Showing posts from November, 2011

Why later Conan pastiche sucks

So about a month or so ago, I decided to replace my copy of Conan the Buccaneer because the binding on my existing copy was bad. I managed to land a copy on ebay for cheap, and when it arrived I got a bonus: a book called Conan the Champion, by John Maddox Roberts. I figured I had little to lose, so I decided to give it a shot.

At first it didn't seem too bad--I wondered why everyone gets so down on the Tor pastiches (the Robert Jordan ones aside--I've read his indestructible, noble and heroic Conan who may as well have a big red "S" on his chest, and gagged along with the rest of you). I mean, Roberts seemed to "get" Conan as a character. His dialogue was in keeping with the Conan I knew, and the story was even passable, though the book's back cover claimed it took place in Brythunia but Roberts seemed to be writing about some odd hackneyed cross between Asgard and Vanaheim.  Still, I was willing to roll with a generic Northern culture not exactly plac…

Age of Conan - OD&D Hyborian Bestiary Forthcoming

So as I mentioned in the blog post I put up yesterday, I've discovered that using standard OD&D summoning tables (per Greyhawk) loses some of the flavor of the Hyborian Age--a lot of the flavor, in fact, when sorcerers find themselves calling forth Elves, dwarves, harpies, and normal warriors or "evil clerics."

Sorcerers in a Conan game should call forth creatures of the Outer Dark--demons and degenerates. As such, I've revised the summoning tables (a work in progress, obviously). Unfortunately, posting the revision now would do little good as I've called upon the following sources in addition to OD&D:

Bestiary of the Hyborian Age (Mongoose Conan)
Secrets of Skelos (Mongoose Conan)
Call of Cthulhu d20 (WotC/Chaosium)
Deities and Demigods (AD&D first ed. w/Cthulhu Mythos)
Monster Manual II (AD&D first ed.)

Can't just assume that everyone has these books.

As such, I'm working on putting together quick Age of Conan stats for all the crea…

Age of Conan - OD&D game Sessions Fifteen to Seventeen and general ponderings

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I haven't posted any session updates for Age of Conan for the past couple sessions--this is party out of laziness, partly due to the fact that I am now professionally ghost-writing blogs for Detroit-area law firms (which leaves precious little time for the writing I'd actually like to be doing), and partly because there's just not a lot to report. Sessions have been short lately, and honestly, the entire first section of Mongoose's Betrayer of Asgard is, well, rather slow.

Essentially, the game flashed back to the period when the group stole the drinking horn from the Vanir, which they impressively managed to do without drawing a sword, and then flashed forward again to them being buried under a mountain of snow. They were dug out by giant wolves, which they had to battle while also suffering from exhaustion and frostbite. They then continued on their journey, and decided to take a dangerous road through Snow Devil Pass, rumored to be hau…

L. Sprague de Camp: The Other Side of the Coin

So a couple days ago I posted a blog in defense of L. Sprague de Camp's edits, posthumous collaborations, and pastiches where Conan is concerned. I also mentioned in that blog that the other things he did involving the property are by and large arrogant, abhorrent and unforgivable. Some people may not be familiar with the entire story behind de Camp's legacy with the Conan property.

Well, look no further. Several years ago, a blogger over at the Robert E. Howard United Press Association website posted a series of articles entitled "The de Camp Controversy." This series of articles presents (if from a somewhat biased standpoint) the entire history of de Camp's involvement with the Conan property. It is informed, enlightening, and it paints a very clear picture of exactly why many Robert E. Howard fans take a dim view of de Camp and his involvement with the property.

You can find all articles that deal with de Camp in any way, by going to the site clicking the lin…

Conan: The Two Hyperboreas

As promised, here's my blog on reconciling different presentations of Hyperborea in the world of Conan. Now, some may wonder what the Hell I'm talking about--what different presentations of Hyperborea?

Good question. For the most part, Hyperborea has been portrayed pretty consistently, though almost entirely by pastiche writers. The only writing we see about Hyperborea from Howard himself is in his seminal essay "The Hyborian Age," wherein he writes the following about the kingdom:

Hyperborea was the first Hyborian kingdomHyperboreans were the first to build walls, fortresses, and cities of stone.It is a cold, bleak land and at least in its beginnings was a "rude, barbaric kingdom." In his various pastiche works, L. Sprague de Camp stuck mostly to this characterization, which is rather impressive given that the vast majority of what was written about that kingdom was written by de Camp and Carter. Many later works, including Mongoose's The Road of Kings

Age of Conan: An Informal Defense of L. Sprague de Camp and Co.

So I have a couple of Conan-related blogs I want to get off my chest, about which I've been thinking for awhile. This first one may cause a bit of a controversy; we'll see.

I'd like to defend L. Sprague de Camp for a moment.  I'm sure others have done so before, and probably in a more eloquent and educated fashion than I am about to do, but this has been on my mind and I wanted to lay out at least the beginnings of a case to re-examine his association with Howard's writing, as well as--to a lesser degree and mostly by association--that of his associates Lin Carter and Bjorn Nyberg.

Many articles and postings have been put forth claiming that de Camp, Carter, and Nyberg should never have written their pastiches because they didn't "get" Conan. I would argue that this is a matter of debate. I've seen some very convincing arguments insofar as this is concerned, but most of them come down to the personal opinion of the author writing the article in qu…

Conan for Spellcraft & Swordplay