Jump to content

Does anyone else share my dislike of d20?


Recommended Posts

Of course, they never finished the AD&D project, because it died. The problem was that they tried to push Mystara as an entry-level AD&D world, which indicates major misunderstanding of the setting and consequent flaws in the strategy given how politically complex and "grey" the nations of that campaign really are.

 

Perhaps AD&D Mystara would have been given a better reception had it been given a proper "Introduction to the Setting" boxed set giving an overview of

Mystara (and the Known World in particular) before moving on to more advanced supplements such as the K:KoA and G:KoM boxed sets which required a greater understanding of the setting. Virtually all other TSR's AD&D settings were given this treatment.. Why not Mystara as well?

So they officially alienated both their old consumer base (us OD&D/Basic D&D folks) by (as you mentioned) not updating the NoS info post-WoTI but they also alienated a potential new fanbase by not giving the setting the proper inception it required so that a newbie can just jump right into it. From a business standpoint, it is just not logically sound.

 

So yes, the original OD&D stuff - particulary the early adventuring modules and the gazetteer series is some of the best D&D stuff around. Heck, some of it is even among the best role-playing material in general - I count B10: Night's Dark Terror among the best adventures ever made for any RPG.

 

 

For those who don't know Mystara can be broken up into three major settings: The

Known World--the original and most popular by far. It has all the usual fantasy elements like elves, dwarves, halflings typical medieval England stuff but also nations reminiscent of ancient Norway, Rome, India, Native American, merchant countries, paradise nations..etc

Hollow World--Mystara is actually a hollow planet inside and the civilizations within are loosely based on real world ancient cultures such as the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Aztecs and various humanoid countries.

Red Steel(The Savage Coast)-- is west of the Known World and has a culture reminiscent of Renaissance Spain/Portugal with the curse known as cinnabryl.

 

Let me rant a little too, to those others who haven't played Mystara...

 

 

The Gazetteers were arguably the best, most detailed world guides ever devised for any of TSR's official settings. Each Gazetteer fleshed out in detail a given nation in Mystara's Known World and there were 14 in total. Not only did they delineate usual information such as geography, NPC personalities and stats, items and so forth... But each also had sections on political intrigue and plot hooks, national economics, history, culture, a breakdown and statistics of the country's army to be used for the setting's "War Machine," and maps of major cities and points of interest. A similar Gaz series of similar quality was also made for Mystara's Hollow World (which IMHO was equally as great).

 

Jediphile provided a link to the Vaults of Pandius site which is certainly the largest, most comprehensive Mystara site online. The following URL:

Mystara Archives

is the largest Mystara forum online and it is a very vibrant community! Most of the major people who have contributed to Vaults of Pandius are members of that forum.

 

Oh and B10 was great. It was great because it did not just rely on hack and slash like modules before it but rather it contained heavy roleplaying and wilderness travel components.

And for great roleplaying material don't forget the Poor Wizard's Almanacs!

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Out of curiosity Jediphile, what did you think of the Hollow World and Red Steel settings? I personally loved the Hollow World as much as the Known World but I could never get into Red Steel.

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
One of the things WoTC said when they first took over is that TSR made far too many sourcebooks and expansions that confused the rules.

 

This is funny because 3E, 3.5E 4.0E (or whatever) is just as bad or worse than 2ndEd ever was in saturating the market with endless supplements and bewildering consumers.

 

I love it when 3E first came out it heavily advertised the "end of kits"... But what do you think prestige classes are? LOL

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

An addendum to my Mystara rant:

 

Mystara had a couple of console RPGS devoted to it called Warriors of the Eternal Sun on the Genesis and Order of the Griffon for the TG16. The former was a decent RPG based on Mystara's Hollow World. The latter was based in Karameikos (the first detailed Known World nation) and is the greatest RPG to ever grace a console >_<. It was a brilliant fantasy game with a novel horror storyline mix with a FPP for dungeon exploring but isometric turn-based for battles.

 

It also inspired a couple of PC strategy games: Stronghold and Fantasy Empires not to mention a couple of arcade games as well.

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep I played Warriors of the Eternal Sun.

 

Thing is when it comes to RPG systems the only avenue to profit is to bring out more stuff.

 

I don't know if anyone took what WoTC said seriously but I didnt. I've had experience of their card based games and expansions.

I have to agree with Volourn.  Bioware is pretty much dead now.  Deals like this kills development studios.

478327[/snapback]

Link to post
Share on other sites
Yep I played Warriors of the Eternal Sun.

 

 

 

Warriors of the Eternal Sun, IMHO, did a pretty bad job of depicting the Hollow World but as a standalone game it was average. Order of the Griffon did a much better job depicting Karameikos.

 

Thing is when it comes to RPG systems the only avenue to profit is to bring out more stuff.

 

Yep, exactly. It is just a business strategy to get money out of unwitting folks.

I never fell into *that* trap of buying all this new stuff when 3e came out.

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Out of curiosity Jediphile, what did you think of the Hollow World and Red Steel settings? I personally loved the Hollow World as much as the Known World but I could never get into Red Steel.

 

I like both, though not nearly as much as the Known World part. I never played in the Red Steel area (though I have all the material), and I only ever played in the HW (that's short for Hollow World) when my players went through the events of WotI (which is short of Wrath of the Immortals - a huge adventure of large wars that cover six years of conflict in the Known World and completely alter the power structure - a few nations even disappear!).

 

HW is a fun idea, though, and I've considered doing many things with it. It was fun to play a campaign where two characters (and naturally their players) knew that the Hollow World existed (because they'd been there in WotI), while the two other PCs knew nothing and didn't have a clue, since the first two PCs were prohibited from telling them about it by a Geas spell that the Alphatians had placed on them to prevent the existence of the HW to become common knowledge. Naturally this caused a lot of wonder and suspicion in the group, when the book revealing the truth of HW was published (by Claransa, as per Poor Wizard's Almanac 1), and the two other characters realized that their friends had known this for years (in game and outside) without ever telling them anything - yes, I'm that evil as a GM :thumbsup:

 

So the HW has lots of potential. It's basically a museum of extinct cultures in the outer world set by the Immortals (no gods on Mystara, but it's the same thing).

 

Red Steel also has potential, though I was never so attracted to the red curse and the odd abilities it bestowed on people. Red Steel was really Bruce Heard's baby from the "Voyage of the Princess Ark" column in Dragon - it's about an Alphatian skyship (a flying, magical ship - though his *was* rather ununusal) boldly going where no man... eh, I mean exploring Mystara, while being in the occasional conflict with the evil Kling... er, I mean expansionist Heldannic Knights, who pursue them in their flying warbirds.... It was actually far more fun that it may sound like :D

 

Aaron Allston (yes, that's the same Allston that wrote several of the X-Wing novels) was never involved with Red Steel, and I think it shows a little.

 

To the uninitiated, I consider Bruce Heard and Aaron Allston to be the founding fathers of Mystara, since at least one of them has always been involved in the core works that defined the setting (B10 being a notable exception). Allston became central to role-playing when he wrote Gazetteer 1 about Karameikos and so defined the format of the gazetteer series that remains a high standard for other role-playing products to aspire to.

 

Still, as you can probably tell, I always found myself more attracted to the political landscape of the Known World region. WotI is hated by many, but I loved the potential it gave me to cause massive changes in the world and let the players see their world fall apart around them. We're still dealing with the fallout of that war.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Red Steel also has potential, though I was never so attracted to the red curse and the odd abilities it bestowed on people. Red Steel was really Bruce Heard's baby from the "Voyage of the Princess Ark" column in Dragon - it's about an Alphatian skyship (a flying, magical ship - though his *was* rather ununusal) boldly going where no man... eh, I mean exploring Mystara, while being in the occasional conflict with the evil Kling... er, I mean expansionist Heldannic Knights, who pursue them in their flying warbirds.... It was actually far more fun that it may sound like :D

 

I read the entire Voyage of the Princess Ark series both the Dragon magazine column and the CoM boxed set. I definitely thought the Red Steel setting as depicted in these products made that setting more interesting than in practice.

 

 

To the uninitiated, I consider Bruce Heard and Aaron Allston to be the founding fathers of Mystara, since at least one of them has always been involved in the core works that defined the setting (B10 being a notable exception).

 

Yep, definitely.

 

Still, as you can probably tell, I always found myself more attracted to the political landscape of the Known World region. WotI is hated by many, but I loved the potential it gave me to cause massive changes in the world and let the players see their world fall apart around them. We're still dealing with the fallout of that war.

 

I loved WotI. One of the main reasons it seems that people disliked it is that they claim that the Gods arbitrarily involved themselves without much rhyme or reason. And in some cases, it was disadvantageous to themselves and their followers partake in the war. I can see some of their points but like you said the overwhelming potential for adventure hooks post-WotI far outweighed WotI's plot inconsistencies. And the module is fun to play!

 

And I must be in the minority, but I confess to rather liking the Immortal character creation rules as well. :"> I loved those rules not for creating PCs but for devising my own home-brewed Immortal portfolios and I especially loved how it made possible to simulate Immortal combat results rather than just fabricating them.

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Perhaps AD&D Mystara would have been given a better reception had it been given a proper "Introduction to the Setting" boxed set giving an overview of

Mystara (and the Known World in particular) before moving on to more advanced supplements such as the KoK and G:KoM boxed sets which require a greater understanding of the setting. Virtually all other TSR's AD&D settings were given this treatment.. Why not Mystara as well?

So they officially alienated both their old consumer base (us OD&D/Basic D&D folks) by (as you mentioned) not updating the NoS info post-WoTI but they also alienated a potential new fanbase by not giving the setting the proper inception it required so that a newbie can just jump right into it. From a business standpoint, it is just not logically sound.

 

Amen! To push Mystara as entry-level is to misunderstand the setting - it's far more poltical and "grey" than FR will ever be, and to put the nations in a black/white light is dangerous to any player.

 

Mystara fans hate most of the AD&D stuff because it's all directed at new players with adventures and supplements that are very basic in nature and clearly directed at new players. Attracting new players to Mystara is good, but what chance do they have to understand the setting if there is no introductory set? They should have done a Mystara campaign set with information similar to that of the D&D Cyclopedia (by in AD&D format) or the HW boxed set. We still suffer from the fact that they didn't, since nobody has ever written a general and comprehensive overview of Mystara - you can only get a feel for the setting by reading about each nation in turn, but that's difficult since they're all interconnected, and more so after the events of WotI.

 

So new players never had a chance, and old players hated the basic/entry-level approach. They also hated the CDs, though I actually don't know why. They were very simple, but they were good fun to some extent IMHO.

 

The Gazetteers were arguably the best, most detailed world guides ever devised for any of TSR's official settings. Each Gazetteer fleshed out in detail a given nation in Mystara's Known World and there were 14 in total.

 

Actually 15 if you count the Dawn of the Emperors (DotE) boxed set covering the empires of Thyatis and Alphatia (though it was never given a number in the gazetteer series for some odd reason that defies explanation). Sorry, I'll stop splitting hairs now :thumbsup:

 

Not only did they delineate usual information such as geography, NPC personalities and stats, items and so forth... But each also had sections on political intrigue and plot hooks, national economics, history,  culture, a breakdown and statistics of the country's army to be used for the setting's "War Machine," and maps of major cities and points of interest. A similar Gaz series of similar quality was also made for Mystara's Hollow World (which IMHO was equally as great).

 

Well, the HW gazs were slim, since only three were ever published. Not enough to cover the HW, but then HW had its own box set for the whole setting, so it was not so necessary - those gaz just fill in more detail about the nations in question, so I consider them mostly valuable while the Known World gazs are essential role-playing tools.

 

Not all the original gaz were equally good, however. Allston set the standard when he wrote gaz1 about Karameikos, but gaz2 about Ylaruam doesn't follow the format at all (it has no descriptions of NPCs, for example, which to this day has left Ylaruam as a boring and ill-described place). Gaz3 about Glantri was written by Heard, however, and very clearly followed in the footsteps of the gaz1 format, as did most of the subsequent gaz. Too bad they never got to do nations like Heldann, Essuria or Wendar in the gaz series, though... More detail on Alphatia would also have been nice - it's bleedin' huge! I mean, they barely even described the continent of Bellisaria in the D&D material, for example!

 

Oh and B10 was great. It was great because it did not just rely on hack and slash like modules before it but rather it contained heavy roleplaying and wilderness travel components.

 

Exactly. I love the info for all the kobold tribes. You can hunt them down or try to settle the matter peacefully or whatever - the background info is all there and just waiting for the PCs to try something and the GM to decide what he will allow.

 

And for great roleplaying material don't forget the Poor Wizard's Almanacs!

 

Nor do I. In fact, my players are reaching the end of events in PWA1 right now. One PC has the Black Eagle as his arch-enemy, so he's about to be very happy when the halflings kick out his sorry butt (I love that they let the halflings do that - they're not just couch-potatoes after all!) :lol:

 

Oh, and the Almanacs are still being written to this day, though now they're being written by the fans. AC 1014-1018 are available free for download from the site I mentioned earlier, and AC 1019 is still being written. They tend to be fairly large, though - the AC 1017 almanac was 800+ pages, though most was info of the nations that is quite well known already.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I loved WotI. One of the main reasons it seems that people disliked it is that they claim that the Gods arbitrarily involved themselves without much rhyme or reason. And in some cases, it was disadvantageous to themselves and their followers partake in the war. I can see some of their points but like you said the overwhelming potential for adventure hooks post-WotI far outweighed WotI's plot inconsistencies. And the module is fun to play!

 

I think the biggest gripe with it was that some of the nations did really stupid things. I've heard Mystara-fans say that the nations involved showed less sense of strategy and tactics than three-year-olds playing RISK - ouch! There's even some truth it. I mean, Glantri is hated by its neighbours in Ethengar, yet when Alphatia decides to go to war with Glantri, they never seek alliance with Ethengar toward that end. That's pretty silly, and people are right to point that out. Some of the fanmade almanac has since mentioned that this was because the Alphatians did approach Ethengar, but were pretty arrogant about the whole thing by treating them as stupid savages, and so the potential for an alliance ended before it began, because Ethengar saw no difference between Glantrian wizards and Alphatian wizards. That makes perfect sense, but Allston should have mentioned that in WotI - it's a very convenient excuse for not using an obvious point of attack.

 

The real problem with WotI is that it only has three well-described adventures and then a timeline to describe six years of war. They should have done it as a stand-alone box instead of trying to sell revised Immortals-rules with the same product. Obviously Allston is not going to be able to write adventures spanning six years of war, but three is very little, and each GM is left to fill in all the blanks (and there are many) for himself. Still, I guess I just like that myself - it sparks idea and gives me room to maneuver my plots. Doing the same is far more difficult in the PWA series, where the dates are specific. You don't have to follow them strictly, of course, but they do constitute canon, and so subsequent events will be based on them...

 

And I must be in the minority, but I confess to rather liking the Immortal character creation rules as well. :"> I loved those rules not for creating PCs but for devising my own home-brewed Immortal portfolios and I especially loved how it made possible to simulate Immortal combat results rather than just fabricating them.

 

I must say that I like the fact that the rules are there more than I like the rules themselves. I like that I can tell my players, "Yes, you can become Immortal - there are extensive rules for that", but in the end the chances are slim to none that I'll ever use them - mortal PCs are much more interesting than Immortal ones, if you ask me.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Mystara fans hate most of the AD&D stuff because it's all directed at new players with adventures and supplements that are very basic in nature and clearly directed at new players. Attracting new players to Mystara is good, but what chance do they have to understand the setting if there is no introductory set? They should have done a Mystara campaign set with information similar to that of the D&D Cyclopedia (by in AD&D format) or the HW boxed set. We still suffer from the fact that they didn't, since nobody has ever written a general and comprehensive overview of Mystara - you can only get a feel for the setting by reading about each nation in turn, but that's difficult since they're all interconnected, and more so after the events of WotI.

 

Don't get me started on the Rules Cyclopedia. In one word.. It is AWESOME! The memories.. 'Tis what got me hooked into Mystara to begin with.

 

Actually 15 if you count the Dawn of the Emperors (DotE) boxed set covering the empires of Thyatis and Alphatia (though it was never given a number in the gazetteer series for some odd reason that defies explanation). Sorry, I'll stop splitting hairs now :wub:

 

True.. True. You can count the DotE boxed set as a Gaz :) And the Creature Crucible series though not technically Gazs were clearly inspired by them. So you could say 19.

 

Well, the HW gazs were slim, since only three were ever published. Not enough to cover the HW, but then HW had its own box set for the whole setting, so it was not so necessary - those gaz just fill in more detail about the nations in question, so I consider them mostly valuable while the Known World gazs are essential role-playing tools.

 

And that was the problem with the HW. I really liked the Azcan, Milenian, and Nithian Gazs but 3 Gazs only scratched the surface of the cultural complexity that is the HW. I seriously think that the HW had the potential to be every bit as interesting as the KW but sadly just never got the needed support. Lord knows why. :wub:..

I do think the HW deserved the entire Gaz treatment given to the KW. Yes, you are right, the HW had its own boxed set but the boxed set descriptions were still pretty bareboned, IMHO. Imagine if the KW had its own introductory boxed set, though like HW, only 3 Gazs were made for it. I don't think that the political landscape would have been as interesting as it now with the 15 (19 with CC) Gazs. And you just mentioned yourself how Gaz2 was only partially complete and how the Ylaruam setting feels incomplete for it. Well-written, complete Gazs (not short overview descriptions) *really* were that pivotal in fleshing out Mystara.... I thought it helped that The HW got its own boxed set but it still got the short end of the stick for not having been fleshed out via Gazs like its KW counterpart was :wub:.

 

 

Nor do I. In fact, my players are reaching the end of events in PWA1 right now. One PC has the Black Eagle as his arch-enemy, so he's about to be very happy when the halflings kick out his sorry butt (I love that they let the halflings do that - they're not just couch-potatoes after all!) :wub:

 

I think Ludwig von Hendriks is a cool villain. Him and Bargle are a couple of the few Mystara NPCs that are your protypical evil villains. Though my favorite is probably Synn the Night Dragon as introduced from the VotPA series and updated

in G:KoM. I love Glantri.. the political intrigue, maneuvering, backstabbing is unmatched.

 

Oh, and the Almanacs are still being written to this day, though now they're being written by the fans. AC 1014-1018 are available free for download from the site I mentioned earlier, and AC 1019 is still being written. They tend to be fairly large, though - the AC 1017 almanac was 800+ pages, though most was info of the nations that is quite well known already.

 

I loved the PWAs. They illustrate more than anything else published for Mystara just how politically active and dynamic the setting is. I don't believe anything like the PWAs were made for any of TSR's other settings though I could be mistaken.

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
I think the biggest gripe with it was that some of the nations did really stupid things. I've heard Mystara-fans say that the nations involved showed less sense of strategy and tactics than three-year-olds playing RISK - ouch! There's even some truth it. I mean, Glantri is hated by its neighbours in Ethengar, yet when Alphatia decides to go to war with Glantri, they never seek alliance with Ethengar toward that end. That's pretty silly, and people are right to point that out. Some of the fanmade almanac has since mentioned that this was because the Alphatians did approach Ethengar, but were pretty arrogant about the whole thing by treating them as stupid savages, and so the potential for an alliance ended before it began, because Ethengar saw no difference between Glantrian wizards and Alphatian wizards. That makes perfect sense, but Allston should have mentioned that in WotI - it's a very convenient excuse for not using an obvious point of attack.

 

I do see Alphatia doing that. Looking down upon the Ethengar Khanates as potential allies. I mean, they are nothing but savage barbarians :wub:.

 

The real problem with WotI is that it only has three well-described adventures and then a timeline to describe six years of war. They should have done it as a stand-alone box instead of trying to sell revised Immortals-rules with the same product. Obviously Allston is not going to be able to write adventures spanning six years of war, but three is very little, and each GM is left to fill in all the blanks (and there are many) for himself. Still, I guess I just like that myself - it sparks idea and gives me room to maneuver my plots. Doing the same is far more difficult in the PWA series, where the dates are specific. You don't have to follow them strictly, of course, but they do constitute canon, and so subsequent events will be based on them...

 

I completely loved the idea of roleplaying through the high points of the war to then have the rest of the timeline to do as I see fit. If anything, I thought that was a major strength of the product. At any rate, people complain nowadays of DMs too strictly adhering to (and in some cases reading) the module step by step without imparting a bit of their own originality. I think that is a valid complaint.

 

 

 

I must say that I like the fact that the rules are there more than I like the rules themselves. I like that I can tell my players, "Yes, you can become Immortal - there are extensive rules for that", but in the end the chances are slim to none that I'll ever use them - mortal PCs are much more interesting than Immortal ones, if you ask me.

 

Mortal PCs are much more interesting that Immortal ones... yes.. But that is not why you would use those rules (at least not why I would use them). I love the capability of being able to make my own Immortals as I see fit. How about new NPCs that achieve Immortality, for instance? Aren't there are quite a few high level candidates in Mystara for it? When (if)one of those NPCs finally ascends, the rules allow a framework for developing their stats and their niche per se; where they fit alongside the rest of the Immortals. Then it is fun developing their portfolio, their followers, churches and how this all fits within your Mystara which culminates in new plot hooks.. etc..you get the picture.

Or for some reason you're a DM planning the next adventure and need to simulate the results of a battle between Immortals and determine the results accurately without guesswork. You can use the results of that conflict as a seed in the planning of the next adventure..The rules allow that.

Or heck... Say your PCs are candidates of Immortality themselves (Level 36 OD&D;Level 20 AD&D) and to culminate a campaign the PCs achieve Immortality. Even though it is not recommended to have them continue as Immortal PCs, I think it would be rewarding as the "campaign's ending" for the players and DM alike to get into the details about the creation of their Immortals down to manifestation forms, stats, motives, portfolios, followers, churches so that he becomes the newest fully detailed Immortal NPC for the next campaign.

If the player is lucky, in the next campaign he will feel the actions of his former character (the newest NPC Immortal) he created in the last campaign. Haha! I can imagine the inner conflict players might face if their favorite former PC has goals which directly conflict with those of their current PC! :wub:

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

In addition, to the "grey" nature of Mystara that most NPCs are not the typical cookie cutter black and white villains and heroes, it is the various extra touches that makes this setting stand out from any other TSR/WotC fantasy setting:

 

1)The aforementioned Immortality rules,stats and ways to apply them

 

2) Full army statistics of every world in the Known and Hollow Worlds and therefore the built-in capability via the War Machine (or even Battlesystem) to simulate entire battles.

 

3)Complete rules on how to become a knight or a lord, obtain vassals, construct strongholds, run a dominion (town, city), determine population growth and dominion economics..etc.. Heck, the built-in capability to create an entire empire and wage war if you like that sort of thing.

 

4) And long before Planescape, Mystara already had its own complete cosmology as well.

 

Haha... All this makes me yearn to run another campaign in it!

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
And that was the problem with the HW. I really liked the Azcan, Milenian, and Nithian Gazs but 3 Gazs only scratched the surface of the cultural complexity that is the HW. I seriously think that the HW had the potential to be every bit as interesting as the KW but sadly just never got the needed support. Lord knows why. :-..

 

Well, to be perfectly blunt, it depends a lot of how much the players know about the HW. To those who don't know Mystara (and are still reading this...), I should explain that the HW was set up by the Immortals (i.e., gods) as a sort of museum for extinct cultures i the outer world - if one was destroyed by catastrophe or conquest or whatever, the Immortals would take a token few of the people in question and move them to the HW, then alter their memories so they'd think they had always lived there. That way all cultures of the world would be preserved in some form in spite of potential distinction. The Immortals also set it up so that the cultures they had saved would not destroy each other. To that end they created a spell called the Spell of Preservation (or just SoP), which affects the entire HW. It basically enforce a cultural bias on the people of the HW so that they cannot evolve further for any reason - they cannot learn superior technology from other nations or gain greater strategic insight from fighting wars with each other. They can conquer land from each other, but not all of it - no culture can ever be destroyed there. In some sense this makes the HW a little boring since the cultures cannot evolve and the HW will always be static - there can be no real change there. Lots of things can happen, but there will be no genuine growth. So while I like that as an opportunity for the PCs to explore, I would not want to play a PC from such a setting myself. It also limits the political potential a lot, since it can only ever go so far before the Immortals' fail-safe kicks in.

 

 

I do think the HW deserved the entire Gaz treatment given to the KW. Yes, you are right, the HW had its own boxed set but the boxed set descriptions were still pretty bareboned, IMHO. Imagine if the KW had its own introductory boxed set, though like HW, only 3 Gazs were made for it. I don't think that the political landscape would have been as interesting as it now with the 15 (19 with CC) Gazs.

 

Well, that's true...

 

And you just mentioned yourself how Gaz2 was only partially complete and how the Ylaruam setting feels incomplete for it. Well-written, complete Gazs (not short overview descriptions) *really* were that pivotal in fleshing out Mystara....

 

Most, yes, but not all. The Ierendi gaz follows the gaz format rather closely, but nobody ever uses it - it's just plain dull and doesn't inspire much interesting role-playing. Some say it's because Ierendi is an island nation cut off from the continent of Brun (where most of the Known World lies), but that is also true for the Minrothad Guilds, and they are far more interesting (though also lacking in NPC descriptions...)

 

I thought it helped that The HW got its own boxed set but it still got the short end of the stick for not having been fleshed out via Gazs like its KW counterpart was :(.

 

It would definitely have helped. I would have liked to read more about those ghastly Shattenalfen, for example... The Blacklore elves could also have been rather interesting.

 

I think Ludwig von Hendriks is a cool villain. Him and Bargle are a couple of the few Mystara NPCs that are your protypical evil villains. Though my favorite is probably Synn the Night Dragon as introduced from the VotPA series and updated

in G:KoM. I love Glantri.. the political intrigue, maneuvering, backstabbing is unmatched.

 

Yeah, I always found Bargle more interesting than von Hendriks. They are very typical villains, all black and nasty, though. The Heldannic Knights have more potential, since they are heroes or villains depending on your point of view. My players hate them, so it was a joy to have them come to the rescue against Thar's orcish hordes when Darokin was under siege in WotI. I played it right, too - the PCs were defending peace-loving Darokin from the orcs, but the forces were being pushed back, and just as things looked really dire, there were horns in the distance and the Heldannic Knights circled the defenders camps, making the players go, "Oh crap - not the HKs as well...", and then they saved them instead of invading. The looks on my players' faces was most satisfying, though strangely they didn't thank me... :p

 

I loved the PWAs. They illustrate more than anything else published for Mystara just how politically active and dynamic the setting is. I don't believe anything like the PWAs were made for any of TSR's other settings though I could be mistaken.

 

No, I don't think anything like that was written elsewhere. If there was, I certainly haven't seen it. We can thank Allston for that stroke of genius too, since he wrote the first one. Sure, that was in some part inspired by the timeline of WotI, but then that was also written by Allston.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2) Full army statistics of every world in the Known and Hollow Worlds and therefore the built-in capability via the War Machine (or even Battlesystem) to simulate entire battles.

 

Yes. I even planned to use those stats to run mass combat during the upcoming civil war in Rockhome (one of the PCs is a dwarf), but I might not get around to it now, since I'll have to close my campaign sooner than I hoped. Shame really... :p

 

3)Complete rules on how to become a knight or a lord,  obtain vassals, construct strongholds, run a dominion (town, city), determine population growth and dominion economics..etc.. Heck, the built-in capability to create an entire empire and wage war if you like that sort of thing.

 

Yup, definitely more complex than 'advanced' D&D, which never had details like that. AD&D had only rules for dungeon-crawling PCs, but in the old rules you could actually build and run your own dominions and so. Never got around to actually doing it myself, though.

 

4) And long before Planescape, Mystara already had its own complete cosmology as well.

 

True, but it's a sore point to mention in the Mystara community, because many hate the Planescape cosmology with a vengeance. Personally, I never quite understood why, since Planescape cosmology looks remarkably similar to that of OD&D. The old rules had a few more planes in there, but I never understood why there wasn't room for those in AD&D - the Planescape setting certainly didn't prohibit it, so the two are not mutually exclusive IMHO. Same goes for Spelljammer btw, but it remains a sore subject for some reason.

Link to post
Share on other sites

*makes a new cup of pop corn*

 

 

Continue.

I was raised by polar bears. I had to fight against blood thirsty wolves and rabid penguins to get my food. Those who were too weak to survive were sent to Sweden.

 

It has made me the man I am today. A man who craves furry hentai.

So let us go and embrace the rustling smells of unseen worlds

Link to post
Share on other sites

Btw, I mentioned Monte Cook doing a harsh review of D&D 3.5

 

Some might disbelieve or disagree with me on it being harsh, and in any event it is always best for people to judge for themselves.

 

So I looked for the link and found it. Just click to find the review at montecook.com

 

Now back to our regularly scheduled Mystara rant... :D

 

Glad to hear someone finds it interesting. May I ask what interests people about Mystara? For me it's the 'grey' political scene and the never-all-black-or-all-white tone fo the setting, and the ridiculous power of the Alphatians (I like Alphatians, though they can be utter bastards), but I'd like a look with different eyes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The Immortals also set it up so that the cultures they had saved would not destroy each other. To that end they created a spell called the Spell of Preservation (or just SoP), which affects the entire HW. It basically enforce a cultural bias on the people of the HW so that they cannot evolve further for any reason - they cannot learn superior technology from other nations or gain greater strategic insight from fighting wars with each other. They can conquer land from each other, but not all of it - no culture can ever be destroyed there. In some sense this makes the HW a little boring since the cultures cannot evolve and the HW will always be static - there can be no real change there. Lots of things can happen, but there will be no genuine growth. So while I like that as an opportunity for the PCs to explore, I would not want to play a PC from such a setting myself. It also limits the political potential a lot, since it can only ever go so far before the Immortals' fail-safe kicks in.

 

This is true, that the HW, by nature, is somewhat more static than the KW though I believe it is a bit more dynamic than you imply here. Remember that nothing in the Spell of Preservation prevents new cultures forming out of the original ones. So new races and cultures can develop in the HW as long as the original cultures aren't wiped out. Also, I think nothing in the SOP prevents cultures from learning combat strategies from one another through warfare. To my understanding, this is all good inasmuch as neither civilization utterly wipes out the other.

 

The HW is interesting because of its "weirdness" factor. As great as the KW is politically, the HW is just as great in another sense-- It is awe-inspiring. It is weird. The HW is weird because it represents extinct civilizations that *shouldn't* ,no, *couldn't* exist. Yet, they do. It defies logic and that is what is so gripping about it. The HW truly is a museum and visiting it is like going to the past. It is like taking our real world, stepping into a time machine and being able to explore Egypt during the times of Tutankhammen or seeing if there truly is a missing link and if evolution holds. That is way too cool. So, unlike other settings, Mystara allows you to go back in time (in a sense) and experience *first hand* the history of the gameworld. Along the way the PCs can make some exciting scientific, historical, or magical discoveries that might support or not support conventional wisdom. Heck, savvy HW explorers (PC archaeologists) might be able to correct incorrect notions about the HW as they bring in updated information during their travels.

 

And who says that in your campaign, Hel or Thanatos (or some other Immortal of the Sphere of Entropy)won't attempt to destroy the Spell of Preservation, somehow? And what if they succeed? Entropy has been trying to destroy the HW for some time.. It would be another great plot hook.

Not to mention that Thanatos' burrowers are perfect for Lovecraftian-type horror plot hooks. Since you play CoC, the burrowers would make a great excuse to utilize a bit of horror for a HW adventure. IIRC, on the Vaults of Pandius site there was at least one article detailing horror rules for Mystara. Pretty interesting.

 

Most, yes, but not all. The Ierendi gaz follows the gaz format rather closely, but nobody ever uses it - it's just plain dull and doesn't inspire much interesting role-playing. Some say it's because Ierendi is an island nation cut off from the continent of Brun (where most of the Known World lies), but that is also true for the Minrothad Guilds, and they are far more interesting (though also lacking in NPC descriptions...)

 

Well, the Kingdom of Ierendi, I have always seen not so much as an adventuring spot for PCs but as a vacation resort.. really. It is Mystara's version of Hawaii. :p Granted, it is not the most exciting spot on Mystara to adventure but if any of your PCs have a family (wife, kids) and the wife or kids have been complaining that your character has been neglecting the family chasing baddies for far too long, Ierendi would be a great place to enjoy some quality family time. Heck, I am not against neglected PC wives requesting annullment!

I just find it interesting that the option for your PC to literally take a vacation exists for when conditions call for it. Not to say that Ierendi is totally devoid of adventure opportunities...

 

It would definitely have helped. I would have liked to read more about those ghastly Shattenalfen, for example... The Blacklore elves could also have been rather interesting.

 

My sentiments exactly. I seriously would have loved a Shattenalfen Gaz.. Or a Beastman Gaz. Oh well..

 

The Heldannic Knights have more potential, since they are heroes or villains depending on your point of view. My players hate them, so it was a joy to have them come to the rescue against Thar's orcish hordes when Darokin was under siege in WotI. I played it right, too - the PCs were defending peace-loving Darokin from the orcs, but the forces were being pushed back, and just as things looked really dire, there were horns in the distance and the Heldannic Knights circled the defenders camps, making the players go, "Oh crap - not the HKs as well...", and then they saved them instead of invading. The looks on my players' faces was most satisfying, though strangely they didn't thank me...  :p

 

Haha! I liked this! I haven't used the Heldannic Knights much in my campaign but I enjoyed their utilization in VotPA.

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Now back to our regularly scheduled Mystara rant... :D

 

Alright! :)

 

Glad to hear someone finds it interesting. May I ask what interests people about Mystara? For me it's the 'grey' political scene and the never-all-black-or-all-white tone fo the setting, and the ridiculous power of the Alphatians (I like Alphatians, though they can be utter bastards), but I'd like a look with different eyes.

 

I am not sure if there is anyone else reading this thread who DMs/plays in Mystara aside from Jediphile and myself.. anyone else?

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Yup, definitely more complex than 'advanced' D&D, which never had details like that. AD&D had only rules for dungeon-crawling PCs, but in the old rules you could actually build and run your own dominions and so. Never got around to actually doing it myself, though.

 

Oh...my players loved it. When they got to Name-level all they wanted to do was to run dominions. :)

 

True, but it's a sore point to mention in the Mystara community, because many hate the Planescape cosmology with a vengeance. Personally, I never quite understood why, since Planescape cosmology looks remarkably similar to that of OD&D. The old rules had a few more planes in there, but I never understood why there wasn't room for those in AD&D - the Planescape setting certainly didn't prohibit it, so the two are not mutually exclusive IMHO. Same goes for Spelljammer btw, but it remains a sore subject for some reason.

 

Interesting you bring up this point because the Mystaran community, in general, likes to believe that the Mystara multiverse and the Planescape multiverse *are* mutually exclusive. I think Bruce Heard even wrote an article once (can be found on Vaults of Pandius) talking about how Mystara is its own multiverse independent of AD&D Planescape. In my campaign, that is total bull as I have been able to blend Planescape and Mystara succesfully. In fact, the 2ndEd supplement "Warriors of Heaven" had appendices that detailed where most Gods realms were located (including Mystaran Immortals)throughout the planes for all of TSR's settings. This product used the Planescape cosmology.I do agree with you that the OD&D and Planescape cosmologies are similar enough that linking Mystara and Planescape in this fashion works just fine.

 

So what did I end up doing with the extra OD&D planes that Planescape doesn't have?

 

-Well, Planescape and Ravenloft products state that Ethereal Plane contain many demiplanes including a "Demiplane of Nightmares. So I reasoned that OD&D's "Nightmare Dimension" was actually the "Demiplane of Nightmares."

 

-Old Alphatia, Brynn, Mirage, and Draesten also became demiplanes within the Ethereal.

 

-Pyts corresponds to the 333rd layer of the Abyss which is Thanatos' realm.

 

- Finally, Entrem , representing the Sphere of Time became an Inner Plane along with the other inner planes representing the Sphere of Energy(Fire; Positive Energy Plane), Matter(Earth; Ethereal Plane), Thought(Air, Astral Plane), and Entropy (no element; Negative Energy Plane)

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, I find the discussion interesting. I don't follow Mystara myself, but I like to take good aspects of different settings and find ways to incoporate them into my own campaigns.

 

I'll admit, however, that I will incorporate some of these ideas into a d20 campaign. :rolleyes:

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
Obsidian Plays


 
Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually, I find the discussion interesting.  I don't follow Mystara myself, but I like to take good aspects of different settings and find ways to incoporate them into my own campaigns.

 

I'll admit, however, that I will incorporate some of these ideas into a d20 campaign.  :rolleyes:

 

 

I am glad that you do find it interesting(And I am glad Jediphile and I weren't wasting our time! :) ). The primary motive was to talk about a setting we both love and raise awareness about Mystara in general... But if it also sparks ideas for your other campaign settings then we definitely fulfilled our purpose! :)

image002.gifLancer

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

This went from "D&D sucks" to "I really miss old-school D&D".

 

It must be nostalgia, because I've played all versions of D&D and I think they were fine as innovators, but they pale in comparison to far superior systems.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...