Saturday, May 26, 2018

Happy 10th Anniversary to The Piazza - D&D Worlds Discussion Forum!

I can't believe 10 years have passed since fans began abandoning the D&D message board forums at Wizards of the Coast. A series of attempts at upgrading the site had been highly unpopular with fans. WotC's decision to eventually shut down the forums a few years later came as no surprise. At the time I had tons of posts there and it was a vast source of resources for D&D fans. More importantly it was a community where friendships were being made and ideas exchanged. Many were worried that all this would be lost.

Fortunately Ashtagon came along and set up The Piazza to be a home for fans of all the D&D Worlds. I wrote more about the Piazza Phenomenon back in 2009. The Piazza is still alive and kicking today!

Happy 10th Anniversary! I hope to see more of you joining us in the future as well!

Oh, and if you want to join the party, check out this information here:

The Piazza's 10th Birthday Chat (May 26th)

The Piazza's 10th Birthday London Party (May 27th)


-Havard

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Mystara, The Known World, The Continent or the D&D Game World?

Mystara is one of the most underrated of the D&D Game Worlds. The sheer number of game material produced for this setting might surprise people. During the TSR era, it was one of the best supported settings.

Unfortunately, this is not something most people are aware of today. One of the reasons for this is that the vast majority of the Mystara products did not carry a Mystara logo.

Another dicussion that often comes up that I wanted to look at here is the origins of the name Mystara and the other names used over the years to describe this setting. Some fans of the setting don't like the name Mystara. This is perhaps understandable since it was a name that was added late during the publication era of the setting.

Mystara started out as a home campaign in Akron, Ohio. But in published form it first saw the light of day in 1981 in the module X1 The Isle of Dread. This means Mystara was TSR's third oldest setting, predated only by Blackmoor and Greyhawk. I wrote in more detail on the origins of this setting here.  When it first appeared in X1, this world was simply referred to as The Continent. Later the names The Known World and the D&D Game World were used for the most part of the settings history.

The name The Known World gradually became associated with a single part of the setting; the region featured on the map from X1 where it had first appeared. For most of the settings history it didn't really need a name. The D&D Game World was sufficient because unlike AD&D, every book published for D&D was assumed to take place in this world. However, as the game world expanded a need for a name appeared.



A few common misconceptions about the name Mystara should be cleared up first:

1) The BECMI D&D Setting had grown beyond the Known World/X1 area long before the Mystara name was used in print.

2) The name Mystara appeared in print in several BECMI products before the AD&D Mystara line was launched, most notably in the Champions of Mystara Boxed set.

So what exactly caused the folks at TSR to feel that the world needed a name? Bruce Heard, Product Manager of the BECMI line since the publication of Gaz 1, offered the following:

"....there was no way to equate the Known World with Blackmoor, the Hollow World, and the Voyage of the Princess Ark, which all concerned areas outside the Known World."
Over the years the world presented in X1 had grown. Blackmoor had been incorporated into the world's past with the DA modules. The Hollow World and the Voyage of the Princess Ark were massive expansions to the setting.

The name Mystara first appeared in print in 1991 with Dragon #172. AD&D Mystara did not appear untill 1994 so it seems unlikely that this was simply a name invented to prepare for taking the line into AD&D, even if Bruce Heard or others at TSR may have considered that as an option early on.

Love it or hate it, the name Mystara stuck. It is also a name that has been adapted by the Mystara fan community and having a common name for the setting we all are fans of is important in preserving that identiy.


-Havard

WotC Spokesperson Apologizes to Mystara fans

The following was posted at The Piazza on May 13th:

If you have missed the drama today, it started when a Mystara fan discovered a WotC produced video from january this year where the hosts answer a question about what happened to Mystara. A link to the video was posted on the Mystara Reborn group on Facebook. The response given in the interview angered many Mystara and Spelljammer fans, as well as Mystara Godfather, Bruce Heard, who wrote an article about it on his blog pointing out the problems with the video with regards to Mystara.

 Anyway, Matt Sernett of WotC did appologize both to Bruce Heard and Mystara fans out there. We all make mistakes and it does show character to admit it and appologize. Did Mystara fans overreact to comments made in the video? I think it would have been easier to accept this type of comments if Mystara had not been mostly overlooked for more than 20 years. Many Mystara fans still remember when bringing back the Hollow World was presented as an April's Fool's Joke on WotC's website many years ago.

Most of us dream of Mystara being brought back to life. While that might never happen, it would be nice if the reason for it being ignored for another 20 years is that the people at WotC really haven't bothered to understand what Mystara was about beyond not liking the CDs and the art in the 2nd Ed Mystara Monstrous Manual. Let's hope that at least one person at WotC now sits down and reads some gazetteers! :)

 -Havard

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Mystara Monster Nightwalker returns to 5E in Mordenkeinen's Tome of Foes

Art by Ben Wootten
These appear in the upcoming Mordenkeinen's Tome of Foes according to this Dragon +video. I am not sure that Mystara or BECMI will be referenced in the 5E book, but this was one of the Nightshade monsters that originally appeared in the BECMI Master Set, by Frank Mentzer. These are some of the most terrifying creatures that existed in that edition. There were three types of Nightshade. Nightwing and Nightcrawlers were the two others. The Nightwing appeared the Immortals Triad novels by Douglas Niles.

Sea Elves is another Monster with long ties to Mystara and Classic D&D that also is said to appear in Mordenkeinen's Tome of Foes as are Nagpa.

Thanks to zontoxira at the Piazza for pointing me to the video.

-Havard