Mystara is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. It was the default setting for the “Basic” version of the game throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Most adventures published for the “Basic” edition of D&D take place in “The Known World”, a central continent that includes a varied patchwork of both human and non-human realms.
Mystara originated as a fantasy world developed by Lawrence Schick and Tom Moldvay for their own Dungeons & Dragons game sessions from 1974 to 1976. Their original setting consisted of a large continent with fictionalized nations that were based on real-world historical cultures. Inspired by author H. P. Lovecraft and his work in creating a fiction shared universe, Schick and Moldvay named their setting as the “Known World” so it could be expanded upon by other players. Schick then went to work at TSR Hobbies as a designer for D&D and other games.
After being promoted to director of the Design Department he brought Moldvay in to join the company as a game designer, around the time when the D&D Expert Set was under development. After being told that they could not use the existing Greyhawk setting, as it was being reserved for only Advanced Dungeons & Dragons products, Schick and Moldvay got approval to instead use their “Known World” as the standard D&D campaign setting.
Mystara’s outer surface consists of three principal land masses: the continent of Brun, the continent of Skothar, and the continent of Davania, plus the island continent of Alphatia.
Some of the notable nations of Mystara include the Thyatian Empire, the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, the merchant-run Republic of Darokin, the Emirates of Ylaruam, the Dwarven nation of Rockhome, the Elven Kingdom of Alfheim, Halfling lands of the Five Shires and the chaotic Alphatian Empire.