[Conan] Epic combat against monstrous foes – Conan style!


Hi all!

Me and my friends have had many, many hours of enjoyment out of the Conan RPG, and I’ve gathered much useful stuff from these forums (mostly from back when there was an actual Conan forum). A big thanks to Thulsa, Sprange, Darlage and all the rest for posting quality material there, each with their own individual take on Conan.

Anyways, I’ve been playing Dragon’s Dogma on X-Box, and while the game has it faults, it excels when your group is attacking large monsters. You have to use a variety of tactics to defeat them, often jumping unto them and trying to hold on as they try to shake you, while climbing close enough to their vulnerable parts to get some strikes in. I haven’t played Shadow of the Colossus, but believe it is somewhat similar, even though the opponents there are a lot bigger, I think.

This type of combat was very fun, challenging, varied and heroic – in short, what an epic Conan fight should be (well, maybe more Marvel Conan than Howard Conan, for all you purists out there). So I thought, could I piece together a system for integrating this in the D20 Conan system?

I haven’t playtested it yet, but the system is intended only to be used on truly climactic situations for mid-high level characters, and as I make the already tough monsters even tougher, I also give the players some advantages (for instance, as they have a heroic destiny and are fated to battle these great opponents they gain a temporary hp boost, for the duration of this combat Massive Damage will only stun them for a round instead of reducing them to -1d10 hp and so forth).

I’ve tried to lean as much on already published D20 rules, tweaking them here and there. My goal is to make it worth exploring new tactics against foes, and make combat in these situations feel more grand and epic.

Points I’m undecided at:

  • How hard should it be to grab unto a Huge, Gargantuan or Colossal monster? Opposed grapple check is normally way too hard against these giants. I’m thinking of requiring either a Grapple check or Jump check against the monsters Dodge Defence. Which one to use is player’s choice, with 5 or more ranks in Climb or Balance giving +2 synergy bonus. I know it’s not kosher to mix skill checks and Grapple checks, but I want it so that both the brawny fighter and the nimble thief can attempt these kinds of maneuvers.

    Now the character has a hold of it, how hard should it be to climb it towards that weak spot around the neck? Realistically (if one can even use that term in this context), it would probably be next to impossible, but this is not reality – this in Conan! I want to create different ways to approach this and utilize as many skills at possible. I’m thinking players may choose between: A) Climb – but what DC? Monsters Dodge Defence? Or DC 20-25, depending on monsters body type and movements? B) Tumble – A special Tumble check with DC equal to Climb +5 allows a character to move 10’ in any direction on monster. C) Grapple check versus monsters grapple defence as a move action – if you succeed, you may move half your movement speed.

However, it shouldn’t feel too easy just climbing a ferocious monster, so I will force all characters hanging on to dedicate a move action each turn to succeeding a Climb or Balance check, probably same DC as climbing it or possibly DC-5.

As for the monster, I feel I’ve got a nice set of rules where they can pick up characters and slam them to the ground, squeeze them to a paste or fling them into a wall, stomp them, try to shake them off, etc. Balance-wise, the biggest uncertainty to me is how many of these actions could be undertaken in a single, full round action. I’m leaning toward making most of them Standard actions, so the monster cannot grab, stomp and attack at the same time. In an effort to make it worthwhile attempting to climb the dragon, I’m assigning miss chances to attacks made by the monster depending on how agile they are and how hard to reach the characters current position might be.

Thoughts and possibly input from others who have dabbled along the same lines are welcome :)
I find that the d20 Mongoose Conan RPG has got some pretty exciting combat. I also find, from talking with other GMs, that many play the Conan RPG just like a standard d20 game akin to D&D.

You see...much of the magic that spices up a standard D&D fight has been removed from the Conan game, and if you play the game like a standard D&D game, combat will get pretty boring: You go, I go.

The Conan RPG authors recognized this and added many features that will make your Conan RPG combat quite exciting and much more than I go, You go.

I wrote about much of this in the GM's Closet thread. I'll link some important, combat related posts, for you:

First off, we've got to have a baseline so that we're talking about the same thing. What is an Average Human in game terms? What does a character level actually mean?

Conan combat can be quite dynamic, if you take the time to learn all of the moving parts!

Here's an example of how exciting the combat can be: CLICK HERE.

After you've read it, and understand it, here's the basics you need to remember.

One thing that I've added to the game that works well as a House Rule, is the idea of being GUSTUD.

And, a third party supplement has made hand-to-hand combat just as exciting as fighting with weapons.

Many times, weapons will be dropped, or broken, and the fight will continue, hand-to-hand. You'll definitely want to use the 2nd edition Conan Grapple Rules, because they're a lot easier than those of the earlier edition. Grapple maneuvers can become quite important to a warrior during the Hyborian Age.

And, here are a few extended thoughts on some aspects of Conan RPG combat...

Massive Damage.


Demoralize Other.

Dance Aside.