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D&D General UPDATE: this isn't greenlit : Jeff Grubb's Lost Mystara Sourcebook To Be Released

Ex-TSR designer Jeff Grubb wrote a Known World of Mystara sourcebook for AD&D 2E that was sadly never published. But now WotC has given permission for it's release to Shawn Stanley of the Vaults of Pandius website, the Official Mystara Homepage!

mystara.png


Grubb posted on Facebook:

"A long time ago I wrote a project for TSR converting the Known World of Mystara from D&D to AD&D 2nd Edition. Through a tale of woe and intrigue, (link below) that product was never completed, and instead became Karameikos, Kingdom of Adventure.

However, I kept a copy of the unfinished manuscript (well, print-out), and a short while ago, gave it to Shawn Stanley, who runs the Pandius Website. He in turn has cleaned it up a bit, and plans to release it, free, with WotC's blessing, to fans on the website's anniversary.

It is really nice to see this surface after so many years - it is a "Lost Tome" of D&D history, and I hope fans of the setting enjoy it."


He speaks more about the story, and why he left TSR, on his blog.

Mystara is a D&D campaign setting first published in the early 1980s, and was the 'default' setting for D&D for a long time.


Updates from @Dungeonosophy

Jeff Grubb gives an overview of the book on his blog

As for the release date: Shawn Stanley, Webmaster of the Vaults of Pandius, announced (here) that June 27th is the planned release date.

Some people were wondering if Jeff is involved in the release.

I reached out to Shawn Stanley on April 10th:
"Yes I was going to reach out to him with respect to providing some sort of foreword for the release. I had been intending to do so once I had finished the graphic design - but with the release of new news yesterday, I reached out to him yesterday. I also wanted to get his okay for the editing that I had done. But yes, I would think that anything that Jeff wants to write to accompany the document would be a great idea. I do kind of agree that something a little bit less-depressing than the blog posts might be preferable - something to celebrate the release than recall the negative things that had happened during that time."
"I do hope that he will agree."


Jeff also responded to me on April 10th:
"Shawn has been in touch with me, and I will be glad to write a brief foreword for the project."

Which will be a fulfillment of Jeff's offer back in 2019:
"If you succeed [with the petition], I will be glad to provide an intro with a less-depressing history of the project."

Note Vaults of Pandius is the Official Mystara Homepage! Given that designation by WotC, back in the 2000s, when Jim Butler was managing fan policy for "other worlds." There's an official agreement and everything. That's why the site is the natural host for this.

UPDATE:
WotC's approval of this sourcebook's release have been premature, i.e. it isn't greenlit.
 
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I actually like your interpretation, but without a confirmation we can't say for sure the retcon is anything more than a retcon.
Without more information, we can't even say it is a retcon. It's an unexplained change. Even though the evidence for it being a reaction to the Darkon nonsense is tenuous, we officially do know that something did happen in Darkon and everyone's memory of it was wiped away. (Which helps explain the question of why no one knows that there were big changes.)

Saying it's a retcon is also an interpretation and one that's got less basis, IMO, although the evidence for one is very small vs. non-existent for the other.

Ideally, WotC would have inserted at least another sentence into the book, or even a clause, that said "oh, and the thing that happened in Darkon did all the other stuff to Ravenloft, too." Or, alternately, WotC could officially say "yep, it's a retcon without any in-game rationale for it happening, the end."
 

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I want to point out the Basic Shadow Elf is an example of a fullcaster class, with slot-9 spells and everything. It isnt a gish. In 5e, the Shadow Elf is a fairly straightforward Wizard class.
Wouldn't that make bladesinger the more obvious choice? (I know, lots of people are sick of bladesingers, but it seems to fit here.)
 


Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Without more information, we can't even say it is a retcon. It's an unexplained change. Even though the evidence for it being a reaction to the Darkon nonsense is tenuous, we officially do know that something did happen in Darkon and everyone's memory of it was wiped away. (Which helps explain the question of why no one knows that there were big changes.)

Saying it's a retcon is also an interpretation and one that's got less basis, IMO, although the evidence for one is very small vs. non-existent for the other.

Ideally, WotC would have inserted at least another sentence into the book, or even a clause, that said "oh, and the thing that happened in Darkon did all the other stuff to Ravenloft, too." Or, alternately, WotC could officially say "yep, it's a retcon without any in-game rationale for it happening, the end."

Retcon, as per Oxford;
noun
(in a film, television series, or other fictional work) a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events, typically used to facilitate a dramatic plot shift or account for an inconsistency.
"we're given a retcon for Wilf's absence from Donna's wedding in ‘The Runaway Bride’: he had Spanish Flu"

verb
revise (an aspect of a fictional work) retrospectively, typically by introducing a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events.
"I think fans get more upset when characters act blatantly out of established type, or when things get retconned"

Without an explanation, the default is that it is a retcon. Until one is provided, it's just a retcon. You're allowed to headcanon a reason for why it does make sense, but it's just a retcon until there's an official explanation.
 

Good point. I'd love to know how WotC made the decision to not mess with their timeline, as the setting seems to be very close to precipitous changes. It would mean deviating from what DMs might have done at home, but that hasn't stopped them with the Forgotten Realms and it never stopped TSR.
That's precisely the reason. The Eberron setting is full of potential adventure, and full of things that can go either this way or that way. Adding metaplot to that would necessitate collapsing those waveforms into actual events, thereby closing off potential plots. But by instead freezing the setting's point in time and instead (at least in 3e) spending development resources delving into what the status quo is, they leave it open to each DM to determine what happens to it.

Just as an example, in the 3e version of the setting the Dreaming Dark (one of the setting's major villain organizations) was quietly working to infiltrate local divisions of House Deneith, the setting's major source of mercenaries, by using the psionic power mind seed on key personnel (mind seed basically replaces their mind with a copy of yours, but lower level). If you were to advance the setting, you would by necessity see House Deneith either fall deeper under the sway of the Dreaming Dark, or have someone expose the corruption and fix the problem. But by keeping the setting frozen, this remains a thing the DM can do, and if the DM wants to use this plot thread they can do so at their own pace. And if they don't want to use the plot thread, well, there are plenty of other things going on.

Basically, Eberron is a place designed to inspire the DM to tell their own stories, not a place for Wizards to tell theirs. And hey, if you do like metaplot, the Realms are just over that way.

Many other settings, not just for D&D, have a metaplot that ever advances onward. The effects tend to be twofold:

1. Plot hooks originally presented are resolved. But that's no good, because an RPG setting always needs things for heroes to do. So that leads to:
2. New! Big! Threats! Shadow wizards from the ancient past pop up in Anauroch and set about conquering stuff! A dead god returns! Drow invade! The Cult of the Dragon converts to worship of Tiamat for no good reason and starts robbing and pillaging!

The effect is one where all of a sudden, the setting is rocked by a dozen major events all at once, which creates a weird dissonance for players entering late.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
From the "Elves of Alfheim" book, it seems the "Treekeepers of Alfheim", while gishy, can advance to full levels of Wizard (but avoid death spells).

This Elf too might be 5e Bladesinger Wizard.

But a 5e Bard seems fitting.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Re Mystara. For a setting that doesnt actually have gods, I see the phrase "worshiping" "gods" way too often in the cultural descriptions.

This is an other reason, why the Mystara Clerics should be about a cosmic force.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I think back when 5e came out and I did some conversions I had elves typically following two tracks. The "Elf Lord" focused on the warrior arts and became a bladesinger. The "Elf Wizard" focused on magic and became a bladesinger. It kind of represented the different types of elves. Later on, I just took the druid's circle of the land and made it a wizard subclass to represent the Tree keepers.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Re Mystara. For a setting that doesnt actually have gods, I see the phrase "worshiping" "gods" way too often in the cultural descriptions.

This is an other reason, why the Mystara Clerics should be about a cosmic force.
They don't have gods but they do have immortals who are gods by another name, the only difference being that they are all ascended mortals. Priests typically worshipped the immortals or one of the alignments of law, neutrality, or chaos. I think they should both stay.
 

Without an explanation, the default is that it is a retcon. Until one is provided, it's just a retcon. You're allowed to headcanon a reason for why it does make sense, but it's just a retcon until there's an official explanation.
Jesus, I was around when "retcon" was coined. Gross and weird to have the OED "set" its definition incorrectly like this.

The point of retcon -- "retroactive continuity," which it feels like the OED ought to be aware of and mention, along with its comic book origins* -- is that it goes back and changes previously established background. New information is not a retcon, it's simply new information.

If Van Richten's said that Victor was always Viktra Modenheim, it would be a retcon. But the book doesn't say anything of the sort -- it doesn't address it at all.

I'm guessing "fridged" will get screwed up next. **

* The trope originator is DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths, which established a new timeline for existing characters. Jason Todd, for instance, went from being more or less a carbon copy of Dick Grayson, complete with circus origin (DC Comics: We love the circus!), to having always actually having been a juvenile delinquent who stole the Batmobile's wheels. (Which is a separate sort of bananas.) In the new continuity, Jason had never been the circus kid.

On the other hand, as far as I know, we never knew anything about Barry Allen's family until the late 1990s, when the "failed to save his mom" thing was added to his origin. That wasn't a retcon to the Flash (although there have been plenty of those), but simply new information.

** "Fridged" refers to Major Force killing a Green Lantern's girlfriend and literally sticking her body in the refrigerator for Kyle to find. (It's not clear if Major Force cleared out the rest of the fridge first or what.) This then makes Kyle Have Feelings and Be Motivated to stop a murderous supervillain; apparently a woman close to him needed to die to motivate him. So now, when a woman (it's almost always a woman) is killed off simply to get the hero up off the couch, it's a "fridging" and is pretty universally seen as a sign of weak writing. (People will argue a certain death isn't a fridging, rather than justifying fridging as somehow not sexist -- arguably misogynist -- and lazy.)
 
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That's precisely the reason. The Eberron setting is full of potential adventure, and full of things that can go either this way or that way. Adding metaplot to that would necessitate collapsing those waveforms into actual events, thereby closing off potential plots. But by instead freezing the setting's point in time and instead (at least in 3e) spending development resources delving into what the status quo is, they leave it open to each DM to determine what happens to it.
I get that. But why does Eberron get this treatment when the Forgotten Realms doesn't? That's the conversation I'd like to have been a fly on the wall for. I'm guessing it has to do with WotC wanting to leave the possibility of more Forgotten Realms novels that might again upset the apple cart, even if that seems increasingly unlikely.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
If Van Richten's said that Victor was always Viktra Modenheim, it would be a retcon. But the book doesn't say anything of the sort -- it doesn't address it at all.

See, this analysis is just silly... why would the book go out of its way of saying Viktra "was always Viktra." That doesn't make any sense at all, that would just be nonsensical writing.

Think of how Star Wars retcons how the Force works, from it being "The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together," to Qu-Gon-Jinn's explaining how one's midichlorian count actually being how the Force works.

Technically, you can reconcile the two with a little bit of lore finangling... but that doesn't make the addition of midichlorians any less of a retcon. Jinn doesn't need to look into the camera and say "Oh, the Force isn't magic at all, it's entirely science," for it to suddenly become a retcon.
 

The Glen

Hero
They don't have gods but they do have immortals who are gods by another name, the only difference being that they are all ascended mortals. Priests typically worshipped the immortals or one of the alignments of law, neutrality, or chaos. I think they should both stay.
There are a few differences between Immortals and Gods in previous editions, but 5E divine intervention is just DM fiat so until that's defined it's not much of a factor. The biggest change compared to other settings is that Mystarans tend to worship entire pantheons rather than just a single Immortal. You can follow entire spheres, specific pantheons (Immortal pantheons are not restricted to just immortals from one sphere), or pick and choose the Immortals you follow. The immortals gain the benefits of followers no matter how they are followed, so there is little competition for followers unless the Immortals have a personal beef with each other. And one of the big rules they have to follow is no killing mortals with their powers. That rule has caused some continuity snarls.
 
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See, this analysis is just silly... why would the book go out of its way of saying Viktra "was always Viktra." That doesn't make any sense at all, that would just be nonsensical writing.
There are ways to do it: "Since time immemorial, Viktra has ..." That wouldn't be any worse writing than anything else TSR/WotC has put out for Ravenloft.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I get that. But why does Eberron get this treatment when the Forgotten Realms doesn't? That's the conversation I'd like to have been a fly on the wall for. I'm guessing it has to do with WotC wanting to leave the possibility of more Forgotten Realms novels that might again upset the apple cart, even if that seems increasingly unlikely.
They've quietly put the FR in the same boat: there is no advancing FR timeline, just a field of gameplay possibilities.
 


They've quietly put the FR in the same boat: there is no advancing FR timeline, just a field of gameplay possibilities.
We'll see. The new announcement that there's a bunch of other drow around seems like it's going to change the setting mid-edition and going forward. There's a drow in the Starter Set who isn't an "Udadrow," but just a "drow."

(I would argue, incidentally, that this comes pretty close to a retcon, rather than just new data: "Oh, yeah, we've always called ourselves 'Udadrow.' You must have thought we were saying 'you da drow,' which is an understandable mistake.")
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
We'll see. The new announcement that there's a bunch of other drow around seems like it's going to change the setting mid-edition and going forward. There's a drow in the Starter Set who isn't an "Udadrow," but just a "drow."

(I would argue, incidentally, that this comes pretty close to a retcon, rather than just new data: "Oh, yeah, we've always called ourselves 'Udadrow.' You must have thought we were saying 'you da drow,' which is an understandable mistake.")
Sure, retcons and Easter Eggs abound, as needed, but a metaplot? Nah.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
There are ways to do it: "Since time immemorial, Viktra has ..." That wouldn't be any worse writing than anything else TSR/WotC has put out for Ravenloft.
To be fair, the book does call out how certain characters might be gender swapped in different iterations of the Domain (specifically, Tatiana in the "what's up with Tatiana this cycle of reincarnation?" set of tables).
 

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