told in this campaign, two characters is just right. Most Conan stories feature Conan and a traveling companion or two. My two players replicates that. And, one of the differences in a Conan game as compared to a typical D&D campaign, is that D&D will typically require the talents of different classes: A cleric for healing; a thief for the traps and locks; a mage for sorcery support; and fighters to do the blood work. With the Conan RPG, it's easy--and many times desireable--to run the game using one, two, or three characters max. Conan stories lend themselves to small groups (but is flexible enough, like D&D, to fit any combintation of classes and players).

We added another player just after we started, and then one of my original players had to quit the game. Now, we're back to two players (but a couple of people have asked to join the game, and, as a group, we're considering letting another play with us).

The original two PCs are Caelis and Thrallan. Both (all three) are about the same age. Both are brothers.

When Lyme gave birth just over a decade ago, the clansmen had no way of telling that she was carrying triplets. They all thought she would give birth to one, big, hulking, Cimmerian warrior. But, when the first child came, they discovered that there were more in her womb.

Branoc, the NPC, was born first. The birthing experience was rough on Lyme. Finn asked his wife to name their first blood child (remember, Finn had already adopted Drachena). Lyme named him after her father, Brannard.

Today, the character is called Branoc Trueborn.

Caelis came next, followed by Pandran, who was stillborn.

It is said that Caelis killed his own brother in a battle to be birthed next. Some think Caelis is tainted because of his birth experience, and today, the character is known as Caelis Redbirth.

The second PC, Thrallan, was found as a babe, near the village, on the very same night that Branoc and Caelis were born. He was propped up next to a rock, wrapped in a blanket. Today, the character is known as Thrallan Stone, or simply just "Stone".

It is the player of the Thrallan character that left our group, so that PC has become an NPC.

The character we added, when the new player joined, is named Silaigne. This one's background is shrouded in mystery. Even Cimmerians have orphans, and Silaigne was one of them. There are lots of questions with this one. Why didn't anyone adopt him, as is the tradition among the clan? (Usually, there's something "wrong" with a child if he doesn't get adopted by another Cimmerian family. For example, his family could have died of the pox, and other Cimmerians are wary of catching the disease.) Why was his father outcast? Why has he not be allowed to train as a warrior with the other clansmen his age?

All of these questions I've decided to answer as the game continues.

The point I'm making here is to develop a rich, engrossing backdrop on which you will serve your stories. Always keep the players interested. Leave mysteries to be solved later. And, keep an ear and eye open as to what the players want. Try to give them the game that they want to play.

But...that's not to say that you must give them everything that they want. When I started this game, I limited the choice of class to one: Barbarian. I told them that they would probably be related. They would all be Cimmerians and members of the same clan. I even gave them their names, citing that, in real life, we don't pick our own names unless we change it later.

My players accepted that, are now addicted to the game, and the story continues.