(Circa Beyond the Black River, Moon of Blood, The Black Stranger, Wolves Beyond the Border, Conan the Liberator)
Medium-sized Human, 42- 43 years old
Hit Dice: 10d12+3d6+6d10+76 (204 hp)
Initiative: +7 (+3 Dex, +4 improved initiative)
Speed: 40 ft.
AC: 18 (+3 Dex, +4 chain shirt, +1 dodge)
Attacks: Longword+23/+18/+13/+8 melee
Damage: Longsword 1d8+6
Face/Reach: 5 ft x 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Rage, sneak attack +2d6
Special Qualities: Fast movement, Evasion, Uncanny Dodge
Saves: Fort +17, Ref +13, Will +7
Abilities: Str 21, Dex 17, Con 18, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 18
Skills: Climb +24, Craft (blacksmithing) +5, Hide +7, Intuit Direction +9, Jump +24, Listen +9, Move Silently +13, Ride +12, Search +8, Wilderness Lore +17, Profession (seaman) +3, Swim +8
Feats: Track, Lightning Reflexes, Combat Reflexes, Power Attack, Cleave, Great Cleave, Mounted Combat, Mounted Archery, Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Improved Bull Rush
Challenge Rating: 19
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Advancement: By Character Class.
The Swamp Devil
|The Black Stranger
Count Valenso Korzetta
Strom the Barachan Pirate
Black Zarono the Buccaneer
|"It was like encountering a legendary figure in the flesh. Who of all the sea-folk had not heard the wild, bloody tales told of Conan, the wild rover who had once been a captain of the Barachan pirates, and one of the greatest scourges of the sea? A score of ballads celebrated his ferocious and audacious exploits. The man could not be ignored."|
|Robert E. Howard, "The Black Stranger"|
|Conan enrolls as a scout in the Aquilonian army
and battles the picts. He is the only known white man to have
crossed the lands of the Picts and survive. After crossing the
pictish wilderness he takes up another brief pirating career. He
rises in fame and eventually kills the King of Aquilonia on his throne,
strangling the monarch, and taking the crown of Aquilonia for
himself. His experiences in the wilds of pictland brings out the
barbarian in him again, and so he takes another level of
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.
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 at this point cannot be flanked. Conan also now gets a +1 bonus against traps (which serves him in good stead in "The Black Stranger".
|Note: Although he is serving in the Aquilonian army, he spends most of his time fighting picts, so I moved him up a level in Barbarian.|
|Conan Main Menu | Email | About Me | Inzeladun | Sign Guestbook|
|Robert E. Howard's story, "Beyond the Black
River," was first published in Weird Tales as a two part serial, beginning
in May of 1935 and ending in June 1935. The story can also be found
in the Ace/Lancer paperback "Conan the Warrior"; and the Gnome Press
collection "King Conan". It is also available in the Burkley/Putnam
edition, "Red Nails".
This was the second of Conan's four serial length appearances in Weird Tales. For a change, the Robert E. Howard story did not make the cover (probably because there wasn't a scantily clad female in distress). Instead, the magazine featured "A weird Craig Kennedy murder-mystery" by Arthur B. Reeve.
Of this story, Howard said this, "My latest sales have been... a two-part Conan serial to Weird Tales; no sex in the latter. I wanted to see if I could write an interesting Conan yarn without sex interest. I've attempted a new style and setting entirely - abandoned the exotic settings of lost cities, decaying civilizations, golden domes, marble palaces, silk-clad dancing girls, etc., and thrown my story against a background of forests and rivers, log cabins, frontier outposts, buckskin clad settlers, and painted tribesmen. Some day I am going to try my hand at a longer yarn of the same style, a serial of four or five parts." (This probably refers to "The Black Stranger", which he was unable to sell to Weird Tales.)
A lot of people don't care for "Beyond the Black River" because it is such a departure in style, but I think it is an excellent Conan story. For the first time, Howard was writing a Conan story in a framework which he knew from his own experience, which, in my opinion, gives the story a sense of reality and power that few of the other Conan stories can match.
Conan has, by this time, become such a super hero that it takes a secondary character so that the reader can relate to the story. In many ways, Balthus is a reflection of Howard himself, and it can be said that this story is a sort of 'what if Howard had met Conan' tale. This story seems to generate the most controversy amongst Howard fans. They either love the story, or they hate it.
Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser) has called "Beyond the Black River" the truest and most satisfying of the Conan stories. Robert Weinberg considers this tale "one of those stories that elevates Howard's sword and sorcery fiction well above any that has ever been written. Karl Edward Wagner agrees.
This story also has one of Howard's best lines- "Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must ultimately triumph."
Robert E. Howard completed twenty-one Conan stories during the four years that he wrote them. Of these, seventeen were published in Weird Tales. The other four, rejected by Farnsworth Wright, the editor of Weird Tales, remained unpublished until many years after Howard's suicide. "The Black Stranger" is one of these four completed stories.
After it was rejected, Howard made an unsuccessful attempt to salvage the story as a pirate yarn, substituting his pirate hero, Black Vulmea, for Conan, and calling it "Swords of the Red Brotherhood."
L. Sprague de Camp later found the original draft of the Conan version of the story and severly edited it so that the story would fit better into his personal idea of Conan's chronology. This rewrite was titled "The Treasure of Tranicos." De Camp changed the ending of the story: In the original, Conan decides to take up piracy again. In De Camp's alteration, some Aquilonian nobles divine Conan's location and go there to pick him up so he can lead a revolt against the King of Aquilonia. De Camp also changed the identity of the Black Stranger, changing it unnecessarily from a demon to Thoth Amon. He further changed the names of some characters. Strom became Strombanni in De Camp's recension.
Howard's original tale, unedited, was first published in paperback in 1987 in Karl Edward Wagner's "Echoes of Valor". It has since been published in Millenium Press' "Conan Chronicles Volume 2", which was recently released and is still in print.
|Trademarks and copyrights are cited on this page without permission. This usage is not meant in any way to challenge the rightful ownership of said trademarks/copyrights. AD&D is a trademark of TSR; reach TSR's parent company at Wizards of the Coast, Inc.©. All copyrights are acknowledged and remain the property of the owners. "Inzeladun" and related characters © 1984, 2000 Vincent N. Darlage. All rights reserved by their respective owners. This page is for entertainment only.|