Ways to improve boxed sets


Right to the point: what are your ideas of improving Conan boxed sets? What would you like to find inside them, besides the "usual" stuff (books, maps)?

I think there should be city-specific "bonus" stuff (is "knick-knack" or "trinket" a correct word?). For example - gambling is popular in most cities, so why not include a "Messantian dice game" or "Shadizar card game" set? It's cheap (3-4 dice and rules in one of the books - how expensive can that be?), but it looks cool and brings a lot of flavour to the game (I'm experimenting with some Dragon Dice :) ).

Just imagine - your thief visits a small town and sees some folks playing a card game. Maybe it's the Shadizar BlahBlah? Or maybe it's something new and popular in this area?

These games could have their own city-specific variants with altered rules or diffrent pictures/signs on cards/dice, so the authors don't have to invent a whole new game each time a boxed set is made. And Mongoose could sell them both as part of the boxed sets and/or as separate preps.

Pros: Flavour, additional stuff in the boxed set, cheap.
Cons: Let me know if there are any (otherwise I'll do the Victory Dance ;) ).
Id like to see extras like that too. Just stuff that is specific to that boxed set, even plastic minis or as mentioned, specific dice/cards etc. Posters and things like that are great too, even though they just look cool and dont relate specifically to running the game :)

At this point though, id probably rather have the books in a boxed set just printed in one hardcover, but thats just me, as long as the informations out there in one way or another, thats all that matters I guess :)
Maps that aren't copied from somewhere else.

Maps that don't look like they were drawn with Photoshop in 10 minutes with way too big reference numbers.

I've brought everything so far - but the next box set - I'll ask to see inside before I buy.

spawn said:
At this point though, id probably rather have the books in a boxed set just printed in one hardcover, but thats just me, as long as the informations out there in one way or another, thats all that matters I guess :)

Yeah, the whole idea of having 3 books instead of one is odd. Besides, for this price I would expect all of them to be in colour - not that the book 2 or 3 need it for anything, but it would be a nice touch. I wouldn't mind a soft cover though - the book is protected by the box anyway.

As for maps - they really need an improvement. A boxed set with great maps would definitely be worth every penny. And one with such maps AS WELL AS additional bonus stuff would just scream "Buy me!". Besides, making a boxed set is a great opportunity to make the game line really shine.
Well, I kinda touched on this in another thread, but I really think for Messantia a neat trick would've been to include a deck of cards containing a ship silouttte (never could spell that damn word) on one side and game information on the other, type, size, crew count, movement, components, nation of origin, etc.

I bought a few packs of that Pirate of the Spanish main game for the ship combat maneuvers as given in Pirate Isles. Besides being several eras off, they work great! We even made a large ocean grid to place islands on and move the ships around. Messantia could've had some kinds of ship counters to use for the excellent Pirate Isles rules.

I agree with this thread though. The current box sets seemed to have been much better suited as a sourcebook. Nothing's really jumped out to me as unique. With my players not even really near either city, the draw to spend the $40 is even less. With some really unique game treats thrown in, that can be universally useful, I'd be more apt to jump onto a set.
I actually meant I would rather have the hardcover of the 3 books with no box set at all :) I would be more inclined to pay $39.99 or whatever for a colour hardback book than a box set, but thats just me, I know a lot of people really like the box sets and maps etc. But I dont think these days theres enough extras to make it worthwhile over a colour hardcover book.

The costs are too high to put anything really worth buying a box set for these days. This isnt Mongooses fault, its just that the RPG industry probably isnt big enough anymore to make it worthwhile anymore.
I have every release except the two box sets. I wanted to wait and see the reviews before comitting to that much money. To me, box sets are things of the past, I'd rather have a book.

So far I've read and been told both Shadizar and Messantia are great books, but because most of my current campaign will take place in Aquilonia, and because of the cost of the box, (not to mention the little problems) I don't see myself buying the boxes anytime soon, unless I can find them at a great discount that is.

On the other hand if they would have been released as hardcover city sourcebooks, they'd be sitting on my shelf right now.

So I guess for me, if you want to improve the box sets, ditch the box and put a hard cover around the written material. :D

Obviously, the maps are the first thing that need improvement. I don't have Messantia yet, but Shadizar is definitely lacking in this area. The main poster map is horrible even without it being a direct copy of previously published material. There is absolutely no detail to it, and it looks nothing like the way Shadizar is described.

The adventure is also seriously lacking in maps. Why are there 3 pages of generic tunnel maps and nothing detailing Nehira's manor (inside or out) or the secret temple below it? While I'm at it, what's the point of the guild map? Also, there is no exact location given for the buildings listed in the adventure on the main map. Overall, the entire adventure book has the look and feel of being rushed.

The main Shadizar book provides excellent information, but again, none of the establishments listed are marked on a map. If there is going to be an entire box set dedicated to a city, I think the city should have a detailed map of each district. An excellent example if this would be the old Haven box set by Gamelords.

Book 2 seems like kind of a waste of space. The information provided ther could easily be in put in Book 1. However, I may be biased about this as I don't use d20 for Conan and don't really have any use for the information.
Yeah, I wasn't very impressed with the Shadizar box. The first book was good, but then I wondered, jeez they could've just put them all in 1 soft cover. And yeah, that map is crap-tastic. With all the releases they have slated, I have to be a little picky since I'm not made of money. Black Kingdoms looks promising.
With all the releases they have slated, I have to be a little picky since I'm not made of money. Black Kingdoms looks promising.

Actually, after tales of the BK, seems like there's a bit of a drought. This is good I think, I need to catch up on a few other items.

For example - gambling is popular in most cities, so why not include a "Messantian dice game" or "Shadizar card game" set?

Actually, if you do a google search, you'd be surprised at how much is known about dice games played by the Greeks, Romans, and other ancient peoples. Seems that it might have been the second most popular past time among soliders.

I doubt that card games would have been among those activities played in the Hyborian age. Cannot imagine that either paper or papyrus could have been made stiff enough to allow the creation of any but the most limited and expensive of card sets.
I think that a cost analysis of the price of separate staple binding and a box versus perfect bound, hard backs should be undertaken by Mongoose. I think they'll find that a perforated map page in a $40 hard back will sell far better than a $40 box of stuff.

Commenting on the card/gambling games: I see them as gimmicks more than selling poin ts. If I really want them, I'll make them, but generally I figure that's why Profession: Gambler or Hobby: Gambler are in the RPG as a skills. Meta gaming ideas are great, but I have found them a bit limiting in the past as whatever in-box thingy comes included, it never totally fits my needs and it's too hard to make it work without changing the rules included. I've typically just ended up coming up with completely different uses for them instead of that intended by the publisher (in the past, TSR mostly). Playing cards become clues left by a murderer that the PCs are trying to stop, or clues left by a mage using them in a spell or whatever.

I'd prefer NPCs, detailed maps over textured ones (I too dislike the poorly drawn ones), fluff galore and regional information. I haven't looked through the Mesantia set (got it a few days ago, but busy all weekend) but the Aquilonia set didn't detail the surrounding countryside well enough for me. Detailing mecantilism, farming and trade routes makes for good storytelling opportunities. Illustrations of various castles and significant landmarks from what might be the character's POV were he to be standing there are really nice too (chack out Hârnmaster and Eberron for examples of what I mean).

The game quality is phenominal, but a tightening up on design and use is needed. A box of stuff remains a box of stuff, but a book can be stacked with the rest of the books and it's much easier to keep track of something like that.
definitely improve the maps...they both lack serious details, especially the messantia one. as said previously, they both look like they were done quickly and with little thought. (hopefully the replacement map for shadizar will be good).

very disappointing maps, which for me set the tone for the rest of the product.

the content in the box sets hasn't been all that great either especially compared to the other products that've been published. they're average to good but at the price of the box sets they really should be better.

I don't really use the tokens either so they're not necessary. plastic figures would be nice I suppose.