Showing posts with label Mystoerth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mystoerth. Show all posts

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Forgotten Realms

This is an update of sorts to a post I made all the way back in 2012, which itself was an update to a post I made in 2010.

Since then my 4e game died and I moved on to 5e and sticking with more of a Greyhawk-based world.  During all this time I have also been picking up Forgotten Realms books from various places; half-price books, the local library sale for novels, and of course +Games Plus auctions.  I have built up a small, but I think nice collection.


I have always been a Greyhawk fan. Some of my very first games were looking for ancient Suel mysteries or exploring the dirty streets of the Free City of Greyhawk.   While I ran my adventures in the Known World of Mystara, I played in Oerth and Greyhawk.

For years I even combined the two into one world, and that worked out pretty well.

I remember reading about the Realms in Dragon Mag and I was never impressed.  The increased fetishization of the Drow and Drizzt worship turned me off as well. I can't tell you how much I despised "Lloth", it's LOLTH goddamn it. Any way. I was never a fan of the Realms.  I considered it to be a pretender to Greyhawk and not a very worthy one at that.  To me, Realms fans were snotty little kids with delusions of adequacy.

My opinions have softened since then. I picked up the 3.0 Realms Guide when it came out and I liked it.  I felt it was a good book and all it really was missing was monsters.   I enjoyed the 4th edition books and thought for a while that the Realms would be my 4e world.

I bought the recent Sword Coast Adventure's Guide for 5e. I rather like it.


I have also been reading some of the Forgotten Realms novels.  They are not great literature by any stretch, but they are fun bits of gamer fiction and they give me some insight to the world.



So what's my plan then?  I don't think I am going to run any games yet in the Forgotten Realms.  I don't know the world well enough to do that.  So there are no plans to move my "Second Campaign" or "War of the Witch Queens" over to the Realms.  I am planning to move some ideas and characters certainly from the Realms to my War of the Witch Queens games.

There is a thought lurking in the back of my head about taking the Sword Coast and trying to find some place for it in my current Mystoerth world.  THAT has appeal to me.  I know that the World of the Forgotten Realms is different, with it's own history, but I would not be taking all of it. I would not need too. Just the bits that fit.

Anyone else merge the Realms with other worlds? How did that work out?

Also, there is something I have wanted to explore more; the Mystra and Mystara connection.  "Mystara" is the name of the game world I have been using since Basic.  "Mystra" is the name of the Goddess of Magic in the Forgotten Realms world.  Is there a connection? Should there be one? I don't know.  Maybe this is something the characters could discover and me along with them!

Chances are good I am going to go through these books I have and post about them here.  I'll go in publication order.  If I run into something from "This Old Dragon" I'll add those as well. I know already there is an adventure called "Into the Forgotten Realms" that I will check out.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Map Your World

This is the sort of thing I love the most.  Mapping tools I never knew I needed.

+Thomas Denmark over at Original Edition Rules shared this great mapping tool to turn a 2d map into a 3d globe.

http://maptoglobe.bitbucket.org/

I quickly turned the Mystoerth map into a globe.  I added some oceans first and then converted.





http://maptoglobe.bitbucket.org/?map=hjZMZKv


I have not played with all the features yet. I kind of want a better map first then play with all the neat options.

Obviously I need to add some polar regions.  I'd also like to add Blackmoor and Ansalon to this as well.

But in the meantime this is a lot of fun.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! K is for the Known World

K is for the Known World.

Long before the game world of the D&D BECMI sets was called "Mystara", it was simply "The Known World" of the D&D B/X sets.

I posted some history here, but for me the best and first Known World module was X1 Isle of Dread.  I am going to wait though and detail that one on X day.

Back in the early days of the 80s we didn't have a developed campaign world like Greyhawk if you played B/X D&D.  That is until the Expert set came out and teased us with the maps of the Known World.  We took these little tidbits of the world and we built our own.  That is one of the reasons why my Glantri is a Theological Oligarchy but the official one is a Magecracy of Principalities.

This was my home for much of the early 80s. Building worlds, trying to fit square pegs into round holes.  Buffing out the rough spots.

The world that grew out my experiments in the Known World was later something that the Internet had already named; Mystoerth.  Now my kids are exploring this world and there are still new things to be found.  In some ways I would have liked to have created a world whole cloth then I'd have something to publish today. But in truth I rather like my hodge-podge mix of various pieces of other worlds. I can relate to the Mystara folk and the Greyhawk folk. If need a new area figure out, I grab something from my shelf.

That is the best thing about these adventures. There are always more and more places to have them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Review: GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri

Still spending a lot of time thinking about witches, wizards, schools of magic and witch queens.  So naturally my thoughts turn to +Bruce Heard's masterpiece, GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri.
I have mentioned Glantri here a few times. It was the homeland for my characters back in my D&D/AD&D days.  I built up the country from the small bits of information from D&D Expert Set, Isle of Dread and Castle Amber.  It was not till much later I discovered the Gazetteer series and picked up Glantri that I discovered how really interesting and fun the place was.

GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri
The pdf is 102 pages (the original book was 96 pages, a detached cover and large map of the country and Glantri City).  The PDF is a good quality scan and retains all the information found in the print book.   The cover art was done by the fantastic Clyde Caldwell.  While this book is a D&D "Basic" book, there is so much here of use that it can really be used with any D&D system.  This book really set the stage for all the other Gazetteers to follow.
The first part, Welcome to Glantri, gives a very brief overview of what the country is and what this book sets out to do.
Up next is the History of Glantri. I spent hours and hours reading this over and over.   I won't go into great detail, but linking Glantri to ancient Blackmoor was wonderful in my mind. Mostly because I loved the link but also I had done something similar for my own games.  What follows next is a time line from 3000 BC, The Rain of Fire* (Before Crowning of the first Emperor of Thyatis)  to 1000 AC (today) and even on to 1200 AC.  *I always wondered if the Rain of Fire that destroyed Blackmoor was related or even just the same spell that destroyed the Suel in the Greyhawk world.
Geography of Glantri is next.  Like much of Mystara, Glantri is a mix of all sorts of races and people, but Glantri also has it's fair share of "monsters" those will be detailed later.  Glantri's climate is also touched upon, making it one of the colder lands.
The is followed by The Glantrian Economy. I really enjoyed this section because it really breathes life into the people that live here.  Each of the Principalities is detailed here for the first time.  A quick read and one immediately recognizes analogues to Scotland, Italy, France, and even Transylvania. Glantri is very cosmopolitan.  We move into the Grand Army of Glantri and Politics and Rivalries of Glantri.  Glantri is the place to play out political intrigue where everyone is mage of some sort or has one on retainer.  Like the Economy section, this section breathes more life into the people of the land, in this case all the great houses.   I will admit once again that the interior art by Stephan Fabian links this to Ravenloft in my mind.  Not only are there humans here, but vampires, werewolves and liches ruling.  We will get to witches in a bit.
Guilds and Brotherhoods are also one of the more important features of this book and life in Glantri.  There are so many here that characters could each belong to many and none overlap.  Some are complimentary to each other and others at cross purposes.  Really good fodder for role-playing.
Glantri City by Night details what happens to the 39,000+ residents when the sun goes down. The book is like a what we now call Modern Supernatural.  So all sorts of "monsters" come out and mingle with everyday people.  It says "by Night" but really this an overview of the city itself and all it's sections.  It reminds me of a travel guide to London I once read, so I am rather fond of this section.
Living in Glantri City details life in the city including the laws, who is in charge, magic use and various holy/high days. There is no religion in Glantri, but there is a state philosophy. Of course it is tied in with magic.
The Great School of Magic.  Outside of Hogwarts or Professor Xavier's school has a school been so rich detailed. Though there is enough here to make me want more, a lot more.  This is followed by Creating Spells and Magical Items and The Secret of the Radiance. The source of Glantri's magical power.
Nest we get into The Seven Secret Crafts of Glantri.   If you only buy this book for this section then you will be well rewarded.  Think of these as schools or even colleges of magic. Each one ads something special to the Magic-User class, almost like a Prestige Class or Paragon class feature.  They include, Alchemy, Dragon magic, Elemental magic, Illusion, Necromancy, Rune magic, and of course, Witchcraft.
We wrap up with Adventures in Glantri.

The Gazetteer series were works of art and none more so than the Glantri book.

I mentioned before that this book would work fine with other versions of D&D.  Looking deeper into the Seven Secret Crafts of Glantri, one could EASILY replace the Arcane Tradition feature of the 5th Edition Wizard and replace those powers with the craft powers.  The 5e wizard gets 4 Arcane tradition powers/features and the Basic craft wizards get 5. They work out to about the same levels too.

So if you have not picked this up, do so. I highly recommend it.

I also recommend Bruce Heard's latest Calidar kickstarter Beyond the Skies.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ambreville/calidar-beyond-the-skies

Calidar is a load of fun and this promises to be great.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wee Jas

Wee Jas, The Suel Goddess of Magic, Death, Law and...a bunch of stuff really.
Could she be more 80s chic?

Been thinking a lot about Wee Jas lately.
Ever since I first "discovered" her in the pages of Dragon magazine #88 I was enthralled with her.

She first appeared (I learned almost right after) in the World of Greyhawk boxed set.  All we knew about her then was she was a greater Suel goddess of magic and death.

Lenard Lakofka's article though gave us the most detail really.  That is where the picture on the right is from.
What do we learn about her?  Well at this point she is still a greater goddess of magic and death.  She knows every magic-user spell and all other spells to 5th level (why only 5th??).  She can cast up to 9 spell levels worth of spells each round; so 1 9th level spell or 9 1st level or any combination.  She has 90% magic resistance and a globe of invulnerability that floats around her.

She is attractive (Charisma 20) and always appears so.
If she is anything she is very lawful.  To the point where good and evil are mostly meaningless to her just as long as you are not chaotic.  In fact she pretty much hates anything chaotic except for the chaotic neutral god Norebo; who is her brother (or half-brother) and occasional lover.  Gods. Go figure.
In the letters section in a couple Dragons later it is mentioned that Norebo's entry mentions Wee Jas, but Wee Jas' doesn't.  The editors reply that it is because Wee Jas is loathe to admit it and Norebo could also be bragging.

By this point, this was all I knew about her. She was not yet known as "The Witch Goddess" but that is what I used her for.  Besides, take a look at her name.
Wee (We) and Jas (Ja), we ja or "we ya".  Or to spell it differently Ouija.  Her name certainly comes from Oui Ja, the French and German words for "Yes" and the basis of the name of the Ouija board. Plus magic and death.  Seems a dead give away.

After this Wee Jas' story gets weirder.  She is demoted, promoted, gains and loses domains.  Gets more evil, less evil. Picks up the title of Witch Queen somewhere along the way as well.  Canonfire, the great Greyhawk website, has spilled a lot of bits and bytes on this.


The Wee Jas Resurrected article is insteresting because it attempts to bring in a lot of these inconsistences and bring together to a complete and understandable whole.  For me the the bits on the rivalry of Wee Jas and Iggwilv were very interesting as well as making her one of the Suel gods/goddesses of Sex. Totally make sense really.  She even gains a "reformed" succubus, Zem'Jil, as a servant.

In truth the model for Wee Jas from our own world is Hecate, the Goddess of Magic, Witches, Ghosts, Necromancy and the Crossroads.   It is said that Wee Jas gaurds the doorways to the dead and the same is true for Hecate.  In fact I have used them rather interchangeblly for years.

I think for my own version of Wee Jas, I would start with the Dragon 88 version, add a little bit of what we saw in D&D 3.x, and then change her "Death" portfolio to "Spirits".  She can summon undead, and her priests may do so as well, but no raise dead spells.  I rather liked the Raven Queen from D&D4, so pass of Wee Jas' control of Death (save for spirits) to the Raven Queen.  Since the Raven Queen is described as a young or new Godess, it could even be that she is the daughter of Wee Jas.  Have to investigate this line further.

I would also change her Globe of Invulnerability into a ruby skull that floats and protectors her.  Maybe a former lover.  Keep Zem'Jil because that is just cool to have a succubus ally.  Give Zem'Jil some levels in witch too, since Wee Jas would be her patron.

Certainly would have to have her in my War of the Witch Queens adventure.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

RPG a Day 2015, Day 15

Day 15: Longest Campaign Played

I would have to say my Dragonslayers game which began with my oldest son around 2005 or so.  This year it will 10 years in.  Even my current Order of the Platinum Dragon game is a continuation of it.

Though technically it is a continuation of my Mystoerth game I began in 1980.

But let's just call it 10 years.



Monday, February 9, 2015

History of the Known World

A couple of great posts came up over the weekend.

Lawrence Schick posted "The “Known World” D&D Setting: A Secret History" over at Black Gate.  A nice history of how he and Tom Moldvay came up with the Known World for their own games and then ported it over to D&D Basic/Expert.  It is a fascinating read if, like me, you are a fan of the Mystara world.



+James Mishler takes this one further and provides the maps for the Moldvay/Schick known world on his blog, Adventures in Gaming.  James also provides a bit more information and some Hexographer files for them as well.

It is interesting how there are so many familiar names and even locations in different places. Like looking at a world you know, but through some sort of distorted lens.

But what is most interesting to me are the new lands.  Places and names that are entirely new to me.
Certainly gives me some names and places to help fill in some blanks I have for my own Mystoerth world.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mystara 3001: A Wild Space Odyssey (PWWO: Calidar + Star Wars + d20)

Over the weekend I spent some time cleaning.  I was going through a bunch of "old" d20 books from the dawn of the d20 boom.  I have Dragonstar which I loved in theory but not exactly in practice.  I have d20 Star Wars, which I also enjoyed but I am not totally up on all the Star Wars lore by any stretch of the imagination. I also have d20 Future which gives me all the cool Star Frontiers races I really enjoyed.

I was looking at this stack and thinking that really, I have everything I need for a kick-ass Space Opera game.  Plus in my mind Star Wars and D&D are inextricably linked together.  Not just in terms when they both hit my consciousness but also in feel.   I have often said that the best "D&D movie" ever was Star Wars (A New Hope for the younger fans).

I figure I could also grab some ideas from Gamma World and even Spelljammer.

But what I have been lacking is a way to bring them all together.

Then +Bruce Heard's Calidar came into my life.

 

I have spoken about Calidar in detail already.  The crunch is Pathfinder, which is d20 really.  So mixing it with d20 Future and d20 Star Wars is really a no brainer.

Calidar helped me smooth out some of the rough spots in my ideas.  It also gave me backgrounds and character to use.  Plus Calidar is a more solid hook for "D&D in Space" than Star Wars was.  I don't want to play a Star Wars game, but I do want to play with some of the toys in the game universe.

Space ships could be a combination of Magic-craft  or technology (not sure which yet). I would include all the planets from Calidar, but I could also take a page or two from Spelljammer and Star Wars.  Maybe not exact planets from Star Wars, but if this is going to be space opera then there has to be a "Dune" like planet there somewhere.  Or even a Dune/Tatooine/Athas composite.  But not make it a central location.

In fact to steal another page from Dune I think I need to do something to make extra special about Calidar.  In the game now Calidar is where you start and venture out.  I think I will have Calidar the destination instead.  The characters leave their home world. Likely Mystoerth and then the come here.  If I am using the Mystara Calendar then the Gazeteers were all published in or around 1015 AC.  I would make this 3000 AC. Or 3001 just to be that way.

It might seem odd to want to go back to 3rd Edition, but honestly I think it would be a blast.  The multi-classes, the Prestige classes, all of it would work great here.

I could also steal heavily from Doctor Who, Star Trek and even the 80s Buck Rogers and have a "Draconian Empire" that would be my Klingon analogues. Use Dragonborn naturally.  In many ways I guess it would by my Mystoerth world writ-large.

Yeah. The Allied Human worlds (Oerth, Mystara, Krynn and Toril) discover the new world of Calidar, which is rich in some resource.  They get there only to meet a counter claim from the Draconic Empire.  Already there are colonies of Dwarves and Elves, stationed on the moons, and an indigenous population.  This could be a lot of fun.  Plus it would give me my sci-fi kick I have been wanting for so long.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Averoigne via Ravenloft

Chances are we are going to go see the new Dracula movie tonight.  But tomorrow I would like to get in some gaming.  My home group is nearly done with Castle Amber so given the season (and their levels) I want to segue right into Ravenloft.




For those that have played it you know that Stephen Amber send the party back to their own reality once they free him.  But what if he didn't? What if didn't have the power to do that since freeing him also meant letting go of all his power.  Stephen fades, Château d' Amberville crumbles to dust and the party is left standing in the mists.  Where are they to go?

Easy.

Castle Ravenloft.

I have for years talked about the similarities between Château d' Amberville and Castle Ravenloft and the connections between Mystara and the Demi-Plane of Dread.  It is likely that this is all taking place in the Demi-plane of Dread (Ravenloft) or the Dimension of Nightmares (Mystara) where even the Immortals fear to go.

Why do this?

I was thinking about the Doctor Who Series 2 episodes "Rise of the Cybermen" and "Age of Steel".  The Doctor, Rose and Mickey (who had not traveled with them before except for one episode) get stuck in an alternate universe.  Mickey stays behind.
The pay off on this is when we get to the Series 2 Finale and Mickey is back, and not just back, but since he traveled through "the Void" he and Rose are saved from being killed outright by the Daleks and it was Mickey who passed on his time travel energy (or void energy) to the Genesis Ark.

What's the point of this?  Well the reason they went to the parallel universe were not apparant at the time, but paid off in the finale.  From a story arc they all, including and especially Mickey, needed to go to that parallel universe when they did.

My players are in Ravenloft because they have to be.  They needed to free Stephen Amber and stop the Amber family because that gets them to Castle Ravenloft which in turn gets them the Sunsword and the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind.   They are going to need those in the coming darkness.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

D&D40 Bloghop: Day 9

Day 9: First campaign setting (homebrew or published) you played in.

The Known World for the Cook/Marsh Expert Set was my first world.
Later I would end up playing a lot in the World of Greyhawk a lot as well.

Around 1986 or so my then DM and I had this idea to merge our worlds into one.  So one half was Oerth and the other half was Mystara.

The map we came up with was no where near as good as this one, but the idea was the same.





I have detailed all of this on my Mystoerth page.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

GAZ 3: The Principalities of Glantri

One of my all time favorite books in the GAZ series and maybe even the entire Basic D&D line is out today at DnDClassics.com.

GAZ 3 The Principalities of Glantri.
http://www.dndclassics.com/product/16975/GAZ3-The-Principalities-of-Glantri-%28Basic%29?affiliate_id=10748


Even today I go back to this book.  I loved Glantri and made it "my" country for years.  The School of Magic, the Necromancers, the Witches and more.  Just a treasure trove of great stuff.



I recently picked up a "new" copy of the dead tree version, but having the PDF will be great.

Monday, December 16, 2013

To Stranger Skies

I have been watching, but not participating in (yet, see below) Bruce Heard's World of Calidar Kickstarter.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ambreville/world-of-calidar

I will be honest, it looks fantastic and it should be a lot of fun.  But I was going to wait for the PDF since I never feared that he would get to his goals.  Plus I am trying to cut back on my Kickstarter addiction.

Bruce is a great guy and I have been a fan of his work since the Glantri Gazetteer first came out.  So I know this is going to be a good one.  Thorfinn Tait is doing the maps. If you don't know Thorf, well he has been doing maps for Mystara's fan community for decades; going all the way back to the MYSTARA-L list on MPGN.net.



I changed my mind this past weekend.  I was going through a stack of old notes and sheets for a different project that I found my old Spelljammer characters.  I say Spelljammer, but we never quite got that far.  The idea was loosly based on Star Trek and they characters all started on ship that would eventually get to the stars.  All the characters were officers  so even the 1st level wizard began as a 3rd level fighter.  It was going to be something very, very different than what I had done in the past.  But the realities of college life got in the way and we never got all that far with it.  I have no idea if my DM at the time even did anything else with it.  I think he did.  The game was going to be predominantly on the shared Mystoerth world my DM and I had.

There had been games that have arisen in the past that made me think back to that old game, but this is the first that has made want to try it out again.

World of Calidar is set up to be "edition neutral" so really I could use anything with it.
So I am going to support this one. I'll look for a good edition to try it with too.  I'll admit I am tempted to do this with 2nd Ed AD&D or Adventures Dark & Deep.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Threshold #1 is out

It is no great secret that I love Mystara.

So imagine my joy to discover that Threshold, a Mystara Fan-zine has published issue #1.



And it is a big one.

Thanks to everyone that made this possible.  I have often said that the online Mystara groups have been the most consistent in terms of their fandom and their creative ways of keeping their "dead" world alive and well.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dream of the Blue Orcs

I had the oddest dream the other night.  I am blaming all the allergy drugs. And the Absinthe I had on Sunday.

So the the other night I dreamed about this giant orc with a blue face. Not sure if it was painted blue or was blue.  It was wielding a giant axe, but one that looked like it was more chopping word than necks.  He was screaming and running at "me".  He was also wearing a kilt.

Now a lot of this can be explained away.  I have been reading a lot of Tolkien of late and his orcs are more, for a lack of better word, demonic than the typical D&D Orc or even the typical "new" Orc as first given to us by John Wick. I have talked about orcs before and how they fit into my world and the various sub-races.
I was also at the Bristol Ren Faire that day, so that explains the axes and even the kilt.

The idea of a blue orc is a cool one, so I looked for them online.  I see there are blue orcs in Heroscape and they have sabre-toothed tigers. That is a cool idea.  The axe makes me think northern climes and the kilt, well Scottish.  I have a "White Orc", but I was thinking that these Orcs would be south of the artic areas, but still northern and cold.  Think Canada.

Given my world's population they could even  be another offshoot of the Green Orcs, like the White.   Culturewise they are not much different than the Green.  Maybe more savage and certainly more tribal.   Wars with the Green and White keep their numbers in check.   To continue the metaphor, if Blue Orcs live in Canada then the Green live in the US and the White only the most northern places.  Greenland, Iceland, Siberia and Alaska.

Blue Orcs do not differ significantly from the other strains/sub-races of Orc in terms of stats.  Though if anything I would give them a bit better survival skills in colder climates.  Though this also reminds me of the Cailleach Bheur, the hag of Winter.    Maybe Blue Orcs worship the Cailleach as some sort of Goddess figure.  Pagan Orcs...the idea has some possibility and different than the other orcs.  Perhaps they believe that their Goddess carved them from ice and stone and then breathed on them to bring them to life.

The more I think about it the more I like it.  I'll have to use these guys soon.
Plus it gives me a chance to come up some Blue Orc witches.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

For those that say Mystara is dead

There is this, http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4news/20130618#87045

Ok, so yeah, it's not the same as having a game world or new product but it does show that Wizards is still interested in the IP and they still use it.

Either way I'll be buying this.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

UGH. Do we have to do this one again?? IP theft, Part 2

Here is a comparison of the map from Tracey Alley's book and the map from the Expert set.



Tracey's map


The Known World from the Expert Set


And both at 50% opacity.

So not just redrawn, but maybe even traced.

In better news I am going to pick winners later tonight!

UGH. Do we have to do this one again?? IP theft

Before I go too deep here if you want to wish me a happy birthday and win a prize, go to this thread.  If you want to see me rage against the machine some more stay here.

Still with me?  Ok.

For the record I want you to know that I was not setting out to do this. I just wanted a nice little novel about Mystara and witches to read.  Been on a great Mystara kick all week.

So I treated myself to a bunch of books on my Amazon wishlist for my birthday.  Three of them were the "Witchcraft Wars" series.  I am not sure how I found them but all I knew about them that they dealt with the rise of Witchcraft in the Mystara game world.  So perfect for me right?
The cover art looked a little off from other Mystara books, but they were new and I thought that maybe WotC was trying something new.

That's not the case.

I was so excited that the first book was free for the Kindle that I grabbed it and the next two books.
You can get it too so you can see what I mean.
http://www.amazon.com/Erichs-Plea-Book-Witchcraft-Wars/dp/1453600973/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371123885&sr=1-1

There was a map inside. I was quite excited to see it to be honest. I saw Glantri..right next to Karameikos and way north of Alfheim (on the coast)


Wait. What??

I then noticed that the publisher was NOT Wizards of the Coast or Mirror Stone but "Amazon Publishing Services".

A closer dig into the other books from this author, Tracey Alley, revealed more books and two with some pretty blatant art theft.

Here are the books in question:
The Witchcraft Wars, Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3
A Very Hairy Adventure - A Kaynos History Tale with Clyde Caldwell art from a WW Werewolf game.
An Unholy Encounter (The History Tales of Kaynos) with art from an October 1988  issue of Dragon magazine.

There is a long discussion about it that I started last night over at the Facebook Mystara group.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/mystara.reborn/584320224945880/?notif_t=group_comment

But here are my point.  I bought all three books because 1. they were set in Mystara and 2. they were well reviewed. So I do feel a little like I was ripped off. I thought these were something like those "Dragon Codex" books from Mirrorstone; novels that take place in Krynn but are not part of Dragonlance (but still published by Wizards).
I mean really. A novel set in Mystara about the rise of Witchcraft? Why not just call it "Tim Read This Damn book Now!"
If you ignore the map it reads like a Mystara book. She has a Vestlander that used to be a Monk and is now a Druid. There are half-orcs that speak Hill giant. There are elves and dwarves, The writing isn;t bad, it's not great either, but I didn't mind paying whatever I paid for them BECAUSE I thought I was sending a message to WotC that Mystara books are a good idea.
Thankfully Amazon let me return the last two books of the series for a full refund.

I have started to reach out to people at Wizards, but no response yet (no surprise it's like 6:00am there now).  This is not how I wanted to spend my birthday.

Here are some links.
Her website/blog, http://traceyalley.weebly.com/novels.html
Amazon page, http://www.amazon.com/Tracey-Alley/e/B003OVMKFU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

I should just stick with reading witch books where the witch gets pregnant by her lesbian lover.   After all, I have a reputation to maintain.

ETA: Part 2 is here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ravenloft / Glantri connection

This post might not be all that interesting (I know the WRONG way to start a post) but I have been digging up some old information on an old campaign I ran at the end of the 2nd ed era.




Many, many years ago while I was still deeply involved in the online Ravenloft community I postulated that Barovia, the home of Strahd in Ravenloft, is a domain taken from the Known World of Mystara, and Glantri in particular.
I was very active on the old MYSTARA-L and RAVENLOFT-L listservs.

Here is a post from 2001 where I talk about it.  This might be the first time I even mention it.
http://oracle.wizards.com/scripts/wa.exe?A2=ind0108a&L=mystara-l&P=5201

Hold on a sec I have my combined Ravenloft-Mystrara-Greyhawk Time line here.

Now keep in mind that Ravenloft has funky time.  So Ravenloft uses the
Barovian Calendar (BC) and the present day is 751 (according to the books)
or 753 (according to the kargatane).  That would make it 1,346 AC.  On *my*
time line.
This also coincides with 1,370 DR in the Realms (but who cares about that!).

I am correlating my dates based on the "fact" that the two Blackmoors are
the same in Greyhawk and Mystara and were destroyed at the same time,
possibly splitting Mystara and Oerth (and D&D from AD&D!).  Then I use
Azalin from Ravenloft since we know when he entered the mists and when he
was a king on Greyhawk.

Barovia is founded in "an unknown world" in year 1 BC, or 596 AC.  So what
areas were still ripe for conquest or settlement then?
Strahd is born in 299 BC (894 AC)
The "Tergs" invade Barovia 320 BC (915 AC)
Strahd pushes them back 321 BC (916 AC)
Strahd kills his family, Barovia is "cloned" and sucked into the demi plane
351 BC (946 AC).

So the world that Barovia is from, never knows it is gone since an exact
copy with out people is left behind.  Well, some of Strahd's family remains.

800 AC to 1000 AC is a fairly well documented period of time.

Castle Amber (X2) has some amazing "Ravenloft like" elements.  After all,
Old Averoigne *IS* from Gothic Earth! ;)
As does the Glantri Gazetteer.
Other modules from Mystara also have a very heavy Ravenloft feel to them,
more so than other worlds ("Death's Ride" anyone?)

There is an adventure where the character go to the Prime Material Barovia
around 740 BC (or 1,335 AC). Barovia of this time and place is rules by a
"King Strahd".

If I go with my "Holy Lands of Glantri"  future Time line, 1,335 is a blank
period of time for me. A time between the "true" kings in which a regent sat
on the throne.  It was an attempt by the mage guild to bring back the rule
of the Princes.  They had assassinated the true king and his heirs, but one
escaped not to be "discovered" again till 1,496 AC.

SO, given my time line, I'd say Barovia is/was a principality of Glantri.
Granted this is not conclusive evidence, but it fills the holes I have.

What else do we have?

Warlock.
--
Web Warlock,
Author, the Netbooks of Witches and Warlocks
The Other Side: http://www.rpghost.com/WebWarlock
The DnD Community Council: http://www.dndcommunitycouncil.org/~nbownw
Yeah I was still going by "Web Warlock" online all the time is a vain attempt to keep my academic persona (Timothy S. Brannan) seperate from my gamer geek one.  Finally I said screw it and embraced my inner and outer geek.

There is more here and elsewhere.  With James Mishler online now I should ask him what his theories were.

Here is something I posted years ago that I can't find the original of online anymore.  Though it was quoted at Dragonsfoot.  I have the original Word doc here at home still.
Barovia is from Mystara
While Ravenloft may be my favorite game world, it is not my first. No that (dubious) honor belongs to Mystara. So here is how I have used my two worlds together. We really don't know what world Strahd's homeland came from. Other lands are clearly defined as being from Oerth (Greyhawk), Toril (Forgotten Realms), Athas (Dark Sun) or Krynn (Dragonlance). That leaves both Barovia and Mystara obvious by their absence. So. I speculate that Barovia is a darker version of one the Principalities of Glantri. Of course this long before the Princes ruled. We know that from the adventure "Roots of Evil" that the original Barovia still remains on it's home world. Well Glantri has a principality called Boldavia that is surprisingly like Barovia. It is possible that they were nieghbors, but when Strahd and his Barovia was pulled into the mists, the lord of Boldavia took over the unprotected Barovia.

There are plenty of other clues of a Ravenloft-Mystara link.

The classic module, X2 Castle Amber, takes place in Glantri and the module reads like a proto-Ravenloft setting complete with mists and lands being pulled into demi-planes. X2 was based on the writings of Clark Ashton Smith, one of Lovecraft's inner circle, and both writers have contributed a lot to what makes up D&D and Ravenloft today.

Glantri has a very European feel to it. It is higher tech and higher magic than most of the other lands on Mystara and there is definantly a darker edge to it. Since Ravenloft also uses psuedo-European cultures, the ties fit rather nicely.

Demi-Plane or World
Ravenloft is a demi-plane. Or so they tell us. But this has never been a satifactory world for me. In my mind this only emphasizes the "weekend in Hell" feel of the world. So. With the latest edition of the Ravenloft rules, I have decided that Ravenloft is in fact it's own world. Granted it is a haunted world, but not much different than the "World of Darkness" of White Wolf. This has certain advantages for me. Worlds are easier to deal with. I can have a place that can seem real to it inhabitants and give me a reason to have native players. Plus if I want, I can use my Call of Cyhulhu, White Wolf, or Witchcraft RPG stuff to modernize the world, or give it a future. This is what I liked best about Gothic Earth. With 3E Ravenloft I could do a Gothic Mystara or a Gothic Oerth.

Personally I rather move the lot to Earth. But that is a topic for another time.

Plus this helps bring other ideas from the Ravenloft-list into line for me. Ravenloft has a mostly human population, but there are monsters. So a world can support a larger ecosystem. Monsters can run about. Another idea is move the mind flayers, Illithids, to the moon. This give them a more alien feel and ties in very nicely with Lovecraft. Plus I have the new d20 Call of Cthulhu book sitting on my self next to my Ravenloft one. So I am sure I can get something from their unholy union.

Another idea to flesh out this "world" is to use some of the new d20 products out there. Sword and Sorcery studios has some great books, like the Creature Collections and Relics and Rituals. The Scarred Lands of those books has the dark and gritty feel I like to inject into my games. I also have a few good official Wizards of the Coast products that also make a nice addition. Monsters of Faerun is a good example.

The Dark Powers
Who or what are the dark powers and what do they wnat? That is question that has been bugging players and DM of Ravenloft for a long time. We have had some clues. They could be evil outsiders, or gods. Or they could be Good and Ravenloft is a prison. Or maybe they started out as good and became evil. Who knows. The truth be told. I don't deal with them much in my games. While I dislike the idea of Ravenloft being a giant roach motel of evil, I also like to keep the players and the Dark Lords in check.

Plus there are the Dark Lords. Very powerful, not very mobile. I like to use a bit more flexibility with my Dark Lords and Powers. Granted this has not always worked out as well as I would have liked. But I'll keep experimenting. Normally I like to take a page out of the Masque of Red Death and not have Dark Lords at all. Or rather, they are there, but they are significantly weaker when they leave their area of control.

No Dragons?
How is it there are no dragons in Ravenloft, a Dungeons and Dragons game? Well I have added them. Yes they are evil and there is even a Dragon dark lord. The realm is Draconis, and it is also from Mystara. It is currently an island. It too has it's roots in Glantri. You can download it from PlanetADnD.com. Draconis.

If I continue the world metaphor then there are plenty of places for Dragon Dark Lords and Dragons. While Draconis is based on Glantri, it has it roots in the mystical "Dragon Isle" of so many fantasy stories, including the tales of Michael Moorcock's Elric.

BTW I still have Draconis laying around here somewhere.  I reused large portions of it for my Dragon Ilse in my kids 3.x game.

I'll have to see what else I have laying around.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Threshold Mystara Magazine

I am a big fan of Mystara, aka The Known World from the "Basic" versions of D&D.

So I am very pleased to see on the Piazza that there will be a Mystara fan-zine.
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10361 and
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10610&start=0



Details on Threshold are here:
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9ThpIUzMhtLRF85WFJNNnpqZW8/edit

Don't know if I have anything yet I want to contribute, but I'd love to find something uniquely Mystara.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chronicles of Mystara? Yes Please!

I was just thinking the other night I really need a video game to help my D&D itch late at night when I want to game but everyone else is asleep.

This might just be what I need.

http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4news/20130322#85749
http://www.capcom-unity.com/gregaman/blog/2013/03/22/announcing-dungeons-dragons-chronicles-of-mystara

It's Mystara on the Xbox.  How can that be bad?


Ok. So it is not going to replace D&D or even Skryim or even Minecraft in my house. But it will be fun and that is all that counts.

Out in time for my birthday.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...