Monday, October 3, 2016

Book Review: Conan the Roleplaying Game (2nd Ed)

I've been a fan of Conan the Barbarian ever since I started sporadically reading the comics back in the '70s.

I saw the original movie when it came out...

(Image:  1982 movie poster)
...but have skipped the 2011 box office bomb.  Although I do have the DVD, which I still haven't watched yet, in order to complete my Conan movie collection.

(Image:  2011 movie poster)
I've always considered Howard's Hyborian Age one of the best fantasy settings, second only to Tolkien's Middle Earth, but certainly more bawdy and sensual.

So as a role playing game (RPG) enthusiast, I was happy to stumble across an inexpensive copy of  Conan: The Roleplaying Game (2nd Edition), produced by Mongoose Publishing.

 This 420-page tome is divided into the following chapters:

1.   Introduction
2.   Overview
3.   Races
4.   Classes
5.   Skills
6.   Feats
7.   Equipment
8.   Combat
9.   Sorcery
10. The Hyborian Age
11. Gazetteer
12. Religion
13. Bestiary
14. Campaigns
15. Index

The book also includes a two-page character sheet, and color maps of Hyboria inside the front and back cover.

If you're familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, or any other "D20 Open Game License (OGL)" game, then you'll find Conan:  The RPG easy to understand, because the game mechanics are identical.

Since I like the D20 System, I look forward to the day when I can either run a session as a gamemaster (GM), or participate as a player character (PC).

While I enjoyed reading the Fluff about the late Hyborian Age, at the time Conan is king of Aquilonia, this was a difficult book to read.  Not because the content was hard to understand, but due to the poor quality of the materials and layout.

I like reading hard cover books like this while I'm working out on a stationary cardio machine.  It alleviates the boredom.  However, I couldn't lay this book flat and read it without holding it with my hands, which makes working out more difficult.  When I tried pressing the book flat--the binding ruptured.  Fortunately, the pages didn't come loose.

There's also the problem with the page format.  Each page is illustrated with the same racy, black and white montage artwork along the borders.  (Apparently this was suppose to be an improvement over the scandalous full-color artwork).  As a result of keeping the artistic border, the print is set very close to the spine, making it even harder to read anything within the center of the book.  Also, the pages themselves also feel flimsy and composed of cheap paper.

Despite these quality-control flaws, I'm glad I have this in my RPG collection, as long as I don't read it from cover-to-cover again.  Content-wise, I'd rate the book at 4-stars.  Quality-wise, I'd give it 2, maybe 3-stars.

Conan:  The RPG received high praise on RPG Geek, and  snagged a 4.5-star rating on
The two 3-star raters didn't care for the game using the D20 system.

The new Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of should have been released a few months ago.  Because of this new release, it seems that the Conan: The RPG (2nd Ed) and other Mongoose Publication material is available for (free?) download.

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