Conan the Scout By Modiphius, £12.99 GBP, Website
Review by Seth Stauffer
The adventures of Conan the Barbarin spanned Hyboria, and into the untamed western wilds. It is here in the savage frontiers that Conan the Scout by Modiphius sets players. Out beyond the niceties of civilization, are lawless lands and ruthless foes.
However, this book is more than a menu of options; it provides thematic concepts to run games framed around a “frontier” backdrop. Rules for the quiet moments between adventures (carousing) are an interesting twist on the game, an addition that makes perfect sense for frontier life. Those moments wandering the wilderness could be meditative, productive, or full of adventure.
That’s where another element comes into play, “caches”. This is a clever way of building on the lack of towns and cities. Rather, than have a base of operations, characters can create hideaways to store supplies in the middle of nowhere. This is an example where using intervals among adventures can be very handy.
Unfortunately, this book lacked nuance to make the frontier concept for Conan really stand out. Not the worldbuilding though, that’s great. There are fun additions to the world of Conan, including, but not limited to, the Pictish Wilderness, the chaotic Border Kingdoms, and Aquilonia. The problem is simply the frontier concept that is tied to this book. What sets these untamed lands apart from other regions of undomesticated wilderness? For example, a scythe is listed in the equipment among the frontier weapons, but there are agrarian populations all over. A cache is a great idea, but that could be something anywhere Conan traveled.
This book ultimately offers a lot in a digestible size. It respects the source material and presents options for players and game masters. What is available is a nice addition to the Conan line, smoothly developing Conan’s story as the barbarian trekked from one place to another. This book focuses on Conan’s time on the “frontiers” of civilized society. To that end, it would have been nice to have seen the frontier concept developed more because it’s a great fit for the entire game line. Rules for the quiet moments between adventure make just about any game deeper, and this is no exception here. This is another well-produced book by Modiphius that takes the stories of Robert E. Howard to the gaming table and brings players to fringes of civilized society.