Monday, 3 May 2010

Another reason I need to get on Age of Conan...

... So I can get onto the official forums and let people know what's what. Then again, I guess I'd spend practically zero time in the game, and most of my time prowling the forums seeking to enlighten and dispel misrepresentation.

Take, for instance, poor, misinformed RandomRedShirt, in response to a perceived overabundance of skirts in Age of Conan:

But there aren't really.

The armor styles that are presented in AoC are based on traditional Bronze Age armor types, which 2300 - 6000 years ago, "skirts" as they are refered to are very common.

Long pants were not nearly as common until the end of the Roman Empire, around approx. 450 A.D.

Your metal armors, especially in chain and plate, didn't consist of "pants" until around 1000 A.D. Even then, it was mostly chain pants with metal plates fastened over them.

Cloth "trousers" were not common in the European regions until sometime around the 16th Century (1500 A.D.) During the time leading up to that, in places like Mesopotamia (Greece, Turkey, and the Mediterrainian) the common wear of people were a long robe, toga or short "dress".

In short, while long pants did exist, especially in Asia and the Middle East, they weren't very common until time periods after that which AoC and R. Howard's Conan is modeled on. Sure, this is a fantasy world, but it is based in part on the historical eras of the Bronze Ages of Europe, Mesopotamia and the Middle East, and in those times, the "skirt" was just that common.

AoC have based Aquilonia on Bronze Age classical era, but REH sure didn't. Don't make me bring out the quotes.

When one Hurlbut brings up that Howard based his Hyborian lands on "many historical lands/cultures throughout history not just the Bronze Age," he responds:

From your own link:

Howard stated that the geographical setting of the Hyborian Age is that of our earth, but in a fictional version of a period in the past, circa 14,000 BC to 10,000 BC.
So, based on that, the Hyborian Age would be more in line with the Neolithic Age, not the Bronze Age. So, given that, pants would be even less likely, as the common wear and armors of the Neolithic Age were...leathers and fur! Not pants.

... I hate wikipedia. Also, RandomRedShirt seems to ignore the fact that this is supposed to be an age of civilization before recorded history.

Furthermore, looking at the 3 races in AoC, the following can be said:

Aquilonians - Modeled on the Greek and Roman Empires. (5000 B.C. To 450 A.D.) - Bronze Age

Cimmerians - Modeled on the Norse, Germanic and Celtic peoples, during the transitional time of the Neolithic to Bronze Age for Northern Europe.

Stygians - Modeled on Ancient Egypt (5500 BC to 3000 BC) in the time of the Pharaohs, when Theocracy ruled Eygpt, and the worship of the Gods (Ra, Hathor, Horous, Isis, etc.) was a staple of their society.

Now, getting back to the pants issue. In terms of armors, pants wouldn't become common until the Iron Age, also commonly known as Medieval times. Age of Conan is not meant to reflect Medieval times. It is meant to reflect a more barbarous and uncivilized time, which it does well, right down to period appropriate clothing.

Crom on a bike...

And then, we see Bladesaint. Again. Wonderful.

Untrue. You are reading all this into what Howard actually wrote. Howard wanted Conan in a loincloth in these stories, period. It wasn't an accident or to be a thief. I went over this with someone else for many posts in a thread and he could not find quotes from the stories to support your assumption.

Conan is always hard-pressed in every story yet he finds armor or other costumes as appropriate, yet the loincloth costume is always "excused" as hardship or thief when Howard never ever mentions this as the reason for the loincloth. Howard wrote Conan in this way to enhance his wilderness-bred barbarism. This is from Howard's, "Xuthal of the Dusk";

"The desert shimmered in the heat waves. Conan the Cimmerian stared out over the aching desolation and involuntarily drew the back of his powerful hand over his blackened lips. He stood like a bronze image in the sand, apparently impervious to the murderous sun, though his only garment was a silk loin-cloth, girdled by a wide gold-buckled belt from which hung a saber and a broad-bladed poniard. On his clean-cut limbs were evidences of scarcely healed wounds.

At his feet rested a girl, one white arm clasping his knee, against which her blond head drooped. Her white skin contrasted with his hard bronzed limbs; her short silken tunic, low-necked and sleeveless, girdled at the waist, emphasized rather than concealed her lithe figure.

He halted suddenly, stiffening. Far out on the desert to the south, something glimmered through the heat waves.

At first he thought it was a phantom, one of the mirages which had mocked and maddened him in that accursed desert. Shading his sun-dazzled eyes, he made out spires and minarets, and gleaming walls. He watched it grimly, waiting for it to fade and vanish. Natala had ceased to sob; she struggled to her knees and followed his gaze.

"Is it a city, Conan?" she whispered, too fearful to hope. "Or is it but a shadow?"

The Cimmerian did not reply for a space. He closed and opened his eyes several times; he looked away, then back. The city remained where he had first seen it.

"The devil knows," he grunted. "It's worth a try, though."

He thrust the saber back in its sheath. Stooping, he lifted Natala in his mighty arms as though she had been an infant. She resisted weakly.

"Don't waste your strength carrying me, Conan," she pleaded. "I can walk."

"The ground gets rockier here," he answered. "You would soon wear your sandals to shreds," glancing at her soft green footwear. "Besides, if we are to reach that city at all, we must do it quickly, and I can make better time this way."

The chance for life had lent fresh vigor and resilience to the Cimmerian's steely thews. He strode out across the sandy waste as if he had just begun the journey. A barbarian of barbarians, the vitality and endurance of the wild were his, granting him survival where civilized men would have perished."


Prior to this in the story Conan was a mercenary in a large, well armed, but outnumbered army. They were forced to go into the deep desert to escape. If what you say was true, Conan would be in mercenary uniform. Instead, Howard enhances Conan's barbarian aura by pitching him against the desert elements in just a loincloth in a life and death struggle Conan wins with wilderness-bred toughness.

As the story goes on Conan battles soldiers and monsters in just the loincloth even though, if what you said was true, he would have donned the armor of one of the fallen soldiers, but he doesn't because Howard wants Conan to continue to be that "barbarian of barbarians" able to overcome armored civilized guards with wilderness-bred barbaric fighting prowess.

Oh no, there is really only one reason Conan wears just a loincloth, swordbelt, and sandals as his most common costume. He is the Cimmerian with wilderness-bred, barbaric fighting abilities. As you can see, that's what Howard really says.

Oh no, Bladesaint. The more logical reason why Conan wasn't wearing armour was because he was on the run from Stygian horsemen. What good would armour do when he was massively outnumbered? Alone, he might've stood and died fighting, but he wasn't alone: he had Natala with him. His desire to go out fighting was overridden by his protective instinct with Natala. And the best way to protect Natala was to escape, and the best way to escape was to get rid of everything that was not immediately necessary. Armour would've weighed him down.

This is a case of Conan wearing a loincloth because of the climate, and because he had no other choice in the matter. Case closed. Luckily, flatscan comes to the rescue here.

But RandomRedShirt isn't done:

This is Conan. Not Warhammer. Not Warcraft. Medieval armors work for games based on Medieval cultures and ambience. Conan is based around far more ancient and brutal times.

"Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the sons of Aryas..."

The time period specified is quite clear. Atlantis being in the time frame of 10,000 B.C. and the Sons of Aryas being a reference to the Euro-centric Medieval times at the fall of the Roman Empire.

Therefore, the basis of Hyboria is clearly the timeframe between 10,000 B.C. and 450-475 A.D. encompassing the end of the Neolithic period, the whole of the Bronze Age, and the beginnings of the Iron Age.

Before Medieval times.

You may not like the "skirts" but the fact is, the art department has set the age this game is based around, and that age had alot of "skirts" and not a whole heck of a lot of pants.

He just doesn't get it, does he?

For that matter, Bladesaint ain't done yet either:

ha-ha flatscan, well you go on with your, "who stole Conan's pants?", theories of why Howard wrote all those stories of Conan wearing just a loincloth without ever mentioning the reasons you say his pants were stolen.

The reason Frazetta and other artists illustrate Conan in just a loincloth is because that was his most common costume in Howard's stories and it was uniquely Conan.

Thutkemi comes and kicks his arse, with a small sample of Howard's depictions of Conan. Bladesaint's response?

Do not misrepresent my statements, Thutkemi.

I never said Conan only wore a loincloth as you misrepresented. I said it was his most common costume which is true.

Ah, let's see if that's true then. Here are the Conan stories where Conan is clad in a loin-cloth:

"The Tower of the Elephant"
"The God in the Bowl"
Part of "The Scarlet Citadel"
"Iron Shadows in the Moon"
"Xuthal of the Dusk"
"Rogues in the House"
"The Vale of Lost Women"
The Yaralet Fragment
Part of The Hour of the Dragon
Part of "A Witch Shall Be Born"
Part of "The Black Stranger"

Well, in so far as a loin-cloth can count as a costume, it'd appear to be true that it's most common, in comparison to, say "armoured" and "not armoured." Of course, if we're going "clothed vs unclothed," clothed is clearly more common, unless you're then going to include breeks or shorts in the equation. Since breeks & shorts aren't loincloths, I won't.

And guess what? There are other reasons for Conan to be clad in a loincloth other than to show how "different" he is.

"The Tower of the Elephant" - he's a thief, and less clothing means less snags.
"The God in the Bowl" - he's a thief.
Part of "The Scarlet Citadel" - he'd been captured and stripped of his armour.
"Iron Shadows in the Moon" - he'd had to go into hiding in the Vilayet swamps, ergo, sans-armour.
"Xuthal of the Dusk" - when he was on the run from an army.
"Rogues in the House" - he's a thief.
"The Vale of Lost Women" - he's a black tribesman, everyone was wearing them.
The Yaralet Fragment - quite possibly the only example of Conan in a loincloth after a battle, excepting possibly "Xuthal." Weird.
Part of The Hour of the Dragon - two times: one as a disguised slave, second after being robbed.
Part of "A Witch Shall Be Born" - when he was crucified.
Part of "The Black Stranger" - when he was on the run from the Picts.

But there's more to Bladesaint's argument:

What I am saying is that Howard used this type of costume (loincloth, loinclout, short breeks, etc.) over and over in a wide variety of Conan stories and it was not just a circumstance of the plot of that individual story, but that Howard used it to enforce the idea that Conan was a man of barbaric origins, origins that gave him abilities no civilized man could match or even perceive of sometimes...

Okay, enough quotes. There are more of Howard's 22 Conan stories where he is clad in just a loincloth, loinclout, or short breeks, broad swordbelt/girdle, and sandals. Pretty much matching the popular lore imagery used for Conan.

So, let's see if THAT's true, that Conan was clad in loincloths/loinclouts/short breeks where he was being shown as "apart" from the local climes, that cannot be accounted as being because of lack of more appropriate attire due to situations:

"The God in the Bowl" - in comparison to the Nemedian Guards.
"The Tower of the Elephant" - in comparison to the Zamorians.
"Rogues in the House" - in comparison to Murillo & Nabonidus.

And look... they're all thief stories! Whadayaknow. All the other cases take place in an environment where everyone else is wearing similar attire - Stygia, Pirates, the Black Kingdoms etc. That's a MAJOR difference.

The thing is, Bladesaint has a point:

One third, more than one third of Howard's Conan stories actually. That would make the loincloth the most common costume since no other costume gear is used as often. This quantity is not really important except that the loincloth costume/armor has been virtually left out of AoC gameplay. AoC's selective blindspot. It's wrong to omit this costume from AoC.

From the point of view of gameplay, there should be some sort of benefit to wearing nowt but a loincloth, one that might be an advantage over armour in some situations. Perhaps a slight boost in movement speed, a significant increase in stealthy movement, and whatnot. Perhaps it could even allow enemies to underestimate the foe, allowing for the player to surprise them: something like a first strike bonus. Something that would make wearing a loincloth a reasonable choice, rather than an aesthetic one that makes things more difficult for the player.

It's just a shame he resorts to such silliness to make his point.

1 comment:

  1. I played Age of Conan, at least for my free month anyway. It was visually attractive but I found that apart from it having a relatively more friendly player base than World of Warcraft, it failed in just about every other regard.. It just wasn't all that fun.. mainly because so much of it wasn't recognizable as being what REH described.

    Lord of the Rings Online still takes the cake for worst MMO I've ever played. The fact that a level 13 Bee Hive could balk my level 20 elven ranger was enough reason to never play it again.

    Warhammer Online was next due to its forcing players to PVP

    Everquest 2 next because of just how bad its graphics were, even though it over all was pretty fun.

    Age of Conan, mainly because it had huge travel times, too many loading screens and generally required too much player interaction.. and in my case at least mmo's are played at 3am and I only have the energy to click the mouse button.. not pound the keyboard to get better hits.

    Guild wars and WOW are my top two, but guild wars edges out WOW simply because its free to play. But its player base is so sparse I sometimes wonder if anyone else is even on.

    I've been debating giving age of Conan another go since I can play to level 20 for free now, but I know fully what you mean about the idiots who play it and just have no clue.. if you think they are represented in the forums.. they are highly visible in the game itself too. I cannot tell you how many people seem to get mad they can't play an elf or something..