[IaWA] Help me create a Conan Oracle

edited February 2008 in Make Stuff!
After playing several chapters of In a Wicked Age at the Story Games lounge in Conquest, I've been inspired to create an Oracle of images from the original Robert E Howard Conan stories. So far, I've got 20 or so. Here are some examples:
  • A group of conspirators, at the cusp of great action, with doubters who must be persuaded or coerced.
  • A fleeing woman, whose brother has been fed to jackals.
  • A pirate queen, worshiped by her crew of jungle savages.
  • The inhabitants of a lost city, degenerate and fallen from the glory of their past.
Two hundred or more entries is a lot of work, especially if I'm consulting the stories for images.
I invite you to help. Post contributions here and I will compile, edit, and distribute the new oracle when it's done.
If you want to participate, you'll need:

1) Familiarity with In a Wicked Age. (http://www.lumpley.com/wicked.html)

2) Access to some or all of the Conan stories authored by Robert Howard.

Please do post entries derived from the stories that Howard himself wrote. I ask that you don't post entries from any other source. (Click here for a list of Howard's Conan stories. )

My method has been to flip through my story collection, pick a passage at random, and convert it to an oracle entry. Of course, when I get a memory flash, I use those too.

Between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was a Wicked Age undreamed of....


  • edited February 2008

    There are major spoilers for Conan stories sprinkled through these elements so if you haven't read them and ever want to enjoy doing so "from clean start", best to avoid this thread!

    With 208 entries needed, need more per story of course since there are 17 original stories, 4 published after his death, 4 fragments (according to wikipedia). So each story needs to create around 10 entries.

    how about

    o A fortunate encounter between warriors, each far from home and strangers to the land.
    o An ill-advised colonial outpost bordering the lands of savages.
    o The last living man from among those named in a sorcerer's curse.
    o A sorcerer and his monstrous half brother, both children of an ancient god of blood and claw.
    o A dog hunting its owners' killers.
    o A demon lusting for the taste of blood, able to mimic the voices of those it hears.
    o Drums talking of doom from across the river.
    o The company of woodsmen who keep alive a fort's regular soldiers.
    o The wives and children of soldiers feeling an invasion.
    o A vial of venom that inflicts madness and death.

    All from/inspired by "Beyond the Black River"

    o Rival hunters after a mysterious treasure.
    o A clever tongued emissary asking only one favour in exchange for an advantageous alliance.
    o A corrupt priest and his plan to falsify an oracle's pronouncement.
    o A terrified dancing girl forced to play the part of a goddess.
    o Tribesmen being cheated by a bold warrior with the slavegirl he saved.
    o The choice of saving the jewels or the woman.

    All from/inspired by "Jewels of Gwalhur".

  • From the Tower of the Elephant

    o The jewel that is source of a high priest's sorerous power.
    o A slaver bragging of the woman he has captured to satisfy debauched buyers.
    o The tavern thrust suddenly into darkness as foolish words give way to bloody deeds.
    o The immortal survivor of an ancient star-born race, hungering for death.
    o The death of a comrade to a vengeful warrior, skilled in stealth.
    o A spider-monster waiting for unsuspecting prey.
    o A king who hides in wine from the evil that grows in his kingdom.
    o A stern god who sends forth dooms and death from atop his cold mountain.

  • edited February 2008
    I have nothing to add other than: whoa Rob, those rule. I need to pull out my Conan books when I get home and give this a try.
  • I've never read any Conan, but I know Rob, so I can at least confirm: Rob is awesome.
  • Here's what I've come up with so far. Not sorted by story, I'm afraid, because my method of selecting pages has been random.
    • A group of conspirators, at the cusp of great action, with doubters who must be persuaded or coerced.
    • A fleeing woman, whose brother has been fed to jackals.
    • A pirate queen, worshipped by her crew of jungle savages.
    • The inhabitants of a lost city, degenerate and fallen from the glory of their past.
    • Isolated clans, locked in a blood feud.
    • A revenant necromancer, from an evil empire long dust, seeking the key to raise an army of the dead.
    • The arrival of a pirate captain with a roguish proposition for a local lord who was once a comrade.
    • A soldier, left for dead on the battlefield, awakes among corpses.
    • A lone, figure, broken chains swinging from manacles, naked but for a loincloth, pursued by wolves.
    • An ancient being from a distant star, mutilated and bound to perform uncanny feats for his master.
    • A giant snake, slithering in darkness.
    • A princess in the depths of a dungeon frees the lone captive.
    • The ape-man who has taken his master's place by murder.
    • Two travellers meet among collosal ruins, deep in the desert.
    • A giant snake, coiled upon a throne.
    • The black winged beast-apes infest the jungle.
    • A vast, remote ruin, left unplundered for reasons unknown.
  • aw shucks, thanks Ryan.

    Definitely read Conan if you haven't. Not only fun stories but their style suits a "play now" kind of action theme - they feel like the kind of story a IAWA or Universalis can create. They're quite different from the Tolkien+ era fantasy.

    The only thing to take care of, and in the oracle too, would be that they are products of a time and place and their attitudes of race etc. are not always quite right. It's more a "statistical breakdown" issue than a bright line one.

  • edited February 2008
    Hey Rob,

    My thought was to collect as many raw entries as I could and then do some editorial work to file off any gender or racial bias. For example when I wrote "A pirate queen, worshiped by her crew of jungle savages" I had already filed off the 1920s trope of the white woman worshipped as a god by black savages. My thought was that not only did this remove a bias of the era, it produced a more more flexible image for repeated game play.

    After collection, I'll analyse and look for themes and try to balance composition. If necessary I'll fill in holes with existing Oracle entries. I've also been looking at Sorcerer and Sword's list of demon types and I want to be sure to identify the pagan things, old ones, and uncanny beasts.

    One reason I like Howard's original stories is because the supernatural usually had a physical face -- if it can affect you, you can attack it back. Magic was mostly necromancy, summoning, pulp-style hypnotism, and herbalistic healing. The stories focus usually on conflict between humans. I want to produce an Oracle that has few or no demonic influences.

    EDIT: I also think I would package this Oracle with a short intro on Howardesque magic and monsters, as well as the Ron's S&S and Trollbabe technique of starting with a sketchy map and choosing locations on it for each chapter. The world would get filled in over time.
  • If you have the opportunity to grab the new(ish) Dark Horse Conan comics, you might well find it easier to grab evocative images from them then by pouring through the actual books.

    I think there are some 50+ issues out now...would be rather easy to find at least 4 panels of note in each...and the comics are about as close to the Howard originals as a change in medium allows.
  • Posted By: AlanHey Rob,

    My thought was to collect as many raw entries as I could and then do some editorial work to file off any gender or racial bias. For example when I wrote "A pirate queen, worshiped by her crew of jungle savages" I had already filed off the 1920s trope of the white woman worshipped as a god by black savages. My thought was that not only did this remove a bias of the era, it produced a more more flexible image for repeated game play.
    Great, saves me already thinking about some of the entries I wrote and rewriting them ~ e.g., instead of slaver boasting of woman, make it "the woman" being boasted of, all the same characters implicit but the focus shifted.

    Continuing to try to keep up heavy focus on people, with also groups, places, events and objects sprinkled.

    Phoenix on the Sword

    o A conspiracy foolishly fomenting wars upon borders to draw away loyal soldiers.
    o Four conspirators who do not realize they are dupes of the one they have summoned.
    o A poet whose eye sees imperfections even in the best of men.
    o A man of action labouring under the thankless duty of rule.
    o A city of dark streets that are mazes of conspiracy and assignation.
    o A magician’s lost serpent ring, able to command a nameless horror.
    o Dreams of warnings from an ancient sage.
    o A betrayed king, alone, half-armoured and with blade drawn, facing a score of assassins.
    o The hidden tomb of a sage who yet has power to make a sword deadly to gods and monsters.
    o Entry to the King's chambers, with only a single young officer to guard it.
    o An attempted assassination foiled by the advent of another of supernatural agency.
  • edited February 2008
    The Scarlet Citadel

    o A battlefield on which five thousand dead lie betrayed.
    o A black-eyed wizard whose name is used to frighten children a thousand leagues distant.
    o A justly ruled and prosperous land, eyed by grasping tyrants.
    o A tomb whose dust blinds those it touches.
    o The malignant blossoming vine that draws power from any magician it entraps.
    o A woman close to birthing something inhuman after sleeping too near ancient ruins.
    o A student who stands atop a column in the market, accusing the people’s oppressor.
    o A mob tearing apart the dead tyrant’s soldiers.
    o Wizards whose feud has lasted centuries and consumed kingdoms.
    o A sorcerer's body, searching for its head.

    Shadows in Zamboula

    o An inn whose guests are fodder for cannibals.
    o A city that shuts tight its doors at night while death stalks its streets.
    o The satrap’s mistress and the priest who covets her.
    o A ruler poisoned unto madness who roams the streets unrecognized.
    o A temple whose fearsome aspect is such it needs no guards.
    o A mesmerist who conjures phantoms to confuse his victims.
    o The ring that holds power to enslave the hearts of the opposite sex.
    o A dancer, beset by snapping cobras, kept alive only by her skill, and tiring.

    o A benevolent deity, cast in the role of demon by a poet's prejudice. *
    o A young man of genius, visited by a spirit counselling self-murder.*

    * okay, this is actually the “demon” in the story that is really a Hindu god and poet is Howard.
    * Howard himself, who did commit suicide and wrote poems about Suicide visiting him personified.
    (thoughts turned to these since this is one of the stories that is more obvious about some attitudes)
  • My god these are good oracle entries.
  • I think it would be wrong not to include:

    "A steely-thewed barbarian, seeking adventure"
  • RyRy
    edited February 2008
    seeking adventure?

    isn't he seeking a kingdom to reign as his own?

    (at least I watched the movies)
  • edited February 2008
    Red Nails (These need more development, but I'm posting to show what I'm working on.)
    • The inhabitants of a lost city, degenerate and fallen from the glory of their past.
    • Isolated clans, locked in a blood feud.
    • A wild bucaneer, having spurned the unwanted advance of a mercenary with murder, has fled into wilderness and into an unexpected encounter.
    • An ancient lost city, roofed over, one vast building.
    • A monstrous saurian, white belly raking the brush while its serrated back-bone rises higher than a man can reach, one of many in the forest, too large to kill and determined to feast.
    • Black against the moon, the strange city had a somber sinister look.
    • “Is there anything you have never been?” “I have never been king.”
    • A corridor of jade, a ceiling of lapis lazuli, and green firestones for ornament.
  • edited February 2008
    Posted By: Ryan Stoughtonseeking adventure?
    isn't he seeking a kingdom to reign as his own?
    (at least I watched the movies)
    He goes from vagabond to king in the stories, e.g., getting to one point and saying "I've done everything but rule a civilized land" like the quote above about "never been king" (which he of course then does, and better and more fairly than civilized men). I'm not sure if early on he's got his eye set on kingship, though the author is moving him along that road. I think for him it's always set on riches and "more" and in true adventurer fashion, there's just a point when that's the next thing, I think. He's ambitious but not in a "I will scheme for 20 years to get a throne" kind of way.

    Alan, don't know if you've thought of dividing into 4 oracles and on what basis but "Freeswords in Search of Adventure" (for the stories like Red Nails and Beyond the Black River) might be one for a freebooter feel and another might aim for the complications of rule, kingship etc.

    Thanks for starting this, my game of IAWA was actually in a quasi Conan era (the struggle was defending the Aquilonian border).

  • Possible titles for a four-oracle structure:

    'Freeswords and Adventure' -- (What Rob said, but setting aside 'seeking' or 'in search of' since, sometimes, in the Hyborian Age, adventure comes to you :))
    'Thunder and Blood' -- (The Conan equivalent of 'God-Kings of War', with battlefields and raids and so on. Several stories deal with such topics.)
    'Dark Magics' -- (For all the Stygian and monstrous bits.)
    'A Crown Upon a Troubled Brow' -- (For the complications of kingship.)

    Here are some entries inspired by 'The People of the Black Circle':

    The passionate sister of a King tormented by black magic, who must slay him to save his soul.
    An astrologer, dark and gaunt, in a camel-hair robe and a green turban; the servant of a mighty cabal of sorcerers.
    Seven hill-chieftains, captured and imprisoned, awaiting execution.
    A squadron of lancers, pursuing a daring kidnapper through a dark mountain pass.
    A beautiful handmaiden, inveigling a man into the betrayal of his masters.
    The village of a fierce tribe of hill-men and bandits, at the head of a narrow valley.
    A black stallion, foam flying from it's bit-rings as it thunders through a narrow defile, bearing two riders.
    A naked girl, carrying the princely sum of gold coins she received for selling her clothing to a stranger.
    The victim of foul sorcery, unable to resist the awful compulsion to walk off a high cliff.
    A prisoner upon a silken dais, caught in the throes of tormenting magics.
    A shattered wreck of a man, swearing bitter curses at his former employers.
    An alliance between bitter enemies, known by both sides to be extremely temporary.
    A band of horsemen, former allies believing themselves to be betrayed, now turned pursuers.
    A tall tower on the purple slopes of a high mountain, it's teakwood doors bound in gold.
    Mad screaming, bestial and ghastly, echoing through a great hall.
    A human heart, bursting out through a warrior's mailed chest, flying into a magician's gory hand.
    A gigantic serpent, it's venom-dripping jaws gaping wide.
    Five hundred hill bandits, trapped in a valley by a mighty war-host numbering many thousands.
    Five thousand armored cavalrymen, their charge shattering the ranks of their foes.
    A queen's ransom; a debt for a time at lest left uncollected.
    A conqueror-to-be, setting forth with a small band of followers.

    Some of these could be punchier, I think...

  • Vincent's got ideas about Conan in IaWA. You should talk about this with him.

  • edited February 2008
    Quite of few oracle entries in IAWA are "perfeclty conanable" as in you can take that draw and run with a story of that sensibility.

    My lunch hour musing ~ The Hour of the Dragon

    o Secrets held by faceless shapes in a deep jungle.
    o Two armies encamped before battle, on a night when death stalks.
    o The warrior who dons the paralyzed king's armour to lead the charge in his guise.
    o Knights of a noble army routed by magic and in disarray.
    o Black horses drawing a chariot holding foul lich and its noble prisoner.
    o Mighty spells used so oft they have set unstoppable forces in motion.
    o A woman finding misfortune has placed her where she may aid the one she secretly loves.
    o A band of warriors dedicated to war and adventure, accountable to no man.
    o The gray wolf and fierce eagle who guard a hill witch from harm.
    o The night a noblewoman is to die under the axe for refusing a usurper's attentions.
    o A revenant sorcerer who keeps by his side the secret of his animation.
    o Four gaunt, exiled assassins with one last service to perform before they are free.
    o A reckless merchant travelling in troubled times, ignorant of the prize he carries.
    o An ancient and immortal Vampire Queen.
    o A letter delivered to the usurper, promising the true king's vengeance.
    o A sorcerer who plots the an army's slaughter to fuel his magic.

  • Wow, I estimate we have 100+ so far.

    Rob and Dain thank you. Let's keep going.

    I hope we can get a sample of entries from all of Howard's 18 or so stories, so please keep posting stuff from new stories.

    The idea for categorizing the oracles by Howard's general types of stories too is great. Thanks.
  • The credit goes to the source material. I just have to rebrowse the stories to have ideas leap out. Will keep going (luckily my game group cancelled a session and has been slow so I'm ahead on my regular gaming work, and it's fun rereading the stories).

    I hope others jump in too to get a variety of takes. The fact one of us has gone through a story shouldn't stop someone else from doing it. It likely needs more than 208 entries to winnow down/combine weak ones into strong ones etc.

  • edited February 2008
    Not as many from these.

    Rogues in the House

    o A house where three rival rogues are met ~ all under the same deadly threat.
    o The bloody warning to a young aristocrat that he is to take himself into exile immediately.
    o A well-fed priest simultaneously fencing stolen goods and informing on thieves.
    o A schemer offering a captive barbarian warrior freedom if he but kill a rival.
    o An informer dropped unceremoniously into a cesspool.
    o A noble whose filching and sale of state secrets has been discovered by the power behind the throne.
    o A monster wearing his master’s robes and mistaken for his master by a foe.
    o A priest-sorcerer hiding from his half-human slave gone mad with murderous rage.

    Shadows in the Moonlight aka Iron Shadows in the Moon

    o A shah whose pursuit of prey leads him headlong into facing a foe.
    o A woman who fears her pursuers more than the rover she has met.
    o Battle as an army destroys the band of brigands it has trapped.
    o A jungle island on which things move in the corner of the eye.
    o A parrot repeating an ancient curse from an Outer God.
    o Site of a demigod’s murder and the curse that descended upon the killers.
    o Transgressors against an ancient god, frozen as statues except by moonlight.
    o A duel for mastery among rogues, whose outcome is disputed.
    o A pirate ship captained by a fearless rogue.

    Gods of the North aka The Frost Giant’s Daughter (possibly the earliest story in Conan’s personal chronology)

    o A fey laughing spirit attracted to slaughter.
    o A warrior pursuing a taunting unearthly woman as the skies glow with strange lights.
    o A frost giant’s daughter, luring men to death under her brothers’ axes.
    o A company delayed by ambush in reaching the battle, finding ruin and a survivor's trail.

    The Slithering Shadow or Xuthal of the Dusk

    o A man preparing to slay his companion as a mercy.
    o A seeming corpse that suddenly rises to attack two explorers.
    o A city whose people exist in dreaming semiconsciousness and degenerate pleasures.
    o A shadow that consumes men whole.
    o A god without priests, that comes for its own sacrifices.
    o A golden elixir that lends vigour to degenerates and heals the wounded.

    A Witch Shall Be Born

    o A queen awakes to see her own likeness gazing upon her.
    o The witch born once every century with the mark of hell upon her.
    o An aged magician, steeped in dark lore, disappointed in his apprentice.
    o The loyal captain of a deposed queen, set to die a lingering public death.
    o A savant from afar writing of the appalling tyranny that has descended on this land he visits.
    o An abandoned temple where a witch sacrifices victims to summon a fiend.
    o A loyal officer and the woman who loves him, fugitive in a city ruled by the usurper.
    o A queen who, despite months of torment, thinks still only of her people.
    o The witch-queen who stands yet calling doom upon foes though cleft through her heart.
    o A hundred archers facing a monster summoned by sacrifice.


    ps - I edited and added one to Jewels of G. above in case you're cutting and pasting as we go to your master file.
  • edited February 2008
    Today's lunchtime offering

    The Pool of the Black One

    o A woman sunning herself before dangerous observers, confident in her safety.
    o A castaway who has snapped his a challenger’s neck with one blow after being brought aboard.
    o A gutsy, tippling pirate with a ready laugh and only seemingly no thought of tomorrow.
    o An isle on which strange monsters guard crypts filled with hieroglyph-marked gold.
    o A princess gazing at the corpse of the first man to possess her.
    o A ruin carved of the semitranslucent green stone in alien symmetry of which all the oldest such are crafted, containing monster and science-mistaken-for-magic
    o Shelves upon which stand cursed and shrunken miniatures made of victims of every race past and present.
    o Golden-eyed, ebony giant humanoids of perfect form, whose piping music calls forth hideous passions.
    o A ship’s crew drowsing under the effects of a strange fruit while doom draws near.
    o An unexpected champion drawing predators away from his weakened fellows.
    o Waters where the seaports are fat with loot and merchant ships crammed for plundering.

    and a bit of a "meta-story element"

    o The latest in a succession of lithsome female companions to an adventurer, realizing there is no tale of the fates of her predecessors.

    Rob (edit since no real need to dictate character's gender)
  • Should have said this sooner!

    There are major spoilers for Conan stories sprinkled through these elements so if you haven't read them and ever want to enjoy doing so "from clean start", best to avoid this thread!

  • edited February 2008
    Queen of the Black Coast

    o A captain in the king's guard offering violence to a young soldier's sweetheart.
    o A witness stubbornly refusing to betray an accused but righteous man.
    o A fugitive swordsman commandeering a ship.
    o A port where sorcerers weave spells amidst sacrificial smoke rising from blood-stained altars.
    o An ill-fated merchant ship on which a pirate vessel is closing.
    o A bloodthirsty reaver who has found her true love.
    o A band of adventurers drunk on the sight of gold and jewels.
    o A cursed necklace that blinds its wearer to risks.
    o A barbarian waking from strange dreams to find his beloved hanging dead.
    o Men transformed into werebeast slaves by the last of the oldest race.
    o A ghost come back from the abyss as her love fights for his life.


    ps - I think we're around 180 now.
  • I count 175 entries.

    We've got input on 16 of the 21 stories Howard wrote.

    Those not looked at yet are:

    Black Colossus
    Devil in Iron
    God in the Bowl
    Vale of Lost Women
    The Black Stranger

    Like Rob said, also feel free to contribute your own take on stories that have some suggestions.

    I feel wealthy. Maybe we can even get, say 250, and edit them down.

    I'm compiling what's been added to date and will start thinking about how to break them into 4 oracles.
  • We can make the oracle without keeping to the deck of cards method. What I'd do is group the stories like this:

    'Freeswords and Adventure'
    'Thunder and Blood'
    'Dark Magics'
    'A Crown Upon a Troubled Brow'

    And inside each of those list them chronologically as well.

    Now that you know those 2 things, pick the 6 stories that get at what you want most closely. That might be 6 from 'A Crown Upon A Troubled Brow' or the first three from 'Thunder and Blood' and the first three from 'Freeswords and Adventure'

    Then have 2 rolls: 1d6 for "which story" and then 1d10 for "which element in this story"

    It sounds complicated but it's really "what conan do you want to channel tonight?" "roll inside of that"
  • edited February 2008
    I'm not so sure about those suggestions. For one thing, I think the basic IAWA structure works fine and doesn't need tinkering on this point.

    - I don't think you want people looking at an element and automatically thinking "it should be like it was in the story that came from", "this character should be like Conan, this character like Belit".

    - To avoid pressure to recreate specific stories, I would suggest actually preferring to put elements in different oracles if they are recognizably same story and can be split up that way.

    - Many elements can work in any oracle (e.g., "a cursed necklace that blinds wearer to risks" can figure in any theme). I suggest taking all the elements, picking those heavily thematic and organizing them, looking at others and seeing where they fit but also then mixing and matching a bit. Also, looking at them all and organizing them other themes might come up. You might even see some patterns in Howard's writing interesting just from literary critical perspective.

    - Some thought perhaps required on "Why do you want to play "Conan oracle"? You want to play stories with a sensibility and events like unto the Conan stories? Use that framework as a broad basis of consent for framework of creativity in game? E.G., no elves etc., monsters often "monsterized" animals (carnvirous gray apes, giant snakes, resurrected or reanimated dinosaurs, giant spiders - btw, been meaning to get around to adding in some elements of these combined with character-suggesting elements like the "giant spider waiting as prey draws near" one), magic usually evil/tainted/questionable (not always), gray issue sometimes if magic is really magic or just super-science mistaken for it, fantastic evolution/devolution results, occassional cthulhoid freakiness. Whatever, organized oracles to support this.

    - I don't imagine people actually playing "conan" very often as that over-ranks one player etc. In the one IAWA game I've played, one player was pretty much playing a mighty-thewed barbarian with an inner compass of "What would Conan do" - which was fine. He ended up captured via treachery and later killing the ruler who betrayed him (in a 2nd Chapter) ~ without trying it did turn out a very 'conanesque' story for him, but he was Balashi not Conan and the story was no more his than the other two players'. I think if the other two had been playing the same style though, story would have been less interesting (their best interests etc. were more subtle, indirect etc. which made for a nice mix). If it was the story's of Balashi's betrayal and revenge, it was the story also of Damrina's military triumph and the possible start of her great career, and the story of Hadir's continued ignomy and humiliation which shall surely all be put right someday and indeed started turning around in Chapter 2. Game has gone hiatus (as so many skype etc. seem to) but they were all heading back into confrontation in Chapter 3 and there was no sense that the "conanesque" character was morely likely to come out on top than the civilized military officer or the ambitious devil-tainted sorcerous, though in a Conan story we all know who comes out ahead.

  • Posted By: ValvorikI don't think you want people looking at an element and automatically thinking "it should be like it was in the story that came from", "this character should be like Conan, this character like Belit".
    Good point, and one I hadn't considered since I hadn't read them.
  • edited February 2008
    The Black Colossus

    o A thief among thieves entering ruins in which a sorcerer sleeps away the millennia.
    o A cult worshipping a power legend says never died but only sleeps in its tomb.
    o The desert army of sorcerer whose features are always masked.
    o A coin showing a three-thousand year old visage which is also that of a new leader recently arisen to power.
    o A king’s sister, struggling to rule while her brother languishes in a rival’s dungeon.
    o An ancient lascivious evil, weakened by lust, whispering nightly to its next victim.
    o An oracle commanding a princess to take extraordinary measures to preserve her realm.
    o Three nobles cast down by their Queen in favour of a captain of mercenary spearmen.
    o A night when vampires are abroad, witches ride naked on the wind, and werewolves howl across the wilderness as a lone figure comes riding a black steed to a shrine of evil.
    o A champion and a princess whose fierce passions overwhelm them as clashing armies struggle.

    The Devil in Iron

    o A coveted weapon, resting atop the chest of a perfectly preserved body lying in a chamber on a deserted isle.
    o A plan to entrap a foe with an unwilling captive’s seductive aid.
    o A disappointed torturer, denied the opportunity to convince a recalcitrant captive to cooperate with his master.
    o A city of green stone which has appeared where only ruins were to be seen for all recorded history.
    o A city inhabited by the dead called back to half-life, in which a woman recounts to a visitor her death as a dream.
    o A city in which tunnels connect every house to that of its master and through which sacrifices are taken.
    o A blade of unearthly metal against which sorcery is impotent.
    o An invulnerable figure of base substance made animate and taking the shape of a man to hold a power older than all substance.
    o A leader of steppe horsemen swearing to show the woman who defies him a frontier city in flames.

    For oracle themes/titles fitting the stories and offering ranges of theme for play - the stories include rule and war, exploration of ruins (dare we say dungeoneering, though no 10' poles), skulduggery in cities and civilization and mercenary/pirate adventure. I think those are four general areas people could say "let's play that".

    Hour of the Dragon; Cities of Green Stone; Rogues in the House; Free Swords and Black Sails?

  • I love 'Cities of Green Stone', 'Rogues in the House' and 'Free Swords and Black Sails' as Oracle titles!

    The structure of four oracles each with 52 entries is 'classic IAWA', I suppose; but I've seen fan oracles on Abulafia built in variant ways (and built a few there myself).

    Here's a six-oracle structure for example, built roughly around the chronology of Conan's careers:

    Rogues in the House -- rogues, thieves, and wastrels; crime. lies and skullduggery in grimy and decadent cities
    Free Swords & Black Sails -- barbarians, mercenaries, sell-swords, and pirates
    Cities of Green Stone -- mysterious lost cities, ancient races, tombs, catacombs, and remote haunted places
    Dark Magics -- tainted sorcery, monstrous beasts, curses, and devolved man-things
    Thunder and Blood -- raids, battles, and warfare on the frontier
    A Crown Upon a Troubled Brow -- conquest, rulership, power politics, and betrayal

    Have approximately 50 entries each, with each oracle having the same number (or nearly the same). All non-specific enough that players can be inspired by them, rather than being locked into a reference to the specific story the entry came from. It's OK for someone to realize "Oh, that entry was inspired by Belit" -- but the entry should be fertile ground for the generation of many other characters and types.

    Entries inspired by a single story could and should wind up split across different oracles in the set. The purpose of oracles is to generate inspiration for new ideas, so the Conan oracles should essentially be "put Robert E. Howard in a blender and see what comes out".

    (OK, that visual needs to leave my mind, now.)

  • edited February 2008
    Red Nails ~ some duplication of Alan's above, for consolidation/editing/inspiration etc., whatever.

    o A formidable woman whose blade drips with the blood of a fool who objected to her living a “man’s life”.
    o A beautiful, deadly swordswoman, seeking independence, and tempered by a life where pain and torment are routine.
    o The distant stone walls and towers of a city the sight of which surprises explorers.
    o A pair of adventurers at an impasse with a monstrous giant reptile resurrected from an ancient age.
    o Exiles seeking to enlist barbarians in an invasion of their homeland.
    o The last remnants of a diminished people, locked in civil war.
    o A false demon seeking advantage in a deadly struggle.
    o A glowing skull housing the soul of a magician king.
    o A slave betraying masters to invaders to have revenge upon them.
    o A witch desired as wife by one too many and having a grisly secret.
    o A witch’s plan to maintain her youth through a valkyrie’s sacrifice.

    Hey, come on others, jump in and offer your own takes! I will take a rest on others I haven't done for few days to let others in, please!

    Some of mine try to be based on any references to past events or future ones other than those in the story (e.g., Conan speaks of the Aquilonian exiles trying to enlist his people).

  • The Vale of Lost Women
    (Avoiding, where possible, one of the most blatantly racist pieces of dialogue Howard ever put into Conan's mouth.)

    The deafening thunder of drums and great elephant-tusk horns.
    A lithe and pantherish woman, expressing more taunting insolence with the motions of her hips than any civilized woman could with spoken insults.
    The repulsive and toad-like chieftain of a primitive tribe.
    A column of fighting-men, marching three abreast behind their barbaric leader.
    A captive, taken for ransom in a violent caravan-raid.
    "Women are cheap as plantains in this land, and their willingness or unwillingness matters as little."
    A truce between warchiefs, which both know will soon be broken.
    A sudden attack, which leaves a village in flames.
    A valley, it's grassy slopes like velvet under tender feet, full of nodding white blossoms.
    Slender brown figures, lithe and naked, with inhuman eyes, luminous as starshine.
    A human sacrifice, laid upon an altar-stone amid a bed of flowers.
    A monstrous thing, it's wings bat-like; but it's body like nothing of sea or earth or air -- foulness beyond a madman's wildest dreams.
    A man with a sword, a match for any amount of fangs and talons!
    A person born of cities, and books, and civilized ways, who would die quickly in the wilderness.
    A girl, away in a far land, longing for her home.

    More to come, from everybody, I hope.

  • Very cool, I admit that's one of the stories I've never read, not in the books I've got.

  • The God in the Bowl

    A nervous watchman, coming upon a death in a lonely place at Midnight.
    A vast corridor, hung with black velvet tapestries, it's walls covered with shields and weapons of fantastic make.
    A great museum of antiques and rarities, collected from across the world by it's wealthy owner.
    A barbarian, naive to the ways of city-dwelling folk.
    A debtor-slave, working as a charioteer, seething with hatred for his 'employer'.
    A mysterious cargo, arriving on a caravan from the far South, watched by many covetous eyes.
    A sarcophagus, made of corroded copper carved deeply with glyphs, bound shut by thick copper bands.
    A thief, hired by a wealthy patron to steal a priceless artifact from a rival, caught in the act.
    A deadly gift, sent by a secretive and sinister foe.
    A squad of city guardsmen, armed with bills to snag and catch the clothing and flesh of fleeing suspects.
    A bloody fight in a small space, leaving it's participants with gashed limbs, severed ears, and broken teeth.
    A face of inhuman beauty and perfection, atop the muscular coiled body of a gigantic serpent!

    Keeping the thread on the first page, 'till it's complete. :)
  • I've got it bookmarked. I've started collecting the entries. This weekend or next I should have time to whip it into an initial draft.
  • Good lord. These are awesome.
  • Has this been compiled yet?
  • Here's a rough cut at Abulafia - all 234 elements from this thread all together. It'll be at least a starting point for anyone who wants to split it into multiple Oracles.
  • Still working on it.
  • Another one down!

    The Black Stranger

    An injured man, his bloodshot eyes burning with rage, pursued through tangled woods.
    A band of hunters, painted and be-feathered, silently ambushed by their would-be prey.
    A trail of blood, left by a running man.
    A splendid beauty, listless and bored, the niece of a mighty nobleman.
    A waiflike young girl, playing naked in the surf.
    A frontier fortress, surrounded by howling wilderness.
    Pirate raiders, swarming ashore to pillage and plunder!
    A dark-faced buccaneer, gold hoops in his ears, dressed in flaming silk and polished steel.
    A map, drawn on parchment in human blood, showing the way to a great treasure.
    A vicious nobleman, bringing a jewel-hilted riding whip down across the naked shoulders of a serving-girl.
    The strange, rhythmic pulsing of drums in the misty forest.
    Storm-winds blowing in from the sea; great boiling masses of blackness, veined with fire.
    A corsair, lavishly dressed in the finery of a hundred-years past.
    A dozen sea-lords, long dead, their bodies neither rotted nor shriveled by the passing of ages.
    A pact sealed with fair words -- while swords lay unsheathed beneath the table.
    A squatting demon, able to pass any barrier, blue hell-fire playing about his horned head.
    A magician, slain in his castle, with the marks of demon-fingers on his throat.
    Bluish mist; those who breathe it in die in dreadful agony.
    A vengeful creature, it's outline vaguely human, but it's shadow not human at all; as vulnerable to silver and fire as any evil spirit.
    A bag full of rubies, carelessly given away by one who values them not.

    I will also add these 20 to Abulafia. That gives us 254.

  • Any word?

    Picked up a 2 edition volume of all Howard's stories published in Weird Tales. They're scans of the originals so not "revised/edited" as some reprints have been over the years. Will likely fire me up for some more contributions if needed.

    Some of the poems and fragments of non-Conan stuff are still very "Conan".

    A hall beneath a lake in which dwells a monster hungry for souls.
    A man who walks the earh a broken shell without soul, companion to goblin and troll.
    A lone island older than all continents at which are anchored ships from every power of ages long past.

  • edited May 2008
    To achieve what I envisioned when I started this thread, I want to arrange 4 oracles of 52 images that will statistically include all the key elements of a specific kind of REH Conan story in four cards. That means I'm skimming all 18 stories and trying different arrangements. I actually have the first one "Crown Upon a Troubled Brow" pretty much done. I'm going with a design where clubs are the ruler involved, Spades are the supernatural threat, Diamonds are items, place, etc., and Hearts are relationships.

    So in Crown, clubs are rulers and leaders. (Interesting observation: Howard wrote a lot of "Queenmaker" stories, where Conan is key to strengthening the rule of a queen.) In Cities of Green Stone, clubs are pirates and mercenaries and diamonds are strange locations. Rogue in the House, diamonds are a city location, and so on. Categorizing and making sure most of the images are broad enough to imply enough character's is taking some time.

    When I get a couple free Sundays I should have the rest -- a couple months, given my other activities.
  • Alan, that sounds ridiculously sweet.
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