A plea to Mongoose about upcoming adventures


Well I realize there are a lot of gamers who want this much information about an adventure (for example, the old TSR 1st edition and Basic deedledee line always numbered every building on a map). But I tend to buy into an argument Vincent had made elsewhere, to the effect that numbering locations on a map is the same as carving it in stone. I'm making this simple argument because:
1) City buildings (sometimes even streets or districts) change with time. A tavern burns down, something else replaces it. A merchant loses his status and is shunned (something that happens almost frequently in Shadizar) someone else moves in, and if new person is rich enough changes it. If you reply "but an adventure is static" I'd counter that the Conan game is set in a time after Conan has been crowned king. I and other GMs have set our campaigns at different times (in my case 26 years earlier, others centuries earlier) and this level of detail means much is different.
1a) Well, not really different, but to use one example 23rd St in Manhattan and Times Square are wholly different than they were even 2 years ago. New buildings have gone up, subway renovations, to the point where every time I'm in Times Square (about 3 times a year) it's almost unrecognizable. This goes with (Vincent's) contention that cities are living, evolving, constantly changing.

I know it sounds like a copout, but I do happen to believe in the notion of "make your city our own, modify it to your heart's content." And while we all have jobs that make it hard to commit the level of dedication Mr. Darlage and the other writers have gone to to write these modules and sourcebooks, I'm more of an open-ended gamer myself than one who wants a FODOR's Guide to an adventure.

Besides, what if you get an adventure designed for 4-6 level characters and you wanna run it for 1-3? You have to change the encounters so they won't TPK the party. It's an indirect analogy, but what I'm getting at is that you have to do a lot of work no matter whether you create your own adventure from scratch or modify one for the party. Adventures from ICE or the HARN systems would need major renovations to be made workable to Conan; I turned two TSR 1st edition Conan adventures into editable Word documents, and the more I worked on it the less I liked the idea of using it for this game. (Too many monsters, too shallow plot hooks (beat on the PCs until they kill the NPCs plain and simple in the case of Conan:Unchained)).

Don't get me wrong, I totally agree that this forum is a great place to make suggestions to the very people who create the products and adventures, and I believe every opinion should be voiced. Frankly, your suggestion that buildings be mapped is a valid point for many gamers, despite my not totally agreeing with it. I'm just weighing in on the opposing side. Color, costume, city laws, well I think they're much better left in a sourcebook than an adventure, although a brief paragraph at best would be fine.

Anyway, hope this helps.
Bregales has answered the point with the points I would have made.

You'll notice no keyed locations in the Shadizar product at all. That is intentional. Keying a location does effectively carve it in stone. The taverns and stuff I mention in the text are fleeting affairs and may not be around when the PCs get there - or they may have had an improvement in their fortunes and moved the location. If you want one of those locations for your game, then pick a spot you like and go on - why spend time looking for some small number...

I am a firm believer that for a world or city to have verisimilitude it must change and grow. For example, I have drawn two maps for Numalia - one for Conan's youth and one that matches the description in RoK when Conan is king - the city has grown.

By naming proprietors and customers, one risks having the same people in the same bar in the same location no matter what time of day or night (or even what year!) the PCs show up ('Hey! I remember that tavern! I wonder if that Bossonian in the corner who was dying of a Stygian curse will still be there after all these years... Yep. There he is! How are you?' 'I'm dying of a curse.' "Still?" 'It's a lingering thing.").

The Messantia boxed set goes the other route and keys dozens upon dozens upon dozens of locations with varying amounts of detail (sometimes just a name). Sorry. GMs like me will not spend time looking for a tavern on the list, then match it up to a number when the PCs want to stop in a tavern. For us, a tavern is just there and we whip up a name, some NPCs, and then forget about it. If players come back a year later and happen to remember it, well, it is gone now.

However, some GMs like the keyed locations. Great. Use them. I think they are wasted space. Other people think they are a godsend. I do like my cities to be more fluid than "Bldg 12 - Godrund the Hyperborean Bookseller," always there, never really doing anything useful.

Even in the comics, Roy Thomas had a character (Maldiz) as a smith in one story and years later, the character was a barkeeper. Maldiz appears in the Shadizar boxed set on pages 51-52. How and where should I key him? As the smith or the tavern owner?

If I include some sample locations, they are easy to place on a map by a GM who wants the location - but if I key it, it is harder to ignore by a GM that thought my sample was not so inspiring. My way, he can completely ignore the sample and not have to worry about changing the key.

Most frequented locations change with time - Youngsters hang out in different spots than oldsters, and times change... Why key them?

Now, cultural data - I do like that. Clothing, archetecture, general attitudes, etc. - I can work with that, and I generally try to include those sorts of material with what I write.

But I won't key locations unless forced to.

Luckily, you have a variety of authors to choose from.

Zul Daire

Personally I think the Modules have been great.

I ran Tower of the Elephant last week and we had a blast. I was not aware of any plot holes in it and if there where we missed them.

I just breezed through Terror of Nahab last night so I can't really give an opinion on it yet.

My only complaint with any of the adventures is that the maps that are provided has no scale.

No big deal really as I can come up with the scale but It would just be nice. :)

That's it though. I think both TOE and HOT are both awesome!


I'm gonna run Tower of the Elephant next; I can't wait, it's really done well. Lots of options for the players.

Haven't finished reading Heretics, but what I have gives me a good impression so far.

Good Work Mongoose!!!
Someone posted some very good reasons why there are always more sourcebooks than adventures somewhere else (players and DM's buy sourcebooks and only DM's play adventures). Boils down to economics. This makes sense but I would like to point out that without both, the game will come to an end.

ICE's Middle Earth is a great example of that. Very detailed maps and well researched information on every major area in ME. Towards the end of the product, they started producing adventures. Too late.

To keep the game going, DM's are the key. Although I agree that the players represent more potential dollars, I find that the DM's will buy virtually every product whereas the players will selectively purchase only what suits their interest and perhaps their individual character.

Being an "old-timer" who has been gaming since the early '80s, I have watched the d20 game evolve. Overall, it has been great. Most of the changes have been positive. But, the lack of adventure material is a real concern. In our most recent campaign (which is a Midnight setting), it looks like the end is approaching soon. After 2 years of play, the DM has confessed that he is running out of time and energy to continuously develop plot lines and adventures. This setting is rich in regional modules but really lacking in adventures.

Unless you are still in High School, the days of sitting around for hours per day creating your own adventures and playing from Friday - Sunday are unfortunately over once you have a mortgage and children. The DM's that can afford to buy the products need help from the publishers to keep the campaigns moving. Even poorly done adventures can be helpful as Ghost Wolf points out. Most players don't follow the plot well and the adventure will take a turn that is not anticipated anyways. Oh yeah, another rule of mine, never trust your players. Too easy for someone to purchase the adventure secretly and ruin your punchlines! So use what you can to save time and build on it.

So, Mongoose, please continue to produce the quality product that we have all come to love. Ideally, one source book = 2 pre-made adventures in that area. Even if those are published in S&P or PDF cheap versions. It will all be good. Anything to help us tired DM's when the going gets tough such as a monster supplement or rogue's gallery would be great as well. Don't forget the miniatures (but if you are going to do them at all, do them well!)

Cliff Notes Summary:

1.) Regional Sourcebooks
2.) Ready-to-Run Adventures (especially if they are tied to the regional sourcebooks)
3.) DM aids (monsters, gods, rogues, etc.)
4.) Miniatures

I promise I will buy them!



Hey there High Lord Dee, thought that was a good post. I admit I'm not the most-pre-pub-loving GM, but your email referencing ICE and Midnight makes a very strong point. I'm not a fan of most WotC adventures, in fact I don't like most of the ones that we've gone through in our other games, but the point remains valid about GMs who can't afford the time. And I agree too about sourcebooks vs. adventures.

As for modifying adventures as players probably bought them: I totally agree with that now. When I ran The Black Stones of Kovag Re shortly after it came out, I knew several players had gotten it but swore they didn't read it. Their actions were so off the track that it seems didn't really know what was coming, they just thought it was ridiculous (and I helped a lot saying "I think this adventure's ridiculous, but am running it because you asked me to, so...". Now when I ran The Coming of Hanuman, I made a couple of changes as our group had been established with a different than typical storyline (unless you're Vincent Darlage, as he posted his group also bought a tavern and was using it as a base of operations in another thread, I was amazed when I read that :D ). But two of the players followed the plot outline and knew what to do so amazingly I figured when they got to the big climax and acted as they did that they HAD read it.

Wherefore I'm preparing now to run The Terror of Nahab and will be making big changes just because.

I'll admit pre-pubs can be great despite these certain flaws (players are likely to go off on a wild tangent and may very well have read the adventrue anyways), but admit they can help a GM short on time/imagination/resources or any combination of these. I'm running this adventure now because, while I'm still reading it, the party's decision to make a 95% whole new party leaves me at a point where I suddenly don't know their behaviors (or even stats or classes at this point) so a pre-pub adventure helps with a "generic" group of PCs. It's usually not narrowed to a particular type or class of player, but by it's nature allows for the possibility of any established mix of player races and classes to participate. That IMO is it's strength. Weaknesses, I've already hinted enough here and on other threads, but they can come in handy sometimes. :p
Thanks Bregales,

Once you run the adventure, could you share your plot change with the group? I would be interested in having several plots on all the pre-printed Conan pubs. Thanks.

With regard to your characters who you suspected cheating...Kill them all. You can never be too sure!


Mark Dunder

Have any of you ever used the "Treasury of Archiac Names?" I think that is the correct name. It was produced by Judges Guild. It had random roll ups for everything from naming taverns and towns, geographic features, and, of course, lots of names for your characters. Just a fantastic product. It would be great to see a rebirth of that resource