Developer Dave Williams provides us with a couple of nice screenshots as well as background information about some of the new Culture Armors which will be introduced to Age of Conan very soon. From A Treatise on Niello Long before the rise of countries which today are scattered across the continent, there was commerce between the ancient nations of Stygia and Acheron. Trade brought discovery, as goods traveled the span of the known world – and elements native to the far-flung reaches of the civilized kingdoms were first mingled in forges and workshops to form hybrid metals that exhibited the best properties of each ingredient. Many such alloys were forged by the master sages of that era, who deduced the specific proportions necessary, and likewise the methods of construction. Niello, that black metal described centuries later as the Scales of Set, was purportedly used in the secret rites and rituals of the Dark Lord's many adherents in this age and the last. I cannot attest to the veracity of this notion, but I will remind the reader that in every legend lies some thread that can be traced back to its birth, and ultimately to some hidden truth. The Acheronians realized they had an ally in the Stygians of that bygone Age, as both cultures bowed to the same master, the Snake-god Set. Although the rituals of Acheron differed to those of the Stygians, the two nations were unmistakable brothers in worship. Their practices began to blend, and over time the religious rituals of the two nations became indistinguishable. The Acheronians had long considered themselves superior practitioners of the darker arts and yet Stygia was filled with forgotten tombs from a former age, housing numerous relics of power that the Acheronians craved. Using the pretext of religious collaboration, the Acheronians gained access to the Stygian tombs and began their studies. Female Acheronian Culture Armor Male Acheronian Culture Armor Great excavations began amongst the burning dunes, and slaves toiled endlessly in enormous quarries carved out from the landscape. Barbarian slaves from the north contributed the labor, captured by the soldiers of Acheron and transported south in the thousands. As each tomb was unearthed, the Acheronians appointed Keepers to guard them. Most prized among the relics were the objects known as Deathcoils, used in the darkest rituals of human sacrifice famous to the previous age. But the Deathcoils were anchored heavily to their massive enclosures, and Stygia refused to allow any defacement of the tombs. Unable to transport the Deathcoils to their own Temples of Set, the Acherons turned their will towards replicating them. This was achieved through use of the substance Niello, which had recently been developed as a consequence of the free exchange of goods. Only Niello had similar alchemical properties to the metals used in those powerful relics. Relations between the two countries grew strained, as Acheron no longer needed collaboration from their southern neighbor. Perhaps it would have come to blows, were it not for the barbarian hordes which exploded across the northern borders of Acheron like a flood. Acheron turned her attentions to the north, and Stygia was left alone among the dunes once more. Fed by knowledge from the remaining Keepers, the Stygian priests developed sorcerous rites which legend describes as causing the sky to darken, and the sun to be blotted out completely. At the zenith of the ceremony, power would lash down from the heavens and those who witnessed such raw displays of nature would be seared with the power of Set himself. Female Stygian Culture Armor Male Stygian Culture Armor While Acheron waned in influence, Niello became a restricted metal in due to its increasing association with Set, and the rituals of the Dark Lord. The Stygian priesthood scrambled to hoard their power in the wake of a dimming epoch. The final remnants of the Keepers commissioned fully hardened suits of the alloy, determined not to be left to the memories of that passing age. Absent the Acheronian slave labor to maintain the excavations, Stygia watched as the mighty excavations once again filled with sand. In Stygia, replica Deathcoils forged of Niello were placed in the innermost sanctum of the Setite temples; over time, the term Deathcoil came to refer to the central members of certain Stygia rites. Although the relics and rites themselves have been lost to the mists of time, ceremonial priests still decorate themselves in Niello, wrought with electrum and other ornamentation. - Lascivicus, Corinthian Chronicler Comments from the developer With the introduction of the new crafting content, players will find that tradeskills as a whole has become more cognizant of Conan lore and the rest of the game in general. One important direction we wanted to take was creating synergy between the different crafts, so that for each pair of professions there is some extra benefit for picking those specific two. We have a great opportunity with crafting to not only enhance the game experience through character customization (both in terms of creating a unique character for players to identify with, and creating useful gear that characters wear), but to encourage players to tell their own stories within the framework of the game world as they explore the content we provide. Stories in MMOs tend to be passive, created by virtue of playing the game. They are the accumulated experience of a character – the gear that character prefers, the tasks he’s performed, and the events he’s attended. In short, the choices the player makes at character creation and throughout the game. It is the synthesis of these player stories with the developer created setting (what we consider content), that encourage the vibrant communities which are the lifeblood of the genre.