High-Fantasy Hyboria

Damien

Mongoose
I've been approached by my buddies to try something a little different next game, and I wanted to get opinions on it.


The suggestion is to use some of the vague statements Howard makes in his works to set up a sort of pre-Conan Hyboria. What they want to do is ignore the Kull mythos and use a bit more high fantasy (but still gritty and low-magic) to explain statements in the narrative about 'old forgotten races' and such.

Basically, take Hyboria back to when the Green Cities would have been built. The players want to see war-like, red-handed Elves and stoic black-skinned Dwarves. Note that we'll still be adhering to the 'feel' of Hyboria. Elves won't be ethereal magic-users, they'll be bloody warriors similar to the Vanir or Aesir in style, if not in physical appearance. Dwarves won't be grumpy beer-swillers, but dark-souled bloodthirsty killers.

The idea is to present an alternate history to Hyboria, not to revamp Hyboria as some kind of D&D-esque world with twenty Elf subraces and colour-coded dragons.


Personally, I really like the idea. I've always wanted to do something that takes concepts from high-fantasy and forces it into a grittier world of grim bloodshed. I think it could work rather well, and be quite fun.


Opinions, ideas, outraged screams of 'blasphemy?'
 

Hudson

Mongoose
Go for it. Once that rulebook is in your Cheeto stained hands do what you wish, as the front of every role playing book has told me.

In fact, my campaign has only the works of L Sprage Decamp as canon. That Lin Carter can go take a flying leap! He sucked donkey!


I also have a camp of Stygian Care Bears who have had their 'Care Bear Stare" transformed by a evil wizard to inflict great harm on anyone who dares enter their encampment in the deserts of Turin.
 

Castel

Mongoose
Well you´re talking of a time before kull right?
So it´s not Hyboria, and some even believe there may be a chronologic gap between Middle earth and Atlantean Times, soo do as you please...

And in my opinion you may add a world between the Third age and the formation of atlantis, were elves, dwarves and other races still exist but are becoming VERY VERY rare, demons are coming back (probably the coming of snake men) and gods are leaving this world... well you´ve got there a pretty god world for adventure...

Well if it´s not Hyboria, not Antlantean time, if it´s several years before everything REH wrotte about, go for it...

Ohh and don´t forget to add dragons (Not those weak chromatic ones... Real dragons... a real Highfantasy adventure needs the old "Slay the dragon")

For magic, well take a look in Raven´s rules for sorcery, she really has nice ideas.

Good luck...
 

Damien

Mongoose
Go for it. Once that rulebook is in your Cheeto stained hands do what you wish, as the front of every role playing book has told me.

Well obviously. I'm not going to nix an idea just because someone on a message board has objections - but I still want to see other opinions and thoughts.


Well you´re talking of a time before kull right?

No. Rather than add to the Hyboria mythos, I'm going to replace part of it. As I said in my original post - this timeframe will replace Kull's time (roughly speaking) rather than happen before it.



And in my opinion you may add a world between the Third age and the formation of atlantis, were elves, dwarves and other races still exist but are becoming VERY VERY rare, demons are coming back (probably the coming of snake men) and gods are leaving this world... well you´ve got there a pretty god world for adventure...

Well.. firstly it would have to be between the -Fourth- Age, and the formation of Atlantis. But to be honest, the way Tolkien wrapped up his mythos I honestly don't see any possibility for extrapolation into Howard's works. Numenor already sank, and that -was- his version of Atlantis.

Regardless, I have no interest in a Lord of the Rings tie-in. Too much baggage and preconception, and just isn't interesting to me (I already run a Middle-earth game anyway).

Just because Elves and Dwarves are around doesn't mean it has to have anything to do with Middle-earth. And likewise, as I described in my original post, my Elves and Dwarves are definitely going to be a far cry from Tolkien's.


Ohh and don´t forget to add dragons (Not those weak chromatic ones... Real dragons... a real Highfantasy adventure needs the old "Slay the dragon")

Certainly! Though a rarity I do want to have Dragons. But they aren't going to be uber-powerful, I don't think. I'm not sure what I'm going to go with for stats, but I'm sure I can come up with something more beast-like and less D&D.


For magic, well take a look in Raven´s rules for sorcery, she really has nice ideas.

I need to pick up Scrolls of Skelos - but I think that should actually be enough. My intention is to change the level of fantasy, not the level of magic (two different concepts). But I do get Raven's 'newsletter' thing - so I know she does good work and her variant stuff will fill in any gaps for me quite nicely.
 

Castel

Mongoose
Well, JRRT did give us the "Modern" elves and dwarves.
But i see you´re definitly not going for the "cliché" Elves and others...

I meant between the 3rd age and atlantean times, because i consider that between these times there is much space were you can build that kind of world, but sorry, i ended up by giving my opinion on how i would do it...

Well if you´re going to put elves and other creatures in REH atlantean times, go ahead, he never really said these did not exist, and there are still many uncharted lands in that age, but you don´t really have to substitute Kull.
But hey it´s your call, and after you do the adventure please post details of how did it go...
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
I think the age right before the formation of the Hyborian Age, when the early race that eventually became Stygian, was still in charge of the eastern world, would be an interesting age to role-play.

The Nordish folk are still beastial and the Atlanteans have forgotten who they are and have not yet become Cimmerians.

I say you are on the right track, but who are the elves and dwarves? Or are you talking about the time right before the smaller cataclysm that formed the Hyborian landscape? I'm still not clear on what races formed the elves and dwarves, though.
 

iltharanos

Mongoose
Damien said:
Certainly! Though a rarity I do want to have Dragons. But they aren't going to be uber-powerful, I don't think. I'm not sure what I'm going to go with for stats, but I'm sure I can come up with something more beast-like and less D&D.

Scrolls of Skelos has stats for dragons in them, so yet another reason to pick it up. :D
 

Yogah of Yag

Mongoose
"High-fantasy Hyboria" just sounds like an oxymoron. If somebody wants high-fantasy elements, there is DnD and other RPG products to satisfy. Hyboria should be reserved for the darker, scarier, Sword-n-Sorcery look and feel that is out-of-place in the JRRT-inspired products.
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
Hyboria should be reserved for the darker, scarier, Sword-n-Sorcery look and feel that is out-of-place in the JRRT-inspired products.

Let's see... Balrogs, Uruk-Hai, Hill Trolls, Dark Riders, Sauron's Eye... Kind of scary and dark I think. I thought the Balrog was scary anyway. Let's see... Gandalf the Grey (names not very sorcerous), Galadrial, Elron... Yeah, I guess they aren't too dark or scary, but they sure as heck have some mighty fine sorcery. Let's see... Aragorn and Boramir. Darn fine swordsman I have to say. Gosh, rampaging orcs all over the place, corsairs ready to pillage, Easterlings with huge, I mean "HUGE" oliphants. The end of the world as we know it. Dogs and cats, living together. Okay, getting a little off track there.

I think it's the cute little Hobbits that take away from it getting too scary and dark. I mean, with those little guys around, things have just got to get better.

With Conan, things can get pretty darn grim. But it's not more scarier, and not as dark on a grand scale as the end of Middle Earth got. It's just more so on an individual level.

Oh I forgot, all those gods and godlings Conan killed off? Pretty darn dark and scary for them guys.
"Look Thor! It's Conan! Nice to have known you."
 

Yogah of Yag

Mongoose
dunderm said:
Hyboria should be reserved for the darker, scarier, Sword-n-Sorcery look and feel that is out-of-place in the JRRT-inspired products.

Let's see... Balrogs, Uruk-Hai, Hill Trolls, Dark Riders, Sauron's Eye... Kind of scary and dark I think. I thought the Balrog was scary anyway. Let's see... Gandalf the Grey (names not very sorcerous), Galadrial, Elron... Yeah, I guess they aren't too dark or scary, but they sure as heck have some mighty fine sorcery. Let's see... Aragorn and Boramir. Darn fine swordsman I have to say. Gosh, rampaging orcs all over the place, corsairs ready to pillage, Easterlings with huge, I mean "HUGE" oliphants. The end of the world as we know it. Dogs and cats, living together. Okay, getting a little off track there.

I think it's the cute little Hobbits that take away from it getting too scary and dark. I mean, with those little guys around, things have just got to get better.

With Conan, things can get pretty darn grim. But it's not more scarier, and not as dark on a grand scale as the end of Middle Earth got. It's just more so on an individual level.

Oh I forgot, all those gods and godlings Conan killed off? Pretty darn dark and scary for them guys.
"Look Thor! It's Conan! Nice to have known you."

Okay, okay. You made your point. :roll: Let's give dunderm his geek points for citing a lot of Middle-Earth characters! :D (Don't get me wrong, I loved JRRT when I was 9-10 years old and still believed in Santa....ah, the good old days of yore).
"Weirdness"--a concept best put to use by REH and HPL--is not present in JRRT, IIRC (how's that for a rampant abuse of acronyms!)

In fantasy we have a choice between fuzzy hobbit feet (=weak, fragile halflings) or furry loin-cloths (=big, invincible, rampaging barbarians). Big difference! :lol:
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
I meant to add to that last post but my clumsy fingers hit all the wrong keys.

In fantasy we have a choice between fuzzy hobbit feet (=weak, fragile halflings) or furry loin-cloths (=big, invincible, rampaging barbarians). Big difference!

That's just hilarious!
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
Damien said:
I've been approached by my buddies to try something a little different next game, and I wanted to get opinions on it.


The suggestion is to use some of the vague statements Howard makes in his works to set up a sort of pre-Conan Hyboria. What they want to do is ignore the Kull mythos and use a bit more high fantasy (but still gritty and low-magic) to explain statements in the narrative about 'old forgotten races' and such.

Basically, take Hyboria back to when the Green Cities would have been built. The players want to see war-like, red-handed Elves and stoic black-skinned Dwarves. Note that we'll still be adhering to the 'feel' of Hyboria. Elves won't be ethereal magic-users, they'll be bloody warriors similar to the Vanir or Aesir in style, if not in physical appearance. Dwarves won't be grumpy beer-swillers, but dark-souled bloodthirsty killers.

The idea is to present an alternate history to Hyboria, not to revamp Hyboria as some kind of D&D-esque world with twenty Elf subraces and colour-coded dragons.


Personally, I really like the idea. I've always wanted to do something that takes concepts from high-fantasy and forces it into a grittier world of grim bloodshed. I think it could work rather well, and be quite fun.


Opinions, ideas, outraged screams of 'blasphemy?'
The best setting you could use for this is the old AD&D Dark Sun setting. It is high fantasy with a Sword & Sorcery feel. Magic in this word is the darkest of power because it "burns" and destroys the living land (and make a desert of the once green and pleasant country).
 
Damien said:
For magic, well take a look in Raven´s rules for sorcery, she really has nice ideas.

I need to pick up Scrolls of Skelos - but I think that should actually be enough. My intention is to change the level of fantasy, not the level of magic (two different concepts). But I do get Raven's 'newsletter' thing - so I know she does good work and her variant stuff will fill in any gaps for me quite nicely.

Keep your eyes peeled in the near future for Raven's Rules V 1.2 this spring. I'm stumbling across a lot of mistakes in the earlier spells lately and decided it's time for a revision. As soon as I finish Volume One of the Dark Horse Conan Sourcebook [with my version of Atali and Frost Giants as well as the immortal freaks of Hyperborea] I'll be working on that.
 

Damien

Mongoose
Okay... I think some (most?) of you are getting really hung up on Middle-earth parallels. Let me be clear: I have no interest in a Middle-earth style Hyboria.

The concept I'm putting forth has nothing to do with moral dualism - absolute right and wrong, happy-go-lucky Hobbits, or anything of the sort. What I'm talking about is using vague statements by Howard to make an alternate history of Hyboria which explains some of those statements about lost races and ancient monsters.

Example: Who built the Green-stone cities? - Sallow-skinned giants that worshipped a Cthulhu-esque cosmic horror.

While I realize this will, by its nature and intent, ignore much of the -established- history set down by Howard, I'm okay with that, because it's meant to be fun and interesting. What I -don't- intend is to create a Hyboria that mimicks Forgotten Realms. I can't say it any clearer than that.

I want to implant high fantasy elements into the dark, gritty world of Hyboria in a sort of alternate history.


I'm not saying I plan to crack open the Monster Manual and start tossing everything from it into Hyboria. I'm speaking only of select things. A few high-fantasy elements.


So I'd appreciate it if we could dispell all of the commentary on Lord of the Rings and J. R. R. Tolkien -- because that has nothing to do with what I'm talking about here.


The best setting you could use for this is the old AD&D Dark Sun setting.

I thought about Dark Sun briefly, but there were two issues:

1.) I never liked Dark Sun even back in the day.
2.) My players are specifically asking for an 'alternate history Hyboria with some high-fantasy elements' - not an entirely different setting of my own making that just uses the Conan rule-set.

But I appreciate the suggestion. I might actually draw off Dark Sun a small bit if something in it jumps out at me as fitting.




To further emphasize where I'm going with this, here are some things I brainstormed up with a fellow DM (I'm not talking about this with my players, if I can avoid it, because I want the setting to be mysterious and strange, even frightening, rather than "well we know if we go over there that's where the flesh-eating giants live..."):

-I plan to use the modern Hyboria map and simply alter the names of the lands, where appropriate, and borders. Rightly I should use something like the Kull maps, but I like the Hyboria map better.

1.) Giants. 8 feet tall and slightly deformed. Yellow-skinned. Dwell in the area of modern Iranistan. Eat flesh (and only the flesh) of captives and worship a winged evil god-thing similar to Cthulhu in some respects.

2.) Dwarves. 5 feet tall with stocky ape-like arms. Black-skinned. Dwell in either modern Kush or the Black Kingdoms. Slave-traders - gaining slaves from tribal raids into Man-held areas.

3.) Elves. Man-height, white-skinned and dark-haired. Less stocky, but similar in appearance to modern Nordheimer. Incredibly violent when provoked but generally somewhat reclusive. Haven't decided between having them dwell in the North - around modern Hyperboria, or in the East, around modern Vendhya - or somewhere else entirely.

4.) Serpent-men. Set-worshipping serpent people - believe themselves the true children of Set (obviously). Not sure where to put them, I think putting them in the area of modern Stygia would be just too obvious.

5.) Magic. Same as in Conan core book. So magic won't be considerably different from how Howard wrote it in his Conan stories. Dark, suspicious, generally a bad thing, and can still be overcome by fire and steel. And, of course, rare.

6.) Monsters. For monsters I'm going to mostly stick with the tried-and-true: Beast-like creatures (probably mostly 'Dire' animals of a sort) and cosmic horrors (which will be rare, of course). Giant snakes will be a must in a few different areas. Giant spiders are probably going to show up in some areas as well. Ghouls will be present in moderation (probably in the modern area of the Border Kingdom). That should be about it for odd monsters. Everything else, in concerns to enemies, will be human (or demi-human in the case of Giants, Elves, Dwarves, and Serpent-people).

7.) Dragons. Just a note on them - they'll be rare and wholly beasts. No intelligent dragons whatsoever. Not sure about whether they'll be able to fly yet. I'm thinking keeping them relatively small (for a Dragon, that is) at between 25 and 30 feet tops. I'm thinking the only nesting area for them will be in the mountains east of Hyrkania, which will keep them extremely rare across the entire continent.


And that's it - the whole plan for imparting some high fantasy elements into an alternate history of Hyboria. Obviously the ideas aren't fully fleshed out, but that's my preliminary brainstorming.
 

Zul Daire

Mongoose
Queen of the Black Coast give us some great clues to the green cities.

SPOILER




When Conan has his lotus dream REH give us and Conan an audience too the history of the beginning of this civilization and how it degenerates. All though it is vague there is a wealth to be excavated.

Look at the winged ape like horror. An extreme corruption of its former self. Originally like an angelic type being and not the only one at that in the beginning.

May sound extreme to some but working in a race winged folk sorcerors would be a must based on Conan's dream alone.

Perhaps it is at a time when the race is being corrupted. Maybe they are not corupted all at once and there is an offshoot of these corrupted winged ape who threaten the wingfolk.

Or maybe there is an artifact of some kind that is corrupting them that needs to be destroyed.

The City of Xuthol from the "Xuthol of the Dusk" could be the centerpoint of an adventure where the characters set out to destroy a Cult based on the horror that dwelt there. The classic DnD module The Lost City comes to mind. Elements of that module could be merged with what REH gives us in the story.

As far as dragons go I kind think of the movie Dragonslayer. Cheesy and all but the point is the dragon itself was a high fantasy dragon but was not a spell caster or spoke if I am not mistaken.

Fear is appropriate more like an uber Terror of the Unknown check and give it all the physical attacks like tail swipe, trample, wing swipe if it even has wings. As far as dragon breath goes instead of fire try a hot breath perhaps maybe even a digestive reaction or by product of its digestion it has to release from time to time and even to attack when appropriate.

I think the elf and dwarf idea is cool for what you want to do specifically and even gives street cred to the future Northman tales of these beings.

I would even throw in sparingly Lizardmen, Yaun ti, troglodytes and Naga or even unsparingly if it suits the part of the world.

Go for broke man but keep the edge. I think a big element that divides High Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery is the moral delima or lack of one. Do the characters have a purpose? Often Conan just goes with the flow in effort to see the world and he has great adventures and ends up being a hero to some.

Maybe in your new game the chaacters are more driven or have more conviction. You still dont need alignment but maybe expanding or really plaing up the codes of honor would be cool.

That about all I can think of right now and I have to get going but I will definatly revisit this post later.
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
I personally don't play any form of Middle Earth RPG or for that matter, D&D. So don't catergorize me as a pro-middle earth RPGer.

I play extremely realistic RPGs, such as Aftermath, Wild West, and several other similar types. You get hurt in one of these games and your out for a while. The trick is not to get hurt.

I don't like D&D and the d20 games spawned from that system, as I always found them very unrealistic, and the experience level and class systems are to laugh at... :lol:

Although the original TSR Conan game looks cheezy from the outset, deeper analysis and some modifications of the rules, make it much more ameliorant to the Hyborian Age.

As an example, my system does not use hit points. Wound severity is recorded against the body part hit, and it is your fighting ability and armor that keeps you alive. Not a stack of hit points.

I love the Hyborian Age for it's realism as a possible past that could have happened. I think the nature of magic should make it extremely difficult to aquire and use. I have no players that use magic, only NPCs at this moment. Players only use magic if it is part of the scenario.

I just have to laugh at the quandaries you guys come up against due to your adherence to a gaming system that does not play Conan very well.

In another post I tried to help out a guy who wanted to work his PCs up to 4th level. Thankfully, that is not a problem in my game.

But back to this thread. Make dragons a twisted form of dinosaur. Remember this is supposed to be a real time in our past, not some sort of Middle Earth past or some strange version of D&D. This is Conan; Killer of Gods and Monsters.
 

Damien

Mongoose
May sound extreme to some but working in a race winged folk sorcerors would be a must based on Conan's dream alone.

That's a possibility. I really hate winged things though - so we'll see. If I do use them it will probably be in their already-degenerated state, rather than their original 'angelic' state. That's something I'd have to think on a bit.


Fear is appropriate more like an uber Terror of the Unknown check and give it all the physical attacks like tail swipe, trample, wing swipe if it even has wings. As far as dragon breath goes instead of fire try a hot breath perhaps maybe even a digestive reaction or by product of its digestion it has to release from time to time and even to attack when appropriate.

I don't think I'm going to go the breath-weapon route at all, as it invokes too much of an Arthurian or higher magic feel than what I'm going for. I want something more visceral - chomping jaws and slashing claws.

I do like the Terror of the Unknown idea, though.


I would even throw in sparingly Lizardmen, Yaun ti, troglodytes and Naga or even unsparingly if it suits the part of the world.

I think Lizardmen and Yuan-ti would be superfluous considering the existance of "Serpent-men" (a broad category). Troglodytes seem too silly-fantasy, in my eyes, and naga just seem lame, to me (in the "snakes with mannish heads" form, at least).

But possibly the more Asian naga (tauric style) would function as part of the Serpent-folk race.


I think a big element that divides High Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery is the moral delima or lack of one.

I think so too. That's why I think these elements can be added to Hyboria without corrupting what makes it Hyboria. So long as morality is relative, blood is being spilled by the gallon, and the answer to most questions is "I hack it to pieces" - then it still invokes the feel of Hyboria.


Maybe in your new game the chaacters are more driven or have more conviction. You still dont need alignment but maybe expanding or really plaing up the codes of honor would be cool.

Even in my regular Conan game I do play on the importance of Codes of Honour (where appropriate) so that'll definitely make it into this new game. But the characters in this game will be like characters in any other Conan game. The difference will be in available ethnicities and world details.


Remember this is supposed to be a real time in our past

I understand the premise of Hyboria. But at the same time, Howard included PLENTY of things in his writings that simply do not (or even could not) exist in real life. I prefer to think of his writings as historically-INSPIRED fantasy under the guise of historical fiction, because that's essentially what it is.

But then, let's also keep in mind, Tolkien's Middle-earth was designed on the exact same concept as Hyboria. But again.. this thread isn't about Middle-earth or vanilla D&D and my concepts and ideas have nothing to do with either primary source.
 
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