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3 March 2010

Today’s Tabbloid

ROGUE FEED shade of a far more complex literary creation that deserves to be better
known and appreciated in its own right?
Continuity and Tradition, Part V
MAR 02, 2010 12:40P.M. What’s so frustrating about this new Conan movie is that it’s being made
after a generation-long critical re-evaluation of Robert E. Howard as a
In a comment on my recent post about the upcoming Conan film, writer, culminating in his short stories being canonized by Penguin
Charles Rice makes an interesting point: Classics and included in a collection of fantastic tales published by the
prestigious Library of America. Freed from the shackles of pastiche
Conan ... has really been a more popular fictional universe, (thanks in no small part to the pioneering work of none other than Karl
more akin to characters like Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Edward Wagner), Conan — and his creator — have finally come into their
Batman or Superman. own, being judged for what they truly are rather than for what others
claimed that they are. Conan is not so strange a character nor his
Many authors and artists have interpreted the character, and adventures so esoteric that they could not be faithfully adapted to film —
many of those interpretations have taken root in the general or at least more faithfully than we’ve seen to date. Why, in this day and
consciousness. age, when Howard’s writings are more well regarded and critically
appraised than ever, must the shadow of L. Sprague de Camp still fall
When printing Howard’s stories, I think all that stuff (de over the Cimmerian?
Camp, Lin Carter, Frazetta, Roy Thomas) should be kept at
bay. If asking for a film in which Conan is recognizably the character created
by Robert E. Howard and whose plot is drawn substantially from an
When making a movie, I think it needs to be considered, actual story in which the character appears is “way too high a bar,” as
because a certain percentage of the audience will only know Charles suggests, is it any wonder that I’m so down on Hollywood these
Conan from those other sources. [Italics mine - JDM] days?

Charles’s point is interesting on several levels. I actually agree that a

great many people, perhaps even the vast majority of them, don’t know
the real Conan. They’ve never read a word of REH and probably never ROGUE FEED
will. To them, “Conan the Barbarian” — a moniker I have come to dislike
rather strongly — is, effectively (or literally, in some cases), a comic book Grognard’s Grimoire:
character brought to life by a succession of bodybuilders-turned-actors.
What’s ironic is that, whenever an author’s work is popularized by MAR 02, 2010 10:11A.M.
Hollywood, criticisms of the liberties taken with the source material are
often dismissed by claiming that “by getting X out into public The material in the quote box below is hereby designated Open Game
consciousness, it’ll draw people back to the original,” the implication Content via the Open Game License.
seemingly that the original material is incapable of succeeding on its own
merits or, less strongly, that it’s somehow unsuitable to popular tastes. If While the sublunary world is made up of four primary elements, scholars
this line of thinking ever actually bore fruit — and I welcome examples to know that there is in fact a fifth element — ether — which fills the void
the contrary — I might be willing to stomach it. But, from where I’m between the worlds and fuels the empyrean stars. In its natural state,
sitting, every time Howard (or any other author) gets bastardized under ether is a subtle, luminiferous gas, but, under Ioun’s influence, it
cover of “this will draw people back to the Real Thing,” it only reinforces solidifies into a silvery-black liquid known as azoth. The supernatural
popular misconceptions and makes it that much more difficult for the beings composed entirely of ether are known by Men as quintelementals
genuine article ever to enter the popular imagination. Conan is Exhibit A and are the most powerful of all elemental beings. Only those who retain
in just the kind of miscommunication I was talking about last week. Who the knowledge of Eldritch magic (or posses one of their magical devices)
is Conan? I’d wager that a large percentage of the English-speaking may conjure a quintelemental, which explains their rarity in the present
world “knows” Conan, who, as Charles rightly notes is now a pop- age.
cultural icon like Sherlock Holmes or Dracula, but is that really Conan?
Or is it, as I would contend, a caricature of Howard’s creation, a mere

Today’s Tabbloid PERSONAL NEWS FOR 3 March 2010

Number Appearing: 1 (1)
% in Lair: N/a
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: Fly 450’ (150’)
Armor Class: 2/0/-2
Hit Dice: 8/12/16
Attacks: see below
Damage: 1d8 or 2d8 or 3d8
Save: F8 or F12 or F16
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None
XP: 2,070/3,600/4,200

For every hit die possessed by a quintelemental, it will have a

diameter of ½’ and be 2’ high. For instance, a quintelemental
summoned by a spell would be 32’ high and have a 8’
diameter. Their appearance is that of a barely visible cloud of
silvery luminescence. Quintelementals surprise their
opponents on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6, who suffer a -1 penalty on
all attack rolls due to their nigh-invisibility. Casters of magic-
user spells suffer an extra 1d8 points of damage from