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This is Conan roleplaying as Robert E. Howard wrote it – savage pulp adventure battling ancient horrors in the Hyborian Age
This is Conan roleplaying as Robert E. Howard wrote it – savage pulp adventure battling ancient horrors in the Hyborian Age
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Conan Content Preview - Hyperborea

Posted by Chris Birch, Modiphius (Creator)

Today we have an excerpt of Content from the Gazetteer section of the core book but first I wanted to thank Backer David Thomas who's been fired up doing lots of examples of play using the Quickstart materials. He worked up the Stats of Queen Zenobia and ran her through a couple of little scenes - I thought you'd like to see this fun excerpt!

Also Backer Carldot34 has produced another little adventure based loosely on Shadows in Zamboula - it's great seeing all these contributions so please keep them coming!

Please note these have not been through the editorial process but our system developer Nathan will be posting comments on both as and when he can. 

Content Preview - Hyperborea 

Robert E. Howard’s published (and unpublished) Conan stories gave little insight into the nature of the remote and menacing land of Hyperborea, one of the first true kingdoms to form in the wake of the Cataclysm. Howard’s writing process, however, involved many notes, letters, and early drafts, and from these it is clear that Hyperborea was to feature far more centrally in Conan’s saga. Those stories, unfortunately, remained unwritten. From these notes, the obvious influences for the region are Kievan, Russia and the Republic of Novgorod, and it is these historical regions that inspire our treatment of Hyperborea in Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of. 

This excerpt from the core book is written in the voice of Old Gorm, an Aesir warrior mentioned in “The Frost Giant’s Daughter”, who serves as the reader’s eyes into the lands of the north. 


 ... the first Hyborian kingdom has come into being – the rude and barbaric kingdom of Hyperborea, which had its beginning in a crude fortress of boulders heaped to repel tribal attack. The people of this tribe soon abandoned their horse-hide tents for stone houses, crudely but mightily built, and thus protected, they grew strong. There are few more dramatic events in history than the rise of the rude, fierce kingdom of Hyperborea ...

 – “The Hyborian Age” 

The folk of Hyperborea are a strange and fey lot, a surly and dangerous people despised by their neighbors in the north for their wanton slavery and habit of waging war ‘pon those who share borders. Their land is as bleak and cold as is Asgard, though the southern reaches of the land are more favorable. In the southern reaches of their country, the Hyperboreans are able to farm and herd to their best of their abilities, with small farming-steads outside their cities. Long ago though, the folk of Hyperborea were race of horsemen, great tribes of tent-dwellers, living beneath roofs of horse-hide, traversing the land far and wide, following the seasons, hunting and living off the land. 

For reasons that are lost to time, these Hyperboreans of old settled down and stopped their wanderings, putting aside their nomadic traditions and building walled villages which grew into walled towns which were bolstered into walled fortress cities. But even these great fortifications could not protect them against the tawny-headed savages — the tribe of Bor — sweeping down from the north on their way southward to the Gunderland. Bor’s descendants threw down the Hyperboreans of old, usurping their cities and even taking their name for their own use, as if it were a spoil of war. Like changelings, the sons of Bor became Hyperboreans, and eventually, the old race was all but snuffed out, a strange bloodline found only in the remotest parts of the land. 

Once ensconced behind protective walls and no longer prey to the rigors of life on the open plain, these new Hyperboreans became the first in the north lands to embrace civilization, and they were the first to marshal true armies to defend their lands against the raiders from Nordheim and even their former kinsfolk, the offspring of the tribes of Bor. They were able to defend against the riders of Hyrkania — the old birthplace of the folk that had come before them — as those horse-clans crossed the cold waste from the east, in search of glory and spoils of the west. The Hyperboreans fought off the ancient ancestors of the Nordheimers, and kept to their land, becoming as resolute and implacable as the stone from which their walls were hewn. 

From within these high-walled redoubts, the Hyperboreans are renowned as grim and powerful foes, raiders in their own right, harrying the Cimmerians as well as the people of Asgard. They venture even further afield, preying on the people of Zamora, Brythunia, and crossing into the Border Kingdom, plundering wantonly and taking men, women, and children as slaves. They boast at this despicable practice, claiming to be better at slavery than even the folk of Koth, whom they in truth know little about. Slavery makes up much of Hyperborea’s trade with foreign lands, though they must travel far to find those willing to traffic in such wares. Other captives they take are treated less charitably, sold as chattel or kept as household slaves.

From these many foreign strains the Hyperborean bloodline has become impure, but they are still a distinct people, the tallest by far in the northern continent. Gigantic and blonde are the Hyperboreans, prone to gauntness and light eyes, and there is a crudeness to their appearance, big-boned and rough-hewn sort of mien that is disquieting, as if they are a cruder sort of men than those from other lands. Half-breeds are common, though shorter and darker, generally, and generally less coarse in semblance than the Hyperboreans themselves. As a people, they are oft taciturn and sullen, boastful and careless with their words. Suitably, their language is coarse and thick, and they speak slowly, their voices generally deep and rumbling, and if any member of that race showed joy, it was a grim and mirthless sort of celebration.

Hyperboreans rival the Cimmerians in their tendency towards moodiness and bleak despair, shared across the entire people, and for that reason many of them grow restless, striking out and venturing to the south, entering the more civilized kingdoms where they can offer their services as sell-swords, or even turning to banditry and killing for hire.

They dress primarily in woollen garments, leggings and heavy cloaks, and armor themselves in studded leather, layered against the ever-present northern chill. They favor sword and spears, and though they inhabit a land founded by horsemen, the Hyperboreans have little in the way of cavalry. Though they were the first of the northern lands to embrace the supposed virtues of civilization, they are still isolated and have disdain for many of its practices. Most men-folk are expected to serve in their armies at some point, and women in the Hyperborean culture are less respected or free than they are elsewhere in the north, or the more civilized lands to the south.

Hyperborea has a single king, Tomar, but he sits above many lesser kings, usually glorified war-lords who hold their thrones through force of will. Often, these lordlings serve as the high priests of their city’s patron god. Generally this is some form of Bor, the ancient chieftain they worship like a god, but the Hyperboreans of some cities worship gods far stranger and more terrible.

MORE TILES. Let's leave on another graphic notes with more tiles from artist Jose Esteras our ACE mapmaker! What secrets lie beyond the fall columns and statues...

 This large Mead Hall will be the setting for much treachery and blood spilling!

Tomorrow we'll have a preview for the awesome Gray Ape stats and background! An Elite challenge for your heroes. 




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    1. Jason Durall Collaborator on

      @David I was imagining Vladimir Kulich, actually... ;)

    2. Chris Birch, Modiphius 7-time creator on

      @Ron you'll have the Talents in the Core Book :-)

    3. Ron Niabati on

      Yeah, it is a very flexible system that compels creativity. I suppose you could just as easily add Talents to a skill-tree, which is what the supplement books will most likely do.
      Thanks again!

    4. David Thomas on

      @Ron - That was just me making up a horse attack on the fly. I don't have access to the actual mounted combat rules, but with this system it was easy enough to make up something suitable at the moment and run with it. It's a very flexible system.

    5. Ron Niabati on

      @ David Thomas: Very nice play-through. Thanks for writing it up for everyone!
      I do have one question/comment... when Zenobia attempted to run over her opponents with a horse, is that a Talent for the Animal Handling skill? For example, “Combat Riding” Talent, where you roll Animal Handling to make an attack with your horse as the weapon (4x combat dice, Knockdown and Stun Qualities)?

    6. David Thomas on

      Fantastic stuff! If all the background material is this good, I'm going to be even happier, and I'm already pretty happy.

      Anyone else see Dolph Lundgren when reading the description? :P

      Thanks for the shout out Chris!