Hyborian Hypocrisy - Robert E. Howard commands it!

The Lore, for the most part, is well intact. And while I wouldn’t ask this of most games, this is “Conan”, filled with slavers, cannibals, rapists, murderers, and a host of other unsavory individuals. This isn’t a task to be taken up lightly; and just like Mr. Howard himself, you need to take risks and expect ridicule. The violence needs to be gore incarnate, cannibalism needs to be terrifying, and the copulation, well. . . I know “full nudity” is coming back to the EU version due to ESRB backlash of rating it AO. Good, more people are buying digital anyway, and others will find a way. I think you need to go farther still. Sexual acts, drug use, alcoholism, rape and living sacrifices. As I’ve said, I wouldn’t ask this of just any game, movie, or novel; but you put yourselves out there when you set out to make a true Hyborian adventure. Time to stand up and fight. You’re not alone on this quest.

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Hypocrisy? I don’t agree.

Howard’s stories were published in a somewhat censored time (through and after Prohibition), and his books were openly sold in stores. While a lot of pulp fiction aimed at getting the cover art, which was generally given to titles that included sexual moments and scantily-clad maidens, the stories themselves didn’t go into full-blown depictions of extreme content, as that would have caused problems for their publishers. The original 1930’s Conan stories included torture, maidens being carried off (to later be rescued, usually never killed or eaten), and a lot of hardened savagery to be sure. But few people would agree that extreme content was the focus of his writing, or what he would have wanted people to get out of reading his stories.

I think you’re making some assumptions about what Robert E. Howard intended with the Conan stories. He was a storyteller, and enjoyed reading and telling stories. He also pushed the boundaries in terms of explicit (or rather, suggestive) content, much to the delight of his publishers. At the same time, he gave an unrestricted glance into the ancient eras, where killing and slavery were at times the ‘order of the day’.

But the Conan stories are a minority of everything that R. E. Howard wrote. For parts of Howard’s life he was fascinated by his Irish ancestry and the history of the Celts, when he wrote stories about his characters Bran Mak Morn and finally Conan. I’d say that history, culture, and storytelling were more important to Howard than extreme content. Extreme (or even scarring) content warps everything around it to steal the focus, and isn’t generally a good storytelling device.

Here’s all the (known) works of Robert E. Howard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_E._Howard_bibliography


I fear you’re not taking the stories in context. The time in which the novels were written, they were known as very scandalous and taboo. Look back to some of William Shakespeare, Robert Frost, William White, Edgar Allen Poe, and Geoffrey Chaucer writings. Most of these, if taken in modern linguistics, have a very different meaning than was meant by these writers. I don’t claim to know what Robert E. Howard meant because I only focus on the vague innuendo. But because I’ve studied various historys, especially from an anthropological linguistic perspective.

As I’ve stated before, these are just my thoughts on what should be done in regards to the darker side of the novels. If this was any other mythos I’d have no issue with it. It’s a fantastic game regardless. This rant was more of me just being too much of a purists.

About the Wikipedia page: I never do research online unless it’s through accredited sources. Wikipedia has a history of misinformation.

I appreciate your comment all the same.


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Wikipedia is getting quite good, I’d really suggest you take another look at it if you haven’t explored it for a few years. There will always be a few schisms in how people think about topics, and Wikipedia tends to reflect that. It’s a great source for introductory information about a topic. The link that I posted is just a reference article, a bibliography of his stories devoid of any opinion or misinformation.

It’s an interesting idea to think of how extreme his works would have been, ‘adjusted for inflation’. I think the developers have done that, to a certain extent, with the addition of slavery. Playing it, it’s a very extreme game. People find it stressful and demanding. The game world is rife with cannibals, murderers, and savage beasts. That’s second only to other players, who will grind you beneath their heel for fun.

I think the devs have done just fine with respecting R. E. Howard’s works. I agree that they could go a little further to the visceral extreme to match what is in his stories. There’s actually a video somewhere online of an interview between members of the R. E. Howard society and the game’s Creative Director Joel Bylos, who also worked on the Age of Conan MMO.


It’s been over a decade since I’ve looked at Wikipedia. (How did I get so old?) I looked at the page; indeed, it is good.

I believe the Developers have done a fantastic job with the game. And they have placed material in the game that others fear to, and it’s paying off. I just have this sneaking suspicion that they want to push farther into the realm, but also worry about pushing too far; they shouldn’t.


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Cheers indeed! Great conversation.

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