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Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book $24.99
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Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book
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Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book
Publisher: Modiphius
by ar e. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/13/2018 04:09:21

I've only become interested in the Conan universe recently, and I'll just say upfront that the book does a great job of telling me what I need to know lore-wise. I can't, however, speak to that side of things extensively since I'm far from an authority on the topic. What I will, however, say is that the system itself is a great deal of fun. It strikes that excellent balance between number crunch and cinematic pacing in that it gives me enough in the way of talents and skills that I feel like my character is unique and has a clear identity, while keeping the actual rolls streamlined and the pace of play smooth.

Combat is gritty and visceral and it really captures the feel of a violent world waiting to chew you up and spit out your bones. As a fan of medieval fencing and the like, I found it intriguing how the game manages to incorporate a lot of the things that make a fight "feel like a fight". Weapon reach is accounted for, with longer weapons making it more difficult to assail you with shorter weapons... but also the idea of getting past someone's guard, so that the shorter weapon actually has the advantage. The idea that ammunition is a concern, but only if you're burning through it quickly or you're carrying a bundle of javelins or the like. The concept of cover and concealment, where hiding in a bush doesn't give you protection, but does make you harder to hit. Hit locations and armor soak, plus a nice and concise mechanic for shield breaks and armor destruction. It manages to make use of all this and more and never feels particularly obtuse in so doing. Combat is a joy to play, whether you're leading a squad of warriors in a skirmish (you can do that!) or dueling a Zingaran fencer.

(In regards to "chewing you up and spitting out your bones"... It by extension does a good job of making your characters feel particularly powerful and special. When they're overcoming the odds of a world that wants to destroy them on a regular basis, it really shows them to be larger than life figures. That said, there are alternate creation options that allow you to make characters that are little less gifted, even going as far as characters that are destitute and running on fumes at the start of the campaign!)

Equipment is handled quite well. Most of the odds and ends you'd carry around are condensed into kits, which provide bonuses (or negate penalties) to skill tests that make use of them, at the cost of either greater encumbrance or static placement as a workshop. Weapons and armor give you all the options you'd expect without being unnecessarily bloated (for example, a dagger, a dirk and a stiletto are all functionally the same thing, just call it what you please). Mounts and beasts of burden can be bought, as can vehicles such as carts and ships, opening up a range of potential gameplay options. Want to play a trader with mean bladework? You could absolutely do that.

But one of the things I love most about this product is character creation. While you can choose from any of these options freely, it expects a random roll mechanic that harkens back to the classic games like D&D, but handles it differently. Instead of flatly rolling stats and skills, you're almost rolling a lifepath. As you roll at each stage, you're learning more and more about your character. For people like me who often don't know what I want to play going in, this is a really fun thing to go through. Perhaps more interesting is that I've yet to see a combination that wasn't intriguing and also cohesive, with a little imagination.

My current character is a Zamoran woman who grew up herding goats, living a lazy and peaceful life. Then came a Hyrkanian mercenary company looking for recruits (implying her village was visited semi-regularly by this company, perhaps as part of an agreement of payment for some major service they did for the village years ago). She was snapped up for her skill with animals, ascending from goat herder to horse tender. Time with this company saw her take up archery, and she eventually began riding to battle. What I have now is a goat herder-turned-horse archer who travels the world, following her natural curiosity into all sorts of misadventures. All this was prompted by my character creation rolls, each stage of which contributed to building not only her history and personality, but her attributes, skills and talents as well.

Overall, I'd say this is among the top five systems I've ever handled. The PDF is laid out well, everything's good and easy to read, NPC rules are nice and concise... Even the intangibles are in order. The only thing I can't yet judge is magic rules (they do exist, however!), as my group hasn't really dabbled with them yet. I strongly recommend Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of for anyone into Conan, general "gritty fantasy", or even perhaps for those looking for a system to run their own similar setting on.

Side note: I also have Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Pirate and Conan the Mercenary, all of which are also excellent products. Nothing but good vibes from the entire line so far, and I can absolutely see more purchases in my future.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book
Publisher: Modiphius
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/21/2017 03:04:16

Wer wollte nicht schon einmal das Schwert nehmen und die Welt von Conan dem Barbaren erkunden? Ein durch Kickstarter finanziertes Projekt ist jetzt erschienen und protzt mit viel Artwork. Doch kann das Regelwerk der Welt von Robert E. Howard gerecht werden und ist das System stimmig?

„Steh mir bei, Crom!“, möchte man rufen, sobald man die ersten Bilder des Regelwerkes sieht. Conan, dieser Urtyp eines Barbaren, ist zurück! Das 2W20-System von Modiphius wirkt interessant und flott, kann aber auch unübersichtlich werden. Wir haben uns einen Ersteindruck verschafft, und diesen bieten wir euch nun dar, wie ein Priester Mitras ein Opfer seiner Göttin.

Die Spielwelt

Auf der schön gestalteten Karte im Regelbuch kann man schnell erkennen: Hyboria ist vielfältig. In Filmen, Büchern, Comics und Spielen wurde die umfangreiche Welt von Conan bereits beschrieben, und es gibt Unzähliges zu entdecken. Von den französisch angehauchten Aquiloniern, über die von den Chinesen entlehnten Khitai bis hin zu den Stammesgenossen von Conan, den Cimmeriern, ist ein breites Spektrum der Völker und Kulturen vertreten. Robert E. Howard hat viele Bezüge zu den Zivilisationen unserer Vergangenheit hergestellt, während er das hyborische Zeitalter erdachte. Dadurch ist es Modiphius möglich, auf ein großes Portfolio an Daten zurückzugreifen.

Das Regelwerk liefert auf über 60 Seiten einen guten Überblick über die Spielwelt und genug Details zu nahezu allem, was man darüber wissen muss. Es wird sowohl die Geschichte Hyborias und deren einzelner Länder und Königreiche umrissen, als auch für jedes Gebiet einzeln eine übersichtliche Einführung gegeben. Man erfährt etwas über die Sprachen und Gebräuche der lokalen Volksgruppen, deren generelles Erscheinungsbild und die herrschenden Lebensumstände. Im Kapitel für Spielleiter werden außerdem mögliche Spielsettings und einige Arten von Gruppen, denen die Spielercharaktere angehören könnten, erklärt und zusätzlich das Leben zwischen den Abenteuern beleuchtet. Eine solide Ansammlung an Monstern und Gegnern aller Art, sowie einiger NSC und Berühmtheiten, ist auch enthalten. Insgesamt wirkt alles sehr rund, und auch Neueinsteiger in die Welt von Conan bekommen hier ein gutes Werkzeug an die Hand, um sich eine Vorstellung davon zu machen, was es heißt, in Hyboria zu leben.

Die Regeln

Gespielt wird mit dem 2W20-System aus eigenem Hause, bei dem der Würfelpool auf bis zu 5W20 ansteigen kann. Beim Würfeln mit dem W20 sind niedrige Ergebnisse wünschenswert. Die 1 stellt einen von Mitra gesegneten Erfolg dar, aus einer 20 hingegen ergeben sich Komplikationen für den Charakter. Mit den sechsseitigen Kampfwürfeln wird der Schaden ermittelt, wobei die Augen jeweils unterschiedliche Bedeutungen haben. So addieren 1 und 2 ihren Wert zum Schaden, 5 und 6 ergeben je einen Schadenspunkt und einen Zusatzeffekt, und 3 und 4 helfen dem Angreifer gar nicht.

Die Grundlagen

Jeder Charakter besitzt die gleichen sieben Attribute (Agility, Awareness, Brawn, Coordination, Intelligence, Personality und Willpower) mit Werten zwischen (normalerweise) 6 und 12. Hohe Attribute geben Boni zu Schadenswürfen und verbessern allgemein die Chance auf einen Erfolg. Des Weiteren gibt es fünfundzwanzig an die Attribute geknüpfte Fertigkeiten. Darunter fallen zum Beispiel Athletik, Sprache oder Segeln. Diese werden mit Werten für „Expertise“, also der generellen Kenntnis, und „Focus“, also dem tieferen Verständnis, beziffert und bewegen sich zwischen 1 und 5. Wann immer ein Würfelwurf fällig wird, geschieht dies über eine von zwei Probenarten: Erfolgsproben gegen einen Schwellenwert und sogenannte „Struggles“, welche Vergleichsproben sind, bei denen aber ebenfalls ein Schwellenwert gesetzt wird.

Drei Elemente sind im Spiel immer wieder wichtig: „Momentum“, „Doom“ und „Fortune“.

Momentum ist eine Gruppenressource, die durch überzählige Erfolge bei Proben generiert wird und für mehr Würfel bei Proben, zusätzliche Informationen und weitere interessante Dinge eingesetzt werden kann.

Doom ist eine Spielleiterressource, die er unter anderem durch verpatzte Proben der Spieler erhalten kann, und mit der er Komplikationen seiner NSCs verhindern, in Kämpfen vor den Spielern handeln oder andere fiese Dinge anstellen darf. Sollte ein Charakter ein Attribut über 12 (maximal geht es für Spieler hier bis 14) steigern, erhält er die „Ancient Bloodline“, welche dafür sorgt, dass der Doom-Pool des Spielleiters schneller ansteigt, nämlich immer dann, wenn der betreffende Spieler eine Personality-Probe nicht schafft.

Neben der Gruppenressource Momentum und dem Spannungselement Doom ist Fortune das dritte wichtige Spielelement. Zu jedem Spieleabend erhalten alle Spieler in der Regel je drei Punkte Fortune und können bis zu fünf davon anhäufen. Neben der schon fast langweiligen Möglichkeit, einen Würfel zu seinem Wurf hinzuzuaddieren, indem man einen Punkt Fortune ausgibt, erhalten Spieler damit noch weitere nützliche Optionen. Die bei weitem spannendste Anwendungsart ist die, dass man einen Fakt benennen bzw. ein Detail zur aktuellen Szene hinzufügen darf. Natürlich muss dieses Detail logisch passend sein und vom Spielleiter abgesegnet werden, aber allein das Kopfkino, das beim Gedanken an diese Option anspringt, lässt einen lächeln.

Der Gedanke hinter diesen drei Elementen ist durchaus gut: Belohnung für gute Proben, Spannung durch den Doom-Pool und eine coole Möglichkeit, die Geschichte zu gestalten oder sein Glück auszureizen. Der Nachteil ist aber, dass es viele zu verfolgende Häufchen mit Markern auf dem Spieltisch gibt. Bei einem durchschnittlich organisierten Rollenspieltisch kann da sicherlich mal das eine oder andere verloren gehen. Hier sind kreative Lösungen gefragt.


Erfolgsproben sind zum Beispiel Fertigkeitsproben. Der Schwellenwert ergibt sich aus der Expertise einer Fertigkeit plus dem dazu passenden Attributswert. Zusätzlich erhält man für jeden Würfelwurf gleich oder weniger seines Focus-Wertes einen Extraerfolg.

Ein Beispiel: Ein Barbar stürzt einen kleinen Abhang herunter und versucht seinen Fall abzufangen. Seine Werte bei der Fertigkeit Akrobatik sind Expertise 2 und Focus 2, seine Agility beträgt 10. Der Schwellenwert ist also 12 (Agility und Expertise). Mit 2W20 erhalten wir eine 11 und eine 2. Dies sind zwei Erfolge, da beide Würfelergebnisse den Schwellenwert unterschreiten, und ein Zusatzerfolg, weil die 2 unseren Wert in Focus erreicht.

Winged One, ein Beispiel für ein Gegnerprofil Wie viele Erfolge man benötigt, um seine Aktion zu schaffen, legt der Spielleiter mit der Difficulty, also dem Schwierigkeitsgrad, fest, der sich zwischen D0 und D5 bewegt. D0 stellt hier Proben dar, die zu einfach sind, als dass es sich lohnt zu würfeln. D1 ist eine einfache Aufgabe, wie das Knacken eines simplen Schlosses. D5 ist eine epische Herausforderung und nur sehr schwer zu schaffen, da 5W20 die maximale Würfelzahl bei einem Wurf sind. Für jeden Erfolg über der benötigten Anzahl erhält die Gruppe eine Momentum-Marke.

In unserem Beispiel wäre die Schwierigkeit D1. Die drei Erfolge sind also ausreichend, um den Fallschaden zu verringern, und wir erhalten zwei Momentum-Marken für die zusätzlichen Erfolge über den Schwierigkeitsgrad hinaus.

Für jede gewürfelte 20 entsteht eine Komplikation. Das kann ein blockierter Fluchtweg sein, der Verlust von wichtiger Ausrüstung oder ein klassischer Fauxpas in der sozialen Interaktion. Der Fantasie sind hier keine Grenzen gesetzt. Der Spielleiter kann stattdessen auch zwei Doom-Marken auslegen, auch auf Wunsch des Spielers.

Vergleichende Proben, Struggles genannt, werden immer dann fällig, wenn zwei Charaktere mit gegensätzlichem Interesse handeln. Dies kann ein direkter Kampf, ein Wettrennen oder eine andere Form der Auseinandersetzung sein. Auch hier wird gegen einen Schwierigkeitsgrad gewürfelt, der bei den Gegnern durchaus unterschiedlich hoch sein kann. Der Charakter mit den höheren Erfolgen über den Schwierigkeitsgrad hinaus gewinnt, und seine Gruppe erlangt die Differenz zu den Erfolgen seines Kontrahenten als Momentum. Bei Gleichstand gewinnen die Spieler, es sei denn, der Spielleiter verwendet eine Doom-Marke.

Kampf und Raum

In einer Kampfsituation beginnen die Spielercharaktere zuerst, es sei denn, der Spielleiter verwendet einen Doom-Marker, damit einer seiner NSC vorher agieren darf. Diesen Vorteil kann er einsetzen, wann immer er möchte, nicht nur vor dem ersten Spieler, sondern auch vor jedem weiteren. In welcher Reihenfolge die Spieler ihre Charaktere handeln lassen, dürfen diese untereinander ausmachen. Danach folgen alle NSC, die nicht per Doom vorher schon gehandelt haben. Die Runde endet, wenn alle agiert haben, ein Momentum wird vom Gruppenpool abgezogen, und die nächste Runde beginnt. Lästiges Initiativewürfeln ist somit nicht nötig.

In jeder Runde sind eine Standardhandlung, eine kleine Handlung und beliebig viele freie Handlungen möglich. Ist man selbst nicht am Zug, darf man lediglich reagieren.

Distanzen und Räume im Kampf werden relativ schwammig behandelt. Hier zeigt sich, dass das System klar erzählerisch ausgelegt ist: Distanzen sind als abstrakte Zonen zu verstehen, in denen die Entfernungen mit unterschiedlichen Handlungen überbrückt werden können. Einen Ort zu erreichen, der nah ist, schafft man z. B. mit in einer freien Handlung, einen weit entfernten Ort mit einer Standardhandlung. An dieser wichtigen Stelle im Regelwerk hat es mich das erste Mal enttäuscht. Durch die Abstraktheit der Zonen wird es sicherlich von Situation zu Situation starke Schwankungen geben, wie weit sich ein Charakter bewegen kann, ohne dass es den Spielern unbedingt plausibel erscheint. Hier ist ein guter Spielleiter wichtig, oder man nimmt sich den Hinweis zu Herzen, der fairerweise gegeben wird, dass Miniaturen, Kartenschablonen oder aufgemalte Karten zur Übersicht beitragen können. Dennoch fehlt mir hier Crunch.

Der Zauberei wird ein eigenes Kapitel gewidmet. Aus gutem Grund, wie man schnell feststellt. Viele Zauber haben alternative Effekte und können zusätzlich noch mit Momentum variiert werden. Beispielsweise kann der Zauber „Dismember“ einfach Schaden an einem Gegner verursachen, einem anderen Charakter einen Bonus auf die Fertigkeit Heilung geben oder ein unbelebtes Objekt beschädigen. Zusätzlich können Momentum-Marken den Schaden steigern oder verändern.

Zwischenfazit und weitere Regeln

Insgesamt werden die Grundregeln auf nur elf Seiten erklärt, was herausragend ist, wenn man bedenkt, dass sie dabei sogar noch verständlich sind. Im Gegensatz zu manch anderem Regelwerk kann man sich die Regeln hier zum einen ziemlich gut merken und zum anderen flott nachschlagen, da sie kompakt positioniert sind. Zudem halten sich narrative Elemente und pure Regelkunde die Waage, während die Beispiele in den Infokästchen dazu beitragen, letzte Fragen zu beseitigen. Das gefällt! Bei den Kampfregeln und im Bereich Zauberei benötigt man mehr Zeit, um sich einzufinden. Die vielen Möglichkeiten, Momentum einzusetzen, und die erzählerische Art, den Kampf zu gestalten, können zu Beginn leicht überfordern. Weitere Dinge, die zu berücksichtigen sind, wie Trefferzonen, verschiedene Formen von „Stress“, Schadensarten, und sogar der berittene Kampf, können einen zu Beginn überfordern. Nach ein paar Kämpfen hat man das aber auch in den Grundzügen verstanden, und die Feinheiten kommen dann sicherlich im Laufe der Zeit.

Charaktererschaffung und -entwicklung

Der Fokus liegt während der gesamten Erstellung auf der Geschichte, die der Charakter zu erzählen hat. Wo kommt er her? Was treibt ihn an? Welches Ereignis hat ihn für die Zukunft geprägt? Während man auswählt oder würfelt, nimmt die Geschichte Gestalt an. Immer wieder wird auf die Beschreibungen der Städte, Kulturen und Völker verwiesen, während man erlebt, wie aus bloßen Zahlen und Werten ein echter Charakter wird. Das ist großartig!

Die Charaktererschaffung wird eingehend beschrieben. Neben einer Einführung in die Idee davon, was es heißt einen Charakter zu verkörpern, der durchaus den eigenen Gewohnheiten entgegen handeln kann, findet man auch vorgefertigte Helden zum schnellen Einstieg. Für die Erschaffung eines eigenen Alter Ego wird man Schritt für Schritt angeleitet.

Das System erlaubt es, einen Charakter komplett, teilweise oder ohne Zufall, durch die direkte Auswahl der favorisierten Option, zu erstellen. Das gewährleistet eine gute Balance zwischen Schnellstart und komplexer Ausarbeitung. Die Beschreibungen jeder der zehn Schritte sind detailliert, aber nicht so lang, dass man das Interesse verliert. Die übersichtlichen Tabellen und prägnanten Erläuterungen zeigen, dass eine einfache Designlösung nicht auch eine schlechte sein muss.

Mit der normalen Charaktergenerierung werden Helden geschaffen, die sich mit Conan und Co. in eine Reihe stellen können. Ein Wert von 12 ist bei wenigstens einem Attribut nicht schwer zu erreichen, und die Ancient Bloodline, die damit einhergeht, wenn man darüber hinaus steigert, ist sicherlich in jeder normal erstellten Gruppe wenigstens einmal vertreten. Für Spieler oder Spielleiter mit anderem Fokus bieten sich Alternativen, durch die insgesamt schwächere, ärmere oder Spielergruppen mit anderen Einschränkungen zustande kommen.

Leider ist der Charakterbogen spektakulär unübersichtlich, was sowohl den Erstellungsprozess verzögert, als auch im Spielverlauf nervig sein kann.

Insgesamt dauert die Erstellung beim ersten Mal 30-40 Minuten, wenn man sich nicht zu lange mit Entscheidungen herumplagt, sich aber ein wenig in die Welt einlesen will. Jene, die gerne alle Optionen ausschöpfen möchten, sollten für den Anfang eine gute Stunde einplanen. Komplett gewürfelt ist man sicherlich in unter 15 Minuten fertig. Sobald man die Beschreibungen aber kennt, und weiß, worauf man achten muss, ist auch die Erstellung ohne Würfel sehr flott in rund 20 Minuten erledigt.

Die Charakterentwicklung wird über Erfahrungspunkte gesteuert, die aber sehr frei vergeben werden. Damit können dann Attribute und Expertise bzw. Focus von Fertigkeiten linear gesteigert und Talente erlernt werden, die die Fertigkeiten ergänzen. Außerdem gibt es Schätze und Ruhm zu erlangen.


Das Grundregelwerk ist komplett in Farbe und schön gestaltet. Neben den vielen Bildern der verschiedenen namhaften Künstler, die alle ihren eigenen Stil einbringen, gibt es auf den über 420 Seiten eine Menge zu sehen. Man kann sich nun streiten, ob ein einheitlicher Kunststil besser gewesen wäre, aber insgesamt wirken die unterschiedlichen Einflüsse passend und schlichtweg schön.

Infokästchen, Tabellen und Baumdiagramme illustrieren Fähigkeiten, informieren über Ausrüstung und erläutern die Bedeutung von Würfelergebnissen. Das Inhaltsverzeichnis ist übersichtlich, und wenn man gezielt etwas sucht, hilft der Index. Insgesamt ist das ganze Regelwerk nachvollziehbar gegliedert und mit vielen Zwischenüberschriften versehen, wodurch man sich gut zurechtfindet.

Leider gibt es auch Negatives. Die Übergänge der Bilder zum Hintergrund hätten oft schöner sein können, und gerade im Kapitel zur Ausrüstung sind Abbildungen spärlich gesät. Da hilft es auch nicht, dass über das ganze Buch Abbildungen verschiedener Waffen verstreut sind. Außerdem wird der von Kapitel zu Kapitel unterschiedliche Rahmen, der die Seiten oben und unten wirklich schön abschließt, durch große, halbseitige Bilder unterbrochen. Das stört das Auge, und man hätte das anders regeln sollen.

Am Ende findet man einen dreiseitigen, etwas zu überladenen Charakterbogen, der zwar nett anzusehen, in der Praxis aber leider unübersichtlich ist.

Insgesamt ist es ein schönes und gut lesbares Regelwerk, das mich gerade durch seine Verschiedenartigkeit und sorgfältige Gestaltung positiv überrascht hat.


Es gibt gratis Schnellstartregeln zum Download (z.B. bei DriveThruRPG).


Conan – Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of ist erzählfokussiert, abwechslungsreich und wirklich interessant. In den Actionszenen kommen die vielen Möglichkeiten und besonderen Spannungsfaktoren, die die Spieler mit Doom, Momentum und Fortune erwarten, gut zur Geltung. Für atemberaubende Kämpfe und legendäre Heldentaten ist mehr als genug Platz. Sowohl die bereits vielen bekannte Welt von Hyboria, als auch das gut ausgearbeitete 2W20-System können überzeugen. Die Grundlagen der Regeln sind einfach zu verstehen und gut erklärt, was einen Einstieg wirklich erleichtert. Auch die Charaktererstellung ist nicht unnötig kompliziert, sondern flott und meiner Meinung nach ausgezeichnet. Das Regelwerk ist wirklich etwas fürs Auge und zumindest in der von mir begutachteten PDF-Version preislich in Ordnung. Positiv zu bemerken ist auch das enthaltene Einstiegsabenteuer, mit dem man direkt loslegen kann.

Durch die erzählerischen Elemente kann man sich die Aufgabe des Spielleiters aber recht schwierig vorstellen, wenn dieser noch nicht viel Erfahrung hat. Auch die unspezifische Aufteilung der Räume und Distanzen in Zonen ist eher unpraktisch und verlangt bestimmt eine gute Zusammenarbeit der Spieler mit dem Spielleiter, damit kein Frust aufkommt. Die genauen Auswirkungen dieser potentiellen Schwächen müssen aber noch getestet werden.

Trotz der kleinen Abzüge sind wir sehr angetan von dem, was Modiphius präsentiert, und können jedem Sword-&-Sorcery-Fan nur raten, einen Blick zu riskieren.

Der Ersteindruck basiert auf der Lektüre des Regelwerks, der Erstellung einiger Charaktere und Würfelproben zum Verständnis. Ein Spieltest könnte im September erfolgen.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book
Publisher: Modiphius
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/16/2017 12:49:05

I'm GMing a once-weekly lunch hour game for 4 players. We have one new player who has only played Pathfinder. The rest are old-timers, D&D, West End d6, Savage World, Call of Cthulhu, FATE, etc. I’m using "The Red Pit" from the JToE PDF as the intro scenario and am blending into "Vultrues of Shem" as the main story.

A good system hampered by a bloated rulebook.


  • Fast - Did char gen in a one hour session. We've gotten through "The Red Pit" in about 3 hours, with a lttle trimming on my side. To my mind, this is a good thing for a combat-centric scenario. Unarmored opponents go down quickly. Armor adds a bit of enjoyable complexity, but since aimed shots only cost two momentum, a good fighter can take them out fairly quickly by attacking weak points.
  • Perilous - PCs fear taking damage, but not so much as to paralyse them. The fast recovery of Vigour encourages them to take risks, the threat of Harm keeps them from being over bold. Once they realized they could take a turn to recover vigour, we got some fun pacing as they tag teamed an opponent.
  • Simple - My experienced players found it a breeze and my less experienced player grasped it quickly. One player had a hard time believing in "roll under" for about two sessions. I like the balance of Expertise (ability to succeed) vs Focus (ability to critical).The d6 damage mechanic seems complex, but does yield interesting results. Certainly having the custom dice would make it easier.
  • Momentum - popular with players. They enjoy making decisions about when and how to spend it. Momentum is a great way for non-combat players to contribute to the fight, or vice-a-versa in social settings. Assistance rule is simple and rewarding. Our barbarian often glowers threateningly when our Shaman makes the main Persuade roll.
  • Consistent - Basic rules apply across combat, social, and skill tests. Short but broad skill set.
  • Art - High quality and thematic. Doesn’t embarrass me in front of female players.


  • Social/Mental Combat - a great idea but I have yet to figure out how to play it out. It may be that Resolve is too high, or that Vigor and Resolve need to be combined into one stat. It doesn't pay for a party to attack a single opponent with both Physical and Mental attacks. Luckily the non-combatants can generate momentum.
    • Details - some combat rules are best ignored in large battles. Reach is a cool concept and might play well in a duel, but we ignore it. Ranged rules make ammo counting seem like an essential part of the game, then you realize almost all the weapons have the Volley attribute which nixes the need to count.
  • Talents - these are really the meat of char gen. I rely on the players to keep track of what they can do, which is fine, but knowing all the talents for opponents is a burden on the GM, especially given the organization of the book.
  • Reactions - Dodge/Parry etc. - not quite sure how this plays out yet. Most of the players have a talent that gives them one free Reaction, when they remember to use it. Some characters choose to take the blows instead of spending Doom, which is fine.
  • Balance - The suggested NPC to player ratios are too high in my opinion, but maybe I’m a softie
  • Doom has some good uses. Some reviewers complain that the GM amasses a pile of Doom. I did not have that problem, but spent it quickly on taking initiative and dodging. I did try to reduce the NPC dodging as it drew that combat out longer than I wanted. I didn’t hate it, I can see it working OK in most cases.
  • Char gen involves creating story elements, which I think is great, but I’d prefer a FATE style pow-wow than the menu of tropes the game provides.
  • Magic - haven’t tried it, may not be dangerous enough to really fit into Howard’s world. On the other hand players get cranky if they can’t have a little magic themselves.


  • Book is wordy and hard to navigate. Seriously, I think this is a major flaw. Statements are constantly reiterated. Essential information is buried in paragraphs of fluff, or scattered in separate sections and side bars. Charts are broken up with fluff text. This disguises what is, at it's essence, a nice, simple system. What is needed is a per-topic summary with relevant charts in once place. This is so badly needed I think it should be included in the PDF retroactively. Example - What can I do with my Momentum? Covered in 3 sections, one with a summary chart, the others with fluff text. Why not one or two charts I can hand to my players? How do I heal? Scattered in two or three talent descriptions and buried inside a multi-page section on “Damage and Recovery.” Also a side bar on Fatigue in the Skills and Talents section. Please, a single page could summarize all this information in one place.
  • Gazeteer is cute but the “stories” are dull and lacking useful information. I use the Hyboria wiki instead.
  • Above also applies the the "Vultures of Shem" scenario and the contents of JTotE scenario book. Maps and pictures are pretty but useless and are on the same page as GM only text, making them hard to share with players. Plot summary and character stats are scattered in sections and never summarized. How hard is it to climb the cliff in Red Pit? Scattered over several pages.

I compare this game favorably to FFG Star Wars, which I believe one of the designers worked on. Lots of the same ideas but with simpler bookkeeping and an eye on the end result.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/16/2017 12:11:20

This massive and beautiful work brings the world of Conan the Barbarian back to our role-playing tables with all the impact that Conan himself has... richly illustrated and replete with detail to help you bring the Hyborian World to life. The foreword by lead developer Jason Durall tells us why: it's been written by people who really know and love the Conan stories and have been inspired by them in their role-playing for a long time before this project (or even previous Conan RPGs existed). Durall feels a kinship with Robert E. Howard, having grown up in a similar small town and escaped into fantasy, whilst I feel a kinship with Durall, having discovered Conan as a youngster and swept him into my role-playing, working this wonderful setting up for use with whatever ruleset was to hand at the time.

Interspersed with quotes from original Conan stories, the Introduction continues this theme of a desire to create a role-playing game that is true to the original stories, working hand-in-hand with them to build setting and game mechanics that will recreate the epic feel, the excitement of Conan himself striding forwards, sword in hand. We then move on to Chapter 1: Getting Started, which deals with the basics of what role-playing is all about and what you need to play.

Next, Chapter 2: Characters starts in on character creation (although those in a hurry can scurry to the back of the book where some pre-generated ones await those who don't want to work through the process to create their own). To make your own, there is a ten-step process. It's an interesting mix of random results and personal choice, and rather neatly it states that if you have a clear concept in mind, go right ahead and pick the options that work best for what you want to play. There's also a quick version of the process that is completely random, as well. If you want to follow the full sequence, you start by deciding on your character's homeland. This gives him a talent and a native language. Next, sort out your Attributes (which are Agility, Awareness, Brawn, Coordination, Intelligence, Personality, and Willpower). There's a rather complex system to decide which of these he's best at, you may need a scratch pad to work it all out, but it combines choice and chance rather well. Next decide on Caste or social class, which determines two more talents, a skill and a story. Most people are born to their caste but there are exceptions. Story is used to build background, with snippets of your past life being used to pose questions that help develop a sense of who he is and how he came to be that way. Plenty of examples are there to help you on your way. This is followed by archetypes, again you pick (or roll for) one and gain the associated skills, talents and equipment for your character. In effect, archetype tells you what your character does. Then it gets interesting as you need to determine his nature - or why he does what he does. Step 7 of the process determines what education he got, if any. This is followed by the intriguing 'war story' - war is everywhere and however sheltered, it is unlikely to have passed your character by completely. Step 9 involves various finishing touches and Step 10 leads you through the final calculations necessary.

There's a lot to take aboard in this chapter: take your time and you'll be rewarded with very realistic and personalised characters. When all of this is done, you can settle down to determine what he's actually like - and you'd better give him a name! (There's a selection of typical names by homeland for both males and females if you're stuck.) As mentioned above, there's a quick random method of character creation as well, also ideas for alternate methods if a particular focus or style of game is preferred. These need to be discussed with the GM and if used, should be used by the whole party to maintain balance. The next chapter - Chapter 3: Skills and Talents - provides all the background details and examples of use for the various choices you will be making, then Chapter 4: Rules lays out how you turn this character-sheet full of numbers into a representation of what your character can actually do, centred around the concept of task resolution.

In the Rules chapter, we find out about the dice required - d20s and d6s - along with the notation used to show how many of what dice you should roll when and a note about the special custom dice Modiphius are marketing for this game. This is more for visual effect than anything else, regular dice will do just fine. A skills test is only needed when the character is distracted or threatened, or when there are consequences for failure - the rest of the time, you can assume success. When you do need to resolve a task, attributes as well as specific skills come into play - as always, it sounds more complex on paper than it is once you start playing and get used to it! However there are additional complexities due to how hard the task is of itself and whatever else is going on: this is stuff the GM needs to understand to set a target number for a roll. There's plenty of explanation and examples to help, though. In addition, there is an interesting mechanic called Momentum - a kind of cumulative effect that if you do well at one roll, you gain extra points to add to it or a subsequent success - your character is on a bit of a roll, so to speak. This is balanced by the GM's Doom points, which are used to throw a spanner in the works.

The next chapter is Action Scenes, which dives straight in with the turn sequence used in combat. There's a neat little note that if the players spend too much time deciding what to do, the GM should start adding points to his Doom pool as a warning... the bad guys getting an advantage due to their indecision! There's material about ambushes, distance, terrain, movement and much more - this is not solely about brawling although of course combat is important, and rightly so. Any RPG needs to provide this sort of excitement, even more when in a milieu such as this! In combat, each character has a range of actions they can undertake, and also can make a reaction to what someone else does. Again, there appears to be a huge amount to grasp here, but it becomes much clearer once you have run through a few combats.

Chapter 6: Equipment follows, with some interesting notes on money and on obtaining items by theft or violence if you don't fancy paying for them. You can even abstract 'earning' (if that's the right word) money from petty thievery if your character wants to spend time roaming a market or similar crowded place pilfering and picking pockets. There's a vast array of items large and small to purchase, as well as lists of armour and weapons.

Next, Chapter 7 deals with Sorcery. Most of the time in the Conan stories, sorcery is evil - or at least, those who practise it are. The GM might decide not to allow player characters to learn or use sorcery at all, or may limit it severely. Here, however, you can learn how it works. Essential for GMs, and recommended for players who have managed to persuade their GM to let them wield magic. There is a whole range of different things that you can learn and do, different kinds of magic even; and of course loads of spells and magical items.

This is followed by Chapter 8: The Hyborian World, which is a gazetteer of the setting. It makes for a fascinating read, whether or not you are already familiar with the setting from the stories (or past attempts to game here). It starts off with history, then goes region by region, repleat with quotes and illustrations. There's a sort of 'shorthand' relating each nation to which ancient Earth culture it's loosely based on... Ignore it! Treat them as fascinating places in their own right and let the alternate reality form in your mind. Articles about customs, heritage, and much more contribute to our understanding... it all makes you want to go there.

The last part of the book is aimed at the GM, with chapters on Gamemastering and Encounters as well as a full adventure to get you started. In Vultures of Shem the party comes across the aftermath of a battle between Shem and Khoraja and have to deal with far more than they bargained for... unspeakable horror, no less. When the action is over, there is no shortage of ideas for follow-up adventures, making it easy to use this adventure as a spring-board for an entire campaign.

Finally, there is a chapter on Heroes of the Age (fully-developed characters to use as enemies or allies), based on contributions from backers of the Kickstarter campaign that brought this work to your hands. Of course, if you are in a real rush to get playing, you can choose your character from amongst them. There's twenty-odd of them, so something will probably appeal. An index and a blank character sheet rounds out the set. If you buy the PDF, you get a selection of different character sheets and a big single-sheet map as well.

This is definitely a magnificent presentation of Conan's Hyborian World, all ready to adventure in. By Crom, I'll fetch my sword and sandals and go exploring!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book
Publisher: Modiphius
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/16/2017 02:07:02

Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of set off to become the definitive Conan RPG. While many have tried before them, Modiphius has managed to pull off this claim, coming up with a game that contains what could be best described as the very essence of Conan’s adventures.

Art & Layout

The artwork in the book is phenomenal, and well used, each one conveying the manic vibrance and urgency of Conan’s pulp adventures. While there was still a few instances of a naked lady being sacrificed in an altar, most of the other artwork showed sensibly-dressed women in situations of empowerment and adventure.

The layout is crisp and clean, and made reading the book a lot more pleasant. Callout boxes with and tables were used with consistency and an eye towards clarity, and even with the textured printer-unfriendly version, the background didn’t interfere with the ability to clearly read the text.

As a PDF product, the entire thing was bookmarked and searchable and quite snappy on my laptop (though perhaps a little less so on my mobile phone.)


Modiphius’ 2d20 House System feels like a perfect fit for Conan’s adventures, and the genius of the Momentum and Doom mechanics lie in their ability to affect the mood of the game and amplify tension.

Combat is crunchy, but every rule exists to support the fiction. Conan isn’t a place where combat is heroic. It’s visceral, practical and fraught with danger. Even if the player characters are meant to be exceptional individuals, there’s never a sense of an encounter being a cakewalk since the GM is always waiting in the wings with Doom in hand.


Would I recommend Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of to others? By all means, yes. If you’ve never played a different kind of Fantasy RPG, then you owe yourself to try this game.

If you’ve ever enjoyed Conan in any iteration, from the movies, the cartoon, the videogames or the stories then you owe yourself to try this game.

I’ve always had a strong preference for games whose rules are structured to promote a given feel and mood while simulating the “physics” of the fiction. The Conan RPG does this in a stellar fashion, with a crunchy set of mechanics that emulate the world of savage adventure inhabited by Conan in a way that I imagine will be very, very difficult to outdo.


This is the conclusion of a 7-part breakdown of the contents of the book. If you'd like to see the rest of it, please visit:

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book
Publisher: Modiphius
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/11/2017 21:05:33

Before mentioning the core mechanics, I'd like to first say that if you're an old-school "GM is God" or "Benevolent Dictator" GM, then you'll want to know that the Mophidius 2d20 RPG system uses a currency mechanic of Momentum and Fortune for players and Doom for the GM to add cinematic effects to the game. This currency mechanic can be house-ruled away from the core "roll dice to make a skill check" mechanics. Myself, I'm fine with it, since I prefer to throw challenges at the players, and let the system worry about game balance.

Skill Checks: Otherwise, Conan uses the commonly seen skill check of making a die roll versus a target number. Characters have Attributes, Skill Expertise, and Skill Focus. Attributes are inherent abilities, and are Agility, Awareness, Brawn (Strength), Coordination, Intelligence, Personality (Charisma), and Willpower. Skills represent specialized training, and each skill is tied to a particular Attribute. When a character makes a skill test, they roll 2d20. Each result equal to or below the character's Attribute plus Skill Expertise is a success. However, if they also roll equal to or less than their Skill Focus, they receive two successes instead. Before making a roll, the game master assigns a difficulty level, typically D1, to determine how many successes needed. If two characters are in opposition to each other, they are considered to be in a Struggle. Both make a skill check against a Difficulty, with the character passing the Difficuty check and making the most successes being the winner. Interestingly, attacks, by default, are at a D1, but, if the defender chooses to give the gamemaster a Doom point, he may choose a Defend Reaction (such as Parry against a Melee attack, Acrobatics against a Ranged attack) and make it into a Struggle.

Cinematic Rules: While many roleplaying games rely entirely upon the game master to make the encounter entertaining, Conan has specific rules for cinematic play. Experienced game masters who enjoy the freedom to "wing it" during a game might not like these rules. New game masters and those who prefer more framework for introducing new elements can now rely upon the game system to be fair and him to not seem arbitrary as he makes an encounter more challenging. Returning to the skill check, a low roll means success, so, if any dice the player rolls is a 20, then the game master can add a Complication for each 20 -- even if the roll otherwise succeeded. For example, a player using his bow may hit his target, but may find himself now out of arrows. Momentum is a currency players can use to add advantageous cinematic effects. For each success greater than the Difficulty, a player gains a point of Momentum. They can spend it on various actions, or placed in a shared pool for later use during the round. Desired Effects indlude adding +1 damage, disarming an opponent, or adding an addtional d20 to a skill test. Since a character starts with 2d20, even the most skilled character will only have two success (three if they make their Skill Focus). Characters may roll additional dice by spending Momentum, generating Doom points for the gamemaster, spending Fortune, or working together as Teamwork. A player character begins with three points of Fortune, and is awarded them for reaching milestones and other in-game accomplishments. They may be spent on a Bonus Die with an automatic roll of a one (hence up to two successes if they have a Skill Focus of at least one), a Bonus Action, etc. A character cannot roll more than three additional dice, except through Teamwork. With Teamwork, additional characters can work together as a team. Each player describes how he is assisting the leader (and doesn't have to use the same skill as the character he is assisting) and rolls one d20. If the leader scores at least one success on his roll, then any successes generated by the assistants are added to the leader's total.

Action Scenes: Any conflict is presented as an Action scene. Action scenes are divided into rounds. The length of a round depends on the encounter. Rounds may last a few seconds in intense combat, or minutes for a village raid. Each round, a character can take a single Standard Action (eg. an attack), a single Minor Action (such as running across a room or another action that does not require a skill test), and any number of Free Actions (eg. dropping a weapon). Additionally, Reactions are special actions characters can take, turning a skill test into a Struggle. Reactions include a Defend (when the defender doesn't want the attacker to use the default difficulty of one), Protect (when a character attempts to defend an ally from an attack), and Retaliate (a melee attack when an enemy attempts to make a non-attack skill test). A character (including NPC) may perform several Reactions, but the first cost a point of Doom, second two points, etc. (The gamemaster gains Doom points to the gamemaster's Doom pool for their characters, while the gamemaster pays Doom points from his Doom pool for NPCs). Players, being the heroes, usually go first, but the gamemaster can spend Doom to allow an NPCs to immediately take their turns. Surprise is treated as a Struggle, and players can still spend Fortune or add Doom if they do not succeed. Rather than a grid, the location of each character is abstracted into zones, as defined by the gamemaster. The game uses five broad range categories (Reach, Close, Medium, Long and Extreme). (Reach is defined as within an arm's reach, while Close is the character's current zone.) Each zone has various zone effects (eg. moving out of an enemy's Reach requires a Withdraw Action as a Standard Action, or risks a Retailate Reaction from the enemy), including terrain tests, which may require a Standard Action as a skill test. Terrain tests are divided into Obstacles, Hindrances, Hazards, and Cover.

Attacks: Conan has three methods of attacking a target: Melee, Ranged, and Threaten. After choosing a target, the attacker chooses a weapon (Melee and Ranged), or a method of scaring the target (Threaten). If the target chooses a Defense Reaction (paying or gaining Doom points), there is a Struggle. Otherwise, it's an Average (D1) test. If the attacker succeeds, he rolls a number of six-sided Combat Dice for Combat Damage. 1-2 causes that much damage. A 5-6 causes one damage and triggers an effect, such as Piercing or Vicious. The defender rolls a number of six-sided Combat Dice, depending on armor, Courage, cover, morale, etc., as Soak. The difference is damage, taken against the defender's Stress. If a defender takes over five damage or has his Stress reduced to zero, the defender takes a point of Harm. In less abstract terms, a Physical Damage Type would cause Stress against the target's Vigor, and Harm against his Wounds, while a Mental Damage Type would cause Stress against the target's Resolve, and Harm against his Trauma. Wounds cause an increase in difficulty for Agility, Brawn, and Coordination tests by one, while Trauma increases the difficulty of Awareness, Intelligence, Personality, and Willpower tests by one. Characters suffering four points of Wounds or Trauma become incapaciated, only able to take actions by spending Fortune. Minor NPCs generally become incapaciated or flee after one or two points of Harm. Momentum (extra successes beyond the requirement to pass a difficulty check) generated in combat can be used to additional effects, such as Bonus Damage, Confidence (additional Morale Soak), Disarm, Penetration (ignore an amount of Soak equal to twice the Momentum spent), Re-roll Damage, Second Wind (recover Vigor or Resolve), Secondary Target (another target within Reach takes half damage), Swift Action (gain an additional Standard Action with a penalty), and Withdraw (leave the Reach of an enemy without triggering a Retailate Reaction).

The Conan RPG, then, has quite a bit of "crunch" and attempts to cover every cinematic action you could have in an RPG. I've only touched upon typical combat, and the game system uses Momentum and Doom to allow players and the gamemaster to add effects to combat. Additionally, the gamemaster will spend Doom to add more challenges to the players, such as spending more Doom to select a more lethal hazard in an adventure. At this point, it's probably best to download the free Quickstart and see if the game system works with your gaming group.

Character Generation: Returning back to the core book, Character Generation is more than selecting abilities and skills. Character background is heavily emphasized, and various skills are dependent on background. The first step in character generation is determining the character's Homeland (randomly or by choice), so a character with a Homeland of Nemedia speaks the Nemedian as his Language, and has the Talent of Cosmopolitan (able to speak with other characters with the Cosmopolitan Talent; several Homelands have the Cosmopolitan Talent). Generating Attributes starts with an optional modification then randomly selects which Attributes the player next modify. The player then selects or randomly rolls their Caste, which grants two caste talents (prior background knowledge), one skill (which may be further trained), a story, and Social Standing. The skill gained adds +1 Skill Experience and +1 Skill Focus to the designated skill. For example, a Warrior Caste has Sentry and Subject as Caste Talents, Parry as a Skill, a story, and Social Standing of 1. Social Standing may have an effect on Command, Society, and Persuade tests, allowing the gamemaster to adjust the Difficulty. Stories add additional background, are randomly rolled or selected, and grant a Trait. For example, a Warrior's story may be that of "Idle Hours Guarding Cold Wars", which has the Hedonous Trait (thanks to many hours of boredom). (By bringing a Trait into play as a Complication, a player may gain a Fortune point.) Next, a player rolls or selects his Archetype. Archetypes include Archer, Barbarian, Mercenary, Noble Warrior, Pirate, Priest, and Witch/Shaman. Archetypes grant a Career Skill, Career Talent, Mandatory Skills, Elective Skills, and Equipment. For example, a Shaman has a Career Skill of +2 Skill Expertise and +2 Skill Focus in the Persuade Skill, Career Talent of Force of Presence, Mandatory Skills of +1 Experience and +1 Focus to Alchemy, Counsel, Healing and Lore, and Elective Skills of two of Animal Handling, Sorcery, or Thievery. Equipment inlcude a toughened leather jacket (Armor 1: Torso/Arms), Healer's Kit, Alchemist's Kit, etc. Then the player selects or rolls for Nature, which comes with an Attribute Improvement (+1 to a single Attribute), Mandatory Skills (+1 Skill Expertise and +1 Skill Focus to three skills), Elective Skills (+1 Skill Expertise and +1 Skill Focus to two skills of a player's choice), and a new Talent, typically associated with one of the received skills. Skills consist of a Talent Tree, in which a Talent may be a prerequisite for another Talent, and Talents can have Ranks by being taken multiple times. While Skills are used for 2d20 rolls, Talents are special abilities. The Agile Acrobatic Talent, for example, allows you to re-roll a d20 when attempting an Acrobatic test. After Nature is Education, which, again, is picked or rolled, and provides mandatory and elective skills, as well as a talent. Then, the player rolls or selects a War Story, such as "Survived a Massacre", which improves specific skills, and lets the player create the background. Character creation continues with Finishing Touches, in which the player chooses various increases in his Attributes, Skills, and Talent, as well as a Language, Fortune Points, Personal Belongings, and a Weapon. Finally, with Final Calculations, the player determines his Vigor, Resolve, starting Gold, and Damage Bonuses. The character generation chapter also has a summary table to create or roll up a character, as well as alternate character creation limitations, for less heroic characters, or characters that are part of a group.

Sorcery and Alchemy: In Conan, the concept of a sorceror isn't the guy in the second row casting fireballs. Although novices (perhaps such as player characters!) may prefer to show off and reveal their true power, more experienced and prudent sorcerors (okay, NPCs!) will prefer to hold back, creating rumors and reputations of the power, as well as allying with and controlling men of power and those they control. That being said, some sorcerors may prefer to turn to Craft and Alchemy to create Petty Enchantments, such as lotus pollen and talismans. Sorcery itself is a Skill Tree, which also includes talents only related to sorcerous knowledge, such as "Protective Superstitions", which allows you to gain one bonus Momentum per rank when in a Struggle against a spell. Sorcery itself has the prequisite of the Patreon talent, and branches into Pact -> Barter Your Soul -> Life Eternal, and Enduring -> Enchanter -> Everlasting Sorcery. Characters acquire spells through the Patreon, Pact -- and Barter Your Soul -- talents. When casting a spell, the character takes a Minor Action to Focus (particularly since the Complications are more frequent when casting spells!). He may use various items, including those which improve his social abilities, such as Persuade and Command. A spell stat block includes Difficulty, Duration, and Cost to Learn / Cost (amount of permanent Resolve to learn the spell, and amount of Resolve it takes to cast). Sorcerors can enhance their spells with Momentum spends, and some spells have Alternative Effects, such as spell reversals. Counter magic allows a sorceror who can cast the same spell to block a rival's spell with a Struggle. Not too surprisingly, with the variety of spells and petty enchantments possible, additional sourcebooks and The Book of Skelos will be available.

Equipment and Upkeep: No more tracking of copper pieces, currency is abstracted. It's still called Gold, but day-to-day expenses are covered under Upkeep. You still can't go to the local We Have Everything In Stock store and just buy what you want. The gamemaster sets a difficulty, and you can use a Society skill test (or Persuade, or even Thievery!) to locate a seller, and can use Momentum to haggle down the price, and your Renown as the seller recognizes your reputation. You typically can only attempt to obtain one of these items per Upkeep. Between adventures, besides Upkeep, players can Carouse and engage in all sorts of activities: Meet a Patron, Trade, Gamble, Engage in Rumors, Recover, Cultivate Renown, and Receive Title. At the end of their Carousing, players roll on the Carousing Events table, which ranges from seeing some grave robbers stealing from the dead, to finding a strange possession. Most of the Carousing Events feel like adventure seeds, and I wouldn't mind seeing a future supplement, of more developed encounters.

Encounters: Speaking of which, the Conan core book includes a healthy monster manual of foes for the player characters. Creature Categories are divided into Minions, Toughened, Nemesis, Horrors, and Undead (some foes have more than one category). Toughened and Nemesis creatures are mechanically similar to player characters. Minions, being more numerous and less threatening than characters, have simplified fighting rules. Enemies often come in Mobs (Minions only) and Squads (Minions lead by a Toughened creature called a Leader). The game system has rules making fighting Mobs and Squads simplified but not too abstract (eg. attacks are similar to Teamwork). Skills are condensed down into Fields of Expertise: Movement, Combat, Fortitude, Knowledge, Social, and Senses. Senses, for example, covers Insight, Observation, and Thievery. After presenting the Special Abilities creatures have, the chapter has a brief discussion of an Encounter Structure, how to design a typical challenging encounter. Creatures are divided into Mortal Foes, Wild Beasts, Monstrous Foes, Otherwordly Horrors, and Characters of Renown. I particularly appreciated the Mortal Foes section, since it provides Bandits, Bodyguards, Cultists, Guards, Pirates, Thugs, and all sorts of staple humans. Wild Beasts include domesticated animals, like Dogs and Camels, as well as foes and vermin. The Characters of Renown section has entries for Conan; Amalric of Nemedia; Astreas, Chronicler of Nemedia; Belit, Queen of the Black Coast; Valeria of the Red Brotherhood; and Thoth-Amon of the Ring.

Adventure: Vultures of Shem. The adventure opens in the aftermath of a bloody ambush of an entire army, hardly the cliched beginnings of the tavern where the party is approached by an almost random stranger or asks around for rumors. Experienced gamemasters may want to brush up on their acting skills for the uneasy soldier encounter the PCs will have. Less experienced ones or gamemasters pressed for time can modify and excise this encounter (or try the Quickstart adventure). The adventure then settles down into a more conventional dungeoncrawl against not-quite-known monsters. What I did like is how the adventure starts off distinguishing itself away from the generic fantasy adventure, and presents enough unknown (whether it be NPCs that have their own self-interests, or monsters whose seem to have a purpose) to differentiate the world of Conan. The adventure is a tad railroady (about reasonable for a premade adventure), but not obviously so, leading to a climax, which, I think, does a good job of impressing players to the world of Conan. (Oh, and if you have a player who insists on being of noble blood, they should be in for a surprise.)

Conclusion: Overall, I think the 2D20 system is a very good fit with cinematic roleplaying and the Conan universe. I started with first generation roleplaying games which tried to fit the theme and genre of a game world into its game system, and like seeing roleplaying systems which pretty much do the reverse. 2D20 still isn't far from "roll dice to hit a target number" so you should be able to still modify the system like you've been doing for other roleplaying games. The Quickstart is free to download, and contains additional content as well as makes for a player handout. I also recommend the PDF to print out the character generation chapters for the players.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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