Thursday, October 25, 2018

Another Thrilling Episode of Conan and the Cheap DM

It's been about six years, since Conan last faced off against the Cheap DM and I think it's time for another confrontation! I'm curious to see what might have been put on the web, since last I posted one
of these.

Okay, here's the deal. You want to run a Hyborian Age campaign, 'cause who hasn't at least toyed with the idea, right? But, you don't want to shell out any money. Maybe the new Conan hotness doesn't do it for you. Maybe you've already got the system you want and fuck it, D&D Can do anything, anyway!

What you need is campaign material. Maps, maybe a gazetteer, some info on the Hyborian gods, a timeline, some inspiration, etc.

Can we find everything we need online? For free? Without resorting to piracy, mind you. That would make it too easy.

Not to worry! The Cheap DM has fought this battle before and emerged triumphant!

Some Main Resources

Let's visit Jason Vey’s Classic Edition Fantasy Resources Page. If you want to use OD&D, or something close to it, then his supplements, The Age of Conan and The Secrets of Acheron, as well as a DM screen for the set will be of use! These feature rules for running an OD&D campaign in the Hyborian Age and the main focus is on adapting the game to Howard’s setting, including overhauling the magic system. There’s not a lot of info on the milieu itself, but there's some race info and a little info on the gods. Contains an excerpt of Howard’s essay The Hyborian Age.

A good start, but we're not done yet. 

The Hyborian Age page, by Thulsa comes next. This site has gods, demons, a gazetteer and maps! Plenty of maps! Not to mention magic items, famous sorcerers and other personages. The rules are d20, but easy enough to toss, amend, or mutilate. The site also reproduces Howard’s The Hyborian Age essay It's an old site and a few of the links to elsewhere are dead, but the majority of it, including the really important stuff, are still there.
I still haven't gone through this site, but the Conan Wiki has a Gazetteer and more. The Age of Conan Wiki might also have some useful stuff.

If you're not a Howard purist, then the Hyborian Age Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe has all kinds inspirational material. It’s rather large and contains a ton of Marvel Pictures! 

Hyborian War is an archive of an old Play-by-Mail game, which contains Kingdom Reports and what-not, which you may find useful. The various kingdom reports have some detailed maps of the regions and are in pdf format.

Here's a direct link to a PDF titled Hyboria by Rowan Walking Wolf, which takes the most important setting info from Thulsa's site and puts it in a handy 64 page document. It says it's "for use with Saga & other fine roleplaying systems" but at a quick glance it looks to be completely system free. The gazetteer, races, personalities, gods, etc., are all here as well as a B&W map. Probably the best setting material source I've found on this particular adventure, beating out thanks to its format and ease of use.


A google image search will turn up tons of maps and other imagery. Here's a few that caught my eye.

Here's a 25 MB map of the Hyborian Age by someone named Sapiento on Deviant Art.

Image result for conan the cimmerianHere's another map. I think it's a copy of the Mongoose one. Large.

A direct link to another map. 

Some old Marvel maps, by Crom! From The Dork Review.

This one hosted at Cap'n's Comics is pretty damn cool!

A small map of Arenjun City of Thieves at by Matthew Finch?!?

Other Useful Conan Stuff!

The Wikipedia page for the Hyborian Age has some useful info.

Dragonsfoot # 13 has an AD&D Conversion of Thulsa’s Tower of the Elephant adventure.

Here's a Conan inspired adventure for The Black Hack - The Black Sword of Shem.

Dr. Skull's Conan Cult has campaign notes and modules from a Mongoose Conan campaign.

A few Hyborian Age houserules from the Hyborian Tales blog.

There might be something useful in the Free RPG Day offering from Modiphius. Also, their Quickstart for the game.

the venomous pao hosts several BoL Hyborian Age adventures, written by G-Man.

Here's a direct link to a PDF called Nations and Peoples of the Hyborian Age - A larp resource on the cultures and countries in Hyboria.

I'm not sure what the deal is with Revolvy, but there's a Hyborian Age page with quite a few articles that look pretty in depth. 

And if you're interested in REH scholarship, The Cimmerian is well worth perusing.

Some of REH's works are in the Public Domain. Here's many of his writings, featuring Conan, et al.

And if You Haven't Chosen a System, yet...

There's always ZeFRS – The Retro-Clone of the rules from TSR’s old Conan RPG by David Cook. You can download it for free here.

Or, the free version of Barbarians of Lemuria, might just hit that sweet spot, system-wise!

And We're Done!

There you go! Everything we need to run the Hyborian Age and then some!

For those willing to expand their means of acquisition and hunt second hand type sources, I might recommend looking for some of the old Mongoose Conan releases, which are no longer available for purchase since they lost the license. Their Road of Kings supplement is what I would probably use first and foremost if I were going to run Hyboria. That and maybe a heavily houseruled S&W. Though, Advanced Labyrinth Lord with Human Multi-Classing allowed and an edited spell list would work. Maybe LotFP? If I were willing to spend the time and energy on a blatant copyright violation, I'd do a source book. I kind of feel like Gorgonmilk has dropped the ball, here! ;)