'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

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Savage Sword of Conan: Issue #2 (2019)

Savage Sword #2! The first comic sparked a little bit of a firestorm on the internet, so I am understandably curious how this story will continue to feed that fire, or extinguish it a little.


Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Ron Garney
Colorist: Richard Isanove
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Alex Ross

Much like the first issue of Conan the Barbarian, our map of the world was laid out, but where we are was left blank. Also like Conan the Barbarian, the second issues reveals our location, but not with blood like CtB, with the map scratched out.

Overall this issue is probably more Conan. It reveals more Conan tropes and what he is finally up to. I can't fault the story too much as I have used similar story lines in my own adventures in the Conan 2d20 RPG. There are definitely a few things I liked less or struck at my enjoyment, but as I think about it, I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Without dropping spoilers I can't speak to specifics directly.

The art overall is good, much as issue 1, a raw, loose, savage style with what I think is an excellent depiction of our barbarian hero in general.



Lets get down to where I place it in terms of the skulls of my enemies.

Art:

Story:

Cover:

Sword & Sorcery:


I will drink from 4.5 out of 5 Skulls of my Enemies for this issue.


I still like the art, the lines the color, all of it. High marks from me here again.
Story is also high here as well, great Conan stuff going on, only a few missteps that stuck out at me. If I compared this story directly to what happened in issue 1, I would most likely rate issue 1 a little lower. I also saw no guns, but I admit to not going over every frame with a fine tooth comb, so maybe I just missed them?
The cover is the weakest part of the issue, and it's not that it's bad. It is a great image of Conan, but that is all it is. So hats off to Ross for a cool image, I just wish there was more.
Its general sword and sorceryness is also remaining turned right up and we have what is in my opinion a solid second issue to the series.

If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Conan 2d20: Playing the Investigation

Most of my articles have been about how to GM certain aspect of Conan 2d20 RPG, or at most overviews of how the basic mechanics work. I haven't played as a player, but my group has run for a couple of years, playing once a month or so, and I have noticed a few things.

As I have mentioned numerous times, I really like the idea of succeeding by a measure of success vs a simply black & white success metric of many RPGs, especially d20 based systems. Unfortunately I think this idea gets forgotten outside of combat by players as there is no real chart of spends to use your momentum on when you succeed in an amazing way. As you may have guessed from the title we are going to look at how players can get the most out of an investigation.

Generally, as I have outlined in my investigation post players should be able to simply say, "I search the area" or something similar to gain the most basic clue about where they should go next.

GM: Your party enters the room to find the dead body of your contact sprawled on the floor. Furniture and belongings are strewn about as though there was a struggle.
GM: What do you do?

As the player you decide you want to search the body.

Player: I would like to search the body
GM: Ok. This will be a D1 Observation test?
Player: I roll 2d20 and gain 2 successes!
GM: Alright, you gain a point of momentum.
GM: As you search the body you find, clutched in his hand, the emblem of the royal guard, apparently torn from his attacker during the struggle.

As a player from a more traditional system with a pass/fail mechanic you will be tempted to think that is that and try and find who the emblem was torn from, but this is Conan2d20 and it contains a measure of success, you as the player rolled 2 successes, you received a point of momentum. Not only did you succeed, but you succeeded well. You could certainly drop the momentum into the group pool for the next player to use, or you could spend it right away.

Page 103-104 of the core rulebook discusses basic types of momentum spends, some of these are broken out into a series of momentum spends. For example: Improve Quality of Success is described as a an often repeatable spend that may cause extra damage, and Increase Scope of Success is described as being able to affect more targets, or increase areas of effects. Both of these we see as combat spends as well, but we shouldn't limit these to the arena of combat.

So you have searched the body but gained momentum in doing so. Why don't we use that to "Increase the Quality of Success"

Player: With my point of momentum I would like to see if there is anything else interesting about the body
GM: As your search is especially thorough, you move the body slightly and discover, scrawled in blood, the name, "Cromlach". The name was previously hidden by the way the body was laying suggesting your contact was left for dead.

Now you have even more to go on, which can be nothing but beneficial. Keep this in mind as you choose how many d20s to roll. It may well be beneficial to roll 5d20 as well as assistance dice from your party to search that body and generate as much momentum as possible so you can be sure to find every last detail you can about it.

This can also be helpful if you don't actually know what you are looking for yet. This past weekend my players did a cursory search of a room and succeeded. They found a shipping manifest for supplies that came out of a nearby city. They didn't know it was relevant and so it was glossed over and largely ignored for several hours as they tried to workout their next move.

As a player use everything in your power to let the GM help you along to the next point in the investigation or story and remember they are not at odds to you, they want you to learn what is next, they want you to continue and be successful, but they also don't want to simply hand it to you on a silver platter or railroad you down a given path.

If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp rpg gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Firearms in the Hyborian Age? (and some 2d20 stats)

In Marvel's first issue of SAVAGE SWORD, some keen eyed fans spotted what looked quite a LOT like a pistol on one of the pirates that had captured Conan. Unsurprisingly this set off a bit of a firestorm, culminating in some people calling the book trash without ever having read it.

Truly Robert E Howard has no firearms in his Conan tales, but The Black Stranger definitely has pirates, and I don't mean Queen of the Black Coast pirates, I mean Pirates of the Caribbean Pirates. Conan himself gets outfitted in pirate gear, and the interesting part is the gear he finds and uses, this quintessential pirate gear is old...

A man as big as himself was striding toward him over the sands, making no attempt at stealth; and the pirate's eyes widened as he stared at the close-fitting silk breeches, high flaring-topped boots, wide-skirted coat and head-gear of a hundred years ago. There was a broad cutlass in the stranger's hand and unmistakable purpose in his approach.
Black Stranger
-Robert E Howard.

Even in a more conventional story Howard describes the Barachan Pirates much like we might see in a more traditional pirate setting.

As he came into the waist the crew thronged about him: Zingarans, all of them, half naked, their gaudy silk garments splashed with tar, jewels glinting in ear-rings and dagger hilts.
Pool of the Black One
-Robert E Howard.

With characters in his stories that are clearly quite late in the medieval sphere of things, some might even say PAST medieval and into renaissance age. Looking again to The Black Stranger we see armor that 100% post-dates the introduction of fire-arms into Europe.

The taller stranger removed his morion and made a sweeping bow. His companions halted, drawing their wide cloaks about them, and behind them the sailors leaned on their oars and stared at the flag floating over the palisade.
Black Stranger
-Robert E Howard.

The Morion is a distinctive Spanish helmet, so Zingaran in the Hyborian Age, and certainly it we shouldn't use our world as an exact mirror to the Hyborian Age, but the fact remains that Howard took what he liked to make his stories cool, to make his stories sell. If there was ever a place and time where the rule of cool holds true it is the Hyborian Age and the world of Conan.

Moving away from pirates and armor technology for a moment I want to move towards alchemy in the Hyborian Age.

The horde had halted. From the extreme wing rushed a chariot, the naked charioteer lashing the steeds like a madman; the other occupant was a tall figure whose robe floated spectrally on the wind. He held in his arms a great vessel of gold and from it poured a thin stream that sparkled in the sunlight. Across the whole front of the desert horde the chariot swept, and behind its thundering wheels was left, like the wake behind a ship, a long thin powdery line that glittered in the sands like the phosphorescent track of a serpent.

"That's Natohk!" swore Amalric. "What hellish seed is he sowing?"

The charging knights had not checked their headlong pace. Another fifty paces and they would crash into the uneven Kushite ranks, which stood motionless, spears lifted. Now the foremost knights had reached the thin line that glittered across the sands. They did not heed that crawling menace. But as the steel-shod hoofs of the horses struck it, it was as when steel strikes flint—but with more terrible result. A terrific explosion rocked the desert, which seemed to split apart along the strewn line with an awful burst of white flame.
Black Colussus
-Robert E Howard.

And again in Hour of the Dragon we have this,

His hand dipped into his robe and came out with something shining – a glistening sphere. This he threw suddenly at Conan. The Cimmerian contemptuously struck it aside with his sword—at the instant of contact there was a sharp explosion, a flare of white, blinding flame, and Conan pitched senseless to the ground.
Hour of the Dragon
-Robert E Howard.

Clearly the Hyborian Age has the ability to produce explosive powders and the like. In both of these examples it is used by the hands of ancient Sorcerers, so I am not suggesting you can roll into your Aquilonian corner store and buy it, but I am suggesting such things existed to men who knew about it.

So now we have a pretty strong case for technology in the Hyborian Age higher than what was in use when firearms were introduced into Europe. We can simply take this as proof that Howard would gladly pull what was cool and within setting for his stories, if we go that way we need to go no further and realize simple firearms and pirates are pretty common place, and it's probably not that big a stretch to imagine Howard employing it.

Alternatively we can try and explain it via what we see in the Hyborian Age. They had the metal working technology to build 17th century armor, surely they could make a basic gun barrel. We also have proof of explosive and burning powders in the stories. Without any direct evidence of firearms, it's really not a great leap to believe something like a simple matchlock pistol might have existed.

In either scenario we really need to ask ourselves, "Are simple firearms really a complete impossibility in the Hyborian Age?"

Some of you will categorically deny this as a possibility, and that is fine. For those of you I can convinced that these things might exist in fairly small quantities as an interesting weapon, I give to you....

THE MATCHLOCK PISTOL


A ranged weapon for the Conan 2d20 RPG by Modiphius


Name Range Damage Size Qualities Availability Cost Encumbrance
Matchlock Pistol
C
6cd
2H
Piercing 2
Fearsome 2, Intense, Slow
5
15
3


Slow: This weapon requires the player to remain stationary and use a minor action to load before firing.

If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp rpg gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday's Forgotten Fiends: The Essence of Beyond

Welcome back to another installment of Friday's Forgotten Fiends! Custom monsters for your RPG table feature stat blocks for Conan 2d20 and Dungeons and Dragons 5e as well as paper 28mm miniatures and VTT tokens!

The candles flickered in the circle around the old wizard. His blade was raised above him in symbolism of ritual sacrifice. The bronze bowl before him held the still warm heart of some unfortunate soul, either human or a large animal, only he knew. with his circle of power intact, his sacrifice prepared he began the chant in some long forgotten tongue taught to him by his ancient master so many years ago.

He had enemies, and he intended to summon a dark thing to do his bidding and have is revenge. He would no longer be the laughing stock in his village. He would show them all the power he possessed! After chanting for what seemed like an eternity he felt the very veil grow thin as the air around him grew cold, and in a final motion his blade struck down into the heart completing the ritual and unleashing the dark forces all around him.

He could almost hear the great tear open between our two world, as the gash opened, and he called forth his creature. Within moments a dark smoke like foot stepped through the tear, fel energy swirling and coalescing around it.

The last thing he saw was a claw of smoke and a mouth filled with row after row of gleaming white teeth. The chamber was filled with the protests and then screams of the wizard as the dark thing took it's price for his desires. When it had had it's fill of his flesh the thing stood and left the chamber, off to do what it was summoned to do. Behind it the great portal slowly stitched itself back together, and in a moment all that remained was the wizard's body as it was slowly consumed by the remnants of the dark energy that game through with the beast. In moments what can only be described as the Essence of Beyond remained, hungry and angry.

These blobs of malignant energy are the remnants of dark sorcery gone wrong, a merger of the one who summoned forth the magic, and the magic itself. They are a manifestation of the outer dark made physical in our world. Typically found on old places of power such as a ruined temple or ancient sunken city, these things feed on our world, and especially on the life forms in our world. These being simple manifestations of power have coalesced into semi-sentient and hostile creatures. Although having no magic themselves, and being relatively easily vanquished, their very nature can make them difficult to pin down and strike, and in that process many warriors have fallen to these.

Conan 2d20

D&D 5e

VTT Tokens

Paper Minis!

And finally paper minis!


If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp rpg gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Conan 2d20 Character Sheet that is a form fillable pdf.

A little while ago I built a character sheet that was cleaner and listed the skills alphabetically. I have now added form fillable fields to the .PDF file. It has a few auto calculate fields, so if you notice anything weird, please let me know.

2d20 Character Sheet



If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp rpg gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Savage Sword of Conan: Issue #1 (2019)

Back with another Conan day and another spoiler free review! February 13th and the debut issue of the new Savage Sword of Conan! We have seen a few images here and there from this book and I can tell you I am excited to read it!


Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Ron Garney
Colorist: Richard Isanove
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Alex Ross

You can of course check out Gerry Duggan, Ron Garney and Alex Ross on Twitter. You can find Alex, Ron and Gerry on Instagram as well! Go and give them some social media love!

Well, where to start? Lots of talk about Crom and lack of caring. That is a good thing. The story starts with things going from bad to worse for Conan which, at the end of the day is a great start for this series and feels proper.

The art by Garney is different from the Barbarian art. I'd call it looser, less precise, more raw...maybe even more SAVAGE. I think it will be a good match for this story. The coloring is excellent, with the line work supporting it more like a painting in a lot of panels vs colored in comic panels. I am definitely a fan of the style.

The story is good, if so far not that deep. It has potential to get there and foreshadows the future for our Cimmerian hero. One of the things I liked about things was the rise and fall....and fall...and fall of Conan's fortune.

The cover is great. Conan looks like Conan. He is locked in combat with undead pirates! Axe overhead to crush his foes while he grips one by the neck. The cover is evocative of action and full of little details.

This comic feels like sword and sorcery, monsters in line with REHs creations, nothing completely over the top, no magic missiles, no fireballs. It feels like we are getting a good low fantasy setting with this series.

Art:

Story:

Cover:

Sword & Sorcery:


Well, I am just gonna go ahead and rate this a solid 5 out of 5 Skulls of my Enemies!

Overall I clearly liked the start of this new offering from Marvel, I feel we have the beginnings of a new adventure, and that new adventure is supported very well by not only the style of art that Garney is producing but also by the colouring being added by Isanove. We have a strong first issue and I am very much looking forward to seeing where things go.

I don't think this is a perfect issue despite my 5/5 rating, there are a few story issues that gave me pause, but most of them are all REH Conan knowledge based that the average fan might not even recognize. Heck, I would have to been double check them to be sure, but they are not so blatant to really pull me out of the story.

If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!