Recovering Vigor and Resolve

I’ve noticed several examples of PC’s taking Vigor and Resolve damage outside of combat. What’s the point of this damage since it automatically recovers after a scene anyway? I get that the damage can cause Trauma and Wounds, but a lot of the examples cause very little damage, not enough to inflict wounds or trauma. Also, how does armor work against environmental damage like this? Some of the examples I’ve seen cause as little as 1 damage so it seems almost pointless.

It’s basically the same for spellcasting… outside of combat you can just keep on casting the whole day long.
My solution: stuff like that just causes fatigue instead of damage (mental fatigue is despair, if i remember correctly?). That also neatly sidesteps the issue of armor.
And it also keeps PC spellcasters from overdoing it in Combat, if just a little.

That is a weird thing, indeed. Maybe the authors of the respective adventures did not know the rules regarding regeneration of Vigor and Resolve?
In Infinity, you actually have to take action to get your Vigor and Resolve regenerated, not so in Conan, where you only need a few minutes to regain all of your Stress.

Usually, not. If environmental damage was of a type that armor could have an effect, like falling rocks or a hail storm, then armor could be applied.
But the majority of cases where outside of combat a damaging effect would occur is by causing Fatigue or Despair, not Vigor or Resolve damage.

Actually, Fatigue and Despair are VERY dangerous, so to be used sparingly by any GM, as they can easily make even tough characters into minion-like cannon fodder.

I never encountered a PC spellcaster “overdoing” their Sorcery spellcasting in combat due to them being able to muster up lots of Resolve which is easily regenerated.
Any spellcaster who “overdoes” the spellcasting will be struck by Complications a lot - as in “a lot a lot”.
That is the main balancing factor for sorcery in Conan 2d20, not the often quite low and manageable Resolve costs.

I’m considering a houserule where you don’t recover fully but may roll a D0 Resistance or Discipline check to recover 1 stress, plus one stress for every momentum spent. Other characters can aid with Healing or Counsel.

If it’s D0 players don’t need to roll. They can just get a baseline success. So without a restriction on how often they recover this doesn’t do anything as they can just take the automatic success, recover 1 stress and then repeat the next turn.

For that, you can also use the Infinity recovery rules. They are better suited to that sort of thing.

1 Like

I was thinking only once after each action scene and D0 only guarantees 1 stress healed.

I think this is very much an example of elements of the rules being developed separately and not meshing together well. Incremental damage over time works well in a game more like D&D where health is a resource to be managed or in some of the newer 2d20 games (like Fallout) where recovering works differently.

1 Like

How do they work?

Another thing to be wary of is that Conan has a death spiral once wounds/trauma start to take hold. Vigor/resolve is a barrier against that. When those two things become harder to recover, the death spiral looms larger.

By death spiral I mean that as characters take wounds/trauma then rolls to resist those things become harder, which means more wounds/trauma, which makes resisting even harder. Even a penalty of -1 for a single Harm makes Parry/Resistance much more difficult

I think the easiest way to address this issue is to have recovery have a cost of some nature - either in terms of resources or in terms of time.

Recovery in combat can take either/both - actions and momentum (and sometimes Fortune). Recovery out of combat, barring external factors that artificially make it harder, has no cost to it. Fixing that imbalance would probably do wonders.

1 Like

But it takes a long time for a character to gain a single wound, if he is combat optimized (if he is not, then no need for a death spiral, since in combat he is dead meat walking anyway).
You can sacrifice your shield to ignore the first hit that would give you a wound, than sacrifice armor (more than one piece if you are hit in different locations) and even if you gain one or more wounds, you can spend a single fortune point to ignore the penalties altogether.
So while the death spiral is true in theory, most enemies will be long dead before it can actually start to cost an optimized character even a single fortune point, at least in the games I have been in.

1 Like

Wonders? To what end?

To make the Conan rules less Sword&Sorcery and more D&D-like as a kind of “attrition warfare”?

Conan captures the resilience of Sword&Sorcery heroes quite well - the fast regeneration is part of that.

Not every character is an optimized “combat monster”. There is usually one in each group, but not every character is such a type - and what does not kill such a character, WILL kill the rest of the group.

I know, but that is the same in every rpg. But, as I’ve always stated, why have a combat if there is no challenge? Most combat optimized characters don’t even break a sweat when in combat, so why roll at all and not just declare the combat over with?
But if you want to challenge the “designated fighter” you need to pull out all of the stops. The rest of the party just needs to watch their backs and remember that running away, hiding, ranged combat etc. is always an option. Besides that, the ability to spend fortune points and the nature of wounds in Conan almost ensures that no PC will die unless the GM specifically kills him. Getting out of an adventure severly wounded but victorious makes for a better story than just merely strolling through and killing a few hundred mooks on the way. The latter is probably more visually satisfying, but not so much if it just means a few more dice rolls without much of a challenge.

I find Conan to be a lot like Shadowrun. As characters become more optimized, threats become less dangerous, so the GM increases the threat, which makes the optimized characters push further until anything that GM throws at the PC will slaughter anyone else. It’s like a weird arms race.

I find the best is to be clear that I don’t do that. NPCs are what they are. They don’t change to be a bigger threat, which means the combat monkey doesn’t need to be maxed out at everything and if they are then yes they will be bored. That’s the choice they made to take a bunch of specialization in a thing that’s not really needed.

1 Like

That’s a matter of taste. But I guess that if a player builds a combat optimized character, he wants to shine in that role, same as a crafter character wants his own opportunities to shine.
So as GM I want to grant that opportunity with fights that are actually dangerous. Otherwise, what is the point of breaking out the dice. The problem with the non-optimized characters is well known and almost as old as roleplaying games. Either they gang up on the minions and take care of them, freeing the fighter to concentrate on the big bad or they flee… but it is their decision.
As a GM I can honor that by having the big bad focus on the obvious threat. If the other PCs make themselves too noticeable… that is where the fun begins.

The problem I’ve found is that by doing so you end up pushing the wedge between combat optimized and not further and further apart. Most combat optimized players don’t do so to face danger and come out on top, they do so to dominate the combat and that is a huge, huge difference. A character can shine in a combat with a target number of 12 and a handful of Talents. More often than not though you get the character with the target of 16+ and all the Talents who swings for 10 damage with a bunch of qualities.

One of those you can deal with while still making the game challenging and fun for everyone, the other just starts an arms race because that type of player wants to be the best and as soon as they encounter a tougher opponent they start ramping up.

1 Like

In my experience, after a fairly long running Conan Campaign with a variety of player characters, I feel that the characters in Conan are more than competent enough to handle combat even if they are not specialized. Both me and my players have been surprised at how kick ■■■ their character has been, even those not really built for combat. I’ve managed to challenge them a few times using hordes of minions together with some tougher enemies with homebrew abilities, but only once was a character even close to dying. Note that our group are used to very lethal games having played a Rogue trader Campaign for almost 10 years and dabbled in some Call of Cthulhu and Twilight 2000, both games with a fairly high mortality rate and Conan seems like child’s play compared to those.

1 Like