Hoping the brains here can help me out. What would be the largest trade city in the West for the world of Conan? My Conan-fu is lacking a bit and I’m wanting to put together an urban adventure in a city that is bustling with trade, merchants, nefarious NPCs, and more. Thanks in advance!
There’s no right answer to this one. Really big trading hubs tend to deelop around crossroads or important ports. For my campaign I tend to assue that to mean Numalia in Nemedia, which, although isn’t the most powerful nation is still ‘up there’ and has more neighbours to trade with, or else Messantia. Messantia is convenient for goods heading to Argos, Zingara, Aquilonia, Ophir and other central nations (with Numalia not impossibly far from the headwaters of the river Tybor) and its also convenient for Asgalum, a source of Shemitish goods but not access to a massive market.
Don’t think that any of my players are on here…so, it will end up being a murder mystery where the party is initially hired to locate a “stolen” item that isn’t really stolen but their employer simply wants. So, they are being set up as fall guys if things go wrong, and they will also uncover a series of murders while trying to acquire the item and have to make some weighty decisions. The main NPCs will be leaders of different noble houses that are vying for power.
All right, let’s take a look at what we’ve got here.
Like I said, you’ve got some options.
The God in the Bowl was set in Nemedia. It’s a powerful country with prosperous cities. What I would say makes this one so unique is the presence of something approaching a police force. Inquisitors are powerful law enforcers. While corrupt and willing to favor the nobility, they do have real investigative abilities and considerable power to do so. Also, not afraid to use torture.
Rogues in the House was set in Corinthia. Loosely aligned city states. What makes this one stand out is that it’s a political hot bed. In addition to cities jockeying for power and prestige among themselves, there are political revolutionary groups at work as well. Then add in corrupt priests, in particular of Anu. Anu’s cult serves as an open secret in which it serves as a fence.
Messantia, to build on someone else’s suggestion, would lean towards more nautical or piratical stuff. The national rivalry with Zingara could add some spice. They do have a judicial system.
Turan, you’ve got a powerful monarchy/empire at it’s prime. While the nobility are unified there in the empire’s goal, I can imagine the infighting to be the emperor’s favorite to be fierce. The presence of crime is low within the cities themselves, but kozaki bandits and pirates in the Vilayet sea abound. Horse riders and what not.
Zamboula is a part of Turan. It’s got a representative from Turan ruling it, who is ambitious. Members of his harem are noted for their ambition as well. This place would be good if you want to involve Turan, but keep it’s hold the reigns light. The town also has a secret cannibal cult that prowls the night. Add in kozaki never far away. Finally powerful priests looking to increase their influence.
As a final suggestion, you may want to consider Khitai. The lords there don’t consider outsiders people. They would have no problems using your players as expendable catspaws.
Hi all. Sorry for the big delay since I originally asked the question. Thanks for all the suggestions, too! We’re about to jump back into Conan after doing a lot of Call of Cthulhu for quite a good while. From a canon or “properly in the Conan-verse” perspective, would any of the really large cities mentioned here have a functioning sewer system or is that too far up the tech tree for the setting?
I wouldn’t think sewers would be too high tech for most of the major cities in the West. Most sources I quickly searched claim the Etruscans built the first sewers in Rome around 500 BC. Rome was probably more advanced than many Western Medieval cities hundreds of years later. I think it would depend on how you flesh out your Hyboria. I have used sewers in Tarantia, Zamora, and in an upcoming Messantia adventure.
I ran “The Eyes of Aumag-Bel” for my group. I think it was fairly early on and there were moments where some players became quite . . . agitated lets say, at the predicament their characters found themselves in and we took a bit to regain composure. I forget who the big bad at the end was right now . . . I do remember they died remarkably fast compared to the combat I had laid out in my head . . . like always . . . BUT! that moment of true fear by my players is what has kept me coming back to Conan session after session. I really do enjoy this game.
That would probably be Messantia. It’s probably the biggest trade hub in the west. Also due its proximity to Asgalun you could have many Shemitish merchants in the city too, which would help with the cosmopolitan feel.