'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Conan 2d20 RPG Overview: The Lowly Minion.

Our last overview talked about armor and protection, basically how to reduce the amount of damage a weapon does to you. This time I wanted to talk about NPCs and Monsters; creatures from the outerdark and loathsome pirates. Conan 2d20 has 3 classes of creatures: minion, toughened and nemesis. I had intended on covering all three of these in this article, but I have decided to start with the minion, as they have a few special rules and specific place in the game.

First, when I say minion I don't mean the little yellow guys from "Despicable Me", although they would certainly fit into this category. Minions are the low skilled henchmen, townfolk, small creatures and any number of other things. The key aspect to these is they are fodder. They do not stand against the characters in any real way. They are in general throngs to be cut down with bloody swaths of a sword. They are the 100s of soldiers in movies and books that pose no real threat to our heros.

I can hear you say, "Why do they need their own post if they are just fodder?" The answer to that is a rule in the game that allows a character to lend a d20 in assistance to another during a skill test, but we will get to that in a bit.

Lets go over the special rules for the basic minion.
  • Minions, unlike characters, can suffer a single HARM before being killed or driven off. So doing a blow that inflicts 5 stress, or dropping a stress value to zero ends the life of the minion.
  • Minions can not parry, dodge or actively defend. They are not allowed to react.
  • Minions roll a single d20 for their skill tests (including attacks.)
  • Minions do not use hit locations.

As you can see they are weak, can't defend themselves and don't roll many dice. There is an exception to this, and THIS is why I felt they needed their own entry. The Mob

Up to five identical minions can form together into a mob. Due to that assistance rule I mentioned earlier the mob attacks as a single entity and so rolls 1d20 for the lead minion +1d20 for each remaining member of the mob. So a Mob with 5 total members would roll a base of 5d20, 1d20 for the leader and +4d20 for the four remaining minions in the mob.

It is important to remember there is nothing stopping the GM from buying +3d20 worth of additional dice for that lead minion, giving the lead minion 4d20, with the mob contributing another 4d20, bringing the die total rolled for that mob to 8d20. Despite this massive roll of the dice, the mob only gains a single attack and it can be parried, dodged or resisted like any other single attack.

As you can already see we have written a fair bit about this simple and easy to kill part of Conan 2d20 and we have one more thing to talk about when they are arrayed as a mob. How do we apply damage? Damage is applied to the first member of the mob until a harm is caused. Any remaining damage is passed to the next member of the mob until a harm is caused. This cascade continues until the mob is dead, or we run out of damage. Soak is subtracted once at the start. Lets wrap this up with a couple of examples.

For example: Single Minion,
Conal is faced off against a single town guard (Vigor: 5 soak: 1). The guard is classified as a minion.
Conal rolls 2d20+2d20 from momentum, and scored 3 successes on a D1 attack leaving him with 2 momentum
Conal rolls damage and does 8 points of damage and uses his momentum to penetrate the guards armor. The guard now tales 8 points of vigor stress, which causes a wound eliminating the minion, nice and quick and simple.

For example: The Mob,
Now Conal is faced off against a mob of 5 town guards (Vigor: 5 soak: 1)
Round 1: Using the same situation as above, Conal causes 8 points of damage and negates the armor on the guard. The first guard takes 5 points of stress damage and receives a wound, eliminating him. The remaining 3 points of Vigor go to the next guard reducing his total to 2.
Next the mob attacks, but now with only 4 members, the GM opts to buy 2 addition dice for the lead minion giving him 3d20+3d20 assistance dice. The attack succeeds and generates 4 momentum, but Conal's parry also succeeds and generates 4 momentum. The guards attack is barely turned aside.
Round 2: Conal feeling pressured by the mob decides to try and end this, and buys 3 additional dice. He scored 3 points of momentum and rolls 7 damage, using momentum to defeat the armor he does 2 points to the damaged guard reducing his vigor to zero, removing him from play. The remaining 5 points of damage is applied to the next guard, causing yet another wound and removing a second guard from play. Conal spends 2 points of momentum for a swift action and strikes again. This time he succeeds but only gains a single point of momentum. Luckily he rolls 10 damage! Using the single point of momentum his sword slices past the armor of the remaining guards. 5 damage to the first eliminates it, followed by the remaining 5 damage being applied to the last guard, also killing it.

I intend on doing two more articles on toughened and nemesis over the next few days, and as a companion piece I will get some sort of combat demo up on youtube. Until next time, drop me a comment and don't forget to keep it WEIRD!

If you are interested in checking out the Conan system why not head over to DriveThruRPG and pick up a copy of either the Conan 2d20 core book or the Conan 2d20 quickstart pdf?


  1. What about the wounds caused by dealing 5 damage in a single hit? This only accounts for wounds from Vigor depletion.

    1. I'm not sure what you mean. The examples use physical stress and harm (ie vigor and wounds) but the article talks about them generically as stress and harm.