In the Basic Set you learned to crawl through dungeons and defeat the minions of evil. In the Expert Set you set out on wanderings through the wilderness. In the Companion Set you climbed to the pinnacle of success and founded kingdoms, conquered wild lands, and battled barbarian hordes. Now, in the Master Set, you can soar across the sky and into the pages of legend.
These books are written for the experienced D&D player. The Master Player's Book expands on the known abilities of characters with new skills and spells. The Dungeon Masters Book features three sections that have become a standard for each rules set: New Procedures, Monsters, and Magical Treasures, all designed with the Master Level characters in mind.
Now, you are only limited by your imagination. Answer the clarion call to adventure; the lands of legend await!"
Today I'm gonna talk about two books that don't seem to go together at all but fit together like hand & glove. "The D&D Master Rules Set (1985), by Frank Mentzer, is the fourth volume in Mentzer's BECMI rules series. It was published in June 1985", for most folks that's about the extent of this box set. A shrug & a 'meh' then they move on but that's a mistake. The D&D Master Rules Set (1985), is like the cherry on top. This is the rules set that puts the other side of the battle rules into the war machine system. There's also expanded classes, spell, and weapons to the ultimate levels of mortal D&D characters. Seems fairly straight forward right? The Millenian Empire of the Hollow World benefits quite a great deal by adding in 'The D&D Master Rules Set' to these Hollow World conquerors. Yes I said conquerors! "Once a great people in the Known World, the Milenians now administer a mighty Empire in the Hollow World. Loosely inspired by classical Greece, this is a nation of philosophers, oracles, architects, and mighty pikemen in a strange land where Citizens elect their own leaders, and ultimately the Emperor himself.
A society as political as Milenia cannot avoid intrigue, and the land is rife with conspiracies. From the would-be Kings to the lowly slaves, to the dark, grasping servants of chaos. It seems everyone in Milenia belongs to one secret society or another.
But even on the surface, there's plenty of drama: from the legendary Acropolis to the eccentric Academy of the Arcane Corisa, adventure calls you to the Milenian Empire!"
Well if we take 'The Master Rules' set & add it onto 'The Milenian Empire' book by Anthony Herring from 1992. Then we get a very dangerous empire indeed instead of a stagnate one that seems destined for the scrap pile of inner Mystara history. The military evolutionary stands of 'The Master Rules' expands upon the military options available for 'The Milenian Empire'. Oh indeed I can already hear the 'hurruf' from the old school traditionalist Mystara players.
There's damn good reason why the empire is going to need the sort of help that Frank Mentzer's offering in 'The D&D Master Rules. The empire is surrounded on all sides by enemies & the second the events of 'Immortals Fury' goes down that's going to prime opportunity for military action to begin.
Neither the 'Sons of Azca (HWR1)' nor 'Kingdom of Nithia (HWR2)' are going to sit on their collective rears. There's going to be a huge land grab & militarily that is going to really shake up the Hollow World. Then there's the fact that many of the immortals of Mystara are gonna be dead. 'The Milenian Empire' has a number of high ranking generals, warriors, etc. who are gonna be fit to take up the quest of immortality that is offered in "The D&D Master Rules Set (1985), by Frank Mentzer. This might well be a back door into Mystara immortality if the DM sees fit.
So why would I be pushing for a more military option for all three of these kingdoms?! Because the one group of cut throats that folks seem to forget could become a very dominate power in the Hollow World. The Merry Pirates who are made up of a quilted pattern of the collected scum of many of the races of the Hollow World & Mystara. Their itching to let loose on these empires to sack them. If your thinking that there isn't a Greyhawk connection here well you'll be very mistaken. The Merry Pirates have ties to The Lordship of the Isles . Their craft quietly slipping between the cracks of the planes shifting over to Greyhawk for a handy resupply & to sell ill gotten goods. Only to have them slip back into the Hollow World. What's one ship or even a fleet to the Council of Intrusion?
The merry pirates are the barbarians at the gate of the Hollow World. Their fleets represent some of the more advanced peoples of the 'Hollow World' & their waiting with their knives at the throats of the major empires. These empire's scum, prisoners, etc. all have swelled the ranks of the 'Merry Pirates' over the years.
Attack by Pirates By Artist Arnold Böcklin
"The D&D Master Rules Set (1985), by Frank Mentzer, is perfectly suited to show the spoils of war, violence of battle, the cost of blood shed, & futility of the siege in the Hollow World. There are spells, new artifacts, alternative paths to becoming an immortal, etc. many of which were reconned in the Immortals Box set. But its nice to have those on the table to decide how & when you need your options as dungeon master for your players.