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Vaults of Pandius FAQ

Thanks to Hervé Musseau who maintains the Mystara FAQ from which this one was mostly taken.

It should be noted that some of the information in this FAQ is not for players in the game world of Mystara, especially Section 2. In fact a lot of information in the Vaults are not ideally for player consumption and you should check with your DM before viewing anything on this site if you think it might be harmful to your role-playing enjoyment.

Section 1: The Basics
      What is Mystara?
      What do I need to play?
      What is a role-playing game?
      Under what rules is Mystara supported?
      What is the current status of Mystara?
Section 2: Setting
      What is the Known World?
      What is Red Steel / the Savage Coast?
      What is the Hollow World?
      What is Blackmoor?
      What is Voyage of the Princess Ark?
      What are immortals?
      Where is Blackmoor located?
      Who are the immortals of the Church of Karameikos?
      Is Jaggar von Drachenfels the Star Dragon?
      What is the Wrath of the Immortals?
      What has happened to Rad after Wrath of the Immortals?
      What has happened to the Radiance after Wrath of the Immortals?
      What happened to Specularum?
      Where is Teldon?
      Where is Bargle?
      Is Kol a shadowelf or a kobold?
      What happened to the continental map published in the Master DM's book?
      How do the Mystaran novels fit into things?
      How does the D&D Movie fit with Alphatia?
Section 3: Products
      Is there a complete list of Mystaran products?
      Have there been any Mystaran articles in Dragon / Dungeon magazine?
      What is the current status of the online release schedule of Mystaran products?
Section 4: Mystara on the Net
      Where can I find a map of area XYZ?
      Where are old messages for the Mystara Mailing List kept?
      How do I access the Mystara Message Boards?
      How do I access old messages from the Mystara Message Boards or from old versions of the Mystara Message Boards)?
      How do I access the Mystara News Server?
      Are there Mystaran chat groups?
      What are all these acronyms that are being used?
      Are there any other Mystaran sites on the Internet?
      Can I download the "Mystaran" font?
Section 5: Third Edition and the Future of Mystara
      Is there a conversion of Dungeons and Dragons / Mystara into 3rd Edition?
      What is the purpose of this site?
      Why is it called the Vaults of Pandius?
      Are the articles on this site official?
      Are the articles on this site internally consistent?
      Who looks after the Vaults of Pandius?

Section 1: The Basics

What is Mystara?
Mystara is a campaign setting for the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game, it is a high-fantasy, high-magic, expansive campaign setting.
What do I need to play?
The Mystara game world has existed for some time under a number of different rules systems - therefore this question is not easy to answer and is dependant upon which rules system you used; for third edition Dungeons and Dragons the three basic rulebooks

the Players Handbook
the Dungeon Master's Guide
and the Monster Manual

are all that is needed. For basic campaign information there has been no single source officially collected. This site is producing a guide which should remedy this situation for new players.

What is a role-playing game?
Role-playing games are games in which people play the role of imaginary fantastic characters like warriors or wizards and try to complete an adventure under the guidance of a game master.
Under what rules is Mystara supported?
Mystara products have been produced under a number of different rules systems over the years and this carries through to the present day with material being produced for each system. Therefore it is one goal of these pages to support all these systems even though 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons is the current system. Therefore the rules that Mystara is supported under include Dungeons and Dragons (known as D&D or OD&D), Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition (known as AD&D or 2E) and Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition (known as 3E). Many people also play under their own house rules and their files if made publicly available are also placed on this website although these rules are not supported.
What is the current status of Mystara?
The game world of Mystara was dropped by TSR a number of years ago and of all the "dead" campaign worlds it seems to be the most dead with no word from Wizards on it at all. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, there is a strong online community supporting Mystara in all it's forms.

Section 2: Setting

What is the Known World?
The Mystara campaign setting evolved from an area called the Known World, this is the area of the setting where many of the initial products specifically took place and in which most of the subsequent products have been situated.
What is Red Steel / the Savage Coast?
The line of products known as 'Red Steel' were one of the last line of Mystara-based products made. It takes part in a region known as the Savage Coast, this area is located to the west of the Known World. The area is totally compatible with the rest of Mystara however the area is thematically distinct as noted in the following excerpt from the Savage Coast Campaign Book.

The SAVAGE COAST campaign setting is unique in many ways. Though this fantasy setting has magic, heroes, and everything else one would expect, the new swashbuckling and panache rules add both individual flavour and style. The land also lends fantastic, magical powers to all types of player characters. Still, it is a savage frontier, suffering under a magical bane called the Red Curse.

What is the Hollow World?
The Mystara game world is a hollow sphere, and the inside of the planet is inhabited. It holds old civilisations that are now extinct on the surface, placed there by the Immortals to protect their cultures, there are strong magics in place preventing them from evolving much or dying away. The only entrances to the Hollow World are through underground passages between the two worlds, and through the holes that stand in place of the north and south poles.
What is Blackmoor?
Blackmoor is an area that has some history in a number of TSR products, Mystara included. Blackmoor was, like Greyhawk, the campaign world of one of TSR's founder, Dave Arneson. It was later placed in both Greyhawk and the Known World. There is no further relation between the two Blackmoors of Mystara and Greyhawk.
What is Voyage of the Princess Ark?
The Voyage of the Princess Ark was a storyline in Dragon magazine written by Bruce Heard. It ran from issues 153 to 188 and it expanded upon the Heldannic Knights and the Savage Coast. It introduced characters such as Herr Wulf von Klagendorf, Haldemar of Haaken and Synn.
What are immortals?
The Mystara game world is not looked over by other-worldly deities, there are however immortals. Immortals are mortals who, through their deeds, have reached a higher status granting them more power than mere mortals. These immortals have extraordinary powers and take it upon themselves to look over Mystara. They also perform the functions of deities in other game worlds in that they are the source of clerical spells and powers. Now whilst immortals were once mortal some do not remember their mortal beings although there is nothing to suggest that they weren't mortal. It also should be noted that whilst a number of immortals share the same name as deities in other game worlds or real world deities that immortals are not deities, they are not all-powerful and have their own agendas and foibles like mortals.

It is also possible for player characters to become immortal although this is a difficult task and could be the goal of a whole campaign, or series of campaigns, to allow one player to attain immortality. An all-immortal campaign is also a possibility of course.

Where is Blackmoor located?
Bruce Heard's said: Blackmoor -- the travelling legend. If there were archaeologists on Mystara, they would have a devil of time figuring where the darn place was really located. Officially, it's supposed to be up there by the Thonian Marches. Unfortunately, conflicting info has crept into several products, getting in the way of the Thonian theory. The best thing is to assume evidence of Blackmoor's presence elsewhere is the result of later colonisations and outposts. Other communities were also magically displaced (such as a certain ancient tavern in the Broken Lands of the Known World). Definitely a messy development of the World of Mystara! :)

It should be noted that on the map in the Hollow World boxed set that the names of Blackmoor and Thonia have been reversed (Blackmoor was north of the Empire of Thonia according to all other sources)

Who are the immortals of the Church of Karameikos?
These are the immortals of the Church of Karameikos, as given by Bruce Heard in an old Dragon Magazine:
Asterius (Eternal of Thought), Leader
Kagyar (Eternal of Matter)
Ilsundal (Hierarch of Thought)
Valerias (Hierarch of Matter)
Vanya (Empyreal of Time).
Although Chardastes is a native Traladaran Immortal, he is venerated through the auspices of the Church of Karameikos, not the Church of Traladara. This is extrapolated from info in B1-9 In Search of Adventure.
The Immortals of the Church of Traladara are:
Halav
Petra
Zirchev
Is Jaggar von Drachenfels the Star Dragon?
No. According to Bruce Heard's article in Dragon #170 he became the Star Dragon for a brief period but relinquished the title for absolution.
What is the Wrath of the Immortals?
Wrath of the Immortals (or WotI) is an epic campaign that TSR published to update the Known World. It deals with the Great War that involves the major countries of Mystara and that was caused by the Immortals to obtain control of the Nucleus of the Spheres, a powerful artifact located under Glantri. At the end of the war, Alphatia sinks, Glantri and Thyatis have suffered dramatically from the conflict and three new powers enter the political scene of Mystara: the Heldannic Territories, the Hagiarchy of Hule and the "revamped" Kingdom of Karameikos.
What has happened to Rad after Wrath of the Immortals?
As a result of the events during WotI Rad was absorbed into the Radiance, and some of his life force was used to lessen the drain of the artifact on Mystara's magic: thus there is only a Day of Dread each year, and not a week as in Wrath. Rad is not dead though, but he has been put into a slumbering state to reflect on his deeds, and hopefully change. This is covered in detail in the module Mark of Amber. The outcome of the module vary from campaign to campaign, as the actions of the PCs in the module decide Rad's fate. The module's three outcomes are: 1. He returns as a mortal with no chance of being sponsored back to Immortality and no access to the Radiance; 2. He returns as a mortal but can become an Immortal again sometime (considered to be the most likely outcome); 3. He returns as a full Immortal. Later products avoid the issue, and the general consensus is that he should return but be left in the background, keeping a low profile for some time, either rebuilding his following (if an Immortal) or attempting to reach Immortality again (if mortal). Few favour him becoming a mere mortal with no chance of reattaining immortality.
What has happened to the Radiance after Wrath of the Immortals?
In WotI, the Radiance is altered to draw from the sphere of Entropy instead of the sphere of Energy. Yet in GKoM, the rules for the Radiance are exactly the same as in Gaz3, stating that it drains from Energy. This is a mistake in GKoM; the authors overlooked that event in Wrath and forgot to update the info from Gaz3. Thus the new rules for the Radiance are undefined, as are the effects of Entropy-draining. Various suggestion have been made on the MML, though.
What happened to Specularum?
Specularum was the name of the capital of the Grand Ducky of Karameikos. During the events of Wrath of the Immortals, in AC 1006, Duke Stefan of Karameikos seceded from the Empire of Thyatis becoming King of the Kingdom of Karameikos. On Nuwmont 1 AC 1012 Stefan renamed the capital Mirros.
Where is Teldon?
From Dragon Magazine #207 about Teldon's fate: "One of the attractions of the Magicians' Guild, its location in Karameikos' largest city, was its downfall. Such a collection of powerful (and often egotistical or secretive) mages in one location created great potential for conflict. The final straw was the creation of a mechanical beholder by one of the more advanced apprentices, powered by an Immortal's artifact. The resulting creation was turned loose in downtown Specularum, levelling a good section of the South End. The creation was defeated by the head of the Magicians' Guild, Teldon, but at great cost. Both mage and monster disappeared in a pure white ball of fire, and while they are assumed to have both been destroyed, they may instead have been teleported to some far-off location. The fact remained that the Magicians' Guild proved itself too dangerous to remain in Specularum, and lost one of its most valuable supporters."
Where is Bargle?
After the fall of the Black Eagle Barony, Bargle is an itinerant villain that pops up here and there. He can easily be used as a recurring villain who the PCs bump into. He has been spotted in various place, including Esterhold and Serraine (always helping the evil guys, of course), but can have business anywhere.
Is Kol a shadowelf or a kobold?
Most sources present Kol as a kobold who, using the rules from Gaz10: Orcs of Thar, could cast spells. In Glantri: Kingdom of Magic (one of the last printed Mystaran products), he is said to be one of the deformed shadowelf babies raised by the humanoids, thus explaining both his high intelligence and spellcasting abilities under the AD&D rules. It is both an interesting plot, and a disappointment to many, as it removes again from the humanoids any glint of chance that they can achieve something by themselves. Many people ignore that section in GKoM referring to Kol as a shadowelf preferring to have more realistic humanoids whilst others prefer the potential of having Kol as a shadowelf. As always use whatever version suits your campaign and your taste best.
What happened to the continental map published in the Master DM's book?
According to Bruce Heard in Dragon #153 the map in the Master set is "wrong, wrong, wrong!" The map was supposedly released by a very imaginative Thyatian, and wrongly accepted for the truth. There is no Empire of Dorphin IV, no Empire of the Great Khan, etc. Also, as you probably guessed, the size of the Thyatian Empire was largely exaggerated on this map.

However since then people have used names and countries from this list to create things in their campaign, and of course in your own campaign you are free to use anything you want in your campaign.

How do the Mystaran novels fit into things?
Some of the Mystaran novels, particularly from memory the Dragonlord Chronicles, do not fit well into other established pieces of Mystaran continuity. Whilst for any given campaign you, the DM, is free to choose what you want to make up your campaign. Generally speaking however, the general Mystaran net-community does not consider the novels to supersede any other published information.
How does the D&D Movie fit with Alphatia?
Izmer, the setting of the D&D movies was inspired by Alphatia. Here is Dave Arneson on the land of Izmer.

Section 3: Products

Is there a complete list of Mystaran products?
David Keyser has compiled a complete list of products. The list was compiled 06 October 2000. Given the imminent release of new products David has a look over what has been published recently that has relations back to Mystara. The post was make 03 July 2003.
Have there been any Mystaran articles in Dragon / Dungeon magazine?
The product list, above, contains much of the information on Mystaran articles in Dragon and Dungeon magazine. However, two supplementary files Dragon and Dungeon exist which contain information on those issues with Mystara related information and the nature of that information.

With the recent inclusion of a number of Mystara related articles in Dragon issue 315, a number of reviews have been written by Hervé Musseau, from the Mystara Mailing List posted 21-3 December 2003 for the articles.

What is the current status of the online release schedule of Mystaran products?
The online release schedule is presumably back on track although there has been no word given on when things will be released although everything, including Mystaran products will presumably be released in the near future.

Section 4: Mystara on the Net

Where can I find a map of area XYZ?
Numerous maps of Mystara exist in these pages in the maps section. Other pages exist on the net which contain many maps, most notable are www.mystara.addr.com and The Mystara's Map Navigator pages. Please don't ask however for copies of published maps that have not been freely available.
How do I join the Mystara Mailing List?
Full information on joining the Mystara Mailing List is available in the Mystara Mailing List Guide
How do I access the Mystara Message Boards?
The Mystara Message Boards are accessible through an Internet browser.
How do I access old messages from the Mystara Message Boards or from old versions of the Mystara Message Boards)?
With the current version of the Mystara Message Boards it should be possible to always access the older messages. This was claimed to be true for the old versions of the Mystara Message Boards but was never borne out, therefore messages from previous versions of the Mystara Message Boards have been lost. Articles of note have been retained here on the Vaults of Pandius but discussion, as it does, often ranged further than the articles of note that were produced.
Are there Mystaran chat groups?
There are a number of Mystaran chat groups:
Travellers of Mystara;
and Alphatia Mystara.
What are all these acronyms that are being used?
There are many acronyms that are used within the Mystaran net-community. There is a list of these acronyms.
Are there any other Mystaran sites on the Internet?
There is a full list of other Mystara sites on the Internet.
Can I download the "Mystaran" font?
There was a true type font used in the Gazetteer range of products that some people have taken on board as being the "Mystaran" font. The name of the font was later revealed as Feinen Bold. This font does not appear to be freely available and has been exhibited for sale from a font sale site.

Section 5: Third Edition and the Future of Mystara

Is there a conversion of Dungeons and Dragons / Mystara into 3rd Edition?
There has already been a lot of activity in bringing the Mystara game world into 3E with most activity going on at the Mystara 3E Discussion Group, with the fruits of this project intended to be compiled at Mystara 3E Conversion Project pages at some stage. Fan 3E sites unrelated to this project also exist with the most notable being The Lighthouse and Twilight of the Dawn.
What is the purpose of this site?
When it was created the purpose of the site was to collect articles of interest created on the Mystara Mailing List, it was then expanded to collect articles of interest from the Mystara Message Boards. Because of these activities for the mailing list the site was chosen to be the official repository for such articles for the mailing list, the site was later chosen by Wizards of the Coast to be the official website for Mystara. This latest decision has allowed the site to canonise material which has not yet happened, the site is therefore still primarily a location of articles of interest created by fans of the Mystara game world.
Why is it called the Vaults of Pandius?
Pandius is a city it is the neutral meeting place of immortals on Patera, Mystara's invisible moon. Although no vaults of information have been described for the city it is not unreasonable that such a system might exist in Pandius. If it does then this site is it.
Are the articles on this site official?
Apart from the html representations of articles created by TSR (like the Savage Coast Monstrous Compendium, Alien Devices from Blackmoor, etc) no. Whilst it is within the power of this site to canonise new material that has not yet been done for various reasons.
Are the articles on this site internally consistent?
No, each articles in the Vaults is not consistent with each other article in the Vaults; most are created by separate authors from their own campaigns. That being said however most articles are not inconsistent with other articles, in other words most articles that weren't created in the same frame of mind can exist in the same consistent game world. In general, however articles created by the same author tend to be consistent with other works created by that author, also the almanacs are consistent with each other and many non-almanac works by almanac team members tend to be consistent with the almanac.
Who looks after the Vaults of Pandius?
I wasn't looking for any sort of sympathy with this question but instead to combat a misconception that there are a team of us who look after the Vaults. There isn't, there's only me.