Saturday, September 17, 2022

GURPS Conan: Beyond Thunder River playthrough session 2

I will play through GURPS Conan: Beyond Thunder River in short sessions until I've completed it.

I will run Conan of Cimmeria as written up in that supplement, as a 40-year old, 521-point character. I am using the 1st edition GURPS rules from my original boxed set, as written.

Session 1 can be found here.

Plot Words:

I left the ruins of the farm with Owen and Slasher. A few entry flips later I was unavoidably at the fort - so Slasher left. Pity. Owen, my new companion, presumably continues to come with me. Nothing says he always will, but equally nothing says I can ditch him. So he comes along.

Current Time is 6 pm. If it's 8 pm or later I need to flip to a specific entry.

I immediately leave the fort to scout around. I decide to circle the fort to check its defenses. I run into a officer of the Gundarmen named Julian. I "wouldn't trust him to command a latrine-digging squad." I need to make an IQ roll. I have a 12, and roll an 11. I've heard rumors about his Pict-looking mistress, his gambling habits, and his sword skills.

He talks badly about the fort, its leader, and its outcome. So I disagree with him. He gives the line from BtBR about barbarianism always triumphing. He talks of the Pict wizards being too powerful and the need to pull back from the current border. He wants to talk tomorrow.

Long story short, I roll 1d to add to the current time. 1. Current time is now 7 pm.

Back at the fort, I choose to talk to the Gatehouse guards. I overhear them talking about Zogar Sog, the Pict sorcerer, and how he got back Socratus, who wronged him. I can eavesdrop or walk in. Bah! Conan does not evesdrop. I go inside.

They talk about the men being lured out, so I ask about that. They call the lure "the loon" that only the doomed hear.

I ask if anything odd happened on shift, but they deny it. Roll 1d to add to the current time. 2. Current time is 9 pm.

Aha, nothing . . . "except for that fat fool" - Tiberias, the merchant. I grab a Gunderman gaurd and bring him with me (so no Owen) and rush out after Tiberias. Checking his stats, he could have a variety of weapons, so I choose randomly - 1-2 Pike, 3-4 Axe, 5-6 Halberd. I roll a 4, so Axe. Current time is 10 pm.

We hear a wild scream, and roll! 5. It's only a few minutes away. I can avoid the scream or run there. So I run there. I have a -3 to my rolls because of my previous roll. Ouch.

I roll 1d and add my Move, with a -3. I roll a 1, +8, -3 = 6. I have to roll for my companion, who gets a 1, as well, -3, Move 5 = 3. We're slow and blunder into a corpse.

It's Tiberius, killed by a forest devil according to me. I have the Plot Word TRIUMPHANT, which dictates my next page flip. I point out he was gashed by a claw and find a three-toed bird-like footprint. I can hide the body, or bring it with me. I bring it along. We make a litter and bring him.

Again, Plot Word dependent flips ensue.

A blinding flash erupts! IQ roll. I roll an 8 and succeed.

A forest devil has jumped us, but I can parry! Hurrah. (You'd think Danger Sense would have given a re-roll if I'd failed.) Oddly, it's a Quick Contest of my weapon skill vs. its DX. So, 19 vs. 16. I roll a 10 and make it by 9. It rolls a 13 and makes it by 3. My success and Plot Words dictate another flip.

It wasn't trying to attack me, but Tiberias's body. I dump the corpse and face off with the monster. My companion and I have to fight the swamp devil. If I come into physical contact with it, I have to do a page flip. I'm not sure if it means hitting it with my weapon . . . I'm assuming not, but I will have to check that entry to be sure. (Annoying, but it seems they mean touching it directly.)

Turn 1: It has Speed 12. It goes first, and does a Step and Attack. It has a 16 to hit . . . and I roll a 17! Whew. Lucky.
I swing at it with my broadsword, aiming for the head as usual. 19 -5 = 14. I roll a 13. It has PD 2 and Dodge 8, and can Retreat for a +3, for a 13. I roll an 8 and it Dodges. Gunderman moves up to the forest devil side, leaving a yard in between.

Turn 2: Forest devil. It does a Step and Attack and hits. Location is 2d = 8, body. I have PD 3 (1) for mail and Parry 9 or Dodge 8. I go with Dodge for the +3 and have an 8 + 3 + 3 = 14. I roll a 4! Hurrah! He goes to the Critical Miss Table; I roll a 10. Dropped weapon - unarmed means he takes 1d-3 damage to the claw. I roll a 1, and he has DR 1. No effect.
I swing at the head again, with a 14. I roll a 6 and hit. He Dodges with a 13 exactly. I step forward to follow.
My companion steps into range.

Turn 3: Forest devil steps and attacks me. A 13 hits, to the right leg. No PD there, so I have an 11 Dodge with Retreat. I roll a 10.
I attack again. I skip going for the head just because I'm annoyed, and swing for the body, and roll a 6 - this time it's a critical hit with my 19 skill. I roll 12 + 3 = 15 damage. It has DR 1, so it takes 14 cutting for 21 damage. It goes to -11 HP. It falls unconcious automatically at -1 HP, and rolls a 9 to not die.

Turn 4: It's out, so Conan and the Gunderman finish it off.

It bursts into flame and burns up.

We return to the fort, bearing the corpse of Tiberias.

I go talk to Valannus, the fort commander, after dumping the body with the gate guards.

I tell Valannus about Tiberias's death. He asks me to take a troop of men to go kill Zogar Sog. I turn him down . . . no, of course I don't. He probably orders you to do it if you do. I agree. I can take at most 8 people including me. Owen isn't a special option to bring, so he doesn't come. I can take Gunderman, Bossonian archers, or Scouts, or some of each. I go for the Scouts first.

I get to roll 2d-2 to see how many scouts would come. I get a +1. So 2d-1. I roll a 7, so 6 will come. That's 7 people including me. I check the stats of Bossonians and Gunderman and figure it's not worth taking one, because their Move and Stealth are lower. So I go with 7 of us.

That's where I'll end today. Too much to do besides game.


- I can't seem to find any rules for injuring an unarmed strike with a weapon parry. That might not be in 1st edition. I'll dig further.

- I forgot how fragile fighters are - stun is automatic on certain damage, lots of very easy to reach unconsciousness thresholds, and low defenses.

- Lots and lots and lots of page flips. Different plot words can potentially change this a lot, as do rolls - one option at the fort was coming back with Tiberias alive, for example.


  1. Man, I'm really liking those solo posts.

    1. Thanks! I'm enjoying the playthrough. Maybe I'll do the same with the others - Moon of Blood (which features mass combat), Wyrmslayer (a fun one in general, I've played it a lot), and Queen of the Black Coast. I own them all, so why not?

  2. "- I can't seem to find any rules for injuring an unarmed strike with a weapon parry. That might not be in 1st edition. I'll dig further.":

    It wasn't in 1e GURPS (Man to Man), it is in 2e. In Man to Man there is the chance of being injured if you parry a weapon using a bare-handed attack, but not the inverse.

    1. Thanks. That tracks with what I'm finding.
      To be pedantically clear, though - I'm using the 1986 GURPS Basic Set Book 2: Adventuring, not the Man-to-Man book, for my lookups. This adventure may have been written with 2e in mind - it came out in 1988 (the same year as 3e, actually) - but I played it with my 1e rules back in the day.

      GURPS Update was very confusing, because I didn't realize I'd missed an edition in between. Little things tripped us up, since we'd never had the update they were further updating. I didn't realize until later what had happened.

    2. "I'm using the 1986 GURPS Basic Set Book 2: Adventuring"

      Agh. I keep forgetting that exists! My bookstore went from Man to Man to having GURPS Basic Set Second Edition the next year, so I've always just associated "first edition" as Man to Man, despite a few people sayign "No there was a seperate first edition". I've never actually seen one.

      Okay, it's off to ebay/Thrifty Books for me to see if I can find a decent box set for sale... (I'm a "completionist" with GURPS books, especially rules books. I like being able to track changes in rules across editions to see how ideas shifted.)

      ALso, I now want to play through the Conans using 4e rules to see how the adventure design holds up against newer rules (just how important was Passive Defense versus the tweaked 4e defenses, for instance).

    3. I remember snapping up the Basic Set immediately when it came out. I think I may have technically gotten it as a Christmas present, but I grabbed it and bought it and then had to wait to open it. But I got it as soon as it came out, hence getting one of the rare 1st editions. It might be valuable if I'd kept it anything remotely resembling good condition. I did not.

      I think in 4e a lot would change - everyone would have higher defenses, so fights will last longer. Most will have higher HP, so fights will need more damage to finish. And most will have multiple rolls to stay conscious, which is not a 1st edition thing at all, so you won't have so many one-blow defeats. Conan will need to go for more body blows and less head shots - the classic Conan splitting a foe's skull - in order to use Deceptive Attack to overcome the +3 everyone will have against him. Also Block won't suck.

      I should run it with 2nd edition since it came out after that did, but I'd need to find GURPS Update and then try to back-construct what 2nd edition is.

    4. I purchased a First Ed boxed Set from Dragon's Treasure, in theory it's in 'adequate' condition except for the box having split corners, so we'll see when it get's here in a few weeks.

      It will be a third uncut Cardboard Heroes set I've got, but that's okay. Someday I'll cut one up to use it...


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