Monday, October 26, 2020

Conan Casting

So Netflix is working on a Conan series, and there was apparently word of such a series being worked on previously that would follow the stories by Howard more faithfully than other attempts at putting the Cimmerian on the screen.  Screen Rant had a fun little video with some dream casting, but it was all about characters from the movies who never show up in the stories, folks like Thulsa Doom (who’s actually from the Kull stories) and Subatai. 


So let’s do this right.  Assuming this new show follows the stories far more closely, who should be cast in the various roles?  Here are some of my ideas:


Tower of the Elephant

We start with this story because it’s probably the most classic, and certainly one of the best of Howard’s Conan stories.  With the popularity of D&D, leading with what is among the most dungeon-rompy of Conan’s stories seems a no-brainer.  And as this is our opener, we’re going in with a bang, spending some money on the cast.

Conan - Karl Urban

I’ve loved him in everything I’ve seen him in.  Momoa wouldn’t be bad either; I liked him in the role, I just thought the writing was poor.

Taurus, "Prince of Thieves" - Dave Bautista

We need someone with both bulk and agility, who combines joviality with menace.  I can’t think of anyone better, but I also can’t shake the thought I’m forgetting someone here.

Yag-kosha - Tim Allen

This is a purely voiced role.  We need someone who can bring pathos to the alien’s words.  In the same way Bernard Hill, who usually plays more comedic roles, infused Theodan with pathos and gravitas, I think Tim Allen’s empathy and sense of timing would work really, really well in this challenging role.  Besides, I want to save Mark Hamill for something bigger later in the series. 😉

Yara - Ian McShane

He’s a big name right now, everyone knows and enjoys him, and he looks like an evil sorcerer to boot!


The God in the Bowl

And immediately we’re switching gears with a whodunnit.  This nicely shows the sort of range of Howard’s stories; Conan is a thief in both, burglarizing a wealthy residence, but the stories are very different in feel and tone.  We’re also teasing Stygia here good and early.

Magistrate Demetrio - Casper Van Dien

The role calls for a chisel-jawed man who is driven by duty but not blinded by it.

Prefect of Police Dionus - Richard Brake

Brake can play those roles where the character needs to get under your skin and be annoying, but you’ll still kinda root for the guy.


The Hall of the Dead 

Instead of Conan escaping at the end of this one, we simply segue right into Rogues with Murilo visiting him either at the end of this one or the beginning of the next one.

Nestor - David Wenham

He’s got the look and the action skills already.


Rogues in the House

Murilo - Michael Gough

Nabonidus - Ian McDiarmid

We need two actors who can chew the scenery and yet ooze corruption that can contrast with Conan’s simple barbaric nobility.  These old hands would be awesome together as foes forced into alliance. 

Thak - John Cena

We need someone who’s big and physical, with the wrestling skills of, well, a pro. 


Frost-giant's Daughter

While this one probably happens earlier in most chronologies, Conan is not at his most empathetic here.  He’s also a full-on reaver in this one, while he’s more the thief in all the other tales.

Atali - Sophia Jane Myles

I think she’s terribly underrated and would make an excellent ice princess.  Watching her slowly drive Conan to the boiling point only to have him ambushed by her brothers would be a lot of fun.

The Brothers - two stuntmen whose faces we rarely get to see on the screen would be good, but what would be really cool is getting Matt Easton and Lindybeige to play these guys.  ;D

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Dice, Mooks, and Consequences


So Jim Desborough posted a video lamenting the loss of DM mystery with rolls being made out in the open.  Of course he mentions not being able to fudge dice rolls for dramatic effect.  Which, naturally, brings to mind Dyson Logos’ frequent cri de cœur that, if you don’t like one or more (or all) of the possible results of a roll, why are you even touching the dice?


But I think we can take this a step further.  If you don’t like an array of potential results but still really, really want to roll dice, why not just change the array?  You want the fight to last no more than three rounds, but the dice dictate whether the orcs are all dead at the end of the fight or if they run away.  Or, maybe the orcs all die, but if the PCs didn’t reach a threshold of damage dealt, the ogre in the next room hears the commotion and sets an ambush.


I’ve never been a big fan of mook mechanics, failing to see the point in using valuable game time on a fight that is unlikely to result in any interesting consequences.  This is especially true in 5e where even the possibility of draining the PCs of limited resources is extremely remote. 


But if something interesting happens if the PCs don’t slay the mooks before a timer runs out, or slay them in the proper order, or slay them without using fire or something similar, or the mooks explode like piñatas of poisoned and serrated death, or explode like piñatas of gold and cool randomly determined magic items, now we’re talking about fun.    


And you can apply this all over the place!  Roll well and the merchant is successfully haggled to a lower price; roll poorly and the merchant is successfully haggled to a lower price and is so smitten by your haggling skills they propose marriage.  PCs can’t die, but instead we’ll roll on a nifty Table of Traumas & Scars that leave a map of their adventures literally carved into their flesh and psyches.  You roll well and fail to convince the king to give you his crown, but he’s amused by your attempt and appoints you Court Jester; or you roll poorly and fail to convince the king to give you his crown and he’s enraged by your attempt and orders that you be drawn and quartered.


We’re picking class and race before rolling stats and instead of 3d6 for your class’ prime stats you roll 1d4+14.  Or maybe we’re rolling first, but we roll 3d6 twice, 1d8+10 twice, and 1d4+14 twice.  If you’re playing with a de facto or de jure rule that no PC can have a negative sum of modifiers, you’re already playing with rules even more forgiving than these.