Thursday, February 25, 2016

Conan RPG Kickstarter

I've tried --mostly with success-- to avoid backing Kickstarters, chiefly because I am risk averse and also because I am more of a "retail customer" end-product kind of guy. A game which sounds awesome on Kickstarter today may not be so cool or interesting when finally released 13 months later. The same principle guides the pre-order mentality with video games, but with the only risk being the pre-ordered game will turn out to be awful on release; with Kickstarter you have to also worry that the game will release at all.

I'll make an exception for Modiphius's Conan RPG, however. First, Modiphius doesn't just mess around....this is unexpectedly probably one of the leading print-release publishers out there, with books rivalling and exceeding the quality of big boys like FFE and WotC. Plus: they've got the Conan licence, and Conan (Howard, really) remains my single most inspirational resource and fan-favorite source of swords & sorcery fiction. I've got all of the Conan books, both original in pastiche, in multiple editions. I both appreciate the original unedited Howard and also love the various eras his fiction went through, from the period in which de Camp and Carter revived the works and tried to apply a timeline to Conan's adventures to the Tor era of endless 80's era adventures of quality ranging from amazing to tepid. I also had an opportunity to write some of the sourcebooks for the prior iteration of the game (Tales of the Black kingdoms and volumes 2 and 3 of Messantia Adventures), but it was a version done by Mongoose Publishing, which has a reputation for products of mixed quality, especially in editing and consistency.  Conan has long been overdue for a new edition, in other words.

Anyway....I'm tentatively in at the Hoard of Yezdigerd level. I would never back that much (approximately $431 US) print core plus all PDFs level (about $81--changed my mind due to some dental work my son needs; dentist informed us he has weak enamel, and multiple forming cavities...this is, alas, a problem that plague's my wife's side of the family so I guess he got the bad teeth genes).

If I hadn't already seen Modiphius hit it out the park for so many other books, and I want all the print stuff for Conan I can get my hands on.


  1. The system does not strike me as my cup of tea, though I may give the quick start adventure a try someday.

    The books should be beautiful, given the artists that they have lined up. And the setting should be well described. But I think I'll wait for the book to be published before I spend any money on it.

    Also, I'm a bit annoyed that there is a 'license' to refer to REH's Conan and related works. All that *should* be public domain now. (IANAL, but I have no idea how it couldn't be public domain now, given that REH died in 1936.)

    1. On licencing...I think that starts with whatever went on with Glen Lord and gets messier from there (especially when Marvel and Stan Lee gets in to the mix later on). Howard's original works are in public domain so far as I can tell, at least if the proliferation of cheap copies on ebook stores like Kindle and Nook are anything to go by. My guess though is that the IP owners must have this locked down tight, as unlike Lovecraft I don't see any proliferation of derivative works floating around at all.

      I actually have no opinion of the system right now....I just want it for all the glorious Hyborian text and art. If I actually end up running it then even better, but for me it's about the subject and collector's desire.

    2. As a follow-up: I think Howard's works are public domain now, but I think the "IP of Conan" is not. So reprinting his works? No problem. Writing something new based on them? That's where the monolithic Conan Properties and associated entities come crashing down. Just guessing, though. It could just be the case that no one's tried, or that Modiphius just wants to do this as an official work and not a derivative.