Tuesday, May 14, 2013

RPG Blog Carnival: Mystara Mash-up

Starting off the Campaigns I'd Like to Run theme for May's RPG Blog Carnival is a Mystara Mash-up campaign.

Rationale: When I first started gaming, the B/X  and BECMI D&D world was my first exposure to the hobby. Of course, I didn't know that T1: The Village of Hommlet was an AD&D module, and thought that Advanced D&D was what you played once you were done with Basic and Expert D&D. Also, I thought that D&D was all one world (hence my own fascination with the series of Mystoerth posts by Timothy Brannan).

But the modules and the Gazetteers didn't always match up to one another (the word I would later use is canon), and I was always trying to learn about the world so it could be portrayed properly, because -- as a kid -- I didn't know I could make it up on my own.

The Mystara Mash-up campaign, therefore, would be a romp through the world of Mystara -- geared at showing the breadth of the world through a series of strung together adventures based on the classic D&D and AD&D modules that are shoehorned into my own take on the mythology of the world of Mystara.

Key Posts: I've made a number of Mystara-oriented posts over the years; these are the ones relevant to this particular campaign.
  • A Mad God in the Machine - how to have a campaign premise that allows for multiple PCs coming and going, but still retaining continuity, and allowing PCs to rub elbows with gods and kings early on in their careers; just have to be careful that they don't get overshadowed by the mad god who runs into them once in a while. 
  • Dark Corners of Mystara: Strange Waters - when they're being sent on missions by the Mad God, they may not be traveling overland exclusively. This is, of course, inspired by the river-based campaign from WFRP's Enemy Within campaign. Speaking of WFRP...
  • Stealing From WFRP: Roadwardens - and yet another campaign premise for the PCs when they've finished their river adventures.
  • Some Geography is in order - taking from my Enigmundia posts, I underscore the key elements that I'd like to emphasize for the setting.
  • Fate, Fortune, and the Adventurer - my own rationale for things like hit points and levels and the movers and shakers of the world being so powerful compared to the normals of the world.
  • Gods, Magic, and the World - a series of posts that deal with my take on the cosmology of Mystara's universe
    • Spheres, Magical Fields, and Outsiders - the gods and the magical field they created and maintain protects reality from things outside it.
    • Dark Corners of Mystara: Dwarves & the Hounds of Tindalos - highlights my preference for a slightly stranger feel for the campaign, preferably lurking just beneath the surface of a normal (albeit tumultuous) campaign world. I like the idea of Old Ones and Ancient Things being something that the Immortals keep at bay while they pursue their own twisted schemes of power.
    • Pagan Magic-Users: Pythagorean Mathemagicians - how the magic of the world is skinned, based on a given pantheon. Yes, it assumes that magicians invoke the names of gods in their spells, and 'pagan' ones at that.
    • Pagan Spells of Mercury - A sample listing and rationale of several 1st level magic spells attributed to Mercury.
    • Pagan Spells of Apollo - A sample listing and rationale of several 1st level magic spells attributed to Apollo.
    • Pflarr and Hermanubis - an attempt to merge the Pflarr of Mystara with an actual Jackal-headed Roman god (with a picture of the statue in a museum).
    • Cults of Orcus - an attempt to merge the Orcus of myth with his portrayal in D&D's pantheon.
    • Sleep, Dream, Fantasy, and Nightmare - the gods of the underworld, where many an adventure spends time, are stranger and more powerful than you think
  • Additions and Expansions
    • Add: Ravenloft - adding to the mystery of the powers of the Outsiders and the corruption of the Sphere of Entropy, I wanted to mix little of the Demi-plane of Dread
    • Add: Spartacus - to really push the decadence and the skill of the Thyatian gladiator class, some liberal lifting from this show.
Must-Include Modules

I'd like to have in the mix some classic modules for the Mystara experience, and I'm sure this will grow in the future. Off the top of my head:
  • T1: The Village of Hommlet - I'd transplant it to Mystara, place it near the Black Eagle Barony and suggest that perhaps the Baron was under the sway of the Temple of Elemental Evil.
  • B2: Keep on the Borderlands + B5: Horror on the Hill - both part of the Roadwarden experience, where they players must help the local militia and military presence clear out increasing monstrous aggresssion.
  • DA1 through DA3 - The Mad God in the Machine will send them to Blackmoor to retrieve something he needs in the past.
  • X1: The Isle of Dread - a place 'near' the Razor Coast, as well? Or perhaps a place that the PCs hear about when sharing stories over a drink. May hold some secrets of the Mad God as well.
  • X2: Chateau d'Amberville - not all the 'Timelords' are necessarily good or evil, yes? Some of them are just curious about new sources of Immortality.
As with many things on this blog, this is a work in progress. More to come!


  1. I've been thinking that Karamekios should be more Ravenloft-y, if for nothing else in order to explain the fact that this pretty wild country sits right next to a few highly civilised and settled places.

    Perhaps the Hutakaan (sp?) released a bit more horror into the world than can be contained in their Lost Valley?

    Also, why no Night's Dark Terror on your list of modules to run?

  2. Hi Andy,

    Well, Night's Dark Terror is certainly supposed to be there -- I just got tired of writing down all the modules I wish I could run.

    Great transition module to expert levels, that one.

  3. This is awesome!

    First, thanks for the shout out.
    I like all your resources here and I can see me stealing..er..using a lot of these.

    Obviously some of your placements I don't have to use, given my funky map, but you have a very good idea here to make everything more local.

    Of course mixing Ravenloft? A must!

    You have given me a lot of ideas!
    I am going to have to link this on my Mystara page so I can keep track of it.

  4. Pleased to be of service! And thanks, always good to hear from fellow Mystara-philes and read what they've got.

    Your own list was delightful reading for me!

  5. Someone gave me that Gazetteer years ago. Karameikos looked pretty cool. Never go to use it and lost it since then. Don't think I ever knew the D&D world was called Mystara or even had a name. Would be fun to play in that setting.


That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.

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