So it’s already been a longer post than I intended it to be. In fact with all the suggestions for systems it has become very obvious that I lack the resources to purchase every game that might work for my ultimate goal. I want to thank all of you for your suggestions. Your interest in this project is very appreciated.
So I’m going to finish this post discussing the last 2 systems I have access to.
Dungeon Crawl Classics reminds me of all the reasons I loved playing RPGs. The funnel system of character creation is my second favorite part of the game (more on the first later). However I’d want characters in the Hyborian Age to start at 1st. Conan wasn’t a Cimmerian farmer that got caught up in a quest and became a mighty adventurer. Thoth-Amon wasn’t working the bar at the local Stygian Tavern and thought that taking up black magic might be fun. Character options seem limited and without demi-humans those options are out as well but why can’t some of the races of Hyboria have their own progression without having to take a class? Armor is a necessity which means a second mark against this system. No problem with the mortality of characters however and Magic (my favorite part) seems appropriate to the Hyborian Age.
D20 is the system that I am by far most familiar with. Unfortunately my familiarity with D20 means I, all-to-well, already know it’s not going to meet more than 1 or 2 of my prerequisites. Characters certainly have access to complexity in abilities. D20 is a min/max-er’s wet dream. But as one of my players figured out his fighter with no armor quickly got chewed up and spit out in combat particularly as he passed 1st level. Racial variation could be created with little effort so I wouldn’t be worried about that. Combat in standard D20, if the DM follows all the rules for CR, is far from deadly. The game is designed for the party to win. Magic in D&D is also VERY safe. It’s a proven science. It’s commonplace. With so many variations of the rules available from “official” and fan sources I’m certain that a Conan RPG would be possible to create.
Pathfinder provides a plethora of extra feats and class skills only adding to the possibility of complexity.
Unearthed Arcana has unarmored AC options. Some alternate combat rules would make combat more lethal. There are a ton of ideas for alternate races (though most wouldn’t really work so I don’t know why I brought that up). Even some ideas on magic that would lend a hand.
John directed me to the idea presented as E6. It’s possible that Conan was just 6th level and, since almost everyone he meets is 1st, he wins just because he’s that much better than they are. However I find that concept a little boring. Conan just wins by default.
Mutants and Masterminds is a pretty versatile system as well. Character can be created virtually from the ground up. Every skill, feat, ability score, and feature hand chosen for exact effect. You can require magic to have hindrances that make them dangerous to use or unreliable. You can wear the heaviest plate armor or a loincloth and still feel protected. In reality you might just need a solid sourcebook for the Hyborian age and you’re ready to play. The only real problem I see with this is there’s no really recognizable growth for a character that doesn’t cast spells. Thoth-Amon can add a new spell every level and have something new. Conan just gets a higher attack bonus.
Mongoose’s Conan RPG is technically a contender since that’s what it’s supposedly created to do. Some of the ideas work. Specifically the racial variations. Class options are better than the core books but Pathfinder does a better job. Since I’m not a fan of this I’ll definitely reference it for ideas but I think I can do better.
4th Edition… Uh… No. Just no.
So what it comes down to is no game offers a ready-made Conan rules system exactly the way I want it. I’d have to mod every one in some way to be satisfied.
So that being said, and since I have far more experience with D20 (and I want to show Mongoose I can top them), I’ll choose d20 as the base system. In coming posts I’ll pick a subject that I think needs altering and discuss that. As always your thoughts are always welcome and I’m so looking forward to the discussion.
I would like to try to follow a single rule of thumb when adapting rules; If it’s too complex it’s probably wrong. I don’t know how successful that will be but let’s give it a try.
It’s time to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under our sandalled feet.