Author Topic: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster  (Read 677 times)

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Offline EltonJ

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Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« on: March 05, 2024, 11:14:04 AM »
I was just curious if anyone did a Rolemaster conversion of Conan the Barbarian. Incidentally, Conan has a special place with me.  Although the world of Conan the Barbarian is sword and sorcery.  Conan is not a pacifist by any means.  He basically has a sword and uses it often in battle.

I was just curious, that's all.  I'll explain why later.

Offline Spectre771

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2024, 03:53:06 AM »
I've not done an entire setting based in the Conan world, but I have made two "Conan-like" barbarians; one in RM2 and one in that other game system that only uses 20% of the numbers RM uses.  The RM version was much easier to mirror the skills we believed Conan to have in the movies.  I never read the comics so we worked with what we had.
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Offline EltonJ

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2024, 09:22:33 AM »
I've not done an entire setting based in the Conan world, but I have made two "Conan-like" barbarians; one in RM2 and one in that other game system that only uses 20% of the numbers RM uses.  The RM version was much easier to mirror the skills we believed Conan to have in the movies.  I never read the comics so we worked with what we had.

Yeah, I think RM can do Conan better.

Offline Wolfwood

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2024, 02:21:51 AM »
Many eons ago, I also dabbled with making Conan based on RM2 or RMSS rules (cannot remember which one we were using at the time). I think it was very doable and there was a talent that gave the character bonuses to magic resistance that fit the character very well (in the original stories he's often being harassed by mages, but manages to shed their spells - unless my memory completely fails me and I'm thinking of the comics... :/ ).

Offline MisterK

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2024, 12:07:26 PM »
I did not do such a thing. But if I wanted to, I'd probably use the novels as a baseline instead of the movies. I'd probably also change a number of things, such as
- update the skill list to one that is more suited to those the typical Conan stories focus on
- trim down magic *a lot*, especially the non-dark professions. I would likely put the emphasis on exacting rituals and charms instead of battle mage-like spellcasting.
- change the character creation in a radical way, making the skill costs not profession-based but race (ethnicity) based. Conan stories put a heavy emphasis on race, much more than on professions. What you do at any given time is mutable and not an core part of your being. Where you come from, how you were raised, what's in your blood, however, dictate how you react to the world. It is very much in contradiction with more modern fantasy. As such, I would create development archetypes based on race (and possibly gender as well, but at least race), and would use professions as RM uses adolescence profiles and training packages.
- I am on the fence regarding death, especially death in combat for PCs. Let's face it, Conan does a healthy number of perfectly stupid things. And he survives all of them. If you break the fourth wall, you can say that this is because he is the main character of the story and necessarily has script immunity. Without breaking the fourth wall, you can say that this is because of who he is, his innate spirit. You could make that a talent, but I think most players would take it, so... Basically, Conan is defeated, wounded, temporarily crippled, crucified, and a number of things that would spell death for a common man, but he survives, and he sometimes survives because something beyond his control happens (especially when he is crucified). It sounds suspiciously like fate, but not in the classic "reroll one dice roll" sense, rather in the "have something happen that makes him escape death" sense. Crippling wounds occur, but are healed (sometimes by NPC spirit magic, sometimes with strange herbs, sometimes with time). This means that while disabling critical results do occur, death results do not.

Offline jdale

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2024, 05:56:55 PM »
>Where you come from, how you were raised, what's in your blood, however, dictate how you react to the world. It is very much in contradiction with more modern fantasy.

I don't think a dependence on racial stereotyping is the best thing that Conan has to offer us.
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Offline EltonJ

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2024, 07:42:31 PM »
jdale is right.  Conan stories are more than that.

Offline MisterK

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2024, 01:24:45 AM »
>Where you come from, how you were raised, what's in your blood, however, dictate how you react to the world. It is very much in contradiction with more modern fantasy.

I don't think a dependence on racial stereotyping is the best thing that Conan has to offer us.
Oh, I totally agree. But if you want to be true to the source, you have to integrate it. As long as your players are fully aware of the cultural bias and background (and Howard, true to his time period, origin and occupation, probably had a fair share of that), I don't think it is a problem.

I mean, it's the same as wanting to play in historical medieval Europe but erasing religious persecution, ethnic segregation, marginalisation of women, and class bias. You're whitewashing the period, and, in my opinion, it actually *helps* propagate the bias, because you're basically saying "see ? medieval times were not that bad". They *were* (and, in many aspects, the modern times still are).

On the other hand, if you want to play original fantasy loosely inspired by swords and sorcery genre, then by all means, get rid of the biases - it's probably easier to handle. But playing in a very biased setting when players are fully aware of the biases and how bad they are is quite healthy as well - it makes you face all the little things you take for granted in the modern world and actually *are* biased, because of the magnification of the setting.

Offline Druss_the_Legend

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2024, 02:48:21 AM »
A campaign set in the world of Conan might work. Maps and lore exist. It would be a brutal place. Hobet.E.Howard was a special author who influenced many others who put pen to paper after him. David Gemmel for example was heavily influenced by his writing.

I know there were some D&D modules back in the 80s that were created that I think mirrored the second conan film, Conan the Destroyer? I wonder how faithful these were to the world of conan. It might be interesting to create a world that was set just after the time of conan. He might still live and be retired perhaps. That might be fun.

Offline Wolfwood

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2024, 05:39:19 AM »
It is worth reading the Wikipedia page, esp. under "Attitudes" about Howard's values and attitudes and how they changed as he grew up.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_E._Howard

Also, the Conan stories, as I read them, are rarely about race: they are more about cultures - especially about barbarism vs civilisation (civilisation makes men soft pleasure-seekers, barbarism keeps them tough survivors etc.).

But Conan is not his only character - for a better understanding of the author's values and attitudes, it is necessary to look at his other writing as well: female heroes, mid-east settings etc.

Offline nash

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2024, 11:16:20 AM »
Also, the Conan stories, as I read them, are rarely about race: they are more about cultures - especially about barbarism vs civilisation (civilisation makes men soft pleasure-seekers, barbarism keeps them tough survivors etc.).

Bret Devereaux has an interesting series on what he calls a the Freman Mirage.  It looks at it from a historians perspective:
https://acoup.blog/2020/01/17/collections-the-fremen-mirage-part-i-war-at-the-dawn-of-civilization/

I don't think he and Robert Howard may not agree on all points.

Offline Wolfwood

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2024, 11:02:18 AM »
Bret Devereaux has an interesting series on what he calls a the Freman Mirage.  It looks at it from a historians perspective:
https://acoup.blog/2020/01/17/collections-the-fremen-mirage-part-i-war-at-the-dawn-of-civilization/

I don't think he and Robert Howard may not agree on all points.
That's a very interesting article! I'll have to set aside some time to read it all the way through! :)

Offline Hurin

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Re: Conan the Barbarian and Rolemaster
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2024, 12:54:59 PM »
His whole blog is incredible; a giant treasure trove of articles.
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