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Tabletop Game / Mystara

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Mystara, also known as the Known World, is the default setting for the original "Basic" set of Dungeons & Dragons, which evolved into its own adjacent game to "Advanced" D&D. (The curious can learn more about "BECMI" D&D on its dedicated page.) While the earliest parts of the setting existed in the 1977 "Holmes Basic" edition of the game and saw a little expansion with 1981's "Expert Set" under Tom Moldvay, it was starting in 1983 that Mystara became its own discrete campaign world, with the revisions to Basic and Expert under Frank Mentzer, along with the more advanced sets (Companion, Master, and Immortal) that followed.

This setting comprises both the "Known World", the regular world that adventurers start out in; and the "Hollow World", a mysterious, gigantic subterranean world that the characters can explore later on in their careers. Probably the biggest difference between this setting and other D&D settings (apart from its cosmology) is where the clerics of the setting get their spells. Clerics serve one of the Immortals, mysterious and powerful beings that serve the five Spheres of Power, hoping to either expand the influence of one of the spheres or maintain the balance between them. When Immortals meddle in mortal affairs, it is indirectly, and often through some kind of avatar. As characters in the setting reach the pinnacle of power, they have the chance to become Immortals themselves.

The Multiverse of Mystara is notably different from that recognized in other D&D products, though this didn't stop direct Mystara references and namedrops creeping into Spelljammer and Planescape.

Mystara was the setting that most people of the 1980s who got into Dungeons & Dragons were familiar with (being the Basic Set's default, natch), with such familiar faces as Morgan Ironwolf the fighter, Sister Rebecca the cleric, Silverleaf the elf, Frederik the dwarf, Black Dougal the thief, Larry Elmore's beautiful cleric Aleena, and Bargle the Infamous, the bastard of a magic user who murdered her and who every player of that day wanted to take down.

The Red Steel sub-setting has personal magical powers and deforming curses. The campaign book has "Power has a price!" printed right on the cover. Additional rules include a swashbuckler-style game, extra Intelligent Gerbil races, firearms, cowboys and goblins.

Since the beginning of D&D's third edition, Mystara has received relatively few references in published material, notably being listed as a possible setting in the Ghosts of Saltmarsh Adventure Book. Fandom VIP Mr Welch (Yes, that Mr. Welch.) has taken it upon himself to create a video series detailing the Setting, and has created a guide specifically for 5th Edition, and is currently working on a Mystara Dungeon Master's Guide.

Works set in Mystara include:

     Original BECMI series 
B - Basic series
  • B1: In Search of the Unknown — the very first module in the set. Originally written for the '77 edition of Basic.
  • B2: Keep on the Borderlands — one of the first D&D adventures, written by no less than Gary Gygax. Originally written for the '81 edition of Basic.
  • B3: Palace of the Silver Princess
  • B4: The Lost City
  • B5: Horror on the Hill
  • B6: The Veiled Society
  • B7: Rahasia
  • B8: The Journey to the Rock
  • B9 Castle Caldwell and Beyond
  • B10: Night's Dark Terror
  • B11: King's Festival
  • B12: Queen's Harvest
  • BSOLO: Ghost of the Lion Castle
X - eXpert series
  • X1: The Isle of Dread — Originally written for the '81 edition of Expert.
  • X2: Castle Amber
  • X3: Curse of Xanathon
  • X4: Master of the Desert Nomads
  • X5: Temple of Death
  • X6: Quagmire!
  • X7: War Rafts of Kron
  • X8: Drums on Fire Mountain
  • X9: Savage Coast
  • X10: Red Arrow, Black Shield
  • X11: Skadra's Mirror
  • X12: Crown of Ancient Glory
  • X13: Quest of the Heartstone
  • XSOLO: Lethan's Gold
  • XS2: Thunderdelve Mountain
CM - CoMpanion series
  • CM1: Test of the Warlords
  • CM2: Death's Ride
  • CM3: Sabre River
  • CM4: Earthshaker!
  • CM5: Mystery of the Snow Pearls
  • CM6: Where Chaos Reigns
  • CM7: The Tree of Life
  • CM8: Endless Stair
  • CM9: Legacy of Blood
M - Master series
  • M1: Into the Maelstrom
  • M2: Vengeance of Alphaks
  • M3: Twillight Calling
  • M4: Five Coins for a Kingdom
  • M5: Talons of Night
IM - Immortal series
  • IM1: The Immortal Storm
  • IM2: The Wrath of Olympus
  • IM3: The Best of Intentions

     GAZ - GAZetteer series 
While sold as modules, these books were setting books that described nations first outlined in the Isle of Dread

  • DA - Dave Arneson - series of adventures designed by co-creator of original D&D, focusing on Time Travel, discovering his original Blackmoor setting in the distant past.
    • DA1 - Adventures in Blackmoor
    • DA2 - Temple of the Frog
    • DA3 - City of the Gods
    • DA4 - The Duchy of Ten
  • PC - Creature Crucible series, each book focusing on giving players new racial options, with focus on a specific theme, as well as a bunch of small adventures designed for them.

Video Games

This tabletop RPG setting provides examples of:

  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: In an adventure ideas section of the Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, one suggestion is exploration adventures by combined forces of the two main Empires, with Thyatian flying cavalry operating from Alphatian skyships, and some page art depicting the concept. Serraine is a flying city hosting its own airfleet of WWI style wooden planes; both are powered by gnomish Magitek.
  • Alternate Universe: Mystara is an alternate version of Earth (see also Earth All Along and Clark Ashton Smith below).
  • Alternative Calendar: The After Crowning calendar and the Alphatian Year, plus seperate calendars for the Dwarves, Halflings, Ylari, Minrothadi, et cetera. Mystara's year has 12 months of 28 days each, no leap years, and solar and lunar calendars in perfect sync.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The path to Immortality can be chosen by high level Player Characters. Actually, almost every Immortal (see Our Gods Are Different) once was a mortal creature. Word of God acknowledges that there are are few well hidden Immortals that never were (it is hinted that they could be resident Old Ones or some other truly Higher power in disguise, Old Ones being to Immortals what Immortals are to mortals).
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Creature Crucibles introduce several powerful creatures as player characters such as treants, nagpa and sphinxes, but because they are so powerful they start with negative XP that they have to pay off before they gain all the normal powers of their race. Some of the creatures start with millions of negative XP, making actually playing one practically impossible.
  • Beast Man: There are a lot of these:
    • Hutaakans, one of the oldest such races in-setting, are anthropomorphic jackals created by the Immortal Pflar.
    • Gnolls are humanoid hyenas, and commonly suggested to have been an artificial attempt to duplicate the same process that make the Hutaakans.
    • Lupins are a race of humanoid canids, originally appearing as all manner of dogs, wolves and foxes before ultimately being retconned into being just wolf-people. They're commonly reputed to have descended from interbreeding between Hutaakans and Gnolls.
    • Nagpas are hideous-looking flightless vulture-men, who appear rather a lot like the Skeksis.
    • The Lizardfolk, of course, fall into this category. Cayma and Gurrash specifically resemble kobold-like miniature caimans and hulking alligators, respectively.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: In The Principalities of Glantri Jaggar von Drachenfells is potrayed as a Small Name, Big Ego Glory Hound, with text multiple times bringing up that a huge amount of orders he wears tends to fall off whenever he sneezes. This is the same guy that, in the final of the Dragonlord novels, challenged the Invincible Hero Diamond, who is both an ancient gold dragon and literally Immortal patron of lawful dragons, to a duel and not only won, but briefly stole his place in Dragon Pantheon.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Several, most prominently the d'Ambervilles, the di Malapietras, the Torions of Thyatis and the Alphatian Imperial Family.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: The Wallaras use this to get around being a One-Gender Race, and would literally only work in a magical world. Once a year, a wallara sheds his skin, after which he carefully bundles it up and places it in his clan's tokoo, a magical shrine. That skin bundle has a 5% chance of being magically transformed into a wallara egg, which hatches several months later.
  • Body Horror: One of the aspects of the Red Curse is that it horribly mutates the afflicted, unless they're wearing cinnabryl.
  • The Caligula: Baron Ludwig von Hendriks. Probably Innocenti di Malapietra too, unless there's a seperate trope for the Borgias.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • Blackmoor, the setting of D&D co-creator Dave Arneson. In 1986 Blackmoor was officially made part of Mystara's history. Apparently, there was a legal obligation to publish Arneson's setting so it was added to the backstory of Mystara.
    • As noted in its own page, Keep on the Borderlands was moved to Greyhawk. The Isle of Dread, the adventure that more or less began the setting, was also imported to Greyhawk in both Dungeon Magazine and the Savage Tide adventure path.
  • Canon Welding: The entire setting is the result of this. The original adventures that became Mystara were supposed to be in a generic setting that could be dropped in anywhere. Eventually this setting was fleshed out, with scattered references from the various adventure modules being used for worldbuilding.
  • Cat Folk: The Rakasta race, of which there are two nations; the British-flavored Bellayne, which happens to be right next to the faux-French Lupin kingdom of Renardie on the world itself, and Myoshima, a feudal Japan-flavored nation of rakasta on Mystara's moon where samurai catfolk ride winged sabertoothed tigers into battle. The species itself originally came in a vast array of sub-breeds mimicking different great cats (for example, the leonic Simbastas), prehistoric cats (such as Rakastadon Fatalis, the sabertoothed tigerfolk), wild cats and house cats.
  • Child Mage: Glantri has a few, even rules for PCs
  • City of Canals: Glantri City.
  • Clark Ashton Smith: His stories provided inspiration for the d'Ambreville family, and part of X2: Castle Amber, the adventure that introduced them, was based in his fantasy-setting of Averoigne in medieval France.
  • Cold Flames: The halfling Masters' racial artifact is blackflame: a dark-colored, frigid "fire" that "unburns" ashes and radiates shadow rather than light.
  • Cool Airship:
    • Alphatian skyships in general and the Princess Ark in particular.
    • "Top Ballista". Want a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of the Red Baron on a biplane armed with two fireball guns and, well, a ballista on top?
    • A floating city carrying a fleet of WWI style planes powered by gnomish Magitek
    • Big wooden birds of prey kept in the air by sacred relics and armed with long-range Disintegrator Rays.
    • A flying icosahedron (i.e. d20) plated with one-side mirrors.
  • Curse: The Red Curse afflicting the Savage Coast is a combination of three different curses put on the same area by the Immortals and some other magic Gone Horribly Wrong.
    • First component is not a curse per se, but remnmants of Nithian inventions in the area - magic of Legacy allowing to grant users superpowers and Cinnabryl, a new substance meant to create magic weapons.
    • Second is the worldwide Spell of Oblivion, that removed all traces of Nithian Civilization and erased all memories of it from the world. For some reason it didn't remove Cinnabryl, which now lies in deposits underground.
    • Then is the curse Immortal Ixion put on the area after his worshippers were overthrown by Manscorpions, subjecting anyone who seeks power to Body Horror.
    • Finally there is Vermillion, blood of the Great One which he spilled on the Area to render everything magical, effectively nullifying magic-detecting powers of the Arena as punishment for the curse of memory loss they put on his worshippers, effectively sending them back to stone age.
    • Combined it means power of Legacy is now carried by vermillion, which affect every living creature in the area, giving them superpowers...which in turns triggers Ixion's curse, mutating them. Due to Cinnabryl's connection to legacies, it nullifies the latter effect, but you cannot get rid of the curse unless you move permamently from Savage Coast.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Radiance, which may inflict a rotting affliction on the caster. So forbidden, controversy over its use is what kicked off the Wrath of the Immortals.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Diaboli, who look like Big Red Devils (only purple), but who are actually a friendly, gentle, peaceful race with a racial alignment of Chaotic Good In-Universe.
    • Hutaakans look sinister, being humanoid jackals, but are not bad people. Just stuffy, culturally naive and rather arrogant as a result of that.
  • Digging to China: Alphatia's solution to the dilemma of how to efficiently access the Hollow World
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Most of the human nations in Mystara are based on real-world equivalents. It's not uncommon for a party to consist of a German wizard, Mongolian scout, Arab cleric, Slavic knight, Byzantine fighter and Scandinavian barbarian.
  • Earth All Along: Or more accurately, Earth-to-be. The global map of Mystara bears a suspicious resemblance to that of Earth 152 million years ago. (It also features a solar system with an additional planet instead of an asteroid belt. A planet named Damocles... )
  • The Empire: Thyatis and Alphatia can each fill this role depending on your campaign. The most straight-up evil example, though, are the Heldannic Knights.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Wrath of the Immortals describes a world-changing adventure that results in a significant upheaval concerning how the Radiance of Glantri is used. It also contains a timeline of events, including regional and world-impacting effects (one of which is caused by a doomsday weapon).
  • Fantasy Aliens: In Principalities of Glantri and Wrath of the Immortals, the engine of the starship from Temple of the Frog is converted into a magical artifact that will drain all of the magic out of the universe if it isn't stopped. One of the aliens from that adventure becomes an Immortal while trying to stop it.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Mystara is made of this trope. A partial list includes: Karameikos (Balkan Slavic, with Byzantine influence from their Thyatian neighbors/conquerors), Ylaruam, Nouvelle Averoigne (Renaissance France by way of Clark Ashton Smith), Klantyre, Belcadiz, Caurenze (Renaissance Italy, Court of the Borgias-style), Bergdhoven (Flanders), Boldavia (Transylvania), Ierendi (Hawaii), The Northern Reaches (Scandinavia), Heldann (The Teutonic Knights), Ethengar (Mongol hordes), The Atruaghin Clans (various American Indian cultures), Thyatis (with the Thyatians proper as the classic Roman Empire, the Kerendans as the Greek-influenced Eastern Empire, and the Hattians as the Germanic Holy Roman Empire), Thothia, and Sind. Many more exist in the Hollow World, Red Steel, and lunar (yes) areas of the setting.
  • Fictional Document: Many, including Claransa's Travels to the Center of the World, the Nahmeh (Koran-expy), and the Poor Wizard's Almanacs.
  • Fictional Sport: Alphatians are big-time fans of a team sport called hardball, which is played on a court divided into squares and involves a lot of complicated passing between players.
  • Floating Continent: Features of the Hollow World whose shadows provide the only night under the eternal red central sun.
  • Frazetta Man: The Beastmen from the Hollow World, a primitive ancestor-species of common monstrous demihumans like orcs, goblins, ogres, etc, generally fall into this kind of appearance, but sometimes are even more mutable.
  • Genius Bruiser: The wurmlings from the Savage Coast Monster Compendium are 45' long Jabba the Hutt impersonators with a Strength of 20 and can literally steamroll multiple opponents. But their most dangerous traits are their Intelligence of 16, perfect memory, and ability to learn new languages in just a few days. These traits allow them to dominate the local underworld because they are fantastic at running businesses.
  • Genius Loci: The Immortal's DM rulebook states that the home planet is a Megalith, a sentient planet. It is known as Urt, and is about half-way through its active phase. At the end of that phase, it will shed its outer baggage (water, life forms, etc) and enter a dormant phase. Possibly Retconned by the Hollow World boxed set, as megaliths are implied to be solid inside, not hollow.
  • God of Darkness: The Immortal (deity, functionally speaking) Nyx is the Entropic Immortal of darkness, night, and the undead. She is also notably the only Immortal of Entropy who is not evil, although her goals would be horrifying to most people.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Thanatos, Immortal of Death. One of the oldest, possibly first Immortals and still very active. He is responsible for creation of the Burrowers, Night Dragons (their queen, Synn, answers personally to him), corruption of both the Taymoran and Nithian Empires, corruption of Hattians and Heldannic Knights through creation of Storm Soldiers and personally sponsored to Immortality pretty much all big name baddies, including Alphaks, Antzanteotl, Demogorgon, Loki and Orcus.
  • Green Rocks: Cinnabryl from the Red Steel region, mostly used to create titular Red Steel and keeping at bay effects of the Red Curse.
  • Grim Up North: Apptly named Northern Reaches, land of Horny Vikings. North to it is a similiar land, Heldannic Territorries, conquered by Heldannic Knights and even further north is untamed, unforgiving land of Norworld. Denegoth is a cross between this and Mordor.
  • Hollow World: Literally the name of a boxed set campaign. The planet's hollow interior is a mystery even to the oldest of Immortals; Ka the Preserver, a sapient dinosaur, has no idea who made it. Ka and a group of allied Immortals turned it into a glorified nature preserve.
  • It Runs in the Family: The d'Ambervilles of Glantri, whose first appearance in X2: Castle Amber contributed a lot to the setting's zany streak.
  • Kill the Cutie: You can't save Aleena.
  • Lizard Folk: Multiple species of these exist in Mystara. The "common" Mystaran lizardfolk species calls itself the Shazak. Wallaras are an ancient, Always Male relative sometimes known as "Chameleon Men". Gurrash, also known as Gator-Men, were created by the Herathian Magocracy blending Shazaks with alligators in an attempt to create a more useful servant. Results were... mixed, at best. Caymars, or Cay-Men, were a caiman-based repeat of the experiment, who were no more of a success. Krolli are winged Shazaks who favor a mercenary lifestyle. Sis'thiks are desert-dwelling amazonian lizardfolk species, noted for a particular taste for copper dragon flesh.
  • Lost World: The Hollow World is also the preservation area for the Immortals of the setting. And yes, there are dinosaurs.
  • The Magic Goes Away:
    • The Radiance is used to amplify spell power, at the cost of permanently reducing the global potency of magic (to punish the Immortal Sphere of Energy). As described in The Principalities of Glantri, twenty-five years after the start of the campaign the world will have enough magical drain to prevent spell casting for one day in the year with the drain increasing at certain milestones, until ultimately it will extinguish magic forever. If the players succeed in their quest in Wrath of the Immortals, the drain is redirected to the Immortal Sphere of Entropy. If they don't, it's Blackmoor all over again...
    • Civilizations that are relocated to the Hollow World generally lose much of their magic, both immediately and over generations, as some types of spell are impossible in the planet's interior and becoming a spell-caster there requires much greater minimum ability scores.
    • Special abilities acquired through the use of cinnabryl must generally be forfeited if their users leave the Red Steel region.
  • Magitek: The presence of multiple ancient, high-powered magocracies results in lots of industrialized magic. Including lots of flying vehicles.
  • The Magocracy: The Principalities of Glantri and the Empire of Alphatia. Also the Magocracy of Herath in the far west. Wendar and other elven realms kinda-sorta count here also, given that all the setting's elves use arcane magic.
    • The Empire of Alphatia is actually The Remnant of a magocracy from another planet, which conquered its world and began spreading onto other planes, before a slave uprising on the original world resulted in a civil war that annihilated the old world; the survivors promptly migrated to Mystara.
  • Mega-Corp: The Minrothad Guilds are organized like a massive medieval-era version.
  • Massive Race Selection: While most D&D settings have this trope, Mystara has more player character races than just about any other published setting.
  • Matriarchy: The Kubbits of the Hollow World, perhaps due to worshipping the female Immortal Vanya, are led by their women. Men can hold respected positions and are warriors as well, but the highest leadership ranks in both the military and the culture as a whole are reserved for women.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The Phanatons are a primitive jungle-dwelling race who look like a cross between a raccoon (head, tail coloration) and monkey (body), with the patagia of a flying squirrel added for good measure. They're actually a playable race.
  • Monster Adventurers: Leaving out the various exotic demihuman races, Mystaran sourcebooks presented all of the following monsters as playable character options: Brownies, Redcaps, Centaur, Dryads, Fauns, Leprechauns, Pixies, Pookas, Sidhes, Sprites, Treants, Gremlins, Harpies, Sphinxes, Merfolk, Kopru, Sea Giants, Goblins, Kobolds, Hobgoblins, Orcs, Gnolls, Trolls and Ogres.
  • Neglectful Precursors: Arguably, the ancient Blackmoor civilization, given their end and the number of their artifacts floating around.
  • Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie: The Kubbits from the Hollow World; dinosaur-hunting miniature human Amazon warriors created by an Alphatian wizard as a race of assassin-slaves.
  • Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: The N'djatwa are a race born of systemic interbreeding between elves and ogres. They have the general attractive appearance, mental acuity and magical talents of their elven ancestors, but also the size, strength and stamina of their ogre progenitors. Unfortunately, as both races were darkly pragmatic at best, they're a rather malevolent species, whose culture is founded on slavery and anthropophagy.
  • Omniscient Morality License: In the Glantri sourcebook, the Immortal Khoronus proclaims the tampering with the Radiance that turned it into a permanent drain on Mystara's magical energies to be justified, because the end of magic on Mystara will see humanity turn to mundane technology, eventually becoming as advanced as Blackmoor once again. Completely ignoring that, for that to happen, not only will Glantri itself collapse because its magitek no longer functions (and it will be destroyed in a nuclear explosion if the Radiance is completely exhausted, as that will destabilize the reactor), but Mystara will undergo a mass extinction event, as the depletion of magic will wipe out every monster and humanoid race with a strong connection to magic, including dragons, elves, wallara and aranea.
  • One-Gender Race: The wallara, or "chameleon-men", are an Always Male species of Lizard Folk who rely on a magic-based form of Bizarre Alien Reproduction, where a wallara's cast-off skin has a 5% chance of being magically transformed into a baby wallara if it is placed inside one of their race's sacred shrines.
  • One-Word Title: Also The Place, as Mystara is the name of the world.
  • Our Demons Are Different: While demonic beings were largely kept out of BD&D because of the Satanic Panic and BD&D primarily being targeted toward the younger set, the Immortals set and the Wrath of the Immortals supplement of the Rules Cyclopedia reintroduce them as Fiends, Exalted and Immortal beings of the Entropy Sphere. Greater Fiends, such as Alphaks and Orcus, are out and out Immortals themselves, but other Fiends, called Lesser Fiends, are Exalted-level beings created from mortals by Entropic Immortals and used as their minions, and not only are they able to call upon four Immortal-level powers, but they're also capable of using their Power Points to access any spell at 36th level.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same:
    • They really are. The Dwarves of Rockhome reveals that their patron Immortal made them this way on purpose so they'd always be resistant to poison and radiation and have ready-made fallout shelters in case of another disaster like the destruction of Blackmoor.
    • In the Hollow World, they're more likely to be mountain shepherds than miners. This is because, like all other Hollow World inhabitants, they're an ancient culture placed there to preserve it from extinction. In their case, they're the Kogolor dwarves who lived before the Blackmoor disaster and the remaking of the dwarven race into its present form.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The standard "high elf" archetype is filled by the forest elves. However, the dark elf analogues, the shadow elves, have chalk-white skin and are not innately evil (mostly just suckered by a Manipulative Bastard Immortal). Finally, there are the water elves, who are seafaring merchants.
  • Our Gods Are Different: The Immortals are incredibly powerful beings akin to gods that are ascended from mortal beings. They cannot be hurt by any but the strongest of mortal weapons, they are completely immune to mortal magic, and they can create races and even entire worlds if they want to. The only way an Immortal can be killed permanently is in their home plane — and you have to have the Immortal's express permission to enter.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Well, Malachie du Marais is, anyway. And there were some non-standard therianthropes in the Basic rules, especially in the fourth Creature Crucible supplement.
  • The Owl-Knowing One: The Hisao, a fey race (and potential player character race) introduced in Creature Crucible PC 1: Tall Tales of the Wee Folk, are a race of philosopher-priests who happen to be talking, spellcasting owls the size of hobbits.
  • Parasol Parachute: Thyatis created the Bumber-Chute, an enchanted umbrella that acts as a parachute, as a safety device for its air force. It has also been adopted by the Knights of the Air, a social club for adventurers and nobles interested in flying.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: The Kubbits only stand 18 inches tall, but can reach strength analogous to a better-than-average full-sized man (Strenth 2d6 rather than 3d6) and run so fast that they are no slower than ordinary humans.
  • The Place: Also a One-Word Title with Mystara, as it is the name of the world, but the other title, Known World, as well.
  • Racial Remnant: The Hollow World section was intended as a way to preserve ancient cultures — a combination of caverns (allowing for escape), immortal magic (meant to inhibit undead) and subtle manipulation to make residents stubborn concerning their cultural beliefs. If a group is about to die out, the corresponding immortal simply needs to transport a small group inside the shell.
  • Schizo Tech: Immortal magic causes this in the Hollow World, but not uncommon elsewhere.
  • Scorpion People: The manscorpions, also called the Nimmurians or sohktars, were originally desert-dwelling barbarians who eventually settled in the vaguely Sumerian civilization of Nimmur, originally founded by a race of winged minotaurs called the enduks. This lasted until the sohktars betrayed the enduks, ran them out of their homes and claimed Nimmur for themselves, an act for which they were cursed with extreme albinism and intolerence of the sun, forcing them underground.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Single-Species Nations: The setting has four nations that are dominated by a single species: Alfheim, Rockhome, The Five Shires, and the Shadow Elves territory. A fifth one, Broken Lands, consists of multiple humanoid species, but the map is drawn in a way that implies Thar's empire is divided into provinces that consist of one species.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The racial flaw of the Caymar; whilst definitely smarter than their Gurrash prototypes, they're nowhere near as smart as they think they are, and are incredibly arrogant, which contributed to their being abandoned as failures by the Herathians.
  • Solar CPR: The weakening of magic disrupts the Hollow World's light system.
  • Space-Filling Empire: Done with the first map ever printed of the planet Mystara, which depicted a major hunk of continent as "the Empire of Dorfin IV", and showed the Empire of Thyatis (whose actual boundaries were much less) encompassing the entire "Known World" region. Averted and Lampshaded by Bruce Heard's Voyages of the Princess Ark article series, which revealed this map to be a complete fraud, perpetuated by a Deadpan Snarker who'd named its various Space Filling Empires after his wife, his mistress, and his dog.
  • Spider People: The Aranea are a race of 4ft long, 2ft wide spiders with greater-than-human intelligence (minimum Intelligence of 12 in 2e; human average Intelligence in 2e is 8-10) and a powerful affinity for magic and psionics. They're capable of Voluntary Shapeshifting between a singular "humanoid form" that can appear as anything from the size of a goblin to the size of a gnoll, as well as taking a hybrid humanoid/spider form. Though feared as Always Chaotic Evil In-Universe, they're actually arrogant, manipulative Jerkasses at worst, with a typical racial alignment of Neutral. They secretly run the Magocracy of Herath from behind the scenes.
  • Steampunk: Skygnome tech has strong overtones of this.
  • Superweapon Surprise: The tiny hamlet of Moon Hill, set in the idyllic halfling province of Seashire, has a vast number of high-level adventurers living in it. It's noted that it would be harder to invade than the great fortified cities neighboring it.
  • The Wall Around the World: Skyshield keeps the atmosphere in. It has openings on poles and is occasionally breached, which spawns an enormous tornado until the hole regenerates.
  • Wizards' War: One such conflict occurs in Wrath of the Immortals campaign for Second Edition between the Principalities of Glantri and The Empire of Alphatia. It involves both a thousand Alphatian archmages storming Glantri City and Glantri firing a weapon that accidentially sinks the entire Alphatian continent.