Hour of the Dragon campaign


First of all, I apologize in advance for the length of this post; this is my first post on this forum (although I’ve been lurking for quite some time now), so I thought I’d better make it count. :)

Also, this thread will probably contain spoilers for The Hour of the Dragon, so be warned.

I’m about to start gamemastering a Conan campaign for my group of three players who have never played the game before (neither have I, incidentally). We’ve been playing D&D for some time, now so the basic rules should pose no real problem.

Now, from the start I wanted this to be a military campaign, at least from the start. I had some trouble figuring out just what they would be doing in this campaign; I knew I wanted to include the Tower of the Elephant somehow, and I knew I wanted it to be a finite campaign, with a climactic ending, but it wasn’t until I read The Hour of the Dragon that things really fell into place.

I am posting here for suggestions, ideas and criticisms. Be advised that I’m going to stick to Conan continuity only loosely, this might rub some people the wrong way, but neither I (nor my players) know enough about the Hyborian Age to make this a huge issue for us.

The basic premise:
The PCs are Nemedian Adventurers and start at level 6. I’m not going to force them into staying in the Adventurers; considering the things they’ll be asked to do eventually, I suspect they might take their leave.

I want to take them through the Tower of the Elephant at one point. The reason they’ll have for going their will be to steal (back?) the Heart of Ahriman from Yara. Now originally, this was pretty much where I thought I’d start the campaign, but searching the forums for earlier posts about the Hour of the Dragon made me think that it could be cool if they’d actually helped Orastes find it in the first place, only to have it stolen by Yara on their way back to Nemedia.

Later, I want them to be in Belverus when the Black Plague hits; I don’t know exactly what to come up with for an adventure there, but this might be a good time for a low-key mystery affair. One of the characters, a Nemedian Noble, has spent quite some time at the Royal Court in Belverus, so he might have a vested interest in the fate of the king and his three sons (whom the Noble may well have been friends with at his time there). This might be their first clue that there is something rotten in the state of Nemedia.

From here on out, I’m not quite sure what to do. They should definitely be in the battle on the border between Nemedia and Aquilonia. Also the sack of Aquilonia should be great fun (or not; I’m going to make it really nasty and detailed, to see what stuff the characters are made of).

My biggest problem is the ending. Granted, it’s impossible to know where the characters might be towards the end of the campaign, but if they’re still with the Nemedian Adventurers, they stand to lose the final battle something awful. Now, if they for some reason deserted, and maybe ended up fighting for CONAN in the final battle, that should be really cool. My problem here is that I don’t know how Conan would view deserters from Nemedia. One of the PCs has a history with Conan, though, as a scout in the Free Company he lead five years prior to the events in The Hours of the Dragon (I haven’t read about this Free Company, mind you, I only saw it on a timeline), so if Conan recognizes him he might let them join his battle against Nemedia. Then again, they’d pretty much be traitors.

This post turned out even longer than I’d thought, and I apologize. I’ll cut it short here and come back with more later, should I feel the urge. :)

(For the record, feel free to point me in the direction of Conan RPG supplements (or REH stories) with relevant material, as I have all of them; just haven't had time to read it all).
Personally I wouldn't mind having the PCs on the wrong side in the final battle. If it's epic and if there is a strong patriotic feeling of duty to land and crown, it could be very satisfying. the more dramatic if one or more of them have to fight against their buddy Conan. That they know they sacrifice their life for an evil plot (all the atrocities done in the Nemedian name against the poor Aquilonians), but do it nonetheless (vow is vow! honor is honor!) adds even more drama.
Remember that before Conan became King, the former Kings of Aquilonia may not have always acted with honor towards Nemedia. The Adventurers are hardened and bitter men that may have come to this state of affairs through actions of Aquilonian incursions upon Nemedia. So they may have good reason to hate Aquilonia, and my not be pillaging just for profit. Many people, both in Aquilonia and Nemedia, do not yet understand just who Conan is. His policies may not yet have the far reaching effect they may have in the future. The Adventurers may have a justifiable reason for being part of the sacking of Aquilonia, other than just for the sake of pillaging and plunder.
Hour of the dragon is a great idea for a campaign. :wink:

It is not that difficult if you 'cut' your campaign so as to make smaller scenarios, the sum of all would make the campaign. Thus you should only start a new scenario when the preceding is finished.

TSR published many years ago a great module for Conan RPG based on Jordan's novel : Conan the triumphant. The whole scene was sequenced in 16 episodes so as to make sure the PC's can follow up with the events of the campaign.
Aquilonia commited atrocities against Nemedia, you say? Is this "documented" in any stories or supplements? I could definitely use that in the campaign! I should start referring to such atrocities pretty early on, and ask the players to try and integrate ways that Aquilonia affected them in negative ways in their characters' backgrounds. They don't need to know that there's a new king there who does things differently now... :)
Does anyone know the name of the King of Nemedia prior to the events of The Hour of the Dragon? Is he ever named? Do they ever appear in any of Howard's original stories?
The King of Nemedia prior to Tarascus taking the throne is named in the first chapter of "The Hour of the Dragon" after Xaltotun is shown the map of the current nations.

"It is a map of a world I do not know," said Xaltotun softley, but Orastes did not miss the lurid fire of hate that flickered in his dark eyes.

"It is a map you shall help us change," answered Orastes. "It is our desire first to set Tarascus on the throne of Nemedia. We wish to accomplish this without strife, and in such a way that no suspicion will rest on Tarascus. We do not wish the land to torn by civil wars but to reserve all our power for the conquest of Aquilonia.

"Should King Nimed and his sons die naturally, in a plague for instance, Tarascus would mount the throne as the next heir, peacefully and unopposed."
D'oh! I actually skimmed through that chapter earlier today for some other information, but didn't catch that one. Thanks!