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Disclaimer: I have received special permission from Funcom to publish these beta journals and I publish them first with the approval of Funcom. I forward these journal entries to Funcom first to seek approval to ensure that the content I wish to publish is fair and accurate. These journal entries are not opinion pieces or reviews, but a means to discuss exclusively a reflection of the exciting content that the game will deliver to you on May 20, 2008. I have been given special permission to "break" NDA for the purpose of these journal entries, and write them with Funcom's trust instilled in me. If you yourself are in the 'Age of Conan' beta, then please do not see this as an excuse for you to begin publicly discussing the game in any way, shape, or form. The NDA is still in effect, and many things are still subject to change during this crucial beta stage.

My thanks first and foremost go out to Funcom for allowing me to write and publish these journal entries in the first place. I am incredibly pleased to bring to you these journal entries, and hope you get as much joy reading them as I have writing them.

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I think I've probably seen the cutscene that plays before you begin character creation time and time-over (in gameplay videos and so forth), so I really wasn't fussed with that, but it did look very cool "in the flesh", so to speak. In the very beginning, You see the Styigan slave galley that you're on being pursued by what looks like an Aquilonian warship. The slave galley is under-fire from the warship (probably by command of King Conan himself) by means of fire arrows and boulders, and this is how you end up shipwrecked on the island of Tortage, east of the Barachan Isles and off the southern coast of Zingara. The "camera" flies through the galley to reveal the slaves, of course, painfully rowing their oars, where the camera pauses and waits for you to make your first selection: Male or Female. Not to be suckered into creating a female character just for the heck of it, I decided to create a male, and right off the bat I was able to select my race, of course, and then my class. It was an Aquilonian Ranger I had set my mind on, the one I will journey with through Hyboria!

The devs and product managers weren't kidding when they said their character creation tool in 'Age of Conan' was "flexible", I mean, it really adds a whole new meaning to the word "customisation". The character creation tool in 'Age of Conan' boasts around 40 sliders ranging from the height of your character, your cheek height (the ones on your face, that is), cheek width, chin length, chin width, how big or small you want your arms (from Ghandi to Arnie, just to give you an idea), how big or small you want your thighs, all the way to which way you want your nose to be crooked. I was completely free to make my character shovel-faced ugly or sculpted-by-the-gods handsome, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all. I was satisfied with the look I had given my Aquilonian Ranger, so I entered the game where I found myself washed up on the shores of Tortage, greeted by Kalanthes.

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