Tuesday 17 April 2012

Conan the Destroyer

Look, it’s really not that bad. Okay, okay, it IS a bad film. It’s no worse than many other early 80s fantasy movies, but that’s about a faint as praise gets. What Conan the Destroyer is, is a good D&D movie, a far better D&D movie than Conan the Barbarian.

In Conan the Destroyer we have a party of four PCs – two fighters, a thief, and a magic-user – on a quest, accompanied by two NPCs – a zero-level princess and another fighter. They travel across the wilderness, have a one or two encounters, and raid two ‘dungeons’. One is the home of an evil sorcerer with a set piece ‘trap room’ full of magic mirrors, the second is a lost temple from which they must recover an ancient artefact. The adventure culminates in a battle against a Lovecraftian minor ‘dreaming god’ in the throne room of a palace. If this was one of the X-series of modules it would totally ROCK! Honestly, it would be up there with Night’s Dark Terror. You just need to throw in a few more encounters in the ‘dungeons’, and to add a few more minor adventuresome locations in the wilderness and you have a fine mini-campaign with an old school feel.

Reading fantasy fiction and watching fantasy movies I am often inspired by even the worst. However, I always have to remind myself that a good game of D&D (or any other FRPG) shouldn’t try to be a recreation of a good film, or a good book. The worlds invented for films and books are not good worlds for gaming. They are there to tell one, and that story is one that is determined, written, fixed. Unless you are playing a game in which you know that the PCs are the Fellowship of the Ring, Titan is a far better gaming world than Middle Earth. If you know before you begin that the PCs are the Fellowship, then you know the story that you need to tell, and the dice you need to fudge to help them reach Mount Doom. If the aims and adventures of the PCs are to be determined through play, you need a world quite unrealistically full of adventure, a world that is probably quite unsuited to being the setting for any ‘serious’ fantasy fiction.


  1. Couldn't agree more with this sentiment. This must be why, with RPGs in mind, the more vague, boundless, sword & sorcery types of setting always appeal to me a lot more than Tolkien's or the like.

    Incidentally, I love the "party adventure" feel of Conan the Destroyer.

  2. Titan is a far better gaming world than Middle Earth.

    Well said!