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Mike Mearls tweet: Is the Known World of Mystara coming to 5e? (What's Cool About Mystara?)

Zardnaar

Legend
Played Mystara a few years ago. I liked it. Have ported a few things to homebrew as the PCs won't notice what I mined as its to obscure for modern players.

Took some names from the Hollow World plus Nithia and Knights of Vanya. There is a seed of Mystara in the DMG (Isle of Dread).
 

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Dungeonosophy

Adventurer
There is a seed of Mystara in the DMG (Isle of Dread).

Yeah true, Mystara's Isle of Dread has really made the rounds...to 3E Oerth...to the Feywild of 4E Nerath...to the Feywild of 5E Planes of Existence. It's become one of those locations (like the Keep on the Borderland) that exists in multiple worlds.
 

My opinion is this may be a "weather sounding balloon", a trick to test us and to know our reactions. Are we interested about its return? This line isn't so famous like Fogorten Realms, Greyhawk or Dragonlance, but it is still D&D and it could be used to make money with other products, for example videogames.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
My thought is that there is a general hunger for a big campaign setting release. Some are pro Forgotten Realms, others want a different setting to be resurrected. Personally, I'd love to see an entirely new setting as there is minimal conversion needed to use most of the old stuff already.
There are plenty of entirely new settings being released for 5E, though--does it have to come from WOTC?
 

Hjorimir

Adventurer
There are plenty of entirely new settings being released for 5E, though--does it have to come from WOTC?

No, not necessarily. Though I do value production value. I have the Midgard Worldbook (backed it on KS) and Primeval Thule on PDF. One of the things that attracts me to a campaign setting is how it deviates from the vanilla. What I mean by that is how is it different from the implied kitchen sink setting from the core books? Sometimes the most interesting thing about a setting is what it doesn't include. Like it or hate it, Krynn felt different coming out of the gates because there are no orcs or halflings. What the heck is a kender? Then once we started encountering the draconians we were in completely new territory. I know that sounds old and boring today, but back when DL landed it was fantastic and fresh.

I'm drawn more to settings like Planescape and Al-Qadim if only because they feel radically different from the canned eurocentric settings we normally see.
 


Dungeonosophy

Adventurer
I'm drawn more to settings like Planescape and Al-Qadim if only because they feel radically different from the canned eurocentric settings we normally see.

The prevalence of non-European cultures, which are geographically seeded amongst the European-inspired cultures, does shift Mystara somewhat away from eurocentrism. Whereas Faerun and Golarion's continent of Avistan are clearly continental analogues of Europe (vis-a-vis Kara-Tur, Zakhara, Katashaka, and Maztica, or Golarion's continents of Tian Xia, Casmaron, Garund, and Arcadia), the Known World isn't. The Known World's "Mongolian" (Ethengar), "Arab" (Ylaruam), "Indigenous American" (Atruaghin), "Polynesian" (Makai), "South Asian" (Sind), and "Tibetan" (Lhamsa) nationalities are located smack dab amongst the more European-inspired nations. And the KW isn't situated like Europe on the world map - it's located where southeastern North America would be. These factors make for a somewhat different vibe. Kaleidoscope?
 

Winterthorn

Monster Manager
The prevalence of non-European cultures, which are geographically seeded amongst the European-inspired cultures, does shift Mystara somewhat away from eurocentrism. Whereas Faerun and Golarion's continent of Avistan are clearly continental analogues of Europe (vis-a-vis Kara-Tur, Zakhara, Katashaka, and Maztica, or Golarion's continents of Tian Xia, Casmaron, Garund, and Arcadia), the Known World isn't. The Known World's "Mongolian" (Ethengar), "Arab" (Ylaruam), "Indigenous American" (Atruaghin), "Polynesian" (Makai), "South Asian" (Sind), and "Tibetan" (Lhamsa) nationalities are located smack dab amongst the more European-inspired nations. And the KW isn't situated like Europe on the world map - it's located where southeastern North America would be. These factors make for a somewhat different vibe. Kaleidoscope?

Kaleidoscope, mish-mash, mosaic, a riot of dominions, all good ways to describe the political and cultural geography of Mystara. A delightful non-eurocentric mess of familiar cultures borrowed from our own history plopped upon a map of Pangea that, as a whole, possesses its own fantastic charm - and the primary reason the known World/Mystara will always be the gonzo realm in my heart :)
 

Winterthorn

Monster Manager
I think there is enough here to convince that Mystara is a sufficiently interesting and different setting. (although I would categorise Krynn as also quite cartoonish).

I do think there is a huge demand for a 5e campaign setting book that is anything other than FR now, and I think the situation has changed since the policy of "everything is FR"* was created - D&D is far more popular now than it was back then. I also think it would be a bad idea to create something completely new - nostalgia is one of the driving factors behind D&D's resurgent popularity.


*Although this was never completely true - dwarf, elf and halfling subrace names in 5e has always been taken from Greyhawk.

I agree. I get the feeling there is a famine for settings for 5E from WotC. They are sitting upon a treasure trove of setting material, and this edition of the game is a great opportunity to bring something back to the table. And the ultimate fuel for this: nostalgia. Nostalgia is currently a huge driver in the entertainment industry, directly or indirectly - just look at the films and genres getting a reboot. (Lack of imagination and risk aversion on the part of businesses is a factor too, lol.) Of course people will eventually get tired of it, and want something new, but in terms of the entertainment industry's search for profits, nostalgia is in the driver's seat right now. I don't expect WotC to publish Mystara 5E, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did, and, I admit, I would be delighted too!
 
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Hjorimir

Adventurer
I agree. I get the feeling there is a famine for settings for 5E from WotC. They are sitting upon a treasure trove of setting material, and this edition of the game is a great opportunity to bring something back to the table. And the ultimate fuel for this: nostalgia. Nostalgia is currently a huge driver in the entertainment industry, directly or indirectly - just look at the films and genres getting a reboot. (Lack of imagination and risk aversion on the part of businesses is a factor too, lol.) Of course people will eventually get tired of it, and want something new, but in terms of the entertainment industry's search for profits, nostalgia is in the driver's seat right now. I don't expect WotC to publish Mystara 5E, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did, and, I admit, I would be delighted too!
I'm definitely feeling the nostalgia in 5e (in a good way). 5e has brought me back to the gaming of my childhood. It's like listening to Greta Van Fleet and being reminded of the mighty Led Zeppelin. I may have preferences for which campaign settings I'd love to see re-published for 5e, but who am I kidding? I'd buy any campaign setting book they put out...even Forgotten Realms.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Thanks everyone. I was out today, but every second I had free went to read the description of the KW you made for me. I must say this is utterly fascinating. I now kinda understand why some say that FR is bland. Mystara is without a doubt a kitchen sink setting, but with every bit in said sink being flavorful and weird. I does look like a fantasy setting, not just a variation on real-life medieval times.

I think the part I like the most (after the Hollow World thing, its like the most fascinating thing in the world!) is the easy real-life culture equivalent. Most of the time I play in Faerun to save some time, but since most of my player dont know much of the lore and the different culture arent that easy to grasp a first sight, all character is more or less a white man/woman from one of the big cities on the Sword Coast. I think with Mystara I'd have a easier time getting them to play characters from more exotic locations because it would be easier for them to know how to roleplay such characters.

I think I'll try to get my hands on some Known World stuff. I'm on paternity leave for 5 months, so I have all the time in the world.

Thanks again guys.
 

Dungeonosophy

Adventurer
Basically, everything Polyhedral Columbia has said is why I want Mystara to come back. I couldn't care less about the human cultures, because I find those generally the most boring parts of any D&D setting, but the weird fantasy aspect...

Yeah, I too admit I find human cultures (in any campaign setting) a bit boring...I think in any upcoming redux of Mystara, I would amp up the furries! I'd highlight how there are at least one breed of Lupin and Rakasta dwelling in pretty much every country. They should generally be viewed as ordinary citizens, without batting an eye. Like the "anthropomorphic animals" which are seen in Dragonball Earth.
 



cbwjm

Hero
Mystara is definitely one of my favourite settings, with all of the expansions it gained, it really expanded on what was possible with the basic setting. The various regions were fascinating and quite often totally bonkers. Some of my favourite areas were:

Glantri, a kingdom of magic with secrets crafts, no clerics, and an artifact that was slowly draining the world of magic.

Alphatia and Thyatis, two empires at odds with each other, one ruled by powerful wizards, the other a Roman empire analogue.

The elf kingdom (I forget the name), this introduced expanded abilities for elves who could harness different magic from regular wizards gaining access to nature type magic. They were essentially a wizard/druid mix. Another supplement introduced the shadow elves living in what was essentially the undertake and plotting to overthrow the main kingdom of elves.

Darokin was a cool republic. Wealth was everything, with the higher your wealth the more rights you had. I can't quite recall but I think you needed to have a certain amount of money to run for public office. As it sat in a central region of the known world it was a trade hub and they maintained a corps of diplomats since peaceful nations are better trade partners.

Definitely a fun setting. The name of that elven nation is hiding just outside my recollection. I think it started with an A.
 

Dungeonosophy

Adventurer
The various regions were fascinating and quite often totally bonkers.

haha - well said! Yeah, the bonkers quotient is part of the charm.

The name of that elven nation is hiding just outside my recollection. I think it started with an A.

I'll leave that for someone else to chime in on. Hey, I don't have all the answers! ;-)
I'll just add a letter...AL. (No, not Alabama.)
 

cbwjm

Hero
haha - well said! Yeah, the bonkers quotient is part of the charm.



I'll leave that for someone else to chime in on. Hey, I don't have all the answers! ;-)
I'll just add a letter...AL. (No, not Alabama.)
Dangit, all I get is Alphatia which is a completely different nation. I also get Alphaks but I'm sure the elf nation isn't named after an immortal. Is it Alfheim or am I getting mixed up with Norse myth (which might be getting mixed up with marvel comics Norse myth)?
 

guachi

Adventurer
Mystara also had the most interesting take on elves and it had nothing to do with adding yet more subclasses.

There are two elf clans introduced in GAZ1 The Grand Duchy of Karameikos. One is close to bog standard D&D elves the other is given almost no description (left up to the DM, I suppose) but are much more secretive and have green eyes and red hair.

GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri (probably the greatest setting supplement for D&D ever) introduces Flamenco elves and tree hugging hippy elves from Alfheim.

GAZ5 The Elves of Alfheim was written by Steve Perrin who is most well-known for creating RuneQuest. But he also created the RPG based on the Elfquest comic book. There are eight clans listed as well as a very in-depth look at Elven history that touches on why the elves are in Alfheim and describes some of the other elves that split off (like the two clans in Karameikos). The clans are basically what you'd expect (xenophobes, traders, lore, hunters, etc.) but there's enough there to give variety and, most importantly, inspiration for DMs and players. It gives motivations and allows for intra-elven conflict that doesn't devolve into armed conflict.

GAZ9 The Minrothad Guilds introduces Water Elves. These aren't elves that live under water (those would be aquatic elves) but elves who are sailors. They use their love of wood to build amazing ships that approach 18th or 19th century sail boats for speed and design. This is probably the only D&D setting I've seen that has such a thing.

GAZ13 The Shadow Elves introduces Shadow Elves that are Drow but better. They aren't irredeemably evil (though the surface elves think so). They aren't really even evil. The Gazetteer goes to great lengths to explain why they despise their surface brethren. Their patron Immortal isn't even an elf. It's a human who was obliterated in the Blackmoor Catastrophe.

The Hollow World introduces the Schattenalfen (German for Shadow Elf) who are Aztec influenced. Don't think too hard about why or how that happened. It just did.

If you are an elf in Mystara where you are from makes a big difference. I've had so far in my current Mystara campaign a Vyalia elf (the reclusive red-haired/green-eyed elves from Karameikos. Though this one was from Thyatis and worked for the elite Foresters), an Alfheim elf, and a Flamenco elf from Glantri. They all played differently because of their background and, most importantly, I as a DM had NPCs react wildly different based on their background.

And NONE of that difference is because of some mechanical subclass difference. It's probably the thing I hate most about races in other D&D - the proliferation of elven subraces to cover every stat out there.

I mean, to take some other example mentioned above about the invisible moon. Populated by samurai cats. It's so silly I had to incorporate it so I invented an elven ritual that takes place on the Summer Solstice (which I think is the first day of the six month of the year). The first of the month is always a new moon. I decided that on that day if you stared up at the moonless sky, looked in the right direction, and closed your eyes then at midnight you could see the invisible moon.

Yes, Mystara started out as a bog-standard fantasy setting but it really showed just how much you can stretch it. The master-class in elven design is just one example.
 


The Glen

Hero
Mystara is a unique setting just because of how much focus on world building is left open. Most of the nations are wild and untamed and if you carve out your own domain you get to become a power player. It's easy to explain to new players because people are already familiar with the settings they are based on. You've got Arabs south of Vikings, north of Romans, northeast of the Romanians and due east of the Northern Italians. They don't need to release much for it, the writers for the Vaults of Pandius are filled with writers that are more than happy to fill in all the blanks. The more settings they open up the better.
 

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