Shrine Offerings: Awesome Concept, But Aren't We Forgetting Something

My pleasure @stelagel, although I am not quite done yet old friend. I shall now hit you with sone relevant lore from a variety of sources, then given how long this post has become, perhsps attempt to further illustrate the case for why I feel that the case for more in-game Crom features/goodies/artifacts/items/additions (call them whatever one likes; I use these terms interchangeably to denote the same thing) is both compatible within the parameters of the lore, and has merit, and makes sense from the point of a game mechanic. Or I can just reply to peoples as required.

Now it is important to establish that some online sources have a tendency to embelish facts and and insert their own narrative to a) add interest for readers, or b) to further their own claims. Now, while this can make for more interesting reading, it also creates contextual issues and distortions. So while some sites such as wikipedia, fandoms, blogs, etc make claims, they often do not do their due dilligent fact checking (remind anyone of wider societal problems…?), resulting in the spreading of false or out of context lore and information. For example, in the video it states that “Crom sees prayer as a sign of weakness”, and that “Crom approves of courage and tenacity, even if the human is too frail to succeed” and also “bestows people at birth with the courage to survive, persevere and vanquish adversity”. Now while such claims ‘fit’ with the lore and and are quite possible, perhaps even probable, they can not be referenced or directly tied to any official source of lore, but are rather desciptive and speculative additions by fans. As is anything which cannot be directly referenced, and which I am more than happy to acknowledge if it can. So, I will say this now both loudly and clearly:

:warning: Every, and I do mean EVERY lore fact I claim both here and in my Crom overhaul thread, I can directly reference! :warning:

Now then, onto some referenced lore shall we. Let us start with that taken straight from the great mans pen.

ROBERT E HOWARD LORE:

While there are dozens of small or tiny snippets relating to Crom, primarily invocations (eg-‘by Crom!’), there is a surprising paucity of discussion surrounding Crom in Howard’s works. So I shall begin with the two most commercial, well known ones then follow with two others which I feel are relevant to my calls to expand upon Crom.

  1. His gods were simple and understandable; Crom was their chief, and he lived on a great mountain, whence he sent forth dooms and death. It was useless to call on Crom, because he was a gloomy, savage god, and he hated weaklings. But he gave a man courage at birth, and the will and might to kill his enemies, which, in the Cimmerian’s mind, was all any god should be expected to do. ~The Tower of the Elephant

  2. He dwells on a great mountain. What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you dooms, not fortune! He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man’s soul. What else shall men ask of the gods? ~Queen of the Black Coast

Ok we are warming up nicely here. Now for two others which I believe are relevant to the crux of my own argument:

  1. “Crom! His mighty shoulders twitched…Give me a clean sword, and a clean foe for me to flesh it in. Damnation! What I would not give for a flagon of wine!” ~The Scarlett Citadel

  2. They were a moody and brooding race, whose gods were Crom and his brood. They did not practice human sacrifice, for it was their belief that that their gods were indifferent to the fate of men. ~Notes on Various Peoples of the Hyborian Age.

EXPANDED UNIVERSE LORE

There we are. Now on to the Expanded Universe lore which I feel is relevant to my advocacy for change. There is of course more examples than this both in existence and outlined in my Crom overhaul thread. However, I am only going to draw upon the ones relevant to my advocacy, for additional goodies. Some are summarised, as they are MANY paragraphs long, and I can link people to the full versions elsewhere. Once again, ALL of these lore pieces can be referenced.

  1. Crom came to power by defeating the ancient demon Shuma-Gorath. In an act of desperation, the early humans who suffered beneath him cried out to Crom for aid. He instructed them to read from three Iron-Bound Books. Upon doing so, Crom appeared as a Flame-headed Storm Cloud, overwhelmed overwhelmed and subdued the demon with Lightning, then imprisoned him in what was renamed Ben Morgh (Mount Crom). ~Conan the Barbarian 1#260.

  2. Conan and a group of Cimmerian captives freeling from Hyperboreans invoked the ‘Wrath of Crom’ in order to defeat them. Following a summoning ritual, a great chasm opened in the up ground, and a Leigon of Undead Warriors emerged and slew the hapless Hyperboreans. ~Savage Sword of Conan #157.

  3. Conan and a band of Kozaki raiders are trapped by a snowstorm and avalanche. His former allies having turned on him, starving and freezing, Conan is close to death. Suddenly he is called before Crom (depicted seated upon a Throne, with Idols, a Greatsword, Spears and Armour present) and his Undead Warriors, who admonishes him to live. Conan awakens with renewed vigor. ~Savage Sword of Conan #110.

  4. Facing a dishonourable and unworthy death at the hands of a malevolent sorcerer, Crom intervenes to save him from certain death, so he may have a more glorious one. Conan slays the sorcerer and later makes only his second Sacrifice ever to Crom (a goat) as restitution. ~King Conan #8.

  5. Crom or a Statue of him seated on a throne are found in a cave on the eastern side of Ben Morgh where he watches over the Burial Mounds, known as the Fields of the Dead, wander aimlessly for all eternity. ~Conan the Valorous.

  6. When a boy is born a Ritual asks Crom to grant it “the Power to Strive and Slay”. ~Handbook of the Conan Universe.

  7. *Crom was originally slated to cause a Powerful Purge Creatures to appear if called upon. And to have his own avatar which would directly strike enemy avatars with Lightning. ~Conan Exiles. (early development)

  8. Crom was known to hurl Star Metal Meteorites at his enemies Ymir and his Frost Giant children in battles…AND a group of Cimmerians who were foolish enough to ask him for direct aid during one of those battles. ~Age of Conan.

  9. Star Metal is also percieved by the Cimmerians as a gift sent by Crom, who also believes in the freedom of man. ~Conan the Adventurer.

  10. Crom weapons, armor and artifacts exist in various lore sources. Conan’s Fathers sword is dedicated to Crom in the 1984 movie, with the runes etched on its blade translated to “Suffer no shame ye who wield this in the name of Crom”. There is also the Sword of Crom and Crom’s Hammer in the game, which are tributes to him. There is also his mountain insignia. Crom has his own unique armor, spears and a greatsword, an idol and a unique ornate throne adorning his throne room (pictured below). ~Conan the Barbarian, Conan Exiles, Savage Sword of Conan #110.

There are some of the fundamentals from a variety of sources for yourself and and my fellow forum members. I am happy to call the links I see in them to provide a clearer rationale.

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Followers of Crom do not want him to notice them unless they are doing something very very worthy.

First off, I think it’s a great idea that Crom followers be able to destroy sacred artifacts of other religions. I also really like IPL_Victim’s idea that they break down into usable practical materials. Why? Because it seems to me that Crom is a sort of god of science. Well, he’s the god of the Cimmerians, but they have a debased scientific way of looking at the world. This is fitting as in REH’s lore the Cimmerians are of Atlantean blood (and bloodlines seem to have real effects in REH’s world).

If we think about how the religions work in this game in particular, it seems clear that the gods are real. You can summon them and they smash stuff. It’s not clear what they are, but Yog for example seems to be some kind of Lovercraftian alien, which again is very fitting to REH’s mythos. Only Crom is not summonable, which fits with Crom’s_Faithful’s lore post above – the Cimmerians don’t really think he cares.

I can see two possibilities from here. Either Crom isn’t real at all, and the Cimmerians just think he is… or he is as real as the other gods - it’s just that they’re right, he doesn’t care much, if at all. Either way, the Cimmerians fall back on their own skills and grit, which results in them having technology beyond their general social level. They are barbarians who are good at smithing, i.e. they are good at science like their Atlantean ancestors. Just like real life scientifically minded people (who are often flat-out atheists), they don’t really see gods as an important thing to worry about.

So my opinion FWIW is that Crom followers should be able to break down other faith’s items at a forge into oil and steel or something. I strongly disagree that they should get any sort of “magical” bonus or item. Crom’s_Faithful has pointed out that in the lore there are weapons dedicated to Crom, but I fear that having something like craftable in game would give too many advantages to Crom followers when the whole point is that choosing Crom in a world of gods who actually answer people’s prayers is choosing to sort of go at life alone, in hard mode. Likewise I don’t think you should be able to learn Crom’s faith in the world as a feat. At least not without erasing any other faiths you know. Because it’s not really a faith, a person who already worships a god that answers them is going to have no use for one who doesn’t. Conan OTOH can learn other religions because so what? Crom doesn’t care.

I think there should be a benefit though, something like what Taemien said: I think choosing Crom should give you bonus feat points at character creation, perhaps equal to the cost of learning a religion (50 I think?). I got this idea from 3rd ed. D&D, where if you pick human as your race you get no fancy modifiers or night vision, but you get bonus feats. It doesn’t feel like much but in the end it’s very powerful.

Something I don’t see mentioned too often in these Crom threads is that, the EL gods are actually NOT real. They are false manifestations created by strong belief and possibly the Convergence. Much of the text and lore lends to that view, and is directly called out by Conan. “But nowhere have I seen gods as I see them in this land. These avatars that stalk and spread destruction in their wake. These are not gods. These are what men want the gods to be. Weapons.” The Outcast (Ymir religion trainer) says the whole Exiled Lands aren’t real and the Lore for The Disjunction says that it has the power to make belief into reality. “There was a clashing of sorceries here in the past and it created a… disjunction. Belief can be a powerful tool that shapes the will. In this place, belief can shape the world. If enough believe it to be so, the gods themselves can manifest.”

The REH lore reasons for there not to be a Crom manifestation don’t hold up to the above in-game lore. It would be fitting actually for Crom to have a manifestation, believers have corrupted the idea of their gods into weapons and the Cimmerians at the Mounds of the Dead should be no exception.
I don’t really have an opinion on whether Crom should have a unique mechanic from the other religions but I definitely think Crom should have something and not be the “Atheist” choice…

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That’s really interesting. I have to admit I hadn’t noticed those snippets of info. That sort of thing is one of the real treasures of this game that are so underrated and rarely mentioned.

I don’t know if the REH world is an atheist one though :thinking: I suppose there’s no direct evidence of the physical reality of gods like Mitra or Ishtar… kind of like in the real world. But there are certainly ancient creatures, some of which are explicitly extraterrestrial, and which people worship as gods. Some of them are extremely powerful. And then there are things like the giant temple snakes of Set, which are seen as manifestations at the very least. So yeah, maybe REH was aiming at a world where the gods are made up, but then there are physical beings with supernatural powers, so in a way there are gods. Or at least demi-gods.

You’re right though, if the EL is what makes the gods a reality, then that should probs work for Crom too. Except that the Cimmerians wouldn’t call on him in the first place because they’re taught he won’t answer!

FWIW, I’ve always considered Crom (in Conan Exiles) to be the only real god, rather than the atheist choice, precisely for the same reasons you described. All the other “gods” in Exiled Lands act like cosmic vending machines: insert Manifestation of Zeal, get something tangible in return. But Crom is the only god you have to have faith in, without any assurance of recompense.

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I’m reasonably certain that Mitra’s faithful aren’t taught to call upon their god to stomp their enemies’ homes to the ground, either. Exiled Lands “teachings” may have evolved pretty far way from the original dogmas, Crom included.

From Howard’s original sources, the only example of an actual divine intervention that comes to mind in in the beginning of Black Colossus, where Mitra tells princess Yasmela to seek out Conan and make him the general of her armies. And although the advice was spot on, it’s still debatable whether it came from Mitra himself, or whether it was some priest with a deep voice pulling a prank. (Also worth noting that the princess was a worshipper of Ishtar, who hadn’t helped her despite her prayers.)

From this perspective, I think the “expanded universe” represents the gods as too active players in the setting, Crom in particular. Unlike gods in e.g. Greek Mythology, who meddled with mortal affairs for giggles, or Dragonlance, or even Raymond E. Feist’s Midkemia saga, Hyborian gods kept their distance to the mortal world. One could even say that Crom was no different from the others in actuality - his followers simply understood the futility of prayer.

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I genuinely feel that at the very least we Crom worshippers should have this option to throw rival religions artifacts into the dismantling bench like @IPL_Victim says. It is not like there is anything magical about it, and at least it is something. I honestly am not even worried if it doesnt provide any components, although perhaps it should.

Perhaps they could render down into coal to then be burned in a furnace or for cooking… Not spectacularly valuable, and likely not resulting in a large quantity, but useful nonetheless.

Poetic after a fashion. Crom worshippers burn the relics of the other gods to fuel the creation of more weapons and armor (or food) to take on those misguided fanatics of other gods… and whatnot.

Apologies, not trying to bump here. And I was more than happy to let this one rest. I just wanted to link this to my Crom overhaul thread as it is related to Crom’s in game role, and in game mechanics/features which I genuinely feel are needed.

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