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Mystara 3E - Chapter 1: Characters

by Roger LV Girtman II

"If all the world's a stage, and all the men and women are merely players... Then by Halav, I'm going to be the damned director!"
—Anton Radu, the Veiled Society

Guarded wizards of Glantri, distrusted by the common folk of the Principalities, seek deeper knowledge in the artifact called the Radiance. Determined clerics of Thor wander the cold lands of the Northern Reaches, battling against the sinister influence of Loki and Hel. Stout-hearted Rockborn dwarves seek to free the plundered citadels of their ancestors from the feral orcs and ogres that occupy them. Almost any kind of fantasy hero or villain may find a home in the MYSTARATM campaign settings. Brun is an old continent with hundreds of disparate cultures.
In this world, your fighter is not defined simply by his Strength score of 16 and his mastery of the bastard sword. He is defined by his homeland, his training, and his background. Just as the DUNGEON MASTER TM (DM) carefully crafts adventures to highlight the magic and perils of the far-scattered lands of the Known World, each player contributes to the campaign a character whose personality, motivations, and attitudes reflect the heroes—or villains—of a land shrouded in mystery, myth, and legend.

Creating a MYSTARAN Character
Any character created using the rules in the Player's Handbook works as a MYSTARA character, but this chapter explains how to create a character tailored for the Known World, and grounded in all the rich detail of the setting. To create a 1st level character, turn to the beginning of the Player's Handbook and use the steps outlined in the Character Creation Basics section. Follow the Player's Handbook steps in character creation but add in the additional features to Step 2: Choose Class and Race (choose a region here as well), Step 7: Select a Feat, and Step 8: Review Description we describe in this chapter.

Character Races
The Known World is home to hundreds of intelligent races and gives rise to dozens and dozens of potentially heroic paths. In a MYSTARA campaign, a number of new character races are available for players. The standard races described in the Player's Handbook are present in the Known World, although they're often known by names specific to MYSTARA, the planet the Known World is located on. For example, the standard elf is known as the Forest elf, although Sylvan elves and Shadow elves are commonplace adventurers. Rockborn dwarves, Earth gnomes, and Hin correspond to the Player's Handbook dwarf, gnome, and halfling, respectively. Humans don't have any specific subraces in the Known World, but your choice of home region (see below) adds a new level of detail to these characters, too.

Character Classes
Some of the classes described in the Player's Handbook have significant new opportunities in the MYSTARA setting, apart from the new classes available. For example, almost every cleric chooses a patron Immortal from the expansive Mystaran pantheon. Many of these Immortals have access to new domains not included in the Player's Handbook. In addition to the prestige classes described in the DMG, your character can now aspire to join one of a number of the new prestige classes specific to the Known World. While beginning characters won't qualify for the Aerial Knight class, the Known World prestige classes are something a character may choose to strive toward right from 1st level.

Character Region
The Player's Handbook only requires you to choose a race and class, but the MYSTARA campaign settings also gives you the ability to further define your character by choosing a region in which your character grew up (or at least gained most of her early experience). Your native region helps define your character as part of the world of MYSTARA and gives you additional choices for which feats and equipment you can have.
Each race and class description lists a number of suggested regions in which that type of character is particularly common or encouraged by the principal culture. If you choose a region where your character's class is favoured, your character gains access to special regional feats and bonus starting equipment. See Table 1-8: Character Regions for a list of possible regions and the specific benefits, and consult the Regional Feat Regions map to help in selecting a region.

Region-Specific Skills
A character's region may also affect his or her list of skills. As a general rule, characters with the Knowledge skill often focuses on the region in which they have lived as adults or which they have studied in books.
Regional Focus: A character may choose to add a regional focus to the geography, history, nobility and royalty, or religion areas of the Knowledge skill. The regional focus provides a +2 bonus on Knowledge checks that pertain to the region in question. For example, a character may choose Knowledge (Karameikos history) instead of Knowledge (history) in order to be particularly adept at Knowledge (history) checks pertaining to Karameikos.
Local Knowledge: The Knowledge (local) skill per se does not exist in a Mystaran campaign. Instead, a character who chooses the Knowledge (local) skill must specify the region his knowledge applies to. For example, someone familiar with the legends and personalities of the Emirates would take the Knowledge (Ylaruam local) skill.
Survival: Like the regional focus of the Knowledge skill, the Knowledge (nature) and Survival skills also have a terrain focus. When the skill is selected, the player also chooses a terrain which to focus his skill in. That focus provides a +2 circumstance bonus to the skill when dealing with the chosen terrain type. The terrains available are desert, forest, jungle, mountain/hill, open seas, plains, artic, swamps, and underground. With the DM's approval the player may also select, as a Survival terrain focus, the urban terrain, which is used in the streets, in trash-strewn alleyways, on rooftops, and similar settled and civilised town and city environments.

New Feats
This chapter introduces a number of new feats appropriate to various lands and cultures of the Known World. An Ethengari warrior might learn to dismount from his horse while aiming a notched arrow without loosing stride, while a Glantrian mage could delve into the dangerous lore of the Radiance and learn to tap sources of magical energy that most wizards dare not touch. Of course, all the feats described in the Player's Handbook are still available to Known World characters.

Races of MYSTARA
MYSTARA is inhabited by hundreds of different races. Some races are native and have lived here for uncounted thousands of years. Others arrived over centuries of migration and conquest from other planes and worlds. The races most commonly found as player characters—humans, dwarves, elves, halflings, and gnomes—are descended from both Mystaran natives and immigrants from other worlds. Because of their complex ancestry, members of most of these races and subraces display a wide range of skin and hair colours.
As a further consequence of their mixed heritage, humans, dwarves, elves, and the other major races of MYSTARA have much in common with their kin on other worlds. Rather than repeating facts that have been established in the Player's Handbook, this section focuses on the ways in which the races and subraces of MYSTARA differ from the standard races described in the Player's Handbook.
Languages: Automatic and bonus languages for all races appear in the race descriptions, since MYSTARA is home to a number of unique tongues. In the case of races for which "trade common" or "local language" appears in the race description—for example, humans or the hin—the language selection is determined by the character's home region. The "undercommon" language does not exist in MYSTARA, as there is no universal language for MYSTARA's subterranean dwellers. See Table 1-8: Character Regions for details.
A character's choice of race and region determines her automatic and bonus languages. Table 1-8: Character Regions supersedes the automatic and bonus language information in the Player's Handbook. However, the following languages are always available as bonus languages to characters, regardless of race or region: Abyssal (clerics), Aquan (sea elves), Celestial (clerics), Draconic (wizards), Dengar (dwarven), Elfin (elven), Gnomish, Goblin, Giant, Gnollish, Infernal (clerics), Orcish, and Sylvan (druids).
Druids also know Druidic and Wizards know Magescript in addition to their other languages. Rogues who choose to join a Thieves' Guild also learn Thieves' Cant, a form of sign language consisting of codes and phrases, from their tutors at the guild. Although these are not true languages, they are an essential form of communication for those who know them. They do not cost a language slot to learn, so long as you have the required class. They may not be learned by any other means, including high intelligence or the Speak Language skill.
Regions: Each race description includes a listing of the regions where that race is most commonly found. It may also include notes regarding regions where there are particular reasons the race would be particularly rare. Players and DMs should not feel restricted by this information in their selection of a home region for any given character, although a DM may, based on this information, decide that certain choices will require a particularly interesting background story to be acceptable. The information given in this section helps you construct a character, but does not directly affect your character's starting feats. The regions that key into the regional feats on Table 1-8: Character Regions are those listed in the Classes section.

This is a sidebar. Thanks to Håvard and Andrew for helping me out with this one.

Converting Core PCs to MYSTARA
If you created a character with the Player's Handbook and would like to bring that character into the MYSTARA campaign settings, the biggest point of conversion lies in the differences between the pantheons. Table 1-1: Deity Conversion shows which MYSTARA Immortals corresponds to the Player's Handbook deities.


Player’s Handbook Deity MYSTARA Immortal
Boccob Alphatia, Pflarr, Razud
Corellon Larethian Ilsundal
Ehlonna Ordana, Zirchev
Erythnul Alphaks
Fharlanghn Asterius
Garl Glittergold no change
Gruumsh Orcus
Heironeous Halav, Vanya
Hextor Karaash
Kord Thor
Moradin Kagyar
Nerull Thanatos
Obad-Hai Terra
Olidammara Eiryndul, Korotiku
Pelor Ixion
St. Cuthbert Petra, Tarastia
Vecna Masauwu
Wee Jas Nyx
Yondalla Djaea, the High Heroes

Also, the subraces of MYSTARA vary from those presented in the Player's Handbook and the MM. For simplicity, choose the MYSTARA subrace that matches the racial ability score modifiers for your character. Standard elves become Forest elves, standard dwarves become Rockborn dwarves, standard gnomes become Earth gnomes, and standard Halflings become the Hin.