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10/08/2017 10:00 pm  #21


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Very interesting discussion, everyone! Grimmshade, I’m wondering what you might think of Modiphius’s new 2d20 take on Conan, which is advertised as the most “authentic” REH Conan so far. As far as I can tell, that system doesn’t use “corruption” but a “patronage” system that might require less-than-savory upkeep from the sorcerer that could translate, depending on game narrative, into corruption:

“Upon starting along the path of sorcery, each sorcerer must have a patron. This patron might be a demon, a chthonic entity, a god, or most likely, a human master. The earliest portion of arcane training is marked with the acknowledgement of compact or bargain by which the student sorcerer swears allegiance to the patron and promises obedience, service, and other duties in return for guidance along the sorcerer’s way.

“Patrons by their very nature are demanding, and the price of tuition extends and grows. Inevitably, however, there comes a time where the sorcerer must try to force the master to relinquish control and release the sorcerer from all obligation. Suffice to say, many human patrons are seldom willing to see a pupil become a potential rival, and may even become hated enemies should a student rise to power above them.”

When I read REH’s original Conan works, I’m struck by how “natural” and visceral is his representation of sorcery. It reminds me much more of how “natural philosophers” are depicted (Mary Shelley’s _Frankenstein_ references John Dee, Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus), whose magics are more a blend of what we would now call regular science _and_ consultation with otherworldly spirits. REH’s sorcerers routinely use powders up the sleeve, or needles with which to inject venoms, but they also have mastered mesmerism or might borrow supernatural abilities from their patrons.


“Our own age is not one which can afford to call its ancestors savage.” 
― Poul AndersonThe Broken Sword
 

10/09/2017 7:05 am  #22


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Grimmshade wrote:

I think of Tsotha-lanti and the Master of Yimsha as having achieved something they consider beneficial through sorcery. Neither appeared negatively corrupted, so much as having found a way to prolong their lives.
(Also, Tsotha-lanti was half demon)

I'm not saying that a wizard could not be corrupted by something evil in Conan's world, but I don't think it should be a regular side effect of magic use.

Not sure being a lich is non-corruptible, but after a few rolls (or a few hundred years), the GM would state that no more corruption rolls would be necessary; for if his body is rotting away, looking into a mirror, might corrupt and lead to madness. If corruption can break down the control the sorcerer has on his mind, so he is vulnerable to madness; which I think the Master of Yimsha was.

Yeah, half-daemon, therefore half-human, therefore still slightly vulnerable!

Sure Grimm, I agree; as stated, if commanding a daemon to do something, there is no corruption roll. But sitting discussing the meaning of life for hours with a daemon will, as the sorcerer is at times being convinced of a daemonic perspective of life and therefore losing his humanity!

Examples of Possible Corruption:

When Pelius turned jailor into a zombie for him to open door to dungeon, Conan was sickened inside (nauseas). Why corruption, because he stood by a sorcerer raising a corpse (roll for corruption, as Pelius is telling Conan, get used to it, it not a problem). Another roll for corruption as he watches Pelius command zombie to open door. And a third roll vs corruption for Conan, because he did not rush in and hack to pieces such foul magic and a possible fourth roll for allowed it to happen because in truth it benefited him for door to be open by zombie!

This does not mean Conan cannot get rib of corruption later by performing heroic acts, which he will do!

NB: Pelius may have once rolled for corruption vs seeing a zombie rise, but he is now to experienced for it to affect him.

Edit: Stating the blatant obvious; but Thoth-Amun turned away so he did no view the slave of the ring, no doubt to stop any corruption. Corruption causes madness, not madness causes corruption. Corruption of the mind, cause it to sway from normality, so it comes first!





 

Last edited by Caveman (10/11/2017 5:54 am)

 

10/12/2017 8:48 am  #23


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Not to keep flogging this thing, but none of the sorcerers in Howard's Conan stories seems especially irrational or divorced from reality (as opposed to evil and cynical). Even the unnaturally long-lived ones, who would theoretically have the longest exposure to whatever it is that's supposed to cause this so-called "corruption", seem to have a fairly firm grip on reality. So I'm not sure the stories even support the idea of mental "corruption" or sanity loss.

It's all well and good to say, "There might have been hideously deformed or insane sorcerers in Conan's world that we never saw." Sure, but by the same token there might have been hobbits or gold dragons that we never saw. I feel strongly that people creating an RPG purportedly set in a particular world have a responsibility not to add major mechanics that aren't supported by canonical works describing that world. Mongoose didn't fulfill that responsibility, in my opinion. They wrote bad fan fiction and called it Conan.


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

10/12/2017 10:30 am  #24


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Hate to state this BA, but no matter who creates a Conan RPG, they will always have to fill in many blanks, responsibility or not, they cannot help it, there is just to many spaces for them to fill; that it will eventually disgruntled some person.

This new 2D20 Conan, state they will keep it Canon Conan, I state that will be an impossibility, they cannot but add their own ideas to it and some person will always disagree.

Example Yaralet was placed by them in Koth, but I know for a fact that it was in South Brythunia, I am sure of it!

 

10/12/2017 8:16 pm  #25


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Eirvit - Here is what I think of the Conan 2d20 RPG:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/103023393131901177911/posts/54LeuVHWY7p

Long story short, the full system is too clunky, the magic system is weak and not particularly Conan, and they are basically writing new (bad) pastiche to fill blanks that don't need to be filled.


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
     Thread Starter
 

10/12/2017 9:40 pm  #26


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

I agree with Blackadder, that corruption is certainly not seen in the Conan stories enough to be represented by a mechanic in an RPG. Beyond the sorcerers we see in the stories, there are also many more hinted at with no mention of corruption or insanity. 
This doesn't mean there are no sorcerers in the world (offscreen) who went insane from speaking with a demon or seeing a Cthulhu, but a mechanic is not needed to represent them.


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
     Thread Starter
 

10/13/2017 7:03 am  #27


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

I not a big fan of 2d20 though I assisted in their Kickstarter (helping to keep Conan material constant on planet). D20 has a lot of rules, though I do use the game (played about 7 years worth of 3.5 also). I would have preferred a RQ system, but wondering how it would progress. Think they would have needed Feat/Talent system to add to basic rules, or characters would die a lot and Fate Points as d20 Conan from Mongoose did.

I must say I finding AS&SH rules a bit more relaxing (and a lot easy than AD&D 1e, I played near 40 years ago; I 52 now for record), though I use a basic system for fighting based I would say on 3.5. AC 5 =15, and roll every bonus as a plus, +5 need a 10 to hit and basically easy stuff, allow for fast gaming (I hope).

Not sure if you heard of Savage Kingdoms as a system: it just uses one dice for any rule work d20.

Magic and Attack work the same, a basic skill check vs a DL (Difficulty level or Dodge or Parry skill), averaging being rate about +8 to +12, roll d20 add together if it above DL, this counts as damage etc. 10 above DL is 10 damage (save rolling another dice) plus weapon damage, +1 to +4, plus bonus from Attribute concerned.

More Knowledge of Rules...

Here:

DriveThru: Here:

 

10/13/2017 8:19 am  #28


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Caveman - I agree with you about AS&SH. Great balance of system complexity and ease of simulating Hyborian Age adventures. 
I also ran Conan campaigns using AD&D and the two Conan modules back in the early 80's. AS&SH reminds me a lot of those times!

A lot of people really want a Runequest version of Conan, but I ran one about 3 years ago and didn't find it great. 

Last edited by Grimmshade (10/13/2017 8:27 am)


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
     Thread Starter
 

10/13/2017 12:57 pm  #29


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Grimmshade wrote:

Caveman - I agree with you about AS&SH. Great balance of system complexity and ease of simulating Hyborian Age adventures. 
I also ran Conan campaigns using AD&D and the two Conan modules back in the early 80's. AS&SH reminds me a lot of those times!

A lot of people really want a Runequest version of Conan, but I ran one about 3 years ago and didn't find it great. 

Yes, this game gives me serious nostalgia for the past, for apart from Ian Holmes blue book, it was AD&D that was my first major game.

Pity about RQ, I was hoping for a better response; I personally do not have the time to consider testing it, so thanks for the thoughts!
 

 

10/13/2017 2:04 pm  #30


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Caveman wrote:

Grimmshade wrote:

Caveman - I agree with you about AS&SH. Great balance of system complexity and ease of simulating Hyborian Age adventures. 
I also ran Conan campaigns using AD&D and the two Conan modules back in the early 80's. AS&SH reminds me a lot of those times!

A lot of people really want a Runequest version of Conan, but I ran one about 3 years ago and didn't find it great. 

Yes, this game gives me serious nostalgia for the past, for apart from Ian Holmes blue book, it was AD&D that was my first major game.

Pity about RQ, I was hoping for a better response; I personally do not have the time to consider testing it, so thanks for the thoughts!
 

RQ (any version) is not heroic enough to emulate Conan wading through hordes of things, but it does emulate Conan getting knocked on the head a time or two.


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

10/14/2017 5:44 am  #31


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

yes he was susceptible to being made unconscious a lot... (d20 would use Fate Points for that, "left for Dead" or damage that did not penetrate Damage Reduction on armour was treated as non-lethal).

Yes, this was my fear of RQ rules being used, I was hoping some person might have found a conclusion to that problem. Conan; cannot very well be running about with rune magic and protection wards cast on himself!

After RQ 2E, I changed to Stormbringer/Hawkmoon 1E, it also has a high mortality rate, but I love it non-the-less; though most in demonic armour survived a lot unless attacker rolled a critical and armour was ignored; that can cause a few problems!
 

 

10/14/2017 9:00 am  #32


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Grimmshade wrote:

Eirvit - Here is what I think of the Conan 2d20 RPG:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/103023393131901177911/posts/54LeuVHWY7p

Long story short, the full system is too clunky, the magic system is weak and not particularly Conan, and they are basically writing new (bad) pastiche to fill blanks that don't need to be filled.

 
That’s a fascinating challenge, Grimmshade! I want to hunt down the whole series. I suppose you wrote about _Barbarians of Lemuria_? I’ve been wanting to give that one a try, but I realistically can foist only so many systems (and hence so many “worlds”/campaigns) on my players.

For example, when I recently took a break from my long-lasting Norse-emulation Yggdrasill campaign for something clearly more fantastic, I vacillated between 2d20 Conan and Hyperborea. Hyperborea won out, mostly because of its fantastic setting, but also because I sensed that it would take at least four sessions for all of us to get used to the new 2d20 mechanics. My group also is fairly “beer-and-pretzels,” eschewing “roleplaying.” So I’m also getting increasingly interested in solid OSR location-based adventures in sandbox play. (I never played D&D myself — MERP and Champions and d6 Star Wars for me — until 3/3.5.)

We’ve only played one session of “Rats in the Walls”, but so far AS&SH promises to deliver nicely!

Edit: checked out your blog for _BoL_ and stayed for many more articles. I can lose a lot of time there!

Last edited by Eirvit (10/14/2017 9:25 am)


“Our own age is not one which can afford to call its ancestors savage.” 
― Poul AndersonThe Broken Sword
 

10/14/2017 9:03 am  #33


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Eirvit wrote:

Grimmshade wrote:

Eirvit - Here is what I think of the Conan 2d20 RPG:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/103023393131901177911/posts/54LeuVHWY7p

Long story short, the full system is too clunky, the magic system is weak and not particularly Conan, and they are basically writing new (bad) pastiche to fill blanks that don't need to be filled.

 
That’s a fascinating challenge, Grimmshade! I want to hunt down the whole series. I suppose you wrote about _Barbarians of Lemuria_? I’ve been wanting to give that one a try, but I realistically can foist only so many systems (and hence so many “worlds”/campaigns) on my players.

For example, when I recently took a break from my long-lasting Norse-emulation Yggdrasill campaign for something clearly more fantastic, I vacillated between 2d20 Conan and Hyperborea. Hyperborea won out, mostly because of its fantastic setting, but also because I sensed that it would take at least four sessions for all of us to get used to the new 2d20 mechanics. My group also is fairly “beer-and-pretzels,” eschewing “roleplaying.” So I’m also getting increasingly interested in solid OSR location-based adventures in sandbox play. (I never played D&D myself — MERP and Champions and d6 Star Wars for me — until 3/3.5.)

We’ve only played one session of “Rats in the Walls”, but so far AS&SH promises to deliver nicely!

Played champions for every genre for 20+ years then got hooked on AS&SH in 2012.  Never looked back.Good system, outta the ballpark classes and setting kept my interest.
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

10/15/2017 3:15 pm  #34


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Eirvit - Glad you like the blog. 
In case you didn't see the BoL Challenge results they are right here: (ZEFRS is up this week)
https://plus.google.com/103023393131901177911/posts/3Ar18odqMJa


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
     Thread Starter
 

11/03/2017 12:56 pm  #35


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

It occurs to me that a quick way to get Hyborian Age flavor in AS&SH would be to limit spellcasting classes to witches, illusionists, and perhaps priests.


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

11/03/2017 4:34 pm  #36


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Blackadder - Spellcasters from ASSH actually all fit pretty well. (Partially due to the fact that spellcasters in the Conan stories each seem to follow a different path.) Shamans are seen in Pictland, Black Kingdoms, and possibly Cimmeria. Druids can be followers of Jhebbal Sag. Pelias seems like a straight-up wizard. Limiting the amount of magic "things" in the world is much more important than limiting spellcasters. Even the clerics and priests work pretty well, if you assume that most priests are not very high level, and most are 0 level non-casters. (There are spellcasting priests mentioned in ... errrr... Hour of the dragon I think it is.)
The only class in ASSH that I would disallow entirely for a Conan campaign is Paladin. It just really doesn't seem to fit.

Someday I'm going to finish my essay/thesis on magic in REH's Conan stories, and then I plan on applying it to ASSH.

Last edited by Grimmshade (11/03/2017 4:35 pm)


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
     Thread Starter
 

11/19/2017 10:09 pm  #37


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Grimmshade wrote:

Eirvit - Here is what I think of the Conan 2d20 RPG:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/103023393131901177911/posts/54LeuVHWY7p

Long story short, the full system is too clunky, the magic system is weak and not particularly Conan, and they are basically writing new (bad) pastiche to fill blanks that don't need to be filled.

Conan 2d20 doesn't feel as a Conan game but as a regular D&D clone. The book is a pain to read, it's bad written, unclear and boring. Also, some rules are hard to find because they are not in the chapter One would think they would.

It's a bit dissapointment, Modiphius promised a lot more than it accomplished to deliver. Ever felt cheated?

I tried to run a game. I paid so I should play, right? But we (me and my group) weren't able to finish the first session, the rules get in the way and after 3 hours, we still tried to figure how the hell a wizard was supossed to be created. So we dropped this game for ever and went back to Call of Cthulhu.


"All suns are grasped within the hollow hand
Of Night, the godhead sole, omnipotent.
Whose other names are Nemesis and Fate."
CAS
 

12/08/2017 5:55 pm  #38


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

This thread, and a voracious rereading of Howard lately, have convinced me that my sorcery=corruption mechanic, derived from the Mongoose rules, is woefully out of place in my Hyborian age campaign. In play, the party of mostly magic-users won't assume or risk corruption to bolster their magic. In the fiction, perfect examples being Hour of the Dragon and The Scarlet Citadel, Conan relies on "good" sorcerers to reclaim his kingdom on either occasion he loses it. Conan might shake his head at magic, but certainly enjoys its utility.
I do like the Mongoose mechanics to represent the corruptible miasma of raw magical evil that exudes from cursed places and monsters. That might be the part of me that loves having a fantasy equivalent of 50's pulp radiation-spawned mutants and monsters.


"Role-playing isn't storytelling. If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game."  ~ Gary Gygax
 

12/08/2017 6:17 pm  #39


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Clark Astonishing Smith wrote:

Conan 2d20 doesn't feel as a Conan game but as a regular D&D clone. The book is a pain to read, it's bad written, unclear and boring.

It is a stinker, all right, but it fails as a D&D clone in the horribly, utterly railroady-style play it encourages. Have the developers ever tried to "tell a story" through a roleplaying session with actual roleplaying gamers? I wonder, did their playtesters really appreciate being shunted from scene to scene regardless of their choices? To quote great Gygax, "If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game." All of their published adventures are the same way. Plot and story, scene after scene, assumptions upon assumptions of PC actions. Ugh.

I did utilize its included scenario "Gathering of Vultures" as a campaign starter, but converted it to Dungeon World fronts and dangers and that's worked out great. Sure enough, the players did nothing resembling the storyboard layout of the adventure and fight every nudge to whatever plot the written scenario tries for, to my delight.
They are having a blast exploring the ziggurat and annoying Neferet, their patron. They are sure the big bad's plan won't culminate until evening and it just happens to be early morning. Plenty of time for brunch and pillaging http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/lol.png

 

Last edited by Jimm.Iblis (12/08/2017 9:45 pm)


"Role-playing isn't storytelling. If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game."  ~ Gary Gygax
 

12/08/2017 7:15 pm  #40


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Chainsaw wrote:

ultimately, what it really does is create situations where the other PCs expect the sorcerer to risk weakening himself permanently every time the group gets in a jam. Out of spells and in trouble? The rest of the group looks over like, "Come on, man." It winds up being less optional and so makes the class less appealing, in my opinion.

That is some good insight into the sorcery issue and has some application to my own campaign, thanks. 
 

 

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