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Conan The Rebel As An Rpg Supplement

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#1 Boot



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Posted 17 February 2012 - 07:52 AM

I really liked this book. Conan The Rebel by Poul Anderson. The story takes place in between Howard's Queen of the Black Coast, Chapters 1 and 2. As I understand it, there are about three years separation between chapter 1 and chapter 2 of that story, and Anderson's Conan tale takes up several weeks of that time.

I found the book very visual. I think it would make a great Conan film: The exotic setting of Stygia; the machinations of Kings, Priests, and Black Ring Sorcerors; The eternal battle between Set and Mitra.

Armies clash. Rebels fight for freedom in a dark land of slavery, dust, and snakes. And, there is a prophecy, that a man would come and lead them to victory!

There are lots of elements in the book that would easily lend themselves to depiction on the big screen. Pteion, the City of the Dead. A winged ship, not unlike the winged camel that appears in Black Colossus. A great Ax, created in antiquity, that can only be wielded by Mitra's hero.

Another thing that was neat: This book explains how Conan came to be called "Amra."

And, if you've played the Age of Conan MMO, then you might be pleased to hear that the character Sakumbe makes an appearance (Captain Sakumbe, the slaver, in the MMO).

It's good stuff.

But, let's talk about the roleplaying perspective: This book could easily make the basis for a story arc in a game. I like the whole bit about us humans being the pawns of the gods. One or more of the PCs could have a "destiny" that sets the story in motion (read the book--you'll understand). I'd start the game in Khemi at the Keep of the Manticore. You could have your game where there is one Conan-ish hero with a destiny while the other players take on the roles of the NPCs Jehanan (Belit's brother), Falco, and Daris. Or, you could easily use the book as a base but change the story a bit and the characters--maybe the lot of them, together, have a destiny.

Because the PCs will start the game captured (starting the mini-campaign in medias res), they can come from all sorts of backgrounds. Even in the book, there was Conan, a Cimmerian, of course. Jehanan, a long term Stygian slave, orginally from Shem. Daris, of the Mitra worshipping ethnic Hyborians who setteled the Taian Provence of Stygia before Stygia came into existence. And, Falco of Kirjahan in Ophir.

The story makes for a great first adventure, bringing new PCs together for the first time. A good GM can make each PC special by tying them into the story. One PC will have a destiny akin to Conan's in the book, chosen by Mitra to be his hero against Set. Another PC might be tied to the Taian rebellion like the Daris character. And so on.

A typical mini-campaign would start at the Keep of the Manticore, where the PCs all meet each other. Then the story follows them as they break out, steal the winged boat, and make their way east to the Taian provence where they recover the Axe of Varanghi from the undead at Pteion. Then, climax the mini-campaign with the huge battle at Rasht.

The GM can be as linear and story-driven as he likes, either keeping to the progression as told in the novel, or using the novel as a spring board for a setting in which the players end up telling a much different story. Keyed events or random encounter charts--it's up to the GM.

And, there are lots of interesting characters to flesh out should the GM wish to expand his story and campaign beyond the novel.

Tothapis, leader of the Black Ring of Stygian sorcerors. He's been alive for hundreds of years.

Ramwas, Stygian nobleman.

Nehekba, High Priestess of Derketa

Shuat, Stygian commander of the governor's milita in the Province of Taia.

Ausar, Taian clan chieftain.

Parasan, Taian Priest of Mitra.

Mentuphera, King of Stygia

Ctesphon, Crown Prince of Stygia

And many others....

My copy of Conan The Rebel even has a fairly detailed map of Stygia and the surrounding areas--something handy for a Conan RPG GM. And, there are some interesting magics and creatures that the GM can spring on the players--something that they've never seen before.

An enterprising GM could take the book and make an entire campaign--or campaign sandbox--that will last years, all set in Stygia and the surrounding areas.

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Edited by Boot, 17 February 2012 - 08:06 AM.