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The Conan books read like an Exalted game

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  • The Conan books read like an Exalted game

    I know, this isn't news. It's not like the Conan books haven't been referenced throughout the history of the line. Most relevantly there was the third edition statement that the sorcery rewrite was heavily influenced by them. ​But I'd never exposed myself to Conan aside from the movies (when they came out, I'm not as young as all that). I recently found a complete e-book collection for $0.99, and I've read the first few novellas. I was shocked at how well everything, yes everything, in the books fit within scope and tone of Exalted.


    I want to play this as a starting character, I don't even care what game
    http://forum.atlas-games.com/viewtop...7a1c&start=272

  • #2
    There needs to be an initiation in which the user is the brother in spirit of a potent demon, with a weakness in which the destruction of one kills the other.

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    • #3
      I agree that 3e and sword & sorcery novels share some common elements. One among many - their independence from Tolkien's opus.

      I think it's also worth mentioning, if probably old news, that many of those novels were racist, sexist, homophobic... in general, some of their main aspects were almost the opposite of Exalted.

      It seems to me Exalted took some interesting elements from sword & sorcery and then turned them on their head... while leaving others quite similar.

      The result is that Exalted is definitely a product of our times, and more often than not plays to our sensibilities... while s&s usually does the opposite.

      It can still be interesting to contrast and compare the two, of course.

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      • #4
        Robert E. Howard's work and race are an interesting and nuanced topic, as he is a good example of someone who meant well, but was also irreparably a product of his time (in contrast with his friend H.P. Lovecraft, who was ideologically a passionate racist by the standards of his own contemporaries).

        (And yes, I recognize that someone "meaning well" while still being friends and supporting the work of a passionate ideological racist is white privilege in action, as it represents the ability to treat racial politics as an abstract topic of debate rather than an imminent reality that destroys lives)
        Last edited by glamourweaver; 04-28-2018, 11:36 PM.


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        • #5
          Just because an author was racist, or sexist, or homophobic or whatever, doesn't meant that you aren't allowed to enjoy their work. There are lots of authors (and movie directors and actors, etc) who are complete scum but have produced wonderful works nevertheless, and it's always important to remember that just because someone reads and enjoys aspects of such a scummy person's work doesn't mean that they agree with or like any of the more personal aspects of the creators actions or beliefs.*

          Anyway I think Apromor is correct in that virtually any situation that occurs in Conan could almost play out in an identical fashion in Exalted, which is pretty cool. Conan has always been a huge inspiration for the Exalted setting.

          *This isn't really directed at anyone in specific, but I've seen lots of situations online where someone says, "I really enjoyed X!" and then people say, "Yeah but the guy who made it is a scumbag," and the original poster ends up feeling like he's being attacked for supporting the actions of the creator.

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          • #6
            Oh of course, but it does impact that work and is thus relevant to discussion of said work. Lovecraft’s virulent racism, and Howard’s limited lens of his time are in the texts not separate personal notes.


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            • #7
              Honestly, IMO, Conan is kind of weird racially in ways that are pretty specific to it, waaay beyond what early Sword and Sorcery is generally. Like, the whole history in "The Hyborian Age" is pretty much a history of racial conflicts between peoples, racial degeneration / decline. No exaggeration, you can read it here - http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0603571.txt. (The history also doesn't really make any economic, technological or social sense whatsoever.) Characterization in stories is really oriented towards whatever fantasy human race each character is. You don't really get that in Clark Ashton Smith or Fritz Leiber or other such early people at all. As adventure stories, of course they're influential for... reasons, but while I'm far from at the higher level of concern about these sorts of issues in daily life (or probably even at the middle, in truth), I still found most of them borderline unreadable (in the sense of "What the hell is all this rambling nonsense? Why am I reading this?".).

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              • #8
                Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post
                Robert E. Howard's work and race are an interesting and nuanced topic, as he is a good example of someone who meant well, but was also irreparably a product of his time (in contrast with his friend H.P. Lovecraft, who was ideologically a passionate racist by the standards of his own contemporaries).

                (And yes, I recognize that someone "meaning well" while still being friends and supporting the work of a passionate ideological racist, is white privilege in action, as it represents the ability to treat racial politics as an abstract topic of debate rather than a an imminent reality that destroys lives)
                I still don't understand how Lovecraft married a Jew while staying so bigoted against them without getting divorced. Was his wife a masochist or something?

                Edit: I have discovered that they did in fact get divorced, never mind.


                Exalted Whose Name is Carved in Leaves of Jade

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                • #9
                  I'd like to specify I'm not in fact telling anyone what to read or not to read, nor am I accusing anyone who enjoys the works of notoriously racist, or misogyinist, or whatever, authors, that they automatically partake of those authors' views and are horrible people and it's badwrong fun.

                  I like Game of Thrones. It's sexist, racist, rather homophobic and that's probably not the end of it. It also has some awesome characters, a rich worldbuilding, and some powerful moments. I know many people despise it and consider it utter shit. I don't indiscriminately like everything on the show, I share almost none of the opinions of George R.R. Martin, I'm very critical of some of the writing, and I find it a lot of fun and very well done.

                  You are not what you eat.

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                  • #10
                    I regularly consult the Conan RPG books for artifact and character ideas, so yeah. Totally a major exalted influence.


                    I did a lot of homebrew over here. PEACH.

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                    • #11
                      Thank God most writers, creators, etc. throughout the history of the world are offensive to the rabidly PC culture of our day. We’re heading toward some kind of apocalypse where no one can have any genuine belief or opinion that isn’t evaluated and punished by the gestapo of political correctness. Ugh. I have also never read Conan, but now I want to.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PneumaPilot View Post
                        Thank God most writers, creators, etc. throughout the history of the world are offensive to the rabidly PC culture of our day. We’re heading toward some kind of apocalypse where no one can have any genuine belief or opinion that isn’t evaluated and punished by the gestapo of political correctness. Ugh. I have also never read Conan, but now I want to.
                        Yeah, I know it’s so frustrating today that we actually have to listen now to things people of color having been saying through all of modern history. It’s a horrible violation of your freedom that people who are negatively impacted by regurgitated cultural stereotypes aren’t being systematically silenced as they used to be. What a tragic injustice.

                        Thank god that most of western literary history reuses the same racial and gender tropes over and over and over rather than having the horrible diverse stories that we’re starting to see today.
                        Last edited by glamourweaver; 04-29-2018, 12:57 PM.


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                        • #13
                          I mean, it would be nice if people could actually discuss classic genre fiction without being immediately drowned by a stock* back and forth of oh-so-helpful reminders that one doesn't read eighty year old pulp novels for the social commentary and totally-needed disclaimers that that doesn't automatically make them bad books. Like, thanks, I never would have guessed either of those things.

                          * Seriously, this thread is giving me such deja vu I'm almost tempted to check for copy-pasting.

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                          • #14
                            Go read Conan if you want! I'd not for a minute suggest that people shouldn't be allowed to read it, or that if people did read it, this then poses pose some kind of insidious risk of Dangerous Thoughts, or is responsible for some kind of political injustice.

                            But in context I thought it was worth noting that my experience was Conan seemed explicitly racial in a way that is really quite unusual for Sword & Sorcery of its time - the whole Hyborian Age history Howard gives is really focused on the ascendancy and degeneration of "races" who are in a struggle for survival (ascendancy seeming to be about evolution towards a sort of idealized Northern European type, degeneration often mentioned in terms about "racial" mixing and "purity"); characterization is often explaining characters' traits by their race; civilization makes character and peoples weak. And so on.

                            If you think this stuff is all a load of nonsense then it seems to me kind of hard to get around it, and that unfortunately was my personal experience. It's all a lot more prominent in the narrative than something like Tolkein's "Well, the elves do sort of a look a bit like idealized tall, slim Scandinavian folk, and the orcs do speak with working class cockney accents and probably looked a bit like Mongols in Tolkein's mind's eye, and Numenoreans are just better than everyone else... But the books actually have a lot more substance and universal human appeal than that and you can mostly ignore this for the purposes of the plot.". If you can get around it, then more power to you.

                            (I guess this is not a very positive contribution to this thread though, so I'll shurrup now.)

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sith_Happens View Post
                              I mean, it would be nice if people could actually discuss classic genre fiction without being immediately drowned by a stock* back and forth of oh-so-helpful reminders that one doesn't read eighty year old pulp novels for the social commentary and totally-needed disclaimers that that doesn't automatically make them bad books. Like, thanks, I never would have guessed either of those things.

                              * Seriously, this thread is giving me such deja vu I'm almost tempted to check for copy-pasting.
                              As someone who 100% believes we should be socially critical of and actively discuss these themes, I agree it doesn’t make it a “bad book” and I don’t think most people engaged in said criticism do either. It’s just a strongly present element of the setting that should not be ignored. It’s not about censorship, it’s about critical analysis and engagement.


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