So, I am almost through the rule book (just on the section about the specific personalities at the end), I have the first adventure I want to run out of the Jeweled Thrones of the Earth picked out and I am two weeks from the first game, but I still have a burning question about the setting of Hyboria itself and it has to do with visualization.
As someone who is new(ish) to the setting, what do these areas look like? There are no real descriptions outside of what the overall terrain is like, and the rest can be extrapolated from the map and where things are there. I get all that.
The big sticking point for me are in the details. Are there many small villages between the larger cities (and are there more or less in one region versus another; say Aquilonia vs. Stygia)? Are there sizable townships that are NOT the cities? What is the overall architectural designs for each region? I get the overall feel and culture of each region as was mentioned in the book (Aquilonia is medieval France, Argos is mercantile Italy etc.), but that doesn’t tell me the style of the buildings.
Everything I see online confuses me further, most pictures I see of Aquilonia make it out to be Greek inspired, with white stone, marble statues and columns everywhere, but I thought that Corinthia was supposed to be Greece? On the other hand Aquilonia having great stone castles and wood and stone buildings in the style of medieval Europe does seem out of setting for Conan as well.
So then are the depictions I’ve seen online correct? Does Aquilonia just have the trappings of the culture of medieval France but a different architectural style? If someone can maybe give me a rundown of each region’s style and some details on each or even links to pictures, I would be very appreciative. I ask because my group is actually really big on visualization and the better I can describe the setting as we run through it, the more my players respond to the setting.
Because of the sparsity with which REH detailed the Hyborian Age (just enough to fit in a northern barbarian in his adventures) any description of culture and architecture is filling in the blanks and that’s why you’re confused, different sources have different interpretations. Go with the cultural indicators in the rulebook and then open a history book to get ideas and inspiration. If you require specific details make them up yourself. REH would only describe a gable or cornice if Conan or the villain was swinging from it.
This may be sacrilege to the designers, but the various pastiches, especially those novels from the 1980s-90s, often have longer descriptions of places than the original Howard stories. So you could certainly find inspiration there and contrary to what many purists assert, some of their stories aren’t bad. You could certainly pull plots and villains from them as well. The main issue with them, in my opinion, is that the gritty feel of Howard (as well as much of the moral ambiguity) is stripped away and they read more like vanilla fantasy. And you are free to improvise, of course. I haven’t actually played this game yet, but I’ve played other Conan RPGs, including the AD&D modules and I think the main thing to capture is the gritty, pseudo-historical feel without worrying too much about straight up historical analogues.
From that idea, I think I will check for pictures of the comics and the video games through Google as well, there should be some good depictions of the various areas. If I can’t find a whole lot, then I’ll take what I can and maybe do generalized look for nearby nations - like Aquilonia, Argos, Nemedia and Corinthia having primarily white stone, marble statues and columns for example.
@Omegawolf if you have access to Mongoose D20 Conan, then their books gives a lot of great description of various countries as well as the culture.
The problem with an excess of information (particularly for me) is I get too tied to every specific detail and don’t want to contradict the established lore. So if this is you, making up the details has a certain freedom to it.
I have hunted down many of the mongoose books for this reason exactly. There are entire books covering only one or two countries which lets them dig deep into every aspect of those countries! It has helped me add a lot of flavor behind my game.
Thanks for the heads up on the Mongoose books, will definitely check those out!
I had several sessions in Messantia, and without the Mongoose book dedicated to this place, the success would have never been the same. The books is fantastic as it depicts the Noble houses, guilds, the places and even many NPCs in great details.
I really want Modiphius to push some books as all books are sometimes light on such kind of information that actually fleshes out the world much better.