Tuesday, February 12, 2019

An Age Undreamed of With Jason Vey's Free OD&D Booklet Age of Conan For Your Old School Campaigns

"When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat, Under the caverned pyramids great Set coils asleep; When the world was young and men were weak, and the fiends of the ight walked free; I strove with Set by fire and steel and the juice of the upas-tree; What do I know of cultured ways, the gilt, the craft and the lie? -Robert E. Howard, “The Phoenix on the Sword” "

So I've been down in the workshop trying to get caught up on repair work & some thoughts about what the OSR means to me personally. One of the first things I ran across was Jason Vey's original Dungeons & Dragons hacks he did of Conan under his nom de plume of Grey Elf. 
Now Mr.Vey went out of his way to really create a very usable & versatile booklet in under fifty seven pages. There are a number of free resources on his page which I think you should check out.

But let's talk The Age of Conan which delivers exactly what it promises on the tin an actual & usable original Dungeons & Dragons Conan campaign. Everything here is spared down to the wire & it captures the whole of Conan's world quite well.. It does this by using & recommending certain books that while they seem interesting are wholly useful for running a Conan style Sword & Sorcery campaign;
1. The Age of Conan (You have it in your hands!) 2. Dungeons & Dragons, Tactical Studies Rules, 1975-79 3. Chainmail, Guidon Games/Tactical Studies Rules, 1971-79 4. Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods, & Heroes, Tactical Studies Rules, 1976-79

The following books and booklets are highly recommended for play 1. Supplement I: Greyhawk, Tactical Studies Rules, 1975-79 2. Supplement II: Blackmoor, Tactical Studies Rules, 1975-79 3. Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry, Tactical Studies Rules, 1976-79 4. Swords & Spells, Tactical Studies Rules, 1976-79 5. The Strategic Review, Issues 1 through 6 6. Return to the Road of Kings, Mongoose Publishing, 2007* 7. Conan Role Playing Game, TSR, inc., 1985*

I wrote all about using clerics but its really the material that's covered in the Age of Conan that set's off some of the most dangerous material that was lightly brushed over in the Gods, Demi Gods, & Heroes. But that Vey has brought to light with his great rules on magical corruption;
" Corruption The easiest way to track how many failed saves a sorcerer has, is to measure it in terms of levels of corruption. Whenever a sorcerer fails a corruption save, his level of corruption increases by one, and every five points of corruption applies a penalty to all future saves and ostensibly a slide in alignment. However, it is important to note that no matter what alignment with which a character begins play, the same number of failed saves are required to fall to the next level as would be required if she began play as good. Going from good to evil requires 15 failed saves—Five to go from good to unaligned, Five more from unaligned to balance, and Five more to go to evil. If a character begins play as unaligned, he still requires ten failed saves to go from unaligned to balance. Why? Just because a character starts off with lower or different morals from a human standpoint does not mean he is corrupted by sorcery. Characters who start off as unaligned still have corruption zero. They are just less likely to note the effects sorcery is having upon them until they rack up more corruption than a good character would. As in the first Age of Conan booklet, sorcerers begin to show physical (and metaphysical) effects of Corruption as they become more overwhelmed by the sorcery. For an excellent list of examples of Corruption effects, see Mongoose Publishing’s Conan Role playing Game."
This right here brings to light the very fact that wizards in a Sword & Sorcery game are at a strong disadvantage. They are playing & dancing with the forces of Chaos in a struggle of life & death for the very power of their own souls.

Savage Sword of Conan 141 cover artist  Bob Larkin 

 Age of Conan introduces a bard class which is the perfect PC foil for some of the horror bubbling under the surface of a Hyborian age game campaign. Jason Vey does a good solid job of getting across that while there may not be a world spanning war between Chaos & Law in Conan. There is certainly a whole other original Dungeons & Dragons black magick that can bring the pain to PC's. Age of Conan introduces who all kinds of dangerous & dire elements to throw at PC's in an age undreamed of !
Illustration for 'Conan the Usurper' paperback by Robert E. Howard artwork by Frank Frazetta available here. 

Jason's Vey's material from Age of Conan  could be used in a wide array of original Dungeons & Dragons  campaign & adventure applications. The corruption rules,the magic items, the NPC stats, & more could all be used to enhance an existing original Dungeons & Dragons campaign. This means that the dark & dire evil of the Hyboria age could appear in a wide variety of classic or OSR campaign settings. The rules of evil are exactly the sort of horror & weirdness that players long for. T
he fantastic literature's settings  of Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith are all done & PC's easily transported into worlds designed by you the DM & your players using Jason Vey's free OD&D booklet Age of Conan

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