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Author Topic: The Campaign World Of Mystera!  (Read 2144 times)

Luca

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The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2020, 08:18:08 AM »
Like it has been said, the main strength of Mystara is the sheer volume of material produced for it - each Gazetter is its own campaign setting, and several of them are excellent.

Gaz 1 (Karameikos) it's your bog standard low-tech scarcely populated medieval D&D fantasy world where your PCs can be granted land after a certain level, start the domain management game etc.
Gaz 3 (Glantri) is ultra-high-magic magocracy with Renaissance-styled intrigue, and special magic schools which gave high level mages even more ridiculous powers (one school at the highest levels lets you turn into a genuine colossal dragon, etc)
Gaz 5 (Alfheim) is the "magical elven forest" supplement which had special rules for taking elves to high levels (demi-humans were level-capped in BECMI).

Then you have the viking gazeteer, the dwarves gazetteer, the halfling gazetter, the merchant princes gazetter, the Shadow Elves gazetter etc. Some of them had some pretty weird concepts (the god of Shadow Elves was an immortal who had been a nuclear physicist and was trying to save the race from extinction due to long-term radiation poisoning).

This was also the main weakness of the setting; mixing all the stuff together was essentially impossible, both from a rules point of view (the gazetteers dedicated to specific races or classes liked to introduce their own sets of additional rules) and from an internal logic point of view (the desert gazetteer was right next to the magical elven forest, the magic super-empire ruled by a council of 1000 36th level wizards somehow had not yet conquered the rest of the world for... reasons, etc. etc.)

As S'mon said, by far the best use was to pick one of the Gazetteers as the main campaign theme and then use bits and pieces of the others to fill up the world. The plus is that the operation was easy (due to the immensity of material produced) and it gave you immediate access to lots of different campaign styles - essentially each Gazetteer was a type of campaign. And since there were (if memory serves) 14 of them plus the big box about Thyatis and Alphatia... that's a lot of campaign styles ready to go.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2020, 08:23:28 AM by Luca »

spon

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The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2020, 08:24:55 AM »
I liked bits of it. X1 was amazing - but it could have been set anywhere. I loved the X4/X5/X10 with their world-spanning war themes. But there were a few too many "simplistic" bits that I couldn't get my head around. I think Greyhawk did the hodge-podge of "if you search hard enough you'll find an example of a real-world political system" countries better. Never got into Red Steel, no idea how that was.

The alphatia/Thyatis conflict was pretty meh. I did like the voyages of the Princess Ark in dragon magazine though, gave me lots of inspiration.

Y Mab Darogan

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The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2020, 08:27:56 AM »
Honestly the best thing about Mystara is it's use as inspiration and resource in your Homebrew or as a drop in for other settings. The gazetteers are excellent for the most part.
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Tom Kalbfus

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« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2020, 08:50:35 AM »
Quote from: HorusArisen;1137723
Honestly the best thing about Mystara is it's use as inspiration and resource in your Homebrew or as a drop in for other settings. The gazetteers are excellent for the most part.

Yep, I recently converted the Isle of Dread to 3rd edition, as much of it is just a bunch of encounters with dinosaurs. I think it could be an interesting setting, the planet is hollow, its continents are actually arrayed the way Earth's was over 100 million years ago when dinosaurs actually did rule the Earth. Maybe the planet is artificial, a hollow planet is definitely a sign of artifice.

GameDaddy

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The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2020, 09:02:08 AM »
Had the entire collection of gazetteers at one time, sold it off in 2008 at the GenCon auction when I was paring down my campaign worlds some. I already had more than enough published campaign worlds to play in, most of which are Homebrew.

of Mystara, my absolute favorite was the Northern Reaches followed by The Five Shires.  The Dwarves of Rockholme featured way up there for my as well, because it was the first campaign setting that focused exclusively on Dwarves. I couldn't even find anything for Middle Earth Roleplayling that features Dwarves, so TSR did manage a first in creating this comprehensive setting for Dwarven clans.

The Northern Reaches
was used to fuel many of my Nordic themed D&D campaigns, and while I didn't use the Mystara game maps (because I already had so many of my own) I poached NPCs, encounters and themes liberally from the book. Ditto in that for The Five Shires. Particularly useful to me, where the random name generators, The player's campaign books, and of course, they had some ready made adventures to kick start a campaign.

The Five Shires. Same as above, only for Halflings. Wasn't over enthused at TSRs classification System for Hobbits (Halflings), but did enjoy the hobbit songs created by Ed Greenwood, and  of course, the Visitor's Guide.

The Dwarves of Rockholme. Really liked the name generator and clans, although added a few of my own Dwarven clans as well. All these books had plenty of ready-made adventures, and had dispensed with the earlier level caps for Dwarves and Elves (something I had done even back in the mid-70's for OD&D), I liked the additions to Dwarven language, and the Dwarven tasks table, which also included a skills system for original D&D, which was sadly lacking.


I'd have to say, I was surprised to see this BX/OD&D campaign setting released beginning in my area around 1985, was impressed with the great details these Gazateers had provided, but did not add them to my gaming collection at the time, because it seemed TSR was way late in releasing a campaign setting for Original Dungeons and Dragons. By then, most of us had been playing for a decade and had built our own fantasy worlds to run games in. At this point they were following the RPG Industry instead of leading it, and were becoming increasingly hostile to its player base refusing to run Mystara events at conventions which would have garnered them a lot of support from the early gamers. Instead all we had was AD&D sponsored events by the RPGA.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2020, 09:07:55 AM by GameDaddy »
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Dimitrios

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The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2020, 10:48:09 AM »
Seconding what others have said about the modular nature of the gazetteers. One great thing about Mystara is that it's especially easy to not use the entire setting and just take the bits that interest you.

Another thing I like about the gazetteers is the scale. They strike a nice balance, with more detail than whole campaign world books generally give, but more breadth than a city or town book.

insubordinate polyhedral

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« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2020, 03:18:12 PM »
Thank you Reckall, Luca, spon, and GameDaddy. I just picked up a few of those recommendations!

That said, holy cats GAZ5: https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0880385383/

Narmer

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The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2020, 03:42:09 PM »
I bought the whole bundle of Gazetteers in PDF several years ago for a really good price.  I need to start reading them seriously.

Slambo

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« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2020, 12:01:12 AM »
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLI27Za9sqyRVnc9-naoDIWQ_6MM6ONwQy

Mt. Welch's whole welcome to mystara play list. He has veen making a 5e conversion for a while, and he even makes an effort to connect some of the disparate elements of the various gazeteers

Luca

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The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2020, 02:22:17 AM »
Quote from: insubordinate polyhedral;1137776
Thank you Reckall, Luca, spon, and GameDaddy. I just picked up a few of those recommendations!

That said, holy cats GAZ5: https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0880385383/


Do not believe Amazon's used book prices. Those are easily inflated by "selling wars" caused by automated selling bots whose owners are not able to properly set their algorithm's boundaries.

There was one particularly silly incident in which two copies of an out of print book, which were being sold by two sellers who had set their bots' parameters on each other, were being sold for an-ever increasing price reaching 24 million US$ before one of the owners realized what was going on and manually fixed the price.

Murphy78

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Re: The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2021, 05:40:02 PM »
Greetings!

I always played AD&D 1E back in the day, using my own campaign world. I did purchase *many* gazetteers for Mystera though, and used them for inspiration, and adventures. What do you like about the world of Mystera?

What don't you like about Mystera?

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK

I grew up with Becmi and Mystara, the first RPG and Campaign Setting brought to Italy, where I live.
 Mystara to this day is my favourite setting.

The Gazzetters are mostly quite good, but are splatbooks: any one of them is like the story of a football club from the mouth of their hooligans. So in Ierendi you learn what an adventuring/swasbuckling/pirate/merchant powerhouse that Kingdom is, but in Minrothad you discover that the Guilds are actually that. Glantri is the fabled Wizard Country, center of  Magic Lore and Weirdness...but, hey THE Magocracy is really the Empire of Alphatia.
Also, many thing are retconned out of the blue...the Heldann Freeholds, where peaceful Icelander live....no, the fearsome Heldannic Knights territories, the unstoppable zealots with skyship. And skyship? Suddenly are everywhere, every country got  magical air force.

The best gazetteer, in my opinion are the most vanilla:)
GAZ1 Karameikos: a masterpiece. A credibile kingdom (GrandDuchy) and a lot of adventure ideas. Also, plenty of oppurtunities for characters to make a fortune. Thieves Guilds, a silly concept for laughs, is converted into something real (well movie-real). Politics done well with animosity between conquerors and conquered, a reasonable ruler that only partially controls the country ecc

Rockhome and the Five Shire also are well done. All theese Gaz have that in common:
- a simple premise well executed;
- describing lands with just one culture (or 2 in case of Karameikos).

Glantri is awesome, the high-fantasy realm of the wizards...but:
- landlocked Venice? come on!;
- the kitchen sink of every European culture (Scottish, French, Italian, Spanish Elves, Flemish, Romanian/Slavic vampires...)
Well, all this is justified in the setting, but the Theme Park effect is quite strong.

In Mystara everything seems possible no matter how zany.

Omega

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Re: The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2021, 06:13:39 PM »
The concept of the Hollow World, is very interesting.  Does the Underdark still exist between the surface world, and the hollow world?  Because; if we can still have the Underdark within the outer crust, let's rock that setting!!!

Not quite, but yes? Maybee?

They mention that the shadow elves/drow use caves and tunnels to traverse from inner to outer. But I do not recall if they embellished on that or not. It may have been a one way trip from inner to outer, or outer to inner. Its been a long time.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2021, 06:52:51 PM by Omega »

Omega

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Re: The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #27 on: January 09, 2021, 06:52:12 PM »
I have I think the complete set of Gazeteers and a friend had the Mystara box set.

I liked the Gazeteers. But really did not like Mystara. This is not the Known world setting I was introduced to in BX. And my main complaint is the same as with several other "updated" settings.

It is too full. In nearly every Mystara product they try to fill practically every other hex with a town or whatever and flesh things out too much in a way. Or in a way that just did not appeal to me at all after growing up with BX's nearly blank slate that was the Known World. You had some place names and a few points of interest and a paragraph at best of info on the main kingdoms and that was it. The land was totally wide open to make of what you will.

Mystara very much flt to me that it stole away all that and tried to fill in every blank.

But damn it those Gazeteers were great! argh!

ahem.

But what I was fine with were the Creature Crucible set of setting books. My favourite being the Top Gnome setting which is essentially a huge flying city populated by a variety of non-human and monster races. And had WWI style aeroplanes powered by magic. Second favourite is the Night Howlers setting which is build around a, relatively, peaceful secretly lycanthrope kingdom and its dealings within and without. Interesting too as the founding members were werewolves from France who ended up on Mystara. The last I know of is the undersea one which delves into the aquatic races and kingdoms.

And apparently Thunder Rift was set in Mystara. This is a great little self contained campaign setting meant for new DMs. Just enough info and history to get up and running and enough blank to grow into and make of it whatever you want.

Starglyte

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Re: The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2021, 09:17:00 PM »
It was my first D&D, starting with the Hollow World Box set. For Christmas that year, I got four gazeteers, with Glantri being my favorite. Other than Ravenloft, Mystara is my favorite campaign setting. Kinda why I like Golarion (Pathfinder) so much, it reminds me of the Known World.

Semaj Khan

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Re: The Campaign World Of Mystera!
« Reply #29 on: January 10, 2021, 12:49:03 AM »
It was cool when it was introduced in the B/X rule books and with Isle of Dread... sorta hit a sweet spot for me.

Later, with all the expansions and books and stuff... especially with Mentzer's fucked up BECMI... it came off as someone's Ren Faire wank fantasy.
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