Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
I've been thinking about Canonicity. Sorry about the long message, but I've got a lot to say!
If I were Steward of Mystara, my game studio would have its own official continuity that seamlessly continued from, and reconciled the existing TSR/WotC Mystara corpus. Ideally, Bruce Heard would be involved in a major way -- either as writer or even as Creative Developer. Other writers -- both ex-TSR folk and our best amateurs -- would be invited to contribute as well. Certain fan-written conceptions would be included (with co-operation of the author), but conflict with the letter and underlying principles of TSR Mystara would be ruthlessly pruned. (Sounds harsh, I know.)
However, this is what I propose to do in regards to the many divergent fan-conceptions of Mystara:
The Worlds of the Nexusby Travis Henry
The studio would offer the Mystara NEXUS license and brand. It would be similar to Mutants & Masterminds' Superlink license.
The NEXUS license would potentially include all "alternate Mystaras" -- the "The FGAZ World of Mystara", "The Mystara Almanac World of Mystara", "James Mishler's World of Mystara", "Geoff Gander's World of Mystara", and so on. Each could be declared an official campaign setting within the NEXUS scheme.
There'd be a page at the studio's website devoted to the NEXUS license. The article would include an in game description of how the Nexus from CM6: Where Chaos Reigns is a gate to alternate Mystaras. In fact, the module seems to describe just that-- at the beginning of the adventure, when the PCs are in the Nexus, they see glimpses of worlds that look strangely familiar -- apparently these are alternate Mystaras. In the NEXUS scheme, any fan-made Mystara campaigns would be considered to be actually some of the worlds in that scene. All of our various fan campaigns would potentially be alternate Mystaras theoretically reachable via the Nexus. The Nexus would be the one place where all our own worlds of Mystara could officially touch the "official Mystara". (Though from the perspective of any of the NEXUS Worlds, TSR Mystara itself could be considered the "alternate" Mystara.)
[Side note: In this scheme, when I say "World", I mean "Campaign Setting", not simply "planet", so the Galactic Federation and the Dimension of Myth are a part of the "World of Mystara" too.]
Logo: Though I haven't imagined it clearly yet, the NEXUS logo would be inspired by graphics and illustrations from CM6 -- maybe it'd incorporate the hourglass illustration.
Anyone would be free to post online -- or even publish and sell -- their own Mystara books via the NEXUS brand. They'd be required to display the NEXUS logo prominently. The licensee would be free to mimic the art, graphics, and fonts of the official products, and to restate and rewrite official material in their own words, but not to clip extended passages of official text or re-use official illustrations. Besides the NEXUS logo, they'd also be free to use modified versions of the various official Mystara logos as described in the "Logos" section below.
There'd be an out-of-game section explaining how to register one's world as a NEXUS world. Any person would be welcome to contact the studio (likely via email) and register their home Mystara(s). There'd be no monetary charge. There'd be only be a few requirements to register:
1) The only registrable Worlds/Settings would be those which are either:
- A) based on Mystara (it could be anywhere in the range from: practically "identical" to TSR Mystara; to only incorporating an aspect of Mystara), and/or
- B) use the CD&D rules set or incorporate some aspect of the CD&D rules. An example would be Carl Quaif's World of Herol from OD&Dities magazine.
2) Each registree would fill out a few standard pieces of information about their campaign. Required information would include the Name of the Setting, and at least a brief Overview of the World.
The Name: This would be the official name of their World/Campaign Setting. A default name would be "such and such's World of Mystara".
Overview: At least a short description of their World. In the case of a World which is not obviously a version of Mystara, the Overview would have to mention at least one aspect of Mystara or CD&D that is included in the World.
Nexus World Number:
Once the studio received all the required information, their World/Setting would be assigned a number in the order their completed registration was received. "TSR/Wizards of the Coast's World of Mystara" would be Nexus World #1. In order to avoid strife, the studio's Mystara products would be technically considered a separate continuity from TSR Mystara (even though the studio would fully own the rights to Mystara) -- so that TSR Mystara may "for evermore" remain a neutral and inviolate source for the community. The studio's conception would be Nexus World #2.
The Nexus World Number could be used to distinguish planets, NPCs, and other in-game elements that have the same name in various alternate Worlds. So TSR Mystara would contain the planets of Mystara-1 and Laterre-1, and other features such as Pyts-1, Karameikos-1, Bargle-1, and so on. Likewise, say "John Doe's World of Mystara" was Nexus #34 -- his World would include Mystara-34, Bargle-34, and so on. In general, the name of the primary planet of the setting could be used as an informal synonym for the setting, such as "Mystara-1" instead of "Nexus World #1" or "TSR's World of Mystara".
As far as registering other Mystaras, there'd be a public announcement before the registration time, so as to give everyone on in the Mystara community time to draft their submission and try to send their email just after the opening time, so as to get an early number. It'd be fun!
Directory of Worlds:
At the bottom of the NEXUS webpage, there'd be a list of all the registered Nexus Worlds with their official name, starting with "Nexus World #1: TSR and Wizards of the Coast's World of Mystara".
A Page for each World:
Each World name in the Directory would link to its very own password-protected page at the studio's website, that the registree may modify. Each World's page would contain the required Overview, and would also have sections which the registree may enter in Optional Information.
Besides the Required Information, each World's page could include:
Logos: Each registree would be encouraged (though not required) to submit an official logo for their setting (and for its subsettings if it has any). They'd be free to design their logo from scratch, but the default logo would simply consist of the text "such and such's" attached to the top of either: the official 2e Mystara logo, Thorf's new Gaz-style Mystara logo, or the old "official fan logo of Mystara" (the one with ivy on it).
Continuity: This would be a section where the registree could list which TSR/WotC elements or fan works he or she considers official in their World. Ideally this section would include links to the relevant pages at the Vaults* and to homepages that further detail that specific World.
*(The Vaults would continue as the official repository for the community. Not everything in the Vaults by one author would necessarily be part of one of their registered Worlds. Most of us post various tentative, provisional, incongruous, or ephemeral ideas on the MMB and MML, only some of which we developed into coherent articles. This is why the Vaults' authors' index would remain useful.)
Even Mystara-1 and Mystara-2 would have their own NEXUS pages. Mystara-1's page would include links to all of the official TSR/WotC products at the studio's online store, to the free official material that is at the Vaults, such as the Dragon magazine articles, links to the Savage Coast Campaign Setting downloads, and so on. Mystara-2 would include the same, but also links to the new CLASSIC products, and to any other works that the studio arranges to be official in Mystara-2, such as a deal with Green Ronin, Goodman Games, and Paizo to officially adapt Freeport, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and the Pathfinder adventures for Mystara-2.
Rules Systems: A place for each registree to list which rules system(s) is/are used to depict their World, and which have been used in the past.
Campaigns: A section to list and describe the different adventuring parties or campaigns -- retired and active -- that have gone on within a single world.
Alternate World Gate: As a fun little detail -- each registree would be encouraged (but not required) to designate a single in-game item that is a symbol of their Campaign Setting. And to designate what being/character comes to retrieve the Alternate World Gate once it's triggered. The Alternate World Gates are from AC4: Book of Marvellous Magic and lead to alternate worlds such as the AD&D World of Greyhawk, the worlds of Gangbusters, Dawn Patrol, Boot Hill, and so on. These Gates would be symbols of each registered World, and in the event of two DMs of two registered Worlds agreeing to a cross-over adventure between their Worlds, the Gates would be a device to enable this (besides the Nexus house itself). Though no studio products (Mystara-2) would visit WotC Mystara (Mystara-1), a white shield with a red dragon would be Mystara-1's Alternate World Gate...and Aleena-1 would arrive to retrieve it.
Some other concepts:
One person, many worlds: An individual may register multiple Worlds. The idea would be that if a DM has run multiple campaigns within a single unified timeline (e.g. one party adventuring in one part of the setting, while another party adventures in a different area or time of the same setting), then they'd be a single World. If different campaigns occurred in different timelines, that'd indicate that those are two different Mystaras. However, there'd be no requirement that the World has actually been used for a game session.
Working groups' worlds: Groups may register too. Two or more individuals may jointly register a World. For example, the Mystara Almanac group could register the "Mystara Almanac World of Mystara". Same for the FGAZ group, M-Orient group, the 3e Mystara group, and so on. No registered world would have to cover the entire planet of Mystara -- any discrete set of continuity (such as M-Orient Skothar) would be enough to have its own registered version of Mystara.
Inviobility: The article would explain that each individual's (or group's) World of Mystara is inviolate, meaning that no one but that individual or group may decide what their World is really like. And, they may change their world at will and at whim. Each person or group is free to incorporate other individuals' or groups' writings or continuity into their world, or not, and to even modify their own continuity randomly. Even if two or more individuals agreed to develop and register a group World, if a rift were to develop between them, any one of the individuals would be free to separately register their own version of the World. The Inviobility is so pure, that even participation in the meta-scheme doesn't imply that a registered World actually uses the Nexus within its storyline (it'd actually be an "alternate Nexus" anyway, such as Nexus-5, Nexus-34, Nexus-36, etc.), or that the DM even recognises the existence of the other alternate Mystaras. In fact, the Nexus device described in the NEXUS webpage would actually be "Nexus-2", since Mystara-1 (and thus "Nexus-1") would not be touched by the studio.
Persistence: Once a World is assigned a Nexus Number, from the point of view of the NEXUS scheme, that World can't just "disappear as if it never existed". A DM would be free to change the official name of any of their registered Worlds, and could even say their registered World was annihilated (by Old Ones, Outer Beings, or whatever), but the studio would still keep at least a placeholder listing for that Nexus Number in the Directory -- something like "Nexus World #34 -- John Doe's World of Mystara (destroyed)". Otherwise there'd be a blank space in the numerical sequence.
Meaningless? Some might think that this scheme is meaningless -- that people are already free to take what they like and leave the rest, and that designating everything to be official diminishes the lustre of the published canon. But I say that symbols are important. It'd be fun to know that my very own Mystara is really one of the Worlds which is glimpsed (but not described) in CM6. And, the scheme would provide an orderly but libertine venue for the Mystara community to show off our Worlds.
Another aim of the studio would be to publish The World of Mystara Campaign Setting in as many currently-active RPG systems as feasible. The most economically viable ones (such as Pathfinder and 4E) would be released in hardcover, the less popular ones (such as GURPS) in softback, and the least viable ones in PDF with Lulu prints available (such as BFRP).
WoM CS: Pathfinder (Paizo's 3.5e-based house system)
WoM CS: D&D 4E
WoM CS: True20 (Green Ronin's house system)
WoM CS: Savage Worlds
WoM CS: Castles & Crusades
WoM CS: Eldritch RPG (Goodman Games' new house system)
WoM CS: Fantasy Craft (a new fantasy system based on the d20 Spycraft game)
WoM CS: GURPS
WoM CS: HARP (The new house system of Iron Crown Enterprises, former makers of Middle-earth Role-playing)
WoM CS: Rolemaster Classic (a recent revision of RM)
WoM CS: HERO System
WoM CS: Runequest (Mongoose is now releasing several settings using the Runequest system besides Glorantha: Lankhmar, Slaine, Elric, and Hawkmoon. And RQ has been made an Open License system.)
WoM CS: BASIC Fantasy Role-Playing (wouldn't be much different than CLASSIC)
WoM CS: OSRIC (an AD&D 1e clone)
In my studio's continuity (that is, Mystara-2), each of these Mystaras would be a separate Reality. Each Reality would include not only the planet of Mystara, but also adaptations of Mystara's planes and dimensions.
Does anyone know of other fantasy role-playing systems that are still actively published?