|This article or section is about something oldschool - and awesome.|
Make sure your rose-tinted glasses are on nice and tight, and prepare for a lovely walk down nostalgia lane.
Mystara is the original default published campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons. The actual original settings were "the lands around Castle Greyhawk," but Gary couldn't get his shit together in time for TSR going to press, and Dave's Blackmoor wasn't much more than a city and a map, so David Cook and Tom Moldvay expanded on the examples they used in the wilderness rules for D&D Expert Set and the starter module X1: The Isle of Dread. The working name for the setting was just "Known World," which you still might see on old maps.
TSR did the right thing with this world, by sketching out a variety of nations and cultures with a very broad brush (hippie elves over here, Corsican pirates over there, Arabs in here and some Cossack/Mongol horsemen up there...), and gave each nation to a writer to flesh it out into a sub-setting product. These products became the "Gazetteer" series, which even today are pure goddamn gold. Do not hesitate to buy it if you see it in an old bookshop, and download the fuck out of them if you catch 'em on
rapidshare Mediafire or Mega.
Arneson's Blackmoor was ret-conned into Mystara as an Atlantis-style mythic past, and the legendary source of lost magics, efreet bottles, secrets man wasn't meant to know, blah blah. Gygax was already pooh-poohing Basic D&D in favor of his "Advanced" version with mary-sue elves and strength penalties for women, so his "World of Greyhawk" was for AD&D only.
Mystara was discontinued by TSR (probably due to the brilliant marketing savvy of Lorraine Williams), but fans still keep it afloat. A dude in
Greater England Scotland made the titanic effort to record and correlate all the maps from splatbooks and Dragon magazine articles. There's even been projects to rewrite the settings for D&D 4E. In terms of 5E, there is a conversion project made by Mr. Welch, of "Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG" fame. He's actively trying to get the attention of the community, in hopes of opening the setting on DM's Guild.
Mystara was also the setting for the pure fucking awesome Capcom produced Dungeons and Dragons side-scroller beat 'em up games: Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara.
This is a list of nations that were described in the Gazetteer series. They're all on a single continent of Mystara called "Brun," which is only 1/4 of the planet's total land area - and put together they only cover like 1/10 of Brun anyway.
- The Grand Duchy of Karameikos
This is your default middle-ages northeast Europe setting that you kinda expect with Dungeons & Dragons. Big coastline, crossroads for a few other nations, multiracial.
- The Emirates of Ylaruam
Arabian Nights all up in this bitch. A desert basin east of Karameikos, with a people simultaneously snooty with high culture and savage with scarce resources. Magic use is forbidden here, and wizards are hunted down and executed. Clerics are okay in their book, though.
- The Principalities of Glantri
Nation of magic-users, alchemists and militant atheists. Includes some variant magic rules to mary-sue-size your mage NPCs. Did I mention that being a cleric is punishable by death?
- The Kingdom of Ierendi
Fuck yeah pirates. They try to look like "respectable businessmen", so you get some mafia vibe here too. Includes some board-game kinda rules for ship-to-ship combat. Actually, if you have to pass on any of the Gazetteer series, you can pass on this one: Minrothad Guilds does a much better job.
- The Elves of Alfheim
You know the stereotype of elves being tree-worshipping hippies and a bunch of fucking snobs? Totally what's going on here. If it makes you feel better, they get buttraped by infighting and civil war in the canon history.
- The Dwarves of Rockhome
STRIKE THE EARTH! Included rules for characters that were both dwarves and clerics, and some AD&D conversion rules, 'cause AD&D is Gary's baby.
- The Northern Reaches
Fuck yeah Vikings. Included cardboard models of a Viking village for your minis, and rules for clerics to use rune magic.
- The Five Shires
hobbits halflings Hin. You can be homebody big-bellied halflings, or the gypsy under-foot nuisance type.
- The Minrothad Guilds
Merchant of Venice time. Merchants on the high seas, including privateers for the cut-throat businessman.
- The Orcs of Thar
Need a place to lump together all the dirty smelly humanoid "monsters", so let's put them in and under this volcanic mountain range. Has rules for playing monster humanoids as player characters, has a hilarious booklet for what every orc infantry needs to know, and (!) includes a board game by Tom Wham.
- The Republic of Darokin
Fuck yeah musketeers. Includes rules for a new player class "Merchant", and retrofits trade routes into the previous gazetteers and Companion- & Master-level rules for commodity trading between nations.
- The Golden Khan of Ethengar
Fuck yeah Mongol hordes invading your shit. Adds a shaman player class.
- The Shadow Elves
Covers the less popular underground inhabiting Elves, the famed Shadow Elves of Mystara. Shaman player class here too if you missed the Mongol splatbook.
- The Athruaghin Clans
Here we have Amerindian-like clans, living mostly on an isolated plateau. Another shaman player class is given too, the totemic kind.
- Thyatis and Alphatia
As if all the stuff described before wasn't enough, there was also a boxed set for a couple of empires that covered more territory than all the above combined. Thyatis was built like Ancient Rome, and Alphatia is a another magicocracy but more industrial and bureaucratic than the cultish rulers of Glantri. Includes Norwold from CM1 just north of Known World.
- The Hollow World
Oh shit, and then there was the entire OTHER campaign setting that was all Aztec/Inca-y that was supposed to be set inside the hollow planet of Mystara (just like our Earth where Hitler said the UFOs were coming from). It had dinosaurs, so it couldn't be all bad.
- No-Gaz. Nations
Several adventure modules expanded the description of Brun continent:
- X4&X5 added Sind (okay, just the desert, and Pramayama but deserted) and Hule to the west of "The Known World" map
- X6 added The Serpent Peninsula
- X9 went further west with "The Savage Coast" (later it even became the AD&D setting Red Steel)
- X11 added Wendar and Denagoth (north of Glantri)
Other products like Wrath Of The Immortals and Champions of Mystara, as The Poor Wizard's Almanacs gave a deeper insight on those lands or, in Sind's case, any information at all about them.
Mr. Welch's 5e Mystara PHB
As stated above, Mr. Welch (a Youtuber and a huge Mystara fan whose channel is basically all about breaking down the lore of Mystara for casuals) has tried his hand at creating a Mystara 5e Player's Handbook with hopes of one day releasing it on the DM's Guild, if WotC would hurry the fuck up and open it up to settings other than the fucking Forgotten Realms. He's even done videos talking about his work on it, including how he deliberately broke some of 5e's rules when it came time to create the subclasses. However, because of that desire, he's keeping the completed version under his hat; the only version currently available is version #27, which is about 40 revisions out of date. That's the version which has been referred to here, for obvious reasons.
- Dwarves are restricted to taking the Mystaran Dwarf subrace, which in emulation of their BECMI rules grants them +1 Strength and Advantage on all saves vs. Magic, but prevents them from taking the Bard, Sorcerer or Wizard classes.
- Elves are restricted to the subraces of Sylvan Elf (use Wood Elf), Belcadiz Elf (High Elf, but Weapon Training racial feature grants proficiency in rapier, shortsword, shortbow, and longsword), Shadow Elf (+1 Wis, free Religion proficiency, Weapon Training: long sword, short sword, crossbow, spear, Darkvision 90 feet), Sea Elf (+1 Int, Weapon Training: longsword, rapier, longbow, trident, free proficiency with all water vehicles, Advantage on Survival checks made to navigate) and Vyalia Elf (+1 Int, free Nature proficiency, cast Pass Without Trace 1/encounter).
- Halflings are restricted to the Hin subrace; +1 Constitution, free proficiency in Stealth.
- Gnomes exist, but Forest Gnomes are called "Hill Gnomes", and Rock Gnomes are called "Sky Gnomes".
- Half-Elves exist, but are a unique race created by the meddling of Mystaran Immortals to merge human and elf traits. Otherwise, crossbreeding between humanoids on Mystara follows the "gender equals breed" trope, so human guy + dwarf woman = human sons and dwarf daughters.
Subclasses: Many of these are restricted to specific ethnicities or races, representing the lore carried over from the original BECMI version of the setting.
- Cleric: Energy Domain
- Cleric: Entropy Domain
- Cleric: Matter Domain
- Cleric: Shamani
- Cleric: Thought Domain
- Cleric: Time Domain
- Dwarf Cleric: Kagyar Domain
- Halfling Cleric: Hin Master
- Shadow Elf Cleric: Shadow Elf Shaman
- Druid: Circle of the Dervish
- Druid: Spirit Shaman
- Fighter: Brave
- Fighter: Gallowglass
- Fighter: Horse Warrior
- Fighter: Toa Makai
- Fighter: Privateer
- Fighter: Weapon Specialist
- Paladin: Heldannic Knight
- Paladin: Order of the Griffon
- Ranger: Forester
- Ranger: Bounty Hunter
- Rogue: Rake
- Rogue: Troubleshooter
- Sorcerer: Disciple of the Radiance
- Sorcerer: Wokani
- Wizard: Merchant Prince
- Wizard: Treekeeper
- Wizard: Fire Wizard
In addition, he also wrote a Craft Mage prestige class, based on the seven secret schools of Glantri, and a whole new system of Rune magic.
- http://pandius.com - The "official" Mystara webpages
- http://mystara.thorf.co.uk - all of the maps of Mystara. ALL OF THEM
- http://glen.stelio.net/ - Former Homesite for Mr. Welch's 5e Mystara PHB - you can still download it, but it's the out of date version #27.