Getting back to my ongoing discussion of the Conan RPG by Modiphius, I thought I would take things down a different path today. So far, I’ve done a review on some of the rules from the 2d20 Conan roleplaying game, Mark has done a basic Conan RPG review, I have talked about lessons learned in liveplay, and more. Today, I wanted to talk about something I have been hinting around at for this game for a little while now–homebrew. In particular, I wanted to look at some new Displays for the Conan RPG that I have made for use at my table.
Understand, I didn’t sit down and just come up with this list to come up with something. Instead, these were things that came up at the table that I houseruled on the spot, took notes on, and looked back at later. Now, I am sharing them with you. Maybe you have a use for them, maybe some critiques for me.
What are Displays?
Before I get too far into the discussion on my own homebrew displays for Conan, I thought it might be good for a quick refresher. Maybe you’re new and haven’t had a chance to read up on them yet. Maybe there are so many game rules from various publishers flying around in your head, a particular term might temporarily escape you. Maybe you haven’t had the ability to enjoy the awesome in your Conan game yet. Of course, you might be skimming right past this part anyhow, so . . ..
Modiphius’s Conan uses Displays to describe ways players–and NPCs–can intimidate and mentally shake their opponents. Displays are a way of not only being a badass descriptively, but also giving you a potential mechanical edge. These are a sort of attack, doing mental damage against your foes. These can be especially effective for GMs who are trying to bring down PCs who are armored heavily or lithe enough that they keep avoiding physical damage in combat.
Take one example here: Flaming Brand. Certainly, you have seen in a movie (and, hopefully never had to try this in real life) where the protagonist is swinging a fiery piece of wood or torch, keeping some monstrous enemy at bay. The same can work here. Fire hurts and someone swinging it in your direction can be unnerving. The Flaming Brand Display uses the Survival skill, does a base 3 damage, and has both the Stun and Vicious I Qualities. Now it’s doing something more than just acting as set dressing. This Display in particular is interesting because it’s only supposed to be used once per scene until its conditions are met again, but the only requirement here is to have a big enough flame to swing around, so it can keep on going. Still, you get the idea.
You might also behead an enemy and swing their lifeless skull toward your opponents menacingly or they may quake in fear at the mere mention of your name, if you have built up enough Reputation. These are some examples from the main book.
I will say, while–especially if fitting in the story–Displays make for an awesome combat option, I typically see them being used best as an additional action in combat. One of the benefits of this is that I get to see my players burn Momentum or add to my Doom pool. The other reason, of course, is because–in the heat of combat–it seems a bit odd to me to stop for a moment to just try and scare or shake your opponent. Having said that, though, there are certainly times where it is dramatically fitting to do just that.
New Conan Displays
As I said, these came up for me during play and, in most cases, they were triggered and then fulfilled by the player spending Momentum/Doom to add an action. Use them for your own game. Modify them or leave them. Feel free to leave suggestions and/or critiques below.
A Gruesome Death Indeed
Slaying a Toughened or Nemesis opponent by doing at least twice their Vigor in Damage in a single attack.
You slay with your opponent so handily with expert skill or sheer ferocity that it leaves a very bloody scene, often bathing their own compatriots in gore, and shaking them to their core. As you turn toward the remaining, blood covered opponents, you direct your blade or arrow at them, narrowing your gaze with murderous intent, letting them know that they are indeed next.
Skill: Melee or Ranged
Range: Close (to the slain foe)
Damage: X where X is equal to one-half the number of damage dice just rolled on the killing attack
Qualities: Area, Stun
Move Like the Wind
Dodge (not parry or otherwise defend) three consecutive attacks successfully without taking any damage.
You move like the wind, or a shade. You are unhittable and that makes you unbeatable. Your foes’ resolve suffers as you whirl around, bobbing and weaving effortlessly amid the combat, displaying that your skill at avoiding harm is far superior to theirs at delivering it.
Skill: Acrobatics or Athletics
Fear No Blade
Sacrifice three or more pieces of armor, throwing them to the ground as you do so. The count starts over once you use this, so you can’t sacrifice three pieces, use the ability, then sacrifice one more next turn and consider it “more than three;” it’s just one at that point.
No matter how many times you are hit, armor torn asunder, you continue to wade into battle, challenging all oncomers with a deafening roar declaring your invincibility as you slap at the parts of your recently unarmored body.
Damage: X where X equals the number of pieces of armor you have sacrificed and thrown down
Qualities: Vicious 1
I have also used the Impossible Feat of Might for lifting up and throwing an opponent. But, maybe that’s just me. What do you think, folks? Would you use these? Change these? Have you come up with other Displays for the Conan RPG?