New Conan GM Looking for Advice

As the subject line states I am a new GM to Conan, and the 2d20 system, but not to GMing. I was looking for any suggestions or advice other GMs of the game would be willing to share.

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I think the only thing that is really different is managing your Doom pool. You have to get a feeling for how much Doom you should save and how much you can spend. If I notice that my group has it too easy, I spend a few points of Doom to make life harder (but not unfair). Usually, I try to save at least 4 points of Doom for “emergencies”.

The thing I do most with Doom (aside from keeping enemies alive) is purchasing an additional d20 for skill tests. That is usually a good investment.

There is a whole lot you can do with Doom, so this is something to keep in mind. Other than that, I did not find GM’ing to be too far away from other systems (we played Savage Worlds before).

As a side note: I’m actually GM’ing Star Trek Adventures and not (yet) Conan, but the system is mostly the same.

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Aside from the Doom pool and those awesome storytelling mechanics that come with it, you have to have in mind also the following:

0, Mindset - Conan 2d20 is having number-crunching opportunities for those that are part roll-players, but also significantly encourage the roll-playing and it is supported by the mechanics - momentum, doom, fortune, something that is not that popular with the “trending” systems such as D&D. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box (Complications) and I found some people having difficulties with that.

  1. Momentum - this changes the pace and the way players interact. They can cover very hard tests rather easily or hack and slash to encounter that looks hard, even if you put whole your Doom pool into it. For example players have 3 ways to heal during encounter - Fortune Second Wind, Momentum Based Second Wind and… Recover action.

  2. Zones - the combat maps are now into zones and all those “well-known” ways to position around the battlefield, make choke-points and etc are not applicable in the same way as before. Zones and the way movement happens allows pretty easily for an enemy to cover the distance to the squishy players and hack them. Challenge for players and GM alike, because this works in reverse :slight_smile:

  3. Carousing - all annoying shopping, preparaitons for the next adventure, rumors gathering and etc. can happen in this phase, outside session or with reduced time during session. I love it and work with players outside game sessions to decide what they will do and at the start of the next session I recap the events, good or bad and we jump into the next adventure.

  4. The Harm mechanic - Wounds/Traumas are hard to heal during adventure and GM should have this in mind of the adventure has many scenes that does not allow proper time to heal a wound. Healing during scenes outside of downtime allows to temporary negate the negative effect, but if you get fresh wound all old are back into effect.

  5. Amount of enemies - much more enemies than other systems. The combat is still fast paced :slight_smile: Allowing PC to slash through mob and obliterate the enemy lines is priceless.


One thing that I do that adds fun to the game, is I periodically grab the Doom chips and move them around to make noise. It always gets a good response from my players. They know at some point things are going to get intense.


I find often players don’t remember the Success at a Cost/Voluntary Failure rules - often amazed by those options, so they don’t even think about them. I have to keep reminding them they exist - LOL!

Thanks for all of the information!