Conan of the Red
(Circa Shadows in the Moonlight, The Road of Eagles, A Witch Shall be Born)
Medium-sized Human, 29 - 30 years old
Hit Dice: 5d12+3d6+5d10+52 (140 hp)
Initiative: +4 (+4 Dex)
Speed: 40 ft.
AC: 19 (+4 Dex, +4 chain shirt, +1 dodge)
Attacks: Longword+16/+11/+6 melee
Damage: Longsword 1d8+5
Face/Reach: 5 ft x 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Rage, sneak attack +2d6
Special Qualities: Fast movement, Evasion, Uncanny Dodge
Saves: Fort +12, Ref +11, Will +3
Abilities: Str 21, Dex 18, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 11, Cha 17
Skills: Climb +21, Craft (blacksmithing) +5, Hide +6, Intuit Direction +7, Jump +19, Listen +7, Move Silently +12, Ride +12, Search +8, Wilderness Lore +7, Profession (seaman) +2
Feats: Track, Lightning Reflexes, Combat Reflexes, Power Attack, Cleave, Great Cleave, Mounted Combat, Mounted Archery, Dodge
Climate/Terrain: Turanian Steppes, Vilayet Sea, Khauran
Challenge Rating: 13
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Advancement: By Character Class.
Conan fights his way to the leadership of the
kozaki and ravages the western borders of
the Turanian Empire. He later becomes the captain of a pirate ship on the
Vilayet Sea. After losing the ship, Conan travels to
Khauran and soon becomes the captain of the royal guard of Queen
Taramis of Khauran. His impressive Fort save allows
him to survive his crucifixion and his being cut down. After his
crucifixion, Conan took over a band of Zuagirs from Olgerd
Vladislav. Conan is ruthless and not particularly
fooled by deceptions, even recognizing that Salome was not the Queen before anyone
At this point in his career he goes from kozak to pirate to captain of the queen's guard to Zuagir. Conan's life is not a dull one at this level, to be sure. He spent seven months serving under Olgerd before ousting the former Zuagir chief.
Conan's fighting style has gained his well known deadliness at this period of time. His combat reflexes give him quite the advantage in mass battles, with up to four attacks of opportunity as soldiers pass through his threat zone. His Great Cleave skill allows him to further wade through lesser warriors, crushing them left and right. At this point, Conan cannot be flanked, improving his ability to kill and survive.
Rage: Twice per day, Conan can go into a rage and increase his Strength and Constitution by +4, and gains a +2 morale bonus to Will saves. He suffers a -2 penalty to AC.
Fast movement: Conan's speed is increased by +10 feet when wearing no armor, light armor, and shields.
Sneak Attack: Conan strikes a vital spot for extra damage whenever he catches an opponent flat footed or when he flanks an opponent.
Evasion: If exposed to an effect that allows a Reflex save for half damage Conan takes no damage if that save is successful.
Uncanny Dodge: Conan retains his dexterity bonus to his AC even when caught flatfooted or surprised. He can sense danger before it even becomes apparent. Conan also can no longer be flanked.
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Robert E. Howard's story, "Shadows in the
Moonlight," was first published in Weird
in April of 1934. The story can also be found in the Ace/Lancer
paperback "Conan the Freebooter"; in "Swords and Sorcery" by L. Sprague De
Camp; in the Donald M. Grant edition of "Black Colossus", and the Gnome
Press collection "Conan the Barbarian". All of these are out
of print, but are usually available on eBay.
Currently in print is the British volume "The Conan Chronicles Volume I : The People of the Black Circle" which is part of Millennium's "Fantasy Masterworks" series. ISBN: 1-85798-996-1. It is available off of Amazon.com. It contains this story.
To the left is some original interior art from Weird Tales, April 1934. The picture above is scanned from the Lancer cover of "Conan the Freebooter", from my collection.
Robert E. Howard's story, "A Witch Shall Be Born," was first published in Weird Tales in December of 1934. The story can also be found in the Ace/Lancer paperback "Conan the Freebooter"; "Avon Fantasy Reader No. 10, 1949" and the Gnome Press collection "Conan the Barbarian". All of these are out of print, but are usually available on eBay.
Published in the December 1934 issue of
Weird Tales, "A Witch Shall Be Born" has
probably the most famous scene in the entire Conan series. It is
probably the most famous scene in all of Howard's writing, and perhaps
even in the entire genre of fantasy. Anyone who has read
"A Witch Shall Be Born", while perhaps forgetting the characters and/or
plot, will never forget Conan's crucifixion.
As Karl Edward Wagner put it, "Conan in agony, helpless, close to death-crushing the vulture's neck in his teeth-enduring the ordeal of the felling of the cross- impatiently ripping the nails out of his feet with his mangled hands- holding onto the saddle on a frenzied mount... the episode dominates the story and the series. Better than any other scene, it underscores Conan's barbaric vitality and indomitable soul. The scene overshadows the remainder of the story- and "A Witch Shall Be Born" is an excellent story. It is Conan at his best- defeated and condemned to a hideous death, fighting back through his barbaric strength and iron-willed determination, ultimately triumphant in the final battle, dooming his enemies to a just vengeance."
Karl Edward Wagner also said this of the story: "It is a measure of Howard's confidence in his mastery of the narrative that he no longer felt it necessary to waste pages describing various anatomy Conan can hack apart. After the crucifixion scene, we know Conan is tough."
The story was given a Margaret Brundage cover featuring Salome torturing her sister Taramis with a cat-o-nine-tails, and a Hugh Rankin interior illustration (if anyone out there has a scan of this interior illustration, I would appreciate being emailed a copy).