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Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book $24.99
Publisher: Modiphius
by ar e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2018 04:09:21

I've only become interested in the Conan universe recently, and I'll just say upfront that the book does a great job of telling me what I need to know lore-wise. I can't, however, speak to that side of things extensively since I'm far from an authority on the topic. What I will, however, say is that the system itself is a great deal of fun. It strikes that excellent balance between number crunch and cinematic pacing in that it gives me enough in the way of talents and skills that I feel like my character is unique and has a clear identity, while keeping the actual rolls streamlined and the pace of play smooth.

Combat is gritty and visceral and it really captures the feel of a violent world waiting to chew you up and spit out your bones. As a fan of medieval fencing and the like, I found it intriguing how the game manages to incorporate a lot of the things that make a fight "feel like a fight". Weapon reach is accounted for, with longer weapons making it more difficult to assail you with shorter weapons... but also the idea of getting past someone's guard, so that the shorter weapon actually has the advantage. The idea that ammunition is a concern, but only if you're burning through it quickly or you're carrying a bundle of javelins or the like. The concept of cover and concealment, where hiding in a bush doesn't give you protection, but does make you harder to hit. Hit locations and armor soak, plus a nice and concise mechanic for shield breaks and armor destruction. It manages to make use of all this and more and never feels particularly obtuse in so doing. Combat is a joy to play, whether you're leading a squad of warriors in a skirmish (you can do that!) or dueling a Zingaran fencer.

(In regards to "chewing you up and spitting out your bones"... It by extension does a good job of making your characters feel particularly powerful and special. When they're overcoming the odds of a world that wants to destroy them on a regular basis, it really shows them to be larger than life figures. That said, there are alternate creation options that allow you to make characters that are little less gifted, even going as far as characters that are destitute and running on fumes at the start of the campaign!)

Equipment is handled quite well. Most of the odds and ends you'd carry around are condensed into kits, which provide bonuses (or negate penalties) to skill tests that make use of them, at the cost of either greater encumbrance or static placement as a workshop. Weapons and armor give you all the options you'd expect without being unnecessarily bloated (for example, a dagger, a dirk and a stiletto are all functionally the same thing, just call it what you please). Mounts and beasts of burden can be bought, as can vehicles such as carts and ships, opening up a range of potential gameplay options. Want to play a trader with mean bladework? You could absolutely do that.

But one of the things I love most about this product is character creation. While you can choose from any of these options freely, it expects a random roll mechanic that harkens back to the classic games like D&D, but handles it differently. Instead of flatly rolling stats and skills, you're almost rolling a lifepath. As you roll at each stage, you're learning more and more about your character. For people like me who often don't know what I want to play going in, this is a really fun thing to go through. Perhaps more interesting is that I've yet to see a combination that wasn't intriguing and also cohesive, with a little imagination.

My current character is a Zamoran woman who grew up herding goats, living a lazy and peaceful life. Then came a Hyrkanian mercenary company looking for recruits (implying her village was visited semi-regularly by this company, perhaps as part of an agreement of payment for some major service they did for the village years ago). She was snapped up for her skill with animals, ascending from goat herder to horse tender. Time with this company saw her take up archery, and she eventually began riding to battle. What I have now is a goat herder-turned-horse archer who travels the world, following her natural curiosity into all sorts of misadventures. All this was prompted by my character creation rolls, each stage of which contributed to building not only her history and personality, but her attributes, skills and talents as well.

Overall, I'd say this is among the top five systems I've ever handled. The PDF is laid out well, everything's good and easy to read, NPC rules are nice and concise... Even the intangibles are in order. The only thing I can't yet judge is magic rules (they do exist, however!), as my group hasn't really dabbled with them yet. I strongly recommend Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of for anyone into Conan, general "gritty fantasy", or even perhaps for those looking for a system to run their own similar setting on.

Side note: I also have Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Pirate and Conan the Mercenary, all of which are also excellent products. Nothing but good vibes from the entire line so far, and I can absolutely see more purchases in my future.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book
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