'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

Corrupt Cliffs

Corrupt Cliffs
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Conan 2d20 RPG - The Black God.

When I started writing the last adventure for our group, I had no clear goal on what I wanted to do. The players had trapped themselves in a small vault designed to contain an artifact of, perhaps, alien origin. Why they were there or how they became trapped isn't of great importance. I set out with an eight point system for writing short fiction: Stasis, Trigger, Quest, Surprise, Critical Choice, Climax, Reversal, Resolution. Armed with a basic outline I laid out the first room and then proceeded to not go very much further.

A few weeks later 'ol Hankerin' Ferinale posted a podcast on something he called "Monster Sets", basically 3 creatures connected in theme and perhaps in some other method. Translated to Conan 2d20, maybe you have a Minion type who is easy to kill, and perhaps you have a toughened opponent that can summon Minions at will, or whatever. The Nemesis is probably your boss. For a clearer idea I highly recommend you check out Hankerin' at the link above.

I wanted to try the Monster Set idea in my game. I knew my players had an aversion to statues. I had already placed several statues as creatures in the adventure but was at a loss on how to go forward. I needed to find a way to create a Monster Set around these. Fortunately for me I had just read "The Black God's Kiss" and "The Black God's Shadow" by CL Moore.

To make a long story short, Jirel, the main character retrieves a weapon to exact her revenge, which she then determines was the wrong action. In her attempt at redemption she heads back to the realm from which her weapon came from. Here she finds her victim locked in a black statue, the personification of all of his magnified sins. She releases him from this and he becomes a shade she needs to track across this unholy landscape. Meanwhile she is assaulted by the Black God and feels herself losing and becoming a statue herself, barely fighting them off. If you haven't read those stories, I do highly recommend them, there are of course links on the sidebar to Amazon so you can get copies of the stories.

But back to Conan. And so I had Statues, Shades and the Black God itself, and with this triumvirate the Monster Set was born. I wrote some custom creatures that were perhaps a little over powered, but only by a little.

The first is the Black Statue, an unholy abomination of some black material. Sin, magnified and made real. Physical forms twisted and distorted, no two the same.

The second is the Black Shade, an ethereal form of the statue. The soul trapped within the statue freed from its physical constraints. These are horrific apparitions that strike the most stalwart warrior down to a gibbering child.

I failed to used these strategically so I am not certain on how useful the ability to regen the statues is. I pretty much attacked with the Black Shades and followed up with the Black Statues.

Finally the Black God itself. The Black God can not actually be attacked by physical means. It must be present to be attacked, ie it must be engaged in combat with someone. I would allow direct mental attacks against it. As well, a player resisting successfully over two rounds will drive it off for 2cd rounds

These challenges proved exceptionally difficult for my party of five, the shades wreaking havoc on them with the mental attack they possess. I modified them a little in this post to make them a little more reasonable, but you might wish to tweak them further if you so desire.

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