Conan! by E. Gary Gygax

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It is no secret that Gary Gygax was a huge fan of Robert E. Howard’s Conan. Reading this article, and subsequent ones as well, such as his review of the John Milius/Arnold Schwarzenegger film, you really get a sense of what an inspiration Howard’s Conan was to the creation of Dungeons & Dragons.

I found TSR and Mongoose’s attempts at a Conan RPG to be largely unfortunate. Both had things I liked, but ultimately they failed to capture the spirit of the source material.

I know that some of my fondest gaming experiences have come from loosely attempting to ape Howard’s style and reproduce it at the gaming table.

I’ve gotten away from that of late.

Dungeons & Dragons, at its core, was able to hew close to Howard story-wise, but it was the actual combat that always fell short.

Here’s to hoping Modiphius’ take scratches that itch. The 2d20 system seems to allow for the sort of kinetic, immersive combat that a Conan game needs, and with an impressive array of Howard scholars on board to steer the ship in the right direction, this just might be the perfect marriage of roleplay and combat that we’ve been looking for.

Time will, of course tell…

If you have trouble reading the above Dragon Magazine excerpt, here’s a pdf to peruse: Gygax Conan




Tonight is the first official meeting of The Bordermen Society, a somewhat newly formed Academy for the Study of Historical Northern European Martial Arts.

While I am, admittedly, a tad rusty, I am looking forward to getting back in the saddle, so to speak. I was heavily involved in HACA (Historical Armed Combat Association) in the mid-90s and I have been a lifelong sword enthusiast.

I am blessed to have two eager students and a great training facility where we’ll be able to cross swords earnestly.

Our primary focus will be the longsword, but over time I hope to incorporate knife fighting,  sword and shield, sword and axe, and Florentine-inspired sword and dagger/short sword.

“There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: ‘Not today’.”

DM Advice: Damn the Rules, Full Speed Ahead!

People are, unfortunately, predominately sheep. You see it in every facet of life. People are slaves to rules and mores. Oh, sure, they’ll cheat now and then, but by and large, they are comfortable within their little boxes, these artificial constructs.

It’s something that comes up often in gaming groups, this belief that because it is written in a rulebook it is somehow gospel spoken from on high.


I, as a DM, prefer to think of the rules as guidelines, with my judgement being the final word, because, frankly, sometimes the rules get in the way of telling a good story.

Thing is, the designers will more often than not agree with this assessment, but sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get your players to think outside the rulebook.

If you find this to be true at your gaming table, I suggest open discourse. Discuss the world you’re playing in, and more importantly, discuss the players’ ambitions and how they visualize their character.

Wherever a conflict arises with the rules, hammer it out, make them bend (but not break) to your will.

As Gary Gygax so famously put it, “The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don’t need any rules.


Roleplaying for me has always been about storytelling first. Everything else is a distant second. Nothing can put the brakes on narrative flow faster than rules nazis and rulebook dependent sheep.

DMs are shepherds. Keep the story flowing by limiting the time your tups and ewes spend with their noses in the books while at the table. You’re the referee. Make the call and press on.