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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!


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.

WotC's approval of this sourcebook's release have been premature, i.e. it isn't greenlit.
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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).
My guess is that, at some point in the development of this book, all of this stuff got thought out at WotC but, for whatever reason, it didn't make the final version of the book. It certainly doesn't seem to have meaningfully hurt its sales.

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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.
Well, with FR that spelljammer sailed a long time ago. I don't know if there was a metaplot around in 1e material, but it wasn't long between the release of the Grey Box and 2e with the Avatar Trilogy to change things up. In addition, back then the novels were a Big Thing for FR, and to some extent they drove the development of the setting. Plus, even in the Grey Box, there's a sense that Things Are Happening Right Now – there's a chapter about current events, and one of the intro adventures is about the pursuit of Lashan, former lord of Scardale, who had just been trying to take over the Dales but was stopped. Part of that is probably because the Realms was Ed Greenwood's own campaign setting which he was running games in, so there were already "current events" to use in official publication.

In Eberron, by contrast, there is a sense that the world is in between big things. The Last* War formally ended only two years ago, and everyone is sort of holding their breath to see what happens next. That is a precarious state, and once things actually start happening it's not easily recovered. And unlike the Realms, Eberron was created from scratch as part of Wizards' setting search, so it doesn't have the organic, lived-in feel that early FR had.

Plus, I reckon the Powers that Be at Wizards saw the reaction to 4e Forgotten Realms, which basically reworked the setting entirely and only keeping the geography more-or-less the same, and decided that they should be a bit more conservative with Eberron. Also, at the time Eberron had been actively published for four years - sure, four very productive years, but there was still a lot of potential there to be mined. Forgotten Realms, on the other hand, had had 21 years of very active publishing, and not very many nooks and crannies were left untouched. Eberron had had about 20 books released, FR hundreds. So rebooting FR in order to provide room for new exploration kind of made sense.

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
My guess is that, at some point in the development of this book, all of this stuff got thought out at WotC but, for whatever reason, it didn't make the final version of the book. It certainly doesn't seem to have meaningfully hurt its sales.

I'm pretty certain the 5E team prefers to follow the "rule of cool," and just changes stuff when they want to change stuff, instead of holding previous lore as a sacred timeline that needs explanation when changes are made... but that's just my opinion.

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Sure, retcons and Easter Eggs abound, as needed, but a metaplot? Nah.

I guess one could consider the whole obelisk thing as a metaplot, but that was really more putting obelisks in random places and then later explaining what they do; they don't actually have any impact on plot when they appear (usually).


My guess is that, at some point in the development of this book, all of this stuff got thought out at WotC but, for whatever reason, it didn't make the final version of the book. It certainly doesn't seem to have meaningfully hurt its sales.
I bet they never had any interest in answering those questions: that's for the DM.

In Eberron, by contrast, there is a sense that the world is in between big things. The Last* War formally ended only two years ago, and everyone is sort of holding their breath to see what happens next. That is a precarious state, and once things actually start happening it's not easily recovered.
If the Last War is World War I, yeah, Eberron's Next War will likely mean some pretty drastic changes to the setting.


Mind Mage
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.
"gods by an other name"

The problem is, there are way too many gods by the name of "gods".

Priests typically worshipped the immortals or one of the alignments of law, neutrality, or chaos. I think they should both stay.
When "priests" "worship", by definition, the object of "worship" is a god.

There are other words that can convey sanctity without worship: revere, esteem, value, admire, venerate, honor, respect, support, celebrate, consecrate, enshrine, uphold, stay true to, trust, adopt, befriend, love, etcetera.

Again, for a setting that has no gods, there are way too many "gods".
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Mind Mage
Re this site (Mystara Cosmology)

Im exploring the Mystara cosmology, and whether it can fit into the 5e multiverse or not.

One thing I know, I love the way Mystara depicts the elemental planes.

The way I understand it, each elemental plane is the actual material plane, but where only the specific element appears. So, In the water plane, only the oceans, rains, rivers, aquifers, lakes, atmospheric humidity, and anywhere else where there is water, can be seen. Everything else gets screened out by the ether of the ethereal plane.

The fiery aspect of the material volcanoes exists in the fire plane. Everything not fire is ether. And so on for the planes of air and earth.

This one-to-one overlap is awesome.

Since humans are solid but also constitute much liquid, mainly water, perhaps humans show up within the water plane too, perhaps as liquid or misty shapes?

When thinking about elements, I like the medieval tradition that explicitly identifies them with "states" of matter (rather than kinds of substance).

• Fire = plasma, sun, lightning, even the "dark fire" plasmasphere between the earth and the moon. This heavenly fire differs from normal fire.
• Air = gasses
• Water = liquids
• Earth = solids
• Ether = force, gravity, etcetera

Find this modern-friendly medieval worldview helpful when trying to make sense of the D&D elemental cosmology in a consistent way.

A consequence of this view is, the D&D ethereal plane is moreorless the samething as a realm of invisible telekinetic forces.

Taking a leaf from Asian traditions, I also find it helpful to think of "Plant" (tree, vegetation, improperly including fungi, etcetera) as a kind of element.


Mind Mage
The "Vortex Dimension" seems identical with the Plane of Negativity.

Negativity is literally nothingness, empty space. It is neither good nor evil. It is more like an element. Void.

However, to intentionally utilize negativity to kill, unravel, and rot, might be situationally evil. But ultimately, using Fire to kill or Void to kill is ethically equivalent.

The text suggests the Far Realms connects to the Material via the negativity. That is fine.

Limbo = Shadowfell?


Mind Mage
Probably the "Spirit Realm" is simply the Ethereal Plane.

The ethereal plane encompasses the elemental planes, so the minds rocks, winds, sunlight, etcetera can manifest within the ethereal too. Likewise human ghosts are ethereal, confirming the spirit world as ether.

Especially if Plant is an element, this too exists within the ether, whence the nature beings of plants.


Mind Mage
I would characterize the aster of the astral plane, including the outer planes, as the Dreamscape, being mental constructs, symbols, and archetypes. Literally, language taking on a life of its own. The outer planes are recognizable within the Dreamscape because they polarize according to ethical concepts.


Mind Mage
Re the Norse worldview:
The Rainbow Bridge is a shining rainbow plane in which magic doesn't work. It leads to the Nine Worlds of the Immortal Realms, where the Northern Reaches pantheon dwells.
1. Asgard (home of the Immortals Odin, Thor, and Loki)
2. Vanaheim (home of the Immortals Frey and Freyja)
3. Muspelheim (home of fire giants)
4. Niflheim (home of frost giants and the Immortal Hel)
5. Alfheim (home of elves)
6. Svartalfheim (home of dark elves)
7. Jotunheim (home of giants)
8. Swergheim (home of dwarves)
9. Midgard, a parallel world similar to Earth during the Viking age. Some have speculated that this is the same as LaTerre, above, but during an earlier era.
10. Yggdrasil, the World Ash, which connects the nine planes.

The translation "home" is incorrect. Heim means "home". But heimr (with an r at the end) means "realm". The English term realm is a good equivalent, and mostly gets used in the same ways as heimr does. The "nine realms" refer to different regions of this world. Sometimes the whole world together is called the material "realm".

Niflheimr is the "realm of (icy) mist". Muspelheimr is the "realm of (fiery) judgment". And so on.

These are realms of the world.

Niflheimr = the northern polar icecap.
Muspelheimr = the equatorial heat, apparently identical with the Sahara Desert.

In some sense, Niflheimr is water but includes ice, and Muspelheimr is fire but includes soot.

Miδgarδr is moreorless continental Europe (but later will come to be understood as including Africa and Asia too).

Somewhat humorously, Jǫtunheimr is moreorless the Nordic countries, the outer edge of the world. The ice and lands are Jotnar nature beings.

Ásaheimr and Ásgarδr are different places. The Aesir live in Ásaheimr, which is the cloudlevel of the sky. They travel down the Rainbow Bridge to Ásgarδr where they vote on governmental issues. Ásgarδr is on the land. It is where the local parliament or congress of the Aesir is. Snorri says Ásgarδr is near ancient Troy, in the valley of the mountain of Ida (Iðavǫllr) in today NW Turkey. The Norse viewed themselves as at the northern edge of the world, and perceived the center of the world to be further south.

The Rainbow Bridge is the normal rainbow. Humans can see it flicker visible and invisible and shift. It often connects the sky to the land.

Hel is any grave, and in some sense, every grave collectively.

Svartalfaheimr is the realm of Dvergar inside rock and mud. These particular Dvergar have proved themselves to be beneficial despite their uncooperative nature.

Yggdrasill is the air itself, perceived as a dome-shaped living seasonal entity. The Nornir throw white muck across its branches, namely clouds. The air connects all the realms together and keeps the ecosystem alive and well.

Alfheimr is in the highest branches of the dome, in the sky above the clouds.

The Alfar, Aesir, and Vanir, are all nature beings of the sky. The Alfar are the luminous clear sky above the cloudlevel. The Aesir are the cloudlevel. The Vanir are the winds below the cloudlevel. Among the Vanir, Njǫrδr is the warm coastal breezes important to fishers, Freyr is the fertile weather of spring and summer important to farmers. Freyja is probably winds as well, such as her going berserk shatters the rainbow understood as her necklace, albeit her other aspects become more important. The winds neigh like horses, and are aspects of the Vanir. These three families of beings − Vanir, Alfar, and Aesir − are the normal sky.

The point is. All of the nine realms are part of the Material Plane. Humans can see and touch these realms. The inhabitants of these realms are the minds of the features of nature all around.

This is an animistic worldview.

The nature beings are mortal and can grow old and die. The Aesir keep themselves youthful and healthy by means of magic. I think it is fair to describe Norse beings such as Thor (Þórr) as "immortals" in the sense they have achieved epic levels. However, they are nature beings (vaettir) and very much part of the Material Plane.
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I crit!
Jeff Grubb is going to be on NewbieDM’s show tonight. If you have any questions for him they might answer them there.


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