[CONAN] GM's Closet

Ideas from CONAN and the Shadows of the Sinn

Female Characters

The Hyborian Age is dominated by men. Rarely is a woman described as all armored up, swinging a heavy sword, in battle, keeping their own, right next to men. It happens, sure, but it is rare. Valeria comes to mind—both incarnations of her (from Howard’s story Red Nails and the more battle oriented thief from the 1982 movie). Even then, it can be argued that Valeria (either version) is more of a finesse fighter than she is a strength fighter. Red Sonja comes to mind, too. But, Sonja’s power is imbued in her by her goddess. Her power is not natural.

In spite of this, I don’t advocate using any type of modifiers for female characters. The same 4D6, drop lowest, total and arrange to taste process should be used for both female and male characters in this game.

But, once the six totals are rolled, consider putting the lowest total into STR for female characters. This thinking will keep the gritty reality edge on the game that is a common part of the atmosphere of the Hyborian Age.

This is not to say that the women of the Hyborian Age cannot be strong. They are usually strong in other ways. The Temptress class in the game is devoted to strong Hyborian Age women.
Ideas from CONAN and the Shadows of the Sinn


When creating a sandbox, players are likely to go in directions for which the GM is not prepared. For that reason, I create contingency NPCs and encounters.

Below, I have developed two Cimmerian NPCs. They're from the mythical north and have made it as far as Raize. They are clan-brothers. And, they don't speak the language.

I put a lot of detail into these NPCs. This type of detail will help me use the characters in a wide range of circumstances. I get a feel for the people--who they are.

I think, with these, I may have the PCs meet these two rogues early--maybe in a tavern, or on the road. Then, I'll keep them for the PCs to run into them a second time.

For example, let's say that the PCs are thrown into the dungeon. Well, I can have one of these two Cimmerians already in the jail, and have the other engineer an escape--taking the PCs along with them.

These guys can also develop to be foes. Let's say that the PCs sneak into a building in the city where I am not prepared. They can run into these two Cimmerians--maybe outside. Maybe inside, already robbing the place. Maybe the Cimmerians will tell the PCs to leave.

The point is to have something that can be a very interesting encounter (and the detail lends itself to roleplaying) ready to throw into the game easily at a number of different places in the game when I need to buy time because the players have gone "off the map".

I don't know how I'll use these two NPCs. But, when I need them, I have these two very interesting NPCs (who will be strangers in the south) ready to go.

Morghun Clanson
3rd level Barbarian

Sex: Male
Age: 22
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 183 lbs.
Handedness: Right

STR: 16 (+3)
DEX: 14 (+2)
CON: 8 (-1)
INT: 11
WIS: 11
CHA: 7 (-2)

HP: 17
Fate: 3
XP: 3,000

Parry: AC 14
Dodge: AC 14

Initiative: +4
Fort: +2
Ref: +4
Will: +4

BAB: +3
Melee: +6
Finesse: +4
Ranged: +4

Code of Honor: Barbarian

LANGUAGES: Cimmerian (native), Nordheimer, Aqualonian, Pictish, Hyperborean, Nemedian. (This character is not literate in any of these languages.)

PROFECIENCY FEATS: Simple Weapon Proficiency (All), Martial Weapon Proficiency (All), Armor Proficiency (Light), Armor Proficiency (Medium), Shield Proficiency.

BARBARIAN FEATS: Track, Two-Weapon Combat, Endurance.

1st LEVEL FEAT: Toughness.
3RD LEVEL FEAT: Two-Handed Power Stroke*.

*This feat is found in The Barbaric Warrior supplement. It requires STR 15+ and Power Attack, and the benefit it brings to the character is that it allows double STR bonus applied to damage when using two-handed weapons (normally, 1.5 times STR bonus is used).

ABILITIES: Versatility, Bite Sword, Crimson Mist, Trap Sense.

24 class skill points: 4 - Climb, 6 - Listen, 4 - Move Silently, 4 - Survival, 6 - Intimidate


+11 Climb
+2/+4 Hide w/ bonus in native terrain
+6/+8 Listen w/ bonus in native terrain

+8/+10 Move Silently w/ bonus in native terrain
+6/+8 Survival w/ bonus in native terrain
-2/+0 Spot w/ bonus in native terrain

-2/-4 Bluff w/ penalty if verball based
+0 Craft (Herbal)
+0 Craft (Brewer)

-2 Handle Animal
+10 Intimidate
+3 Jump

-2 Perform
+0 Profession
+3 Swim

+2 Ride
+0 Craft (Jeweler)
+0 Craft (Tattooer)

+0 Craft (Etcher)


+2 Slight of Hand
+0 Sense Motive
+0 Search

+2 Open Lock
-4 Diplomacy
+2 Knowledge (Local - Blue Foxlands of Cimmeria)

+0 Appraise
+2 Balance
-1 Concentration

+0 Craft (Alchemy)
+0 Decipher Script
+0 Disable Device

-2 Disguise
+2 Escape Artist
+0 Forgery

-2 Gather Information
+0 Heal
+2 Use Rope

+2 Tumble
+0 Knowledge (various Knowledge skills)

CLOTHING: Wears a billowy Cimmerian leine and a deer skin vest to cover his chest and soft leather trews for his legs. On his feet, he wears soft leather knee-high, wool lined, boots. Loin cloth. Thin rope belt for the loin cloth; a waist belt for the trews; and a wide, outer-belt over his leine at the waist. He wears a thin-metal hoop earring made of non-valuable metal in his left ear, and on this hoop slides two teeth--one from a wolf and one from a human. On his weapon hand, he wears a ring made of lacquered tree vine.

EQUIPMENT: Cimmerian Mantle on his shoulders. A belt pouch, empty a the moment, is attached to the wide belt that covers his leine. Also attached to this belt is a leather scabbard for his Cimmerian Dirk**. In his hands, he carries Stake, a giant war spear custom made for him by his clan's chief and weaponsmith, Finn Duncohr.

**This weapon can be found in The Dagger article of S&P issue 81.

Stake is a high quality weapon and thus receives the +1 bonus to both Armor Piercing and Hardness of the standard war spear. This is a heavy, massive weapon made of lacquered and fired Cimmerian oak hardwood. Steel coverings ornament the shaft at intervals, used as an extra step to protect the wood when deflecting blade blows. The entire weapon is decorated in Cimmerian spiral etching.

DESCRIPTION & BACKGROUND: Morghun is a tall, somewhat lanky (but well muscled) Cimmerian. He's got long, rough-cut black hair that he usually wears loose, bangs down in his eyes. The first thing you will notice about him are the swirling blue tatoos that decorate the entire right side of his face, from his forehead, down his cheek, past his chin, onto his neck and right shoulder. These tatoos are of the knotted, flowing designs popular among Cimmerians. If you look closer, you will see that he is blind in his right eye. A white, clouded orb stares back at you. The tattoos cover the multiple scars of some animal attack that must have mauled him in his youth. If Morghun grimmaces at you, you'll see that he's missing a front tooth.

Morghun is a member of the Blue Fox clan. He hails from a village at the base of the Eiglophian mountains in north-central Cimmeria. As with all warriors of his clan, he left his village at age 15 on his deasghnath (Cimmerian. Pronounced DEE-as-ga-nath). This is a ritual hunting expedition, performed alone, in which a boy leaves his clansmen and returns to them a man. This is how men become recognized as warriors in his clan.

Morghun tracked and found one of the big ice wolves in the foothills of the Eiglophians. The wolf mauled Morghun and nearly killed him, leaving him blind in his right eye and exposing his lung to the elements. But, Morghun persevered and came staggering back into the village, nearly bled to death, carrying the wolf's head.

It took almost a season for Morghun to recover. Unable to move from his injuries, the cold months of the Cimmerian winter crept in and bit deeply into his chest. Spitting up blood and mucus, the wolf nearly killed him again, this time from beyond the grave.

Many believed that Morghun would never see summer. But, the lad did. Finn Duncohr, the Foxman's chieftain, declared him to be named "Clanson" as Morghun had displayed the ultimate quality to which all Cimmerians aspire: He never gave up in the face of certain defeat.

Finn, a master smith, created Stake and presented it to the new warrior. Finn knew that, with one eye, the boy would have to learn to fight from a distance. Any foe that made his way close, into Morghun's guard, would have an advantage attacking from the side of Morghun's blind eye. The war spear Stake would be used to fight foes from a distance.

GM Note: Morghun's injury is reflected in his CON score. I actually rolled his hit points, and as fate would have it, I rolled low for levels 2 and 3 (he was given maximum hit points at level 1 per the game's rule). This also supports the character's injuries and physical state.

This character has been given a special -2 circumstance modifier to Spot checks while he recieves a +2 circumstance modifier to Intimidate checks due to loss of his eye and his appearance. In addition, the skill ranks applied to Intimidate have been maxed. Also, a decision was made to max out skill ranks in the Listen skill as those with a visual handicap will usually rely on their other senses to compensate.

Morghun coughs all the time. Many times, long coughing fits will result in him spitting up blood. He does not laugh for fear of breaking out into a fit, and he has become quiet. He says little, and this boosts his intimidating bearing.

Morghun's father is a leatherworker. Morghun became an etcher, producing the fine, detail work seen on some Cimmerian weapons and leather goods. After he lost his eye, Morghun first turned to jewelry making. In his left ear dangles a metal hoop that pierces two teeth. One is from the wolf that handicapped him, the other is his own front tooth pulled out of his head by that same wolf. Where his cough and eye and face always make him think of the engagement, the earring, with the teeth constantly clinking in his ear, reminds him that the encounter with the wolf was a victory.

The ring of woven tree vine that Morghun wears on his weapon hand is the first piece of jewelry he ever produced.

In times of late, Morghun has switched occupations yet again. His one eye strains from the demands of etching and creating jewelry, but he has put the skill to use tattooing his fellow clansmen. The tattoos are the same shapes that he used to etch, just on a bigger scale.

But, he found that he could not keep food on his plate by relying on tattoos. Recently, Morghun has switched occupations yet again. Since the engagement with the wolf, Morghun has experimented with brewing different concoctions to ease his cough. This has led to him becoming a brewer. His beer is his most profitable seller though its taste and quality is indifferent at best.

Of late, Morghun has picked up a taste for gambling though he has no skill in it nor does he understand much about gaming. This is why his belt pouch is empty. When Morghun gambles, he does it for the thrill. He doesn't place a high value on coin or other valuables. If he wins a coin, he's just as likely to pierce it and turn it into a necklace with a piece of cat gut then he is to spend the money.

In sum, Morghun Clanson is a tall, forboding figure. Quiet. Leering at you with his one good eye. Scratch scars and swirling tattoos covering half his face. And, that long, obviously well made war spear in his grip.

That is, until he smiles at you, his front tooth missing, proffering a leathern jack of his latest brewed beer of questionable quality.

Though shallow on hit points, this character can be quite offensive in battle. He will strike with Stake, doing 1d10 +6 damage if he hits. He can use Power Attack to increase damage, if necessary. And, Stake is considered a finesse weapon (with an improved Armor Piercing rating of 3), should Morghun combat heavily armored foes. At the beginning or end of his turn--whichever is appropriate--he will use his 5 foot step to increase range to 10' in order to bring Stake to bear on his opponent. Morghun rarely relies on his dirk as a weapon, using more as a general knife and hunting tool.

Although I didn't give the character any armor, I sure thought about it. I would make this a game goal. This character, gaining a chain shirt, even, would go a long way towards his surivival. Something quick and immediate might be a simple leather jerkin. Some Cimmerians tend to shun armor, though. Thus, this is what I've done with this character. I'm sure he could change his outlook, the way Conan did, once he learns more of the civilized south!


Cian McDowd
2nd level Barbarian

Race: Cimmerian
Sex: Male
Age: 19
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 168 lbs.
Handedness: Right

STR: 16 (+3)
DEX: 15 (+2)
CON: 9 (-1)
INT: 10
WIS: 11
CHA: 8 (-1)

HP: 16
Fate: 3
XP: 1,000

Parry: AC 13
Parry with Shield: AC 16

Dodge: AC 13
Ranged Dodge with Shield: AC 16

Bracers = DR 1
Bracers + Helm = DR 2 (As pictured above)

Mantle = DR 2
Mantle + Helm = DR 3

Mail Hauberk = DR 6 (+3 Max DEX, -4 Armor Check Penalty)
Mail Hauberk + Helm = DR 7 (+3 Max DEX, -4 Armor Check Penalty)

Initiative: +5
Fort: +2
Ref: +5
Will: +4 (+6 vs. Fear) (+7 vs. Corruption)

BAB: +2
Melee: +5
Finesse: +4
Ranged: +4

Speed: 30 ft. (25 ft. when wearing hauberk)

Code of Honor: Barbarian
Allegiance: Blue Fox Clan = +2 CHA check bonus
Base Reputation: 3
1st Level Deed: +1 Reputation - Left Ox Clan for Blue Fox Clan
Social Standing (Barbarian): +0 Reputation
Current Reputation: 4 = +0 Reputation based checks

LANGUAGES*: Cimmerian (native), Nordheimer, Aqualonian, Pictish, Hyperborean.

*This character is not literate in any of these languages. Literacy can be obtained at no cost to the character except for time needed to learn to read and write and an effort on the part of the character. Literacy actions are governed by the GM.

PROFECIENCY FEATS: Simple Weapon Proficiency (All), Martial Weapon Proficiency (All), Armor Proficiency (Light), Armor Proficiency (Medium), Shield Proficiency.

BARBARIAN FEATS: Track, Two-Weapon Combat.

1st LEVEL FEAT: Toughness

**This Feat is taken from The Barbaric Warrior supplement. It allows the character to use the Fighting Defensively routine at a -2 attack modifier instead of the standard -4 penalty.

BARBARIAN CLASS ABILITIES: Fearless, Versatility, Bite Sword, Crimson Mist.

20 skill points: 3 Climb, 1 Craft (Carpenter), 4 Listen, 1 Handle Animal, 1 Hide, 1 Move Silently, 1 Profession (Lumberjack), 1 Ride, 4 Spot, 3 Survival.

-1 Bluff (-3 verbally based)
+10 Climb
+0 Craft (Herbal)

+0 Craft (any mundane)
+1 Craft (Carpenter)
+4 Listen (+6 in native terrain)

+0 Handle Animal (Trained)
+3 Hide (+5 in native terrain)
-1 Intimidate

+3 Jump
+3 Move Silently (+5 in native terrain)
-1 Perform

+1 Profession (Lumberjack) (Trained)
+3 Ride
+4 Spot (+6 in native terrain)

+5 Survival (+7 in native terrain)
+3 Swim


+0 Appraise
+2 Balance
-1 Concentration

+0 Craft (Alchemy)
+0 Decipher Script (Not Trained)
+0 Disable Device (Not Trained)

-3 Diplomacy
-1 Disguise
+2 Escape Artist

+0 Forgery
-1 Gather Information
+0 Heal

+2 Knowledge (Local - Blue Foxlands of Cimmeria) (Trained)
+2 Knowledge (Nature) (Not Trained)
+0 Knowledge (various Knowledge skills) (Not Trained)

+2 Open Lock (Not Trained)
+0 Search
+0 Sense Motive

+0 Slight of Hand
+2 Tumble (Not Trained)
+2 Use Rope

NOTES: At 3rd level, look at obtaining the Great Fortitude Feat to boost his FORT save. Look at non-trained skills. At 4th level, as Cian gains a +1 bonus to any attribute of his choice, look at placing that in CON and gaining +4 hit points retroactively.


On the journey from Seven Stones Ridge in the far north, Cian wears heavy leather breeks, deerskin boots, and a heavy cloth kilt. Up top, he wears a long sleeved cotton liene (billowy shirt). Around his shoulders, he wears his heavy bear skin mantle (heavy cloak).

All clothing items are High Quality (Craft DC 15 to create/repair) except for the mantle, which is of Superior Quality (DC 20 to create/repair). See the clothing rules on page 3 of Tito's Trading Post.

Miscellaneous clothing items include: Breeks and weapon belts. Cloth loinclout.

01.0 lb. Leather Breeks
01.0 lb. Boots
----- lb. Liene
03.0 lb. Mantle
00.5 lb. Belt
01.0 lb. Weapon Belt
----- lb. Loin Cloth
00.5 lb. Cloth Kilt


Cian wears an Aesir mail hauberk, albeit dented, scratched, and repaired. The set fits well Cian's shape. And, the young warrior was proffered a new Asgardian horned steel helm. See the Armor section of the stat block above.

When Cian became clansmen to the Blue Fox, he chipped a piece of stone from one of the teeth of the prachaun grule--the ancient circle of seven monolithic stones that gives the Foxman clanholme its name. This, he shaped into the image of a tooth. With a piece of gut leather, he hung it around his neck for all to see. As an animal bears it's teeth when it fights, so now would Cian, with a tooth of stone carved from ancient and sacred rock. When the Aesir presented Cian with the new helm, he had the stone tooth fashioned to a ring that hangs from the left side of the helmet. No longer would the tooth be hidden under heavy clothing or armor. All would see it when he donned the helm and entered battle. See the illustration of Cian above.

Note that Cian will not always wear this armor, especially the hauberk. The mail sits heavily upon his shoulders causing fatigue. See the rule on page 41 of Tito's Trading Post.

The only piece of true armor that Cian brought with him from his clanholme is the wooden targe for which he bartered just before leaving Seven Stones.

Cian wears leather bracers on his wrists. These serve as armor (see the piecemeal armor rules in either the Barbaric Warrior or Barbaric Treasures supplements) but can only be combined with other piecemeal armor items. See the Armor section in the stat block above.

35.0 lb. Mail Hauberk
03.0 lb. Steel Cap
04.0 lb. Targe
----- lb. Bracers


As the Foxmen set off from Seven Stones, Hrathnar shoved a long, heavy war spear into Cian's hands. When needed, he was to use it to punch at the snow to ensure footing.

War Spear: 1d10 Damage. x3 Critical. AP 2. Hard 7. HP 4. Reach/Finesse Weapon. Simple Two-Handed Melee Piercing Weapon.

Cian's main weapon is an old, well-used broadsword that he's had almost as long as he's been a warrior. It's a no-frills, soldier's weapon that Cian took from dead fingers in the aftermath of his first large battle. Though plain, the weapon is strong, keen, and quite capable. There is no doubt that this is a warrior's weapon meant for the single purpose of slaying foes.

Broadsword: 1d10 Damage. 19-20/x2 Critical. AP 3. Hard 10. HP 5. Finesse Weapon if wielded two-handed. Martial One-Handed Melee Slashing Weapon.

Cian still carries the first real weapon he acquired as a child, long before he became a warrior. After his 4th winter, Cian's father gave him an antler-handled dirk. Today, Cian still frequently uses it as a utility knife and off-hand weapon. It is not balanced to be thrown. The dirk can always be found on Cian's person, usually in its scabbard at Cian's waist. The Cimmerian Dirk can be found in S&P.

Cimmerian Dirk: 1d6 Damage. 19-20/x2 Critical. AP 2. Hard 10. HP 2. Finesse Weapon. Simple Light Melee Piercing Weapon.

He wars a finely balanced axe to dispense his wrath. This weapon is carried with its handle through a metal hoop fastened to Cian's weapon belt.

Axe: 1d8 Damage. x3 Critical. AP 1. Range Increment: 10 ft. Hard 5. HP 3. Finesse Weapon. Martial Light Melee Slashing Weapon.

05.0 lb. War Spear
02.5 lb. Broadsword
02.0 lb. Cimmerian Dirk
02.0 lb. Axe


Cian's mantle features three inside pockets. He doesn't usually put anything in them as he's learned that any substantial weight throws his cloak askew. But, he does carry some flint and steel, and some fire starter made of dried brush, hemp, and horse hair. The weight of the cloak is much more substantial than all of these things combined (although there's plenty of room left in these pockets should he ever need them).

On his belt (not his weapon belt) hangs a single pouch. In this, he carries a whetstone.

Draped across his torso is a waterskin.

----- lb. Flint and Steel (in mantle inside pocket)
----- lb. Firestarter (in mantle inside pocket)
00.5 lb. Belt Pouch (on breeks belt)
01.0 lb. Whetstone (in belt pouch)
04.2 lb. Waterskin (water weighs about 8.5 lb. per gallon)
The Scrolls of Skelos

I am reading The Scrolls of Skelos, which, it says, was the first supplement for Mongoose's Conan RPG. One thing that strikes me about this magnificent game, and this supplement in particular, are the spells. Yeah, the sorcerers can do some amazing, powerful things. They can change the world. But, the casting times on so many of these spells are so long that the spell is pretty much useless in a roleplaying environment. It is one of the few real flaws in this game.

If a spell takes a week to cast, then it is not something that will happen in a regular game. The casting becomes more of a story event. Even if the spell only takes ten minutes to throw, that's still not something that will often happen in a game. Spells like that become part of a preparation period before battle.

Spells that can be cast quickly, inside of a combat encounter, are the spells that most players are interested in using. The spells that take a long time to cast become a task like crafting. The player rolls to make sure the spell is cast correctly, and we skip ahead a week to play out its effects.

If the duration is limited, then a long cast time becomes an exercise in timing. If a spell takes a week to cast but then only lasts for one minutes per Scholar level, the part that concerns the players will be timing the spell to complete when it is needed. This is not always as easy as it sounds if sacrifices and special tools/talismans/locations are needed to complete the spell.

If the sorcerer is the bad guy, then casting of a spell with a long casting time becomes a timer for the PCs to defeat the foe.

In many ways, Sorcerers in the Conan RPG are both more powerful and weaker than their D&D counterparts: more powerful in the types of spells that can be cast, but weaker in that a majority of these spells cannot be cast quickly--so, the magic becomes useless to a cornered sorcerer (that needs something quick to use in a combat round).

This is why most sorcerers in the Hyborian Age rely upon tricks, like poison tipped rings and alchemy produced flash balls. Many sorcerers are multi-classed as Soldiers first, then as Scholars, using cold steel to protect them from enemies.
More From The Scrolls of Skelos

The book provides rules for permanent magic, creating buildings (remember the Tower of the Elephant? ), magical weapons and other magical items...even new life. So, it is a great resource for a campaign that features a strong sorcerer PC.

Sorcerers often need things. They need wealth. They need something to sacrifice. They need items for spells and alchemy and herbalism. All sorts of stuff.

What can be real fun is to have that strong PC direct the group for quests. Instead of the GM using "pushes" and "pulls" to try to influence the characters to go where he wants them to go, a GM could listen to the player playing the sorcerer. What does he need? Maybe he needs an Akbitanan weapon to use in creating a magical weapon. That's a quest right there--player driven. The GM could take this information and create an entire adventure just to acquire one of these rare weapons.

And, the GM can get creative, too. Not only does the PC sorcerer need a specfic arming sword made by an Akbitanan smith, but the blade must be soaked in the dying blood of three men at midnight on the night of the Winter Solstice.

You can set up all sorts of fun just creating "fetch" quests like this--and the player interest is generated by the players!
Personal Belongings & Garments

Roll Personal Belongings

1–2 Rough hammered jewelry
3–4 Tribal/ritual/prestige tattoos and/or piercings

5–6 A solid well-crafted armband made of copper or silver
7–8 An ancient piece of jewelry its surface covered in verdigris

9–10 An ornate symbol of your father’s faith
11–12 A small leather sack containing hair of a loved one or fragments from their garment

13–14 A small leather scroll case containing a parchment upon which is writ a family secret
15–16 A ring made of semiprecious stone

17–18 A necklace of animal teeth or bones
19–20 A small mummified body part such as an ear or finger

Roll Garments

1–2 A patched and practical gambeson
3–4 Simple un-dyed cloth worn in the fashion of your people

5–6 Cheap fabrics richly dyed in the fashion of the nearest town or city
7–8 Long flowing dress or robes embroidered with coarse thread in traditional patterns

9–10 Furs and pelts sewn with threads of a quality befitting your station
11–12 Deerskin leggings and a heavy hooded cloak

13–14 Simple black trousers with a long-sleeved tunic
15–16 Light cloth covered by a tradesman’s leather apron

17–18 Sandals and tunic befitting a servant
19–20 Naked as modesty will allow you

1–2 Your former master’s Knife
3–4 A small but heavy Sword

5–6 A knight's Saber
7–8 Broadsword battered from years of use

9–10 A simple War Pick, humble yet serviceable
11–12 Spear engraved with prayers and oaths

13–14 Broad-headed Axe ripped from the hands of a brigand you slew
15–16 Length of Chain freshly forged and tested true

17–18 Sharpened Rock still stained in places with the blood of those it has slain
19–20 Whip decorated with polished stones

Aquilonia, Gunderland, Bossonian Marches

Male: Aelius Casca Cassius Gaius Galen Octavian Quintas Severus Sulla Tiberio Varro
Female: Arria Aurelia Claudia Delia Emilia Hypatia Lavinia Livia Portia Vibia


Male: Actaeon Agenor Cepheus Eteokles Gordius Hyllos Latos Nisus Tydeus
Female: Aglaia Althaia Arene Cythonia Danae Diomenia Ianthe Ismene Leda

Black Kingdoms, Darfar, Keshan, Kush, Punt, Zembabwei

Male: Amente Ayele Endale Kagale Kahero Kenyatta Mganga Mubale Mwando Nastasen Okang Shanaka Talharqa
Female: Aluna Asminia Chanya Dalila Iras Kanika Kenyetta Micere Mirembe Nagesa Nmambi Nyanath Qalhata Sala Sudati

Border Kingdom

Male: Agron Edgard Gavril Guri Ilian Ivo Korvin Rikard Vidian Vulko
Female: Anila Edita Eliza Lillia Mara Mersada Petya Vlora Zabela Zana


Male: Achila Alaric Braga Gaiseric Hunulf Sigeric Sisbert Theodoric Valamir Videric
Female: Anja Elfrida Greta Hildegard Natasa Sabri Sigrun Sunilda Thea Ulrike Zlata


Male: Aidan Balor Caith Cormac Donal Ethain Ingol Liath Niall Roark Ronan Tuathal
Female: Adara Breanne Dianan Eithna Iorwen Maeve Marella Nuala Urith Wenna


Male: Adelmo Ambrosius Casca Drusus Gaius Lucan Mallus Petrus Servius Titus
Female: Atia Camilla Cordelia Indara Luciana Martina Narcissa Sabina Tiberia Vinicia


Male: Arno Dobromil Durko Dusan Jarek Karel Marek Radek Velek Zoryn
Female: Dobrila Draza Dusana Milena Neda Rhada Velina Vera Veruska Zora


Male: Borogul Dashyin Gunsem Ketei Khlaiun Ong Oqotur Tuqu Ulugan Yesukai
Female: Ajurin Cheren Davasuren Ereden Nergui Nyam Nyima Oyun Shria Udbal


Male: Ahmad Amir Haroun Hasaan Ibrahim Khalid Khemais Mahmud Sabah Wakim
Female: Asra Ayele Monira Nadia Naesa Nalyssa Samiha Sana Sureia Zohra


Male: Cheuk Guang Heshen Khosho Khai Kogen Kuan Quan Shan Tenji Zhang Zhuo
Female: Feiyan Hui Jin-hua Lai Lian Sung Tse Xi-lan Yuan Zhao Zhi


Male: Armenius Aris Florian Leontius Lothar Maurus Ovidio Palladius Tiberius Vetranis
Female: Amina Aniella Etheria Ghita Gianna Meloria Sarina Savia Talita Zaira

Nemedia, Ophir

Male: Alesso Armatius Attalus Cyril Dorian Galenus Hektor Isidor Melitius Symeon
Female: Althea Basina Cyra Eudocia Herena Ionna Ismene Nereida Nyssa Pasara

Nordheim: Asgard or Vanaheim

Male: Asgrim Brand Egil Einar Gunnar Haakon Hrolf Mord Niall Sigurd Starkad
Female: Aldis Astrid Gerda Gudrun Gunnhild Helga Ingrid Sigrid Thora Thordis

Shem, Khoraja, Khauran

Male: Aram Elam Hanud Melech Musa Ninsun Obares Sargon Zabium
Female: Asiria Inanna Lilah Nahrin Nira Rina Samiria Shira Sufia Urshana Zabihi


Male: Amen-Ophis Hapu-Seneb Harkouf Hetep-Sekhem Khephren Khonsa Ptah-Hotep Sa-Nekht Semer-Teph Seostris
Female: Amendiris Herit Itakare Khamaat Khnemi Maatkare Mereret Nefertari Nekhbet Sekhmet


Male: Ahmet Aslan Azim Burak Damad Irfan Ishan Kemal Mahmut Nazim Sadik
Female: Adalet Damla Emine Ferah Hayat Nadiye Nazan Rana Semra Zehra


Male: Arun Ashok Chandra Harnath Kishan Murali Naresh Raghavan Ramesh Sardar
Female: Asira Bhaina Challa Hemanti Indali Jhala Kheli Mira Savita Vimala


Male: Ashari Hazir Ibrahim Hamid Maraphis Pelagon Salabus Sargis Tolmos Xanthes
Female: Amestris Adula Cyra Izdihar Lissa Natara Nuriya Rahna Sadiya Tanit


Male: Ariando Alfonso Baltasar Dario Fausto Isidro Lazero Rodrigo Silvio Teodoro
Female: Adelina Celina Estella Isabella Marcela Marisa Rosalia Talita Yolanda Zelia
Random Homeland

2–7 Aquilonia
8–9 Bossonian Marches
10 Keshan

11 Kush
12 Khoraja
13 Cimmeria
14 Hyperborea
15 Border Kingdom

16 Nordheim: Asgard or Vanaheim
17 Ophir
18 Koth
19 Argos
20 Gunderland

21 Brythunia
22 Nemedia
23 Zamora
24 Shem
25 Zingara

26 Corinthia
27 Stygia
28 Khauran
29 Zembabwei
30 Punt

31 The Black Kingdoms
32 Darfar
33–34 Turan
35–36 Hyrkania

37–38 Iranistan or Afghulistan
39 Vendhya
40 Khitai

Most people know a few common words and phrases from the languages of their neighbors, enough to convey basic meaning, and some languages are similar enough that their speakers can be mutually understood.

The languages commonly spoken in the Hyborian Age are as follows:

Aquilonian, Argossean
Cimmerian, Corinthian

Hyperborean, Hyrkanian

Keshani, Kothic, Kushite
Nemedian, Nordheimer

Pictish, Punt
Shemitish, Stygian

Zamorian, Zembabwein, Zingaran

Obscure, Regional Tongues: Himelian, Kambujan, the Vilayet argot, and Zuagir.
There are countless dialects and minor tongues.

Ancient and Long-Dead Languages: Acheronian, Ancient Stygian.
Long-Vanished Tongues of the Thurian Age: Atlantean, Ligurean, Lemurian, Valusian, and others.


The following languages are roughly similar enough that with a little patience and careful attention, speakers are able to understand one another. Some similarities between other languages exist, but these are the most directly similar.

MIDDLE KINGDOM LANGUAGES: Aquilonian, Corinthian, Nemedian, Ophirean, and Zingaran

BORIAN LANGUAGES: Brythunian, Hyperborean, and Nordheimer

ZHEMRIAN LANGUAGES: Argossean, Kothic, Shemitish, Zamorian, and Zhemri

SOUTHERN LANGUAGES: Darfari, Keshani, Kushite, Punt, and Zembabwein
By Astreas of Nemedia

This treatise is an account of the people and places of the Hyborian kingdoms and the mysterious and exotic lands of the South and East as witnessed by or related to your humble author, Astreas of Nemedia, scholar and philosopher.

Over the span of my life, I have traveled widely across the known world, from the frigid wastes of the North to the teeming jungles of the South; and from the green waves of the Western Ocean to the vast steppes of the East. And while there is no land that can rival the martial strength, cultural excellence, and religious piety of the Hyborian kingdoms of Nemedia, Aquilonia, and their sister nations, there are many wondrous realms beyond our borders where even the worship of great Mitra is unknown, and strange races worship forgotten gods at altars of curious stone.

Astreas of Nemedia is a traveling savant, known to range widely throughout the Hyborian kingdoms. For several years, he was attached to the court of Queen Taramis, in the tiny kingdom of Khauran, east of Koth. Widely traveled, he wrote a great many letters to his good friend Alcemides, a fellow Nemedian scholar. These letters provide incredible insights into the events and personalities of the Hyborian Age.

The Rise of the Hyborian Kingdoms

The tawny-haired Hyborians began their rise to prominence around three millennia ago, when they were a rude and barbarous people of the north who worshipped some primitive chieftain-god, Bori. They swept down from the north in a series of migrations, conquering the older kingdoms they encountered and setting up new kingdoms of their own.

Hyperborea in the north was the first of the Hyborian kingdoms to rise from barbarism. Today the tall, gaunt Hyperboreans are the major power in the northlands. Their king, Tomar, keeps them generally isolated from the political intrigue of the other kingdoms to the south, aside from occasional border skirmishes with Brythunia and the Turanians to the southeast. They are, however, constantly warring with barbarians from the frozen wastes of Asgard and from hilly Cimmeria, both to their west.

The Hyperboreans are notorious for their brutal treatment of captives, and tales of the Hyberborean slave pens are ones of
horror. While the tenets of Mitra are known in Hyperborea, many still worship the ancestral god Bori.

The kingdoms of Koth, Ophir, and Corinthia were all founded three thousand years ago after a wave of our Hyborian ancestors migrated south. For centuries, they were vassal states controlled by the ancient and sinister empire of Acheron, until a new wave of Hyborian barbarians swept down from the north. Some say the Acheronians were descended from an early migration of Hyborians mixed with the Stygians of the south, some say they belong to an even more ancient race — no one knows for certain.

What is known is that the purple towers of Acheron, and its temples to the Stygian god Set, crumbled under fire and
steel, wielded by these new Hyborian invaders. Koth, Ophir, and Corinthia gained their independence, and new younger kingdoms — Aquilonia, Nemedia, Brythunia, and Argos, by name — arose from the ashes of Acheron.

The age of the Hyborians began.

Koth, with its capital of Korshemish, is the strongest of these older Hyborian kingdoms. The Kothian king Strabonus rules with an iron fist, though some say the true power behind the throne is the sorcerer Tsotha-lanti, who resides in the great Scarlet Citadel in the capital.

The kingdom is made up of numerous vassal city-states and principalities that occasionally attempt to throw off the yoke of Strabonus. More often than not these attempts at rebellion are crushed by the king, but it shows that his hold on power is somewhat tenuous, particularly in the eastern part of his realm.

One of the primary industries in Koth is the trade in slaves — moreso than in any other Hyborian kingdom — and even a highborn individual captured in battle or convicted of a crime might be forced into a life of drudgery for some petty noble.

Influences from the East

While Koth is fully Hyborian, there is a strong cultural influence from the lands of Shem to the south and Turan to the east. Indeed, the worship of foreign gods like Ishtar, Bel, and Anu has eclipsed the worship of Mitra in many Kothian cities, particularly in the eastern principalities.

I spent considerable time in the small kingdom of Khauran, formally a Kothic vassal state on the eastern frontier, and one would hardly know from the architecture and customs that it was a province established by Hyborians rather than Shemites or the people of the steppes.

Ophir may not be largest or strongest of the Hyborian kingdoms, but it is possibly one of the wealthiest due to presence of numerous gold and silver mines within its borders. The opulent royal seraglio of King Amalrus is legendary for its decadence and sheer size as is the vast palace. But the common people see little of that wealth — Amalrus is a despot, and the kingdom’s largesse is tightly controlled by the king and his ruling elite.

Corinthia, while nominally a kingdom, is a land made up of many rival city-states, and the throne has little true political authority. Several powerful noble families control their own cities, and political intrigue is rife. These noble houses are the real power in Corinthia.

Aquilonia, Greatest of the Hyborian Kingdoms

Among the younger Hyborian kingdoms, the greatest is truly Aquilonia, with its magnificent capital city of Tarantia. The countryside of Aquilonia is fertile land for agriculture, and the kingdom is divided into baronies and counties, all controlled by vassal lords who swear fealty to the king, Numedides. The powerful Aquilonian armies led by her mounted knights provide a powerful bulwark against her rivals and protect the efforts to expand her borders to the west into Pictland and northwest into Cimmeria.

Several provinces form buffers on these western and northern frontiers. In the northwest of the kingdom is Gunderland, whose hardy frontiersmen are known for their woodcraft and toughness in battle. They are excellent pikemen, and many Gundermen serve in mercenary companies.

Stretching along the western and northern frontier are the Bossonian Marches, whose inhabitants are known far and wide as the most skilled of all Hyborians in the use of the longbow.

Beyond the Bossonian Marches is the Westermark, a series of settlements that is an attempt by the Aquilonians to push into the Pictish wilderness and colonize the area. Needless to say, the savage Picts have not allowed themselves to be dominated without a fight, and the Westermark remains a dangerous place, where Aquilonian settlers often disappear in the woods without trace — their skulls no doubt decorating an altar in some Pictish hut.

Aquilonia’s Neighbors

East of Aquilonia is her sometime ally, sometime rival Nemedia, the land of my birth. Nearly the equal of Aquilonia in military might, my homeland exceeds her in culture, learning, and the arts, though I cannot claim to be unbiased in that judgment. The capital Belverus is a center of learning and philosophy, as is the city of Numalia in the eastern part of the kingdom.

Just as the Aquilonians have Gunderland and the Bossonian Marches, Nemedia has the Border Kingdom. Nominally independent, but in truth a vassal in all but name, the Border Kingdom serves as a bulwark against the Cimmerians and Hyperboreans to the north.

East of Nemedia is Brythunia, a mostly rural and agricultural kingdom, but important for trade routes between the great Hyborian powers of the west and the eastern realms of Zamora and beyond. Without the military strength of Aquilonia or Nemedia, the kingdom of Brythunia generally tries to avoid the imperial ambitions of its neighbors.

The Hyborian People

Hyborians are an industrious and innovative folk. They are generally fair-skinned with ruddy complexions. Their hair color can vary between the tawny blonde of Gunderland and Brythunia to the brunettes of the southern kingdoms. Skilled in warfare as well as statecraft, it is little wonder that they have been able to build the most advanced civilization in the known world.

The worship of the great god Mitra is the primary religion of the Hyborians, though other cults can be found in the major cities. Only in Hyperborea, where the ancient god Bori is still venerated, and in some parts of Koth, where the mysteries of Ishtar are popular, does the Mitran religion have any competition in a Hyborian kingdom. The truth of Mitra spread throughout the Hyborian realms more than 1,500 years ago, partly due to the work of the great sage Epemitreus, and today, Mitran missionaries continue his sacred duty, proselytizing throughout the known world and even less familiar places.

The Lands to the North and West

Beyond the Hyborian kingdoms, the world is a mysterious, exotic, and often dangerous place and few Hyborians have traveled so much of it as your humble author. Many of the things I will relate will no doubt seem fanciful, but I swear upon Mitra that everything I write has been witnessed by myself or told to me by those who have seen these things for themselves.

To the north and west of the Hyborian kingdoms are barbarian lands filled with naked savages and howling berserkers. The Pictish Wilderness to the west of Aquilonia and north of Zingara is a vast impenetrable forest. Pictish villages are scattered throughout the deep woods, and the Picts fight among themselves just as much or more than they raid Hyborian frontier settlements. They are bloodthirsty savages who paint themselves when they hunt or go to war. I have been told by a ranger of the Westermark that their shamans can summon and control wild beasts and even forest demons, but that is likely another of the tall tales and superstitions of the frontier folk.

North of Aquilonia are the cold, bleak hills of Cimmeria. Dark-haired with blue or gray eyes, the Cimmerians are fierce warriors living in scattered villages. They are skilled hunters, and it is said that a Cimmerian can scale a sheer cliff as fast as a normal man walks. They worship the dark god Crom and, like their god, they are a gloomy and melancholy race.

During my travels as a youth I visited the Aquilonian outpost of Venarium, set well within Cimmerian territory, and met several of their kind trading pelts at the outpost. But not two months after my departure, a horde of the dark-haired barbarians descended on Venarium and put all the inhabitants to the sword — that was the last time Aquilonia tried to colonize in Cimmeria.

Beyond Cimmeria is the near mythical land of Nordheim, divided into Vanaheim to the northwest and Asgard to the north. Little is known of these fierce barbarians, though occasionally some of their number travel south and end up in mercenary companies. What I learned of them came from my brief stay in Venarium and from an axe-wielding Vanir mercenary I knew in Khauran. The red-haired Vanir and the blond Æsir are tribal people, each ruled by its own king or chieftain. Some tribes live in settled villages growing what little food they can in those frigid wastes. Other tribes are nomadic, following herds of reindeer and living in hide tents. They are a warrior race, fighting all day and carousing at night. They worship the frost giant Ymir and his kin, and believe that dying in battle will assure a warrior a place in the afterlife called Valhalla.

The Kingdoms to the South

South of Koth is the vast land of Shem. Centuries ago it was part of the empire of Stygia to the south, but Hyborian invaders razed Acheron and broke Stygia’s control over its northernmost vassals. The land of Shem is not a unified kingdom, but a number of independent walled city-states. Geographically, Shem is divided into the pastoral hills of the west where the shepherds graze their flocks, and the vast rolling deserts of the east, where oasis towns serve as waypoints on the caravan routes. Shemites are prodigious merchants and traders, and can be found peddling wares in markets and bazaars across the known world.

They are a black-haired people with olive skin and dark eyes, though some coastal Shemites can be quite pale-skinned. Their women are beautiful and the men burly, often with thick beards.

They are known as excellent archers with the traditional shortbow, and contingents of Shemite bowmen can be found in many armies.

From Shem, I bent my steps south until I came upon the hateful Styx, that broad and dusky river that marks the true border between the city-states of the north and the ancient kingdom of Stygia. I hesitate to recount even a portion of my sojourn in that grim and furtive land, but I will do so for the sake of erudition. By all accounts, the Styx is the longest of rivers; rising from its headwaters far to the south, it runs for countless leagues through jungle and desert before taking an abrupt turn to the west. It continues on for hundreds of miles past Luxur, where King Ctesphon makes his abode, until its silt-heavy waters mingle with the clean salt of the sea.

At the mouth of this mighty river sits black-walled Khemi, between two mighty points of land that jut into the sea. While the king might hold his court in ancient Luxur, far inland, the priests of Set hold sway in Khemi — and it is whispered that the Old Serpent, hateful Set, yet lurks in the darkling shadows of the temples, and that the priests loose His serpentine children into the streets each night so they might seek their fill of human flesh. I did not witness this, myself, but nor do I dismiss it out of hand. Having seen the black pyramids rising from the wastes on the outskirts of Khemi, I can well believe even the wildest of tales.

The ruling castes of Stygia are a uniformly tall breed, with a variety of skin colors seemingly differentiated by profession: from the ivory flanks of a royal priestess of Set, to the sun-darkened hide of her captain of chariotry, and every hue in between. Their hair, when they do not shave their scalps for comfort in this heat-stricken land, is as black as any Cimmerian’s. The common folk, however, are a polyglot, a downtrodden mixture of Stygian, Kushite, Shemitish, and even Hyborian — though I discount the latter as a tissue of lies, for no Hyborian would shoulder the galling yoke of slavery as I witnessed among the folk of Stygia. In truth, these lower castes do not deserve the dreadful reputation brought upon the Stygian people by their priests. Once their minds were at ease, and I had convinced them I was not some foreign spy, I found common Stygians to be warm and full of dark humor. Their nobility, however, remain as haughty and hubristic as one might imagine, as dangerous as the vipers they deign to keep as pets.

I did not see much of their land, as foreigners are not permitted to leave the district of the harbor at Khemi, but from what I gather it is predominantly desert — a trackless waste of sand and bleached rock, dotted with small and lush oases. I am told that after many days’ travel, the desert gives way to savannah along the southern border of Stygia, where mercenaries patrol from fortified towns like Sukhmet, ever watchful against incursions from the savage Black Kingdoms.

The Black Kingdoms

What I know of these Black Kingdoms and the barbaric lands of the South, I got from a merchant-prince of Argos — a singularly audacious fellow who had fared inland to trade among the dusky-skinned tribes and returned to tell the tale. The deserts and grasslands south of Stygia, according to this worthy fellow, give way to forests, and thence to hard and trackless jungle, laced with sluggish rivers and pierced by ranges of mountains.

Kush is the largest of these so-called kingdoms, and it sits hard by the ocean, wedged between Stygia, Darfar, and the warlike tribes of the Black Coast. Its capital is Shumballa, a rude city of stone and mud and thatch that is divided between
the ruling Chagas — who boast of Stygian blood — and the local dark-skinned Gallahs. In Shumballa I am told mob violence is ever brewing. Beyond the capital, Kush is a welter of nomadic tribes who follow their long-horned cattle as they graze across the broad savannah.

Grisly are the tales my Argossean companion told of Darfar, which shares a border with Stygia and with Kush; here, cannibals practice their trade in the open, part of a ghastly cult. He did not tarry, and thus cannot tell me much — save that the Stygians are ever at guard against raids from Darfar, and caravans avoid it, lest they wind up as naked and gnawed bones in the bottom of a fire pit.

East of Kush is the kingdom of Keshan, jungle-heavy and god-bothered; here, of old, a pale-skinned race of men had carved the fabled city of Alkmeenon from that green and brooding hell. Many are the tales of the curiously cut jewels called the Teeth of Gwahlur, a lost treasure which has drawn generations of adventurers and freebooters to the region, rendering it perhaps a touch more cosmopolitan than it deserves to be.

On Keshan’s eastern border lay its hereditary enemy, the kingdom of Punt, and thence another crude kingdom with the audacity to call itself an empire, that of Zembabwei. To my informant, Keshan, Punt, and Zembabwei are virtually indistinguishable — tribal confederations who swear their oaths in blood before profane gods and who jumble stones together with mud and thatch and call them palaces. Selfstyled kings in gold and ostrich feathers mimic the worst features of northern despots, from garbled tales taught to them by mercenaries and merchants. I do not feel myself less of a traveler for not having witnessed this with my own eyes.

What is south of even the Black Kingdoms? I have heard only legends... tales of lost races and mysterious cities rising from the veldt, of deserts and fiery mountains where a race of warrior-women hold sway, and of the monster-haunted ends of the earth as we know it. Perhaps it is best that no man knows...

This table is specifically for use with Aquilonian urban area characters, but it can easily be used for most civilized areas, especially if the population is Hyborian.

Roll 1d6 to randomly select table, then roll 1d20 on the specific table. On a result of 20, pick from that table.

Or, of course, just select something that fits the game without rolling.

Aquilonian Urban Occupations Table

D6 = 1

1. Advocate
2. Alchemist
3. Armourer
4. Artist
5. Astrologer
6. Baker
7. Barber
8. Basket Maker
9. Beggar
10. Bell Maker
11. Bell-Ringer
12. Blacksmith
13. Book seller
14. Bookbinder
15. Bowyer/Fletcher
16. Brewer
17. Brothel Keeper
18. Buckle Maker
19. Butcher
20. Pick on this table.

D6 = 2

1. Candle-Maker
2. Carpenter
3. Carter
4. Cartographer
5. Chandler
6. Clothier, New
7. Clothier, Used
8. Cobbler
9. Cooper
10. Copyist
11. Craft Merchant
12. Cutler
13. Dairy Seller
14. Diplomat
15. Distiller
16. Domestic Servant
17. Draper
18. Dye Makers
19. Dyer
20. Pick on this table.

D6 = 3

1. Engineer
2. Engraver
3. Fishmonger
4. Flower seller
5. Fuller
6. Furniture Maker
7. Furrier
8. Gardener
9. Girdler
10. Glass Maker
11. Glove Maker
12. Goldsmith
13. Governess
14. Grain Merchant
15. Grocer
16. Guard
17. Guide/Tout
18. Haberdasher
19. Harness Maker
20. Pick from this table.

D6 = 4

1. Hay Merchant
2. Historian
3. Illuminator
4. Importer
5. Instrument Maker
6. Jeweller
7. Judge
8. Kidnapper
9. Laundress
10. Leatherworker
11. Limner
12. Lock Smith
13. Lotus Merchant
14. Mason
15. Mercer
16. Official
17. Painter
18. Paper Maker
19. Pastry Maker
20. Pick from this table.

D6 = 5

1. Pawnbroker
2. Perfumer
3. Potter
4. Prostitute
5. Purse Maker
6. Ratcatcher
7. Road Mender
8. Rope Maker
9. Rug Maker
10. Saddler
11. Satirist
12. Scabbard Maker
13. Scholar
14. Sculptor
15. Servants
16. Silversmith
17. Skinner
18. Soap Maker
19. Soothsayer
20. Pick from this table.

D6 = 6

1. Spice Merchant
2. Student
3. Tailor
4. Tanner
5. Tax Collector
6. Taxidermist
7. Thief
8. Tiler
9. Tinker
10. Toymaker
11. Undertaker
12. Vestment Maker
13. Vintner
14. Warehouser
15. Weaponsmith
16. Weaver
17. Wheelwright
18. Wood Carver
19. Wool Gatherer
20. Pick from this table.