Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia - Conversion Notes for the Conan RPG

Contributed by: Thulsa (), author of the Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia adventure/sourcebook published by Necromancer Games.

Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia Cover Illustration by Rick Sardinha

"For it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols. (...) Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation." -- Jeremiah,Chapter 50,Verse 38-39


Many moons ago, I was approached by Bill Webb of Necromancer Games. Based on my work with this website, I was asked to write a sword & sorcery adventure for publication. I was given pretty much free reins with regard to the content and theme of the adventure module, but as you would guess my literary preferences go very much in the direction of Robert E. Howard and his contemporaries, such as Clark Ashton Smith and H.P. Lovecraft.

So I set down to write a d20 adventure set in ancient Mesopotamia, much like Gary Gygax's "Necropolis" is set in a fantasy version of ancient Egypt, but with (I hope) a strong "pulp flavor" in the manner of REH, CAS, and HPL. The book, Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia, is now available in print.

While written for standard d20/3.5E rules, the adventure can easily be adapted to the Hyborian world and the rules of the Mongoose Conan RPG. The following are some brief notes to assist in such a conversion. I would love to hear from you if you use the module in any way, whether with standard d20 rules or the Conan RPG ruleset (in fact, I'd like to hear your opinions on the text even if you don't use the module in play...). See my email address at the top of this article.



The module centers around the ruined city of Ibnath and the surrounding desert. I suggest making Ibnath a ruined Shemite outpost somewhere in the Kharamun Desert (near the western foothills of the Ilbars Mountains works well), founded by a group of outcast (or perhaps self-exiled) Pelishtim priests.

Another city, Yhakkoth, once stood nearby but was totally obliterated by forces from Ibnath in ages past. Suggestion: Yhakkoth was built during the Old Stygian empire, and was ruled by Stygian sorcerers and demon-summoners. Before its destruction, it was to the west of Ibnath, in the direction of Stygia, perhaps not too far from where the River Styx bends and flows southwards.


The module as written is very open to random wandering and exploration, and the over-arching plot hardly needs modification to be used in a Hyborian campaign. Refer to the Module Background and Current Situation in the book (Chapter 4) for details. Powerful magic prevents the banished kingpriest Arukurshu from entering the ruins of Ibnath, and similar magic imprisons his mate, the Ghoul-Queen Nikhartha. The Hierophants of Ibnath lie asleep in their stasis tombs, unable to awaken by their own volition. The key to dispelling the magic placed on either faction can be found somewhere in the desert. At the same time, the Brotherhood of Kalab and the Cult of the Pit-Worm have their own agendas, and the nomadic Sons of Saram, unless befriended, pose a threat to anyone travelling through the wastes they inhabit.


The module refers to the Mesopotamian pantheon, which includes Ishtar, Tammuz, Anu and Nergal. These gods, or suitable substitutes, already exist in the Hyborian world. A few nonhistorical deities are mentioned, such as Yaazotsh the Vulture-God, the Eater of the Dead, but these should fit in nicely in a Hyborian campaign.

With regard to priests, simply replace any spellcasting clerics with Scholars who have the appropriate faiths and beliefs. Or drop spellcasting entirely and make priests knife-wielding cultists with Thief, Soldier, and perhaps even Noble, levels.

Magic and Monsters

This is a tricky one. Depending on your outlook, there might be considerably less magic, monsters and dungeon-crawling in a Conan RPG game than in a standard d20 game. The following is a compromise between standard D&D and the Mongoose Conan setting, but inevitably there is an emphasis on combat and a bit of dungeon-crawling. In your campaign, monsters may be more rarely encountered. If so, remove monsters from the locations (perhaps substituting with human encounters where appropriate). Also, consider using various locations in the module as separate (unconnected) adventures.

A good rule of thumb might be to split up play sessions so that only one supernatural monster (or type of monster, such as a pack of ghouls) is encountered in each session. This may require a bit of planning, but pacing is important to ensure the atmosphere, mystery and horror of the pulp stories. Human opponents and "natural animals" (in a broad sense -- including giant versions of normal animals, insects, fungi, flesh-eating birds, etc.) should constitute the majority of encounters, with supernatural monsters and demons appearing less often.


Here are some specific conversion guidelines. As mentioned, feedback is welcome. In general, no NPCs have magical items unless noted. Also, for Scholars, not all Sorcery Styles are specified, only the most appropriate Styles for the NPC in question; DMs should fill in the details of the spell lists. Many monsters can be used as-is, just convert Armor Class to Defense Value and factor in Armor Piercing (if applicable). See also Uncle Bear's "Converting d20 creatures to Conan" article for more details on monster conversion.

Good luck with your Hyborian adventures in the Lost City of Ibnath!

Chapter/Location Encounter/NPC Conversion Notes
Chapter 5, The Red Waste The Sons of Saram Male Shemite (Zuagir) Nomad 2, no armor, scimitar, Shemite bow
Shaykh Yahdu-Lim Male Shemite (Zuagir) Nomad 1/Barbarian 8, mail shirt, Akbitanian steel tulwar, Shemite bow, 3 doses of black Stygian scorpion venom
Urim the Vulture-Masked Shaman Male Shemite (Pelishtim) Scholar 7, some doses of Flame-Powder
War Camel War Camel: HD 4d8+12 (30 hp); Init +7; Speed 50 ft.; DV 14; DR 2; BAB +2; Grapple +10; Atk bite +7 melee (1d4+7); Full Atk bite +7 melee (1d4+7); Space/Reach 10 ft./5 ft.; SQ low-light vision, scent; SV Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +2; Str 21, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 4; Skills: Listen +5, Spot +5. War Camels cost 750 sp.
Chapter 5, The Brotherhood of Kalab Khasim Male Stygian Scholar 11, Stygian Tomb-Dust, owl familiar (no special abilities, but used for scouting, sending messages, etc.), Sorcery Styles (Necromancy)
Yarima the Red Witch Female Stygian Scholar 10, Sorcery Styles (Divination, Hypnotism)
Khoraj Male Stygian Scholar 9, Sorcery Styles (Summonings)
Lesser Wizards of Kalab Male or Female Stygian Scholar 1-3
Warrior-Mercenary of Kalab Male Stygian or Shemite with any combination of 4 Soldier and Nomad levels, scale corselet, battleaxe, Stygian or Shemite bow
Yhakkor (new monster) Use as-is, or replace with Chakan (from Scrolls of Skelos)
Skeletons, Skeletal Horses Remove these from the adventure
Chapter 6, The Sea of Bones Treasure Mounds Remove the magical items, or replace with minor herbal/alchemical items such as Flame-Powder
Ishtim Male Shemite (Zuagir) Nomad 1/Barbarian 3/Thief 3, no armor, short sword and axe (two-weapon combat proficiency), 2 doses of great serpent venom
The Sickle Sword of Naalfesh An Akbitanian steel war sword, with the ability to control weak wielders (up to 8HD) similar to the Domination spell in the Sorcery chapter (magical attack roll +10).
Undead Encounters Convert Shadows and Wraiths from the Monster Manual, or replace with a single Night-Weird (from Scrolls of Skelos) out to hunt for lost souls on the battlefield.
Chapter 7, Dragonclaw Rock Wyverns Change to pterodactyl, giant bird or similar, and convert from Monster Manual
Zadhi the Druidess Female Shemite (Zuagir) Nomad 4/Scholar 6, Sorcery Styles (Nature Magic), some doses of black Stygian scorpion venom
Giant Ants Convert from Monster Manual
Chapter 8, The Oasis of Purple Dreams Vampire Cactus Use as-is, or replace with single Yothga (from Scrolls of Skelos)
Dream Encounters Use Dream Table as-is. Improvise combat with any monster (or pick something appropriate from the Conan RPG or Scrolls of Skelos)
Chapter 9, The Pit of Yhath Cultists of the Pit-Worm Male and Female Shemite, Kushite or Stygian Barbarian 2 or Thief 2, no armor, battleaxe, war sword, or Ghanata knife
Numdiat Male Himelian Barbarian 6, brigandine coat, steel cap, tulwar, hunting bow
Nim-Artatu Male Shemite (Pelishtim) Scholar 8
Sidmu Female Shemite (Pelishtim) Scholar 4
Captives in the Pit Replace with suitable Hyborian races, classes, and religions.
The Pit-Worm of Yhath Replace with non-intelligent Cthonian (or Dhole!) from CoC d20, or something similar to a Greater Son of Set from the main rulebook
Chapter 10, The Ziggurat of the Ghoul-Queen Ghouls Use as-is, or replace with Ghouls from the Conan rulebook (note: these are significantly tougher, so reduce the numbers)
Harpies Convert from Monster Manual, or replace with large flesh-eating birds
Winged Minotaur Remove from the adventure
Wraith Remove from the adventure, or replace with Night-Weird (from Scrolls of Skelos)
Nikhartha Female Shemite (Pelishtim) Vampire Scholar 8, some doses of Stygian Tomb-Dust, Black Lotus Powder, and Grey Lotus Blossom
Vampire-Spawn Replace with Ghouls from the Conan rulebook
The Eye of Ishtar Keeps corporeal undead at bay for up to 10 minutes/day.
Chapter 11, The Horns of Sinmesh Mine Entrance The doors can be beaten down, or opened by a Greater Warding spell (against DC 18).
Clay Golems Use as-is (but remove the special spellcasting ability, and remember Terror save), or replace with two Smoke Serpents
Inamuat Male Shemite Ghost Soldier 8. Do not use the ghost "template" from the Conan RPG book, but make Inamuat incorporeal and give him the Corrupting Gaze power. Require silver weapons to hit (but still 50% miss chance), and make sure there are some silver items (goblets, candle holders, etc.) in nearby chambers which can be used as improvised weapons to defeat the ghost.
Great Furnace, Salamanders Remove the salamanders and the magical gate from the adventure
Frogs, Fungi, Huge Ankheg, and Piecers Leave as-is
Namra-Sagu Male Shemite Barbarian 3/Scholar 5, a globe of Kothic Demon-Fire, a few doses of fungi similar to Violet Cureall (from Scrolls of Skelos)
Degenerates of Sinmesh Leave as-is, or replace with stats similar to Chakan (from Scrolls of Skelos).
Thing in the Bowl Leave as-is (but remember Terror saves).
Arukurshu Male Shemite (or Acheronian?) Vampire Soldier 13, ancient bronze plate armor, large shield, great helm, heavy mace. In addition to the normal powers of Hyborian vampires, Arukurshu also has the ability to shapechange into a bat.
Sealed Treasure Vault Replace the demon with something the stat-wise equivalent of either a Crawler of Xuchotl, the Slave of the Ring, or a Titan Snake (all from Scrolls of Skelos), depending on the power level of the PCs. In addition to the mundane treasure, the vault could perhaps contain a magical item in proportion to the power of its guardian (from a globe of Acheronian Demon-Fire, to a few pages torn from the Book of Skelos).
Chapter 12, Caravanserai Ruins Caravanserai Ruins The jackalweres are a band of were-creatures from the jungles of Zembabwei. Use the were-hyena stats from the Conan RPG. These creatures wear no armor. Ninziduk is a Male Kushite Barbarian 2/Scholar 4 with were-hyena template, no armor, hunting spear, hunting bow.
Chapter 12, Slum Areas Slum Areas Use Ghouls from the Conan rulebook, or perhaps change to a band of Himelian bandits.
Chapter 12, Altar of the Vulture-God The Altar of the Vulture-God Convert the vrock demon from the Monster Manual, or replace the demon and its aerial servitors to a flock of several Night-Weirds (from Scrolls of Skelos). A Staff of Death may be found here, in addition to the mundane treasure.
Chapter 12, Temple Gardens and Sacred Lake Temple Gardens and Sacred Lake Convert the various plant monsters from the Monster Manual, or use Black Lotus and/or Yothgra (from Scrolls of Skelos). Leave the froghemoth as-is, it fits perfectly in the Hyborian Age.
Chapter 12, Palace of the Kingpriest Warding Seals Use as-is, or replace with a Death Touch effect.
Palace Guards Male Shemite Soldier 3, leather jerkin, buckler, short sword, javelin.
Outer Court NPCs These are mostly non-combatants and should be easy to improvise if brought into play. For the snow leopard, use the panther stats in the Conan RPG.
Yam-Baal-Ah Male Stygian Scholar 11, in his current state he is reduced to a decapitated head.
Shedu-Golems Either convert, use as-is, or leave as inanimate stone statues.
Lion Guards Male Shemite Vampire Soldier 5, mail shirt, steel cap, broadsword, Shemite bow. Use the vampire template from the Conan RPG, except the Children of the Night and Dominate special attacks.
Inner Court NPCs Any of these might fight the party. NPCs include Yahar (Male Shemite Soldier 10), Kothar-U-Khassis (Male Stygian Noble 5/Scholar 6), Yagrush (Male Iranistani Barbarian 11), Anath (Female Turanian Noble 2/Scholar 8), Quadish-Amrar (Male Zamorian Noble 4/Thief 4). Drop all magical items from these NPCs; some may carry poison or minor herbal/alchemical items as per their descriptions.
Arukurshu's Concubines Replace the Vampire-Spawn and the priestesses with a group of Female Shemite Vampire Thief 5, no armor, poisoned stiletto knives, golden jewelry.
Chapter 12, The Avenue of Broken Columns The Avenue of Broken Columns Use as-is
Chapter 12, Tombs of the Sacred Wives Tombs of the Sacred Wives Make the gargoyles regular inanimate statues. Convert the groaning spirits, or replace with creatures similar to Lost Women (from Scrolls of Skelos). Leave the other monsters as-is (use Ghouls from Conan RPG). Consider making the gorgon a regular inanimate statue.
Chapter 12, The Purple Obelisks of Yhakkoth The Kalabite Ritual of Resurrection Run as written, but remove the animated skeletons (the sorcerers may animate Risen Dead during a fight, though). Yaod was/is a Male Old Stygian Noble 2/Scholar 16; if the ritual is successful, apply the Mummy of Ahriman template (from Scrolls of Skelos) to the arch-sorcerer of Yhakkoth.
Chapter 13, The Temple of a Thousand Gods The Temple of a Thousand Gods Change some of the statues in the high court to Hyborian gods. The lower levels of the temple are basically dungeon-crawls (which are fun, but probably too much for a Hyborian adventure). Reduce or remove the dungeon levels entirely.
Chapter 14, The Great Ziggurat The Great Ziggurat Leave more or less as-is. Consider removing the gargoyles and the clay golem. Leave the bronze skeletons in the Great Hall and the Devourer in the cavern as-is. Remove the magical properties of the zodiac. Change the glabrezu to a demon similar to a Slave of the Ring (from Scrolls of Skelos). Change the Hierophants to Scholars; Kalduk (Male Shemite [Pelishtim] Scholar 14), Anukhar (Male Shemite [Pelishtim] Noble 2/Scholar 12, Ishummar (Male Shemite [Pelishtim] Nomad 2/Scholar 14.