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The Roleplaying Game: Pocket Version (Conan d20 3.5 Fantasy Roleplaying) [Paperback]

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Item description for The Roleplaying Game: Pocket Version (Conan d20 3.5 Fantasy Roleplaying) by Ian Sturrock...

Following on from the tremendous success of Conan the Role-playing Game, Mongoose releases a pocket-sized version, at a price to match. All the detail of the massive original rulebook is included in an easy to read, easy to carry format.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   400
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 27, 2005
Publisher   Mongoose Publishing
ISBN  190485463X  
ISBN13  9781904854630  

Availability  0 units.

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Roleplaying Game: Pocket Version (Conan d20 3.5 Fantasy Roleplaying)?

Very Nice, but...  Jan 18, 2007
This is a great role-playing system, which focuses on combat and skills, and makes magic much less overpowering and tolerable than some other games I've played. I particularly liked the armor piercing concept and the defense rules. I knocked off a star only because the editing errors are fairly numerous. Quite a number of pages have entire portions of text cut off, leaving the reader to wonder what they're talking about.
Awesome game  Nov 10, 2006
I am so pleased to be entering the gaming world of Conan and this game is a great example of how to play a d20 game as well as doing justice to Howard's works.
Excellent and Inexpensive Guide to the Conan RPG  Jul 13, 2006
The Conan the Roleplaying Game ("Conan RPG") Pocket Edition is a pared-down, paperback version of the "Atlantean Edition" of the Conan RPG, with all (or almost all) of the rules, but little of the artwork and almost none of the "flavor text." For US $19.95 the Pocket Edition is a relative bargain as a roleplaying game "core" rule book.

The Conan RPG is a D20-based Open Game License ("OGL") system game, substantially the same as the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons, but geared towards roleplaying in the Hyborian Age of Robert E. Howard's famous character, Conan of Cimmeria (a.k.a. Conan the Barbarian, etc.). As opposed to the more usual "high fantasy" of most fantasy roleplaying games, the Conan RPG is in the gritty "sword & sorcery" style familiar to readers of Howard's Conan stories and their pulp fiction kin. Magic, far from being so commonplace as to be almost hum-drum as it is in most fantasy games, is a dark and terrible thing in the world of Conan and the Conan RPG, and usually the only way to fight it is to wield even more terrible magic or, as Conan himself did, face it with courage and sharp steel (and the occasional solid silver bench hurled with one's mighty thews).

This book contains everything necessary for a gamesmaster or player to create a Conan RPG character and to run a Conan RPG game. The lack of artwork makes the text seem dense and heavy at times, but presenting the rules without the artwork (including the scroll-enclosures of the "flavor text") cuts more than twenty dollars from the price tag. This savings ought to be greatly appreciated by players who don't need all of the folderol which GMs require in a rulebook, and by GMs who are familiar with Howard's stories and want to run a campaign in the Hyborian Age without spending a fortune on books. GMs can also safely permit and encourage players to buy the Pocket Edition without either fearing that the player will learn secrets of the campaign setting which ought to be the GM's domain alone or fretting too much at the expense which the book will impose upon the player's wallet; unlike D&D books published by Wizards of the Coast, this edition of the Conan RPG rules doesn't contain "GM knowledge," and comes in substantially cheaper because it ISN'T packed with maps and illustrations and factoids which a GM would prefer to keep secret from players until an appropriate moment in a roleplaying campaign.

For those unfamiliar with the stories of Robert E. Howard, or who know Conan only from the movies, the "flavor text" with which the full-sized (and expensive!) hardcover "Atlantean Edition" is peppered can be invaluable to help understand the actual origins of certain rules which are meant to help recreate things from Howard's writings, and the lack of the flavor text in the Pocket Edition may pose a slight obstacle to their appreciation and understanding of some rules. Many of the magic spells, for example, are written to allow players to roleplay spells actually described (but never named, of course) in Robert E. Howard's own Conan stories. The descriptions of character races (all humans, incidentally, or mostly so) and their national costumes, names and customs, spring from the Conan stories themselves, however curiously anachronistic some of the information may seem. The flavor text helps to place such matters firmly within the traditions of Howard's Conan stories, and also demonstrates that the RPG is based primarily on HOWARD's stories, not upon the pastiches of L. Sprague De Camp, Lin Carter, and other writers up to the present day, most of whom lack Howard's particular panache.

For those already familiar with Howard's original Conan stories, however, the flavor text is often just a nicety, as it is in many game books produced by Mongoose Publishing. It certainly helps to place the rules within the sphere of Howard's work, but it is not essential to the knowledgeable GM or player. The essential rules are here, and that is what matters.

This Pocket Edition contains (thank goodness!) elucidations of rules which were unclear in earlier incarnations of the Conan RPG rules, rendering unnecessary a visit to the Mongoose web site to consult the Frequently Asked Questions. (For the record, though, if you notice a discrepancy between the text of a rule and a chart, the text of the rule itself is to be followed, and the text of this book corrects and amends earlier rules which were published in on-line previews.)

I discovered only one serious error in the Pocket Edition: the "Goods and Services" list on page 210 seems to be missing most of a column of information ("Containers and Carriers," described on pages 215-216, which is only partially covered in the "Dry Goods" column); items which are clearly explained in the text do not have price listings, which is quite annoying, since the economy of the Hyborian Age differs from that of most D&D worlds. Experienced players and GMs can probably make logical inferences about the prices of the unlisted items if they have (as they probably do) a copy of the D&D Player's Handbook published by Wizards of the Coast and compare the items listed there to the items listed in the Conan RPG Pocket Edition, but that extra step is annoying and time-consuming.

The small format of the Pocket Edition causes footnotes to many of the charts (especially those describing weapons and armor) to become lost within the grayscale (not full color) border artwork. This has led me to pull up short several times and forced me to study the text intensively instead of being able to quickly glean information from a chart. A GM who intends to run the game using the Pocket Edition would be well-advised to study the bottoms of the charts CAREFULLY to be certain that some vital piece of information is not overlooked. The relatively low cost of the book means that players as well as GMs are likely to have a copy of this book, and unless a GM likes to be shown up by a "rules lawyer" player, verifying the information in the charts is essential.

Unlike Wizards of the Coast, Mongoose Publishing often makes an effort to include indices (or at least handy rules summaries) in their books, and the Pocket Edition includes one. Unfortunately, however, the layout is far from perfect (I suspect a margin setting error at some point during word processing), and some lines which apparently ought to have been indented are not. This causes the index to appear hopelessly jumbled. "Benefits of Worshipping a God," for example, is not listed under "B," it is listed under "W," clearly intended to be a sub-category under "Worship" but appearing as an out-of-order entry instead. Such a sight may be jarring to those who like absolute perfection in their books, but I think that most reasonably intelligent readers can figure out what's where in the index. It certainly beats being forced to find information by scanning the Table of Contents, as is necessary for most books published by Wizards of the Coast, who seem to think that the extra ten cents per book which an index might cost is an unnecessary expense in a multi-hundred page book; it is not!

One startling omission from the Pocket Edition is a complete lack of statistics for animals and "monsters." On the one hand this means that players do not have access to "GM information," but, on the other, it also means that neither players nor GMs have the statistics for the animals which are summoned by any of several Nature Magic spells, including the basic spell, Summon Beast. Consultation with the D&D "Monster Manual" core rule book provided D20 stats for many animals, but I'm far from certain that the statistics given in the Monster Manual are fully consistent with the intent of the Conan RPG author, Ian Sturrock. Nevertheless, because the Conan RPG is an OGL game, the statistics are probably very similar.

Having mentioned Mr. Sturrock, I must commend him on his work on the Conan RPG. Adapting the Hyborian Age to a D&D setting is far from easy because of the radical differences between most D&D campaign settings and the world Conan knew -- or *knows* as the case may be in one's own campaign. There is a world of difference between many well-known and well-intentioned wizards of fantasy literature and the barely sane spellcasters who frequently appeared in Howard's Conan stories. Xaltotun, who wants to destroy the current world in a paroxysmal holocaust of bloody war as a enormous sacrifice in order to work mighty magic is certainly no Elminster (nor Gandalf, either!), and the only parallels to such as Natokh, the undead (?) wizard who uses his magic and summoned demons to fulfill ambitions of conquest are arch-villains like Sauron and Voldemort. There are no Tom Bombadils nor Madame Mims nor Dumbledores in any of Howard's stories; the kindest, gentlest wizards in Howard's Conan stories are a witch whose pet wolf tears a man apart, a priest of a forbidden religion, and an obsessed priest of a dying faith, and the Conan RPG rules faithfully reflect that difference. One of the easiest paths to magical success is to forge a demonic pact, and the route to casting truly powerful spells includes a near-total obsession as the least cost; for those seeking quick and dirty means to magical power, the methods include the consumption of addictive drugs and human sacrifice, preferably by means of slow and agonizing torture. A typical wizard in a Howard story (and in the Conan RPG) is much more likely to reek of Saruman than of Harry Potter. The path to "good" magic in the Conan RPG is often long and arduous, but there is always a sense that ALL magic is corrupt, changing the world by unnatural means tainted with the darkness of Hell or the Outer Void beyond human ken. In the world of Conan, it is far better to be a thief, a pirate, or a bloody-handed mercenary than someone whose very soul has been corrupted by the foulness of ... magic! More than once Howard explicitly stated that it was better by far to die a "clean" death than to perish at the hands of a wizard.

One very good aspect of the Conan RPG books which I have so far read is their repeated insistence on the full independence of the GM to decide which rules shall apply to his or her campaign and to what degree. Many optional rules are presented in the Conan RPG which the GM is free to use or not, and there is a strong sense that this decision personalizes and improves the game rather than detracts from it. Some products from Wizards of the Coast seem to have the opposite intent: despite what the core rules say, there is an impression in many Wizards D&D books that a GM who doesn't use ALL of the rules (i.e. BUY all of the book$) isn't playing "correctly" and a player who owns more books than the GM is somehow "more right" than the GM, which ought NEVER to be the case. The Conan RPG makes it clear that the Hyborian Age is mysterious (i.e., what the GM says is correct ... *is* correct).

The Conan RPG is an outstanding addition to roleplaying, and the "Pocket Edition" of the Conan rules is an outstanding bargain. Despite the flaws which its reduction in size and paring-down have caused, this is a five star book. *****
conan rpg: the smaller, cheaper version  Mar 16, 2006
This is a great book. I looked at the hardcover version, and while it has alot more pictures (plus they're in color), the softcover is alot cheaper and has all of the written material. They also fixed some of the typos. The hardcover is a beautiful book, and I recomend it--if you can afford it.
For me (someone who hasn't read the conan novels or comics), this book is a great low magic setting, and is the way D&D should have been as far as the combat system goes. Armor provides damage reduction, and a characters ability to avoid getting hit, is based entirely on their combat skills and natural abilities. So characters actually parry and dodge blows. All the races are human variants, and the whole thing is very grim and gritty. Adventurers go on adventurers either because they come to them, or to get loads of silver (not platinum and gold) to blow on luxury and entertainment (not to bank ever copper piece just to get another +1 on a magic item). And if you're a conan fan, this book apparently did a wonderful job of mimicking the original novels.
Pocket Edition has a great price, compatibility for players of the role-playing game by Mongoose  Jul 4, 2005
This was a nice release by Mongoose Publishing, as it's affordable and has virtually everything a player needs for the game. Mongoose copied the contents from their Atlantean Edition of the RPG and pasted it into this smaller, softcover book. This book does NOT have any of the illustrations or maps found in the hardcover Atleantean Book from which these contents are taken, and see below for omissions, but for the frugal or mildly interested, this was made for you.

It is missing two sections from the AE book that you should be aware of before purchasing: 1)It doesn't list demons, monsters, beasts found at the back of the AE, and 2)it doesn't have the Hyborian World, which gives information on the lands & peoples of the campaign world created by Author Robert E. Howard in the 1920s & '30s. If you or the GM is planning on purchasing the sourcebook _The Road of Kings_, which is the world gazeteer, then you won't need the latter, but if you're a GM or enterprising scholar character, these omissions will be missed.

Also, there are a couple of minor typesetting mistakes (a couple pages' contents are repeated on the next pages), but not terrible. NOTE: the AE this book is based on had grammatical errors & omissions, but much improved over the original edition release.

I rated 4 stars because this game was thoroughly researched by the game designers, and is more faithful to Conan and the Hyborian Age than any I've seen, is thorough and detailed. It is based on the OGL d20 system created by Wizards of the Coast for their Dungeons & Dragons 3.x editions, so many people are familiar with it, but it has been 'customized' to fit the character and lethality of the Hyborian Age setting. And it's easily affordable. But it is not without grammatical or editing errors, and some may object to no maps, illustrations, or the black & white printing. To which I recommend you buy the much more expensive Atlantean Edition book.

So, in summary, if you're into collecting books, want to play the game but not run it as a GM, or are just curious, then this book would make a great purchase. It's excellently priced & fairly complete.

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