Dungeons and Dragons – Mystara
Design Part 10 – Timeline Overview
I have run many games over the last thirty years, and the games that were most loved by he players were ones that included rumours and stories about events happening around the world. It is not a simple task to set this up, not knowing what your players will be interested in. There are a few things to consider when building a timeline for a campaign:
This is a discussion on the setting as well as what I am doing with the timeline. It is the first in a series of posts about my changes and how they affect the games I am running in Mystara.
What is the Setting?
The setting is based around the Mystara world, also referred to as the Known World and Hollow World (with adventures in Blackmoor) created as the core setting for Dungeons and Dragons while Greyhawk, Forgotten Realm and Dragonlance were the settings for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. During 2nd edition Advance Dungeons and Dragons a few supplements made their way into the Mystara brand including Red Steel.
The core concept of the setting is that it is based around a idea of real world cultures adapted to the fantasy setting. This means that new players, or players who have not encountered a setting can be given a reference such as Mongolian = Ethengar or Indigenous American = Atruaghin Clans, and lastly Roman = Thyatian culture.
This will cover the following nations and the related events:
- Alfheim (Kingdom of) – The nation of forest elves located inside the borders of Darokin. The elves have a spiritual link with the land.
- Alphatia (Empire of) – This covers a large region from the Continent of Alphatia, Bellrissia and the Eastern side of the Isle of Dawn, and many islands in the region. They have a greek feel to their cultural identity.
- Atruaghin (Clans) – This is a group of five clans with many tribes in each clan. They are largely human with a number of animalistic and monstrous races among them as symbols of their tribal totems.
- Broken Lands – A grouping of undesirable Orc, Troll, Goblinoid and Gnoll nations forced out of other nearby lands.
- Darokin (Republic of) – A renaissance style country based around trade and guilds.
- Ethengar (Khanates) – A group of mongol like clans (called Khan’s) each with their own tribes, lead by a single great Khan.
- Five Shires – The home of the halflings with five separate shires to represent each of the five elements of their society.
- Glantri (Principalities) – A nation of wizards, ruled by wizards, for wizards. Each principality is its own culture.
- Hollow World (Nations of) – A Group of nations based on the history of the setting, each resembling a real world.
- Ierendi (Kingdom of) – A holiday destination for the wealthy, but also home to pirates and those who don’t wish to be disturbed. They are the corsairs of the sea.
- Karameikos (Grand Duchy of) – A splinter nation of Thyatis, a young nation of thirty years still finding its feet with a roman style rule over eastern European peasantry.
- Minrothad (Guilds of) – A nation of sea traders and guilds, much like Darokin.
- Northern Reaches – A set of interconnected nations of Ostland, Vestland and the Soderfjord Jarldoms. They follow a norse style mythology and a viking like culture.
- Norwold (Kingdoms of) – This includes the Heldannic Territories, Wendar, Wyrmsteeth and Denogoth.
- Rockhome (Kingdom of) – The home of dwarves. Most at home underground.
- Shadowlands – This is a connected series of kingdoms for all the races of darkness that dwell under the earth.
- Thunder Rift (Plane of) – A continent sized plane connected to the world.
- Thyatis (Empire of) – A large nation that incorporates the western side of the Isle of Dawn, the northern part of the southern continent and a substantial part of the known world.
- Ylaruam (Emirates of) – A series of smaller nations united by the beliefs of their god and a better way of life.
Does the Setting have Special Events?
Each game year special events are due to pop up in various nations of the world. These events represent the published works in the setting as well as the newly released 5th Edition modules that I have adapted to the setting.
Certain events in the game are expected to be long lasting keystone storylines that will shape the world over the timeline.
The original concept of this multi-campaign arc was to have mini campaigns that lead to the start of the core campaign, but that fell short when players suffered from changing their characters every two months (4 sessions) and lost connection to them, so when the actual campaign started they were gone.
How much can players change
The players will be responsible for many of the outcomes, either through choosing to be part of it, or allowing it to happen somewhere else.
When they are participating in the event, how they act, what they do, and how they leave it will become instrumental in how they event concludes.
This does not mean that all events have happy endings. It is possible that the players can be responsible for the worst events of the timeline.
Will it be true to the official timeline
The official timeline is of Wrath of the Immortal is set between AC 1004 and AC 1009. This is a re-write of the timeline to have the events happen from AC 1000 to 1020 with each game year proving 1 character level.
Some historical events will be added as I go to clean up this version of the world and help the players write their own mark on the world. Each of the posts about that game year will have impacts on the relevant nation, and may introduce new or missing nations to the gazetteer list.
How can you make the setting appear vibrant and alive
This will be done by having each years events planned out in advance so the players can hear about them as they occur as rumours, plan some of them, and have their backstories be relevant to the ongoing storyline.
No character is a vacuum. Each adds to the narrative. The timeline is where all the campaigns, characters and stories will be tied together and become the glue for the campaign. I am hoping that it will stick and become something worth reading.
My three Mystara campaigns are about 20 sessions (or one year of play) into the story, each of them at different points in time so the effects of those behind will be felt less, but those ahead are already making waves that will be felt by the others.
- 2021-07-31 – Updating layout and links
- 2020-04-18 – Structure update.
- 2020-03-27 – Structure.
- 2019-12-04 – Listing all the nations that will be included in the timeline discussion, and what they are.
Overview, Historic Events, AC 1000, AC 1001, AC 1002, AC 1003, AC 1004, AC 1005, AC 1006, AC 1007, AC 1008, AC 1009, AC 1010, AC 1011, AC 1012, AC 1013, AC 1014, AC 1015, AC 1016, AC 1017, AC 1018, AC 1019, AC 1020
D&D Menu – Adventures, Artefacts, Backgrounds, Classes, Dominions, Downtime, Feats, Gazetteers, Gods, Magical Items, Monsters, Organisations, Pantheons, Races, Ranks & Titles, Rune Magic, Secret Crafts, Settlements, Spells, Timeline, Weapons Mastery
Class Builds – Artificer – Bombardier (Tinkerkin), Barbarian – Totem Warrior (Ethegnarian), Totem Warrior (Heldannic), Bard – College of Valour (Sunfey), Druid – Circle of Dreams (Woodfey), Circle of the Tree of Life (Seasonfey), Fighter – Battlemaster (Seashire), Eldritch Knight (Kerendan), Weapons Master (Makai), Weapons Master (Stonebound), Monk – Way of the Elements (Waterchild), Paladin – Oath of Radiance (Sunfey), Oath of Vengeance (Firechild), Sorcerer – Wild Magic (Shadowfey), Warlock – Celestial (Sunfey), Wizard – Bladesinger (Seasonfey), Dragon – White. Multiclass – Cleric/Wizard (Ethengarian), Rogue/Cleric (Atruaghin), Rogue/Sorcerer (Seashire), Wizard/Rogue (Traladaran)
Floorplans – Thyatian
Session Recordings – Campaign Journals
This site is constantly under revision, no blog posts are final as this is a work in progress place for me to develop my game settings and rules. Some posts might be placeholders for future content, so feel free to check back later for updated information.