Christmas cracker monster

Here is a monster for you, courtesy my niece’s Christmas cracker:

Q: What do you get when you cross an octopus with a cow?

A: A farm animal that can milk itself.

I thought briefly about including some stats but the mind boggles. A black and white dappled octopus the size of a cow that squirts a cloud of milk at you as it escapes? A cow with tentacles for legs that climbs up the side of the barn and turns the same colour as the wood? Either way, roll initiative!

A few more traits of Conan stories

Mass battles

Battles are a staple of Conan stories. Sometimes they are in the background and sometime they form a focal point of the story. He also spends a lot of time as a mercenary.

To do this I will have to:

  • have mass combat rules easily available,
  • know what military forces places can field,
  • have mercenary companies detailed,
  • work out adventures players can have as mercenaries and
  • have warring states, border wars and ambitious people bent on conquest.

Entire evil countries

Countries in Conan stories can be described at a stroke. Some countries are mysterious and strange. Stygia is known as a dangerous, evil land with strange customs, where you do not want to go.

There will have to be a country that everyone knows about and has an awful reputation. All sorts of strange things will go on there. The nation will be heard about through its agents or through items which have made their way to more civilised lands.

Getting knocked out

Bam! You are knocked out. You come to and…

I will have rules so that players can be knocked out (1hp maybe?) Enemies will use clubs. Lots of enemies will have reasons for keeping a character alive such as:

  1. To eat later.
  2. For ransom.
  3. As slaves.
  4. To use as gladiators.
  5. To feed to pet monster.
  6. To sacrifice to their god.
  7. To sacrifice to whatever strong monster lords it over them. e.g. King Kong.
  8. For information.
  9. To lead them to the player’s home.
  10. To trade for prisoners.
  11. Give as tribute to a higher power.
  12. To teach them something (magic, tactics, swordplay, etc).

Big architecture

Conan’s adventures quote often take place in forgotten cities or large temple, cave or dungeon complexes. I will provide large ruined complexes and find a way to direct the players to the interesting bits.

Wisdom from The Sorcerer’s Skull

Over at The Sorcerer’s Skull, Trey posted about the elements of Bronze Age fantasy comics. It reminded me of some other characteristics of Conan stories.

City states is otherwise known as Points of Light. There are points of civilization with barely known wilderness in between.

The cultures are from a time earlier than the middle ages. They more resemble ancient cultures like Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome, etc.

The Cthulhu mythos is part of the world. H. P. Lovecraft wrote to R.E.H. and other writers and encouraged them to use the mythos in their fantasy writings. By having a shared mythos it gave an air of realism to their stories. It also adds the air of human insignificance and of things beyond our understanding.

What are the characteristics of a Conan story?

Unknown history
The world has a long history. Most of it is unknown to the people alive today. Whole races and peoples have prospered and disappeared before the present day. There are ruins and mysteries from past times to be found.

Intelligent races have come and gone through the past. There have been races who were better than modern day humans. Likewise, races have regressed from once great heights.

City states
There are vast, unexplored or unsettled areas. Communication and knowledge of other parts of the world is patchy or unknown. Where people settle they band together with others of their culture and hold it as best they can. There are few central powers.

Varied locations
Conan travels from place to place, exploring the known world and unseen lands.

Easy come, easy go
Any benefits obtained are temporary. Wealth and belongings are held briefly, then lost. This goes for jewels, armour, weapons, friends and more.

Conan is exceptional
He is stronger than any man. Quicker, faster and more durable. He stands out immediately as someone to be reckoned with. He triumphs where others would fail.

Unique monsters
Monsters are very often seen once. Due to his travels he may have seen them more often but for the average person and encounter with a creature should be a rare and strange occurrence.

Humans are main race
The known lands consist of humans and humans only. Any non-human races are few and far between.

Live by the sword
This is before the time of police. Laws are simple and are only as good as the power enforcing them. The powerful exert force over those less powerful.

Magic is rare and strange
It is rarely seen and not understood when it is. Magic users are feared.