Jeremy's Reviews Blog

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hyboria's Fallen - Pirates, Thieves, and Temptresses - Rough Draft

Hyboria's Fallen
Pirates, Thieves, & Temptresses

This product is pretty much what the term "splatbook" was coined for (for better or for worse), basically it's a "class" book for the Conan RPG aimed at players (as opposed to GMs), expanding on two of the classes from that game, the Pirate and the Thief, and introducing a new core class, the Temptress.

Although to the product's credit, it doesn't fall prey to the excesses that gives the "splatbook" a bad name - that is, badly thought out rules or overpowered stuff. In fact, while there is a lot of crunch, a lot of it is really just multi-classing advice.

A new core class

One of the things I didn't like about the original Conan was that it seemed to be lacking some core classes (ie, the ones that characters can start with and go to 20 levels). This introduces a femme fatale sort, the "Temptress", in the first section of the book.

How each class fits in each region

Basically, there's 30 pages covering each major region/culture of the Hyborian world and how each class in this book (ie, Pirate, Thief, or Temptress) fits into that region or culture. Quite frequently it sort of cleans up a problem in the original Conan rulebook, pointing out the various countries that have no access to the ocean or large rivers and thus unlikely to have pirates.

Another 10 pages or so goes into various personalities or roles that a character of a given class might have or play.

New ways of using some old skills, for instance, Gather Information can be used for "Pillow Talk" and Disguise can be used to apply cosmetics to improve appearance.

There's just a couple pages on thieves' guilds, which is something of a disappointment, since that was one of the main reasons I bought the book. There are rules for fencing stolen items.


The last 50 or so pages of the book (from page 74 til the end) are on multiclassing. Basically different combinations of the classes in this book (Pirate, Thief, Temptress) with other Conan core classes to create new "archetypes".

For instance, a Pirate/Barbarian combo is called the "Corsair", a Pirate/Noble combo a "Sea Captain", Temptress/Pirate combo a "Siren", etc. Some are more creative than others, for instance, the "Pirate/Scholar" combo is a "Sea Chanter".

Besides just a table showing how the level/class progression would be if a character takes this archetype, there's also generally some variant powers/abilities that can be swapped in.

For instance, the above mentioned Sea Chanter can gain the ability to chant to help the crew row longer. The Siren can take a couple different singing powers (power is too strong a word, really, not magical, just improved vocal control).

Generally speaking, these are pretty decent abilities, but may or may not make up for the stuff lost in the normal class levels due to multi-classing. (That is, generally in d20, there's a really good power at the 20th level in a class, or some nice goodies at higher levels, though it depends on the class).


Unlike the other Conan RPG books I've seen, this is in black & white. It still uses the rather silly margin art from the original Conan book featuring the topless woman whose bosom not only defies gravity, but seems to be made of some sort of material that is repelled by gravity, as it is pushed up, not down, as she leans over. Despite her bosom being a product of some sort of super-science, it (and the rest of the margin art) doesn't translate well to black & white.

The interior art is okay, but often looks a bit smudgy.

Final Thoughts

It's actually a pretty good book, though not something that is particularly essential.

My complaints are mostly twofold: First off, it's mentioned on the back blurb and on the web page for it that it has "details of Hyboria's crime families and thieves' guilds.". That's misleading at best, because that gets 2 whole pages, one subject of which is dealth with by the book simply saying that there are no thieves' guilds in Hyboria (or the world of Conan in general). Basically by using the term "guild" in it's medieval sense.

Secondly, regarding pirates, it mentions a whole lot of rules and such from the book on the Pirate Isles. IMHO, rather than simply refer to that book, it really should print them here. This is supposed to be the class book for pirates, so why should a player have to buy a regional sourcebook to get that information?

OGL Note:

Much like the original Conan book, Hyboria's Fallen apparently borrows OGL material from Fading Suns d20 without citing it.

For instance. The Savor-Faire social feat from Fading Suns d20 (from 2001)

"You have a certain flair, dashing style, elan, or bravuura that marks you as someone special"

Then the pre-requisites for the feat are given, then the text continues:

"Everything you do is done with style, whether it be entering a room and turning heads, carving your initials into a tapestry with your rapier, or even savoring a meal at a banquet to impress your host."

The Savor-Faire special ability from the Temptress class in this book

"The temptress has a certain flair, dashing style, elan, or bravuura that marks her as someone special. Everything she does is performed with style, whether it be entering a room and turning heads, carving her initials into a tapestry with her rapier, or even savoring a meal at a banquet to impress her host."

Again, this is likely because the Mongoose "Power Class - The Noble" - borrowed OGL material from Fading Suns d20 and did properly cite the OGL for it, but when the Conan used the Power Class - The Noble for some of it's classes, it never copied the OGL from the original source. I pointed out this in my Conan review and on the Mongoose message boards, but since they are still doing it, am mentioning it again.