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Mixing Worlds: Suggestions for Using d20 Campaign Settings with Mystaraby Scott Moore
Until new Mystara products are officially published, here's a few suggestions on using some of the newer d20 supplements currently available and tying them in to Mystaran lore for those looking to continue and expand their campaigns.
Dungeon World (Fast Forward)
Atlantis is actually part of Alphatia (long ago known as Altanis, see Wilderlands, below) that was transported here after the events in the Wrath of the Immortals, much as the entire city of Kerse was transported here (see Fast Forward's Secrets of the Enemy Capital).
Characters that complete a caretaker's quest and actually leave Dungeon World can find themselves on the aptly named Isle/Island of the Dead from TSR's B4, The Lost City (also see Dragon Magazine #315). Those that do so may not initially realise that they are out of Dungeon World since the Lost City itself is buried underground.
If using Dungeon World in conjunction with Sundered Reaches (see below), the mysterious caretakers may actually be the legendary Lumari that disappeared from Mars in that world's past. The cavern that houses the Throne of Carpathius/Destiny may occasionally appear off Nex, in conjunction with the change of seasons on Mars.
To signify how differently things work in this realm, I actually converted the player's dead OD&D characters to d20 3.5 and made them role-play the discovery of their different abilities.
Gamma World (Sword & Sorcery)
This post-apocalyptic world is actually one of an infinite number of possible futures for Mystara. The ruins characters discover and explore do not always have to be remnants of pre-apocalyptic industrialisation and research, but may actually be the remains of ancient Mystara-era settlements. These structures could have been buried for thousands of years, only to once again resurface in the cataclysm that brought about the current state of the world. Remnants from sunken Alphatia or ancient Blackmoor (or even a badly damaged remnant of the Beagle) could make for interesting exploration.
As another option, Gamma World could be used as a basis for a campaign set in the post-Rain of Fire Blackmoor.
Ghostwalk (Wizards of the Coast)
The settlement of Manifest and the gateway to the land of the dead can be found on the Island/Isle of Death in Lake Moldvay (see TSR's B4, The Lost City, as well as Dragon Magazine #315). The powerful relic rumoured to be hidden on the island is actually from the remains of starship Beagle. The magical radiance it gives off is what makes the veil between the physical and the spiritual realms so thin in this area.
Redhurst Academy Of Magic (Human Head)
This teleporting school of magic slips from realm to realm throughout the multiverse, never staying in one location for very long. There are several possibilities for the appearance of Redhurst Academy within Mystara:
- Redhurst may have been present in the Blackmoor era, possibly even originating there. Now, except for the Hollow World, it may be one of the last places left that still holds some of the history and materials from that era.
- In current Mystara, Redhurst may occupy a huge region within Glantri City itself that sits barren and unoccupied when the academy is not visiting the Prime plane.
- Before the events revealed in the Wrath of the Immortals boxed set, Redhurst may have been founded by or allied with Alphatia. Glantrian spies would certainly have tried to enter the academy as students (or possibly staff) if this was the case. Following the events of the Wrath of the Immortals, there are sure to be some hostile feelings between the academy and Glantri. Redhurst may even start appearing within the Hollow World, as that is where most of Alphatia was relocated to after the war. If Redhurst learns of the relocation of Atlantis to Dungeon World (see below), they are sure to try and locate the city on their next visit there.
Sundered Reaches (Fast Forward)
Based on the Mars of the distant past, this campaign setting details the last native races struggle for survival on the surface of that world. According to the original TSR DM's Guide to Immortals (pages 5-6), Mars is the next planet from the sun after Mystara.
In the time of Sundered Reaches, both of the Martian moons were full and round. Their current deteriorated state may be due to an after effect of the Rain of Fire, a collision with debris from the destruction of planet Damocles, or maybe even a collision with the meteoric body that fell on Glantri in 1006 (which could also have been part of Damocles). Any of these events may also have resulted in the end of life on Mars.
Powerful gnomish telescopes on Mystara would notice the devastation that occurred to Mars' moons, as their newly irregular surfaces would reflect far less light than before. Astronomers from Mystara may realise something has happened, but not know exactly what. Conversely, there may be Lumari artifacts capable of observing or recording the Great Rain of Fire on Mystara.
Another option would be for the meteorite that hits Glantri in 1006 to have been part of one of the Martian moons itself, shattered through misuse of a mysterious Lumari artifact.
Mars may have been the last stop for the Beagle before heading on to Mystara. Perhaps it was the Beagle crew themselves that have become known as "Lumari" in the Martian legends.
For those wishing to incorporate Mars' most famous resident, the stats for John Carter can be found on page 30 of Dragon Magazine Vol. IV #1.
See Dungeon World (above) for additional suggestions involving the fate of the Lumari.
Urban Arcana (Wizards of the Coast)
This campaign setting, intended for use with d20 Modern, is based on real world technology, but with the addition of D&D monster races. This makes it a perfect sourcebook for those looking to adventure in the high-tech era of Blackmoor, just before the Rain of Fire.
The Cat's Eye Ring mentioned on page 127 may be based off the original famous lost artifact of the Wilderlands (see below), which ended up being smuggled through to Thunder Rift by a group of rakasta (see page 12 of TSR's 9435, Rage of the Rakasta). Thunder Rift is connected to Mystara through a Dimensional Pool 25 miles south of Bywater according to TSR's 9437 (DMR1), Escape From Thunder Rift.
The Translator's Earpiece was developed using technology extracted from the Translator Badge (also known as a Medallion of Speaking) brought to ancient Mystara onboard the Beagle (see TSR's DA3, The City of the Gods).
Wilderlands (Judge's Guild)
The northeast corner of the Wilderlands map ends at the Valley of the Ancients. This is the same Valley of the Ancients that exists to the south of Blackmoor, which means the Wilderlands setting can be utilised as the ancient pre-Rain of Fire landscape south and southwest of Blackmoor. Ancient Altanis will eventually become known as Alphatia several millennia in this world's future. It is quite possible that the Alphatian magics of this world's future may have evolved from the remnants of true Veridian magic in the distant past.
The Cat's Eye Ring mentioned on page 76 of the Player's Guide to the Wilderlands was actually taken through a portal deep within a dwarven gold mine in the Starrcrag Mountains by the rakasta when they left the Wilderlands and came to Thunder Rift (see TSR's 9435, Rage of the Rakasta), according to one legend. Alternately, the dwarven mines may contain a portal to the d20 Modern Urban Arcana campaign setting (see above), which is also home to several magical items known as Cat's Eye Rings that may have been created using the original relic as a model.
Practically any other RPG system or supplement can be used as the design basis for an outer plane or an alternate Prime plane. Immortal PCs charged with observing and reporting on other planar activity can be converted for use in a superhero RPG where their abilities would be on par with the other costumed characters they encounter, for example.