I Took a Stab at Conan and Conan Won

Conan-Contest-Post

So, the crew over at Gamerstable wrapped up their Conan Character Submission Contest this week in preparation for their next Savage Worlds actual play podcast.  I (and apparently plenty of other gamers out there) caught wind of the contest and decided to jump headlong into the creation process, albeit with two minor problems.  The first problem, I had only ever created five Savage Worlds characters, so I’m pretty much a n00b to the system.  The second problem, the extent of my knowledge regarding the Conan universe is limited to the 1980’s films Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer.  Ignoring these minor inconveniences, I forged ahead (thanks to my copy of Hero Lab and plenty of time spent at the Conan Wiki).  Although I was not one of the lucky winners, I’m still proud of the characters I drafted and have decided to share them here, in all their fleshed out and statted glory.

When in Hyboria, do as the Hyperboreans do and make a Cimmerian Barbarian!

When drafting my first character, I stuck to what I know best – melee fighters – and subconciously paid homage to my 2nd edition AD&D Battlerager.

Remus Bearjaw

Remus Bearjaw
Human; Veteran (40 XP)
Male; Age: 36; Height: 6′ 7″; Weight: 285 lb.
Languages: Cimmerian, Hyperborean, Ophirian

Attributes – Agility D6 / Smarts D6 / Spirit D8 / Strength D10 / Vigor D6

Derived Stats – Pace 6 / Parry 7 / Toughness 6 / Charisma -1

Skills – Climbing D8 / Fighting D12 / Guts D8 / Intimidation D8 / Survival D4 / Throwing D8
Hindrances – Deathwish (Repentance for his sister’s death.) / Enemy (Gaius Telcitus) / Habit (Doesn’t Bathe) / Vengeful
Edges – Berserk / Brawny / Frenzy / Hard to Kill

BACKGROUND:

Remus Bearjaw, is a disgraced Cimmerian Warrior of reknown, having been usurped of his postion as Tribal Champion by a young Ophirian Noble named Gaius Telcitus.  Many months before, the Ophirian gained favor with Remus’ king (and father) Galfund, by bringing riches from lands far beyond the tribal holdings.  Galfund, although wise and benevolent, was also a slave to his own greed, and the wealth Gaius secured for the king through commerce could not be resisted.  Remus confronted his father, calling upon the warrior traditions of the past, and pleaded with the king to expel Gaius and return to the traditions of his people.  However, Gaius had manipulated Galfund, and was betrothed to Remus’ youngest sister, Tashilla, a marriage that would secure wealth for the tribe and prestige for the king.

On the night of Gaius and Tashilla’s wedding, Remus, in a drunken rage, challenged the Ophirian to a duel in order to prove to his father the strength of the tribe over Ophilian gold.  The two men engaged in the duel, but Remus was too angry, too drunk (and drugged by Gaius’ man-servant) and flailed wildly as the taunting Gaius dodged about, mocking the proud warrior.  Swing after reckless swing of his great flail failed to hit their mark, and Remus, desperate to defeat Gaius, heaved the great weapon, letting loose in a ferocious final attack.  Gaius dropped to the ground, barely escaping the flying weapon, but his bride, Tashilla, sister of Remus, was not so lucky. Tashilla suffered through her grevious wounds for four days, but attempts at healing could not stem the flow of her life-force (due to Gaius’ poisoning of her).  Upon her passing, Gaius called for Remus’ head, but Galfund – in a now rare moment of clarity – recognized the ordeal as an accident, but one with consequences.  Remus was banished from his tribal lands, cast to the winds of Hyboria.

MOTIVATION:

Since his banishment, Remus has worked as a mercenary, drowning his pain in the frenzy of battle, attempting to dispel Tashilla’s death through the death of evil men like Gaius.  He seeks to cleanse his soul through his own death in battle, blaming himself for a loss truly caused by Gaius.  While he faults himself before all else, he has sworn an oath to kill Gaius in order to restore honor to his tribe, especially at the cost of his own life.

PERSONALITY:

Remus is a grim presence, and it is very tangible to those around him.  Despite his constant state of mourning, he maintains a mask of stoic, sad intensity.  He can and will keep to himself, but when around others will often tell tales of his tribal lands, his tone melancholy over his inability to return.  He does not partkae in any form of alcohol, having sworn it off as the internal demon responsible for Tashilla’s death.  Soft spoken, his eyes blaze with an intesity that even the most seasoned warriors find unnerving.

APPEARANCE:

A hulking figure, Remus Bearjaw’s size and sturdiness are befitting of his surname.  He wears the traditional garb of his tribe:  leather breeches, solid fur lined boots, and a large leather girdle bearing his tribes crest (although the warriors of the tribe defaced the crest, deeming Remus unworthy to bear it).  His greying hair is long and often unkempt, and both he and his gear often bear the remnants of battle – earth, sweat, and blood – leaving Remus with an often persistent and pungent odor.  He rarely bathes, wearing the filth as part of his penance.  He bears the scars of many battles, but his forearms are marked with hundreds of self-inflicted cuts, one for every soul he has offered as a sacrifice for Tashilla’s forgiveness.  He sometimes keeps them bandaged, but has from time-to-time allowed the wounds to go untreated and fester, believing the pain and infection as part of the process of cleansing his soul.

EQUIPMENT

In battle, Remus wields a terribly devestating two-handed flail and keeps a large bastard sword strapped across his back as a secondary weapon.  Beyond his traditional garb, the only protection he wears in battle is in the form of Plate Armor protecting his arms.  The only reason for any protection, given his deathwish, is to protect the flesh reserved for his penance.  No foe shall have the right to mark the flesh reserved for the memory of Teshilla.  That right is Remus’ alone, which is conducted with the jeweled Ophirian dagger he keeps sheathed in his boot.

It’s Getting a Little Mythological in Here

For my second submission, I stepped WAY outside the box (for me) and created a magic-user.  I also spent a significant amount of time reading up on the mythology of the Triple Goddess to help flesh out the backstory.

The Crone

Hecate The Crone
Human; Veteran (40 XP)
Male; Age: 97; Height: 5′ 1″; Weight: 100 lb.
Languages: Cimmerian, Hyperborean, Iranistani, Ophirian,
Zamoran

Attributes – Agility D4 / Smarts D10 / Spirit D10 / Strength D4 / Vigor D4
Derived Stats – Pace 5 / Parry 5 / Toughness 4 / Charisma -2
Skills – Fighting D4 / Healing D6 / Intimidation D6 / Notice D6 / Persuasion D12 / Knowledge: Magic D10 / Knowledge: Religion D8 / Spellcasting (Arcane) D12
Hindrances – Bad Eyes (Minor) / Elderly / Outsider / Ugly
Edges – Arcane Magic / Arcane Resistance

Background

Hecate the Crone is the eldest of three sisters, goddesses each, who were summoned and entrapped to mortal coils in the realm of Hyboria by a powerful enchantress named Ashaztar.  Ashaztar desires power and control over life itself, which she believes lies in the power of the three sister-goddesses.  By locking them away and drawning their essences into herself, Ashaztar hopes to become a goddess of life and death herself, but the consequences of her actions are to soon prove dire.

Hecate, being the wisest and wiliest of the three sisters, escaped before becoming fully entrapped, but was greatly weakened by the process.  She fled from the enchantress’ tower in Zamora, and remained hidden within the city, weak and hunted by agents of Ashaztar.  Only by chance did a true believer in the cult of the Three Sisters come across The Crone in a dark, rat-infested alley, her mortal body close to perishing – a death which would have trapped The Crone in the Spirit Realm, unable to effect change in Hyboria and leaving her sisters helpless to the whims of Ashaztar.

The Crone was spirited away by her devotee and hidden deep within the bowels of Zamora, in a sacred chamber blessed by the sister-goddesses and maintained by members of the cult.  Understanding the need for Hecate to regain her power, the cultists provided her with a sacrifice – a young girl, indoctrinated in the ways of the Three Sisters.  The child willingly allowed herself to serve as vessel of power for Hecate, to guide her and act as a focus.  The weakened goddess would now be able to draw upon the child-vessel’s own life force in order to protect and strengthen herself until such a time that she could return to the heavens with her sisters, or until the child’s life force ceased.

Motivation

Ashaztar knows not the danger she has reaped upon Hyboria and the lands beyond with her hubris.  With the entrapment of the sister-goddesses – Artemis the Maiden, Selene the Matron, and Hecate the Crone – not only will the cycles of the moon begin to slow and stop, leaving no moon at all to be seen, but the cycles of life will soon come to a halt.  While Ashaztar believes this to be the road to immortality, Hecate knows the truth is far worse. While the young and strong will no longer age, the old and sick will linger.  Unable to die and unable to heal, their ills will spread and infect the newly “ageless.”  The sisters have influence only over the natural cycles of birth and death, but cannot contain pestilence, wrath, or war.  Before long, the mortal world will become a diseased battleground, where warriors and innocents can be killed by blade and illness, but with no hope for future generations to replace them.

Hecate has surrounded herself with the other characters, relying on their strength and guile to protect her long enough to regain the power she needs to free her sisters and correct the slipping balance of life and death in Hyboria

Personality

Knowing the dangers around her, Hecate is cautious out of necessity, but -being a goddess – will willingly display her forceful personality when the need arises.  She can be both tender and brutal, loving and spiteful, and will do whatever is necessary to protect those who are in-turn protecting her, as well as moving toward the goal of setting Artemis and Selene free.

Appearance

Hecate the Crone is exactly that: an old, withered, gnarled, ugly thing.  From her coarse wrinkled skin, wispy greying hair, and cataract eyes, she epitomizes ugliness in the feminine form.  She wears a blindfold over her eyes unless absolutely necessary, allowing the child-vessel to guide her via an unspoken and magical bond.

 

Equipment

She is dressed in dark, tattered robes, colored in hues of browns and greens and stained with the dirt and filth of Zamora’s alleyways.  She carries with her a staff of gnarled oak which has symbols of ancient power carved into them.

Child-VesselThe Child-Vessel

The child that accompanies/leads Hecate is a young girl, aged 10 years.  She has blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale skin, and is dressed in pale, earth-toned garments befitting of a peasant girl.  She does not speak or blink; is devoid of (almost) any emotion, and appears almost doll-like.  She obeys every command given by Hecate, but will not engage in combat in any way.   Being the conduit for Hecate’s magic and strength, the goddess will protect the child-vessel at all times, and must be in physical contact with the girl in order to cast her spells.

Spell Descriptions

BLAST – A swarm of Ravens materialize from thin air to attack and harass the targets with their razor sharp claws and beaks.

DAMAGE FIELD – Whenever The Crone is attacked in close range, the child-vessel screams in rage. The sound is so piercing and horrifying that it strikes at the soul of attacker, causing physical harm.

FEAR – Victims receive a brief glimpse of The Crone’s true form in its entire hideous and ghastly splendor.

HEALING – The Crone whispers into the ear of her child-vessel, who lays hands upon the wounds and heals them with a soft, golden light.

Young, Rougish, and Full of Attitude

The final character I created was designed to be gender-neutral.  It was my way of covering all the bases as far as gamer gender preference while also fulfilling an stealthy, ranged combat sort of character.  Oh, and the name Nergüi is Mongolian for “Nameless.”

Nergüi

Nergüi
Human; Veteran (40 XP)
Male or Female; Age: 15; Height: 5′ 4″; Weight: 140 lb.
Languages: Cimmerian, Hyperborean, Hyrkaniankanian

Attributes – Agility D8 / Smarts D6 / Spirit D4 / Strength D6 / Vigor D8
Derived Stats – Pace 6 / Parry 5 / Toughness 6 / Charisma 0
Skills – Fighting D6 / Lockpicking D6 / Notice D6+2 / Riding D6 / Shooting D10 / Stealth D8 / Streetwise D6
Hindrances – Big Mouth / Greedy (Minor) / Young
Edges – Alertness / Luck / Marksman / Scavenger

Background

“Nergüi,” (the word nameless in Hyrkanian) as the child rogue calls her/himself, is the bastard child of a Hyrkanian Noble and a servant.  Once born, both child and mother were sent to the Steppes to serve a tribal Khan, thus settling a gambling debet between the Khan and the Noble.  The Khan took a liking to both and eventually welcomed them as blood.  When Nergüi was 4 years old her/his mother died from a virulent illness which ravaged the Khan’s tribe, weakening it considerably.  The source of the illness, a potent spell cast upon the tribes flocks by a Hyperborean Mage, allowed slavers to sweep into the Khan’s territory and take all of the survivors to the Northern Slave Markets.

The young Nergüi was purchased by a Hyperborean merchant and immediately put under the care of merchant’s servants.  Countless days blurred into weeks and then years, filled with back breaking scullery work and regular beatings for vehemently fending off unwanted advances by the merchant.  At the age of eleven, Nergüi was taken under the wing of the merchant’s house guard leader, another Hyrkanian slave named Ganbaatar.  Ganbaatar had been a slave of the merchant’s family from adolescence, and he recognized and respected the fieryy will of the young boy/girl.  Unbeknownst to the merchant, Ganbaatar began teaching Nergüi how to ride and use a bow in the tradition of the Hyrkanian tribes, forming a strong bond between the two.

Nergüi became highly skilled with the bow in a short matter of time, thanks to his/her natural agility and speed.  However, before long, Nergüi’s lessons came to an abrudt end when another slave informed the merchant of Ganbataar’s tutelage in exchange for a higher station within the merchant’s house.  When the rest of the merchant’s house guard moved to execute the both of them on the merchant’s order, Ganbataar fought of his former charges long enough for Nergüi to escape, heading south and never looking back.  Since that day, Nergüi has survived throughout the harsh lands of Hyboria using his/her wits, stealth, and prowess with a bow, never forgetting the father-figure Ganbataar.

Motivation

Nergüi is a survivor and opportunist through and through.  Having known only the slave life for so long, the adolescent archer now takes every opportunity to experience what freedom has to offer, laws and rules be damned.  Nergüi has a nagging and growing desire to learn as much of his/her heritage as possible, thanks to the influence of Ganbataar, and hopes to one day return to the steppes of Hyrkania to ride and fight alongside the kin that was stripped from him/her long ago.

Personality

Nergüi is young, and with youth comes arrogance, greed, and immaturity.  With a tendency to speak out of turn and argue over loot, the young archer can be very mercurial due to his/her past, but is more than willing to take risks others wouldn’t, thanks to an uncanny tendency for lucky success.  Nergüi will follow a strong leader, as long as that leader proves their self to be both confident and capable.

Appearance

Nergüi’s sandy colored hair, almond shaped green eyes, and a dark complexion reveal the roguish archer’s mixed heritage.  Being both young and small in stature, Nergüi uses this to his/her advantage as a life filled with back-breaking labor belies a body like that of a coiled spring – quick, strong, and unpredictable when let loose.

Equipment

Nergüi dresses in supple leather armor, allowing for both ease of movement and protection.  Additionally, he/she wears a mottled green and grey cloak to help hide in the shadows.  Beautiful leather-worked bracers adorn each arm – black with silver inlays depicting Hyrkanian motifs.  In battle, Nergüi wields a small but powerful re-curve bow, stolen from the collection of an Iranistanian warlord.  When forced to, Nergüi will fight hand-to-hand with a finely crafted Cimmerian short-sword (also stolen), and keeps a boot dagger handy at all times.

Well, there you have it.  Although my submissions didn’t make the final cut and my Gamer-Ego took a slight bruising, my excitement for the eventual actual-play podcast has not been dampened in the slightest.  If anything, I’m more excited to hear what the recordings bring, and hopefully one of my characters will come out of the wood work as an NPC or even an adversary.  now that would be something!

Congrats to the contest winners and a hearty thanks to Eric, Mike, Dan, Mark, Shannon, Jayson, and Shawn over at Gamerstable for the chance to swim into unknown waters and flex my creativity.  Looks like I’ll have to go and buy me some Robert E. Howard books!

Matt Signature

. . . . .

Share

13 thoughts on “I Took a Stab at Conan and Conan Won

  1. Matt: all worthy submissions. I must confess, I probably picked mine from the earliest submissions as it was clearly a pastiche of Jeremiah Johnson/John Johnston aka Liver Eatin’ Johnson. The picking of characters took some time for the others, as they perused the bios that Eric provided. I’m not looking forward to facing any of these as NPC’s, and I’m hopeful that, should Odored not survive, I’ll have one to fall back on.

  2. Ahhh, good old’ Liver Eatin’ Johnson. Thanks Jayson! I look forward to hearing the final product and hope to get a shot at some more contests down the line. All-in-all, it was really fun to muddle my way through aspects of a world i was completely unfamiliar with, the end result being a huge interest in the Conan world.

    Maybe I’ll actually get around to reading some Robert E. Howard this year (or decade… or lifetime).

    P.S. Since I AM going to GenCon, it looks like you’ll be getting that drink.

  3. Matt, as a history guy you would dig Howard the most (I tell Mike the same thing). He was an ancient history NUT and his Conan setting was based on actual historical locales.

    As for your submissions, all were very good. Unfortunately I think that they fell victim to circumstance. There were several “big” fighter-types that were submitted and none were selected. Jayson and Mark had their favorites going in. For brevity sake, I had the players peruse some entries as they came in so the selection day wouldn’t take hours.

    When Shannon selected Loviisa, that shifted the group’s dynamic away from the big fighter-types.

    Hecate is an excellent character and she will be turning up in the story. Shannon is still a bit green and I think that that was why she didn’t consider her (or any of the other female spell casters). Shawn is playing a caster, but as good as he looks in a wig, his vocal range isn’t conducive to playing a female on mic.

    Also don’t be surprised to to find Nergui playing a role in the story.

    One of the cool things about this contest is that moment, as I was outlining the story and populating it, that I realized that NPCs could be farmed from the submissions. It serves three purposes; one – it saves me time of developing detailed NPCs, two – it keeps those who entered the contest interested in the production, and three – opens the door for more fiction in the future as people will be encouraged to write about characters again.

    Thank you for being such a great sport and for the awesome submissions. I hope that you will enter our next one… I’m thinking Shadowrun!

  4. Thanks Eric! Robert has read a lot of Howard’s work, and I know he highly recommends it, too. But, you know, I have this whole “doesn’t read” problem I’m trying to fix.

    I got a chance to peruse @SharnDM, @HyveMynd, and @Temmogen’s submissions and I applaud the selections you guys all made. I flirted with the idea of doing Hecate as both genders and changing the backstory, basing it on The Horned God from Neopaganism (and aim it at Mike), but the Nergui concept was too tempting to not do. Character building is one of my absolute favorite aspects of gaming, so any excuse to try something new I can’t pass up.

    I’ve been kicking around a couple Shadowrun concepts since Robert bought the books last year, so hopefully I can submit some strong contenders when the time comes. This actual play (like always), is going to rock!

  5. “I have this whole “doesn’t read” problem.”

    Audible audio books. I have listened to all three of the Conan anthologies (having read them also) during my drive time and they are dynamite. If you can get over the reader, Todd McLaren, pronouncing Cimmeria “Simma-ree-ah”.

  6. Stuff like that makes me wish I had a drive. I can’t even get through your guys’ podcast fully on my trip to AND from work. I would get so many more podcasts listened to and audio books “read” if I was in the car more.

    #FirstWorldProblems

  7. I might just have to check that out. I’d like to have at least some Conan read by the time the Actual Play comes out.

  8. All those characters look awesome Matt. Seriously. I’m a little chagrined, as all your backstories are nearly twice as long as Loviisa’s. As usual, I got caught up in the graphic design aspect of the character sheet I made, which meant cutting her story until it fit the space. I couldn’t include the bit about her grandfather’s longaxe, which was supposedly taken from one of Ymir’s giant sons in her family’s past. 🙁

    After seeing the announcement that Shannon was playing Loviisa, I was stoked, but then felt a little… guilty. I’d meant to submit three entries, all female, all different, in the hopes of tempting some of the Gamerstable guys to play as a female PC. Real life didn’t let me finish any of my other characters though, and I’d finished Loviisa first because she was the most straightforward.

    I feel like I kind of stacked the odds in my favor. I mean, I submitted a female character when I expect most entries were men, and Shannon was set on playing a woman. Smaller pool. I’d honestly feel better if I’d gotten all three of my submission off. The others were a Brythunian slave-girl “temptress” (Howard seems unable to write female characters any other way) with no combat skills but a Charisma of 8, and a fanatical Turanin cleric/alchemist of Erlik that wore a full burqa (like head to toe with only her eyes visible, all the time). Both were more interesting than Loviisa, in my opinion.

    I heartily second the suggestion of getting Conan stories in audio book format. The original R. E. Howard stuff. Stay away from the later Robert Jordan stories, as those read like Hyborian porn. Seriously.

  9. Thanks Chris. I was kind of hoping Mike might pick up Hecate, assuming that type of character was his cup of tea, but either way all of the characters picked are undoubtedly going to be awesome. It’s a shot in the dark really, building characters for players based on assumptions of what they may or may not like, but it was fun nonetheless.

    I read (and re-read) Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, but gave up on book 8 or so (after having read 1-6 about 4 times each). Based on how that series was moving, I will take your advice to steer clear of his Conan work under consideration. Thanks, and congratulations again on the selection!

  10. The Savage Sword collections are awesome. Most of them are converted Howard or L. Sprague de Camp stories, and the art is stunning. I have a number of them if you would like to read them Matt.

  11. I would love to borrow those. I’ve just got to finish reading a couple of other things first.

    I read 100 pages in a book yesterday. True story. Me read.

  12. Pingback: My Top 6 Gaming Moments of 2013 | Monkey In The Cage

Comments are closed.