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    Default Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    I create this thread to discuss how weak magic is in the world of Conan the Barbarian. It's my belief that it probably is the weakest magic of all fiction, but I want to hear what other people have to say about the matter.

    I do it because every time Conan apears in a discussion people go around saying how uber Conan is because of all the magic users he has killed in his adventures. However, from what I've seen from Conan's adventures, the magic users he kills barely compare to magic users from any other seting.

    So here are my main points to justify why magic is weak in the Conan universe:

    1-Reaaallly long casting times
    On one of the most recent books I've read about Conan, he finds a tomb of an ancient and (in theory) powerfull wizard. When he asks the locals how he died, they answer that the local farmers one day revolted and stormed the wizard's castle, proceeding to stab the wizard to death with pitchforks.

    The wizard was still trying to cast his first spell when the farmers started stabing him.

    Also, on the same book, later, a group of wizards takes several minutes to cast a sleep spell to subdue an angry mob, comenting how lucky they are the mob has no arrows to disrupt them.

    On other books, most of the wizards Conan faces will rather fight in melee once in the same room than trying to cast spells, suporting that it really takes a long time to do use magic.

    The only exception to this are self polymorph spells, where the wizard quickly transforms himself into some monster and jumps at Conan. However, they don't seem to be able to transform in anytyhing really dangerous compared to the monsters Conan normally faces. It's world with 3 headed tigers and giant gorillas capable of crushing rock, but the wizard will rather transform into a snake or a human sized spider, and be easily defeated

    2-Look, ma, no nukes/summon/terrain control/defensive buffs!

    When it works, magic seems to be really limited. Conan wizards don't shoot lasers or fireballs or raise walls of adamantium or summon minions out of thin air, meaning they have a really hard time killing anything at distance.

    The most dangerous thing they manage to do are some forms of mind control, but it seems like anyone with a good strenght of will(Conan included) can shrug it off.

    There's also a big lack of defensive buffs. Their flesh is easily cut, and nobody ever seems to simply try to fly away from Conan and his sharp stick. No invisibility, no disguise self, no teleport variants whatsoever, as far as I remember.

    3-Really expensive vulnerable casting focus

    If there's some seemingly strong wizard in the Conan universe, it's because he has some artifact that grants him the powers. However said artifact is really vulnerable and can easily be destroyed by bashing it with anything at hand.


    4-No long term magic

    Wizard's lairs seem to be reall low in magic traps and defenses. Normally the biggest danger are normal guards and ocasionally some bounded monster that's just a little harder to take down.

    Plus, mind control seems to only work for short periods of time, making armies of minions that much harder to keep.

    5-Anti magic items rock big time
    Finnally, there always seems to be some amulet or magic weapon that nullifies whatever strong power the woposing caster should have left. Wizards rarely bother to protect or even care about those items, allowing Conan to easily retrieve them.

    6-Magic causes brain cancer to the user
    It's not oficial, but most magic users in the Conan universe seem to be half crazy, to the point of trying to melee Conan, and just very rarely trying to retreat when things aren't going their way.

    So, what's your toughts of the magic on the Conan universe?
    Last edited by Oslecamo; 2008-09-15 at 08:21 AM.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    I create this thread to discuss how weak magic is in the world of Conan the Barbarian. It's my belief that it probably is the weakest magic of all fiction, but I want to hear what other people have to say about the matter.

    I do it because every time Conan apears in a discussion people go around saying how uber Conan is because of all the magic users he has killed in his adventures. However, from what I've seen from Conan's adventures, the magic users he kills barely compare to magic users from any other seting.

    So here are my main points to justify why magic is weak in the Conan universe:

    1-Reaaallly long casting times
    On one of the most recent books I've read about Conan, he finds a tomb of an ancient and (in theory) powerfull wizard. When he asks the locals how he died, they answer that the local farmers one day revolted and stormed the wizard's castle, proceeding to stab the wizard to death with pitchforks.

    The wizard was still trying to cast his first spell when the farmers started stabing him.

    Also, on the same book, later, a group of wizards takes several minutes to cast a sleep spell to subdue an angry mob, comenting how lucky they are the mob has no arrows to disrupt them.

    On other books, most of the wizards Conan faces will rather fight in melee once in the same room than trying to cast spells, suporting that it really takes a long time to do use magic.

    The only exception to this are self polymorph spells, where the wizard quickly transforms himself into some monster and jumps at Conan. However, they don't seem to be able to transform in anytyhing really dangerous compared to the monsters Conan normally faces. It's world with 3 headed tigers and giant gorillas capable of crushing rock, but the wizard will rather transform into a snake or a human sized spider, and be easily defeated

    2-Look, ma, no nukes/summon/terrain control/defensive buffs!

    When it works, magic seems to be really limited. Conan wizards don't shoot lasers or fireballs or raise walls of adamantium or summon minions out of thin air, meaning they have a really hard time killing anything at distance.

    The most dangerous thing they manage to do are some forms of mind control, but it seems like anyone with a good strenght of will(Conan included) can shrug it off.

    There's also a big lack of defensive buffs. Their flesh is easily cut, and nobody ever seems to simply try to fly away from Conan and his sharp stick. No invisibility, no disguise self, no teleport variants whatsoever, as far as I remember.

    3-Really expensive vulnerable casting focus

    If there's some seemingly strong wizard in the Conan universe, it's because he has some artifact that grants him the powers. However said artifact is really vulnerable and can easily be destroyed by bashing it with anything at hand.


    4-No long term magic

    Wizard's lairs seem to be reall low in magic traps and defenses. Normally the biggest danger are normal guards and ocasionally some bounded monster that's just a little harder to take down.

    Plus, mind control seems to only work for short periods of time, making armies of minions that much harder to keep.

    5-Anti magic items rock big time
    Finnally, there always seems to be some amulet or magic weapon that nullifies whatever strong power the woposing caster should have left. Wizards rarely bother to protect or even care about those items, allowing Conan to easily retrieve them.

    6-Magic causes brain cancer to the user
    It's not oficial, but most magic users in the Conan universe seem to be half crazy, to the point of trying to melee Conan, and just very rarely trying to retreat when things aren't going their way.

    So, what's your toughts of the magic on the Conan universe?
    I suggest you read about the origins of Thoth Amon. That Thoth Amon is as powerful as the Simbul. Also consider that for a moment that a wizard with a CR of 9 has enslaved a lesser deity before.

    That being said, wizards in Conan are typically of a very wide variety.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Part of the problem you see seems to be the way magic works. Combat magic in Conan sucks. The smart magi have already summoned demons to protect them. Howard was heavily influenced by Lovecraft, so look at CoC for the way magic works. The most powerful magi were *not* human.
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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Armin View Post
    I suggest you read about the origins of Thoth Amon. That Thoth Amon is as powerful as the Simbul. Also consider that for a moment that a wizard with a CR of 9 has enslaved a lesser deity before.

    That being said, wizards in Conan are typically of a very wide variety.
    From what I read about Thoth Amon, he hapened to get his hands on another powerfull magic item(the ring), wich seem to just be scatered everywhere in Conan's world.

    I won't touch the lesser deity part. Depenging on the universe, deities are either the strongest guys around or just slightly tougher than mortals, and I believe the Conan universe is the later.

    Yes, wizards in Conan are of a very wide variety, but that also happens in pretty much every other fiction seting with magic.

    But anyway, do you admit that defeating an human magi in the Conan universe is a much lower feat that defeating a human magi in other fictions?

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    From what I read about Thoth Amon, he hapened to get his hands on another powerfull magic item(the ring), wich seem to just be scatered everywhere in Conan's world.

    I won't touch the lesser deity part. Depenging on the universe, deities are either the strongest guys around or just slightly tougher than mortals, and I believe the Conan universe is the later.

    Yes, wizards in Conan are of a very wide variety, but that also happens in pretty much every other fiction seting with magic.

    But anyway, do you admit that defeating an human magi in the Conan universe is a much lower feat that defeating a human magi in other fictions?
    I will. Conan was written in the old style of adventure, in which "being a MAN" was the most important thing. "Real Men" conquered, and every one else fell at their feet.
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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    I'm not saying Conan magic is uber but I will argue it's not weak. I suggest reading People of the Black Circle (If I'm remembering the name correctly) for an example on the fluctuating levels of Conan magic. On the one hand you have apprentices who can only make balls of flying mist that will 'explode' when something metal touches them and kill whoever was holding the metal, and only several times at that before being forced to go into melee combat.

    On the other hand you have the Seers themselves and the Master. The Seers seemed immune to being killed unless their foci is destroyed (Which is in the center of their stronghold that has a couple rather effective magical enchantments and four of it's own guardians though Conan smashed the foci before the guardians could get to him). They could freeze a man with a glance (Even those without the years of 'hypnosis inductions' the people of that area had, like Conan who is of strong will), kill with a motion, start a rather large rock slide, turn into a flyinh blood-red mist that could kidnap people, and at the very least had spider-climb and teleportation. The Master's abilities weren't very well shown but they included shape-shifting, horrific mind-rape, and he constructed the magical defenses for his tower. However in the end neither the Seers nor the Master were still human.

    You also have Set-Anubis, who had artifact augmented magical abilities. His illusions were fool-proof to those who didn't know about them beforehand and had a uniquely strong will (Conan didn't fight Set-Anubis but he likely would have fallen into that category) and even then you were still trapped in it, you just knew what was going on. All of his magic only seemed to take a moment to cast except for affecting an entire castle worth of elite guard were he had to use an actual incantation. But it was the Eye of Charon that so greatly boosted his abilities (And before you ask it took more then a simple beating to destroy it...and if I remember right needed to be pried out of his forehead before he could be killed).

    Then you have the middle-ground where some spells take awhile to cast while others...not so much. The 'feared' wizard who died to peasants before he could get off a single spell? Either he was trying something overly flashy for the Fear & Awe effect or he was just a weakling who had fooled the masses into fearing him which is very likely.

    Most wizards are sometimes trained in some form of martial combat though to supplement their magic (hence why they seem to prefer melee sometimes). The Seers and their acolytes above knew martial arts and could snap a normal man's neck with one hand and a single movement. As for the 'only turning into giant animals'...I actually have my own theory about that. I don't think they CAN turn into the demons or otherwordly monster gribbilies they sometimes summon, unless that's their true form and then they just go right to that. I don't know the why but it seems that they merely try and choose venomous or strong animal forms because that's all that's available to them.
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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post

    2-Look, ma, no nukes/summon/terrain control/defensive buffs!

    When it works, magic seems to be really limited. Conan wizards don't shoot lasers or fireballs or raise walls of adamantium or summon minions out of thin air, meaning they have a really hard time killing anything at distance.

    The most dangerous thing they manage to do are some forms of mind control, but it seems like anyone with a good strenght of will(Conan included) can shrug it off.
    There were several with various ranged killing spells.

    I got a book of all Robert E. Howard's original Conan stories recently (haven't read any other authors' versions). Unfortunately, I returned it to the book shop today (too many printing errors, even after getting it replaced twice), so I can't quote the specific stories.

    However, I can remember:

    * A wizard who threw a fireball/fire-bolt type spell at Conan (I think he dodged it).

    * An attack by Conan and a platoon of soldiers on a castle defended by some apprentice wizards, who launched a series of gently-floating bubble-like effects at the soldiers... which on contact with metal exploded with sufficiant heat to (IRC) melt iron and vapourize flesh.

    * A group of four "melee wizards" who didn't sling spells as such, but were armed with staves, the touch of which caused instant, irresistable death.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    I won't touch the lesser deity part. Depenging on the universe, deities are either the strongest guys around or just slightly tougher than mortals, and I believe the Conan universe is the later.
    That depends very heavily on the deity.

    Some beings that are worshipped as gods in Hyborea are much stronger than mortals, but 'weak' enough that a human hero with the right weapons or knowledge could reasonably hope to kill them. For example, consider Dagoth from Conan the Destroyer or the monstrous 'god' in Howard's original The Devil in Iron. In both cases, ordinary humans wouldn't stand a chance in a fight, but Conan wins the fight once he knows a way to win.

    Other beings that are worshipped as gods are so abstract and powerful that they don't even exist on the same plane of reality as mortals, such as Set or Mitra (or Crom). You can't go fight them, and it's reasonable to conclude that they are way more powerful than humans. Even compared to human wizards.

    But anyway, do you admit that defeating an human magi in the Conan universe is a much lower feat that defeating a human magi in other fictions?
    Hard to say. A lot of settings use rather subtle magic. Remember that most modern fantasy is colored by the effects of D&D. In D&D, wizards are really powerful, to the point where a prepared wizard can overcome almost any challenge that can be imagined. But before D&D, this was not the way magic was normally pictured. Magic was something a lot more subtle- a wizard might be able to manipulate the weather or control your emotions, but he wouldn't be shooting thunderbolts or teleporting.

    There's a reason for this. For most of history, people actually believed in magic- that someone who knew certain secrets could summon demons or control your mind or affect the weather. However, in real life people who thought they were practicing magic could never accomplish anything huge and visible. Therefore, the traditional concept of "magic" is not flashy with lots of teleportation and fireballs and flying around and making yourself invulnerable to a sword across the neck. The traditional concept has more to do with magicians being able to affect the kinds of things premodern cultures didn't understand, giving them power over weather, the mind, or supernatural beings.

    Howard started writing his Conan stories in the 1930s. Back then, this traditional concept of the power of magic was the only one. The flashy pyrotechnic magic we see in D&D and its derivative works simply didn't exist yet, so you saw very little fiction in which wizards had godlike power.

    Look at other stuff with wizards in it from the same era and you'll see the same thing.
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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    Hard to say. A lot of settings use rather subtle magic. Remember that most modern fantasy is colored by the effects of D&D. In D&D, wizards are really powerful, to the point where a prepared wizard can overcome almost any challenge that can be imagined. But before D&D, this was not the way magic was normally pictured. Magic was something a lot more subtle- a wizard might be able to manipulate the weather or control your emotions, but he wouldn't be shooting thunderbolts or teleporting.
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    Very interesting post, btw. I'm sure I should be able to think of some counterexamples, but they'd probably be the exception that proves the rule. Apart from shape-changing magic, which has been a part of folk magic since the year dot, interestingly.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorkens View Post
    Very interesting post, btw. I'm sure I should be able to think of some counterexamples, but they'd probably be the exception that proves the rule. Apart from shape-changing magic, which has been a part of folk magic since the year dot, interestingly.
    ITs interesting to note that Merlin had the power, in some poems, to burn an entire column of ROman soldiers.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    Howard started writing his Conan stories in the 1930s. Back then, this traditional concept of the power of magic was the only one. The flashy pyrotechnic magic we see in D&D and its derivative works simply didn't exist yet, so you saw very little fiction in which wizards had godlike power.

    Look at other stuff with wizards in it from the same era and you'll see the same thing.
    I don't think I agree with this.

    From the old legend of King Artur, we have Merlin using here and there powerfull illusions to fool his oponents. Like making an enemy army run in fear thinking they're awfully outnumbered.

    On the bible Moises uses his divine magic to use really flashy stuff like rain of meterors, plagues and other stuff wich would make a high level D&D caster proud. And he does have a staff and a robe. Heck is the closest thing to a wizard from that era.

    Celtic druids were believed to be able to control the weather.

    In LOTR, wich shows up just a little after Conan, we have Gandalf shooting the first fireballs and some other big tricks. Well, it did inspire D&D after all.

    So, I wouldn't say that Conan's concept of magic was the only one.
    Last edited by Oslecamo; 2008-09-15 at 12:34 PM.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    On the bible Moises uses his divine magic to use really flashy stuff like rain of meterors, plagues and other stuff wich would make a high level D&D caster proud. And he does have a staff and a robe. Heck is the closest thing to a wizard from that era.
    Not to get too close to banned topics, but from the Christian perspective, miracles =/= magic, and in the 30s even non-Christian writers would likely be affected by cultural expectations. I dare say that the concept of "divine magic," at least as you're thinking of it, is a product of D&D.
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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    I just borrowed Howardísí works from the library. While Iíve only read a few of his stories thus far. Iím not at all disappointed with the magic Iíve seen. Sure itís not the pyrotechnic style you see in dnd games. But itís still potent. In the first story I read, The Phoenix on the Sword, Thoth Amon summoned a demon to go kill his current owner (having become a slave), and Conan. The demon was immune to Conanís attacks, until he picked up his magical sword (which had been broken earlier in the fight) and stabbed the thing. In dnd terms the demon had mondo damage reduction, and the sword had a slaying enchantment on it. So yeah, its hardly weak, just different. I like to think of it as a more subtle form of magic.


    Umm in the bible Moses doesnít do any of that stuff.
    Heís calling upon god and asking him to do it all. The Egyptians had sorcerers, but none of their magic was capable of undoing the works god had been throwing around. To the best of my recollection, it was Aaron that threw down his staff and had it turn into a snake, which promptly ATE the staves of the Egyptian sorcerers (who had also turn theirs into snakes). Then it turned back into a staff.

    But thatís getting into religion and probably ought to be avoided on this forum.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    So, I wouldn't say that Conan's concept of magic was the only one.
    Most assuredly but it was one of the more popular, if not the most popular, form of magic at the time. Even Merlin's illusions were not so much flashy. Illusions and fear is still more subtle then fireballs and throwing lightening bolts.
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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    I think much of the modern uber splashy ultra magic, is kind of like power creep for superheroes, only spread over the genre. I mean, even Merlins illusions, as 'subtle' as they may be, are something a real person can't do in real life. That is basically the definition of magic, the apparently impossible. Of course over time, things got bigger and cooler because, the other stuff becomes the norm, and so forth.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Callos_DeTerran View Post
    Most assuredly but it was one of the more popular, if not the most popular, form of magic at the time. Even Merlin's illusions were not so much flashy. Illusions and fear is still more subtle then fireballs and throwing lightening bolts.
    The other post above said something about ancient poems where Merlin burned down entire soldier columns. That's hardly subtle.

    Anyway, now also comes to mind dragons and demons who shoot fire plus other "flashy" powers. Altough not human, they were normally considered magic, and are pretty old and popular.

    In Conan's world, however, I get the impression that demons can't do much more in combat than bash people with weapons and claws, and dragons aren't much better.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    The other post above said something about ancient poems where Merlin burned down entire soldier columns. That's hardly subtle.
    The post above mentioned he HAD the power. Granted, theres probably no difference in this respect, but having the power and USING the power are completely different. And he also only mentioned one soldier column which would make it a one-time thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    Anyway, now also comes to mind dragons and demons who shoot fire plus other "flashy" powers. Altough not human, they were normally considered magic, and are pretty old and popular.

    In Conan's world, however, I get the impression that demons can't do much more in combat than bash people with weapons and claws, and dragons aren't much better.
    Depends on the demon. Some demons were pretty much the equivalent to magically enhanced humans. Others were sorcerors in their own right and fell unto the scale of 'just how powerful a sorceror are they?'. Others...others you just didn't fight because unless you had just the right thing...you died. Simple as that. You could escape, but that was about it.

    I don't remember any dragons in the Conan stories I read...the closest I heard was the serpent that eventually became the god Set and...that's about it. Do yo know any Osce?
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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    In LOTR, wich shows up just a little after Conan, we have Gandalf shooting the first fireballs and some other big tricks. Well, it did inspire D&D after all.
    Gandalf is normaly considered the prototype Batman wizard not the glass cannon.
    His "fireball" consists of a rather catchy flame not an explosion and there are only six instances (and four types) of combat magic that he performs:
    A. A flash that kills some goblins in The Hobbit. This might not count as Tolkien didn't write The Hobbit with the idea of incorporating it into the rest of his setting.
    B. Very catchy fire. This is used twice, both times against wolves.
    C. Disarming spell used against some of his party when they thought he was Saruman. May have also been used against Saruman.
    D. A ray of light is used to scare away Nazgul.

    Gandalf normaly uses a sword.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    The hero of the Conan universe is a fighter-type, right? That means the magic users will look weak/incompetent. If Conan were a wizard, all the sword-wielding maniacs would look weak/incompetent instead. Are there any sword-fighter types in the Potterverse (not rhetorical, I really ought to get around to reading that someday)?

    Kinda like the way the genius looks weak/incompetent in Superman comics, and the Super-powered badguys look weak/incompetent in Batman comics.
    Last edited by TheEmerged; 2008-09-15 at 07:33 PM.
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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoC View Post
    Gandalf is normaly considered the prototype Batman wizard not the glass cannon.
    His "fireball" consists of a rather catchy flame not an explosion and there are only six instances (and four types) of combat magic that he performs:
    A. A flash that kills some goblins in The Hobbit. This might not count as Tolkien didn't write The Hobbit with the idea of incorporating it into the rest of his setting.
    B. Very catchy fire. This is used twice, both times against wolves.
    C. Disarming spell used against some of his party when they thought he was Saruman. May have also been used against Saruman.
    D. A ray of light is used to scare away Nazgul.

    Gandalf normaly uses a sword.
    E. I believe there was some form of Hold spell used on a door, in the reported battle of wills between him and the Belrog before the famous "You, shall, not, PASS!" scene, and the door splinters and shatters under the strain. He is nearly spent by this.
    Last edited by Ravens_cry; 2008-09-15 at 08:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravens_cry View Post
    E. I believe there was some form of Hold spell used on a door, in the reported battle of wills between him and the Belrog before the famous "You, shall, not, PASS!" scene, and the door splinters and shatters under the strain. He is nearly spent by this.
    He is also capable of shattering the stone Bridge of Khazad-dum, destroying the Balrog's flaming sword (although a good bit of that might be attributed to Glamdring), and using some sort of fire against the Nazgul on Weathertop.
    Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
    When they shot him down on the highway,
    Down like a dog on the highway,
    And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.


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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    I would argue you're missing the point of Conan. I almost have to think this thread is a joke just to reconcile its ridiculousness.
    We don't even know how good magic is. We see magic as mysterious, dark, and disturbing, because that is how Conan sees it. We clearly can not know how truly powerful magic is in the Hyborean Age, because we do not understand it.

    Approaching the supernatural elements of Conan with the same eyes you would a Dungeons and Dragons character class reminds me of when the Knights of the Dinner Table attempted to form a book club to read fantasy novels. It did not end well.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Conan was a low-magic world; so we are not going to see any Time Stop or Destructo-Boom in that world; except if it were like gunpowder or something.

    Sword and Shield, longbows, etc. Magic is for wimps.
    Funny, I always figured I'd be killed by a paladin.
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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Why does magic in Conan have to suck relative to other fantasy universes? Is it a contest?

    Much of D&D and traditional fantasy is descended from the works of Howard and other fantasy writers - um, DeCamp, Lovecraft, etc etc.

    They didn't have wizards running around firing off Quickened Maximized Magic Missiles - they drew from mythology, their imaginations, and those of their peers. Our current understanding is the evolved product of generations of fantasy media creators (some good, some not so good).

    Conan is what it is - it has magic consistent with what Conan to have mighty battles yet somehow just come up the win at the last second.

    Conan is a master of arms; the strongest man anywhere; experienced in hundreds of battles and adventures; travelled the entire world, learning history, languages, cultures, and other things of use in adventuring; and
    strong-willed enough to survive where any other man would have died crying for his mama.

    Conan defeats demons and beasts that easily kill just about everyone else they encounter (except as needed by the story). There's summoned and bound creatures, beings from strange other dimensions, holdovers from lost ages of man, and so forth.

    Just as an example, if you had Conan vs a Warhammer 40K Space Marine, Conan gets wiped out in the blink of an eye. But Space Marines fight battles against other overpowered forces -- not against a single barbarian with a sword (not that Conan would back down!).

    They are balanced for the storytelling needs of their own universe, just as Conan is supreme in his Hyborian Age, the perfect "uncivilized" man.

    So any comparision of "magic" power level (in terms of one as inferior to another) from one fantasy genre to another is not very meaningful.
    Last edited by Hung Lo; 2008-09-16 at 09:14 AM.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hung Lo View Post
    Just as an example, if you had Conan vs a Warhammer 40K Space Marine, Conan gets wiped out in the blink of an eye. But Space Marines fight battles against other overpowered forces -- not against a single barbarian with a sword (not that Conan would back down!).

    They are balanced for the storytelling needs of their own universe, just as Conan is supreme in his Hyborian Age, the perfect "uncivilized" man.

    So any comparision of "magic" power level (in terms of one as inferior to another) from one fantasy genre to another is not very meaningful.
    This was actually more or less the reason I started this thread.

    Many times in VS threads, specially LOTR related ones, I see someone claiming Conan would pwn the middle earth magis because he also pwns the magis of his own universe.

    However, from what I've seen in this thread, most people do agree that the power scale of magic in conan's universe is quite diferent from that of other fictional universes.

    Thank you all for your answers. You've been most helpfull in showing the forums still have some sanity.

    TheEmerged:
    Ironically enough, in the potterverse swords are quite handy, specially against giant serpents. Both the Basilik and Naganani, who literally ate wizards for breakfas, were slayed by Gryffindor's sword.

    Cybren:
    Well, most of the stuff that appears on this forum is some kind of joke anyway. I'm not an hardcore fan of Conan so just wanted to know what were the biggest magical threats he faced. Just a question swimming in my crazy mind.
    Last edited by Oslecamo; 2008-09-16 at 12:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    This was actually more or less the reason I started this thread.

    Many times in VS threads, specially LOTR related ones, I see someone claiming Conan would pwn the middle earth magis because he also pwns the magis of his own universe.

    However, from what I've seen in this thread, most people do agree that the power scale of magic in conan's universe is quite diferent from that of other fictional universes.
    I think that's moreso because of two specific facts then a claim on the magi of LoTR.

    1) LotR magic is similar, from what I've heard, to Conan magic except that it's a bit more flashy in some regards like with Gandalf's flame. In such cases it's not an unfair assumption that Conan could likely do as close to well against LotR magis as he could against some of the ones of his own world. Granted, when it becomes more physical such as the flame and what not, it's closer to being outside Conan's area of expertise and he'd likely do less well against it.

    2) When it's not the more flashy magic it's the more subtle corruption or charming sort of magic such as the Black Breath, Sauron's corruption powers, Saruman's charmed voice which would...generally fall under the term of 'necromancy/hypnotism' in Conan-verse and it's the sort of magic he comes up against more often. It's supposed to be one of the contrasts. Necromancers are usually dark un-wholesome things who attack the spirit and heart while Conan is...the almost utter opposite (some might say he's a little dark himself but that's not the point I'm trying to make) and usually fights off those necromancers through sheer unbreakable spirit and resolve. When it comes to magic, Conan is simply more resilient to necromancy and hypnosis. Not immune (though it sometimes seems that way) but it's not entirely unfair to say he'd shrug off things that would drop normal men by the drove.

    So the argument Conan would pwn LotR mages because he pwns mages of his own verse is flawed (For one I'd say that Gandalf is a better swordsman then the mages of Conan's verse and may be able to hold his own in melee combat for a little bit against Conan) on it's own but when you look past it Conan usually does battle mages close to similar to LotR mages (power-wise, maybe not sheer level of skill-wise) and wins more then half the time. That's where it comes from.
    Last edited by Callos_DeTerran; 2008-09-16 at 01:00 PM.
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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Callos_DeTerran View Post
    So the argument Conan would pwn LotR mages because he pwns mages of his own verse is flawed (For one I'd say that Gandalf is a better swordsman then the mages of Conan's verse and may be able to hold his own in melee combat for a little bit against Conan) on it's own but when you look past it Conan usually does battle mages close to similar to LotR mages (power-wise, maybe not sheer level of skill-wise) and wins more then half the time. That's where it comes from.
    Again, I must disagree.

    I'll point out the main diferences I see:
    Conan verse:
    -The uber magic items can be easily destroyed by simple means.
    -If you have a magic weapon, the magi is royally screwed.
    -Lack of magic traps in the magi's fortress. The doors can easily be hacked and kicked actually.
    -No real reason to wear clothes.

    LOTR verse:
    -The uber magic items are only going down with some titanic damage.
    -If you have a magic weapon, the magi can still sunder it at distance with a wave of his finger(that's what happens in the book to Frodo's first magic sword, when he faces back to the ringwraiths after crossing the river).
    -The magi's fortress is literally made of adamantium, and comes included with flashy defense systems like activable mini tsunamis and fireworks systems able to take down ents(again in the book, Sauruman makes a last ditch effort to fight off the ents by seting off a serie of magic traps that incinerate several of the giant trees, forcing tree beard to divert the nearby river and put away all the fires).
    -Stealth elven cloacks FTW!

    So Conan may have a chance in the LOTR universe, but he would have to sweat a lot more than he sweats in his own verse. He can't just destroy the uber magic item with just his sword, the traps are much much more deadly, his magic items are gonna be destroyed and, hardest of all, he will have to put on some magic clothes if he wants to have a chance.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    Again, I must disagree.

    I'll point out the main diferences I see:
    Conan verse:
    -The uber magic items can be easily destroyed by simple means.
    -If you have a magic weapon, the magi is royally screwed.
    -Lack of magic traps in the magi's fortress. The doors can easily be hacked and kicked actually.
    -No real reason to wear clothes.
    -Depends on the item. The Eye of Charon was indestructible without the Tear of Charon. Otherwise why does it being magic necessarily mean it's indestructible?
    -Not true, it'd have to be a magic weapon meant for that purpose otherwise it's just a magic weapon. If it's enchantment still applied then great! If not...well..it's still a good weapon.
    -Choking mists, animated statues, guardian demons, walls of force. All of there were in just one fortress. Again it depends on the magi's fortress. I haven't seen one as un-breakable as Orthanc but that's not saying much. This doesn't include actual guards or mechanical traps which you see every now and then.
    -Conan is actually wearing clothes more then half the time. And armor too. Comics portray him otherwise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    LOTR verse:
    -The uber magic items are only going down with some titanic damage.
    -If you have a magic weapon, the magi can still sunder it at distance with a wave of his finger(that's what happens in the book to Frodo's first magic sword, when he faces back to the ringwraiths after crossing the river).
    -The magi's fortress is literally made of adamantium, and comes included with flashy defense systems like activable mini tsunamis and fireworks systems able to take down ents(again in the book, Sauruman makes a last ditch effort to fight off the ents by seting off a serie of magic traps that incinerate several of the giant trees, forcing tree beard to divert the nearby river and put away all the fires).
    -Stealth elven cloacks FTW!
    -This falls back to specific items and the 'why does it become harder to destroy just because it's magic?' again. Conan-verse takes a more realistic view on magic items. Just because it's magic clothes doesn't mean it can't rip or tear unless specifically enchanted that way. Same with weapons and whatnot.
    -See above because it still sort of applies.
    -That's still workable, surprisingly enough, for Conan. And please note before you charge this statement I am not saying it'd be EASY. It'd still probably be very very hard but it's doable.
    -Stealth elven cloaks are for those who can't hide on their own.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    So Conan may have a chance in the LOTR universe, but he would have to sweat a lot more than he sweats in his own verse. He can't just destroy the uber magic item with just his sword, the traps are much much more deadly, his magic items are gonna be destroyed and, hardest of all, he will have to put on some magic clothes if he wants to have a chance.
    LOTR universe has more prevalent magic and magic items. I don't think anyone will argue that but the point is Conan does what he does without magic half the time. That's the basis of Heroic fantasy. It's all coming from the hero. If Frodo had managed to get to Mt. Doom on his own, resist the ring and toss it in purely by his own efforts without magical doodads then that'd be more Heroic Fantasy then High Fantasy. In every story he's abandoned magical things because they make him uncomfortable, that's why he finds the things that would allow him to do amazing things but afterwards gets rid of them because they aren't what makes him a hero. Conan, tossed into LOTR verse would struggle for a couple months to adjust (That's on the long side) but after that he'd be right as rain because he learns and adapts.
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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Other than the Ring itself, magic items are not really that important to LOTR, IMO. They fulfill varius important roles - like the gifts of the elves - but they don't drive the story in their own right - like, say, Stormbringer is key to Elric stories.

    So, could Conan complete the quest for the Ring? Sure, he could if he had a guide (by punching Gollum in the face frequently) and could resist the lure of the Ring, with his steely will and indomitable spirit. He has weapon and wilderness skills, experience and vast endurance, etc etc.

    I suppose Conan would use magical weapons and armor if he had them - say, before a big battle. But he doesn't keep such things from story to story - he usually has a sword and dagger and sometimes a horse, armor, or a bow.

    Could Conan defeat Saruman (let's say, from the movies)? Sure - maybe not in an afternoon, but certainly within one or more adventures. Conan could climb the sides of Saruman's tower, sneak in, and smack the wizard right in the brainpan with a palantir, for instance.

    Or he'd go on an extended quest for a wizard-destroying plot device, of course - then do the deed easily.
    Last edited by Hung Lo; 2008-09-16 at 08:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Magic on the Conan universe-how much does it suck?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    I don't think I agree with this.

    From the old legend of King Artur, we have Merlin using here and there powerfull illusions to fool his oponents. Like making an enemy army run in fear thinking they're awfully outnumbered.
    Illusions, yes, in the greatest legendary practicioners.

    I think if you really look at Conan stories, you will find examples of wizardry that can match that. For example, in one of the Campbell novels, "Conan the Champion," the warrior-king Totila has a wizard who can in fact summon up blizzards, raise the dead from their graves to fight for him, and so forth.

    But not much pyrotechnics and not much personal combat magic. Wizards are dangerous because they can kill you in ways you can't easily imagine, and from far away in places you can't strike back. They don't walk up to you and throw flames at you.

    On the bible Moises uses his divine magic to use really flashy stuff like rain of meterors, plagues and other stuff wich would make a high level D&D caster proud. And he does have a staff and a robe. Heck is the closest thing to a wizard from that era.
    Moses didn't do any of that. God did that. Moses was just His sock puppet.

    Miracles performed by the gods of mythology (not by mortals, but by gods) aren't examples of what we're talking about as "magic." Magic is supposed to be something that some wizard can decide he wants and do more or less at will. Not something that can only happen if one of the deities decides to do whether mortals like it or not.

    In D&D terms, that is "divine magic," I suppose. But in terms of history and mythology (which is where Conan belongs), it's not magic in the traditional sense. Supernatural, yes; magic, no.

    Celtic druids were believed to be able to control the weather.
    Which I quite specifically listed as an example of what premodern wizards might be thought able to do. LOTS of cultures had some kind of ceremonial magic intended to manipulate the weather; can anyone say "rain dance?"

    In LOTR, wich shows up just a little after Conan, we have Gandalf shooting the first fireballs and some other big tricks. Well, it did inspire D&D after all.
    Gandalf manipulates fire, yes, but you don't see him demolishing orcs in giant blasts of energy. The most important uses of his magic are the same ones we see in traditional mythology. He persuades. He bolsters the confidence of his side. He removes the curse of weakness Saruman has placed on Theoden via Wormtongue.
    ______________________________

    I think a lot of your rejection of Conan-setting magic is selection bias. You either have not read or do not remember the cases where wizards in a Conan story had magical power capable of threatening an army or toppling kingdoms. There were a number of those, you know.
    ____________________________

    Quote Originally Posted by Callos_DeTerran View Post
    The post above mentioned he HAD the power. Granted, theres probably no difference in this respect, but having the power and USING the power are completely different. And he also only mentioned one soldier column which would make it a one-time thing.
    Also, if it's only a few poems then it does not represent a general trend. Most premodern fictional wizards didn't march out on a battlefield and duel entire armies to the death the way a D&D magic-user can. That's the difference.
    _________________

    Quote Originally Posted by Hung Lo View Post
    Just as an example, if you had Conan vs a Warhammer 40K Space Marine, Conan gets wiped out in the blink of an eye. But Space Marines fight battles against other overpowered forces -- not against a single barbarian with a sword (not that Conan would back down!).
    In a sword fight, with identical equipment... I think it's at least possible Conan would win. I wouldn't bet on it, but it wouldn't surprise me.

    Of course, give the SMurf his power armor and a bolter and give Conan chain mail and a sword and Conan is toast, yes.
    ____________________

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    -No real reason to wear clothes.
    On the contrary, Conan is usually wearing clothes and armor if he can get them. Cover illustrations tend to show Conan in a loincloth not because he actually dresses like that, but because he looks good with his shirt off.

    -The magi's fortress is literally made of adamantium, and comes included with flashy defense systems like activable mini tsunamis and fireworks systems able to take down ents(again in the book, Sauruman makes a last ditch effort to fight off the ents by seting off a serie of magic traps that incinerate several of the giant trees, forcing tree beard to divert the nearby river and put away all the fires).
    Conan could not single-handedly attack Barad-dur, but neither could any of the human or elven heroes of the Lord of the Rings. The place is too strong for any one entity short of God or His archangels (Illuvatar and the Valar) to break into.

    But if you put Conan on a battlefield where men stand any chance of success in Lord of the Rings, he'll do a great job. It's only when directly stacked up against demigods, as opposed to mortal wizards who know some magic, that he runs into trouble.

    Of course, in Lord of the Rings the magicians are all demigods with armies, and there aren't nearly as many of them. Which makes it a very different environment. Much of their power comes from their control of armies.
    _______________________

    Quote Originally Posted by Hung Lo View Post
    So, could Conan complete the quest for the Ring? Sure, he could if he had a guide (by punching Gollum in the face frequently) and could resist the lure of the Ring, with his steely will and indomitable spirit. He has weapon and wilderness skills, experience and vast endurance, etc etc.
    While the image of Gollum getting punched in the face by Conan the Barbarian is one I will treasure, I don't think Conan could resist the lure of the Ring. He's too much of a fighter; he wouldn't be able to resist the urge to use the Ring to attack his enemies.
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