DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

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DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Havard »

From the Wikipedia
DragonStrike was a 1993 adventure board game from TSR, Inc. based on the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. DragonStrike was intended to serve as an introduction to the D&D role-playing game, and used greatly simplified versions of the Basic D&D rules. The game came with several fold-out maps for use as the board, a number of plastic miniatures to represent the player characters and monsters, and various other game pieces. Also included were several pre-written quests available for play, including several single-player adventures. Its most distinctive feature, however, was the inclusion of a video tutorial on how to play the game. The method by which the players in the video play the game bears only a moderate resemblance to the actual game as described in the official rulebook. The video primarily used live actors, but was bolstered by then-cutting edge 3D graphics which were used to illustrate various magical effects and monsters, such as the game's titular dragon.

A later board game, also titled DragonStrike, had nothing to do with the original board game or the Dungeons & Dragons game. This later DragonStrike game was released by Hasbro (which had by this point bought out Wizards of the Coast, the company that owned TSR, Inc.), and had the players race each other to escape from a motorized dragon.
Due to the connection of the first DragonStrike game to D&D, including the DragonStrike logo featuring the red dragon from the Black Box D&D Introductory set, would it be fair to say that there is a connection between DragonStrike and Mystara?

The reason I ask, is that there are at least two Endless Quest books said to be set in the world of DragonStrike; Dungeon of Fear and Forest of Darkness. Both written by Michael Andrews, with covers by Jeff Easley and interior art by Terry Dykstra. I just ordered Dungeon of Fear from Amazon...

With their association with the later era Classic D&D, perhaps they could be considered part of the Thunder Rift line?

Also, there is this 30 minute long and kind of embarassing video...

The Heroes of the video are:
  • Dare(Warrior)
  • Arakeela/Keela(Thief)
  • Deathmark(Wizard)
  • Greenthorne(Elf)
This Blog has some more info on the game.

Dragonstrike Fiction
  • Forest of Darkness, by Michael Andrews (Game Book)
  • Dungeon of Fear, by Michael Andrews (Game Book)
  • The Elf's Tale, by Michael Andrews (Shared pseudonym used in this case by Bruce Heard)
  • The Thief's Tale, by Michael Andrews (Shared pseudonym used in this case by Andria Haydey)
  • The Warrior's Tale, by Michael Andrews (Shared pseudonym used in this case by Bruce Nesmith)
  • The Wizard's Tale, by Michael Andrews (Shared pseudonym used in this case by Timothy Brown)
  • Dragonstrike #1: Before the Strike, by Jeff Grub (Comic Book)
Dragonstrike and Thunder Rift Thread

A second game, Wildspace, was planned but never published.

Wildspace Video


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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Havard »

Here's what I have been able to come up with about the DragonStrike novels so far:

Image
Dungeon of Fear
Series: Endless Quest #37
Author: Michael Andrews
Illustrators: Jeff Easley (cover)
Terry Dykstra (interior)
Release Date: 1994


Image
Forest of Darkness:
Series: Endless Quest #42
Author: Michael Andrews
Illustrators: Jeff Easley (cover)
Terry Dykstra (interior)
Summary: You and your companions have just escaped the wizard Teraptus, but the journey home may not be as simple as you thought.
Fireguard's Thoughts:
This book is the sequel to the cheesy tutorial video that came with the Dragon Strike board game, which can be seen at The Spoony Experiment if you don't mind smart alec reviewer commentary. In case you're wondering why there isn't an Endless Quest book that covers the first part of the adventure.

In any case, like its parent, Forest of Darkness varies from silly to nothing to write home about. Most of the choices are pretty obvious, and the first one is completely bogus which left me annoyed with the book before the adventure even started. Maybe the author thought he was giving me a freebie before the choices meant life or death but it still seemed like a pointless thing to do.

The story is further hampered by boring characters and encounters, and more or less the same premise as the story of the video: you're expected to find a source of world-ending magic that's really easy to destroy once you actually get to it. It's not astoundingly good or terribly bad, but who would expect a stellar book to follow that video?

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Plaag »

I had the game, and kept the books and pieces from it, though I can't find any of it right now. I'll keep looking unless someone gets to it first. I'm sure there was some proper names given in the game, if they exist in Mystara or not I don't recall.

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Thorf »

It's sort of off-topic, but I just checked on the font used for this logo. As you can probably see, "Dragon" is in the same font as the newer Dungeons & Dragons logo. The "Strike" is another matter, though. The "S", "r" and "e" are all the same font, but they were all present in the original logo anyway. It looks as if perhaps they lost access to the font in the meantime or something, because the other characters are a little strange. The "i" has a bit missing; the "k" is at least customised, and perhaps different altogether; and the "t" is totally different - it looks like it has been hand-drawn in fact, as it's rather primitive compared to the rest of the logo.

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Havard »

Plaag wrote:I had the game, and kept the books and pieces from it, though I can't find any of it right now. I'll keep looking unless someone gets to it first. I'm sure there was some proper names given in the game, if they exist in Mystara or not I don't recall.
They probably don't, but I figured it was something we might be able to incorporate.

The video I linked to mentions the name of a king or other, but I can't make out what it is. Also, the wizard Teraptus from both the video and the follow-up novel, Forest of Darkness could be an interesting villain. :twisted:

My current working theory is that this could be linked to some part of Thunder Rift's history when Thunder Rift was still a kingdom...

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Plaag »

I can't find the stuff I saved, but I just know it'll show up when I'm not looking for it :|

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Havard »

Plaag wrote:I can't find the stuff I saved, but I just know it'll show up when I'm not looking for it :|
Okay, let me know if you ever find it :)

I just got my hands on Dungeon of Fear, so Im going to read through that one in search for usable info. :)

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Plaag »

Found it! :D

List of names:
Lord Narran
Griz the Good Wizard
DarkFyre
Grenarde's Market
Penny's Money Lending
Tennar's Exotic Wares
Tin Cup Tavern
Grunt the Giant
Brutus, the infamous Bugbear Bandit
King Halvor
Teraptus
Skullmasher
Skullmasher's Castle
Lady Aleetha
Silver Scepter
Caves of Doom
Rockbones the Giant
Sleepy Head Inn
Veldik's Imports
Alana's Marvelous Magic
Pauline
Big Bones
Iron Shoe Stable
Radin's Smithy
Stitch-in-Time Tailor
Bruno
Sunstone
Axrock
Darkhold Keep

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Tom Mathews »

The names of the four characters in the video:

Dare(Warrior)
Arakeela/Keela(Thief)
Deathmark(Wizard)
Greenthorne(Elf)

And now a couple of others from Endless Quest: A Wild Ride(this is also the only WildSpace/Spelljammer Endless Quest book):

Malakeesh the Necromancer
Nisha(Malakeesh's apprentice)

BTW it's King Halvor the Second who is the king in that DragonStrike video.

Apparently those four heroes from the video fought off some sort of Illithid invasion(probably from the aborted WildSpace boardgame) before they showed up on the Rock of Bral.

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Havard »

Thanks for providing those names Plaag and Tom!

King Halvor might be tricky to fit into Mystara. One idea would be to make him a historical ruler of Thunder Rift...

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Dread Delgath »

King Halvor sounds familiar to my Greyhawkian bent mind... or maybe this is a name from the Forgotten Realms. But I do have the 1993 game AND the embarrassing video introduction. :oops: At the time of purchase, I & family & friends had a blast playing this game, and I customized new character cards, spells, monsters, board maps & quests.

Still not as much fun as Talisman board game. Image

Edit: I always thought that Teraptus was a corruption of Keraptis the BBEG from "White Plume Mountain", set in the World of Greyhawk...
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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Havard »

Dread Delgath wrote:King Halvor sounds familiar to my Greyhawkian bent mind... or maybe this is a name from the Forgotten Realms. But I do have the 1993 game AND the embarrassing video introduction. :oops: At the time of purchase, I & family & friends had a blast playing this game, and I customized new character cards, spells, monsters, board maps & quests.
Its generic enough to be used in more than one setting. Halvor is a common name around here even today, so Im guessing its of Norse origin.

Its nice to hear that you enjoyed the game. Maybe ill try and acquire a copy. I still have VCR player even... :geek:
Edit: I always thought that Teraptus was a corruption of Keraptis the BBEG from "White Plume Mountain", set in the World of Greyhawk...
That may very well be where the inspiration came from :)
Its not going to stop me from adapting it into the Thunder Rift mythology however :twisted:
Still not as much fun as Talisman board game. Image
Talisman is just awesome! :)

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Dread Delgath »

Thunder Rift was fun; the one time I played in it in the early 90's. (sigh...)
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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by ripvanwormer »

Dread Delgath wrote:King Halvor sounds familiar to my Greyhawkian bent mind... or maybe this is a name from the Forgotten Realms.
A baby name search came up with this:
Halvor as a boy's name is a variant of Halvard (Old Norse), and the meaning of Halvor is "guardian of the rock".
But more importantly, King Halvor II was a Spellfire card.

The card bore the Forgotten Realms logo, but "Halvor" didn't come up on a search of the FR wiki or The Grand History of the Realms.

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Havard »

ripvanwormer wrote:But more importantly, King Halvor II was a Spellfire card.

The card bore the Forgotten Realms logo, but "Halvor" didn't come up on a search of the FR wiki or The Grand History of the Realms.
Great find!

I wouldnt put much trust in the setting logo on those cards. IIRC they also used Gazetteer art combined with the GH logo on soe of their trading cards... :roll:

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Havard »

Bumping this thread as we have been discussing this topic on Facebook:

Bruce Heard has confirmed that he wrote the novel Elf's Tale by Michael Andrews. Other authors used the same pseudonym for other novels in the series.

DragonStrike does seem to have strong connections to BECMI D&D including the likeness in the logo to the late BECMI logo. OTOH, DragonStrike also has ties to Spelljammer through the WildSpace video and novel. Mystara has its own take on space of course, though the First Quest Box connects Mystara to the Spelljammer cosmology.

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Planefarer »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8LBpMuSTrQ

IIRC, DC Comics also published a one-shot comic book to tie in with DragonStrike...

EDIT: I do remember correctly, well, except it was actually published by Marvel:

http://comicbookdb.com/issue.php?ID=70240

I think I even used to have that one issue somewhere... Note it was written by Jeff Grubb, who also wrote the K:KoA set.
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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Big Mac »

Tom Mathews wrote:The names of the four characters in the video:

Dare(Warrior)
Arakeela/Keela(Thief)
Deathmark(Wizard)
Greenthorne(Elf)

And now a couple of others from Endless Quest: A Wild Ride(this is also the only WildSpace/Spelljammer Endless Quest book):

Malakeesh the Necromancer
Nisha(Malakeesh's apprentice)
Malakeesh is from the same world as Dragon Strike. He is known for using both necromancy and illusion magic in a war on the Dragon Strike world. In A Wild Ride Dale, Arakeela, Deathmark and Greenthorn recognise his sigil on an item they find in a junk shop on The Rock of Bral and set out to track him down.

I'm afraid that the canon for the four Wildspace books kind of blows the Dragon Strike = Mystara theory out of the water as it establishes that the Dragon Strike world is in a crystal sphere with four worlds that are connected to four "Gems of Creation". (You can see these magic items in the trailer for the Wildspace video.)
Tom Mathews wrote:BTW it's King Halvor the Second who is the king in that DragonStrike video.

Apparently those four heroes from the video fought off some sort of Illithid invasion(probably from the aborted WildSpace boardgame) before they showed up on the Rock of Bral.
The Heroes of Wildspace* (as they are collectively called) fight off four factions to recover the Gems of Creation. Their adventures are in four novels that tie into the Wildspace board game in a similar way to the way that the four Dragon Strike novels (including the one by Bruce Heard) tie into the Dragon Strike board game. However, I believe that all four of these vapourware novels feature all four characters. This is a difference to the Dragon Strike novels, which each focus on a single character and their lives leading up to the Dragon Strike adventure.

* = I believe that the Dragon Strike world is in a crystal sphere that is imaginatively called Wildspace.

The first novel is called Battle Against Necros. Necros is the woman you see in the Wildspace trailer that says: "Deathmark - why do we fight?" while attempting to cast some sort of charm spell.

The second novel is called Battle Against Lord Fear. Lord Fear is a deathknight from the Dragon Strike world and is also featured in Endless Quest: Dungeon of Fear by the non-existent Michael Andrews (that was Bruce Heard and three other people in the Dragon Strike novels). I've not worked out who was Michael Andrews on the Endless Quest books, as there is nothing in them to give it away. Dale** (alongside a thief that isn't featured in the Wildspace line) fights against Lord Fear in the Endless Quest book, so the Wildspace novel is kind of a grudge match for the pair of them.

** = I do like the Dale character, but he seems to be a bit dim. He gets tricked by a wizard's apprentice in his Dragon Strike novel and on Amazon a reviewer complains that Dungeon of Fear shows that "thieves are better than warriors". He also has a few arguments with Arakeela in A Wild Ride. But I don't think it is bad writing. I think the authors are showing Dare as brave, but a person that needs to be part of a team. (Don't forget that the Endless Quest books are all set up to put the reader's viewpoint character in charge. In A Wild Ride a couple of arguments between the Heroes of Wildspace are there specifically to provide an excuse for a teenage boy - the reader's character - to be given the deciding vote.)

The third novel is called Battle Against the Flayons. This is the one with the mind-flayer. I'm not sure why Wildspace calls a mind-flayer a flayon. Maybe the flayons are some sort of illithid-kin. I've yet to see a mind-flayer in the ground-based Dragon Strike books. (But I've not yet read my two Dragon Strike/Endless Quest books.)

The fourth novel is called Battle Against the Draconians. This is probably the most interesting of the vapourware novels - to me - as it establishes a group of draconians are not only in space, but in a crystal sphere other than Krynnspace.

Anyhoo, what we have from the Wildspace product line is that Deathmark knows of wildspace (as "a place of legend") and yet at least two of the antagonists from Dragon Strike manage to get up there. Perhaps Lord Fear knows of spelljamming from eons ago. :? Both Deathmark and Malakeesh are spellcasters, so perhaps arcane study can lead to knowledge about the heavens.

Having said that Dragon Strike/Wildspace is not a good fit for the planet Mystara, if you wanted to shoehorn Dragon Strike in there, you probably could. With most of the Wildspace material being vapourware, it would be easy to ignore the cover blurbs and change Wildspace into Mystaraspace.
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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Havard »

I'm getting back to this again. One of the reasons for that is Jeff Grubb's recent blog posts about his plans for Mystara. In those posts he does mention that there were specific plans to integrate the DragonStrike setting into Mystara.

DragonStrike was originally created by Bruce Nesmith, but Jeff Grubb wrote the comic book story "Before the Strike" which is a kind if prequel to the story seen in the game and related video. Other designers have also been involved in related material for the setting, such as Bruce Heard writing the Elf's Tale novel.

I don't think there is any evidence that DragonStrike was intended to be part of Mystara from its inception. The board game is closely linked to the BECMI/RC ruleset, but the setting seems more like an independent thing. But I liked that Jeff Grubb wanted to make it part of Mystara even though that never came to be.

Instead of talking about what it was meant to be though, I think it is time to get back to how it could be adapted to Mystara. I wonder if we will ever know what Jeff Grubb's plans were. Adapting the setting to Mystara does most likely mean scrapping most of the (never published) Wildspace lore or at least altering it so that the events taking place in Wildspace are not necessarily within Mystara's solar system. I don't think that is too much of an alteration. I am not sure if I like the idea of Lord Fear coming from Wildspace, but I dont think too much is known of his origins, so I guess it sort of adds something to this character.

I have previously started two threads about some ways we could adapt this board game setting to Mystara:

Adapting King Halvor's Reign to Thunder Rift.

Using Darokin as King Halvor II's Realm (Historical Setting).

Out of the two, I am leaning towards placing King Halvor's Realm into an historical era of Mystara. While the disadvantage to that is that it means it will be less relevant to most campaigns, there are a few upsides as well:

1) King Halvor as portrayed in the video and novels is a pretty silly character. I am not sure I would miss him all that much. Placing the setting into the past is also a chance of removing other elements that are less desirable.
2) Even if set in the past, it doesn't meant that everything needs to be thrown away. The Elf character is likely to be alive, as is Teraptis the Dragon, the Dwarf, and possibly even characters like Deathmark the Magic-User. Heck, in a fantasy setting like Mystara there are ways to bring in other characters a well.
3) Locations could still be around, but might have changed over time. This means King Halvor's Castle could now be an abandoned ruin or taken over by others. It allows us to make use of these elements, but change them to make them even more interesting.


What are your thoughts on how to adapt DragonStrike to Mystara? :)

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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Havard »

By the way, I have now been able to identify most of the names behind the shared pseudonym Michael Andrews:

Havard wrote:Dragonstrike Fiction
  • Forest of Darkness, by Michael Andrews (Game Book)
  • Dungeon of Fear, by Michael Andrews (Game Book)
  • The Elf's Tale, by Michael Andrews (Shared pseudonym used in this case by Bruce Heard)
  • The Thief's Tale, by Michael Andrews (Shared pseudonym used in this case by Andria Haydey)
  • The Warrior's Tale, by Michael Andrews (Shared pseudonym used in this case by Bruce Nesmith)
  • The Wizard's Tale, by Michael Andrews (Shared pseudonym used in this case by Timothy Brown)
  • Dragonstrike #1: Before the Strike, by Jeff Grub (Comic Book)
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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Robin »

I agree Dragonstrike could be useful for Mystara, but why keeping it to the known World, or even on Brun.
West Brun, Regions of DAvania, and Skothar are thus far underdeveloped it would make it reasonable to find a region usable AND functionable for placing Dragonstrike as intended on Mystara...current time or earlier, without affecting the known canon timeline and events.

My personal favourite goes for the SW coast of Skothar.
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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Havard »

Robin wrote:I agree Dragonstrike could be useful for Mystara, but why keeping it to the known World, or even on Brun.
West Brun, Regions of DAvania, and Skothar are thus far underdeveloped it would make it reasonable to find a region usable AND functionable for placing Dragonstrike as intended on Mystara...current time or earlier, without affecting the known canon timeline and events.

My personal favourite goes for the SW coast of Skothar.
It is possible, but since the culture portrayed is pretty much standard fantasy, it would have to be somewhere where the culture is fairly similar to Feudal Europe with most of the standard races and monsters available. But I think you make a great point about keeping our eyes open to alternative placements on the planet of Mystara.

What I would like to do first is to explore the DragonStrike setting more and see what sort of things are needed to adapt it to a place where it can provide the most useful things.

-Havard

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Robin
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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Robin »

As far as I know Skothar the soutwest is feudal with some alphatian influences, the south is more primitive, the middle and east more barren, and the north (especially the far north) also feudal but more empty the more north you go (probably due wasting disease effects by the GRoF)so that would seem to fit to your description.

SO SW and Mid North would seem to fit.
Let me know, somehow it intrigues me
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Re: DragonStrike (1993) and Mystara

Post by Sturm »

If Skothar had Blackmoor, which was more or less inspired by feudal Europe, modern Skothar could have some feudal society too, maybe in the area of New Thonia? I would use mostly german culture for the Thonians, given that the High Thonians in Blackmoor d20 seem rather similar to me, so maybe Dragonstrike too could fit with minimal cultural modifications.
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