Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Mystara, The Known World of BECMI

Spend any time here and you will know that the Known World of the Basic/Expert Sets (B/X) was the first world I played in.  While I would move on the AD&D and Oerth the Known World would also move to Mystara.  It would be the world introduced to us in the Companion Set and expanded on the Gazeteer Series, the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, and even into the 2nd Edition age and beyond.

But it was in the Companion and Master Sets that Mystara got its start.

The Known World of  B/X was based on the world of Tom Moldvay and Lawrence Schick.  He detailed it a bit over at the Black Gate blog. This was expanded on by James Mishler in a post on his blog Adventures in Gaming, The Original Known World. But that only leads us to the B/X known world, not the one in the BECMI Companion and Master sets.


The B/X Known World only occupies the East-most lower gray box.   The BECMI World, Mystara, is going to be bigger.  Even this is just the continent of Brun.

I am not sure who came up with the idea for Mystara to look the way it does but there are some obvious parallels.

From the Master DM's Book,



Here is Mystara, courtesy of http://pandius.com/





If it looks familiar there is a good reason.


That is the Late Jurassic, early Cretaceous period of the Earth, 150+ Million Years Ago.

Long time reader here already know of the Paleomap Map project of Earth History.  It has many maps of the different stages of Earth history and potential future maps.  I will admit when I first saw maps of the really old Earth it was disquieting to me.  I love maps and throughout all of human history, the Earth has been the same. Not so throughout ALL history and prehistory.

It's also kind of cool to see where the places of Mystara will line up to our world.

Mystara and the Lands beneath the Waves by Grimklok
The Known World of Mystara was later expanded and given more detail in the wonderful Gazetteer Series, the Hollow Earth series and finally the Challenger series.

While delving into everything Mystara would take me another month, or another year really, there is still vibrant and active community on the web to support this world.  In fact I would say it is far more active than most other worlds. Starting in the early days of the MPGN listserve lists run by TSR, the MYSTARA-L listserve was active back in the days when my access to the Internet was via a mainframe.  Many of the same people on those lists then are still active in the various Facebook groups and websites today.

For me, I always had a soft spot in my heart for Mystara. It was the world of my Basic era days and when I moved on AD&D I still kept the world as "my own."  It was understood that when I was a player it was in Greyhawk/Oerth but when I was a DM it was in the Known World/Mystara.  Eventually, right before college, we merged our worlds into one. I got the western half and my DM got the eastern half.  So you know I was thrilled when I found the James Mischler/Chatdemon Mystoerth map.  The worlds share a lot of details in common so that a merge was inevitable really.

Click for larger
This appears to be the original map.  While researching this I found an old post by Rich/Chatdemon that offers up an alternate name, Oerstara.  I kinda like that. A lot.  It sounds like Ostara, the pagan holiday that Easter comes from.  Oestara could have been an alternate name for the planet. Like Earth and Terra.

What I love about Mystara (Mystoerth) is that while so much of the world is "known" there are still many, many parts to discover anew. The communities are also very active in detailing new places, moving the timeline forward and adapting material from other sources.  I have already seen plans in place to adapt a new 5th Edition book to Mystara months before the book even hits the shelves.  That's dedication.

Would I like to see WotC produce new Mystara material?  Sure, but if they don't I know the world is in fine hands.

Links

1 comment:

Lance Duncan said...

The idea to base Mystara off a Paleogeograpphic map of earth came from Francois Froideval.

You can find more background on what we know about the process on my blog here:https://42ducktape.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-project.html

and the likely original Late Jurassic map that was used as the basis for the continents at thorf's blog: https://www.thorfmaps.com/jurassic-earth-as-mystara/

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...