Too easy to succeed in combat?

Getting ready to run my first Conan game. My concern is that it seems too easy to succeed in combat. For example, I created a warrior that has an Agility of 11, and melee expertise of 3. So to succeed in a melee attack, I roll 2 d20’s, and only need 1 of those dice to be a 14 or less. I am very weak on probabilities, but I believe that means I have a 91% chance of succeeding.

Even if you have only a 6 in agility with no expertise you have a roughly a 50% percent chance to succeed.

I realize that once you start taking harm, the number of successes goes up, but for the initial attack it is almost a sure thing to hit.

Am I reading the rules correctly, or am I missing something?

Another question about effects: if I have a vicious 1 weapon, and on my damage roll I get 2 effects, does that mean I do 2 additional points of damage?
For example: my damage roll with a vicious 1 weapon is: 1, 4, 5, 5. That will equal a total of 5 points of damage, correct?

It’s a game where combat is going to be happening a lot if you’re aping the source materials. With that in mind, hitting shouldn’t be too hard unless the enemy uses a Parry (this applies when they swing at you too). A good parry can shut down an attack at the cost of Doom (spending for NPCs, building for PCs). Shields and armor also mitigate a simple hit, so you might need to get several successes to overcome their effects and make the attack meaningful.

You are correctly applying Vicious 1. It is +1 damage per Effect…

Characters should be expecring to hit most of the time.
The fun in combat comes from generating momentum and spending it making dynamic cinematic fight sequences.

This is how it differs from many other rpgs. Players should be doing pretty awesome stuff most of the time.


The mechanics for combat (success) are a bit more involved than just one success is a hit. The adversary then gets a chance to Parry your hit and if only one success this will require only one success of a Parry attempt to block your attack. The previous being said, PC’s usually have an advantage on almost all Skill tests unless they are battling a Nemesis or a Horror. Do not be surprised if the PC’s easily make short work of most encounters but my final battle usually has more balance and should challenge the party.

They get a chance to parry before any dice are rolled providing they are toughened+ and are not part of a squad.

But I agree short of attacking with multiple toughened+ per player you are going to have your players cut down the groups left and right, as is proper.

But if you drop 4 toughened on a single player, their first attack will probably kill the first 1, leaving 3. Even if they have riposte, by the time they get to the 3rd creature attacking them them are going to be spending doom to defend or simply not defending and risking a hit.

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Also, the system assumes that you as a GM will throw the environment and any other negative modifiers against the players for a more cinematic combat.


This is because, as with any good pulp adventure, a swordfight is more interesting if you’re also on a rope-bridge over an erupting volcano for some reason.

Dramatic, perilous, evocative locations are half the fun!


I second that!

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Solid answer and one all too easily forgotten!

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Couldn’t agree more. The most memorable fight I have run in game so far happened on a boat during a torrential down pour. Increased the difficulty by 2 for every action and greatly upped the tension of the moment.

It is very easy to succeed in conan combat. Personally I partially got around this with a mixture of adapting some Startrek momentum rules, nerfing some weapon qualities and limiting character creation a bit.

Even with environmental effects I was finding it nigh impossible to have a worthwhile fight with players who are used to optimising characters.

I love the system on a whole, but as written most combats take no resources and are better handwaved with a group like mine if no changes are made.

That depends entirely on what you put your players up against. It is definitely easy to win against the weaker enemies but the moment you start getting to some abilities that just straight up ignore some of the things that the players can do. Also, don’t forget to steal initiative now and then. Even the weaker foes are a threat when they don’t have to wait to go.

One of the reasons my players love this game is they rarely feel like “failures” because of a failed roll, be it skill check or hit roll (failures just aren’t that common). However, the thing that still makes combat so challenging is Doom spends and the all-important complication. It’s amazing to me how many “20’s” will come up, especially when players love to roll 3 or 4 d20’s! This, combined with great pulp-action locations, really turns the heat up on the players. Roll a 20 while fighting on that rope bridge? Sounds like one side of the bridge was just cut and now everyone is hanging on for dear life!