Saturday, November 3, 2018

Why Greyhawk & Mystara Matter For OSR & Old School Campaigns

Its got me thinking over the weekend how does Mystara, Greyhawk, & a setting like Calidar fit together?! Greyhawk is one of my all time favorite old school campaign settings not simply because of the finger prints of Gary Gygax but The Flanaess has its own world & adventure flavor. Mystara is an awesome campaign setting with some great high level adventures Test of  Warlords, Deaths Ride, &  Sabre River spring to mind. The  B/X rulebooks has the brief Grand Duchy info &  map are in the Expert rulebook  & X1 The Isle of Dread  has the subcontinent map. Both of these can be customized as the dictates of the players & the campaign call for. All of this fits together with the invention of the skyships. These ships may have trade routes between campaign settings.

GAZ1 The Grand Duchy of Karameikos has some excellent information that could dovetail adventure hooks into the back end of  the Calidar setting. Greyhawk and Mystara share a number of weird setting details making me wonder if the planes merge at certain planar fracture points. The Vault of Pandius has a short list of setting elements these worlds have in common.

Using Blackmoor in Your Mystara Campaign by Havard
from the Vaults of Pandius site has a number of adventure elements that could be used to augment adventure & campaign  cross overs. This is especially true of Blackmoor whose dimensional & planar instability at certain places is well known. Air ships from different worlds & planar realms may not be an unknown sight in the sky. They may perhaps be legendary but know unknown to the general populous.

 Campaigns with multiple settings would have to take full advantage of ancient trade routes overlapping several campaign worlds.
FromAlphatia to Calidar byFrancesco Defferrari (Sturm) from Threshold magazine issue 11 takes full advantage of this. The central campaign setting spoke is going to be Blackmoor & Greyhawk in my humble opinion. These settings have so much weight with Dungeons & Dragons players that they are almost instantly recognizable. The unique nature of Calidar makes the setting unique & allows for overlap with Greyhawk;
"Calidar in just a few sentences as the setting is wonderfully rich with original themes and distinctive features. It’s not just a world, but a whole solar system, the Soltan Ephemeris, where different cultures interact and clash. It has magical flying ships, but the magic power to travel between worlds is not cheap, and the competition to acquire it is fierce. It has a central world, the namesake Calidar, with a few developed nations and a huge expanse of wild lands, where the World Soul of the planet is ready to react with hostility to any exploitation. It has, indeed, living planets with complex ecologies. It has dragons, obviously, and draconic knights serving them and eager to conquer new worlds and lands. It has steampunk dwarves and imperial elves, gnomes with a special connection to the natural world and savage halflings called fellfolk, who in some places have embraced the gifts of civilization. It has humanoids, who come periodically from the alien world of Ghüle to raid and take prisoners for their dark gods. It has heroes, who can literally become immortals and even gods, if they are able to earn a lasting fame."

This allows the position of adventuring parties unique because they can literally earn their way across the planes on passage aboard a skyship. These adventurers are going to have a myriad of adventure & employment opportunities.

To me Greyhawk & Blackmoor matter because both of these locations are going to be benchmark & foundation settings for the generation of adventurers for these other unique campaign location settings. The dangers are also going to quite high with a lethality rate of adventurers is almost going to be of Biblical proportions. The real issue is going to be how the dungeon master balances the world setting elements so that the campaign flows together easily & the players don't get hung up on the old school vs OSR details. Several of the NPC factions of Greyhawk & Blackmoor can be quite nasty & have the ability to plane jump or journey making the player's PCs not quite as safe as they think. Dragons, liches, & even the gods or immortals may take a direct hand in the adventuring lives of PCs. All of this comes from the strength of Calidar, Greyhawk, & Mystara as viable campaign settings. Merging & overlapping them is a natural progression for a dungeon master.

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