Poll Position: Barbarian vs Drow

I realize I will get hammered for the undisguised pandering of this question, but I don't feel well and Myro will yell at me if I don't get my post of the day done, so here it is:


First of all, let's make clear that we're talking about Conan from the great Robert E. Howard novels, not the gap-toothed philanderer of the Hollywood version. And we're definitely not talking about Conan O'Brien, who aside from the momentary stun of the hair-whip would be largely defenseless against Drizzt's teddy bear, much less the Drow himself. The main points for me are:

  • Drizzt has access to Drow magic, yes, but Conan is used to dealing with magic-users -- he has them over for lunch. As the main course.
  • Drizzt has a magical panther, but Conan has killed too many magical constructs to count.
  • Drizzt is a cultured, albeit outcast, citizen of an advanced if depraved civilization. To Conan, being civilized means giving the other guy a chance to see your sword before you bury it in his guts.
  • Drizzt is lithe and athletic, a ninja to Conan's bruiser.

Which means this is a toss-up for me. Who would you pick?

44 Responses to Poll Position: Barbarian vs Drow

  1. C. Baize says:

    He slaughters magic-users, crushes constructs, topples civilizations, breaks ninjas, crushes his enemies, sees them driven before him, and hears the lamentation of their women.
    And then he bangs their women.
    While they’re lamenting.
    Lamenting is a natural aphrodisiac for Conan.

  2. Ed H says:

    Conan is the most famous hero from one of the best and most influential pulp authors ever. He basically singlehandedly founded the “swords & sorcery” genre.

    Drizzt is the result of commissioned hackwork for a cynical company trading on their brand and churning out shitty product.

  3. Dan says:

    @C. Baize, EXACTLY.
    Besides, who doesn’t love making that AAAAILLLILLGGG sound that Arnold does when he’s fighting the wolves. (I know Jeff said it was the novel version, but come on, the first movies RULES!!!)

  4. C. Baize says:

    I still make that sound when gaming, sometimes. It never fails to elicit chuckles.

  5. John says:

    Conan. ‘Cuz anyone named “Drzzzzzzthzzzt” needs to have their teeth kicked in.

  6. Doornik1142 says:

    Ah, Conan is plenty athletic and agile. Despite your claims to the contrary I’m afraid you’re letting the pop-culture/Hollywood interpretation intrude on your thinking.

  7. Dr. Shrinker says:

    If it had been Conan versus Elric of Melnibone…that would have been a tough call.

  8. Ummm… why are we even having this conversation?

    I know, I know… new “Conan” movie. And that da Ahnold is a 60-year old dog of Guhvanatah…

    Wicked Drow with Crouching Panther? Drow are femme, Lolth-driven green magick. Drizzt Doo-Doo is a laughable not even “sick-and-wrong.”

  9. Myro says:

    I realize I will get hammered for the undisguised pandering of this question, but I don’t feel well and Myro will yell at me if I don’t get my post of the day done…

    Yes, I have a role here! I am the demanding and unforgiving taskmaster. Seriously though, if you were to put up a Meta entry that said something along the lines of, “Sorry folks, but I’m not feeling too good, so there will be no new poll this week,” then I would have understood. Would I be upset? Yeah, a little, but since I’m fighting a cold and allergies concurrently, I would have understood, providing you let us know that an update is not going to happen day of, and maybe a brief explanation why. Anyway, get better, buddy.

    As to the question at hand, I’m torn. Having read a fair share of Robert E. Howard’s Conan short stories (as well as a few L. Sprague de Campe novels), and the first six or seven R.A. Salvatore Forgotten Realms books with Drizzt in them, I’m undecided. Let’s make something clear, though. Fighting Conan is not like sparring with Wulfgar. Howard himself said that Conan moved with an agility and speed that belied his immense size, and Conan was more than happy to outwit an opponent. Drizzt attempting to cast a darkness spell would likely be met with a fist to his jaw in order to keep him from speaking, and Guenhwyvar brought into battle would quickly result in a panther trinket getting kicked away from Drizzt after Conan disembowled and decapitated the Dark Elf’s panther familiar. So, this really comes down to a sword fight, and I’m pretty sure that one will come down to which of the two gets lucky.
    I’m going to vote Conan for one reason, and one reason only: Conan is more fun to read. Drizzt’s emo-Drow schtick gets old after a while.

  10. Calicade says:

    Drizzit, not because I’m a fan boy, but because I’m a firm believer in speed, accuracy, and evasion over brute force any day.

  11. Worf says:

    Are you sure there is even a contest here??? Conan can beat him ten times a day and twenty on Sunday. Drizzt has about as much chance as a regular mosquito has of biting Superman.

  12. TOOL says:

    oh come on, this should be easy people. RA salvatore is only like my fav author and I have most of his books and some other forgotten realms authors but anyways Drizzt would lop off Conans head before he had a chance to yell crom! If he didnt decide to kill him in his other many meciless ways with all his enchanted items ablilities and traing not to mention the big black panther. 😀

  13. Lime says:

    I just want to say, when I read “gap-toothed philanderer,” I thought for a moment you had confused Conan O’Brien with David Letterman.

  14. Conan says “GO CRY, EMO ELF,” and then cuts Drizzt to shreds.

  15. TOOL says:

    Ok so has anyone actually read the books on the Drow? I see some post on here of people that have but lets think of it this way. Drizzt fights off thousand orcs in one setting, conan fights off mufasa and the drop outs from an eightys rock band. Drizzt takes down multiple frost giants at same time, Conan takes down mutant rhino. Drizzt fights with friends when he wants to, conan fights with friends because he needs to. Oh i suppose he could of fighured a way to fight off the effects of poison and demons with steel alone or maybe he would of been vulture food with out his asian wizard.

  16. Myro says:

    Tool (14): By correlation, have you ever read a Conan book? By my reckoning, Conan would be the equal to Drizzt in melee combat. Drizzt might be dextrous enough to handle two blades at once, but Conan is stronger, and in terms of combat experience, Drizzt may be older, but Conan has been trained in combat since he was a child, and fighting since he was 12. This fight will not go down easy for either one of them.

  17. Jeff Hebert says:

    This is the kind of frothy fan-boy debate that makes me grin.

    I did consider throwing Elric in there, but I figured not many of the younger folks have even ever heard of him. But he is reminiscent of Drizzt in some ways — partial sorcerer, a little emo …

  18. newerlie says:

    Drizzt Do’ Urden forever!

  19. Kytana says:

    I vote for Drizzt. I have to admit that i am not read a book about conan. I saw only the movies(arnold came from my land and visited it sometimes but i must say i am no fan of him.)and play the game. Also i know about a little history but i read many of the books about the drow.
    So i know he can beat conan in fast time. He ist sure faster and have more experience and stamina. Forget not… he is a drow and can life very long. But conan is a human and have a short life. And if the barbarian were stronger as many think, then drizzt can wait and finish him(fatality!) when he is old. But i think so.

  20. punkjay says:

    This a classic brute force vs inellegents here. I will have to go with Drizzt if he can stay invisable long enough to confuse Conan to make a mistake. I also think that Drizzt may be hurt pretty bad from this fight though, and may never fully recover. I think this one may come down to terrain avantage. If we are talking a feild w/ no pace to hide, Conan, if we are talking forest with stratigic points of hiding and uphill avantage Drizzt is your man.

  21. Dan Gonzalez says:

    Drizzt probably wins the fight, but I’d much rather BE Conan. Hotter babes and a lot less hand-wringing.

  22. Doornik1142 says:

    TOOL (15)

    BAH! Drizzt would get his ass HANDED to him if he ever went up against James Earl Jones.

  23. TOOL says:

    Well i like the dark elf women too, i think they are hot as well. You know drizzt could just wait till Conan drinks himself into a stupor and kill him or poison his drink and food, the list could go on and on about all the ways he could kill him. a person could go nuts worrying about it all always looking over there shoulder you know. I liked Conan and watched the movies and will watch the new one but I havent read the books in detail no. everyone loves a good swordsman but drizzt is no weakling and has other talents to bring to the fight as well. All the different ways i think about it and post i read i still believe Conan would have little to no chance, wait make that a snow balls chance in….

  24. Sutter_Kaine says:

    If Elric had been in the running, the winner would be Elric. He’s a cunning and vicious warrior with centuries of experience, a powerful sorcerer (no fireballs or lightning bolts, but he can summon demi-gods and entire armies), and most of all he has Stormbringer, the vampire-king of soul-sucking demon-weapons. And while Elric does tend to brood, I wouldn’t call it “emo-angst”. Elric has a moral code of a sort, but he’s only technically the good guy because he’s slightly less evil than his enemies. He’s sacrificed his companions to achieve his goals on many occasions. Elric lives in a world a thousand times darker than Hyperborea or the Forgotten Realms and always comes out on top. Unless you count the last book in the series, of course, but Moorcock’s heroes rarely get happy endings.

    Okay, between Conan (book Conan, not movie Conan) and Drizzt, I would have to give the edge to Drizzt but I think Conan could still pull it off. Drizzt has centuries of experience and is certainly faster, but he lives by a code of honor and he’s never fought a barbarian like Conan before. I think Drizzt would take one look at him, assume he’s a big dumb brute, and completely underestimate him. Conan is faster and smarter than he looks (he wins as often through cunning as brute force) and he cheats. If Conan could hang in there long enough he could probably find a way to defeat Drizzt.

  25. Joshua says:

    Myro wrote:

    Yes, I have a role here! I am the demanding and unforgiving taskmaster.

    Ah, I see our Lord and Master is subtly influencing your one and every action. Excellent. That…or you’ve been conscripted for one of His Worthiness’ grisly “behavioral modification” experiments. Sorry.


    Oh, and I went with Conan. Not at all familiar with “Drow”; sounds a smidge like He-Man for some reason. Speaking of which, had it been He-Man (…rumor was his toy-line was at one time meant to be a Conan series), well– I would have still stuck with Conan. He-Man’s a wee bit dainty to take down a sulking, blood-thirsty Cimmerian.

  26. Joshua says:

    CORRECTION, WILL ROBINSON: I was reading another post and assumed the character was named, Drow. Then I took another look at the poll and saw that it was Drizzt Do’ Urden. Oops.

    Still going with Conan.

  27. C. Baize says:

    Let us not forget that while Drizzt is fighting Orcs, Conan is killing Gods.
    Sometimes with his bare hands.

  28. mashlagoo says:

    I have not read any of the Conan books (only saw the movie). Bug going off of what I know about Drizzt, I find it hard to believe Conan would be able to take him. Drizzt has combat experience and speed on his side. Also, he is very cold and calculating when it comes to combat. I don’t think he would underestimate Conan. I expect both would start the fight by feigning underestimating the other’s abilities. The fight would probably escelate until Drizzt just starting moving to fast for Conan to see. At which point Drizzt would have him.

  29. Kytana says:

    @C. Baize: Drizzt kills not alone Orcs, he also fight against his own folk(never underestimate a drow), mage, gigants, demons, barbarian too and … against a dragoon.
    God Lolth who want killed Drizzt(because she is afraid)failed. Conan the barbarian is a good enemy but he can´t stop him.
    And not forget that his panther who came from a other world
    cannot die. And i must say it a second time: Drizzt is a drow and have a long life. Humans not.

  30. Myro says:

    Kytana (29): Dtizzt will face an entirely different set of problems if he tries to wait for Conan to reach old age:
    1. By his mid-30s, Conan has ammassed an army. By his 40s, he has conquered his own kingdom and has thousands of soldiers at his command. By his 50s, Conan is king of one of the largest kingdoms in the Hyborean world, and has hundreds of thousands of soldiers at his disposal. And he’s done this because he’s a tactical genius. So Drizzt will have to fight through Conan’s armies to get to him, and because they’ve been trained in Conan’s tactics, they will certainly mount a far more organized resistance than a rabble of Orcs will.
    2. Drizzt may be many things, but he is not a coward. I just don’t believe he would find it sporting to challenge an elderly man (no matter how imposing) to mortal combat.

  31. Brett says:

    Conan, without a doubt! Conan reigns supreme as the BEST BARBARIAN OF ALL TIME!

  32. When I was DM’ing, Drow were my choice of evil empire / arch-foe. Never did I elevate a male Drow to even Elrick status. Though I enjoyed Elrick for his anti-heroism and smart writing. Technically… Elrick is a Dark Elf not a Drow. So… ehhh…

    All my elves were matriarchal societies. A Drow male with the power of Drizzt would have been a general under the power of a priestess. Definitely no panther companion. More like swarms of driders and preordained to die for Lolth.

    Conan has not just survival instincts, but is battle-tested and world-weary. He is clever and cunning through life-or-death experience. Ultimately, he defeats the most ancient and powerful wizards with a fell swoop of his axe.

    Conan is a self-made man. Drizzt is an unbelievable anamoly even amongst his own fantasy race. It doesn’t work for me.

  33. anomaly… aluminum linoleum…

  34. Knighthawk says:

    Drizzt has fought wulfgar for decades in training, he is very familiar with a barbarian build on height and reach. To my knowing, conan has no such companion to draw such focused experience from. conan has used many weapon sets from what little I know where drizzt focuses on his two blades even though both are proficent in all weapons. Stripped down of all magic items I think drizzt would limp away maimed but much wiser as the victor for the experience. He may not even kill cocan since they both have a code of sorts to go by.

  35. Malfar says:

    Funny. I remember that the drow is called “Dzirrt” in Russian, because “Drizzt” sounds almost like “Dryst”, which is slang name for diarrhea in Russian. You don’t want to read about a hero with a name Diarrhea, do you?

    But still, I like this drow better than the barbarian.

  36. @Malfar(34): Now that’s onomatopoeia! 😉

  37. Kytana says:

    @Myro: Drizzt need not army to came into the near of conan. He can snake past of them and stalk up on conan.
    He is behind him before he notice that.
    But your right. He is not the same coward than other drows
    and would not kill him from behind or ehen he is old. Like knighthawk say he habe trainend a barbarian an know how fight with them. And forget not he have enorm speed. I don´t think that conan is with his muscles(fast ok but not) sooo fast as drizzt.

  38. Kytana says:

    Oh…and sorry i have wrote short in german.
    “Like knighthawk say he “have” trainend…”

  39. Myro says:

    That’s okay, Kytana. I understood what you were trying to say.

  40. Taranaich says:

    Reading these comments, all I can think of is Harlan Ellison’s quote: “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” In other words, if all you know of Conan is from the film, which has already been stated as being a different beast from the literary character, then why on earth do you think you can make judgements on the literary character?

    I’m not going to say who would win between Conan & Drizzt, because I haven’t read any of the latter, and thus am not really in a position to say. I can, however, comment on those who seem to think Conan is a monosyllabic, brutish dunderhead. Because as we all know, nerd debates about whose fictional character could beat whose fictional character are serious business. Totally serious business, you guys.

    “Drizzit, not because I’m a fan boy, but because I’m a firm believer in speed, accuracy, and evasion over brute force any day.”

    Speed, accuracy, and evasion describes Conan to a tee, and you can throw brute force into the mix too. Just read “Queen of the Black Coast,” “The People of the Black Circle” or “The Phoenix on the Sword” for classic Conan fighting superior numbers by skilfully weaving and dodging through them like a whirlwind.

    “Ok so has anyone actually read the books on the Drow?”

    Ok, so have you actually read the stories on the barbarian? Because you seem to be only aware of the films, which are explicitly not part of the agenda today.

    “Drizzt fights off thousand orcs in one setting, conan fights off mufasa and the drop outs from an eightys rock band.”

    That’s movie Conan. Literary Conan, which is the guy we’re talking about here, has on at least two occasions killed enough men in a single battle to build a wall of corpses to put his back against (“The Scarlet Citadel,” “A Witch Shall Be Born”).

    “Drizzt takes down multiple frost giants at same time, Conan takes down mutant rhino.”

    Again, movie Conan. Read “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter,” where Conan… takes down multiple frost giants at the same time. Seriously, of all the examples you could’ve chosen.

    “Drizzt fights with friends when he wants to, conan fights with friends because he needs to.”

    Movie Conan. Literary Conan fights with friends when he wants to, or when he really does need them (such as when he’s king of Aquilonia: kinda hard to rule a country all by your lonesome).

    “Oh i suppose he could of fighured a way to fight off the effects of poison and demons with steel alone or maybe he would of been vulture food with out his asian wizard.”

    Movie Conan. When literary Conan was crucified, he didn’t need a wizard to make a dark pact with the Gods to save his life: he just healed up over the course of a few weeks without magical aid.

    “This a classic brute force vs inellegents here.”

    Conan can speak dozens of languages, has a vast knowledge of history, culture and customs, has a sound military mind, and even indulges in a little philosophy. There’s definitely more to Conan than the Gordian Knot solution.

    “If Elric had been in the running, the winner would be Elric.”

    More accurately, if Stormbringer had been in the running, the winner would be Stormbringer. Elric on his own is about on par with some of the most powerful sorcerers Conan has faced (and slain), but throw in the most horrifically powerful weapon in just about any fantasy setting and things go against anyone who isn’t Elric.

  41. Sutter_Kaine says:

    Starting out with a Harlan Ellison quote made me very receptive to everything else you had to say.

  42. TOOL says:

    I myself am a fan of both but I do favor Drizzt because I have read alot of books about him or with him. Even played games with him in them or if there was a setting to make a dark elf I made him with that name LOL I do like a good barbarian too though. I liked Conan alot as a child. I admit I have seen the movies and only read bits of the books. Mostly because I dont have alot of time or attention for them. With all thats been said on here it makes me even more curious to go back and try and find and read his books through. Its looks from the poll that Conan wins this one though.

  43. TOOL says:

    One more post on another subject close to topic. What do you guys and gals think of the upcoming redo or is it a continue of Conan? The few screen shots and previews looked like it might be ok. If I don’t go see in theatre I will definatly Red Box it.

  44. Myro says:

    Tool (43): I think it’s a reboot. I do tend to go see a lot of movies, so I’ll probably go see it when it hits theaters. My personal take on what I’ve seen so far is… well, let’s say that I’m cautiously optimistic.