War Stories: How is combat going in YOUR Hyboria?


After concluding our groups third weekly session of combat last night, I just wanted to say that we are mightily pleased by the changes to the D20 combat system in Conan.

Not only is combat more lethal, but its outcome is also more dependent on player tactical decisions. My two combat gumbies (Aesir Barbarian and Nemedian Soldier) are really anxious to get access to more combat maneuvers. ..

The lack of quick "insta-heal" options is also causing the pre- and post-combat anxiety level to spike-and again, this is making the game that much more exciting.

Our two resident sorcerers were having trouble at the beginning; I had to remind them to use their alchemy and herbalism skillls to start crafting tomb-dust, etc. Low-level magic requires a more subtle touch-you've been warned . The 'entrance spell seems to be the current fave basic sorcery spell.

I'd like to know how things are going elswhere in Hyboria: any problems? advice? graphic stories?
Tonight was my first Conan d20 game.

We learned that an equal number of equally armored opponents who have nearly equal attack and damage bonuses will massacre each other. This will take a long time to fight out, however.

We learned that 12 armored dudes will kill 20 unarmored dudes with at most 1 casualty. This combat will go quick, if the unarmored dudes are level 1 with 10 hp.

Combat was deadly and fun! My players and their NPCs killed 39 of 45 foes, with only 6 enemies escaping between the three combats. :twisted:
Against unarmored opponents at low levels, combat flies by, even if one side is armored. That's because if you are unarmored, you will DIE incredibly fast (two hits if you're lucky, but probably just one at first level). Ferx, I ran this fight:

11 elite Shemite Soldiers (level 1) and 2 elite Hyrkanian Nomad (level 1) allies are camped for the night in the desert, with no fire. Only one Shemite is awake, wearing a leather jerkin (+4 DR), steel cap (+1 DR) and large shield (+4 parry). The party is ambushed by twelve Zuagir Nomads (level 1), unarmored save for large shields (+4 DV), half of whom have Hyrkanian bows (1d10+1 damage, 19-20/x2 crit., and I use auto-crits so any crit threat rolled is an auto-success). The bowmen fire at the guard, who fails his Listen and Spot checks to notice them advancing and taking up position surroundingf his camp. Thanks to the 20% miss chance for it being dark, this amazingly lucky guard managed to be missed completely and called out an alarm. The Zuagir won intiative, and chose to fire again into the camp. Two Shemites stood up (unarmored) and were cut down by arrows as the rest charged into the camp. The Shemites met steel with steel, and neither side being armored (with bad DV), the difference of weapons made a huge difference (as did the 20% miss chance). The Shemites (14 Strength) used war swords (1d12+2, 19-20/x2 crit.), while the Zuagir used Scimitars (1d8+1, 18-20 crit.). Basically, half of every nomad hit died on first strike from the war sword, or had their hit points reduced from 10 (healthy) to 2 (almost dead). Only one more Shemite fell in combat. The Hyrkanians used scimitars from to kill anyone who got close to them. The Zuagir, reduced in number to four, attempted to flee, but lost another one to Hykanian archery as he fled with back turned (reducing his DV to 10). Two of the wounded, dying Shemites were stabilized. All but one Shemite (Elohar The Lucky) were reduced to roughly 50% of their 12 hit points. The Hyrkanians were never scratched, but hung back in the fight and made sure they never fought more than one Zuagir at a time between them both! Half the party gave chase to the fleeing nomads (they wanted not only revenge but valuable camels!). The poor Zuagir ended up losing 5 camels by failing Handle Animal checks and the victorious Shemites elected to give up further pursuit as they had enough booty in the captured camels, the shields and scimitars of the fallen. This was my first Conan combat. The PCs were terrified! As was I. The stink of doom and death lay heavy around the gaming table that night!

The fight didn't seem to take any longer to run than usual for D&D, and was certainly scarier (with those low DVs and high damage weapons). I even used a critical hit bonus effect and critical fumble chart of my own design to spice things up, and since most crits resulted in instant death anyway, it had little to no effect at all. Where it came into play the most was when the lead Shemite (who had sold his war sword for a battleaxe in Akhlat to provision his sword-brothers for their journey across the desert) had his shiny new axe instantly sunder itself in two across the raised shield of his Zuagir foeman... he rolled a "1" to hit and then a "1" on my fumble chart. LOL. He didn't succeed at his Apraise check in the weapon shop, is how I put it. He was forced to continue combat with his poniard (war dagger, 1d6+3 damage, 19-20/x2 crit.). He still kicked butt, praying to Ishtar and using his Two Weapon Combat to shield bash and then gut the Zaugir with the stout shield in the next round.

My second combat occurred when the Shemites and Hyrkanians had joined the mercenary horde being gathered by the Satrap of Zamboula to weed out the Yoggite slave uprising that had spilled out into the desert, damaging trade (Zamboula sits on the crossroads betwen Stygia, Shem, Turan and the Far East). The Zamboulan noble who led the Royal Zamboulan Expeditionary Force led them into an ambush (by refusing to listen to the Hyrkanian nomad's counsel), and their main force of 100 was surrounded and destroyed by 300 Darfari cannibals (Yoggites). I said the party of 10 Shemites and two Hyrkanians fought their way free and holed up in a dead end canyon to await their doom...

I allowed them to set up however they wished while the main battle raged outside, using terrain features for cover and hiding places. Both Shemites and Hyrkanians make excellent archers... At last, a hungry horde of twenty Yoggites (unarmored, no missile weapons, swinging clubs) howled into the canyon. They died real quick before they could rally and retreat. No casualties and only two seriously wounded Shemites, who took up archery positions 20 ft. up on some outcroppings, rotating the former, unwounded archers down. Again, I allowed them time to set-up (the Yoggites were too busy looting and eating to notice that twenty of them were missing). Eventually, they sent a larger force of 25 of their number (back ranks armored with DR 5) under the command of a witchdoctor (scholar 1, curses: lesser ill fortune). The front ranks fell quickly as the party had further refined their tactics. Now came the hard part: equally armored foes (13 + 1 scholar) vs. 12 in the party, half of whom had taken up positions on rocky outcroppings 10-20 ft. up and were effectively able to fire with impunity throughout the battle (all had point blank shot/rapid shot, but not precise shot). Basically, it was a long, slow massacre in favor of the slightly greater numbers of the Yoggites, the witchdoctor cursed four Shemites (basically a 24 bane spell, but this caused them to miss more than once). Eventually, all on the canyon floor were dying, one was dead and only four Yoggites remained + the witchdoctor (who was hiding behind cover and out of PP [spellcasting power points]). The remaining archers killed the Yoggites only due to their superior firing position, though two Yoggites did manage to overrun one such position and bring down a Shemite. End of battle: Witchdoctor (escaped). 24 Yoggites: dead. 2 Hyrkanian nomads: unscathed. 10 Shemite soldiers: 8 dying, 1 wounded (near death), 1 dead. Thanks to some quick Heal checks by the Hyrkanians (Tarim's beard bless them!), the dying were stabilized.
No fate points were ever used, though we were 1 round away from a dying PC (-8) using one. This last battle took a LONG TIME, I'd say maybe 90 minutes, whereas the first two were over in under thirty. This time will of course go down as less and less time needs to be taken to consult the rule book over one point or another. Still, running these combats in D&D I don't think would have taken much less time.

Everyone enjoyed the new rules of Conan, are in love with their character race/class and are fascinated by the flavor and depth of the Hyborian Age setting. I've even got them familiar with their religions and praying to, or swearing/cursing by, their pantheon's gods in battle! It felt very much like Howard, or at least like a good pastiche, LOL. Most importantly, it felt like Conan, not D&D.

"What mattered most was that few stood against many, and that is what will be remembered!"
---Elohar "The Lucky", Son of Shem of the Erukhim, uttered at the battle of the Canyon of Doom, where a dozen men vanquished four times their number and lived to tell of it.