Monday, May 28, 2012

Lore Whore - classes and their roots

Since AOC's day one there has been some talk about how the it doesn't make whole lot a sense for certain classes to be associated with certain ethnic groups.
While it is easy to imagine that Dark Templars should have been made a choice for Stygian and not Cimmerians, but I personally have no beef  with the existence of Aquilonian Barbarians. I do despise Cimmerian Rangers.
A Common misconception about Aquilonia is thinking of it as a highly civilized Roman Empire. Aquilonia had it's provinces:

Potain (land of warmth and plenty ), Gunderland (best footmen soldiers in Hyboria) and Bossonia (amazing archers and defenders). Not all of those provinces were up of standards you could get used to living in Old Tarantia.
"That was true; the Bossonian marches, with their fortified villages
filled with determined bowmen, had long served Aquilonia as a buffer
against the outlying barbarians. Now among the settlers beyond Thunder River here was growing up a breed of forest men capable of meeting the barbarians at their own game, but their numbers were still scanty. Most of the frontiersmen were like Balthus--more of the settler than the woodsman type."
REH,  Beyond the Black River

I think Bossonians are the closest thing in Aquilonia to "barbarians". Keep in mind that thanks to D&D influence barbarians are through more as a "class" (like assassin/rogue) than what REH intended.  It totally makes sense for Bossonians ("breed of forest men")to be regarded as "barbarian class". They are not, however, barbarians per se.

As for a bow: Conan was excellent marksman and used the bow often and to a great effect.
"Give me a bow," requested Conan. "It's not my idea of a manly weapon,but I learned archery among the Hyrkanians, and it will go hard if Ican't feather a man or so on yonder deck."

Standing on the poop, he watched the serpentlike ship skimming
lightly over the waters, and landsman though he was, it was evident to him that the Argus would never win that race. Already arrows, arching from the pirate's deck, were falling with a hiss into the sea, not twenty paces astern".
REH, Queen Of The Black Coast

It is weird that Conan had to learn the bow from Hyrkanians. If Cimmerians used the bow Conan would have known it. There might be a chance that "archery" is a different art than merely "hunting with bow", but I don't know anything on that subject.
Wikipedia suggests that the usage of bows was not as wide spread as one might think. It is very much likely that the Cimmerians hunted with spears alone.

There is a little hint about that in "the Cimmeria" poem by REH:
"It was so long ago and far away

I have forgot the very name men called me.

The axe and flint-tipped spear are like a dream,

And hunts and wars are shadows."
So next time you meet Cimmerian Ranger that is into RP do ask him where did his character learn archery. It sure as hell wasn't in Cimmeria.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

[Guide] Dull Pain + Lotus Overload

Dull pain and Lotus Overload are mandatory for any serious build because those gives unprecedented survivability against magic users.

Lotus Overload will trigger (proc) on any critical spell damage. Whenever LO procs on something else than spell damage it is not intended and is considered a bug. Lotus Overload is passive.

Dull Pain consumes 2 shards upon usage protects against:

- Fire

- Cold

- Unholy

- Poison

- Electrical

types of damage.

There is a difference between what Dull Pain and Lotus Overload do.

Dull Pain will grant protection is called "invulnerability". It will upgrade your spell mitigation up 90% for the duration of DP.

It doesn't matter whether you have 0% or 18% of certain spell type mitigation (like unholy) - Dull Pain brings everything up to at least 90%. Whatever spell is used against you will be mitigated which means the damage received will get reduced by 90%.

Lotus Overload gives spell immunity.  Spell immunity is a chance to fully resist spell attack.

You will either resist the spell and not get hit, or you will receive full damage. Dull Pain will always mitigate damage, but never fully and can be partialy by passed by your opponent'ss spell penetration proc.

So as you can see both of those feats have their advantages and this is why you should get them both.

Lotus Overload + Side Step
Side Step (tap 2 x left or right) gives +10% immunity so using it with Lotus Overload proc will give you total immunity for 4s.

Lotus Overload + CC
The immunity granted by LO will work also against spell based CCs such as fear or assassin's stun. LO user can also resist miasmas so for example: your target has SDS poison on him, but he resists your face stab (which is a spell) the miasma will not be consumed and no damage will be applied.

Dull Pain usage 
Dull Pain is a staple of assassin vs assassin combat. Since assassin's damage comes largely from unholy the dull pain can mitigate whole detonation.Keep in mind that HOLY type of damage is not on the list and therefor Dull Pain is useless against Priests of Mitra. It is very beneficial (especially against Hox/Assassin) to stack Cat's Paw with Dull Pain for added protection, especially when you are picking up the flag while being attacked. Dull Pain is overall more preventive than reactive: I advocate using it when engaged in large fights to avoid magic aoe rather than trying to anticipate magical attack. The only exception is detonation because the icon is clearly visible and the explosion is delayed which gives plenty of time to use DP.
It can be also used by undegeared assassins to beat the boss in Refuge of Apostate solo dungeon because his hard hitting attack is magical.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lore Whore: REH's Conan > all

 Today I want to talk a bit about my love for the all things REH. I find that there are very few AOC players that in fact know things or two about Conan. Sadly most are as clueless as general population with their preconceived notions of skin clad, brainless barbarian brawler that drinks, fights and womanizes. While that is 
true to some extend, I cannot help to notice that this image of Conan is mainly a blend of 70' Marvel comics and 80' Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Those have one other thing in common: both were bad.

I think I can safely say I am REH purist or....Conan nerd. I love all things that are REH cannon and despise anything that was not penned by Mr.Howard himself. There are some exceptions: Dark Horse Conan and perhaps Savage Sword of Conan comics. I like those because, rather than re-invent the wheel, those build upon the foundations that REH has set. Same is true about Age of Conan: I can say many bad things about Funcom, but when it comes to the creative and respectful use of the lore they are amazing. One of my main grudges against non-REH is the above mentioned lack of respect for both the lore and the reader. Conan pastiche authors simply DO NOT research the world nor the Conan character  and therefor are making them inconsistent with REH's vision. I bet you would like an example? Here you are:

J.M.Roberts writes: "for Cimmeria was a treeless land...". This kind of thing makes my inner nerd, rage SCREAM and throw the book against the wall.

*deep breath* Ok Mr. Roberts, I would like you to take a look at a poem by REH called..."Cimmeria".  To make it easier on you, since you obviously don't like reading that much, I will just point your attention to the parts of poem that should have been of an intrest to you:
"I remember

The dark woods, masking slopes of sombre hills;
Slope beyond slope, each dark with sullen trees,
And the dark woodlands brooding over all,
The dimness of the everlasting woods.

--Cimmeria, REH

Same goes for other authors like De Camp who also has written some dumb shit (like Conan learning magic *face palm*).

So I am mostly re-reading pure, unedited REH stories and honestly I am enjoying them each time. More So I am finding those little details that REH is giving out about the Hyboria which make me smile. Example: there are several references to legal system in Hyboria. Apparently Aquilonia had some kind of supreme court that defendants could appeal to, which implies a very advanced legal culture. See? It's not all about splitting skulls and grabing some gal's ass.

I would like to very much encourage you to check out REH's Conan or, at a very least, to check out Dark Horse comics featuring Conan.There are over 75 non-REH Conan books written, but I simply cannot stomach those for I am of an option that only Howard did justice to Conan character. I cannot help but wonder what other, breath taking stories would REH had written if it wasn't for him taking his own life. And perhaps, just perhaps, I will one day visit REH's museum?

Map of Hyboria on the wall.

My comic collection. Mostly Dark Horse and Savage Sword, but also some classic Marvel

Books. Original REH and some Polish translations with Frazetta covers

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Next stop? South.

The monthly dev update letter is here and it contains a teaser for the upcoming add-on:

"Lastly, some of our adventurers have been venturing further afield than ever before, and are returning word of a ruined city to the south ... we sense there may be more there to explore ..."

It is pretty obvious that it is not Hyperborea, but previous tips are still applicable:

1. FC want to step back from eastern theme (Khitai and Turan),

2. The new zone is bordering with existing zones,

3. It's ancient, buried (??) and mysterious

4. Some Lovecraft tie-ins.

Lets look at the map, shall we?


To the south we have Shem, Kush, Darfar and Keshan and all those have two things in common:

1. those are next to Stygia,

2. those have mysterious, ancient cities.

Here is what I have been able to figure out so far:

City of  Kuthchemes

"He stood, the one atom of life amidst the colossal monuments of desolation and decay. Not even a vulture hung like a black dot in the vast blue vault of the sky that the sun glazed with its heat. On every hand rose the grim relics of another, forgotten age: huge broken pillars, thrusting up their jagged pinnacles into the sky; long wavering lines of crumbling walls; fallen cyclopean blocks of stone; shattered images, whose horrific features the corroding winds and dust storms had half erased. From horizon to horizon no sign of life: only the sheer breathtaking sweep of the naked desert, bisected by the wandering line of a long-dry river course; in the midst of that vastness the glimmering fangs of the ruins, the columns standing up like broken masts of sunken ships--all dominated by the towering ivory dome before which Shevatas stood trembling"

- REH, The Black Colosus
Why it might be the location: The city is indeed ancient and in pretty rough shape. When you look at the artwork you will notice that there is a lot of dust and decay being shown and the strong sun implies desert.

Why it might not be the location:
the letter clearly states "our adventurers have been venturing further afield than ever before". Shem lies closer to the already explored areas because it is roughly between Aquilonia and Stygia.  The story itself lacks the "Lovecraftian" beast, it is about sorcerer and how his skull met Conan's sword.

City of Xuchotl

"They were not looking into an open street or court as one would have expected. The opened gate, or door, gave directly into a long, broad hall which ran away and away until its vista grew indistinct in the distance. It was of heroic proportions, and the floor of a curious red stone, cut in square tiles, that seemed to smolder as if with the reflection of flames. The walls were of a shiny green material.

"Jade, or I'm a Shemite!" swore Conan.

"Not in such quantity!" protested Valeria.

"I've looted enough from the Khitan caravans to know what I'm talking about," he asserted. "That's jade!"

The vaulted ceiling was of lapis lazuli, adorned with clusters of great green stones that gleamed with a poisonous radiance."

- REH, the Red Nails

Why it might be the location: Pretty much nothing to support the claim that this is they city picked for new add-on expect that it is "further in the south".

Why it might not be the location:the city of Xuthal had very unique look for it's walls were made out of Jade and the whole city was covered by a single gigantic roof. The artwork clearly shows open space and no jade walls. Besides the way the story ends....lets just say the wouldn't be whole lot of NPC to talk to :D

City of Xuthal

"She murmured a faint assent and followed him so closely that she stepped on his heels, to his irritation. Dusk had fallen, filling the strange city with purple shadows. They entered the open doorway, and found themselves in a wide chamber, the walls of which were hung with velvet tapestries, worked in curious designs. Floor, walls and ceiling were of the green glassy stone, the walls decorated with gold frieze-work. Furs and satin cushions littered the floor. Several doorways let into other rooms. They passed through, and traversed several chambers, counterparts of the first. They saw no one, but the Cimmerian grunted suspiciously.

"Some one was here not long ago. This couch is still warm from contact with a human body. That silk cushion bears the imprint of some one's hips. Then there's a faint scent of perfume lingering in the air."

A weird unreal atmosphere hung over all. Traversing this dim silent palace was like an opium dream. Some of the chambers were unlighted, and these they avoided"

- REH, Slithering Shadow (Xuthal of the dusk)

Why it might be the location: The city has a lot of magic in it and the beast found it it's bowels is a CLASSIC creation lifted by REH from the works of Lovecraft. The city is located in the middle of the desert.

Why it might not be the location: The city is packed with luxurious items and decadent drug users, it is "alive" in it's own twisted way so hardly a mess that is shown in the artwork.

City of  Alkmeenon
"Nevertheless he went warily, sword in hand, his restless eyes combing the shadows from side to side, his springy tread making no sound on the sward. All about him he saw signs of an ancient civilization; marble fountains, voiceless and crumbling, stood in circles of slender trees whose patterns were too symmetrical to have been a chance of nature. Forest growth and underbrush had invaded the evenly planned groves, but their outlines were still visible. Broad pavements ran away under the trees, broken, and with grass growing through the wide cracks. He glimpsed walls with ornamental copings, lattices of carven stone that might once have served as the walls of pleasure pavilions.

Ahead of him, through the trees, the domes gleamed and the bulk of the structure supporting them became more apparent as he advanced. Presently, pushing through a screen of vine-tangled branches, he came into a comparatively open space where the trees straggled, unencumbered by undergrowth, and saw before him the wide, pillared portico of the palace."

-  REH, Jewels of Gwahlur

Why it might be the location: The city was ancient and in rough shape, but it was used from time to time by the priests who came to the city to seek the audience of a goddess. In the artwork there are clearly some torches so that implies the presence of humans. The story also have some Lovecraft tie-ins in a form of monsters dwelling under the city.

Why it might not be the location: The city is supposed to be enveloped by vegetation which is not shown in the artwork.

To sum it up:

Most likely localization: Shem and the city of  Kuthchemes.

Second most likely localisation: Alkemeenon, Keshan.