#RPGaDay Day 23: Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?


Day 23: Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

There are a lot of beautiful RPGs out there and many whose layout and design have made me drool, but without a doubt, at the top of the heap, are the books coming out of Modiphius for Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of.


Clean, readable font choices, cool inserts and borders, spectacular art, and immersive content — Conan is an RPGers dream. While I may not be entirely sold on the system itself, the books are true works of art backed up by flawless design.


Everything about these books is attractive, from legibility to illustration, and the tables are distinct and pop off the page.


Modiphius have really gone above and beyond. Each book released so far have been tremendous works of art, but more importantly, well planned, laid out, and articulated.

If if you choose to not play the game, the books themselves are more than worth the investment.



#RPGaDay Day 19: Which RPG features the best writing?


Day 19: Which RPG features the best writing?

Doing game prep this morning so not a lot of time for today’s answer which is a bloody tough one. As far as a reading experience, beyond the nuts and bolts of it, I think Green Ronin’s A Song of Ice & Fire tickles my fancy the most, though Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of is closing fast. I need to live with that one a bit more.


Both captures the spirit of the IPs they honour. ASOI&F delves deep into George R.R. Martin’s lore and Conan treats Howard’s creation similarly, but Conan, I think goes a bit further, dancing on the edge of the fourth wall and really embracing Robert E. Howard every bit as much as they do the author’s Hyborian Age.

A toss up. Why not check out both and decide for yourself?


Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian


At long last, the core rulebook for Robert E Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of by Modiphius has see the light of day, at least in pdf form. In addition, another book, Conan: Jeweled Thrones of the Earth, has been released alongside it.

As a backer, this is exciting news. We’ve been poring over chapter releases for months, with incomplete art and typographical errors. It’s nice to see it in its completed glory, even as a collection of pixels on a computer monitor.

Some of the art is uneven and I sort of wish they’d have just buried Tim Truman in money for all the interior illustrations. His work really pops in this.

The core book is strong, with in depth character creation mechanics and a rich and erudite examination of the cultures and homelands that make up Howard’s Hyborian Age.


Jeweled Thrones is an adventure book that most gamers will find indispensable. They are compiled chiefly of thinly-veiled pastiches of actual Conan adventures which maintains the flavor if not the overt originality. I think this is a good move on Modiphus’ part. By making it hew as close to Two Gun as possible you establish the world as intended and train those less versed in Howard’s words.

Skilled Gamemasters will be able to take the reins from there.

The core book is priced at $24.99 with the adventure book coming in at only $10.99. I know some people balk at prices like these for pdfs, but believe me, this is money well spent.


While not originally a fan of the 2d20 system, it’s grown on me and I look forward to bringing the game to our Club.

I’m also excited to see the rest of the kickstarter material to be unveiled in the months ahead. There is a wealth of source books on the way, as well as dice, tiles, maps, and more.

It’s been a long time coming, but the wait is mostly over. The time of Conan is at hand.

Robert E Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of and Jeweled Thrones of the Earth can be purchased through DriveThruRpg

A #ConanRPG Character Sheet to tide you over

On Friday Modiphius surprised their kickstarter backers with a little taste of the Robert E. Howard’s Conan RPG.

Now we’ve already had a healthy sample via the Conan QuickStart Rules, available FREE on Drive-Thru RPG, but this was something a whole lot more —an actual chapter from the Conan Core Book.

But it wasn’t just any chapter…this was the chapter on Character Creation.

I’ve got to tell you, I think rolling up characters this weekend is the most fun I’ve ever had generating a player character. It’s well-rounded, with a lot of in-depth content that delves not only into the mental and physical aspects of the character, but their psyche as well.

This is good stuff.

Anyway, all that said and done, I decided a character record sheet was in order so I “borrowed” the stylistic elements of the recent Dungeons & Dragons 5e sheets and added some Conan Pre-Test record sheet influences.

Feel free to use it as you see fit:



And then Crom smiled upon us…

Wow. Modiphius just pulled off an unbelievable Kickstarter campaign for Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of RPG.

They raked in just shy of $630,000 from nearly 4,500 backers.

Conan, my dog brothers and sisters, is alive and well.

This was the first Kickstarter that the Oak Hill Dungeons & Dragons Club has taken part in. Conan was too good to pass up. So, for our roughly $90 pledge, what are we getting?

Treasures. Lots and lots of treasures.

For starters, there’s the Conan RPG Core Book in print and pdf, then there are pdf supplements of  Conan the Thief, Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Mercenary, Conan the Pirate, Conan the Brigand, Conan the Wanderer, Conan the Adventurer, Conan the Scout, Conan the King, Jeweled Thrones of the Earth Adventures, The Book of Skelos, Beasts of the Hyborian Age, Nameless Cults, Ancient Ruins & Cursed Cities, the Conan Board Game Sourcebook, a d20 to 2d20 Conversion Guide, and a bonus set of Mongoose’s Conan d20 RPG.


In addition to all that, there’s also a double-sided map of the Hyborian Age and the Brom cover art, a double-sided adventure map, digital wallpapers, a Form-fillable Character Sheet, Pre-generated Character Sheets in pdf of classic heroes including: Conan, Balthus, Zelata, Shevatas, Valeria, Khmesa, Olgerd, Old Gorm, Belit, Ageera, Nestor, Amalric, Hadrathus, Tananda, Taurus, Prospero, Strom, Yasmina, N’Yaga, Kherim Shah, Tutmekri, Baal-Pteor, Tascela, and Murilo.

3803344_origBut that’s not all. We also get Roll20 Support, an Online Character Generator & GM Tools Suite Apps, and a set of bonus adventures in pdf.

Oh, and a killer 20-sided Hit Location die.

So, that’s what, a hard cover (that most likely retails for $50), 17 Supplements and Sourcebooks in pdf, a whole other RPG with a myriad of sourcebooks, plus all the online goodies, and maps, and posters, and… well, I think you must agree, for $90 that is all one helluva value.

I don’t think this will be our last Kickstarter.

Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of

ROBERT E. HOWARD’S CONAN: ADVENTURES IN AN AGE UNDREAMED OF is an exciting new RPG currently being kickstarted by Modiphius.

Writers on the project include notable Howard scholars Jeffrey Shanks, Mark Finn, and Patrice Louinet, while the legendary artists brought in to add vision to their voice are a veritable who’s who in the fantasy field: Ken Kelly, Brom, Joe Jusko, Mark Schultz, Tomas Giorello, Cary Nord, Tim Truman, and a whole host of others.


The only names missing from the line-up are three giants that defined Howard’s Cimmerian artistically — Big John Buscema, Barry Windsor Smith, and, the pinnacle of fantasy art, Frank Frazetta. Granted, Frank and John have both passed on, but if it were my call, I would have licensed  some of their existing art to complete the circle.

Regardless, this RPG is, to put it mildly, amazing. What sells it to me, first and foremost, is the care in which they are adapting and honoring Robert E. Howard’s most famous creation.

By respecting the source material, they honour the legacy of who I consider to have been one of the greatest American authors to have ever put words on paper. Robert E. Howard was a brilliant storyteller and Conan of Cimmerian one of those lofty literary icons that transcends pop culture.

The Oak Hill Dungeons & Dragons Club are proud supporters of this Kickstarter. With but nine days left at the time of this writing, our pledge has already seen an amazing array of rule and source books unlocked, as well as other items of extreme interest, including a glorious map of the Hyborian Age.


I’m still holding out hope that we’ll cross the £300,000 mark, but if not, our money has already been more than well spent.

Look, I’ll be honest, I’m an old school gamer who is a diehard fan of the d20 system. Modiphius’ 2d20 system is alien to me. It’s probably alien to you. But if you’re on the fence as to whether you should help fund this project or not, trust me… if you don’t, you’ll regret it.

As far as I’m concerned this is essential for every Robert E. Howard fan out there.

Steven Shrewsbury’s Born of Swords Blog Tour stops by Dice Upon A Time


I am proud to host Steven Shrewsbury’s final stop on his Born of Swords Blog Tour. I’ve known Shrews about a dozen or so years now and I’ve been honored to call him a friend. Our mutual love for the writings of Robert E. Howard is what brings him here today as he shares his Top Ten Tales hammered from Howard’s Underwood No. 5…

Take it away, Steven.

When asked to talk some Robert E. Howard, or submit a list of my top ten favorite tales of him, I jumped at the chance. Funny thing, though, is picking just ten. My adoration of Howard goes deep into my youth, before I discovered more wicked things like Ellison, King or Barker. It touches in a time of my life when all I had knew for storytelling ran from audio recordings of TARZAN and THE BIBLE. I hadn’t yet pondered Wagner’s Kane, the tales of Wellman or figured out that the real horror in life was living it, but I digress. The tales of Howard always returned to me and I have went back to them repeatedly, in various stages of my maturity, enjoying them anew and encouraging more to return to such tales.

Only ten? Well, I’ll do my best. Bottom first.

Twilight of the Grey Gods: Clontarf, war and an appearance or two my Odin himself in this great tale. Dark figures, grim gods and lots of action told in a way anyone can relate to.

The Vultures of Wahpelton: a lesson on how to write a rip roaring western tale. Gritty and going for the throat, the best of his short western yarns.

The Foothalls Within: my favorite Solomon Kane story. The brooding Puritan adventurer discovers the real origin of his cat-headed staff…one I applaud and envy that I didn’t think up. So many of his SK stories are moody ones, evocative of the times…like most of his work set in another place.

The Shadow Kingdom: a quick paced tale of Kull, his lord of Atlantis, battling the serpent men. Conan didn’t exist yet and one could see the inner workings of Howard’s mind as the essence of the S&S adventure was being created.

Hour of the Dragon: Howard’s only Conan novel…and a good tale it is…not great, but very good. If Peter Jackson could make a Conan story, do this one: Resurrected mummys, wizards, cults, great army action, pretty gals, evil folks, mighty heroes and lots of Conan as a deposed King. A danged good yarn indeed.

Pigeons From Hell: King called this one of the best horror tales of the 20th Century, and I agree. The creepy images are still enough to give a grown man chills. When one considers Howard heard of suck tales at the feet of former slaves…wow.

Skullface: the opium dream horror tale is a real trip, um, yeah. His usual action man, this time a slave to the poppy and under the cowl of the eerie leper…dang, how did he come up with this stuff on pure air? The paranoid, angst filled first person delivery is tense and beautiful, if raw and broad.

Red Nails: one of the better Conan yarns, a tad racy for the day and still current as S&S tales go. I could write so many things about each tale, and how so many of the elements in this tale were brought in from portions of his life, for example…like the outfits gleaned from the Weimer Germany filthy rag TENDER BOTTOMS…and the portions edits seen as crass lesbianism in the 30s…such a bunch of things that created this one awesome tale.

Worms of the Earth: the best Ban Mak Morn tale, a certainly again, the basis for a killer film. Bran strikes a torrid deal for his people, the Picts, against the dreaded Romans. Certainly told well and full of all of the things that would make a REH tale kick ass and take names.

Marchers of Valhalla: I think this story, a long one, is all a passing fan needs to read of a REh S&S tale. Told as part of the genetic memory of a crippled man of the 20th Century, this tale of barbarians in north America in a pre-Columbian time is a joy to read. Action, anger, twisted folks and gods & goddesses…betrayal and revenge unto the end of a life…stunning images and unforgettable words, delivered like sledgehammers falling, over and over.

RUNNERS UP: Black Canaan, The Iron Man, A Witch Shall Be Born, The Black Stone, By This Axe I Rule, The Hoofed Thing, Casonetto’s Last Song, Valley of the Lost, Tower of the Elephant, The Black Bear Bites, Sword Woman, The Bladed Doom (El Borak!)

I could go on and on. His boxing tales are another breed, not for all but great fun & incredibly violent. The tales of El Borak…good night I could just keep going…and there he was writing on an old manual typewriter. He produced such a volume of works that are still read and gone over, and by the age of 30. Robert E. Howard shames me at my output. I bow to his greatness. I feel like I’ve been typing with my manhood all these years…he was and always will be the man.

Get out there and read these tales and more.

Hard to argue with that. Thanks Shrews. It was a pleasure to have you swing by and share this Howard Top Ten with us. Howard has been my favorite author since I was twelve years old. No one writes with as much fire or invokes as much atmosphere as ol’ Two-Gun.

No, my friends, it is my turn to encourage you to get yourselves out there and pick up a copy of Mr. Shrewsbury’s latest — Born of Swords. If you’re a fan of Howard in particular, or sword and sorcery in general, then this is a book you won’t want to miss

BornofSwordsCover_1200X800Deliverance will come… But that is another story.

What makes a legend but the stories told about him?

Interviewing Gorias La Gaul, the biggest legend of them all, is a dream come true for young scribe Jessica. Where other girls her age would swoon beneath the steely gaze of the warrior, Jessica only has eyes for his mouth, and the tales that come from it…when he takes a break from cursing or drinking.

Unfortunately for Jessica, Gorias doesn’t really have time to babysit. She’s found him in the midst of an annual pilgrimage of sorts, and though he agrees to let her come along, it’s not without a warning: You may not like what you see and hear. Just don’t come crying afterward.

Whether viewing past visions with magical gemstones or jumping into the fray alongside the barbarian, Jessica’s about to get firsthand accounts she won’t soon forget…and discover legends are far from reality, and just as far from being pretty.

You wouldn’t expect a youth of love and friendship from the greatest killer to walk the Earth, would you? These are tales of some of Gorias’ earliest days, back before he’d found his swords, to a time when a dragon needed killing. Tales back before his heart had hardened.


For most men, the future is not certain and the past is prologue. For a legend?

Born of Swords by Steven L. Shrewsbury is available online at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the author: Steven L. Shrewsbury lives, works and writes in rural Central Illinois. Over 365 of his short stories have been published in print or digital media since the late 80s. His novels include WITHIN, PHILISTINE, OVERKILL, HELL BILLY, BLOOD & STEEL, THRALL, STRONGER THAN DEATH, HAWG, TORMENTOR and GODFORSAKEN.

He has collaborated with other writers, like Brian Keene with KING OF THE BASTARDS, Peter Welmerink in BEDLAM UNLEASHED, Nate Southard in BAD MAGICK, Maurice Broaddus in the forthcoming BLACK SON RISING and Eric S. Brown in an untitled project.

He continues to search for brightness in this world, no matter where it chooses to hide.

You can find Shrews online at his author’s website or on facebook.