'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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Friday, May 4, 2018

Conan 2d20 RPG Overview: The Toughened Opponent.

We started this discussion with minions, but now I want to move on to the second of our opponent classifications; the toughened opponent. These opponents have the potential to cause some real challenges for your players in the form of more fully realized NPCs and creatures.

These adversaries represent opponents who are better skilled and probably better equipped. If you think of a militia or town guard as minions, then their sergeants are going to represent toughened foes.

Rules wise they work pretty much like a character does with a few exceptions.

  • They roll 2d20 for skill tests, and can gain up to 3 bonus d20s.
  • They are able to parry, dodge and react.
  • They are able to sacrifice shields to prevent a wound.
  • They are NOT able to sacrifice other forms of armor.
  • They do not have hit locations.
  • They can suffer two of the same type of harm before being eliminated.

A special note for the GM based on my play experience. Although toughened opponents can survive better than minions, many characters have weapons or skills that bestow the INTENSE ability, which causes a second wound if a first is caused. For toughened opponents it means that can easily be dropped in a single hit, just like a minion.

Optional House Rule,
If you follow Modiphius at all they recently launched a kickstarter for John Carter of Mars using the 2d20 system, or a variant of it called 2d20 lite. In this they introduce what is essentially a modified toughened opponent. These opponents don't necessarily have the ability to only take 2 harms before being removed. They have a rating which specifies how many harms they can take. Consider how much more effective your toughened opponents will be if they have a third wound? Now when fighting against an INTENSE weapon or skill they will need to have all of their stress dropped to 0 in a round to have them removed from the board.

Remember though with 2 harms the toughened opponent will be at +2 difficulty and so not very effective at much.... besides giving his buddies time to maneuver.

Last time we also talked about The Mob, a loose group of sword fodder without much combat organization. We can remove one of those five minions and replace it with a toughened opponent, to increase it's overall effectiveness. The Squad represents a unit of opponents led by a better trained and equipped leader. It can contain up to 4 identical minions and 1 toughened opponent. When you roll skill tests for the group it is important to have a set of dice assigned to the toughened leader as their skills and expertise will likely be better than the minions they lead.

Remember the bonus dice granted from the minions to the toughened leader are assistance dice, and it is possible for the leader to buy 3 bonus dice bringing their total to 5 before gaining up to an additional 4 dice depending on how many minions exist in the squad.

Damaging the squad works pretty much like damaging a mob, with damage moving to the next member of the squad as minions are eliminated. The toughened leader is the last to receive damage this way. While existing within a squad, the toughened leader is unable to parry or react as they would normally do. Despite this the toughened leader can be attacked directly by using a called shot momentum spend.

And that is pretty much it. There are a couple of small things we will take a look at next week that deal with groups (squads and mobs), but this is a good overview of the toughened opponent and how they can be used with minions to present a greater challenge for your players.

As always I love to hear comments and feedback, ideas and errata. As we go forward I wonder what else would be useful to go over? Till next time, 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. I didn't pledge for John Carter but I like to know I'm not the only one creating a rule to add more Harm to T. The only issue is the barrier between T and N seems to become more fuzzy in mechanical terms.

    1. Fortunately for you, the JCoM has a quickstarter for free!

      But more seriously. I can totally see it becoming fuzzy. Biggest thing I can see is the use of fortune, but generally I would expect a nemesis class to have higher ability scores as well.

  2. I think Conan already has a good way of making the Toughened character tougher, and thats the Squad rule. If I wanted to have a tough solo character, I would just make him a Nemesis. But One thing I didnt realize is the tough Squad leader gets the bonus dice for the mob.. never occurred to me.. that really changes things!!