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Deep Raids Into Cimmeria?


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#1 Boot

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:09 AM

How man miles inland, would you say, is Cimmeria suseptible to Pict attacks?

Really, this question is about any invader. How far inland would you say is "normal" for a Vanir raiding party or a Hyperborean slaver party?

Brythunian bandits?

Edited by Boot, 02 May 2012 - 01:11 AM.


#2 Spartan198

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 11:26 AM

Well, I couldn't give you an exact mile amount, but probably not far. It all depends on who the invaders are, really. A small group of bandits would probably get picked off by a Cimmerian hunting party pretty quickly, whereas a 100,000-strong Aquilonian army is likely to cause some significant damage before being pushed back across the border, if not wiped out completely while falling back.

But that's just my take.
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#3 Almuric

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 05:01 PM

Getting into Cimmeria would be the easy part. Getting out again, though . . . :ph34r:
"It is more than a mortal sea. Your hands are red with blood and you follow a red sea-path, yet the fault is not wholly with you. Almighty God, when will the reign of blood cease?"

Turlogh shook his head. "Not so long as the race lasts."


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#4 RJMooreII

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 12:51 PM

Getting into Cimmeria would be the easy part. Getting out again, though . . . :ph34r:

Yeah. Like most wild people, Cimmerians would have perforated borders which would ignore or plunder most normal traffic, but once someone hostile is inside those hills and forests getting out again may prove impossible.

Caesar almost got wiped out this way, though he turned the battle around.

Edited by RJMooreII, 03 May 2012 - 12:51 PM.

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#5 Kortoso

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 05:05 PM

Distances would be measuring in time among these people. Any raid that required staying overnight would probably be suicidal.

#6 Ironhand

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 09:20 AM

Distances would be measuring in time among these people. Any raid that required staying overnight would probably be suicidal.

Exactly. They would talk about distance as being "a two-day trek", or "a week's march". And this, of course, would depend on terrain, or weather, or opposition.

Edited by Ironhand, 04 May 2012 - 09:21 AM.

"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
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#7 Lunatic

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 06:58 PM

How would travelling in the hyborian world work?

Conan was a wanderer for a time, and a penniless one. Also a wanderer that really stands out, even though he adapts quickly to local fashion and customs. But could you wander in Pictland or Cimmeria?

On the roads would there be no authorities that would stop you and ask for tollmoney or passports, or take your sword? (imagine that).

I´m guessing that there would be a vast difference between the civilized parts of this world and the "barbaric" and the "savage".

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My own thoughts, from Hour of the Dragon: Conan gets stopped at several occasions except when skirting the populated areas by moving in wilderness. By the potainan knights. By a zingaran noble. And in stygia he needs to disquise himself.

#8 Ironhand

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 06:03 AM

Stygia is a place where you would find authorities that would stop you and ask for toll money or passports. Lots of law and order in Stygia. A place where the priest who enforces the law would order you to stop wiggling while his pet serpent tries to devour you.
"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#9 RJMooreII

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 08:10 PM

It should not be supposed that barbarians are lawless. They are stateless. Barbarian justice is often far more efficient, if rather crude (i.e., you steal my cattle and I hire someone 3x your size to punch you in the mouth and take my cattle back ala Rob Roy MacGregor).
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#10 Lunatic

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 06:40 PM

So, tourists are welcome in Cimmeria but not in Stygia unless the temple-snake is hungry?

#11 RJMooreII

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 10:53 PM

So, tourists are welcome in Cimmeria but not in Stygia unless the temple-snake is hungry?

I imagine they'd keep a solid border guard and buffer sub-states, and try to direct commerce through certain routes and cities to maximize their revenues on duties and surcharges. That's how most organized states run things.

Still, it's not like Stygia could have had anything like border police. They lack the infrastructure and technology. Wanderers and travelers could make their way into town, but would likely be regarded with suspicion, especially if they expressed any UnStygian opinions.

The point about barbarian borders being pourous is that they're not an organized political entity that draws lines on a map. 'Cimmeria' is the name of the geographic region, the 'Cimmerian' part of the world may be greater or less than that, and often would represent many groups in some competition with one another. There simply is no Cimmerian state to have borders at all.

Feudal countries are similar. The borders of 'France' and 'England' were rather unsettled, because they involved many semi-independent sub-regions with overlapping claims of sovereignty.

Edited by RJMooreII, 08 May 2012 - 10:57 PM.

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#12 thatericn

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 11:19 PM

A Pict raid into Cimmeria could easily slip in farther than an equal size raid into Aquilonia. There would be lots of "wild" in Cimmeria for raiders to use to avoid detection and fall on an "interior" village or clan - and better avenues of escape. On the more densely populated and more governed Bossonian Marches, scouts, patrols and simply more working men out in the fields and forests would make infiltration harder. I doubt the Picts could move about freely in Aquilonia without the "hue and cry" being raised. REH gives the impression of GUARDED border, more organized than a simple batch of feudal plots...

Edited by thatericn, 08 May 2012 - 11:22 PM.

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#13 Kane

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 11:55 PM

One factor might be the time of the year a party tries to invade Cimmeria.
In the northern parts I imagine that ice and snow would block the easy paths through the hills and mountains.
But a determined group might still be able to get through. Such a group might get farther in then one coming in the spring or summer. Of course the rewards for such a raid would have to offset the risks of going in the winter.

During the "normal" period for raiding I imagine that the various Cimmerian tribes will keep their areas under a constant watch.
At the first sight of an invader I can see the scouts going to the tribe and summoning the warriors and preparing an ambush.
Given their location and knowledge of the area I imagine that the majority of Cimmerian battle plans start with hit and run tactics or ambushes. This allows them to use the land as an ally against the invader.

In some ways I imagine a large 'civilized' force having a harder time making their way through Cimmeria over a Pict or Vanir raiding party. They may progress farther, thinking that they have scared the primitives away. In fact, the tribes are uniting, bringing togerther a force large enough to deal with the invaders. Normally a single tribe can deal with a 10-15 man raiding party. Here several tribes need to be brought together to handle a several hundred man force. One group may be ahead of the force, preparing boobytraps, another group scouts the force, and a third group perpares the strikes on the flanks and rear of the invaders.

Once everything is in place, the attacks begin. The quick strikes are used to shock the force, make them unsure where the attacks are coming from or the size of the group. At a pre-arranged signal, they start to withdraw, guiding the invaders into an are where the traps and be sprung. Suddenly boulders and logs rain down on the invaders. When the dust starts to settle, they find themselves attacked by a Cimmerian force three or four times larger then what they thought they would be facing. Coming in from all directions, the defenders never have a chance to organize.

At least this is how I picture it.
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#14 RJMooreII

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 06:56 AM

For the most part, raiding into Cimmeria for a non-barbarian would be largely pointless unless you felt the need to secure a strategic area. Cimmerians are amazing people, but they are very poor and are useless as slaves. The best position a civilized state could probably assume is guarded neutrality with the Cimmerians and Aesier.
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#15 Kortoso

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 05:32 PM

A good backgrounder might be tales of the Apache and their system of raiding.

#16 thatericn

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 06:46 PM

Pictish raiding likely came in several flavors:
- Apache or Plains Indian style "commerce/economics"
- Comanche or Iroquois style intimidation and payback
- along with prestige and warrior initiation raids

Cimmerian raiding likely was more like "classic" Scots and Irish tales - cattle thievery, feuds and settling scores. At least that's how I bet REH would write about them...

Nordheimer raids would be for profit, necessity during tough times, and attempts to seize land for settlement... Considering how REH stuck them WAY FAR north, I'm sure they'd want to wrestle away any territory they could to the south.

A great image came to mind, if you look at the maps of the western coast of "Hyborian" lands... The Vanir and the Picts butt up against each other against the Atlantic shore. Image proto-Viking Vanir in longships warring with far northern Picts manning giant pseudo-Pacific-Northwest wooden war canoes! Wouldn't THAT be AWESOME!

Edited by thatericn, 09 May 2012 - 06:49 PM.

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#17 constantine

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 07:05 PM

Cimmeria could be invaded from civilised kingdoms in order to procure slaves or seize certain territories of worth, like a mountain or a range of hills containing minerals/precious metals etc. Strategic considerations could also be considered.

In BtBR, it is clear that the Aquilonians thrashed certain Cimmerian clans/tribes, before the barbarians united and counterattacked en masse. In these early victories, one should expect that the Aquilonians were actually outnumbered by those tribes they obliterated, since it is almost axiomatic that barbarian tribes could easily muster more warriors in single armies than sedentary states (in such campaigns at least). But only in Venarium the Cimmerians probably had such a numerical superiority that they could overwhelm their foes.

This may sound as speculation, but Conan's drawing of a parallel between Cimmerians and Picts is revealing. Against the latter the Aquilonians, despite their small numbers, could prevail should they had to face one or even three or four tribes, according to Conan. The problem would come if somebody united a great number of tribes as it eventually happens in BtBR and THA as well. The implication would be that the Aquilonians might enjoy a similar advantage against the Cimmerians, though these probably had the benefit of iron weapons and maybe armor.

My point is that the Cimmerians, though one of the most fierce barbarian races around, were not the ultimate warriors/super-human slayers of the Hyborian Age as it seems to be implied by some. And Conan should not be considered a typical example of his people.

#18 Kortoso

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 07:23 PM

For a Pictish force, they would not have a lot of backup, consisting mainly of a a group of individual warriors, they would probably be ready to retreat into friendly territory at a moment's notice.

A more organized force would use their numbers and command and control to their advantage, but the Cimmerians would use their woodslore and individual battlecraft for the win. I'm thinking Teutoburg here.

#19 constantine

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 09:25 PM

A more organized force would use their numbers and command and control to their advantage, but the Cimmerians would use their woodslore and individual battlecraft for the win. I'm thinking Teutoburg here.

Kortoso


On numbers, I really think that Cimmerians would enjoy superiority more often than not. Though a pattern of irregular warfare might seem appropriate for the Cimmerians against such an enemy, it is clear through Conan's comments in BtBR that the tribes get pounded by the Aquilonians. The victory of the barbarians against the latter comes not through a Teutoburgerwald-style ambush, but a massive assault of united tribesmen on Venarium fort which seems a more conventional campaign tactic.

#20 thatericn

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 05:37 AM

My guess regarding the sack of Venarium likely would have happened either...
1) before the Aquilonians completed building fortifications (castles can take years to finish) -
2) partially by treachery or inside information (an escaped slave or treasonous nobleman wanting to destroy or damage a rival) - or
3) by incompetence (possibly withdrawing troops thinking the disorganized Cimmerians have accepted the loss of territory)...

As far as the original land grab, I would suspect that since only a single location is mentioned, that it was a small, bite size piece of Cimmeria - a fertile valley right on the border, etc... The Aquilonians might only have needed to smash a small tribe or two. Initially overawed and cowed by the show of force, it might have taken a few years before the combination of a unifying figure and the resolve to counterattack brought a wave of barbarians down on the hapless settlement...?

I suspect, though, that Cimmeria would not be very densely populated - the land is rough and the population is not very agricultural - they wouldn't be able to produce the numbers of people that wheat- or rice-growers could...
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