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Conan

(Original Howard version)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Pulps  writer R.E. Howard published his first Conan story in 1932. These tales became a major influence in fantasy stories during the XXth centuries. That was especially true after interest in Tolkien led to greater exposure for the weird tales of Howard, Leiber, etc..

This profile is solely based on Howard’s Conan. It doesn’t use material from later writers, from the comics, from the movies, from the lunch boxes, etc.. It portrays Conan about a year after the events in Hour of the Dragon.

This profile assumes a vague familiarity with Conan – it’s not a from-the-ground-up primer.


Background

  • Real Name: Conan the Cimmerian.
  • Marital Status: Married.
  • Known Relatives: Zenobia (wife), Conn (son).
  • Group Affiliation: The armed forces of numerous States and countless groups of bandits, pirates, and thieves (all former except for the Aquilonian military).
  • Base Of Operations: Aquilonia.
  • Height: 6’ 4” Weight: 200 lbs. Age: 46.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

Conan is bigger, stronger, tougher, and more than a match for any single human foe.

His sharp intellect has been trained only by necessity of surviving in the harsh clime in which he was born in and danger-fraught life he has chosen to live. Yet the quickness, agility, and clarity of his mind are exceeded only by the most remarkable minds that Hyborian civilization has produced.

He dominates all those he encounters in his adventures by the sheer force of his presence. To many he is the ideal man.

Mighty thews

Conan possesses mallet-like fists and steel-spring muscles knit to a keen brain with the coordination of a born fighting man. His catlike speed blurs the sight which tries to follow him. His fierce vitality is evident in each feature and motion and sets him apart from other men.

Having been bred in the wilderness, he is inured to discomfort and hardship. He is stronger, fleeter, and possesses keener senses than civilized men. His reflexes are set on a hair-trigger. All of which gives Conan the advantage in any situation.

Conan possess the fighting madness of his race. Furthermore, he has learned the art of war among the people of many different cultures and in every climate. Equally at home in the saddle or on the deck of a ship, a juggernaut in battle, strong, swift, and cunning, Conan is the ultimate warrior. He is the greatest fighting man in an era of hardened fighting men.


History

Conan was born on a battlefield. It was during a fight between his tribe and a horde of raiding Vanir in northwestern Cimmeria.

His grandfather was a member of a southern Cimmerian tribe. This man had fled from his own people due to a blood-feud. After long wanderings, he became the blacksmith for a tribe in the north. He had taken part in many raids into the Hyborian nations in his youth. Perhaps it was the tales he told of those softer countries which roused in Conan, as a child, a desire to see them.

Go South, young man

It is uncertain when Conan first encountered civilized people. It may have been when, at age 15, he took part in the sack of the Aquilonian border town of Vanarium between Cimmeria and Gunderland. Or he may have made a peaceable visit to some other border town before that.

At that time, though he was far from having attained his full growth. Still, Conan stood six feet tall and weighed 180 pounds.

His first excursion outside of the boundaries of Cimmeria occurred soon afterward. He spent some months among a tribe of the AEsir, fighting the Vanir and Hyperboreans. Conan developed a hate for the latter which lasted all his life and even affected his policies as King of Aquilonia.

Perhaps due to being worn down by a particularly fierce battle and then an encounter with Atali, the daughter of Ymir the frost giant, and two of her brothers the Hyperboreans captured Conan. He escaped southward through the wild mountains that separate the eastern Hyborian nations from the Turanian steppes. And thus, he came into Zamora at the age of 16.

Zamora

Eventually he made his way to Arenjun, the notorious Zamorian “City of Thieves”. Green to civilization and wholly lawless by nature, he found a niche for himself as a professional thief. Among this people, thievery was an art and honored calling. Being still very young and more daring than adroit, his progress in his new profession was at first slow.

During an attempt to pilfer the supremely valuable jewel called the Elephant’s Heart from the priest Yara’s Elephant Tower Conan encountered an extra-Tellurian called Yag-kosha, formerly Yogah of the planet Yag. The alien had been blinded and enslaved by his former pupil for over 300 years.

Conan granted the Elder Being’s request for the release of death. As a result, the mystic gem disappeared in an iridescent flash. With Yara’s stolen power fled the gleaming tower itself crumbled into shining shards. Conan left it empty handed.

Becoming fed up with the City of Thieves (and vice versa) Conan wandered westward to the capitol of Zamora, Shadizar the Wicked.

For a time, he was more successful in his thievery than in Arenjun. Yet, the women of Shadizar quickly relieved him of his gains in return for initiating him into the arts of love. Rumors of treasure sent him out of the city just ahead of the squad sent to arrest him. But he and his pursuers faced giant undead warriors and other menaces in the ruins of Larsha.

Go Northwest, young man

Conan’s grim adventures in Zamora left him with an aversion to the sorcery of the East. He fled northwest through Corinthia into Nemedia, the second most powerful Hyborian kingdom after Aquilonia. In the city of Numalia, he resumes his professional activities as a thief.

After a taste of civilized intrigue, it became clear to Conan that there is no essential difference between the motives of the palace and those of the Rats’ Den. However, the pickings are better in higher places. With his own horse under him and a grubstake, the Cimmerian set out to look over the civilized world, with an eye to making it his oyster.

Growing somewhat disillusioned about the possibility of avoiding supernatural obstacles to the orderly pursuit of his calling, and having made Nemedia much too hot to hold him, Conan drifted south again into Corinthia. There, in one of the small city-states making up that country, he became a mercenary soldier under one of the many roving generals of that time.

He did not find military service congenial at first, being too self-willed and hot-tempered to submit easily to discipline. But he fared well and learned much of the art of civilized war among the Hyborian kingdoms.

Mercenary and pirate

The Road of Kings, which winds through the Hyborian kingdoms, at last led him eastward into Turan. There he took service in the armies of King Yildiz. Being at this time an indifferent horseman and archer, in a force of which the mounted bowman is the mainstay, he was relegated to a low-paid, irregular unit.

Conan remained in Turanian service for some time. He became an expert horseman and archer and travelled over the immense deserts, mountains, and jungles of Hyrkania, as far as the borders of Khitai.

During a lull in the wars, he returned for a short time to his native Cimmeria. But the love of adventure again drew him south. He continued to prosper as a soldier, finally arriving in the seacoast kingdom of Argos. There a brush with the law forced him to ship with a coastwise trader, southward bound.

Off the coasts of Kush the ship was boarded by black corsairs under the Shemitish she-devil, Bêlit. Conan joined her crew, became her consort, and for a long time they harried the Hyborian and Stygian ports. During this stage of his career, Conan gained the name of Amra, the Lion, which was to follow him throughout his later life, especially among Black folks.

He became quite familiar with some of the more southerly Kushite kingdoms to conduct raids for slaves and on traders. When, at length, Bêlit was killed by the last survivor of an ancient race of winged men, Conan was left afoot somewhere on the southern coasts of Kush. Bêlit has been the first great love of Conan’s life, and he would not follow the sea again for some time to come.

Bêlit lost

Penniless after his long trek north through the black kingdoms, where his reputation as Amra stood him in good stead, Conan reentered mercenary service in the western nations.

He worked up to the position of captain under Amalric, the Nemedian. Amalric had hired out to fight the battles of Yasmela, the queen-regent of the little border kingdom of Khoraja. Her brother, King Khossus, was the captive of the penurious King Amalrus of Ophir. Strabonus of Koth, with other enemies, was eager to reabsorb Khoraja into his empire.

Conan was chosen by chance to lead Yasmela’s defense against an attack from the south. There he had what may be his first brush with high-power sorcery, as dealt out by the resurrected Thugra Khotan of Kuthchemes. He won the war and the queen.

However, his pride refused to let him be “Mister Queen” to any woman. Therefore, he dropped out of sight again, to return for a short time to Cimmeria and possible skirmishes with the northern tribes. These included his old enemies the Hyperboreans.

Free Companions and kozaks

Conan’s life as a corsair and a mercenary stirred the spirit of fighting and rich plunder in his blood. Thus, when he heard of war in the south, he returned to the Hyborian kingdoms.

A rebel prince of Koth was fighting to overthrow Strabonus. Conan and many of his ilk enlisted in the rebel army. Unfortunately the prince made peace with Strabonus. As a result Conan, with his fellow mercenaries, was thrown out of work. They were reduced more or less to the level of an outlaw.

Banded together as the Free Companions, they harried the borders of Koth, Zamora, and Turan. The lot finally gravitated to the steppes west of the Sea of Vilayet, where a ruffian band known as the kozaks had been building itself up over a period of many years.

Becoming their leader, Conan ravaged the outposts of the Turanian empire. That lasted until King Yildiz sent out a small force under Shah Amurath, who routed the kozaks for the time being.

Escaping, Conan joined the Vilayet pirates for a time. But upon finding his kozaks scattered, he left them and worked west again into the border states. Meanwhile, King Yildiz of Turan died or was deposed. His successor, Yezdigerd, was embarking on a program of imperialism which was to make him master of the greatest empire on Earth.

Among the Khauran and to Ophir

After minor adventures, Conan became captain of the royal guard in the frontier kingdom of Khauran, on the eastern edge of Koth. But Taramis, the queen of Khauran, was overthrown by her sorceress sister.

Conan’s life was saved by a former kozak companion, Olgerd Vladislov. Valdislov had become chief of the Zuagir tribesmen of the desert after the breakup of the kozaks. Conan promptly deposed him, rallied Taramis’ adherents to revolt, and retook the kingdom. Yet he chose to remain with the Zuagirs as their chief.

A year or more later, tiring of the desert life, he left them. Conan travelled far to the south in the city of Zamboula, the western-most outpost of Yezdigerd’s growing empire.

Here, after rescuing the Turanian satrap, Jungir Khan, from the magic of a priest of Hanuman, he stole the satrap’s ring. Then he headed north and west for Ophir, where the queen would redeem it for a sizable reward if no better market offered.

Whether Conan reached Ophir and redeemed his gem, or lost it to some thief along the road, there is no record. In any case, the proceeds could not have lasted him long. Perhaps he paid another short visit to Cimmeria.

Kozaks reunited

Then, moving east after his welcome had worn off, he heard that the kozaks had regained their old vim and vigor. They were making Yezdigerd’s life as miserable as possible. Arriving among them with nothing but his sword, and finding a few old friends who remember his former leadership, he cut his way through whatever opposition materialized and became their leader again.

His old friends the pirates were hand in glove with the kozaks. Between them they succeeded in making King Yezdigerd’s position very uncomfortable. Efforts to trap him failed, and he managed to build up the kozaks into a pretty formidable gang.

But Conan then decided to adventure southeastward, to the borders of Vendhya. Here, as war-chief of the Afghuli tribesmen in the foothills of the Himelias, he seriously annoyed both the Vendhyans and Yezdigerd’s frontier-breakers. These were busily carrying out the Turanian king’s policy of expansion on the southeastern frontier.

He thwarted one plot to defeat the Devi of Vendhya, on the part of a group of sorcerers linked with the Turanians. Conan made her eat dirt before he left his Afghulis to return to the kozaks.

Then came big wars in the west. Almuric, prince of Koth, again rebelled against the unpopular King Strabonus. This time, he had enough backing to garner an army from far and wide. Conan found that most of his kozaks, ex-mercenaries like himself, had scented loot. Thus, they joined in on one side or the other. Conan followed suit, signing up with his old employer Amalrus.

The rebel cause failed. Amalrus and his army were driven south, cutting their way through Shem and Stygia into the grasslands of Kush. There they were wiped out by the combined black and Stygian forces at the edge of the southern desert.

A sailor’s life for me

Escaping with Natala, a Brythunian camp-follower, Conan headed into the desert. After a short session with magic at the forgotten city of Xuthal, he reached the southern grasslands of the black kingdoms, where he was known of old. Making his way to the coast, he was picked up by Barachan pirates. And thus Conan went back to the sea for his living.

For a considerable length of time, Conan remained one of the Barachan pirates. But the organization of the various bands was rather loose, and Conan found little opportunity for one even with his background to gain a high position.

He slipped out of a tight spot and was valiantly swimming the ocean when he was picked up by the Zingaran buccaneer, Zaporavo. Conan promptly deposed him, taking over the Zingaran’s mistress, Sancha, with his ship and his crew for a long voyage to the south and west.

Returning after an unpleasant brush with black magic on an unknown isle, Conan was for a while highly successful as a buccaneer. But other Zingaran ships brought him down off the coasts of Shem, and he was forced to escape inland.

Valeria

Hearing that wars were in the offing along the borders of Stygia, Conan joined the Free Companions, a seemingly generic name for mercenary companies, under Zarallo. Dispatched to the post at Sukhmet, on the frontier between Stygia and Darfar, he grew weary of black men and women.

When Valeria, a woman pirate who had joined the Brotherhood, leaves the camp and heads south, Conan followed her. They went into the black kingdoms far to the south of Stygia and Kush. Here another brush with a lost race in the jungle city of Xuchotl left them stranded in the wilderness on their way west to the more familiar kingdoms where Conan was known.

Somewhere Conan was separated from Valeria. Hearing of the fabulous Teeth of Gwahlur, legendary jewels hidden somewhere in the black kingdom of Keshan, he signed up as a trainer for Keshan’s armies.

Losing the jewels, he went over to the neighboring kingdom of Punt to see how much he could make at simple swindling. From there he made it to the trade-centers of Zembabwe, and via various caravans northward into Turan and the Hyborian realms.

King Conan

After another trip home to Cimmeria, Conan enlisted as a scout in Conajohara, on the Aquilonian border. There, a fierce war with the Picts was in progress. But Numedides of Aquilonia was a feeble sort of king.

Thus, when the border barons revolted against his injustices and his handling of the Pictish wars, Conan seized his chance. He killed Numedides on his throne and becoming the king of Aquilonia.

As King of Aquilonia, Conan’s life was no bed of houris. His first major conflict was a civil war in which an attempt was made to put an Aquilonian king on the throne. This was followed by a plot between Amalrus of Ophir and Strabonus of Koth, in which both enemy kings lost their lives.

Throughout this battling to hold his throne, Count Trocero of Poitain and his general, Prospero, remained faithful to Conan.

The greatest threat to his kingdom came when Nemedia actually succeeded in deposing him for a time. But Conan overcame hostile sorcery to return and regain his kingdom and the loyalty of his people.

The throne of Aquilonia

His career from this point, with the more important of the barons, led by Trocero, solidly behind him, was relatively smoother. Howbeit there were more wars, both of defense and aggression – probably a brush with Turan as the two empires became more and more rivals.

During his life as king, Conan frequently traveled into far corners of the world. He saw Khitai and Hyrkania, and the regions beyond, and even to a nameless continent in the western hemisphere. At the time of the Nemedian war, he had no heirs, and no queen. But afterward he gave that honor to Zenobia, the girl who helped him in his escape from Nemedia.

At this point he had still a long and adventurous career before him, as king of Aquilonia and as a wanderer over the face of the Earth. How far he spread the bounds of Aquilonia, or where his career finally ended, not even legend tells. But it is known that the Hyborian Age ended approximately five hundred years after Conan’s time.


Description

Almost a giant in stature, Conan is mightily shouldered and deep of chest, with a massive corded neck and heavily muscled limbs. His powerful frame has been burned brown by the sun and his dark, scarred, almost sinister countenance and low, broad forehead is framed by a shoulder-length, square-cut mane of tousled black hair just beginning to grey.

His volcanic blue eyes smolder as if with some inner fire.


Personality

Not all men seek rest and peace. Some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood, restless harbingers of violence and bloodshed, knowing no other path. Such a man is Conan the Cimmerian.

Unlike most men he isn’t shackled to a drab, routine existence. Rather, he is free to wander and seek adventure in a fascinating world brimming with excitement and exotic wonders. He is a man of gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth. In short, Conan is what most men wants to be.

The barbarian

Though Conan has spent years among the great cities of the world he is no less the barbarian. As such, he is concerned only with the naked fundamentals of life. He is fond of women and strong drink. The warm intimacies of small, kindly things, the sentiments and delicious trivialities that make up so much civilized men’s lives are meaningless to him.

Bloodshed and violence are the natural elements of the life Conan knows. He cannot, and will never, understand the little things that are so dear to civilized men and women. He has squatted for hours in the courtyards of the philosophers, listening to the arguments of theologians and teachers. Conan came away sure of only one thing, and that, that they were all mad.

Conan is a man of his word and therefore an honorable man. But he alone determines his ethics. His behavior is not subject to the laws and customs of civilized society or the will of any God. Staying true to his own code, the values of the status quo mean nothing to him. He fights for the joy of combat and steals for personal gain.

Conan is perhaps the first existential anti-hero in American popular culture and exemplifies both Nietzsche’s superman and Howard’s own views of the superiority of barbarism to civilization.


Quotes

“I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, and the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this; if life is an illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”

“Crom, Ymir, and Mitra ! Gods and devils, could I but reach the fighting, if but to die at the first blow !”


DC Universe History

Howard’s Hyborian Age can be inserted after the sinking of DC’s Atlantis. While it is possible that Vandal Savage was alive during this period it is highly unlikely that Conan and he crossed paths as Savage is still alive today.

An encounter with Rip Hunter is possible. It could lead to the savage Cimmerian traveling to modern times where your heroes will have to attempt to deal with him without losing body parts or their very lives.

Conan also could have been displaced to modern times during the Crisis. Or one of the Anti-Monitor’s towers could have been located in the Hyborian Age where the savage Cimmerian would fight alongside the heroes sent to destroy it.

Since the Guardians made the mistake that is G’nort then perhaps Mopee, in his form as Giffen, could bestow Green Lantern status upon Conan. The ultimate warrior with the ultimate weapon. While I personally would not like to see the campaign where this scenario could take place it would still have to be better than Kyle Crabface.

Conan the Thanagarian, part 1

Conan and Bêlit may have happened across a Thanagarian scout ship that had landed on the coast of Kush. Since beings with wings were almost invariably degenerate and evil in Conan’s experience and these also possessed hideous avian heads the steel-thewed barbarian immediately attacked. Before the alien visitors could so much as raise a weapon he had slain them.

An examination of the corpses revealed the bird visages to be headgear of some sort. Thus, Conan and his pirate crew searched the ship reasoning that these strange folk must have riches of some sort in their metal shelter.

During this examination Conan stumbled upon the absorbatron. He accidentally activated it thereby gaining the knowledge of every sentient being on the planet. That included those Thanagarians who hadn’t yet succumbed to their mortal wounds.

Taking a sample of Nth metal from the engines, Conan used his newfound skills and those learned from his blacksmith father to forge the extra-Tellurian metal into a sword of incredible potency. Beginning with his lover Bêlit and her crew Conan began recruiting and training an ever-expanding force with the knowledge of Thanagar contained in the ship’s computers.

Conan the Thanagarian, part 2

Then he began to build a global empire from giant floating citadels. These would eventually grow into full-fledged cities. Soon he had built and manned an armada of ships based on Thanagarian designs. He began the brutal subjugation of alien species, adding their planets to what was becoming a star-spanning empire.

As he grew older, Conan increasingly felt the urge to again engage in the thrill of battle as he had in his youth. Taking one small ship and a handful of trusted companions the aged monarch left for a distant, untamed star called Sol. He was never heard of again.

His once mighty empire began to grow decadent. In time they made diplomatic contact with the third planet of the Sol system and even participated in a coordinated invasion of it but were repulsed.

Not long ago a tall, muscular man named Bob Howard was in a museum and came across a display of antique weaponry. One item, a sword, seemed to stir long forgotten memories in the young writer. As he stood there he began to recall an earlier life as the fierce barbarian turned galactic despot named Conan.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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King Conan

Dex: 09 Str: 05 Bod: 06 Motivation: Anti-Heroic Thrill of Adventure
Int: 08 Wil: 09 Min: 10 Occupation: King of Aquilonia, former adventurer.
Inf: 08 Aur: 08 Spi: 12 Resources {or Wealth}: 015
Init: 029 HP: 100

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing) 10, Animal Handling (Riding)*: 09, Charisma: 10, Martial Artist: 07, Military Science (Danger Recognition, Field Command, Tracking): 10, Thief (Escape Artist): 05, Thief (Stealth)*: 09, Vehicles (water)*: 09, Weaponry (melee): 10, Weaponry (missile)*: 09

Advantages:
Attractive, Credentials (King of Aquilonia), Iron Nerves, Language (Aquilonian, Corinthian, Cimmerian, Nemedian, Pictish, Turanian, Zamorian, Zingaran), Leadership, Lightning Reflexes, Local Hero (Aquilonia), Scholar (Languages), Stabilization.

Drawbacks:
Dependant (Zenobia, wife), Dependant (Conan aka Conn, son), MIH (Hyperboreans).

Equipment:

  • Dagger [BODY 05, EV 03 (06 w/STR, 08 w/Martial Artist)].
  • Broadsword [BODY 06, EV 04 (06 w/STR, 08 w/Martial Artist)].
  • Two-Handed Great Sword [BODY 06, EV 05 (06 w/STR, 08 w/Martial Artist)].
  • Bow [BODY 03 STR 06, R# 5, Str of bow is its range], Arrows (x12) [BODY 01, EV 03].
  • CHAINMAIL HAUBERK [BODY 04, Skin armor: 02, Limitation: Skin armor only vs. slashing attacks, Partial coverage (vest)].
  • BLACK PLATE MAIL WITH VISORED SALADE [BODY 04, Skin armor: 02].
  • Horses (see our animals file for stats).

    Pre-King Conan

    To represent Conan during most of his career make the following changes:

    Occupation: Adventurer and sometime thief, pirate, mercenary, and raider.

    Wealth: 004

    HP: 75

    No Credentials or Dependants.

    Marital Status: Single.

    Known Relatives: None.

    Base Of Operations: Mobile.

By Jay Myers.

Helper(s): Peter S. Piispanen, Eric Langendorff, Sébastien Andrivet. The Starmont Reader’s Guide #35 by Marc A. Cerasini and Charles Hoffman provided many good quotations from Howard’s letters and is itself heavily quoted in the Personality section and occasionally elsewhere.
History is largely from A Probable Outline of Conan’s Career by P.Schuyler Miller and Dr. John D. Clark. This was back-uped from the now defunct http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/6570/career.txt.

Source of Character: The Conan yarns of Robert Ervin Howard.

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