The Drunken Pict #2: Sturmrabe Speaks!



<Drunken Pict> Sturmrabe, welcome to WarCry. First I want to say thanks for agreeing to this interview.
[Sturmrabe] No problem. Anything for a fellow lore devotee.

First, who are you?
Well I am an Elder in the Snowhawk Clan, I am an oft-banned troublemaker in the official AoC forums, both for my temper and my controversial views, and I am an all around Lore monger; a true lover of the lore of Robert E. Howard, and someone who was part of the decades long fight to get his stories, undistorted, unedited, and unmolested, along with a large community of REH fans. Though I was not as active a participant in such groups as I’d have imageliked to have been, mostly it was spreading the word to any who would listen, keeping tabs on events, and supporting with my wallet. Mainly it was letting people know that most of what people read of REH was pastiches…

That’s pretty cool. I’ll have to ask you more about that sometime. But for now, tell me what the AoC community would know you best for?
Well… Getting banned, taking no sh*t on the forums, being known by the developers – and even though they would like to ignore me, making substantive enough threads that they were, I imagine, compelled to comment in them. Also, supporting RP-PvP (Roleplay-Player vs. Player) and helping letting some ignorant d00dz know that roleplaying does not equal carebear… This is how I perceive it though, many [people] probably just think I’m a loudmouth a**hole.

So it’s obvious that people know who you are. Why should they listen to what you have to say?
Well first off I am a strategist, I’m long gone from the razor’s edge of play I once had, but I’ve always been an aficionado of chess and strategic games/thinking. Playing against a guy from Oxford U made me the player I am. Next I’ve played RPG’s and MMO’s for decades now, both as a player and GM/DM, so I have a firm grasp of the RPG and MMO mechanics, as certain comments from FunCom Devs have attested to – telling me they hate seeing some of my threads locked because I obviously have a grasp of the mechanics but I need to tone it down. 😀 And lastly I make threads and posts mindfully and with a balanced view, keeping overall game-play, and trying to be substantive in mind. You’ll never see me advocating a class change that would have an ulterior motive of personal gain/specific “pet” class avocation (as in my pet, not the “pet class”). Unless it’s a comedic thread I don’t post for silly whim; [my posts] have weight, taking the needs of the community and my clan into account.

You were one of the first forum members who had a community created game ‘term’ named after them. Tell us a little bit about what it means to be “Sturmrabed”.
It means to be banned for having a hot temper, and letting someone stupid get to you, and flaming them into oblivion. Or having an unpopular or controversial view – usually [a view] that is right, making it worse and unable to be dismissed out of hand. A couple others I coined caught on, like being “Amraowned”. Named after Amra the Lion, a fellow SHC Elder – though I coined this term before we had a Clan – which means having imagesomeone clue you in on the lore with a flurry of quotes from REH completely closing the subject to further debate 😀

Any others?
There is also Sturmophobia: The irrational fear of Sturmrabe. Symptoms include starting posts with, “I hate to agree with Sturmrabe, but…” And not wanting to be accused of being a flamer (One who Flames) by associating with me…

How many times have you been banned from the official forums?
At least 5. After my last ban they said if I was banned again it was permanent; then they started this whole “warning level” points system. I think that started me over. Some mods, like Famine, like giving me ‘0’ point warnings just to f*ck with me.

Love you or hate you, at least they know you?
Yeah, I’m hoping that is how it works. Actually I have a pretty good relationship with most of the mods, at least I think so from the PM exchanges that happen after they warn me or ban me.

You have had quite a few “vocal discussions” with the Development team when you think that they are compromising the quality of the game. Have you ever regretted a thread that you created because of the backlash, or forum arguments that it created?
Yes and no. I’ve regretted how I started some threads, in the heat of the moment, and how that led to misinterpretations due to a lack of forethought and the phraseology I used. But not the content, I always stand behind anything I say.

Considering your public rivalry with Athelan, do you think that you will receive a Beta invite?
Well, he has said that technically he has nothing to do with beta invites. I’m pretty sure my overall bannage, and me and him getting into it, has killed any chance… Though it would shock the sh*t out of me.

Shock you to get an invite, or shock you to not get one?
It would shock me to get one certainly… Though I’ve tried to occasionally post positive threads just to let them know I’m not all gloom and doom. I really do respect the FC team for all their community interaction, but it’s not really productive, or useful to post nothing but support and sunshine.

You’ll get no argument here. If Athelan accepted the challenge, would you be willing to drunken brawl him during the opening week of the game, on the server of your choice, for prestige and glory and the enjoyment of everyone else in the community?
HA! Absolutely! Though not the opening day, I’ll need to get used to the controls!

Hmm… We’ll have to see if we can make that happen. I’m going to shift gears on you a bit. What about Age of Conan is most important to you?
Hmm that’s complicated… First of all, I’ve always hoped that this could really be the Conan property to do the master (REH) justice, after decades of blasphemy and marginalization. I’d really like to see a game give Conan, and REH, the justice they have long been denied. Yeah, rather than getting into too many convoluted and related motivations, that’s the #1 for me, and I have always hoped that me, and many other true fans of imageREH on the forums could help that happen. My biggest fear for it not happening is the “Age of Conan” licence outside of the game, especially the crap-ass books.

If you had to choose only one issue to take FunCom to task on regarding deviation from Robert Howard’s Hyboria, what would it be?
Wow… that’s really a tough choice… It would have been different only a few days, or weeks ago. But right now I’d have to say the sh*t from the [Legends of] Kern trilogy becoming part of the fabric of AoC. As well, anything from the other books, as more than an homage. As I’ve said on the forums, having some NPCs based on characters from the [pastiche] books, or some quests does not hurt the overall feel of Hyboria as per the Canon. But weaving new races and activities for races that make no sense – spider milking Cimmerians – hurt the lore, especially when it is based on such poor hack work.

That was going to be my next question. Although you have touched on it with your last answer, I will ask anyway. Being such a fan of pastiche writing, as we all know you are, *wink*, tell me what you think of the new Age of Conan novels, and FunCom injecting them into the canon of the game?
Total sh*t. Really, there isn’t enough bad I can say about them. The best of the lot, written by [Richard] Knaak, can be called mediocre or “solid” writing that doesn’t always mesh with the feel of Hyboria. If I were to describe the Stygian or Kern series, frankly, I’d use such a string of profanity as to make a sailor blush, a trucker faint, and a biker swoon. All one needs to do is take a look at the publishing history of these authors to realize they were horrid choices. And one must question the motivation for choosing them, excluding Knaak, who has actually written decent original work. The others are a series of serial pastiche garbage [writers] with Buffy the f*cking vampire slayer, – seriously WTF! – Star Trek, and other serial, unoriginal drek (referring to their other works). My mother left me a large eclectic collection of books, comics and other stuff when she died, including many of the Conan pastiches, SSoC, and many Star Trek novels. From having read many pastiche and serial work when i was younger, not knowing any better, let me tell you that serial writers are most often fresh out of writing school, talent-less, or at least very rough hacks who are writing with their “how to write a novel by the numbers” books open beside them. What my biggest complaint has always been is this. Conan properties has to have enough money to be able to hire writers who are good in their own right; that have written real original stories, and perhaps have seen the high side of the NY Times best-seller list. So why in the f*cking hell are they trolling the bottom of the barrel for the cheapest, word-churning-out rejects they can find?

Possibly a question for the ages… You have been following AoC since before the Alpha stage of the game. I remember that only shortly after I signed up on the Official Forums in October of 2004 you had enough posts to carry the forum rank of ‘King’, a feat most members still haven’t attained. Do you think that your immense participation in the early discussion threads, when the Developers were asking for public input, helped to make AoC a better game? Do you feel that FunCom has adhered to the ideas, and kept the vision they had for the game during those early stages of development?
Heh, well the SHC has the supreme of the AoC forums lore-masters, excluding yourself and some HoS (Hand of Set). But we also have the supreme spammers as well. 😀 Although I like to stay substantive, I have also spent a lot of my time at work, during lunch of course, keeping up with things cause I’ve felt a – perhaps too much so – personal vestment in AoC. I am of mixed feeling about what the Devs have asked for in public input and what they have done with it. For instance, we the community helped avoid a major faux pas with the whole Derketo class being restricted from Stygians. And they did respond, but their next move was to eliminate the class entirely. And from a lore standpoint, Derketo priests were the only alternative to Setites for a Stygian priest class, as [followers of Derketo] were tolerated by [Setites]. Any other priestly class would have been completely wiped out. Derketo was the Wife of Set by some accounts, and the Stygian nobility was fond of her orgy/rituals, “Druids” or even “Stormcallers” would be hunted to extinction quickly. It seems more and more as I look back on it that any conflict with FunCom lore meant that a class was combined, eliminated, or just shoved down our throats as a community, Mitra for Cimmerians for example. It’s as if some devs want our input, but others, apparently ones with power, have a preconception about classes that will not tolerate conflict.

It’s plain to see that you are a strong believer in the power of the community to shape a game. If you had to change one aspect of the community, what would it be?
Hmm, not an easy answer if answered seriously…

Give us the Readers Digest serious answer.
It seems a vast majority of the MMO community are one of three things:

People who’s first MMO was SWG (Star Wars Galaxies) or WoW (World of Warcraft), who’s depth of experience is tainted by those games or defined by those games. These people may have hope in becoming well rounded gamers, but they need to leave the whining ‘nerf’ behind with their egocentric baby-fit demands.

The EQ (Everquest) fuddy-duddy, though we haven’t seen many of them – thank the Gods – cause they are all circle-jerking in Vantard (Vanguard).

And l33t d00dz, many of which are rejects from Shadowbane, tired of waiting for Dorkfall (Darkfall), and are here just to grief, gank, and sh*t on everyone else’s cheerios.

My greatest hope for the community in AoC is people who break those molds, who want this game to succeed out of an actual desire to see the [game] world, and community succeed beyond just their own petty desires. And hopefully the older, book-reading REH fans can help that happen. Sure, many have never played an MMO in their life, but they are willing to learn, and most importantly stick around and spend their cash to help it happen.

This next series of questions you don’t have to answer too seriously. They are intended only for fun. In one word or less describe Merkur.
Merkur? One word? … … … RE-F*CKING-TARDED!

Who would win in a fight? Sanakhti from ‘The Hand of Set’ or Ninja Kitten, formerly of ‘The Eminence’?
Sanakhti hands down. NK was always a psycho drama queen. Did you see imagethe chat log she posted between us when I was just curious as to why she didn’t like me, when I never did anything to her? I loved the PM’s I got after that about how it made her look extra stupid.

Yeah, you two did have a few hilarious exchanges. Next question, Should I allow Grunder as a member of the Skullsplitters?
I thought he was HoS?

He is. But he always asks, publicly of course, to join the Skullspitters. I always turn him down.
Why not, he’s a riot!

Yes, that he is. Final question: Make a prediction about the game that we can come back after release and see if it has come true.
Well I think a lot of beta might show that changing class names or whatnot are not such a big deal, and the class names, and some other things will get tweaked before release – this is a hope. And I predict that AoC will have a larger audience than many expect, making release a bit of a nightmare, but the game will soon smooth out to be one of the best MMO’s ever made.

This is your chance to shamelessly plug any one thing that you want… Ready? GO!
I just want to say what an honor it has been to be in the leadership of the Snowhawk Clan. This is really a great bunch of people, and while I never wanted to lead, myself, due to RL time constraints, being part of what makes this great Clan work is an honor to me. Thanks for this opportunity to tell “my side” Calamus 😀

Sturmrabe I want to thank you for taking the time to be here and chat so openly with me.
Well, being frank and honest is all I know how to be, its part of the Nine Noble Virtues of Germanic Heathenry after all! 😀

If you are interested in Sturmrabe, or The Snowhawk clan visit their guild site at http://snowhawkclan.org/?

Want to contact the Drunken Pict?
Email him at: [email protected]

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