Had a great time today running a one-shot using the one-sheet 2400 BC: DUNES & DENIZENS rules! We took about 30-35 minutes creating characters and running through the basic rules, and another 5-8 minutes whipping up some character art and tokens in DALL-E 3 to use in our Owlbear VTT.
The game played fast since combat is fast and lethal. We got through several combats, did a 13th Age style Montage, and finally, a boss fight in a temple.
House rules I used in this game include the ‘3 Strikes and You’re Out’ approach of requiring 3 hindrances before you are ‘Taken Out’, and ‘Taken Out’ can mean either (a) character death (if PC agrees), (b) character is marked for death (reviving but will die of mortal wounds at the game’s end), or (c) the GM gets to control your character’s fate — perhaps they are dragged away by monsters or cannibals, and the PCs now have to rescue their friend. The other house rule I had was ‘no armor’ since for this setting (a Conan game in the desert) it didn’t seem to make sense.
We plan to play this again when a one-shot is needed, so changes I would look at for future games include:
- Updating the rules to edit the content (e.g. removing the ‘Astro-Navigation’ skill) and add in my house rules.
- Add in documentation on my ‘Three hindrances and you’re Taken Out’ house rule.
- Adding a Bennie style mechanic called ‘Fortune’ to reward players who explain how money was squandered.
- Adding in the ‘Squander Your Money’ rule inspired by Barbarians of Lemuria. Probably something like this (adapted from my Redmark campaign, though we never used it):
- “Squandered Money: Part of what drives the need for characters to adventure is a scarcity of money. Generally, characters stay poor and always one step away from financial disaster. At the beginning of each session, each character gets one point of Fortune when someone in the party describes how the party squandered away their wealth since the last adventure (excluding magic items, unique weapons, and money over ₡10). This could be due to carousing, being robbed, natural disaster, or other mishap.”
- Adding in XP rules to better fit longer campaign play:
- d8 skill = 5 XP
- d10 skill = 10 XP
- d12 skill = 25 XP
- Add in notion of descriptors which further define a skill. For example: “Far-seeing (you have eagle-eye sight and can see further and more clearly” or “Read-the-bones (you can read bones as an augury to get answers or foretell the future; GM determines how vague the answers are)”
- Rename ‘Witch’ to ‘Seer’
- Rename ‘₡’ to ‘coin’
I also used Sapiento’s excellent Hyboria map. This geography features are faithful to how Robert E. Howard sketched them; the fact that some rivers and mountains don’t follow the last of physics doesn’t bother me since I figure it is like maps from Medieval times, they are maps showing relative positions and not particularly accurate.