Wednesday 29 September 2010

Conan Stats

No, not for an RPG: there are plenty of those.

I was considering, possibly as a section on "Robert E. Howard for Newbies," to have a small list crunching the numbers of certain elements, tropes and archetypes in the Conan stories.

For example, how many times does the phrase "mighty thews" appear in the Conan stories?  The answer may surprise you.  How many times does Conan utter some variation of "Crom"?  How many of the stories end with Conan riding into the sunset with the treasure under his arm? How often does Conan defeat the villain of the tale? Does Conan really face more dark-skinned foes than white, or is that just a big fat lie with absolutely no basis in the stories whatsoever?  How many stories feature another protagonist, and of those, how many are arguably the main character, above Conan himself?  How many times does Conan encounter a giant snake, or ape, or Cthulhoid horror, and how often does he kill them? How many damsels does Conan rescue?  What's Conan's favourite type of sword, clothing, armour, drink, and food?  How many of them does Conan actually have a relationship with in the stories?  What percentage are blond, or lily-white, or buxom?

Everyone throw suggestions for "Conan Facts": be it little things you'd like to know yourself, or something you think more people should remember.


  1. how many times does Conan punch camels in the stories?

  2. How many times does Conan quit his 'job' or get 'fired?'

  3. How many times does Conan get help from a Wizard, to defeat another Wizard.

    How often is he nearly naked, as opposed to sensibly wearing some type of armor?

  4. "How many of the stories end with Conan riding into the sunset with the treasure -and the girl-?"

    (But there's a separate question about distressed damsels).

  5. How many pairs of fur bikini shorts did Conan have?

  6. Lagomorph: Bwahaha, good one. Perhaps I could add "how many times does Conan deck a non-predatory animal?"

    migellito, that's an interesting one. I hadn't considered that.

    James, both are excellent points.

    Anon, I'll likely include a variation on that.

    Atom Kid, I'll likely have that included in a "Cimmerian Fashion" section where I nail down all the clothing Conan wears in the stories.

  7. black haired girls are the vast majority, I can remember only two blondes being rescued or saved by the cimmerian, Natala in The slithering shadow and the girl in Vale of lost women

  8. Not to give too much away, but brunettes are indeed the majority (though there are a few other blondes too...)

  9. How many Conan pastiche writers know what thews are in the first place?

    How many times is a woman actually described as clinging to Conan's leg?

  10. I haven't read a Conan story by Howard where a snake didn't show up in one form or another. I remember in one story he managed to not have an actual snake but he did describe some other, more mundane, threat as being snake-like.

  11. Roger, I'd wager "very few" and "not nearly as often as pasticheurs/illustrators seem to think."

    Evan, Howard used snake imagery a lot in the stories. Living in dustbowl Texas, far from hospitals and with antivenom being very expensive, meant a bite from a rattlesnake or copperhead could prove deadly. It isn't surprising Howard hated snakes so much. That said, I definitely think there are Conan stories that didn't feature snakes at all: "The Tower of the Elephant" and "Rogues in the House" come to mind. More food for Conan stats!