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Pathfinder Adventure Paths in Mystaras

by Andrew Theisen

So, I've given Mystara adaptations a lot more thought over the years (perhaps not unsurprisingly to some, given my longstanding interest in that setting). I'm going to try and keep this brief, but I may flesh some of these out a bit more based on my thoughts/notes at a later time:

Difficult (requires substantial tweaking of story elements to fit)

Jade Regent: This one is very tough, IMO, to work into Mystara, for two big reasons. First, the second half of the story involves adventuring in a Japanese style setting, for which there currently are only two Mystaran analogues: the rakasta empire of Myoshima, on one of Mystara's moons, or Ochalea, which is more Chinese influenced than Japanese. Ochalea fits better, since taking a trip to the moon is quite a different sort of journey, but both are tough fits because of reason #2: the first third of the AP involves caravan travel overland to the location. You could substitute this with another form of travel (sea or airship), but that would involve substantial rework of the second and third adventures, and trying to find a way to rework the locations and encounters into things you might encounter on the ocean (or in the sky). The third adventure in particular would be tough to redo, since it involves travel through the polar north, which isn't really on the way to either Ochalea or Myoshima, and given the planetary Hollow World polar opening, it would take the AP into an entirely different direction.
Iron Gods: I'm putting this in Difficult because there isn't currently a location on Mystara that really fits. Certainly the underlying elements (crashed spaceship, technological/magical setting based on scavenged technology) exist to place it due to Mystara's history of Blackmoor. It would just be a matter of figuring out where you want to put it, and doing any necessary work to fit it in/around other locations in the Known World or Alphatia or whatever.
Wrath of the Righteous: Like my suggestion for Greyhawk, from a thematic standpoint, this could work. The best place that immediately comes to mind is kind maybe not the first locale most would think of- Ylaruam (using the Dead Place in northern Ylaruam as the Worldwound). However, one of the premises of the AP centers around a Macguffin that is not present in Mystara (the wardstones of the Worldwound), but they could possibly be the glassy, obsidian substance that covers the Dead Place). (Upgraded to Difficult; see below for more information).

Moderate (requires some degree of tweaking of story elements)

Runelords triad (Rise of the Runelords, Shattered Star, Return of the Runelords): I think the easiest thing to do would be to tie the Runelords to Taymora, and have most of these adventures take place in/around Karameikos. It does require some rethinking of Mystaran history, and a couple of the locations aren't exact fits (the city of Kaer Maga, in particular, would probably need to be introduced as a new settlement, rather than try to retrofit an existing location). Alternatives could be to place this in Alphatia, with the Runelords some ancient (possibly pre-Landfall) Alphatian sorcerer rulers, or have the Runelords be ancient Nithian Pharaoahs.
Second Darkness: This one is similar to my take on a Greyhawk adaptation; while you could substitute the shadow elves for drow, it still relies on a description of their origins that isn't compatible with current canon. Some of the backstory would need to be modified accordingly. That said, I think part of this story (dealing with a meteor impact) would work very well in some ways with elements of the Wrath of the Immortals timeline- what if it wasn't Alphaks or the Master who called down the meteor that struck Glantri? Hmmm.
War for the Crown: The plot involves the death of a ruler and trying to secure the reign of his only (female) heir, so that kind of narrows down the choices considerably. Most Known World locations don't seem to fit the bill, having largely non-traditional feudal style kingdoms. Thyatis would be my first guess, but Stefania isn't Thincol's heir apparent- Eusebius is.
Tyrants Grasp: My initial thought is to have the Whispering Tyrant figure be the Thothian lich Haptuthep, and make this something like "Haptuthep's Revenge." I think it wouldn't take much to make that work. If you wanted to move this closer to the Known World, it's a little trickier but still probably doable. You'd just need to decide if you wanted to use the Whispering Tyrant as is and fit his history into Mystara's, or if you wanted to substitute some other known (canon or fanon) Mystara lich into his place. Halzunthram would be a possibility (see "Carrion Crown" below).
Hell's Rebels and Hell's Vengeance: Mystara has surprisingly few nations that are ruled by "evil" rulers. My best suggestion (off the top of my head) would be to set these in Hule, with PCs either rebelling against the Master or helping quash a rebellion elsewhere. Another one that could work would be to set this in the Heldannic Territories.

Easy (requires little tweaking of story elements)

Ruins of Azlant: This is actually a bit easier than the Runelords series, I think. You could either stick with the Taymora idea, and have the exploration of Azlant take place in the Sea of Dread, or you could move it to a post-Wrath of the Immortals era and have it be an exploration of the Ruins of Alphatia.
Mummy's Mask: This could be fairly easily transplanted to either Ylaruam or Thothia (with Nithian/Thothian historical ties, as appropriate).
Legacy of Fire: I think you could drop this into Ylaruam fairly easily as is, with little need to make story modifications.
Kingmaker: Mentioned up above. You could probably drop this a lot of places (Norwold being another location, as it is currently Mystara's "dominion-building" default territory), but I really like the IoD for this.
Council of Thieves: Elements of this AP scream "Glantri!" to me, but the political backstory would make a difficult fit for Glantri City- you'd I think need to move it to one of the smaller capitols of an individual principality. What might be a better fit would be one of the Darokin cities- Akesoli or Akorros, or even Darokin City itself.
Carrion Crown: This pretty much lends itself to a jaunt around the various principalities of Glantri. I would substitute Halzunthram for the Whispering Tyrant (even though he doesn't actually have a role other than being the MacGuffin that gets the plot rolling).
Serpent's Skull: This could certainly work as an adventure taking place on the Isle of Dread, although for a change of pace, you could probably stick it into the Serpent Peninsula as well. I might even suggest exchanging the serpent men for the carnifex (or lesser carnifex).
Curse of the Crimson Throne: Location is the toughest for this one. You basically just need a City-State, and one that is located near some kind of wasteland/broken lands. One of the Darokin borderland areas seems a good fit. Tenobar would probably work. The barbarian tribes from later in the AP could be Atruaghin clansmen, and the backstory of a villainous dragon could either be made to fit the nameless lich from Darokin's history (from module IM2: Wrath of Olympus), reworking the gold dragon from that same module into a villainous character, or just working the story of the NPC blue dragon from the AP into Darokin's past.
Skull and Shackles: A couple of locations lend themselves well to this AP. The Sea of Dread, for a Known World choice. The Sea of Dawn (eastern half of the IoD/Alatians) is another one that might not be immediately apparent. I could see substituting Koryn the Harpist (Ne'er-do-Well) or Thane McRhomaag (Caerdwicca) for the Hurricane King. A third choice, post-WotI, might be in the Alphatian Sea (smashed continent). The Sundsvall Maelstrom could work for the Eye of Abendego.
Ironfang Invasion: Paraphrasing my Greyhawk suggestion- Probably could be set in/around the Broken Lands, although the histories of the nations surrounding that region don't quite match with the historical conflicts of the regions it takes place in on Golarion.


Giantslayer: This one I do not own, so can't say for sure. Could possibly fit well into the Northern Reaches area maybe?
Strange Aeons: Going to cut/paste my Greyhawk one here- I honestly don't recall enough about this one to make a guess. This was the "Cthulhu mythos" AP and I very much was looking forward to it, but it felt very bland in execution. I think it probably can be fit without too much effort, but dunno.
Reign of Winter: (Stealing my Greyhawk entry for this) - This one involves a lot of jumping around to different areas of Golarion, as well as other planets, not all of which would necessarily fit into canon locales very easily. One key location- Irrisen- doesn't have a very direct counterpart on Mystara.

Hell's Rebels would be the easier one to place. I could see possibly using your Minrothad idea, or maybe Hattias on the Thyatian peninsula.

Hell's Vengeance is tougher, though, because the use of devils- and in particular, infernal contracts between rulers of the nation as well as the PCs in the module- makes it a bit tougher to fit in. Now that we're talking about it, though, I'm going to take a second look at it and see if possibly the Black Eagle Barony might work (scaling back the larger Cheliax empire to just a single domain).

I am reviewing Council of Thieves the last couple of days. Akesoli is an almost perfect match. Some of the background elements would need to be modified (replace tieflings with half-orcs, possibly [which the Darokin gaz mentions], or make them Rakshasa-blooded tieflings and tie them into the history of Chambahara rule of Sind). The murder play in the second volume probably needs a little tweaking, and I think the mayor's palace in the 4th volume can be replaced without too much trouble by Itheldown Isle. Otherwise, it would be a great location for this module with little changes needing to be made.

EDIT/UPDATE: Another location that strikes me as being good for this AP would be Landfall, in Norwold, post-Heldannic Invasion. Heldann would make a great "Cheliax" equivalent (absent the diabolic worship); the various sects of the Heldannic Order can be made to map to the Hellknights of Cheliax, and the relationship between Landfall and Heldann is not dissimilar in ways to that of Cheliax and Westcrown. Also, while still very recent arrivals, the diaboli that come to Norwold in 1010 AC might be a good tiefling substitute/analogue. I still prefer Akesoli, because I think a lot of elements work really well there, but Landfall is a good option.

I'm revising my initial estimate of Wrath of the RIghteous from "moderate" to "difficult." I had forgotten that this AP was based around the Mythic Adventures system. That system allowed for PCs to gain "mythic power," allowing them to perform feats and magic rivaling that of the most powerful monsters (and deific creatures) of the game. The best equivalent- in BECMI and Mystara terms- would be the Immortals rules.

The trouble is, Mythic Adventures wasn't intended to be only an "end-game" add-on; it was designed to be added when and wherever a DM would allow and a campaign would dictate (as low as 1st level, potentially). Wrath, as a result, was not only the sole AP that dedicated its 6 AP length to getting PCs to maximum level (20), but it also was intended to get them all the way to Mythic Rank 10 (the highest), and each installment got the PCs a little bit more mythic power as a result.

So if you are using any system other than Pathfinder to run this game on Mystara, you will have some difficulty with a translation if you are trying to incorporate the concepts of PCs steadily gaining more and more power to be able to confront the toughest threats. In BECMI, getting PCs to 30th-36th level in 6 adventures would be tough enough, and the current rules of initiation to and acquisition of Immortality wouldn't easily allow you to get them those sorts of powers until they had done so (you could possibly modify rules in HWA3: Nightstorm to accommodate this?).

If all you are looking to do in other systems is to use the basic storyline (invasion of demons needs to be halted) and framework of the piece to set the story, then it would probably still just be "moderate," however.

*Side note: Even Paizo's own use of mythic rules in this AP was controversial, and members of their staff have publicly said the response has kept them from attempting another mythic AP any time soon, and that things didn't quite work as well as they had hoped.