Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of (Conan 2d20) - The Beowulf Campaign

Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of (Conan 2d20)


The Beowulf Campaign

The aim here is to tell/play the events of the Old English poem Beowulf through the lens of Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age. The players will adopt the roles of predominantly northern heroes who either are returning to their homelands or rising to the need of King Hrothgar of the Golden Hall in Asgard. A terrible monster afflicts the ancestral seat of power, and heroes are required to answer it.

This project will make use of the Conan 2d20 core book and the first supplement of that line, Conan the Barbarian. Players making their own characters for this may use material out of these two books, and players are encouraged to make characters who have overt connections to the Hyborian northlands, be they Nordheimer (Vanir or Asgardian), Cimmerian or Hyperborean.

When: Some time next year, after the January BS Convention.

Duration: 3-5 sessions of 3-4 hours

Options for Continuing: I am interested in offering further episodes in this campaign on an intermittent basis; for those scenarios, I will adapt other medieval literatures or Viking-specific sword & sorcery tales, such as select works by Poul Anderson.

Where: Discord and Foundry/Forge

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Definitely in for some more Conan!

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I’m interested, of course. It’s too far ahead to definitely commit.

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Nice! I love Beowulf!

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I’m in for Conan.

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I love this idea. It makes me want to watch the 13th Warrior again. Does anyone know of a better adaptation?

HOOS

Have you seen Beowulf & Grendel? Personally, The 13th Warrior is my favorite in this genre, but B&G is worth a viewing.

Interested! Really like the premise, not too familiar with Conan, but like Beowulf and Northern myths and stories.

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What is Robert E. Howard’s “The Hyborian Age”?

The Hyborian Age is the setting, naturally enough, for Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of (Conan 2d20). If you really want to know more, you can look at Howard’s own essay concerning it here, but, in short, the Hyborian Age is our world, comprising many historical cultures and milieus through the lens of telescoped time. For this campaign in particular, all we really need to know is what is going on in Howard’s frozen north.


Asgard
The action for the “Beowulf Campaign” will take place in Asgard. Asgard is the easternmost region of Nordheim and forever is in tribal warfare with Vanaheim to the west. If it’s helpful to think of the Vanir to the west as Norwegian vikings and the Asgardians to the east as Swedish vikings, that is just fine (though the events of Beowulf proper took place in Denmark).

Players will be allowed to play a character from any land or culture in the Hyborian Age, if they so choose, but most likely they will be from a location on this map. Cimmeria, to the south, is the homeland of the titular character Conan.

Cimmeria

There is little of worth in this land, mostly a place of endless
hills and low, rough mountains, of dusky, wooded valleys
and dark scrub forests, steep gulleys and stony plains upon
which little grows. A few mean rivers and streams run
through the countryside, feeding bogs and ponds and some
isolated lakes. Cloud and fog shrouds the land, forcing upon
it a lonely and dismal mien, and wind wails through the
hills like a banshee, a never-ending lament that shortens
tempers and drives men to gloomy, monstrous thoughts.
There are no major cities, no great accomplishments of
engineering, and few roads, with the only notable man-made
structures being the few forts made by Aquilonian colonists
and ruins dating to the time before the Cataclysm. Despite
this, the Cimmerians cling to it fiercely, and few stray from
their homeland, though the south — with its wantonness,
wealth, and indolence — beckons always. To a Cimmerian,
their homeland is their rightful place, though at times it
can seem more a purgatory than a heaven.

Hyperborea

The folk of Hyperborea are a strange and fey lot, a surly and
dangerous people despised by most in the North for their
wanton slavery and habit of waging war upon those who
share borders. Their land is as bleak and cold as is Asgard,
though the southern reaches of the land are more favorable.
There, the Hyperboreans can farm and herd to the best of
their abilities, with small farming-steads outside their cities.
Long ago, though, the folk now inhabiting Hyperborea were
akin to the people of Hyrkania, likely departing that land
and heading seaward from the east. These were a race of
horsemen, great tribes of tent-dwellers, living beneath roofs
of horse-hide, traversing the land far and wide, following
the seasons, hunting and living off the land.

That prose paints a beautiful picture of not only the landscape but potential means and motivations of the people living there. I love it. If there is room, and schedules work out, I would enjoy a romp in that setting. Thanks for running the game.

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Might disguise myself for this one so Gabe will let me in…

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Characters in Conan 2d20


Making a character for Conan 2d20 is as “easy” as heading over to the online character generator at https://conan.modiphiusapps.hostinguk.org/. Why do I use quotations, you might ask? Well, because the character generator makes more sense if a user understands what one is choosing – and why.

Like most rpgs, Conan 2d20 uses Attributes and Skills to define core capabilities. Also like most rpgs, Attributes “govern” the Skills. The value of an Attribute is the Target Number (TN) at or under which a roll of a d20 has to land to score a “Success.” For some tasks, a single Success is all that is required for the action. For others, more are required, and, for these tasks, a player has to figure out how to roll more than the standard 2d20 allowed for task resolution. Moreover, Skill Expertise under an Attribute raises the TN by exactly that amount of Expertise. And even moreover, Focus in a Skill represents the number that a d20 has to roll at or under to award two successes.

So keep this in mind as you’re plugging along in building a character while using the generator. Also keep the following common misunderstandings/pitfalls in mind.


If you’re making a character for the Beowulf Campaign, the books available to you are the Core Book and Barbarian. Make sure you click those two options. Moreover, you can use either Normal character creation or Play The Hand You Are Dealt. In fact, I recommend Play The Hand You Are Dealt, because it is more simulationist of “reality” – none of us chose our parents, neither did most of us choose our education and upbringing. Also, the method simply results in a fun and surprising character to play, perhaps a cocktail you might not have considered.

Whatever the case, please also keep in mind the focus of the campaign. In other words, I really would appreciate it if at least somebody played a character from one of the regions detailed in Barbarian.


A feature of character creation that tends to confuse new players – and rightly so – is its terms of “Best” and “Worst” to define bonuses assigned to Attribute choices. Please know that if you select an Attribute as your “Worst,” it is quite the contrary! That is the “Worst” of the bonuses you are adding to the Attribute. In other words, the “Best” Attribute is receiving a +3, the “Worst” a mere +1, and those you leave alone are getting +2.

Similarly, “Optional Attributes” are not mutually exclusive but instead additional Attributes (and sometimes the same ones as the “Best” and “Worst”) that receive bonuses. I don’t at all understand what Modiphius was thinking with this terminology!


Look out for this page! Sure, an Antler Horn Knife is cool, but it is not clear, from this interface, that this is a dropdown menu from which users are meant to select the item of their choice! In other words, Antler Horn Knife hasn’t been randomly assigned to your character – even if you selected the all-random option for character creation – but simply begins with “A.” Incidentally, the same caution goes for the other menus on this page.

Similarly, many users make a choice on the page pictured above without quite knowing what they are doing. If you make any selections on this page, you are permanently sacrificing a Fortune Point for your character to be a little bit better in some things. Fortune Points are metacurrencies that have a variety of uses in Conan 2d20, but, most commonly, they are used to “preroll” a d20 on a Skill test as a 1, which usually thereby rolls under the Skill Focus and automatically awards 2 Successes on an action. PCs begin every session with 3 Fortune Points, unless, during character creation, one takes this option.

Is everything clear as mud? Good! Now go generate that adventurer!

At the end of the process, Export to PDF. You might want to export to both kinds of PDFs. The official character sheet is pretty busy. The “printer-friendly” sheet is a lot cleaner. Either, as long as they are form-fillable, will work for the Beowulf Campaign.

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You can have my antler horn knife when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

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