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Robert E. Howards CONAN Roleplaying Game Quickstart $0.00
Publisher: Modiphius
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/07/2017 19:56:56

The game system itself does a very good job in covering cinematic combat (although sorcery is covered in the core book in its own chapter), the adventure, unfortunately, could just as be easily placed in any generic fantasy world.

Skill Checks: Conan uses the commonly seen skill check of making a die roll versus a target number. However, it then adds additional rules to add cinematic play. 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, including combat, 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.

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).

Adventure: The adventure develops over several encounters and teaches the game system. As a spoiler, the plot is that the heroes protect a village from an attack. But I would have also liked the adventure to better expose the players to Hyboria (perhaps through a scholar's writing on Hyboria that holds an important clue the players can use to for the adventure) and an encounter with an important persona in the Conan mythos.

Overall, though, anyone who wants a cinematic RPG should download this Quickstart and give it a try.



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Robert E. Howards CONAN Roleplaying Game Quickstart
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