Messentia or Shadizar?

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The Suburbian
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Messentia or Shadizar?

Postby The Suburbian » Wed May 17, 2006 12:15 am

I am looking at beginning a new Conan campaign. I am thinking of using either the Shadizar boxed set or the Messentia boxed set as a base for the PCs.

Which one is better, Shadizar or Messentia? I am interested mostly in quality of product and adventure ideas.
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Postby Trodax » Wed May 17, 2006 6:42 am

I prefer Messantia; thought it was pretty cool, while Shadizar was mostly OK (it had a little too much pastiche-stuff that didn't sit 100% right with me). Messantia also had an adventure that was decent, while the adventure in Shadizar was not very good. I've heard people say they love Shadizar though, so I guess its mostly a matter of what suits your fancy.

I'd say, if you're interested in conspiring merchant houses and gladiatorial combat - get Messantia. If decadent nobles, corrupted priests and general human squalor gets your juices flowing - get Shadizar. You can't really go wrong; its all good. :D
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Postby Padre » Wed May 17, 2006 2:27 pm

What's 'Messentia'? :P
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Postby Arcadayn » Wed May 17, 2006 2:46 pm

It also depends on what kind of tone you want to set for your campaign. Shadizar is a land locked city of vice and excess while Messantia is a thriving mercantile port city.

As far as product quality, Shadizar is a mixed bag. The main city book is great and provides plenty of detail and adventure seeds. It provides more of a feeling and tone to Shadizar rather than being a gazeteer. However, the adventure book itself requires a LOT of work to make it coherent. That being said, it does have some cool ideas. If you've been on this forum for a while, you'll also note that Shadizar has some serious issues with its maps. They range from crappy to utterly useless.

Messantia is a superior product production wise. The city itself is well detailed and the map actually tells you where different loctaions are. I haven't read through the adventure thoroughly, so I can't really comment on it.

That being said, I prefer to run adventures in Shadizar as it fits better with the group I'm playing with right now.
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Postby DaveNC » Wed May 17, 2006 3:13 pm

I agree with Arcadayn, it depends on what tone/setting you are looking for in your campaign.

I personally prefer Messantia, with the port city, sea based setting. More opportunities to incorporate pirates, sea adventures and the like, which interests me.
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Postby René » Wed May 17, 2006 5:18 pm

Even regarding the drawbacks Shadizar has (see some threads on this forum) it gives Conanesque flavour.

Messantia on the other hand seems to be a generic fantasy city (without orcs and elves, of course), but lacks the Hyborian feeling. For Messantia (books 2 & 3, book 1 is O.K., but as said: generic) there is also a thread on this forum.

From this perspective I'd recommend Shadizar.
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Postby GrimJesta » Wed May 17, 2006 11:40 pm

A fellow forumite on the Kenzer Forums expressed his opinions of the Shadizar boxed set, and he reviews it thoroughly enough for me to have decided that I want it.

If you're interested in knowing about the boxed set, check this link [you don't have to be a forum member to view it]: Shadizar Boxed Set- it starts out with me talking about RoK, but then Phantom talks about Shadizar.

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Postby Etepete » Thu May 18, 2006 12:53 pm

Messantia is a good product. It's not such a good buy though, since the map is unispiring, the floorplans dull (and for me, superflous) and the adventure rather generic. Mainly, the box is full of air, which I think is bad form and really rather like fooling your buyers. So basically it's a lot of air considering how much you're payíng.

This having been said, if you can spare the cash, the main book is good material. While not as Conasque as Shadizar, I don't think Messantia CAN be as Conanesque. As it stands, it really reflects how I envision the city, and has some really neat gaming concepts built into it, like social combat and the merchant houses.

I'm glad I've got Messantia since it helps me a lot in my pirate campaign, and since it's a good read. But if my gaming club hadn't paid it for me, I'm not sure I'd bought it.
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Postby Nickbergquist » Sat May 20, 2006 6:48 am

I reccommend Messantia....but I'm a little biased! I like the Shadizar set, it has some novel ideas in implementation and is more tradionally "Hyborian" imo. Messantia is an excellent place from which to stage a variety of adventures, though, especially a sea-faring or pirate campaign.
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Postby Nickbergquist » Sat May 20, 2006 6:50 am

Etepete wrote:Messantia is a good product. It's not such a good buy though, since the map is unispiring, the floorplans dull (and for me, superflous) and the adventure rather generic. Mainly, the box is full of air, which I think is bad form and really rather like fooling your buyers. So basically it's a lot of air considering how much you're payíng.

This having been said, if you can spare the cash, the main book is good material. While not as Conasque as Shadizar, I don't think Messantia CAN be as Conanesque. As it stands, it really reflects how I envision the city, and has some really neat gaming concepts built into it, like social combat and the merchant houses.

I'm glad I've got Messantia since it helps me a lot in my pirate campaign, and since it's a good read. But if my gaming club hadn't paid it for me, I'm not sure I'd bought it.
I would personally like to have seen Messantia and Shadizar as hardcover books, as I agree with you that the boxes feel rather empty and the maps just aren't impressive enough to warrant the special treatment. I think boxed sets have, alas, gone the way of the dodo, and the production costs outstrip the "value added" content....

And glad you like Messantia!
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Postby The Suburbian » Mon May 22, 2006 12:36 am

Thank you for the input everyone. I just might get both of them.
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Postby Style » Sat Feb 23, 2008 8:48 pm

René wrote:Even regarding the drawbacks Shadizar has (see some threads on this forum) it gives Conanesque flavour.

Messantia on the other hand seems to be a generic fantasy city (without orcs and elves, of course), but lacks the Hyborian feeling.
I'm planning on starting a campaign at Messantia and using it as a "launch pad" for other adventures. A "home base" for the PCs, if you will.

Maybe they won't end up spending much time in the city, just using it as a place to recoup and find the next adventure hook out of town, but then maybe they will spend much time there. I'll just have to see how it plays out. With that in mind, what are some tips for running Messantia with a "Conanesque flavor" instead of as a "generic fantasy city?"

I will appreciate any feedback.
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Postby Aholibamah » Sun Feb 24, 2008 11:38 am

I can't speak honestly for Messantia. I have to say this of the Shadizar boxed set--it's very interesting, well written and intriguing, and yet it does still require you to do a fair bit of work to get an adventure or campaign going in it. If you don't mind it then it gives you a lot of atmosphere, character templates, character counters, an adventure that fleshes out part of the setting (the Maul, to be specific) and is also good background for the "City of the Spider God" free adventure download.
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Postby Style » Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:04 am

Aholibamah wrote:... and is also good background for the "City of the Spider God" free adventure download.
Hey now, where can I get this free adventure? Do tell. :D
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Postby Aholibamah » Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:17 am

Here: Thulsa from this very board has offered up this wonderful gem.

http://hyboria.xoth.net/adventures/index.htm
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Postby Lagavulin » Thu Feb 28, 2008 8:06 am

I plan on using the Spider God module late in my next campaign. Going to make a few tweaks to amke it a "heretic" temple of the spider god as I don't want my characters run out of Zamora after trashing the place.

The Shadizar set is pretty good but the adventure needs some work. As asetting Zamora fits in well with the free scenarios available via this forum - both Thulsa's spider god and the ones by Dr Skull
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Postby Kyorou » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:01 pm

I haven't read Messantia but Shadizar has been a disapointment for me. It isn't bad (some bits on Zamorian society are actually pretty good, imo) but there isn't much meat in the meal. Much of it is inspired by non-Howard Conan stories, which weren't up to the challenge to begin with and should have been ignored, imo.
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Postby Lagavulin » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:59 pm

I think the problem was that without the non-Howard stories there would not be much background on Zamora, let alone Shadizar. However I do think the set captures the right atmosphere for a Zamoran city, given what we know about one from the tower of the Elephant (I don't know if any other REH stories are set in Zamora)

I prefer the the more "ancient" feel of the Eastern/Central nations to the medieval concept behind the western ones, so perhaps I am biased.
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Postby Axerules » Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:59 pm

Lagavulin wrote:I think the problem was that without the non-Howard stories there would not be much background on Zamora, let alone Shadizar.
IMHO that's why Shadizar and Messantia were not good choices. The former included some of S. Perry's ridiculous creatures. Why focusing on places describded only in pastiches ? Is there not enough "Howardian" stuff to explore ? Why not a Zamboula boxed set ?
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Postby Hervé » Fri Feb 29, 2008 10:29 am

My two cents.
Shadizar is better to read, but Messantia is a better gaming supplement.
For an Howard fan, I would suggest the first (with the correct map!), for a city campaign I'd advice the latter.
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