The Exiles Sourcebook - A Constructive Analysis

I have purchased Conan 2d20 and The Exiles Sourcebook in the hope of creating my own campaign that will involve hexcrawl and crafting. The characters will start bare naked on a cross, lost in a land they do not know. I am creating my own hexmap using Worldographer instead of copying the map from the video game.

This said, I am running into a few hurdles as I read the rules of the Exiles sourcebook. I thought I would share them here and propose my own solutions, though I would be very happy to get a reply from whoever wrote parts of this book.

I will separate each hurdle as a different reply.

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Problem #1 - The Hex Resources Present table (p.62)

After creating my map with Worldographer, I created a huge Excel file to pre-generate the resources of each hex instead of rolling d20s manually. Treasure and Exotics resources were almost non-existent.

The rules say that the “gamemaster should roll 1d20 and multiply the result by the number listed for the Resource, rounding down. If the result is greater than 5, that Resource is present […]. If 5 or lower it is absent”

The Desert environment has a “1/4” written under Treasure. So I’m rolling the dice, get a 20, divide it by 4 and get 5. “If 5 or lower it is absent”. If I roll under 20, then it is also absent. So why is there even a “1/4” number in the table? Same thing for many resources like to know if there is metal in a forest, etc.

Solution: change the rules so that the resource is present if the result is greater than 4 and absent if 4 or lower. This is the equivalent of a 5% chance for that resource to be present. I am not sure yet if this is enough on a map for the players to craft specific items/buildings.

Problem #2 - The rules for gathering resources are not clear (p.58)

Gathering resources is crucial in a survival campaign with crafting but the rules in The Exiles Sourcebook are far from clear. Under “Obtaining Ingredients”, it starts by saying that it takes a day to gather/hunt and that each player can make a Survival (D1) test to gain 1 Ingredient + 1 per Momentum of Doom spent. All good so far. It goes on to say that the difficulty can be adjusted based on the “fecundity of the area” like D0 for an Oasis or D3 for a desert. The resources gained are random. “The hex crawl rules (59) lay out how to determine what goods they randomly discover in their search”.

Next paragraph, they explain how characters may opt to gather specific resources instead of getting random ones and setting a difficulty based on the resource/terrain like D5 to find Wood in the desert or D1 to find Stone in the desert.

Looking at the Talents in Chapter 1, we see wordings like “your test to harvest Wood” or “on a Survival test to gather Stone” so it does look like players have the option to search for “whatever they can find” or to search for a specific resource. I’m ok with that but why not state it clearly at the beginning of the section?

In practice. Day 1 in the desert. The characters are thirsty and starving but also want to get resources to build basic weapons like Clubs (wood). They decide to spend the day gathering resources so the DM asks each of the 4 players if they want to search for “whatever” or something else. 2 of them go for whatever, 1 for water, 1 for wood. The DM sets D3 for finding random resources in the desert, D4 to find Water, and D3 to find Wood. That’s how I understand it so far. The character that is looking for Water needs 4 Successes to find 1 Water Ingredient, just enough for he needs to consume in 1 day. Better hope he has Momentum to spend to get more and help his teammates!

There are 7 different Resources in the rules and 8 Environment if we exclude Waste and Settlement. Shouldn’t there be a table to list to difficulty of finding resources per environment? It’s something the players are likely to do every other day.

Solution: I’m still not sure if I am understanding the rules as intended by the writer(s), but I came up with my own table to set Difficulty. Comments welcome.

I’d simply make it 5+ for the resource to be present and 4 or less and it’s not. That way there is a chance to find things. The RAW means that anything with a 1/4 rating has no chance of being present which makes things much more difficult.

It doesn’t say anything about the resources being random, though you certainly could go that way. Personally for the sake of the story I would give them what I think would make the story good. If they look for something specific then they find the thing they think they need. In our games though we never had anyone just looking for whatever they could find. It was always to find something specific - food, water, metal etc.

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I would agree with Grendel here and forego randomness as much as possible. Instead I think I would spend that time considering potential rivals or encounters that might coincide with the recovery of those resources . . . The water is inhabited by crocodiles, the stone needed for mining homes an overgrown bear in the area, etc. Making it about the story will make your job easier that way as well. I might also consider trying to use (more . . . I struggled to use this . . .) failing forward results. I need to try and come up with this stuff beforehand because I am ■■■■ at it on the fly!

It would be much simpler and preferable that way but RAW does say resources are random (p.58):

The hex crawl rules (59) lay out how to determine what goods they randomly discover in their search. Should they be seeking a specific kind of Resource […]

I’ve been reading that section like 10 times. And the worst is that on the page 59 they mention, it only says how to determine randomly what resources are available in the hex, not how to determine which one they discover from their Survival test. Maybe it’s just poorly written.

How do you handle it? Ask the whole group what they are looking for or ask each character individually?

I do agree on the idea of making the result as an encounter like they are looking for Water and they end up finding an oasis but it’s guarded by a giant scorpion or something.

I just tell ask the group - what are you doing today? Keep it simple.

When we played we randomly generated what was in the hex but didn’t further randomize what folks found. However we also always had a specific need. You can waste time and food and water just wandering around kicking over rocks to see what you find but I expect most groups will be focused. “We need water” “We need Wood” etc.

We also modified the quarter day tracking method from Forbidden Lands (which is a much better hexploration base).

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Problem #3 - Weapons with Fragile 2

So I haven’t started my campaign yet, but I was looking at the weapons that can be crafted by brand new Exiles out of forage and wood. Many weapons have the Fragile quality and "some weapons like the Bone Club even have Fragile 2.

The Fragile quality described on page 152 of the Rulebook says:

These attacks can become less effective over time. For each Effect rolled, reduce the number of Combat Dice in the attack’s damage rating by 1 Combat Dice after the attack concludes. If this would reduce the number of Combat Dice to 0, then the attack cannot be used again until it has been replaced or replenished.

The only weapons with Fragile in the Rulebook are Lances and Javelins.

That means a character with a Bone Club (Combat Dice 3) and let’s say Brawn 10, will roll 5 Combat Dice. He scores 2 effects which reduces his next attack to 3 or 1 Combat Dice (not sure how to interpret Fragile 2). After 2-3 blows his weapon his useless and he needs to find resources and craft anew.

Am I getting this right? Pretty strong incentive to craft a Blacksmith’ Bench and upgrade to Iron weapons!

Samson tore through the Philistines with the jawbone of an (donkey) so Fragile 2 does seem really weak. (Even given the “player advantage” this game seems to have,) as a GM I just might bump up the starting dice, maybe even up to 5 if I was going to leave this as Fragile 2. In the example you give with 2 effects being rolled would mean a broken weapon on the initial hit! Probably best to just upgrade to iron weapons . . .