Noble vs Nomad

I wanted to get everyone's thoughts on something.

I have a nomad and noble in my campaign who are of equal level (6th).

They both have the same number of character feats (1st, 3rd, and 6th level) and favored class feats (1st and 5th). Assuming that the Rank has its Privilege, Title, Special Regional Feature, Lead by Example, and Social Ability class features of the noble are balanced with the Born in the Saddle, Nomad Charge, and Favored Terrain class features of a nomad (which is a stretch, but bear with me), the Nomad has a huge advantage.

He has a total of 5 feats as additional class abilities (track, endurance, die hard, mobility, and 2nd level bonus feat) compared to 1 of the noble (leadership, albeit advanced leadership) not to mention a much better hit points, base attack, dodge, and parry progression.

The one thing that has kept the noble in it is Wealth. The noble started the game with a Hyborian Warhorse and great armor and weapons, and has maintained better equipment than his nomad counterpart.

For this reason, I have been resonant in starting a session with the PCs with no or reduced equipment which is part of the flavor of Conan. I wanted to get everyone's thoughts on this.
My thoughts are along these lines: The barbarians, borderers and nomads are the heart and soul of the Conan RPG. Also, who says life is fair? The only way to achieve perfect balance is play the same characters. Put the characters into a court scenerio, and the noble will have the advantage over the nomad. Put them in the wild, and of course the nomad has the advantage. Also, the noble's Leadership should supply him with ample men-at-arms to help keep up with the nomad. The noble's Charisma will help his Intimidate skill, which can help in combat.

I have GMed parties of all sorts of classes and haven't noticed any real disparity among the classes. Some are better at some things than others. As a GM, I just make sure I mix up the scenerios so not all the games are in locations where the barbarians and nomads have all the advantages. Sometimes I put the nobles where they are at their best.
Yeah -- a city adventure with intrigue and double-dealing will let the noble shine, making use of his skills, wealth and influence in the setting where they're supposed to matter. In that same adventure, the nomad will be a cipher at best; at worst, his lack of culture will be a liability until the inevitable fight brought on by his alienness.

Character classes in Conan are less generic than in regular ol' dnd -- it's a mistake to consider them head-to-head as if they were in arena combat. Put them in context.
Well in my game it seems that the party uses the noble and the rouge to get the best deals in towns and citys, there in there element and my party uses this to there best advantage. But when they leave the friendly confines of the city walls, its the Nomad and the Border that take over as far as advance scouting or neogotiations with wondering traders or caravans, because they group feels like there more in there element then... The nobleman bread and butter is his money, and his Chr bouns reflects that... And the nomad is his ability to use the terrain.
Point taken. I guess when I have been running my Conan games, I have been looking to really mirror REH for feel. A vast minority (if any) of his stories involved political intrigue, cosmopolitan adventuring, and court machinations.

His stories that have involved nobles have had them well armed and well prepared (surrounded by retainers as Vincent mentioned).

I have a hard time starting my PCs chained to the oars of a Stygian galley, and still allow the noble to have his retainers from leadership. In this setting, the noble wouldn't do well.

You are saying that I should run another session centered around a more cosmopolitan theme, where the noble would shine. I guess that is fair, but a little off from the REH mystique that my players have grown to love.
In The Black Stranger, a noble is featured in the wilds of the Pictish wilderness, with all of his retainers and a lot of negotiation and intrigue. Maintain the supernatural element and the mystique will be retained. Recall also the machinations behind Rogues in the House. (Of course, with modern message-board spelling rules, it should be "Rouges in the House.")
I haven't read Black Stranger, I will look to do so. Great point on Rougues in the House.

I am hearing a lot of good stuff from everyone, so thanks for the feedback.

I was thinking of an analogous case where I would force a Scholar to start with 0 (or negative) PP. It would be an interesting challenge for the PC, but when all of the other players are largely unaffected, it kind of puts that 1 player on a second tier of usefullness, and may not be as fun for that session. But another session where sorcery is the best way to overcome a challenge could balance that.

I guess my challenge as a DM is to throw more varied challenges at my players that force the PCs to tap all their abilities collectively in the aggregate.

Well, I guess I better get to preparing the stats on that Stygian War Galley that my PCs are going to be chained to . . .
You know I started a PC with no PP once... He didnt like it at first, he felt really useless and weak, and he thought that the rouge ( which he had taken advantage of before) was going to kill him... So the only thing it did was make him hungry for a quick kill or sacrifice for some PP. So he was looking for drunks, or people who were on there last leg of life... made for some interesting RP, but they were in a town, so he had a little room to work.
I have a Noble/Scholar in my party who often feels like a 'third wheel'. While he has all the weapon/armor proficiencies he'd ever need, between the low Base Attack and DV and virtually No Fort/Ref save he gets hurt a lot. He is a trooper though and determined to stick it out w/o taking a class of anything else, so I applaud him for that. [Although I doubt his wisdom 8)]

In game, I see Nobles being taught 'courtly' styles of combat like fencing and dueling, where they expect certain rules and ettiquete in combat. Which is why they do so poorly in 'real' combat, where the embittered and nearly [or closer] psychotic Barbarian/Borderer/Nomad/Soldier with real life or death experience will tear him apart. Nobles are 'social' characters with a knowledge of a specialized world few others can comprend- a lot like Scholars in that they shine only in certain circumstances, but shine they do. My Noble has an in depth experience with the merchant families of Messantia [his father trades with a number of them and works against a number fo them] that's going to come in handy when the first major plotline hits the fan. 8) Until then, he accepts his limitations, takes the secondary targets and spends far too much time delving into a Lovecraftian tome that promises power and madness....

But I digress.

Until then, he accepts his limitations, takes the secondary targets and spends far too much time delving into a Lovecraftian tome that promises power and madness....

Sounds like you have a Solid RPer in the scholar;nobleman role. I try to rotate the importance of the PCs in my game too. Try to put some of the more "quiet" PCs into a leadership roll.
I think that playing a noble just requires more careful consideration when selecting feats and skills than other classes. The class can provide great roleplaying opportunities and many plot hooks for the DM.

I play a Hyborian Noble 4 / Soldier 2 in our campaign. With his greatsword, the Weapon Focus and Power Attack feats, and even medium armor he is deadly on the battlefield. The trick is to play up the noble's racial strengths. Stygian nobles might become archers to make use of their Stygian bows, while Vendhyans might focus on mounted combat or tulwars.

Take some combat oriented skills like bluff, intimidate, listen, ride and spot. Don't forget that many one-handed weapons can be wielded two-handed for the 1.5xStr damage bonus. Stripped of their weapons and armor nobles aren't going to be as powerful as barbarians, but if the character has the Brawl and Improved grapple feats he can still be fairly dangerous. And remember that nobles have one of the highest Will saves in the game. Add Iron Will and scholars have to be especially careful when when dealing with nobles.

Multiclassing is also a good option for nobles. It doesn't take many levels of borderer, nomad or soldier to drastically improve saving throws and BAB. Soldiers get 1 additional feat at both 1st and 2nd level which can be very useful, but borderer and nomad can complement the noble's saving throws nicely.

If a the noble class interests you or your players go ahead and play one. It may take more thought to play a noble effectively, but then nobles are supposed to be smarter and more ruthless than other people. After all, that's how they got to be nobles in the first place.

>>>Stripped of their weapons and armor nobles aren't going to be as powerful as barbarians, but if the character has the Brawl and Improved grapple feats he can still be fairly dangerous.<<<

What I do know of Medieval history, it wouldn't make sense for a knight to take such feats. Just my opinion.

Also : it's spelled R-O-G-U-E (scoundrel) ... not R-O-U-G-E (makeup)
What I do know of Medieval history, it wouldn't make sense for a knight to take such feats.

It certainly wouldn't make sense for the stereotypical chivalrous knight to take unarmed attack feats, but these represent only a subset of the possible noble archetypes available. A rough and tumble border noble might be skilled at unarmed combat, if only because wrestling and boxing might be popular sports in rural or frontier regions. I think you can create a noble persona to match just about any weapon/feat/skill combination. Characters who aren't knight/paladin types can be fun to play.

Alright, now I think Im the stereotypical noble player, but I certainly don't take the class to a haughty taught panty waist. You can make a noble a powerhouse in and out of combat with good skill and feat selection.

For reference, over the last fourteen levels (well 13, but we ended the campaign for the last time and I would have leved =P), my Argossean noble (not getting preferred feats for noble) has come out to something along the lines of 8 Noble/2 Pirate/4 Soldier. I've taken a slant that Argossea is basically just Republic Rome, and play my character as glory hog, tough and grumble, noble looking for a name and immortalization.

The noble is about the appropriate feat selection. I'm somewhat of the opinion that the game is horribly weighted towards a barbarian in combat (and if the campaign doesnt move away from this as a major focus, the other classes will be at a severe disadvantage in comparison), but you can make a noble nasty.

First of all: WILL SAVE. With a follower of Mitra, code of honor, and the typical bonuses from wisdom and the noble's primary save, I have a +15 Will save. The Barbarian has +8 in comparison, and the nomad 10+. This is massively important when dealing with all sorts of evil sorcerer spells and "freak out" saves you get from your typical abomination. To add insult to injury, my DM lets me throw in a fate point to steady the other PCs when they fail their saves... which of course lets me rub it in all that more how much more important I am as the noble :eek:

Secondly, noone says you can't take the uber feats out of sourcebooks like Hyborea's Fiercest like those other savage classes can. I'm a dual shortsword wielding, akbitanan lovin, superior armor wearin machine o' death. Improved Two Weapon Fighting, Weapon Spec, Two Weapon Strike, Power-attack, etc and while I'm not doing the damage of the barbarian, I'm holding my own. This is especially true if the nomad is playing one of those silly Hyrkanian archers.

Third, you've got the leadership feat at 6th level. You should have an excellent charisma & skills and leadership score. We sure arent traveling to suit the interests of the party, we're traveling with my *army* to suit my interests. The Sultan of Hyrkania certainly wasnt greeting the other members of the party, he was welcoming me into his home for entertainment. With the basic mechanics of leadership, you've got a second character of equivalent level to command in combat, shoring up your combat failing (Augustus wasnt known for his fighting prowess, he let Agrippa do that).

Fourth, you've got the social skills. You have the ability to build up your character with combat feats (which are plentiful in conan), and then invest heavily in diplomacy, bluff, gather info, sense motive, etc. Its the common joke by the party when we come back to an adventure or enter a city... because I'm the one the citizens praise when they hear our exploits against the worshipers of Set, Karma Sutra, or whatever other deamonic evil we've slain recently. The savages may not like it, but hey, where else would they be getting their hookers and ale on the local populace's dime without my ability to emphasize our importance to the community.

Barbarians, Nomads, and Borderers may get the "heart" of the content in Conan, but Nobles sure as heck can prove their superiority with a little elbow grease (as they should, they're the epitome of the best and brightest of civilized society). If you want to start your party in chains, do so, but be sure to remember that the noble would be more valuable as a pampered captive... and there should be nothing stopping him from pulling a Julius Ceasar by the end :twisted:
I hope future classbook gives more options to nobles. Don't get me wrong, I think they are fine now, and it's nonsense expecting a noble to have the combat skills of a battle hardened barbarian mercenary, but, in my opinion, they do not get enough class abilities.

For example, I think the options for social skills are not that good. Allies have a lot of restrictions on their use, and you can get them through roleplaying; family ties... come on, does a PC need a feat to get any relative help him? The point is that a nomad can have a helpful brother WITHOUT spending a stupid feat. Same goes for refuge. And two Reputation points more seems a joke of a feat, since no PC worth his salt will stay so idle that he doesn't gain them. Other social skill options are more useful, but no enough to justify the annoying comparative lack of feats of the noble class vs other classes.

I don't expect more combat oriented feats for the noble, but some managing (including an option for battle tactics), social skills and feats which reflect his political influence would be good to give him a greater edge at his speciality.

PS: I have a Zingaran Noble/Soldier in my gaming group and, while not packing the firepower of the barbarian, he doesn't seem so unpaired in melee combat, being the best at formal dueling (Intricate Swordplay makes him quite a match for most foes).
The player accepts being at a disadvantage in other combat-related situations, so we have no trouble in this point. It is the lack of useful social feats what worries me as a GM.
Perhaps you should reflect his position by the way NPCs and the rest of the world act. I guess it's hard to make good rules for a noble, so many of his advantages should be roleplayed. Besides, nobles are leaders by default, right? One of my players usually plays leaders and I think he would not mind the class' disadvantages as long as he is the boss (he's a charismatic fellow, so he does a good job at leading the group :) ).
Social ability rules crash sometimes with reality (or what Hyborian reality demands): look at Conan himself who is said in "Aquilonia" to have the Black Dragons as followers. These are tough guys of at least 5th level, but the Leadership rules make them to a gang of 1 level recruits mostly.

So compromises must be made (I have no Noble in my group, so this problem occurs not to me :wink: )
Zeus wrote:
Perhaps you should reflect his position by the way NPCs and the rest of the world act.
Yeah, that's what I use to do. Also, I keep on mind the background part of sourcebooks, so an Aquilonian noble in Aquilonia -or any Hyborian kingdom for that matter- has a lot of privileges over a peasant. I tend to use the "Title" class ability in a very loose way so PCs get their privileges even if they seem a bit unbalancing from a gaming point of view -for example, a 1 lvl noble who is captured by Hyborian bandits could be ransomed, a 1 lvl barbarian would be sold for gladiatorial combat or worse.

VincentDarlage wrote:
Just out of curiosity, are there swashbuckling-like combat maneuvers for those nobles with a penchant for settling their differences with steel? I have at least one player who would love that, I'm sure.

René wrote:
Social ability rules crash sometimes with reality (or what Hyborian reality demands): look at Conan himself who is said in "Aquilonia" to have the Black Dragons as followers.

I also noticed. Obviously I went along with Black Dragons as elite and not 1st lvl mooks. This rules foolishness at least can be fixed.

But I would like to find intelligent rules which "oficially" solution all this mess