D&D General Reassesing Robert E Howards influence on D&D +


log in or register to remove this ad

Archaeological evidence is accumulating that the Roman accounts of druids were fairly accurate, and not the negative propaganda it was was dismissed as. I.e. more Wicker Man than Peace and Love.
Note: I last studied anthropology ~20 years ago, with most more recent knowledge gained by reading Anthro magazines/watching YouTube and then looking up their sources using Google Scholar.
The peace and love part seems definitely to be a modern (Romanticism era, if not hippy/tree-hugger) interpretation. From what I know, the archeological record seems to still be at least slightly ambiguous as to the human sacrifice bit, but would hardly be surprising given the finds*. To the overall accuracy, one thing I think Wikipedia posts well is the over- and under- estimation of the Celts/Druids by the Greeks and Romans, both romanticizing them as more exotic than they likely were and repudiating them as more barbaric than they likely were.
*and cultures before and after, it's not like the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, later the Vikings, and even Greeks and Romans didn't have human sacrifice

In the 70s, the pop-culture view of faeries was they where childish and twee (hello Tinkerbell, Disney got a lot to answer for). So Early D&D steered away from them. In our current culture, faeries have been rehabilitated, and are far more popular in D&D now.
I think D&D also didn't do a great job of making the things faeries did seem fearsome. Even though the game didn't do horror all that well, undead and demons were still scary because they did some fearful effects like drain levels, kill instantly, age your hair white, turn you into one of them, or summon more of their kind/drag you to hell. Faeries more often had abilities like inducing Madness, Confusion, Mind-control, and Illusions, and those are things D&D often has had trouble with. Charm Person being a 1st level spell usable by even non-specialists magic users that replicates a lot of abilities being part of the problem. Different ideas of what you can do with illusions (either too limited or too all-encompassing) as well. Probably also a sense that you can only have the dryad lure your characters away for 4 years/forever* so often (despite being killed by orcs or even drained by wights every new campaign not being unheard of). Obviously Goblins, Ogres and Banshees tended to do some stuff D&D was good at conveying, but those were conspicuously made not-faerie in the original lineup.
*with this specific example, did you take that seriously (maybe starting gaming as a male approaching puberty colors my perception here)? Sirens luring you to drown maybe, but 'death' by dryad/nymph/etc. quickly became part of the hur-hur part of gaming.
 

Voadam

Legend
I think D&D also didn't do a great job of making the things faeries did seem fearsome. Even though the game didn't do horror all that well, undead and demons were still scary because they did some fearful effects like drain levels, kill instantly, age your hair white, turn you into one of them, or summon more of their kind/drag you to hell. Faeries more often had abilities like inducing Madness, Confusion, Mind-control, and Illusions, and those are things D&D often has had trouble with. Charm Person being a 1st level spell usable by even non-specialists magic users that replicates a lot of abilities being part of the problem. Different ideas of what you can do with illusions (either too limited or too all-encompassing) as well. Probably also a sense that you can only have the dryad lure your characters away for 4 years/forever* so often (despite being killed by orcs or even drained by wights every new campaign not being unheard of). Obviously Goblins, Ogres and Banshees tended to do some stuff D&D was good at conveying, but those were conspicuously made not-faerie in the original lineup.
*with this specific example, did you take that seriously (maybe starting gaming as a male approaching puberty colors my perception here)? Sirens luring you to drown maybe, but 'death' by dryad/nymph/etc. quickly became part of the hur-hur part of gaming.
I think it was D&D making a big number of them good and emphasizing a prankster aspect for things like sprites as their big interaction niche. Take a leprechaun or nymph and turn them evil and predatory and it could be more fearsome than a hag. Leprechaun at will polymorph any object is huge in 1e, nymph blindness is very strong mechanically.
 

Aelryinth

Explorer
I think it was D&D making a big number of them good and emphasizing a prankster aspect for things like sprites as their big interaction niche. Take a leprechaun or nymph and turn them evil and predatory and it could be more fearsome than a hag. Leprechaun at will polymorph any object is huge in 1e, nymph blindness is very strong mechanically.
You mean Nymph 'I'm so beautiful I take my shirt off and you die. If you DON'T die, maybe you are only blinded?' is strong mechanically?
Nymph's Beauty was a 9th level spell. Have your lovely elven archmage cast it, take off her top, and fly in front of the invading army. Goodbye, army.
 

Aelryinth

Explorer
Eh, I think that's a little overblown. He always shows superb martial skills. He does rely on instinct/finely-honed senses to avoid danger at times. And wits and cunning at others.

Kurotawa is right that he often leaps with decisiveness rather than hesitating with fear or uncertainty. His "rage" is when truly pressed or badly outnumbered, desperation channeled into anger and determination to overcome, rather than despair. I don't think the original stories contain any scenes of him truly berserk, in the classical sense of losing one's wits and at risk of being unable to tell friend from foe. And he does flee sometimes, especially from supernatural things which truly overmatch him physically (which are rare).
This. The barbarian class is a berserker. Conan is NOT a berserker. There's just times he goes on a Power-Attacking, Cleaving streak of bloody destruction.
The ranger class sums up his abilities with stealth, since it doesn't get the true theif stuff Conan never learns (locks, traps, etc), the fact he's a ghost in the wild, and really, really good with most any weapon, although he prefers the broadsword. He's also murderously lethal beyond almost all men, and that just screams a Favored Enemy bonus to me, 3e wise (pure combat ability trumping skilled swordsmen and brute strength!) Sure, you can toss in a level of barbarian, but in 3e, Conan is best as a no-spell, no animal companion ranger.
 

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
The barbarian class isn't a berserker, not really. Rage doesn't have to be frothing at the mouth berserk.

I'm sure this could be a debate that continues into perpetuity, in firmly in the camp that he is a the barbarian class (he was in the d20 mongoose game as well), due in part to some of what I've read where the red mist takes over.

I also feel like in a lot of occasions he draws on some inner strength to overcome enemies stronger than him, sounds a lot like the strength check advantage that comes from rage.
 

In the 70s, the pop-culture view of faeries was they where childish and twee (hello Tinkerbell, Disney got a lot to answer for). So Early D&D steered away from them. In our current culture, faeries have been rehabilitated, and are far more popular in D&D now.
Twee fairies are actually a quite recent mostly Victorian era thing, although there has been a tendency over the centuries for mythical 'folk' to shrink in size.
 


From what I know, the archeological record seems to still be at least slightly ambiguous as to the human sacrifice bit
There is some interesting archaeological evidence for mass sacrificial burnings on Anglesey that backs up the Roman account of the battle.

My take on what the Roman historians wrote is the legions were terrified of druidic magic. The original "kill 'em before they can get their spells off".

To bring things back to the original topic, the Roman attitude to druids seems to resemble Conan's attitude to the spellcasters he comes across.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
There is some interesting archaeological evidence for mass sacrificial burnings on Anglesey that backs up the Roman account of the battle.

My take on what the Roman historians wrote is the legions were terrified of druidic magic. The original "kill 'em before they can get their spells off".

To bring things back to the original topic, the Roman attitude to druids seems to resemble Conan's attitude to the spellcasters he comes across.
I really like Bernard Cornwell's take on druidic magic in his Warlord trilogy (his take on the Arthurian myths). Mostly psychological with enough ambiguity of circumstance to let the reader understand how the characters (or at least some of them) could believe.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top