17 January 2012

Some of my favorite Mystara products

I recently purchased the Mystara Dungeon Master's Survival Kit and Player's Survival Kit.

I absolutely love these! While they aren't in any way required to get a complete view of the setting, the collection of props, "hand drawn" style maps, blank journal pages and other goodies they included are wonderful for setting the mood of the gaming session. I don't know if they were ever released as PDFs from RPGNow or Paizo store, but I plan to scan a bunch of the stuff in mine so I can customize them a little bit to remove any references to AD&D rules, and print out the pages as needed.

Other products from AD&D, like the Deck of Priest Spells, Deck of Wizard Spells, Deck of Magic Items, the different Class Player Packs, etc. have a similar value to me for their use as at the table props and mood-setters. None of it's required to play the game, but these are the kind of things I'd like to see more of from publishers.

Like I said earlier in regard to scanning and printing, a lot of this kind of thing can be done much more easily and less costly with PDF distribution, since the majority of the product is just "forms" and "handout" pages. Any OSR publishers listening?

I love minis too, but mine honestly end up decorating the bookshelf and desk more than they see use in play. While minis and some of the really amazing scenery pieces you can get now do help visualize combat, Classic D&D combat isn't that technical anyway, and sometimes I feel like minis slow things down and turn the focus of play away from narrative and story and back toward actual game play, if you know what I mean.

How do you guys feel about fluff/prop products like these?


  1. I love utilizing baubles and handouts in my games. I agree that minis can really slow down the game, but I still use them for big encounters when I want the encounters to be a big tactical battle against a boss. I also like to incorporate other games into the game. I once had the group perform as wandering minstrels and had them play rock band to gauge how well they did. The last game we played, I adjudicated "mental combat" with a Mind Flayer Brain by playing a game of Jenga. Video on youtube.

    I would really like to see what is inside those Mystara boxes, as there are quite a few Mystara products that I have never seen.

  2. Props are great. One of the reasons I love Call of Cthulhu so much, for its implicit use of props. In fact, for my Cthulhu games I've got a CD-ROM of the HPLHS Prop Documents Collection. For my next campaign, which is set at Miskatonic University, I'll be mailing out "admission letters" on MU letterhead to the players (in the actual mail, no less!) by way of a campaign intro.

    I totally know what you mean about minis. I'm an avid miniatures wargamer, but I've just never been able to get into using them in RPGs.

  3. Wow, how have I never heard of these? Definitely something to look out for in my game convention waderings.

  4. When I have time, I'll try and post a more detailed description of the contents of the survival kits, maybe with some thumbnail pictures if my scanner cooperates.

  5. I enjoyed these accessories, too. I've had them for years.
    There are language/runic letters for elvish and a couple of other languages, I think.
    Random family members generators are included in the Player's Survival Kit (for elves, humans, etc.).
    There are a couple of books that are something like a "Campaign Log" for players, but my players would not use those. (A little too "campy;" plus, once they're used, you couldn't use them again.)

  6. Look forward to see what you do. I've never seen those books and you've got my curiosity. BTW enjoying the blog.


Thanks for your comments!