Conan RPG: Changing my mind about crunch

Like a lot of people, I’ve been gradually moving towards more rules-light #ttrpg systems over the years. My last few one shots were using things like Cairn, Knave, and the Cepheus Engine.

However, I just ran Modiphius’ Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of (which ain’t rules-light at all), and I’m starting to reconsider this position.

Sometimes the extra crunch…just works. Conan, like a lot of Modiphius games, uses their 2d20 system. Players roll two d20s, and try to roll below their skill level to get successes. A very low roll can get two successes. Different tasks need different numbers of success rolls to work.

If they roll very well, they can gain momentum points, which can be spent to create special effects (more damage, more information, etc.), or to add more d20s to a roll.

Adding to this complexity, characters have different talents that can alter the difficulties or results of certain tasks.

In combat, players roll special 6-sided damage dice that cause damage or special effects. Different kinds of weapons each have different traits and reach rules.

If all of this sounds complex, that’s because it is. Conan has more rules than the other 2d20 games (Star Trek, John Carter). I found that each of these bits added something useful. The weapons rules made things gritty & tactical, and the momentum rules kept things pulpy. The character creation rules (here’s a generator) really help in creating a backstory and setting a Hyborian Age mood. Keeping track of all of this was a bit more of an effort than I’m used to, but you do get something in return for that effort.

Admittedly, I ran it on Foundry VTT, which handles a lot of the rules for you, but I don’t think cutting away any of these rules would improve the gaming experience in any way..

I’m not giving up on my beloved rules-light games, but I may start playing around with some more complex systems (Mythras perhaps?)

If this keeps up, I’ll end up as a Rolemaster GM.

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