Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Save Vs Conan: The Monster of the Monoliths


Save Vs Conan: The Monster of the Monoliths
Conan the Barbarian #21, December, 1972
Roy Thomas/ Barry Windsor Smith

The Makkalet Epic chronicles the siege of the titular city. It runs through issues 19-26 of Conan the Barbarian. It’s a flurry of battles; captures and escapes. Conan switches sides a couple of times, and leaves the entire area only to return more than once, too. These are the last of BWS issues,and the first of John Buscema’s. Red Sonja makes her first appearance in issue 24 (BWS’ last).  

In issue 21, after getting the sexy-eye and a fancy armlet from the queen Conan leaves Makkalet with a band of soldiers, bound for  an ally of the city to request aide. The soldiers stop along the way. They kidnap some hapless girl and tie both her and Conan to slabs of stone set between two large stone blocks. A giant frog thing is summoned and it kills a bunch of guys- but seems really focused on Conan. The armlet given to him by the queen has the exact same runic markings as the monolith. Both sets of script are glowing. Conan realizes the armlet attracts the monster. He tosses it to one of the soldiers. The frog monster eats the dude and vanishes in a puff of smoke. 

This one seems to be useable in a variety of settings and genres.
Here, however, are the key components:
A traitorous power with lackeys
A poisoned gift(s) (i.e., something that attracts the monster- like the armlet).
A journey with a seeming purpose
A battleground (e.g., temple; center of ring of standing stones; arena; rouge asteroid; highway- really, wherever). 
A monster (e.g., frog demon; warbot; dragon; Hulk, whatever). The entity vanishes, destructs or just leaves after the destruction of the poisoned gift. 

I suggest, that rather than taking all the PC’s stuff and leaving them tied to a slab naked, that the referee use a little more finesse.  Have the lackeys lead  the PCs to the battleground, and leave them there, trapped, somehow; but with gear and weapons intact. The monster should be formidable enough that it wont matter. 
There should be some dark hints and foreboding leading up to all this - and at least one opportunity for the PC’s to suss out the trap. I find that whether the PCs get fooled or not, the results to such a scam are very satisfying on both side of the screen, but only if there was a viable way out at some point. 
Otherwise, it’s cheating. 
Either way- the players are going to want revenge upon the giver of the poisoned gift(s), which will lead to its own set of adventures. 


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