'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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Monday, August 29, 2022

Conan 2d20 : On The Grid

Conan 2d20 on the Grid


Without a doubt I have spent a good amount of time discussing zones and ways to get them to work easily within the context of a miniatures based game of Conan 2d20. It is no secret I am a fan of the zone idea, liking how it places the game somewhere between theatre of the mind and the tactical battlemap. The closest I have come to this alternate set of rules was back in August, 2018 with this idea around rulers for zone combat. Rulers can work well, and lots of people are proponents of them, still they do add another bit to have to deal with and locate when a move occurs.

There can be times during a battle where the zone idea can be a little confusing, players may not know exactly where they are in relation to the enemy and might feel like things are on the unfair side. If the GM handles things less than diplomatically it can make the table less fun to play at. I had this occur recently at my table, and so I was keen to find ways to fix it. Since I had been playing a lot of 5e, the grid jumped out as a possibility. At present the following rules have been tested once in game play and they worked well enough. We have not yet tested area effect, but we discussed it after the game, and my players thought it might be on the large side, so that might be something to keep in mind.

Conan on the Grid: The Rules, v0.5

The abstract nature of zones fits a nice niche between theatre of the mind and the tactical grid-based combat of many games. Despite this, the grid aspect of many games is enjoyable and can make combat more tactical for some people. I have played both types of games and find that they both have their place. One of the benefits of grids over zones is knowing exactly where your character is. Having a miniature on a zone-based map can, at times, lead to confusion. Conan as written is a zone-based game. Within a turn, a player may make a standard action, a minor action, and many free actions. All three of these have a movement type associated with them, but a player can only use one of the movement types in a given turn.


Using a base of 30’, stolen from 5e, all players in Conan will move this base level. The adjust action, in my mind, exists to allow characters to interact with items in the same zone due to the positional abstraction inherent in zones. With this system removing positional abstraction, it also removes the adjust move action. A minor action is a move represented by a move at 30’ (or the character’s base movement) (Move) A standard action is a move represented by a move up to 60’ (or 2x the character’s base movement), this increases the difficulty of all skill tests this round by 1 (this does not affect the defend reaction) (Sprint)

Splitting Movement

A minor action allows you to move up to your base movement, usually 30’. If you move part of that distance and then complete a standard action, you can continue to use the remainder of your movement, however, all movement rules still apply. Ie if you move into combat, leaving combat will trigger a retaliate action, unless withdraw action is used, as a free action.

Optional Fast Movement

Every 2 points of focus in Move (for NPCs) or Acrobatics (for PCs) grant an additional 5’ of movement. A character with an acrobatics of 4 could move up to 40’ as an adjust action, 40’ as a regular move, and 40’ to 80’ as a sprint action.

Difficult Terrain

Difficult terrain will count as double movement for each square it occupies, ie a 5’ square of difficult terrain costs 10’ of movement to move through it. Players can make athletics/acrobatics checks to avoid this penalty.


Ranges will also be based on the same concepts of a basic move being 30’
  • Close range, ie within a zone, is closer than 30’
  • Medium Range ie the next zone over is 30’-60’
  • Long Range, ie 2 zones, is 60’-90’
  • Extreme Range, ie more than 2 zones, is 90’+
Shooting outside of your effective range class increases the difficulty by 1 for each class. Ie A close range shooting to medium range is +1 difficulty and +2 difficulty to long range.

Ranges for Mobs/Squads

When determining the range for mobs measure the range from the middle of the mob. If the mob is straddling two range bands, choose the further range.

The Diagonal

The easiest way to handle diagonals is to simply allow them as a 5’ move.

Melee Combat

In order to engage in melee, combat miniatures must be in adjacent squares, this can be adjacent orthogonally or diagonally, this is known as base-to-base contact.


This is a standard move action, a character can move up to their base move when using this as their standard action. If the side withdrawing outnumbers their opponents this can be completed as a free action.

Protect Reaction

To use the protect reaction, the character using it must be adjacent to who they are attempting to defend.

Retaliate Reaction

This is triggered when a PC or NPC moves out of base-to-base contact without using a withdraw action.

Mobs and Squads

As members of the mob/squad are eliminated the back ranks will move to fill the front ranks. The mob or squad cannot leave base-to-base contact with their attacker as a result of the loss of members. Each member of the squad occupies 5’.


In order for a mob to interpose themselves, they must be in base-to-base contact with the target of the original attack.

Flanking (optional)

If two or more opponents are attacking with at least 5’ between them, they can each re-roll one of their melee dice for free, the second roll stands.

Areas of Effect

Weapons that normally affect an entire zone now affect a 30’x30’ square. Complications on the roll cause it to drift in a random direction (1d8) 1d6*5’