""Here come the steamrollers, newbs," says the text box floating above the crumpled body in front of my group. "Time to call in the level 80s. I thought you guys wanted to get quests done." I can't imagine any better victory in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game: Not only is the opponent beaten in the digital world, but defeat has triggered something akin to the Kubler-Ross stages of grief in his real-life brain. His ultimatum is Hyboria's version of bargaining; I'm sure he flashed through anger and denial at some point during our brawl.
This specific bout was for territory control (access to Old Tarantia's sewer system, to be precise), but the exchange of blows and snide remarks is hardly a unique scenario in Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. Player-versus-player server denizens here have a score to settle with the MMO community at large for shunning their kind years ago, and they're all too eager to prove their hardcore credentials at the head of a gank squad."