The province of Paikang is one of the last world regions players will encounter in the expansion to Age of Conan, Rise of the Godslayer. Diversity is a key word in this province, with lush forests, mountainous villages, massive cities and a shoreline that might remind players of a distant past.
“An icy wind blows westward, from the ocean, and carries with it the tang of salt and death. The patchyttened to the earth by the breeze and you canter your horse towards a promontory that overloo grass is flaks the eastern ocean. You stand on the bluff and stare across the steel-grey waters, ten thousand miles from where your journey began, about to overthrow another tyrant.”
The forest here is old, far older than the civilization that claims it. The crowns of the ancient trees form an emerald vault high above your head. In the green tinged twilight, the gnarled and massive roots of the trees form shapes that suggest boulders and the carven images of ancient gods. Here and there amongst the ancient trees stand mighty clumps of bamboo, forcing their way skyward amongst the boughs and boles. The road that leads you through the jungle was once a mighty highway, wide enough for a legion of men to pass. The paving stones are now cracked and broken; small plants have taken root in the cracks and push their way toward the sunlight, buckling the stones which constrain them. The jungle of Paikang hides its secrets well, leaving it up to the player to explore and discover its ancient history. The beasts that dwell here defy belief; diverse and deadly.
In the jungle players will also find the Insurrection camp, situated amongst the treetops and hidden from the ever watchful eye of the emperor. The bridges which run between the treetops are of woven vine and the platforms which nestle on the tops of the trees are supported with slender frames of bamboo lashed to the trunks beneath. The ground below is obscured by the wispy clouds but as players look towards the north, they can see the canopy of the jungle stretching away like a waving, green ocean of leaves.
The ocean is covered in a thin layer of mist, but the mist fails to conceal the horrors that lie in the shallow waters. The wreckage of hundreds of ships; broken masts and splintered bows rising from the waters like wooden tombstones in a graveyard of mirrored glass. What could have caused such a colossal bone yard? You can ride down from the bluff, following a winding narrow path that spills out onto a beach of sharp edged stones. They clatter beneath the hooves of your mount, trotting slowly along the shoreline. Here and there along the shoreline, figures of men and women can be seen, scavenging amongst the flotsam.
Ten thousand miles from Tortage, and players will find themselves fighting scavengers on a beach with wrecked ships just off the shore. Kalanthes would laugh at the irony, were he here to see it. But Kalanthes is not here, and you must ride east, alone.
“It is important to us to give the player a sense of déjà-vu; much of Robert E. Howard’s work is cyclic in nature, and this expansion reflects that,” says Joel Bylos, Lead Designer on the Rise of the Godslayer expansion. “We wanted players to reflect on their journey through the Conan universe, and Paikang’s diverse landscape and wide-ranging themes provide the perfect setting. This world region is unique in its diversity; sea shores and mountains surround the dense jungle and city environments.”
Temple of Yun
The first sounds alerting players to civilization in Paikang could be the rhythmic beating of the temple drums. The rhythm will lead players from the main road and off on one of the side roads. The night is dense in the jungle, oppressive, and the vegetation presses close to the sides of the small byway. Great flames leap from two enormous fire pits almost a hundred paces wide. People surround the pits, dancing to the dangerous beat of the drums. Most of the people are naked – their frenzied activity and the scorching heat from the pits covering them in a slick sheen of sweat. Among them wander the Yellow-robed priests of Yun, chanting prayers to the god of the underworld. Chained slaves beat furiously at the drums, steadily increasing the speed of the beat.
The priests of Yun believe in human sacrifices, and the temple is their holy sanctuary. Bizarre rituals take place here; naked women dancing and chanting. There are also rumors that men willingly throw themselves in the fire pits during rituals to please Yun.
Players would have seen this city from a distance throughout the world region, but arriving at its enormous gates makes it seem enormous. The great gates are closed and guards dressed in the familiar regalia of the Scarlet Circle stand on the wall above, scanning the road with dead eyes.
“As you glance down at the cobblestones which make up the road, you notice that a black liquid streams in the gaps between the stones. It flows, against all conventions, towards the center of the city. You do not look towards that edifice, not yet. It is almost too overwhelming. You pass by the high-walled compounds of the rich families. Watchful guards stand at the gates to the great complexes and they eye you suspiciously as you pass. Dressed as they are in ceremonial armor, at least they are undeniably human. It is almost a relief. Finally, when you decide that you cannot avoid it any further, you turn to face the center of the city.”