Conan vs Iron Heroes

I bought the Iron Heroes PDF yesterday and read it. I'm happy to say that IMO it doesn't approach Conan's level of game design. Its good, but it severely lacking in the sword and sorcery "feel".

Mongoose Conan is a much better rule system. Kudos Mongoose.

You just can't trust a Shemite!
 

Azgulor

Banded Mongoose
RabidAntiShemite said:
I bought the Iron Heroes PDF yesterday and read it. I'm happy to say that IMO it doesn't approach Conan's level of game design. Its good, but it severely lacking in the sword and sorcery "feel".

Mongoose Conan is a much better rule system. Kudos Mongoose.

You just can't trust a Shemite!

I had very high hopes that Iron Heroes could be a companion volume to Conan - I could pick the parts I liked and leave the rest. Once it became evident, however, that the intent was to produce D&D-power without magic items, it went into my "Bleh, maybe if in a bargain bin" list.

Conan, thus far is the top dog in the d20 marketplace for me. If their execution is more in line with swords-n-sorcery than Iron Heroes turned out to be, I am hoping to add elements from Thieves' World Players Manual and the Game of Thrones RPG.

HUGE kudos to Mongoose, Ian, Vincent, and the other Conan-line authors! You're the tops in the industry in my book.

Azgulor
 

sanseveria

Mongoose
Conan D20 is one thing and iron Heroes is something completely different. They're both low magic but the similarities stop there.

I don't think IH was meant to capture the sword and sorcery feel. I have IH and I think it's a great book, full of new options and mechanics for a high impact, action-packed game. It does a great job at what it set out to do. I've been trying to create my own fantasy gaming setting for several years but never had the rules to support the vision that I have, until IH came out. I considered using the Conan mechanics but several of my players prefer the high fantasy so IH is the best of both worlds.

I keep Conan for playing Conan and use IH for playing in my own playground.

SS
 

Damien

Mongoose
I just picked up Iron Heroes and I absolutely love it.

And I think it -was- supposed to ellicit the sword-and-sorcery feel. But it doesn't, because it stuck too much to being D&D. Fortunately, it's still awesome.

I love Conan and Iron Heroes equally, and I'm thrilled that I may have time to run a game for each system.

But if I had to choose just one system...... I'd probably stay with Conan.
 

Faraer

Mongoose
Since when can you tell how good a game is by reading it?

Does Iron Heroes aim to be like classic sword and sorcery? The advertising and art suggests anything but.

Out of interest, how long is the Iron Heroes combat chapter?
 

Damien

Mongoose
Out of interest, how long is the Iron Heroes combat chapter?

40 pages. It resembles the standard combat system very much with a couple of differences, and the addition of Combat Stunts and things like that (plus new class abilities and feats and things described earlier in the book).

Since when can you tell how good a game is by reading it?

If you're asking for an opinion....

I think after you've been playing many different RPGs over a long period of time, you start to develop a sixth sense where you can judge, with at least- some- accuracy, the worth of a gaming book without playtesting it. That's not to say that you'll always be 100% right. But it's just as silly to think a 10-year gaming veteran doesn't know a good book when he's looking at it.
 

René

Mongoose
Faraer said:
Since when can you tell how good a game is by reading it?

Didn't we all know about how good CONAN RPG would be when we held the first book in our trembling hands ? :wink:
 

GlassJaw

Mongoose
I didn't like IH at all. It so wants to be Conan but it isn't. It actually isn't sure what it wants to be IMO. While I red it, I had the feeling that it was suffering from an identity crisis.

Anyway, I posted my thoughts in this thread on EN World:

http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=143649
 

Damien

Mongoose
I don't see how it 'wants to be Conan.' It bears practically no similarity (except those necessitated by the fact that both are d20 games) whatsoever to Conan's ruleset. Magic is different. Combat is different. The weapons are different. The armour is different. The classes are different.

I mean - you're obviously free to have your own opinions, but I really can't see Iron Heroes as anything but yet another variation on the d20 system, with its own concepts and ideas.

Trying not to go too far here, I'd say that calling Iron Heroes a rip-off of Conan is insulting to Mike Mearls and the effort he put into it.

I just played a game of Iron Heroes today and I will tell you outright that it plays NOTHING like a Conan game. Sorry to disappoint you.
 

argo

Mongoose
Damien said:
I don't see how it 'wants to be Conan.' It bears practically no similarity (except those necessitated by the fact that both are d20 games) whatsoever to Conan's ruleset. Magic is different. Combat is different. The weapons are different. The armour is different. The classes are different.
I believe what was meant by that was not that the rules are a rip-off of the Conan RPG but that the flavor of Iron Heroes was meant to be Swords 'n Sorcery action and that GlassJaw thinks the Conan RPG does that flavor better.

I think I am inclined to agree somewhat. I haven't seen the final book yet but I remember when it was announced a friend telling me "you love Conan so much so you should take a look at this!" But as the preview items were releases for the book I thought to myself; this is more like regular DnD with character abilities substituting for the power vacume left by magic items. Which is not really what I wanted. I still think I'll take a look at the book eventually but it is low on my list of priorities right now.

Later.
 

Damien

Mongoose
I believe what was meant by that was not that the rules are a rip-off of the Conan RPG but that the flavor of Iron Heroes was meant to be Swords 'n Sorcery action and that GlassJaw thinks the Conan RPG does that flavor better.

It's an unfair comparison. That's like saying that D&D does a better job at all high-fantasy, high-magic settings. That's not necessarily true.

Does Conan do a better job at Conan? Yes! At all sword-n-sorcery? No, of course not. No system can claim blanket compatibility like that.


I thought to myself; this is more like regular DnD with character abilities substituting for the power vacume left by magic items.

You're exactly right. Iron Heroes was created to function -with- the D&D rules. So, for example, you can use many monsters from D&D unchanged in your Iron Heroes game (barring some monsters with serious spell-like abilities or spellcasting - which might not work as well).

The intention was to make a game that worked right alongside, and at roughly the same power level, as D&D, but to take the magic weapons and shiny gear out of the equation so the game can be more about character ability rather than economic status and goodies.

Does it succeed? Definitely.


So I'll stand by my statement: I feel lucky to have -both- books, Conan and Iron Heroes. They're both excellent for what they were intended for (as well as for things they weren't). And trying to compare them to one another is an exercise in futility.

The only similarity the games bear is that they're both made with cinematic, uber-action in mind. Surely we can all agree that two games can be made for similar reasons without stepping on one another's toes, or needing to be compared against one another?

And certainly neither game should be accused of being a 'rip-off' of the other. That's just rude.
 

argo

Mongoose
Damien said:
And certainly neither game should be accused of being a 'rip-off' of the other. That's just rude.
Yeah ... nobody said that. :? I think the only question here was how good Iron Heroes does the Swords 'n Sorcery genre.

Anyway, like I said I haven't even read the book yet so....

Later.
 

Damien

Mongoose
Nobody said it?

It so wants to be Conan but it isn't.

I thought that this statement pretty overtly implied that Iron Heroes is, suffice to say, a rip-off of Conan. If I misunderstood -- my mistake.
 

GlassJaw

Mongoose
Damien said:
Nobody said it?

It so wants to be Conan but it isn't.

I thought that this statement pretty overtly implied that Iron Heroes is, suffice to say, a rip-off of Conan. If I misunderstood -- my mistake.

Let's be careful here. I'd like to point out that I NEVER said IH is a ripoff of anything else. That's an extremely strong accusation and I don't appreciate having those words put in my mouth. Saying it's a ripoff is ridiculous anyway - the rules and mechanics are completely different. And on the contrary, I actually think IH is very unique. There are a lot of new mechanics in there.

Now, let me clarify my comment (which I believe I did if you read through the whole thread on EN World but whatever).

When I started reading IH, I made a conscious effort to not compare IH to any other products until I had a solid understanding of the product as a whole. After I acheived that, comparisons invariably get made.

As I mentioned quite a bit in the EN World thread, I felt (and still feel) that IH were rules without a home. They elude to some kind of play style or campaign setting but I wasn't exactly sure what. It doesn't surprise me that Conan and IH play very differently at all - the power-level in IH is much higher right off the bat. But to me, the rules felt like they were trying to achieve something Conan-esque.

I thought I made a very good point in the EN World thread that if you take both books and remove all the fluff and anything that identifies the products and just look at the mechanics, I feel the Conan ruleset defines the playstyle much better than IH. IH has somewhat of an identity crisis. I keep harping on this but it's important: my impression of IH is that it's triyng to capture a Conan playstyle and feel but doesn't necessarily succeed.

Next time, please ask if you would like me to clarify something I said instead of posting in a reactionary fashion and I will do my best to oblige.
 

Damien

Mongoose
Next time, please ask if you would like me to clarify something I said instead of posting in a reactionary fashion and I will do my best to oblige.


If you think 2+2 = 3, and have no reason to believe otherwise, would you pick up a calculator?

I wasn't confused about your point, I believed that it was clearly what you were saying. I was wrong - and that happens. But it's silly to think a person will ask for clarification on a point he's sure about. That would lead to some very long conversations indeed!


I'd like to point out that I NEVER said IH is a ripoff of anything else.

I stand by my statement that your choice of words reflected that believe, whether you said it outright or not. Whether it was a bad interpretation on my part, or a bad choice of wording on your part. The implication was there, in my eyes.

"It so wants to be Conan.. but isn't?"


Now, let me clarify my comment (which I believe I did if you read through the whole thread on EN World but whatever).

No, I didn't read the thread at EN World. I believe that if you want to make a point on a message board that might need clarification or to be expounded upon - it should be done in the forum and thread you commented in. I honestly don't like being bounced around to other forums just to figure out what someone is saying.

Nothing against you - and I am a member of ENWorld. Just a pet peeve of mine.


As I mentioned quite a bit in the EN World thread, I felt (and still feel) that IH were rules without a home. They elude to some kind of play style or campaign setting but I wasn't exactly sure what. It doesn't surprise me that Conan and IH play very differently at all - the power-level in IH is much higher right off the bat. But to me, the rules felt like they were trying to achieve something Conan-esque.

This is where the contention is, I think. And I'd say we simply disagree. But I can see where you're coming from on this point.

I don't, however, see Iron Heroes as 'rules without a home' as you put it. I think the rules are firmly grounded in cinematic action, -not- gritty action. Both could be considered sword & sorcery -- but there are obvious differences.

Conan characters, for example, don't have much in the way of guaranteed safety. In a gritty world, you very well could end up dead from one wrong move.

Iron Heroes has characters with pumped up Hit Points and lots of defensive abilities that are there to keep you alive.

What I'm getting at is that while Conan is based on, obviously, Conan -- Iron Heroes is based on a much wider variety of themes and settings, Conan probably being one of only many, many styles.

When looking at Iron Heroes, you have to consider the context. The way the book is set up makes it pretty obvious that while it's a low-magic, gore-ific ruleset, it is NOT a -gritty- ruleset, like Conan. The two systems serve very different functions, and concepts.

I'm sure Mr. Mearls had the stories of Conan in mind while he wrote Iron Heroes, but I don't think he ever intended the setting to adequately function for that type of world.


Contrarily, I think the Iron Heroes rules work really well for a low magic world that is -not- gritty, where death is certain. Iron Heroes seems to fit the mold for swashbuckler films and things like that.

Cinematic action versus gritty action.


But that's just how I see it.
 
Mearls and others have mentioned many times that Iron Heroes was meant to be a Sword and Sorcery type game and I've even seen comparisons to Conan in various posts. Its a decent game, it just doesnt do sword and sorcery as well as Conan RPG does it. No need to get all defensive ;)

Oh, and I've been playtesting and running games long enough to tell whether I am going to like a game or whether I think it will be sound enough to run, just by reading it.
 

sanseveria

Mongoose
Mearls and others have mentioned many times that Iron Heroes was meant to be a Sword and Sorcery type game and I've even seen comparisons to Conan in various posts. Its a decent game, it just doesnt do sword and sorcery as well as Conan RPG does it. No need to get all defensive

Can you provide a link to were Mr. Mearls actually states that? I've heard other people say it, but never from him.

SS
 
No I can't. I'm not going to go digging through tons of posts on the subject for the place where he mentions that. But he did. But if you want to believe I'm just making it up... go ahead. :)

I never said that Mearls was ripping off Conan either. The game is obviously an attempt to create a sword and sorcery type game that favors the character's personal strengths over high magic. Suggesting that is neither insulting to Mearls or far fetched. Personally I think Mearls is a great designer. I think Iron Heroes is a pretty good system, but not as good as Mongoose's Conan. That was my orginal point..
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
I think Mike Mearls is one of the best d20 writers going. Rarely has he ever disappointed me with the products I've purchased. That said, this thread has really helped make my mind up NOT to buy Iron Heroes. I already have Conan, and any day now my pre-order of A Game of Thrones (AGOT) will be in my hot little hands. I had considered getting IH to complement these other two games, but now it seems apparent that IH does not do the type of game I want to be involved in, which is anything but high-powered D&D, LOL. I may end up picking up Thieves' World d20, though (fan of the books/setting). A huge part of what attracted me to Conan and AGOT was the richly detailed setting... and it seems IH does not have that.
 

ahzad

Mongoose
sanseveria said:
Can you provide a link to were Mr. Mearls actually states that? I've heard other people say it, but never from him.

SS

The one-sentence summary of the game is, "Iron Heroes is sword-and-sorcery fantasy where the hero's training, experience, and gumption allow him to defeat supernatural foes."

From his design diary #1 on montecook.com.
 
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