'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

Showing posts with label Pulp fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pulp fiction. Show all posts

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Witch of the Screaming Woods

At the end of April 2019, I will be at the Calgary Expo GMing two games of Conan 2d20! I will run 4 players through an adventure, once on Friday and once on Sunday. If you are around and want to check out Conan 2d20 for real stop by and sign up!


The games will feature paper miniatures from Okum Arts, Kevs Lounge and Printable Heroes as well as tiles from Black Scroll Games.

Everything I will be using will be all self printed and assembled. Even if you can't play stop by the table and see what you can come up with for an ultra portable, but awesome kit!
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Monday, March 18, 2019

The Exploit: Conan 2d20, some thoughts.

When I read novels (ok I generally listen to them), especially Sword and Sorcery, I tend to think of how the combat scenes would play out using the Conan 2d20 RPG rules.

If the hero strikes and knocks the bad guy's axe away and then comes back for an attack, I try and fit it into the sets of skills a character might have. In that example I might decide as I read that the hero has the riposte skill, and has successfully parried with some level of momentum. This has allowed our Hero to parry the blow, disarm the opponent with a momentum spend and attack right away with riposte.

The Exploit action is described as the following.

The character takes additional time and concentration readying the next attack, seeking to find vulnerabilities in a single target’s defenses. The player nominates a target the character is able to perceive, and attempts an Average (D1) Observation test (modified for Observation tests by distance, lighting, etc.). If this succeeds, the character’s first attack before the end of the next turn gains the Piercing 2 Quality. If desired, the character may spend one Momentum from this test to add one bonus d20 to the attack’s skill test, and +1CD to the attack’s damage. This is Repeatable, but these bonus d20s count towards the normal limit of 3 bonus d20s on any skill test. The benefits of this action are only gained once per round.

First I want to establish that the exploit represents some way you have gained an advantage over your opponents, because of this it is used to represent being ambushed as well. In it's raw form you pause in the fight and look for an opening, find a pattern in the opponents guard and then "EXPLOIT" that weakness.

But what other ways can this be used by a player? There is a scene in "IMARO" where a an outlaw offers a bodyguard the chance to thrown down their arms and join them. The guard rejects the offer with derision and the comment of, "Better to die with honor than to live as an outlaw!", and then spurs his horse forward and attacks with ferocity. The blow is barely blocked.

My brain immediately went to figuring out how that could be accomplished in Conan. Bodyguard uses a minor action to speak and a standard action to attack, and that is just how the dice worked out? A successful parry, but maybe only barely? What if instead we used the exploit action? What if we look at the second part of that description, "GMs may allow characters to use skills other than observation to attempt an Exploit action".

What if the bodyguard rolls *PERSUADE* as the exploit action, is successful, and performs a swift action immediately afterwards? Now our bodyguard has spoken, caused his opponent to lose focus, falter, or similar, but be caught a little by surprise as the attack is launched. Now the attack is potentially more devastating.

Another obvious one that we started using at my table, after the thief type character discovered there was no backstab, was to exploit using stealth. The idea here is pretty straight forward, the character is using their ability to slip into shadows, and then use that momentary lapse in tracking to spring at their opponent from behind and deliver a deadly blow.

In an action scene there are plenty of different skills that can be used, play with them, figure out some cool things to do. What GM is going to say no to an Acrobatics Exploit when you say, "I want to try and tumble low and come up with my sword to catch a weak point in their defense?"

The exploit is a great catch all standard action that can be used for a multitude of different narrative effects. If you are not using it as a player, or as a GM, I encourage you to give it some thought to add even more flair to your combat encounters.


Finally I wanted to leave you with a handy reference card you can print out and give to your players to help them understand the mechanics behind the tool. It will still be up to the players to figure out how to use this to enhance the narrative of the story.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Age of Conan: Issue #1 (2019): Bêlit. "The Lost Verses"

This is the third of three new titles bearing our Cimmerian Hero's name from Marvel! Things are different this time though, even though it has Conan's name on it, it centers around other characters from his world. We start with the first woman to really capture Conan's heart: Bêlit, Queen of the Black Coast. If you are new to Conan, be sure to check out the original story featuring this savage lady, Queen of the Black Coast. So without further pre-amble I give you Marvel's Age of Conan: Bêlit.


First the people who made this issue possible, the writers, artists and letterers.
Cover: Sana Takeda
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Kate Niemczyk
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letterer: VCs Travis Lanham
I suspect this issue will be not well liked by many, but I am willing to see where the story goes.

I generally liked the cover, it gives an air of regal sureness to Bêlit that I think fits her character, but I do think it lacks a little of the savage edge I think she should have. Sana Takeda has a fairly distinctive style I would describe as beautiful ethereal and flowery, and this cover is no exception to this.

The story, in this issue, is simple enough, and lays the ground work for Bêlit to start down the road to become Queen of the Black Coast. It is not twisty and as near as I can tell isn't setting up some massive twist. It is direct, but it is setting up to develop Bêlit into the woman she becomes. With all that being said, I don't think it is the story I would have told, but then I am not sure what story I would tell for Bêlit, which I think will be the problem. This will not be the story any of you had for her either, even if you don't know what that is. Her origins were secretive and mysterious. Tini Howard has her work cut out for her here. Telling the story of one of Robert E Howard's more iconic women of the Hyborian Age is not a task I am jealous of.

Art wise, I found the issue to be well enough executed, but come across clean. It is bright and the lines are straight for the most part. This is not universally true, but it was enough that it was the main impression I took away. It would be cool if as the story progressed the art was to change and become more and more harsh as Bêlit moves closer to becoming the Pirate Queen. For now I find Kate Niemczyk's style to be a little off the mark here, which isn't to say I dislike her art, she has done some cool stuff and you should check out her work. I just don't think it is fitting perfectly for the Hyborian Age tale. I have one striking exception to this. The last panel is, in my opinion, excellent in execution and style. The coloring of Jason Keith supports the art style in that it remains pretty bright for the most part.

The last thing we need to talk about is the sword and sorcery elements of this. This isn't as strongly tropy as say the first issue of Conan the Barbarian, where we have, "Conan Fight. Conan Capture. Conan Fight Wizard.". Even without those heavy tropes the story has most the elements we need to see a S&S tale. Although again I prefer my tales to be a little heavier on the conflict side.

Alright so those are my thoughts, lets see how many skulls I think this all breaks down to.

Art:

Story:

Cover:

Sword & Sorcery:


I have landed on 4 out of 5 skulls here, I have a few minor issues with things, but mostly they deal with things not fitting exactly, or not being done how I would do them. None of that make this bad per say. I am also hopeful this book may attract a slightly new demographic to Conan's world that has traditionally stayed away due to the influence both real and imagined of certain less than savory individuals. So go grab your copy of Age of Conan: Bêlit, grab your favorite wine and give it a read. I am sure I will see you all on the Internet to discuss thoughts on this issue in more detail there.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

DOTAR SOJAT! John Carter of Mars RPG by Modiphius!

On Thursday my pledge for John Carter of Mars RPG arrived. Pretty exciting! I first wrote about this back in January 2018 when Modiphius announced this would be a thing. Since then those of us who are backers have watched this come together, seeing initial pdfs and pictures of miniatures. For me a good kickstarter maintains excitement for the product even after the kickstarter is complete. Modiphius has done a pretty good job with this with Conan and continues this with John Carter(JCoM), being plugged into the community and sending regular updates.

I did not get an all in pledge, but I did get what I thought was a pretty good approximation of that, DOTAR SOJAT, gave me all the books, miniatures, dice etc. Pretty much everything. Basically I got everything except for the fancy leather bound versions of the book, notebook and the dice bag; nice to haves, but not necessities.

This is the first of two shipments for my pledge. As you can see on the right, the expected delivery was July 2018, and it is now Feb 2019. The pledge fulfillment is late, but it's not several years late, certainly well within my expectations on hitting delivery date targets. The second shipment is supposed to ship late 2019, but mid 2020 would be more likely in my experience. Only time will tell! I also ordered a set of the airship tiles so I could play with miniatures but use less crafted terrain, and well.....Airships....

I am almost sure most of you are here to look at pictures and hear my thoughts on the physical products. To that end I took a lot of pictures and have spent some time with the physical products, although I have not assembled the miniatures.

The Packaging.

We will start with what I see when I open the box. Lots of packaging, not as cool as what I got with Monolith's Claustrophobia, but it appears sufficient to get the product shipped to my door in one piece, after looking through it all, I would say it was successful.

In the Box.

After removing the air packs we can see all of the goodies a little more clearly. Well the dice and miniatures anyhow, there is so many of these the books remain unseen, hidden, below the horde of Barsoom!

Dice.

Lots and lots of dice. 15 d20s and 18 combat dice that will assuredly be pressed into service for Conan as well!

The dice are clean and easy to read with the combat dice eliminating having numbers on them as well to clarify what is damage and what is not. I approve. D6s are the most common dice out there, we really don't need to press our special dice into service to roll as a d6.

Blister Packs.

The resin miniatures are all packed in sealed blister packs. A few are in blister packs that are not sealed, but they were secure for me and had not popped open in transit. Inside the figures are all in small ziploc bags preventing them from moving around freely within the blister.

Miniatures.

Resin figures are a little new to me so I wanted to check them out when I got them. The casts look nice, although there is a little flashing. I think I might actually prefer big obvious flashing like this to a tiny small occasional amount I generally miss till I am painting.

The material is grey and has a little flex in it, not something like Bones, but not rigid either. They will look bad ass painted.

White Ape.

Another shot of one of the miniatures showing the detail of the figures.

Notebook.

Next up are a few photos from the notebook. It has a great cover, elastic closure and integrated cloth bookmark. It's actually pretty similar in size and function to what I currently use. It does have a few JCoM specific pages though.

Notebook Cont.

A shot of the interior of the book showing it's integrated character sheet.

Notebook Cont.

My quick look showed most of the other pages to be blank lined pages with a few grid pages in there as well.

Toolkit

A shot of the interior of the book showing it's integrated character sheet.

Toolkit Cont.

The Conan Toolkit was a great resource and I expect nothing less from this, although I've not had time to go over it in detail..

Screen

Second half of the toolkit package. I am not a big user of screens, but this one looks like a great selection of reference materials, that I of course didn't take a photo of.

Slipcase

A lovely, robust, slipcase to hold the core book and the campign book with your more conventionally formatted books.

Clipcase cont.

The two books inside the slipcase.

Core Book

Quick shot inside the core book. The pages in these books feel thinner and more glossy than what we see in the Conan books. Hopefully that doesn't translate into page tears in the future.

Campaign Book

Easily my favorite of the two covers. Love it.

Campaign Book

Interior shot of some of the bad guys. I would have preferred cool art for these, but I don't hate the miniature images either.

Campaign Book

Double interior cover map of Barsoom. Pretty cool interior art.

Ship Tiles

I wasn't sure what to expect here. I have heard the Star Trek tiles are scaled a little small, and I didn't get any of the Conan tiles. In the end size and art wise these turned out pretty excellent.

Ship Tile Warpage

The only down side is once removed from their shrink wrap they immediately took a slight warp. I live in a dry climate and it's the middle of winter and a cold snap. Slightly dissapointing, but I doubt it will be a long term issue.

Overall it is a cool set of books and accessories from a loved and formative work of Sci-fi. The format isn't even as bad as many people, myself included, feared. As I mentioned above I do have a few concerns, but overall the books and such look excellent and well put together.

It is something I will love having on my shelf and enjoy playing. Who doesn't want to play some good old fashioned sci-fi set on the old ideas of what Mars might have been?

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!

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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!