Experiences running Known World campaigns with other games

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Experiences running Known World campaigns with other games

Postby rabindranath72 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:11 am

Hi all,
as the topic says, I'd be interested in reading your experiences running Known World campaigns with games other than BECMI. I am mostly interested in other D&D versions, but if you did something with other games, I'd be interested in hearing from you as well.
Personally, I have "dabbled" with practically all D&D versions under the sun, but for one reason or another it never lasted long; most of the time only a few sessions. The most successful "other game" I ran was in 2000 when the 3.0 rules were fresh off the print; I didn't spend any time converting though, I simply took the rules "as is" and ran with them, as I have never been interested in full conversions.
Recently, I have been interested in running Known World games again, and I have been looking at D&D 3.0, 4e, 5e and 13th Age as possible candidates; and in the back of my mind WFRP 1e calls as well (as the magic system is still reasonably similar to what we see in D&D.)

Cheers,
Antonio

EDIT: Forgot to add: I have been running a BECMI campaign for the last 5 years for a group of three players; we only play a few sessions each year as they are in Italy and I have been living in UK for the last 12 years. Last year we decided to give 5e a go, so we converted the 7th level PCs (magic-user, thief and elf) to 5e (wizard/evoker, rogue/thief and high elf fighter/eldritch knight) and I sent them from Alfheim to Ravenloft to experience Curse of Strahd. The magic-user player (which is the more experienced) loved the change to 5e, but the other two players (my brother and sister) didn't particularly enjoy the change due to the added complexity (mostly the action economy); my brother has only ever played BECMI (he is 20 now, I introduced him to the game when he was 9) and my sister has mostly played BECMI with a few 2e and 3e sessions interspersed through the years. So I am not sure we'll stay with 5e after we finish Curse of Strahd.
Last edited by rabindranath72 on Thu Dec 21, 2017 3:14 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Experiences running Known World games with other games

Postby RobJN » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:15 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:Hi all,
as the topic says, I'd be interested in reading your experiences running Known World campaigns with games other than BECMI. I am mostly interested in other D&D versions, but if you did something with other games, I'd be interested in hearing from you as well.
Personally, I have "dabbled" with practically all D&D versions under the sun, but for one reason or another it never lasted long; most of the time only a few sessions. The most successful "other game" I ran was in 2000 when the 3.0 rules were fresh off the print; I didn't spend any time converting though, I simply took the rules "as is" and ran with them, as I have never been interested in full conversions.
Recently, I have been interested in running Known World games again, and I have been looking at D&D 3.0, 4e, 5e and 13th Age as possible candidates; and in the back of my mind WFRP 1e calls as well (as the magic system is still reasonably similar to what we see in D&D.)

Cheers,
Antonio

I've been running an on-again, off-again 5e campaign with the missus, elf-centric, taking place in the Sylvan Realm. So far it's been mostly by-the-book, with a few tweaks to make things fall in line with the mythology and cosmology of Thorn's Mystara.

EDIT: Prior to this, back when high school was winding down, I briefly ran my group through a home-brewed adventure using the 2ed-ification of Karameikos.

Edit again: Technically, my Throne of Stars play by post -- being set in the last days of Blackmoor, and thus, Mystara's past--
runs on the Alternity Sci-fi RPG system
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby agathokles » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:57 pm

I played for quite some time Mystara with AD&D 2e. Not too many differences from BECMI, of course.

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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby shesheyan » Thu Dec 21, 2017 4:49 pm

Yes. Know World was my backdrop for 2e and 3e campaigns. But I never ran it «as is». I used the Gazetteers as source material only, renamed the countries and changed a few things for flavour. Each time I drew a new world map, changing the geographical relations between the countries. I don't like it when the players are very knowledgable about the world the play in. Ideally they shouldn't know more than their characters.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby Havard » Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:35 pm

Great topic!

I have run Mystara campaigns with the following RPGs
  • D&D BECMI
  • AD&D 2nd Edition
  • D&D 3rd Edition
  • D&D 4th Edition (just a single session)
  • D&D 5th Edition
  • TORG/MasterBook
  • GURPS 3rd Edition
  • SAGA (Dragonlance 5th Age)

A few thoughts based on my experiences
1) Don't work against the system. It will never feel completely like BECMI, but isn't that why you are trying something different?
2) You don't have to convert stuff you will never use
3) Let the players have fun: I have two sorcerers in my current 5E game. One Tiefling and one Dragonborn. I was originally going to ban these races/classes, but since they really wanted to, I just let them play those characters. They will never meet any NPCs from those races and classes though.


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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby Big Mac » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:35 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:Recently, I have been interested in running Known World games again, and I have been looking at D&D 3.0, 4e, 5e and 13th Age as possible candidates; and in the back of my mind WFRP 1e calls as well (as the magic system is still reasonably similar to what we see in D&D.)


There is a Mystara 3E Conversion Project and a Mystara 4E Conversion Project at The Piazza. If you do decide to go with 3e or 4e, it would be great if you could help playtest the work of one or both of the projects, to help them move forward*.

* = Says the dude with the stalled Spelljammer conversion project.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby Traianus » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:49 pm

I've run 3.5E and currently use Pathfinder. Biggest issue we've had is controlling the sheer number of options each of those offer to keep everything in line with the flavor of the Known World. Otherwise they were both fun systems to use.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby stebehil » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:23 pm

Ages ago, I was a player in a AD&D2 game which the DM set up as a truly epic game. The characters were extremly high-powered (high stats, high level and high-powered magic items), the main enemy way a demon lord (was it Alphaks?) who wanted to destroy us and half Norwold (where the campaign was set). I think it was that party that conquered Qeodhar before breakfast one day...
It was as close to a superhero game as you can get with AD&D. My dwarven fighter/cleric 9/9 had 19s in Strength, Constitution and Wisdom - that kind of high powered. Oh, and did I mention the Gauntlets of Ogre Power, the Girdle of Storm Giant Strength and the Hammer of Thunderbolts? That kind of high powered. (Which was the DMs idea, both the high stats and the magic items) We had other than my dwarf only humans, a karameikan cleric of Petra, I think, an alphatian wizardress, a thyatian fighter and a paladin whose origin I do not recall. the paladin and the wizardress were the main characters, who had some destiny to fulfill, and ruled a kingdom or a barony.
At some point during that campaign, I needed a change, and played a human merchant rogue/sha´ir dual-class character from Ylaruam for a while, until I had to concede that I´m just not the type to play flamboyant and poetic characters - gruff dwarves just suit me more.

Of course, AD&D is a relatively easy fit into the Known World. The usage of the rules just felt natural.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby rabindranath72 » Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:43 am

Havard wrote:Great topic!

I have run Mystara campaigns with the following RPGs
  • D&D BECMI
  • AD&D 2nd Edition
  • D&D 3rd Edition
  • D&D 4th Edition (just a single session)
  • D&D 5th Edition
  • TORG/MasterBook
  • GURPS 3rd Edition
  • SAGA (Dragonlance 5th Age)

A few thoughts based on my experiences
1) Don't work against the system. It will never feel completely like BECMI, but isn't that why you are trying something different?
2) You don't have to convert stuff you will never use
3) Let the players have fun: I have two sorcerers in my current 5E game. One Tiefling and one Dragonborn. I was originally going to ban these races/classes, but since they really wanted to, I just let them play those characters. They will never meet any NPCs from those races and classes though.


-Havard

Thanks Havard!
I wholeheartedly agree with all your points.

The idea of going off the beaten path, so to speak, is to try something new. This is probably one of the reasons the "worst" experience I had with the setting was with AD&D 2e; as stebehil noted, you would expect AD&D to be an easy fit, and in my experience, it's so close to BECMI anyway that there's really not much of a point, ruleswise, in going that route. Actually, TSR could have done so much with 2e by actually using more of its characteristics, for example tailoring cleric spheres to the alignments (I know some stuff was produced in this sense, but it's a hack job, honestly); in general we found the Mystara 2e offerings to be quite lacklustre (though we loved the Monstrous Compendium.)

I have never converted wholesale; my interest in Known World has always been centered mostly around Karameikos, Northern Reaches, Norwold and Alfheim, and in terms of character options, only the stuff we see in the core books, with possible GAZ extensions for the demihumans (so, dwarf clerics, halfling masters and elf alternate wizard progression). I was never interested in the additional human classes or alternate PC races. So, to reply to Big Mac, I never had much interest in the Conversion Projects. Keep It Simple Stupid is my philosophy when it comes to conversions.

As a final point, besides not wanting conversions, I don't want to create new stuff wholesale or change the rules. If I tell the players we are playing 5e, say, they'll rightfully expect just that. One of the strengths of converting from BECMI, is that the classes are very simple, so they can fit at least thematically quite a lot of options from more complex systems. As long as the salient points of archetypes are maintained, I am happy. Reinforcing the roles of archetypes also makes the more complex rules more accessible and game preparation simpler.
So an Elf seen as a "demihuman character that fights and casts arcane spells" gives quite a lot of leeway to improvise. In 3.0 I had such a character converted to a Elf Ranger/Wizard. In 4e I can see a Elf Swordmage or Blade Dancer, or some type of multiclassing working well. In 13th Age either a multiclass Elf Ranger/Wizard, or am exceedingly simple Elf Ranger with the Sorcery talent. In 5e a High Elf Eldritch Knight would work in a pinch. I know they are not "perfect pitch" conversions, but the point is I *don't* want that.

Thanks everyone for chiming in with your experiences!
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby RobJN » Sat Dec 23, 2017 3:44 pm

I'll fully agree with Havard on the "don't convert what you don't need" and "don't break the system to fit BECMI."

(If you wanted a 100 percent fit BECMI, you'd obviously be playing with that system)

"5b" (the free 'basic' version of 5th edition) really invokes the feel of BECMI D&D to me, with it's trimmed-down-to-a-single-archetype "core 4" classes and truncated spell lists. Or maybe it's just the fact that there are no half-orcs, tieflings, and dragonborn :P

I tried to start the missus with the slimmed-down rules, but she'd already gotten her hands on the Player's Handbook. Yeah. I'm pretty sure she also learned to ride a bike without bothering with training wheels.

Alternity, on the other hand, makes for a great system to use in fusing the sci-fi and fantasy elements. Some elements of the game have simply been re-skinned: for example, the computers/programs subsystem has been tweaked over to mimic spell books and spells. One of the major NPCs started out as a middle-grade computer AI from Blackmoor University, and would manifest to the characters as a ghost would in D&D. What the system calls "trauma packs" are really just healing potions. (Shh! Don't tell the players!)
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby JamesMishler » Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:02 pm

I have run Mystara using:

B/X (back when it was "The Continental Map" of X1)
BECMI
1st Edition AD&D
2nd Edition AD&D
3rd Edition D&D
4th Edition HackMaster
Labyrinth Lord (with AEC)

I have yet to run in Mystara using 5E, but that I am sure is a simple matter.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby Doc Chaos » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:47 am

I like Pathfinder. A quick reskinning of the campaign material so that it fits on Mystara, and zap! I "headcanon" on the Isle of Dawn in Redstone. There's a article on the Vaults called To start a city. I've took a map of Fallcrest from Forgotten Realms and used it to replace Alexandria. Redstone has a lot of Fey so I put a ley line through a few hexes, made it foggy, put some ghost and haunts.
Oddly there is no Golarian equivalent to Ireland to skim from.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby Morten » Thu Dec 28, 2017 3:32 pm

Mystara were the first campaign world I played in and the first I gm’ed in, and I allways had a soft spot in my heart for Mystara, or The Known World as it was called when we started gaming.
We started with the basic set and graduated to expert soon enough. Then we had a short forray into AD&D 1st.ed. All with Known World, but back then (the late 80’s) we didn’t allways have a very conscious relationship with the setting. It was more like take and borrow from wherever.
That first group eventually broke up and I found other gamers and a new regular group. It fell on me to gm, and of course I used Mystara Known World. By then it was AD&D 2nd.ed. But there was very little conscious effort put into conversion.

Nowdays I use Dungeon World for our campaigns in Mystara. I’m currently gm’ing two separate groups through B10 Nights Dark Terror. DW is very easy to gm and the little conversion that has been necessary has been mostly common sense. The one big conversion job I did take on was make 5 new playbooks (DW classes). I wanted to have all the characters be Traladareans, and play up the conflict between the Thyatians and the Traladareans in Karameikos. So I made new playbooks that all are grounded in the Traladarean culture, and I took inspiration from RW slavic culture, mythology, traditions and farytales.
In DW you don’t usually prep adventures in the same way I used to do in D&D either, so I use Night’s Dark Terror mostly as a loose framwork and source of ideas and inspiration, and let the action in play determine what happens next.

But I have to say Dungeon World and Mystara are a glorius, beautiful, fantastic match. DW supports exiting, high adventure where the characters actons and the players involvement matters a lot. And especially the last thing is something I need as a gm to not get burned out, but constantly get that 'gm high'.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby stebehil » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:50 am

Morten wrote: I wanted to have all the characters be Traladareans, and play up the conflict between the Thyatians and the Traladareans in Karameikos. So I made new playbooks that all are grounded in the Traladarean culture, and I took inspiration from RW slavic culture, mythology, traditions and farytales.


That sounds intriguing. Is this something you might want to share?
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby Morten » Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:40 pm

stebehil wrote:
Morten wrote: I wanted to have all the characters be Traladareans, and play up the conflict between the Thyatians and the Traladareans in Karameikos. So I made new playbooks that all are grounded in the Traladarean culture, and I took inspiration from RW slavic culture, mythology, traditions and farytales.


That sounds intriguing. Is this something you might want to share?


I’ve been brewning on something along those lines. But I’m uncertain about how much interest there is for such an uncanonical campaign. And it would quickly become quite a long post, so I’ve been putting it off. But maybe, if there is interest.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby Yaztromo » Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:44 pm

Many years ago i played few adventures in Mystara using Warhammer RPG, that the Game Master of the time liked a lot.
I think that the adventures in Karameikos and the Northern Reaches went well, but when we moved to Glantri things didn't work well with that system. In general my recollection is that reasonably low magic parts of Mystara are easier to manage, while Glantri (that for sure is one of the funniest and most exciting bits) is very ingrained with BECMI magic mechanics and it is difficult to run smoothly with systems that have very different rulesets for handling magic. I guess that for Glantri you really need to do a lot of conversion work.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby agathokles » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:51 am

Yaztromo wrote:Many years ago i played few adventures in Mystara using Warhammer RPG, that the Game Master of the time liked a lot.
I think that the adventures in Karameikos and the Northern Reaches went well, but when we moved to Glantri things didn't work well with that system. In general my recollection is that reasonably low magic parts of Mystara are easier to manage, while Glantri (that for sure is one of the funniest and most exciting bits) is very ingrained with BECMI magic mechanics and it is difficult to run smoothly with systems that have very different rulesets for handling magic. I guess that for Glantri you really need to do a lot of conversion work.


I agree. Warhammer limits mages quite a bit, so high level or high magic settings are not easy to adapt. The Hollow World, however, could fit.

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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby rabindranath72 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:29 am

Yaztromo wrote:Many years ago i played few adventures in Mystara using Warhammer RPG, that the Game Master of the time liked a lot.
I think that the adventures in Karameikos and the Northern Reaches went well, but when we moved to Glantri things didn't work well with that system. In general my recollection is that reasonably low magic parts of Mystara are easier to manage, while Glantri (that for sure is one of the funniest and most exciting bits) is very ingrained with BECMI magic mechanics and it is difficult to run smoothly with systems that have very different rulesets for handling magic. I guess that for Glantri you really need to do a lot of conversion work.

That's interesting; did you use WFRP 2e or 1e? Magic in 2e is not very D&D-like, hence I had thought of using 1e since (at least at "low levels") magic is pretty similar. My campaign would be set in Karameikos and possibly later in Norwold, so having high levels of magic may not prove to be a big problem.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby Yaztromo » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:39 pm

Checking out the dates of publication of WFRP2e, it was surely 1e, as we played these games in the late Eighties.
Sorry I don't remember more detail on top of the mentioned.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby Mike » Thu Feb 01, 2018 5:51 pm

Games I've used for the KW:
  • B/X D&D
  • Rules Cyclopedia
  • AD&D
  • GURPS
  • D&D 3.0
  • Savage Worlds
  • Fudge
  • Fantasy Hero 5E
  • Dungeon World
  • Systemless

Notes
  • The earliest games were the old Known World setting from X1, and used B/X and GURPS. In those campaigns, The only modules I had were B2, X1, and XSOLO1 (Lathan's Gold). I placed a desert directly west of lake Amsorak, inspired partly by the Sea of Dust from Greyhawk. The world was a sparsely populated wilderness. Notable characters included a fighter who led a band of viking reavers to pillage the Sea of Dread, and a magic user who reached name level and built a lakeshore tower in Rockhome. (In that campaign it was wilderness, the dwarves did not claim the surface.)
  • The longest and silliest campaign used D&D 3E, Fudge, B/X, and AD&D, and ran two years of weekly play. Yes we switched systems a lot! It technically started as a 3E playtest in Greyhawk and moved to Mystara by the second session, by way of Narnia. It featured trips to the Isle of Dread, Averoigne (via X4), hell (to meet Orcus), entrepreneurship (Galen's flying pizza delivery service), research (the Dreadmage prestige class, who gains his power from smoking dreadweed), foiling a plot to stop Tharizdun from entering Mystara, nation-building (a biblical style Exodus and resettlement), and drug running (various hijinks involving dreadweed and zzonga).
  • The most frequent rules used have been B/X. In the mid-80s I mixed AD&D into my B/X, but otherwise use it straight up. In some campaigns I cap the level of all PCs and NPCs at 14th; sometimes I play 36-level B/X (a la X4).
  • One of the most unusual and memorable games was systemless; it was played in the car on a road trip without dice or rules, but generally followed D&D and Mystara conventions. It involved a Rakasta PC who traveled to Lion Castle in Ethengar and involving Heldannic warbirds.
  • The most enduring character is my son's elf who started in the Caves of Chaos, went to Hell to destroy the artifacts found in the shrine of chaos, spent a year-long campaign on the Isle of Dread, then ran through Blade of Vengeance and became Lord of the Grunalf clan, married into the royal family and finally retired at 10th level.
  • The most recent campaign (still running) is Fantasy Hero, running a solo elf through Master of the Desert Nomads, the noble son of the previous elf. This is a roughly 450-pt character. I have a customized arc planned incorporating X4, X5, and X10.

Wow, what a trip down memory lane. I didn't realized I'd played so much in the KW, in so many systems.
I started playing in the Known World around 1982 when i picked up the Expert boxed set, but it was almost all homebrew because I had few modules. In the late 80s I started mixing in ideas from the Greyhawk boxed sets and other sources, but knew nothing of the Gazetteer era Mystara until the late 1990s, when I picked up a used Rules Cyclopedia and subscribed to the old Mystara Mailing List. It was a thread on elven migrations that piqued my interest and started me collecting material and learning about the Mystara era. My version of the KW was very different than the way Mystara developed.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby ghendar » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:21 pm

If I ever get to run Known World, I will likely use it with B/X as the base. I will probably pilfer some stuff from Labyrinth Lord and/or Basic Fantasy RPG and probably pick through BECMI just to be on safe side. Hell, I'd probably pilfer from 1e too.

I'll also start literally with the B/X Known World map. Although I've always liked Mystara, the cultural pastiche has always bothered me to a degree. I find myself wanting to start with that early map and build my own Known World.
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby rabindranath72 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:40 am

Hey Mike, that's all kind of cool! I too am pretty eclectic when it comes to game systems, and I like to explore settings with different rules sets just for the fun of it :D
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Re: Experiences running Known World campaigns with other gam

Postby Cthulhudrew » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:25 pm

I never did get around to finding a group to do it with, but I long toyed with the idea of running an Amber Diceless campaign with the Known World, using Glantri as Amber and Alphatia as the Courts of Chaos (the Radiance would have been the Pattern, with some kind of Alphatian equivalent being the Logrus).
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