CROM! Skirmish games in the Hyborian Age

I was supposed to use my limited playing time to either continue my Jaws of the Lion or Tainted Grail campaign... or even finish off the third and final missions for my Zona Alfa and Horizon Wars: Zero Dark mini campaigns... or finally start my 5 Parsecs campaign.

Instead, I got sidetracked by CROM, a skirmish game set in the Hyborian Age from Matakashi's Tea House.

I have the attention span of a mayfl-- ooohh... look! a butterfly!!! 

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The Warlock has vowed a grisly revenge on a nearby village for not paying tribute to him. He will raise a Lich Wyrm to destroy the village. Conan and Belit must stop him. 

Setup : the Warlock and priests are in a hidden Summoning Circle. Conan and Belit must make a simple search (6+ for success) for 4 clues scattered about the countryside that will reveal the location of the Summoning Circle. Meanwhile, two groups of skeleton warrior minions patrol the area. 


Conan and Belit split up. Conan searches for clues to the hidden entrance to the Summoning Circle. Finds a likely spot but when he stumbles over a skull, he hears a mocking laugh and a wind rushes past him, headed towards the nearby hills. 

Belit is frustrated as she cannot find anything. 

The skeleton warriors (two groups) march forward mindlessly. One group heads towards Conan. Another to the hidden entrance. 

Meanwhile the Warlock and his priests perform the ritual and are 6/10ths of the way to summon the dreaded Lich Wyrm! (Doing so will "sequester" the dice they used for magic. The dice will be returned to the magic users one die per turn, unless some special event happens, like...)

The laughing wind rushes into the Summoning Circle and reinvigorates the Warlock’s magical energy (recover 4 dice). 


Rooting around, Conan finds ... some wine (+4 dice, one time use)! "This will come in handy," he grins. 

Belit still comes up empty! She swears. "Look around some more! I’m sure the clues to the entrance are nearby. There aren’t that many more places that it can be hidden!"

Conan grunts and looks behind him at the pursuing skeletons. They are slow, but sure. They will soon catch up with him. 

What to do?

The priests need time to recover their mana. But the Warlock puts more energy into the summoning. 7/10ths of the summoning ritual performed! 


At their dread master’s command, a group of shambling skeletons stand guard at the hidden entrance to the Summoning Circle. 

The Warlock laughs as he regains his strength. Soon... very soon... those fool villagers will feel his wrath!!

The priests continue their chanting. They can feel the dread veils to the nether hells begin to part...

A group of skeletons catches up with Conan. He turns one into bone splinters!

Meanwhile Belit finally finds the clue to the hidden entrance. “I found it! It’s in between the hills, my love!” she shouts. “Meet you there!”

Just then she hears a skitter from the nearby ruins. A spider the size of a mastiff!! She sees the green venom dripping from its fangs. 

“Conan, beware! Wandering monsters!!!!”

Conan looks at the skeletons in front of him ...

...then lets loose a sulphurous curse and turns and runs across the treacherous rocky ground and undergrowth. He sees a group of skeletons in front of him and leaps!

His weapons flash. Two fall, leaving one standing. 


The remaining skeleton charges Conan. He hacks one withered arm away, then splits its skull apart. Seeing the mystical energies ahead of him, he impulsively charges at the priests on the Summoning Circle. He hacks one down then leaps away to take stock of things. 

Big mistake! The Warlock summons another group of skeletons to attack Conan!

Meanwhile the spider charges Belit. Nimbly, she dances around it and hacks off several limbs... then moves in for the kill. Right between the eyes!

The remaining skeletons shamble towards Conan, summoned by their master. 


The skeletons attack! Conan hacks two of them to pieces. 

Belit runs towards Conan. 

The priests finish their invocation and a rip appears in space/time! It only needs the Warlock to call it’s secret name and the Lich Wyrm will appear!

Their task done, the priests draw their daggers and, screaming curses, hurl themselves on Conan and Belit... who hack them down without mercy. 

Conan runs and attacks the Warlock, who defends himself but not well. 

The Warlock decides all is lost so with his dying breath he calls on the Lich Wyrm. He will not be there to control it, but he knows it will go berserk and attack its nearest foes: Conan and Belit!

With the death of their master, the remaining skeletons crumble to dust, leaving Conan and Belit to face the fury of the Lich Wyrm!


Howling their respective battle cries, Conan and Belit attack the Wyrm, which seems disoriented by its abrupt summoning. It’s powerful... but slow. 

The two warriors weave a dance of death about the massive Wyrm, slicing at its vitals until it crumbles... defeated... into the dust of the Summoning Circle. 

Conan and Belit are victorious. The village is safe!


This is my third go at the game in 2 days. My first was over in 15 minutes as I made a greviously false assumption about how minions activated. 

Then in my second game I forgot about marker points and other trigger events. Sighhhhh... 

So I updated the setup in this game and the game suddenly became alive! In my previous two games, it was an OK skirmish game with an interesting dice pool mechanic. But now, having to search for the hidden entrance suddenly put the pressure on the heroes, leaving the magic users to summon the monster in peace ... more or less. 

I also made most of the terrain as "difficult" so the heroes’ movement will be cut in half most of the time. The skeletons move at half speed anyway (shamblers) but are not affected by terrain. 

The inclusion of a wandering monster in the form of a giant spider also spiced things up. (The spider has 8 legs so isn't affected by difficult terrain). All these slowed the heroes down and I had a genuine sense of urgency as I raced against the clock. 

As the author said in his (free) CROM Companion... competent hero players will decimate minions and they are really there to slow the heroes down. Mission accomplished in terms of scenario design.

More thoughts on CROM in another post or else this part will be longer than my battle report!

Free rules available here.