Conan Technology

Deadpool

Mongoose
I would like to start a discussion concering the technology level of Conan. I understand that it is a "fantasy setting" but it is also based on a rough estimation of Earth history.

Why is certain technology allowed in Conan that hasn't been invented yet. For example the Saddle wasn't invented until 386 AD by the Sarmations (as well as the bit and bridle). Before that they just used blankets or the like.

There is obviously other technology advances as well - I would like to know what "should" be included and shouldn't be.
 
Technology is a very broad term. Perhaps we should first break it down into discrete sections, like Medical, Engineering, Martial, etc.
 

Deadpool

Mongoose
I guess I am referring to technology in general. What level is the Hyborian world at. Is it a bubble of technology advances that got lost over the ages until it was "refound". I would like to know since I don't know what is realistic in putting into the gaming world for my players.

Vincent?
 
It depends on the nation discussed. The landscape of the Hyborian age is not set as being equivalent world-wide to a certain time frame. Howard had his knights in plate armour riding around with the equivalent of Mongols (who had saddles & stirrups), ancient Egyptians, the Ottomans, the Romans, the Greeks, Eastern American Indians, Babylonia, Sumeria, India, ancient Hebrews, Arabians and the like. It was a mixture of cultures from various times.

Howard put into his stories whatever made the story work better. A couple mention bridles, so I am sure the more advanced Hyborian age nations had them.

At the "real-world" time period of the Hyborian age, very little had been invented yet. It exists in a bubble and everything they invented was gone when the Hyborian age came to burning halt.
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
My theory is that a lot of technology went out with the magic. Some great magic caused the last cataclysm and also caused a "forgetfulness" of technology also. So mankind had to relearn everything all over again. Just a theory.
 
RichardAshenden said:
Technology is a very broad term. Perhaps we should first break it down into discrete sections, like Medical, Engineering, Martial, etc.

There is some discussion on engineering in The Free Companies(p.8-9). They specifically mention Stygia and Khitai. I also recall an example of engineers in the form of sappers in The Scarlet Citadel. It implies explosives. A little surprising to see that in Hyboria but it was a REH book so I guess the technology was there. It was mentioned in a siege of an Aqulonian walled city by the armies of Koth I believe.
 

Etepete

Mongoose
If you wan't to, you can interpret the tech-level of Conan to be significantly lower than a causal reading would suggest. Now I don't know about the sappers: what it is that makes them suggest explosives, but sappers as such is of course no problem for an ancient era take on Conan. Plate-clad knights might actually be macedonian-style heavy cavalry in breastplates, greaves and helmets, or Cataphracts. Bit- and birdle was far earlier in China than in Europe (where it comes in around 900 ad), wasn't it?

And even if technology is put in medieval or ancient terminology, this might seem as a way to communicate a pre-ancient vision in terminology the reader would understand and can relate to.
 
High Lord Dee said:
RichardAshenden said:
Technology is a very broad term. Perhaps we should first break it down into discrete sections, like Medical, Engineering, Martial, etc.

There is some discussion on engineering in The Free Companies(p.8-9). They specifically mention Stygia and Khitai. I also recall an example of engineers in the form of sappers in The Scarlet Citadel. It implies explosives. A little surprising to see that in Hyboria but it was a REH book so I guess the technology was there. It was mentioned in a siege of an Aqulonian walled city by the armies of Koth I believe.

I'm not the History expert, but didn't sappers dig under fortification walls in order to cause them to cave in and form a breach? I didn't know that always required explosives. Either way, I'm gonna guess it was a very dangerous job. :shock:
 

Oly

Mongoose
RichardAshenden said:
I'm not the History expert, but didn't sappers dig under fortification walls in order to cause them to cave in and form a breach? I didn't know that always required explosives. Either way, I'm gonna guess it was a very dangerous job. :shock:

No you didn't need explosives. One method would be to dig a tunnel/mine under a wall, this would have had wooden props to hold up the roof. Then using pigs fat you burn the props away, the mine collapses taking the wall down with it. No doubt there were other methods but that's what was used against Rochester Castle near(ish) me.
 
Pig's fat?!
Now, if pig's fat is not listed in Tito's Trading Post, I'm going to be sad! :D
Why bother with sapping, when you can hurl a dead cow over the walls and just wait it out? :twisted:
 

Damien

Mongoose
Yeah, sappers don't require explosives at all.


Plate-clad knights might actually be macedonian-style heavy cavalry in breastplates, greaves and helmets, or Cataphracts.

Sorry - but Howard, explicitly describes Conan putting on a suit of plate armour at one point. So there's no mistake - when Howard is talking about a suit of plate, he certainly is referring to the late medieval invention.


However, just because Hyboria is an ancient setting doesn't mean it can't have medieval technology all over the place (it has steel swords, which is a late invention as well). I mean - the real world doesn't have snake people or demon-gods, or magic, either. We can just assume that whatever was invented in the Hyborian world was lost when it fell. Simple as that.

So the technology level of Hyboria would be exactly as Vincent described - all over the damn place.
 

GrimJesta

Mongoose
Yea, the way I see it, the Hyborian nations have a higher technology because of their "higher" civilization. They've come sweeping down from the north with a new type of warfare, culture, and technology, but because of the slow dissemination of information and technology, it hasn't quite made its way all the way down south and east. It probably would have had the Hyborian Age not come to a crashing halt, with technology being forgotten as mankind dove head-first back into the Stone Age.

-=Grim=-
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
There is an essay on Hyborian Technology by de Camp in an OOP books called The spell of Conan and the Blade of Conan. It relies on Howard's text and concerns many fields from armory to transportation.
 

Etepete

Mongoose
Damien said:
Sorry - but Howard, explicitly describes Conan putting on a suit of plate armour at one point. So there's no mistake - when Howard is talking about a suit of plate, he certainly is referring to the late medieval invention.

Right you are. I know the passage. I'll have to go dig it up and have a look at it. See if it might be interpreted in some other way.

Still steel plate is steel plate.
 

Decurio

Mongoose
To paraphrase other posters, including Vincent, Hyborian technology is, indeed, all over the place, but technological progression has never been even in the Real World either. After all, its the twenty-first century, and there are still pockets of people living at very primitive levels of material culture.
 
I find it interesting that the Hyborians are one of the youngest cultures in Howard's world (compared to Zamorians, Picts, Cimmerians, Shemites, Stygians, et. al.) but have the most advanced culture and the most advanced technology.
 

Damien

Mongoose
Right you are. I know the passage. I'll have to go dig it up and have a look at it. See if it might be interpreted in some other way.

I doubt you could take it in another way without really stretching the realm of believability. The passage in question is from Black Colossus, page 168 in The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian:

". . .they brought harness to replace Conan's chain-mail -- gorget, sollerets, cuirass, pauldrons, jambes, cuisses, and sallet."

Howard seems quite capable of differentiating between, say, a hoplite style of 'plate' and a late medieval style of 'plate' - most obvious from his use of late medieval inventions like the gorget and cuisses, as well as items like jambes and sollerets.

Sollerets are plate boots - and didn't come into use until the existance of true plate armour (late medieval). Gorgets are throat-guards of plate, also not existing throughout the early medieval period or before. Cuisses are thigh (and sometimes knee) guards of plate associated with full suits only. And jambes is a (now outdated) word for full-piece greaves. These are the only items listed besides the cuirass and -possibly- pauldrons that could be construed as not necessarily pieces of a full suit of plate, and so open to debate. But taken all together, to me it seems fairly obvious that he's describing a plate harness like those worn in the late medieval period.

One -could- make the argument that Howard did not include gardbraces, couters, rerebraces, or poleyns - but I'd say these terms are a bit more obscure and he may have simply either ignored them, not known the words to use, did not feel it was necessary to describe every single piece of armour, or envisioned something like a cross between true plate armour and something that shows off Conan's nifty biceps.

Your interpretation may vary, but mine is that this is clearly a suit of plate armour as we understand the term's relevance to the late medieval period.
 

slaughterj

Mongoose
Decurio said:
To paraphrase other posters, including Vincent, Hyborian technology is, indeed, all over the place, but technological progression has never been even in the Real World either. After all, its the twenty-first century, and there are still pockets of people living at very primitive levels of material culture.

There are more than just pockets of people living in such conditions in the real world.
 
Top