For those of you who roleplay, the question of lore is both important and rather daunting. There are a LOT of “Conan sources” to choose from. There are several pen and paper RPGs, plenty of stories by authors other that Robert E. Howard, comics, movies, and apparently even an upcoming TV show in development. So how do you choose? Is there a right or wrong way to go about it? That’s a subject we can debate all day. But in all my searching the one thing I did NOT find was a resource that focused specifically and only on the lore as written by REH himself.
So… I made one.
The Robert E. Howard Conan Lore Project
Purpose and scope: To create a repository of information on the religious and cultural aspects, as well as descriptions of the people and lands themselves, of the races created by Robert E. Howard for his fictional world of the Hyborian Age, the setting of his Conan the Barbarian stories. The works of other authors and sources will not be included. This collection is meant to catalog only what Howard himself wrote about his world and is focused primarily on quotes that give some information as to the physical and cultural aspects of the various races, including their religions and gods.
I had originally hoped there was somewhere a searchable wiki on just the original works of Howard so that I could put in a search for, say, Cimmeria, and find every instance of its mention that I might be able to verify various information regarding it. Sadly, no such wiki or archive exists that is available to the public. And so, in frustration, I have taken my cue from the online entries of games set in Howard’s Hyboria and compiled all of the information I can find in an exhaustive re-reading of Howard’s Conan stories in order to share with other roleplayers and storytellers the actual lore of the Hyborian Age as written by its original author. The real lore, untainted by pastiche authors, comics, movies, or the whole cloth fanciful inventions of games.
I have not cataloged every instance of a word such as Cimmerian or Stygian or Turan or Aquilonia but have confined myself to only those instances that give at least some snippet of information regarding race, appearance of people, culture, religion or gods and demons. It is well to keep in mind that these things are often from the viewpoint of Conan himself and, to a lesser degree, a host of other characters, in making observations about races or cultures they themselves are not a part of and may actually know next to nothing about. It is beyond the scope of this project to include commentary discussing how “accurate” any of the information may be. Nevertheless, patterns certainly do emerge. I would, however, encourage any serious student of the literature to pick up the books themselves and do the reading necessary to draw informed conclusions.
To assemble this archive I have used the Del Rey paperback publications of :
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian
The Bloody Crown of Conan
The Conquering Sword of Conan
Edited by Patrice Louinet and illustrated by Mark Schultz
I chose these editions because they are in their original versions and in the order Howard wrote them. These are not rewrites by other authors. If you are looking to read the stories, especially if this is your first time, I highly recommend these editions.
All page numbers of citations refer to these books.
Entries are repeated as appropriate where they give information on more than one culture, religion, etc.
Why this project? There are, after all, innumerable “lore sources” online to choose from. Most come from the various RPGs that are based on Conan. And therein lies the problem. These are derivative works that add or alter a great deal to Howard’s world that was never included by him. The many comics and stories by other writers set in his world likewise take many liberties and introduce new characters and even entirely new races, such as the Yamatai, and new religions such as the Harlots of Idris, that were never written of by Howard. This is not a terrible thing. After all, there are many gaps and unanswered questions regarding the many races and cultures he did write about. And for those who wish to do so, filling them with the works of others is a reasonable choice to make.
However, there has been, as of this writing, no reasonably searchable resource that covers only what Howard himself wrote regarding the details of his various races and cultures and lands. Ergo, there has been nothing to compare the works of others against in order to make decisions as to whether or not those changes and additions make sense or are in keeping with the lore as established by Howard himself.
This is what this project seeks to change. It is my love letter to the roleplaying communities of Conan Exiles and Age of Conan and to all players who wish to craft characters and stories in keeping with Howard’s actual lore. I hope you enjoy it.